New Orleans, Jefferson Davis, Jason Berry discussed on Z104 Programming
Is Jason berry, author of the new book city of a million dreams a history of New Orleans that year three hundred the history of race relations in any southern city is likely to be difficult and New Orleans is no exception. I asked Jason if the fact that the funeral of Jefferson Davis, the president of the confederacy was held in the city was a turning point for those relations. Yeah. Jefferson Davis was a massive funeral in eighteen ninety two. Really what's interesting about these funerals is how they changed and how the changes reflected the way the city was changing. I would even go back farther to eighteen sixty three in the middle of the civil war. New Orleans spell early eighteen sixty two Admiral Farragut came up the river and captured the city and for several years. It was quite well governed under the general's most of the historians, you know, concur in that regard. And there was a black an African American troop called the Louisiana native guard who fought against the south one of their leaders. Andre Cayo was a rather courageous captain who was killed at the battle of port Hudson near Baton Rouge and his body lay on that field for almost. Six weeks by the time his remains such as they were came back. The funeral for Kayo was one of the largest the city to that point had ever seen. And it was the first for an African American with marching bands some thirty seven benevolent society's burial societies. And so it was a signal to the white Creoles and to the other ethnic whites that the African Americans were now culture on the rise. And in the years after the war, the civil war became rebranded as the lost cause how did that affect the city's history? Profoundly. So the lost cause was basically a mythology that spread across the south. It was a determined effort by former confederate officers and soldiers to cast the war as this noble undertaking, not about slavery, but over economic differences and putting up these statues too. Confederate soldiers was a way of immortalizing the nobility of this war. And and the way it was taught in school books. The way in which they regain power was through vigilante tactics. I wouldn't even use the word Justice lynching became one of the main tools in securing white supremacy across the south as all of this was happening in the late eighteen eighties forty thousand black folk moved over the twenty year period, culminating in nineteen hundred moved in to New Orleans and brought with them the traditions of rural church worship with jubilee dancing with ecstatic rituals, and is that music along with the blues. Current was absorbed by brass bands. The black brass bands, the music change the old spinal column, you might say military marches for funerals began to loosen and. Show more improvisation and adaptation and the funerals reflected that by the early nineteen hundreds there were huge gatherings of people industry for these black funerals and the police at that point we're very reluctant to arrest people because these were religious processions, even though the brash pants were blowing froing pretty buoyantly. So you find rituals like that threading through the annals of the town and to me they hold a mirror. They're like caravans of memory about a given moment in time. Well, I didn't write this question. And I'm not sure who did. But I'm going to ask it anyway, digest invent New Orleans or did New Orleans invent jazz. Oh, my that's one of the hardest questions I've ever been asked. Well, I would put it this way jazz arose here because of the unique social composition of the city. The map of the world neighborhoods that were here where this African Idi African American idiom of the poly rhythms of yesteryear, melding with European melody and instrumentation caused the birth of jazz. It is a African American idiom. But no sooner had that happened. Then there were Jews and Italians and Irish and German musicians in this city that was teeming with brass bands. And so there was this rich musical exchange that began which I don't know it's arguable whether something like that could have happened in in New York or Chicago or other large cities. But I think the main ingredient that distinguished it. Here was the role of the Creoles the black Creoles, many of whom were music professors and engaged the darker African Americans who did not know how to play but. Played improvisational by year. And it's that coming together of the improvisational music, and the formally trained sounds of clarinetist and trumpeters and even pianists who feel one pattern and take it and absorb it into another. And I think it happened here because of the society. Well, there's no way we can end this without talking about Katrina. Ten years after Katrina l'amour almost fifteen years after Katrina. Now how much has this rebooted this city? Well, it's important to remember that eighty percent of the city was underwater in an average level of four feet. I had many friends who lost their homes and belongings. My wife, and I were quite fortunate. Our house did not flood, but one of my close friends, Michael white, clarinetist and composer lost everything five thousand CDs. Four thousand books all of his sheet music, and I did an entire chapter on him. Because to me he represents a sort of New Orleans every man in what he had to do to rebuild not just his career, but his life and he managed to prevail. He did it quite beautifully. He's done a number of CD's since then. So it was a long aching struggle. We got a real boost when Landry was elected mayor in two thousand ten he managed to access a great deal of federal money for rebuilding the infrastructure, but the town came back because the people were determined to return whether their houses were destroyed or not and reclaim their piece of the world, many musicians who suffered terrible losses nevertheless managed to come back and rebuild. And I think it's really a testimony to the resilience of the people that the city today is quite robust. We are probably eighty thousand fewer people than we were before the storm. It's about I guess three hundred eighty thousand population. Now that said it's becoming a city of the young. It's attracting young people to the digital economy to the film industry. The restaurant. What's the art scene? So, you know, New Orleans is a comeback story for which America can be proud again. The name of Jason berries, new book is city of a million dreams. A history of New Orleans at year three hundred. You travel a.