Black Carnival Season (Photo by: ladatanews.com)

By Data Staff Edited Report

It’s Carnival Time

Carnival 2019 is in full gear and Mardi Gras Day is steadily creeping upon us. It is a time where a city steeped in the spirit of festiveness is taking it to a higher level. There are Mardi Gras Balls and Parades going on throughout the city; for it is an amazing spectacle for all to see.

Additionally, much of the festivities come from a rich and vibrant history; much of wish come from the Black Cultural Heritage of New Orleans. It is often thought of as the secret ingredient that gives the city its unique flavor. Data News Weekly, in its role of telling the story of the Black contributing to the city and being a window into the most international city is featuring four groups that are part of the great tradition of New Orleans Carnival Culture.

ZULU SOCIAL AID AND PLEASURE CLUB

For over a century the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club has been at the forefront as one of the preeminent Mardi Clubs where their throws are coveted by many most notably their hand decorated Coconuts. In addition to their annual ball that is a must go to event.

KING ZULU 2019 GEORGE RAINEY

This year is a special year as longtime club member joining in 1972 George Rainey is the reigning King of Zulu.

He is a man with so much history in the organization and in the City of New Orleans.

He was part of the first graduating class of Booker T. Washington in 1949. He also is part of the great culinary history of the City as the owner of Rainey’s Restaurant and Catering, one of the premiere African-American owned eateries in the city for five decades.

In 1978, Mr. Rainey earned the title “Zulu Big Shot”. In addition, he secured Zulu its first corporate sponsorship – the largest donation of any corporate sponsor. Mr. Rainey has secured more than 40 sponsors under his leadership.

He served as a Zulu Board Member from 1978 to 1993. He served as Vice-President from 1991-1996. Again, reelected as a board member from 1996-2007. Mr. Rainey has received many awards during his days. He was recognized by President George W. Bush and The Jefferson Award Foundation for his community services.

In 1983, Mr. Rainey spear-headed the production of Zulu’s 1st Poster Series. In 1993, Mr. Rainey founded New Orleans’ world re-known Zulu Lundi Gras Festival!

He is also a great humanitarian in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the city, many families had no place to get food. Led by his Pastor, Bishop James Nelson Brown of Fisher Community Church, along with the 82nd Airborne Division cooks – Mr. Rainey returned home to serve and feed over one thousand people for 2 months daily and for free. But, his services to the community don’t end there. In 2006, Mardi Gras was in jeopardy. However, Mr. Rainey co-authored a speech before the New Orleans’ City Council that saved Mardi Gras.

A dedicated family man, Mr. Rainey has three daughters, one son, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Mr. Rainey would like to thank the City of New Orleans and the supporters that helped him become Zulu King 2019. Last but, certainly not least, a very special Thanks to, his son, Oscar Rainey, and friend, Larry Hammond for organizing a ‘Great Committee’.

ZULU QUEEN

This year’s Zulu Queen is Kailyn Lilly Rainey was born on the 8th of March in 1999 to Michelle Patterson and Oscar Rainey. She is the beautiful granddaughter of Leontine Winding Dennis and the late Herman L. Dennis and George V. Rainey, King Zulu Elect 2019 and the late Jeanne Robinson Rainey. She had one sister, Kelsey La’ Jeanne Rainey. Kailyn is the stepdaughter of Joan Cooper-Rainey.

Kailyn graduated from St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School in 2017 with honors and was included in the top 5 of her class. During her time at Prep she served on both the Principal’s Honor Roll and the Presidential Honor Roll. She was also the President of the St. Katharine Drexel Kiwanis International Key Club, a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Co-Captain of the Tall Flag Marching Unit, Student Ambassador, Editor- in-Chief of the Yearbook, and a member of Bee Legacy. While being active in her school’s community, Kailyn completed 20 credit hours as a dual enrollment student at Delgado Community College.

Presently, Kailyn is a sophomore at Louisiana State University where she studies Finance. There is an abundance of goals that she wishes to accomplish prior to graduating from LSU. Besides being a full-time student, Kailyn is an active member in LSU’s Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. Growing up in a family filled with entrepreneurs, Kailyn was inspired early on to one day have a successful business of her own. Post-graduation, Kailyn would like to get a Master’s in Business Administration and possibly attend Law School. She has spent the last 3 summers as a student worker in the Chambers of the Honorable Judge Edwin Lombard and Judge Paula Brown in the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.

“To the girls of New Orleans, don’t let what you’ve been through, determine where you are going and don’t let anyone try to stop you from achieving your dreams. You can do anything. I never would have thought in a million years that I would be crowned Queen Zulu at only 19 years old,” Kailyn said in a press statement.

Kailyn would like to give special thanks to her grandfather, George V. Rainey, King Zulu Elect 2019 and the members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Inc. for giving her an experience of a lifetime. She plans to continue honoring the Zulu traditions as she reigns as Queen Zulu 2019.

Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale

Founded by Ms. Gwendolyn Rainey, in 2013 the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale continues in the spirit that the ladies of MKFF, “will always empower, encourage and uplift,” according to the krewe’s President, Mrs. Sharlayne Prevost.

This year they are planning another amazing extravaganza with an imaginative wonderland filled with mystery, fantasy and fun. The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale will celebrate its sixth year of incorporation on Friday, February 22, 2019 in the La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center with the theme, “MysticKrewe of Femme Fatale Presents Story Time.” They will also have their parade that rolls on the traditional uptown route on Sunday, February 24th.

This year’s queen is Mrs. Pamela Prout Foxworth-Carter, daughter of the late Mr. Clifford Prout and Mrs. Jeraldine Prout. The queen has one son James Cardriche, III, and two grandchildren, James IV and Ireyan.

A native New Orleanian, Mrs. Pamela Prout Foxworth-Carter is married to her life partner, Karen Foxworth-Carter, and she has always loved her city. Pamela grew up in the Upper Ninth Ward and graduated from George Washington Carver Senior High School and, later, Southern University at New Orleans. She is currently employed as a Project Manager with the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

Maids to the royal court are Mrs. Karen Foxworth-Carter, Mrs. Vonda Rhea Copes Dunn, Miss Ruth Hayes and Mrs. Trellis Thompson-Stevenson.

The 2019 Grand Marshals are Grammy Award Winner R&B and Blues Recording Artist Irma Thomas, and Gina Charbonnet, a New Orleans native and Essence Festival Empowerment Executive Producer.

Young Men Illinois

Founded on March 23, 1926 by a few Black male workers of the Illinois Central Railroad.

The Young Men Illinois Club, Inc. (YMI) was formed in 1926 to present eligible young ladies to society during New Orleans’s Carnival Season.

Mission of members is to promote closer social relationship among its members and enable them to perfect any movement that will be for the mutual benefit of the community in general.

YMI’s Ball varies from year-to-year but its ball date is always in close proximity to Mardi Gras; usually on the Friday 1-2 weeks prior to Fat Tuesday. This year’s ball was held on Friday, February 15, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Empire Ballroom.

Ronald Vigee, a member of the organization, whose daughter Taylor Nicole Vigee, was the ball’s 2018 Queen. “Our organization, YMI, gives young ladies the opportunity to showcase their successes to their family and community. The debs participate in various activities that builds their social character as well as the awareness and importance of giving back to the community.”

Ravi Bates echoes some of these same thoughts regarding YMI and its mission, “For me it helps to showcase and present to the world young African-American women and all their achievements before they take a step into adulthood. As a father of two girls I can’t think of a better way to help empower them. I also enjoy the camaraderie amongst all the brothers in the group who also have daughters and share similar interests.”

Bunch Club

Established in 1917 the Bunch Club is one of New Orleans oldest Carnival Clubs in the City. Unlike others it is less of a Carnival Krewe and more of a Fraternal Organization. But it has come to be known for the Bunch Club Carnival Dance. Held on the Friday before Mardi Gras, the members of the Bunch Club and their guests celebrate the carnival season with music, dancing, refreshments, and revelry.

At the stroke of midnight, they escort their wives or sweethearts in a Grand March. Clad in tuxedos, crimson capes, plumed hats, white gloves, and club medallions, the Bunch Club’s members reenact a Mardi Gras Tradition that has lasted nearly a century. The music and libation start promptly at 10:00 pm and lasts well into the morning.

The club members represent educators, university presidents, bankers, government workers, notable attorneys, doctors, writers and entrepreneurs whose professions keep them involved in the well-being of the city. The Bunch Club was among the first clubs to boycott Mardi Gras during the integration crisis of the 1960s. Unlike many other Mardi Gras affairs, the Bunch Club does not present debutantes.

Black Mardi Gras and Celebrating the Culture of New Orleans

Mardi Gras is a wonderful time for the city as people from around the country come to re-unite with relatives or simply engage in the amazing culture of New Orleans. There are so many more traditions that exist in our beautiful city. Not just during Mardi Gras, but year-round. We at Data News Weekly asks of our citizens and those who love New Orleans to go out and enjoy this beautiful city and all it has to offer.

This article originally appeared in the New Orleans Data News Weekly. 
New Orleans A City of Traditions

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