Everyone on the planet is familiar with the Crescent City for all of the obvious reasons – Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, the food (yes the food is an event unto itself) and of course our beloved ESSENCE Festival. However, unbeknownst to many, there is so much more to New Orleans than what you think you know about the city. Last month I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Martha’s Vineyard to be exposed to a side of New Orleans that I was unaware existed. Now, you may be thinking “how is it possible to experience New Orleans in Martha’s Vineyard,” there is a point, I promise. Over the 2-day affair, the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) brought the city to life via customized moments, information sessions, shared a “Green Book” guide they’ve created for the Black tourists coming to NOLA and hosted a surprise meeting with Hollywood and Charley of the critically acclaimed Queen Sugar – yes THAT Queen Sugar. What we know for sure is that New Orleans is more than just a party, it’s a cultural hub, a budding economic center for entrepreneurs and tech start-ups and an educational epicenter on the brink of greatness. If you’ve ever considered relocating to NOLA we strongly advise you keep reading.
Photo Credit: NOMGI
New Orleans is considered one of the crown jewels in African American history. Serving as a prime destination during the horrific acts of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and also as the backdrop for a slew of indigenous free blacks pos slavery, including Black Indians, our roots run deep and there is much to learn and see about our history throughout the mystical city. Head to Congo Square for the music and unspoken connection to our ancestors – the energy is something you will certainly feel all over. Learn about the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians with a NOMGI Sip & Sew Experience, or just eat, eat to your heart’s content; with over 62 Black-owned restaurants there is nothing you should NOT have tried.


Photo Credit: Xavier University of Louisiana
Xavier, Tulane, LSU, Dillard, I’m sure these names ring a bell. Whether you have little ones in the home who are preparing for their next life stage or a desire to finish your degree or obtain a new one, New Orleans has a slew of respected institutions of higher education to choose from. According to Gia Soublet, the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Xavier University of Louisiana “the school has been very intentional about accommodating non-traditional students aka adult learners looking to continue their education. We have online classes, and evening courses to help you attend classes when it’s convenient for you, allowing you the chance to still earn your degree.”


Photo Credit: New Orleans Business Alliance
Spearheaded by New Orleans’ first African-American female Mayor, the Honorable Latoya Cantrell, and being executed by the New Orleans Business Alliance, the city is currently experiencing an economic redevelopment that is structured to attract and retain new business. New Orleans has a budding tech community, healthcare industry, construction sector and of course its roots in music and food make it the ideal place for the creatively driven. And for the AA entrepreneur, 40% of small businesses in the city are Black-owned, making it an optimal place for community support.


Photo Credit: Max Bossman
An impromptu meeting with Dawn-Lyen Garden who plays Charley Bordelon West and Omar J. Dorsey who plays Hollywood Desonier on Queen Sugar had me feeling like I never really got to the heart of New Orleans. I’ve visited the city four times but each time was for work so listening to their passion for NOLA was incredible. Dawn and Omar both describe it as a place of pride, resilience, and honesty that entices you to lean in and celebrate and share in its culture. Dawn states its one of the most “honest southern cities she’s ever experienced.” She continues “the celebration of all things” is an integral part of the culture, it celebrates all parts of life.
Photo Credit: Saba
Omar really appreciates artists from New Orleans like Wendell Pierce and Anthony Mackie who still live in the city and are fully a part of the community. He’s also appreciative of their food, in fact, both Dawn and Omar absolutely love the food and recommend local faves like Mr. B’s Bistro, We Dat’s Chicken n Shrimp, Superior Seafood, Greenfork, Willa Jean, Saba and Fry and Pie. As I said, they really love the food! Dawn continues, there’s a Black pride in New Orleans that’s not just about what we have achieved, but what we have gone through. It roots you down into this is who we are mind-frame that ultimately has a feeling of life – we will survive, we will make it through all of it.” There is undoubtedly more to the story, and I’ll leave the rest up to you to explore and figure it out.

The post Everything You Need to Know About New Orleans That You Don’t Already Know appeared first on Essence.

Everything You Need to Know About New Orleans That You Don’t Already Know

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