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The Best Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in New Orleans

Oretha Castle Haley
A mural along Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

New Orleans is steeped in a rich, complex history dating back to the 1700s. Over 300 years, the city has been shaped by many different cultures and traditions, its African heritage being one of the greatest influences. This February, as we celebrate Black History Month, we’re taking a moment to continue to recognize the contributions of our past, present, and future African-American residents and leaders. Here are our top ways to celebrate Black History Month, plus a little lagniappe.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Visit St. Louis Cemetery No. 2

Free people of color have a storied history in New Orleans. After being freed, many purchased vaults and tombs in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2. Their tombs each tell both a troubling and fascinating story. Hear the tales of black poets, writers, swordsman, and mathematicians on this unique tour. These tours are presented by Historic New Orleans Tours and start at Backatown Coffee Parlour. They’ll take you through Tremé and to historic spots such as Congo Square and Armstrong Park. The tour is 2.5 hours in length at 1:30 p.m. every day.

Feed your Soul at the Black History Literary Jazz Brunch

Celebrate past and present African-American writers at the fourth annual Black History Month Literary Jazz Brunch. The event showcases published, self-published, local, and independent authors, and introduces young authors to a new literary world. Guest speakers include Minister Bobbye Mathews of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church. Strate Notes Jazz Band will perform live jazz at brunch. Literary lovers, don your best ivory or cream outfit and join this celebration of some of the best and brightest. The event takes place at Dooky Chase Restaurant on Saturday, Feb. 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tickets start at $50.

A mural along Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Honor Mrs. Oretha Castle Haley

Celebrate the life and legacy of Mrs. Oretha Castle Haley, New Orleans civil rights icon. The annual New Orleans Jazz Orchestra Black History Month concert celebrates the lives, experiences, and achievements of African Americans that have shaped our country’s history. The event takes place at the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) on Friday, Feb. 7.

See BMike’s First Solo Exhibit

Local artist Brandan “BMike” Odums makes his solo exhibit debut at the Newcomb Art Museum with NOT Supposed 2-Be Here. Addressing the question of who or what kind of art belongs in a museum, the show explores four different takes on inclusion and identity drawn across notions of art, race, place, and accessibility. These themes take form as colossal paintings, sculpture, mixed media, and immersive installations – from one room that reckons with the spiritual impact of Katrina to another room that honors local legends from New Orleans Access Television (NOATV) and pays homage to Odums’ early roots in film and television during his time with 2-Cent Entertainment. Visit the exhibit now through May 23.

*Editor’s Note: For more ways to celebrate Black History Month, visit our guide here.

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