iamcreole The Creole/Cajun Publication
Who Is Amy LaCour?
CrĂŠoles under 30 making a difference in their community
In-between Black & White Authentic Louisiana Cuisine Summer 2012
Cajun Youth: Feufollet the Band
Contents Our Stories Feufollet....................................4-6 In Between Black & White........7-9 The Bayou Actress.................10-12 Amy LaCour..........................13-16 Rose Marieâ€™s Jambalaya........19-20 Under 30...............................21-24 Understanding Obstacles.....25-26 Beverley Anderson...............27-30
We have finished yet another issue of the magazine! I want to start off by telling you a little bit about myself; I was never raised within the Louisiana Créole culture. I was actually raised in North Texas (Dallas), Oklahoma, and Minnesota. However, my maternal grandparents moved to Texas from North Louisiana. But, my maternal great grandmother, Emma Roberson was from Natchitoches, Louisiana. Through this lineage of Emma Roberson, my family ties into the Pointe Coupée community of Southeast Louisiana. In essence, I am a descendant of Afro-Créole slaves of southern Louisiana....and proud! For centuries my family has been living and thriving in Louisiana. However, overtime my family has lost many traditions, language, and customs through migration patterns. A story that is familiar to many of our readers. In saying this, I have found a longing to learn more about my family’s past, their traditions, and culture. In essence, my contribution to making sure our ancestors’ stories are continued is through the iamcreole magazine.
Elroy Johnson IV (Pictured below is an image of my great grandmother (l)Emma Roberson & great great aunt, (r)Ernestine).
I feel as if my generation now has the duty to continue our families stories. The Louisiana Creole diaspora is international. Therefore, this magazine has a purpose to inform the masses about this unique cultural heritage. We have an urgency to bring Creoles & Cajuns in Louisiana, California, and Minnesota together through culturally relevant content. With this being said, in this issue we take a look at Amy LaCour’s music, Rose Marie’s cuisine, and Kayli Wood’s view point of the white/black experience of being a Louisiana Creole. This issue is also dedicated to my great grandmother Emma, and to her people the Robersons, Valery, and Savoirs. I hope you enjoy this issue and learn something different, unique, and exciting. Please continue to share this information with others, it is time for the story of Louisiana Creoles and Cajuns to be told nationally. Blessings in Christ and Culture, Thanks to our wonderful volunteers and staff: Head Graphic Designer: Charlesha Anderson Content Providers: Aryanne Young, Jamie Meyers, Kayli Woods, Elroy Johnson IV Editors: Jonathan Holmes, Shemica Marie Johnson, Collette Spagnolo, Valerie Broussard Special Thanks to: Shannon Boutté, Penelope McCarthy, Kivia Lee, Elroy & Rose Johnson, Doris M. Johnson, Regina Benton, Luz Hernandez
Up and coming band, Feufollet is taking Acadiana by shock. These young Cajuns, are proud of their music, language, and heritage. They celebrate their ancestors by singing in French and sharing the sounds of Louisianaâ€™s bayous to the world. Interviewer: Elroy Johnson IV Bio Written By: Flipswitch PR Photography: Allison Bohl
Beyond mere language, how-
ever, Feufollet’s original music captures the spirit of Cajun tradition without knowing to it. “Au Fond du Lac” paints a picture of love gone wrong in shades taken from nature, from the trees, blossoms, and lakes. Yet in quirky contrast to the traditional imagery, the chorus was honed by singer and songwriter Anna Laura Edmiston on her iPhone voice recorder on a 28-hour cross-country drive to Los Angeles. These originals flowed out of the band’s lives, inspired by their long-standing love of Cajun tradition and the new genre-bending indie spirit that has infused the Lafayette, Louisiana scene they call home. In the bars and clubs of Lafayette, rock, indie pop, country, and Cajun all converge, and older two-step fans often rub shoulders with brash young hipsters. “All around town, you see Cajun musicians playing in all kinds of side projects. It’s a natural, normal thing,” notes fiddler Chris Segura. Yet even the few traditional gems on En Couleurs got a wild and wooly treatment as Feufollet began crafting the album in the studio, as a group. Encouraged by their long-time friend and producer/collaborator Ivan Klisanin, they started pulling arrangement ideas out of a hat— almost literally. “We got really playful in the studio,” laughs Edmiston, “and really opened our minds to whatever was there.” It took the songs in all sorts of directions. Late one day in the studio, they were working on a traditional tearjerker of a ballad, “Ouvre la Porte,” about a woman dying of
an illness as her faithful lover calls for the doctor and bids a sorrowful farewell. The group made an odd discovery as they added layers to it: the toy piano and glockenspiel they laid their hands on sounded just right. “It is a really, really sad song, but two of the verses are dedicated to the doctor, how they contact him and how he arrives at the house,” Edmiston explains. “For some reason, I have this image of a funny little fat man making his way to the house. The melody is somewhat playful, and it was inevitable that it would be funny and quirky.” Other unexpected elements, like an old autoharp sitting on the studio piano, suddenly sparked new approaches. “We had tried the autoharp over and over, but it just didn’t work. But then somebody whipped out the omnichord. It’s a digital autoharp from the 1980s, this wacky instrument made by Suzuki and shaped like a tennis racket,” smiles Stafford. The creativity Feufollet unleashed in the studio, however, went far deeper than adding a few fun touches to the usual Cajun instrumental base of accordion, guitar, and fiddle. Feufollet may be credited with the first ever recorded usage of something completely novel: the Cajun power chord. One of Stafford’s songs (“Les Jours Sont Longs”) just wasn’t fitting with the rest of the material on the nearly complete album. “We revisited that song and added a bunch of new textures, like a really distorted guitar from a Pignose amp playing power chords. You don’t hear them but you feel them, deep in
the mix,” explains Segura. These nuggets of sound were so compelling, the band decided to tweak them and turn them into little interludes, often in stark contrast to the feel of the original song. A bright dose of Cajun pop became a guitarheavy blast that might feel at home on a Black Sabbath album. A gorgeous layer of Edmiston’s waltzing vocals became almost psychedelic. “The whole album, you hear a track and then a little snippet of music, almost to cleanse the palate for the next thing,” Stafford enthuses. “That inspired the title of the album, which means ‘in color,’ and the concept for the artwork. I always think of colors when I hear music, and each moment has its own shade.” Though Feufollet’s members reveled in their new-found direction, they weren’t sure at first how their Cajun pop delicacies would be received by more traditional fans, especially away from the open-minded crowds of Lafayette. A recent gig in Baton Rouge brought older dancers eager to cut a rug as well as younger listeners. It was a moment of truth. “So there we are, playing one of our new originals. I look out and no one’s dancing,” Stafford recalls. “They either love it, or they’re wondering what in the world is going on. There was this weird feeling in the air. So I made a nervous comment over the mike, and asked how come no one was dancing.” After a pause, from the back of the room, Feufollet got their answer: “‘It’s because we’re listening!’ someone screamed.”
INTERVIEW with Fuefollet member Chris Stafford
What is your role in the band? My role is accordionist, guitarist, fiddler, singer. I am also one of the songwriters and deal with a lot of the musical direction and production on our albums. What are the names of the other band members? Anna Laura Edmiston- Guitar Tambourine vocals, Chris Segura- Fiddle & Vocals, Andrew Toups- Keyboard, Philippe Billeaudeaux-Bass, Mike Stafford- Drums What is the history behind the band name, Fuefollet? The name feufollet comes from mysterious balls of
light in the swamp caused by ignition of natuaral gas. There are many folk legends surrounding their origins, such as them being guiding spirits or sometimes mischevious evil spirits. We liked the multiple meanings and ambiguity. What is the vision of the band? We strive to create music that reflects our contemporary existence in our culture today. We arenâ€™t afraid to modernize, but have a deep love and respect for the musicians and traditions that have come before us.
Kayli’s Korner “Inbetween Black & White”
The Woods Family
I can remember the first time I realized that I was never going to be normal. I mean, we’re all unique, and we all know that, but being half Creole, while having blonde hair and blue eyes is definitely a little bit past unique-it’s downright strange. But even setting aside the weirdness of my appearance, I don’t exactly mesh well with any group. I was required to read a biography in first or second grade for a book report, and I chose Rosa Parks. I can remember reading it and being completely captivated by her story. And I can remember looking around at my peers and wondering why they weren’t interested, why they weren’t bothered by this enormous part of our past. I was instantly hooked on the stories of racism and inequality, and the strangely happy endings that came out of them. The triumphs and victories won by Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, by Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. They all represented, to me, true strength. And then I read stories about white people. Don’t misunderstand me; I’d never want to diminish the contributions of the feminists and other white movements in our country. But Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott had all these things going for them that made their sacrifices seem almost laughable in comparison to the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement. I saw Harriet Tubman save over 300 slaves from bondage, and I saw Elizabeth Cady Stanton write a
document. I could never remove my connections between races and their respective causes-I was constantly connecting black with the ultimate victory, and white with simple advancements. This left me in an interesting situation. I looked white, I sounded white, I lived in a white neighborhood, I had white family, and I went to white schools. But I never felt white. I felt Creole. I felt a connection with those struggling, those who could barely make ends meet, those who were willing to walk miles in the rain in order to protest injustice. I listened to rap music, I researched African American stories. I suddenly couldn’t resist listening to stories from my mom,
my grandparents, my family, and everything they had gone through simply because of the color of their skin. I began to shun the white part of myself. And then I looked around me, and saw this incredible family that had been created. My mom has four siblings, and each married a different racewhite, Creole, Guamanian, Black, and Mexican. Each of them had children who looked nothing like their cousins. My grandparents couldn’t be prouder of each of us. And I stopped being ashamed of the white side of me. I realized that if all these people of different backgrounds could become knit together into one quilt of love and security, I could embrace each side of myself. I could be white and successful and affluent and privileged, and I could be Creole and be strong and independent and fight for what I believe in. I didn’t need to be one race or another, because I couldn’t be a complete person, a good person, without both parts of myself. My dad’s side of the family has never ignored me because I am part Creole, so
how could I justify ignoring them because of it? This embrace of my yin and yang, my heads and tails, my black and white has not been easy. Although I recognize that my struggles are nothing compared to those with visibly dark skin, it’s clear to me that in some ways, both whites and blacks have it easier than I do. They both fit fairly simply into a group, have a stereotype they fit into, can assimilate and make friends based on common interests and sympathies. I listen to rap music, I read African American biographies, I am relatively blunt and outspoken. But I have blonde hair and light skin, I live in a good neighborhood, I got a good education. I cannot easily relate to white kids because it irritates me how oblivious they can be about the struggles of the other half. I cannot easily relate to black kids because I have never experienced the obstacles they push past each day. My perspec-
tives in life are constantly influenced by the Creole and white backgrounds that exist within me, and as much as I might try-not that I would ever want to-my races have consistently and overwhelmingly shaped the person I have become. I’d like to close with a story. My grandpa had relatively light skin, despite being Creole. He got on a bus and sat in the back. The driver told him he didn’t need to sit in the Colored section; he could sit up front with the whites. And my grandpa replied, “No thanks. I know where I belong.” No matter how much I am able to pass for 100%, pure, unwaveringly white, I will never reject the side of me that makes me unique.
Ciera Payton "The Bayou Actress"
Name: Ciera Payton Age: 26 Hometown: New Orleans Current City: Los Angeles About Ciera:
After surviving Hurricane Katrina, Ciera and her family relocated to North Carolina where she attended and graduated from the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts. As a sophomore in college Ciera landed her first professional acting job co-starring opposite Steven Seagal in the film Flight of Fury. Shortly following after Flight of Fury, Ciera started acquiring more roles in films such as Lords of the Streets with DMX, Midnight Bayou, and The Way Home (A Short Film dir. By Faythallegra Coleman- which was featured on the CW). Back home in New Orleans, Ciera works with her all-girl theatre program What Girls Know. Since 2002 she has been Associate Director of What Girls Know, a theatre program which is geared toward inner city girls that teaches them how to find their voice and strength through theatre, ensemble, and performance.
and all I had was the clothes on my back. (During the storm Ciera’s diabetic grandmother passed away, the stress of the storm without her medicine and electricity had taken its toll on her. Ciera’s mother and brothers also relocated to North Carolina.)
Why did you decided to pursue acting?
Not to sound cliché, but when I moved in with my dad at the age of 6 in New Orleans, my father dealt with drug addictions and was a drug dealer. I lived with him, my grandmother, and two aunts. I remember it being so chaotic with all the dysfunctions. So, I started creating plays with dolls and drawing in my own world. So, my father put me in McDonough 15 (School for the Creative Arts) I got in for visual arts, the following year I started playing the clarinet. These things were an escape for me, from my home situation. My first role in a play was a goddess. I loved having a presence and saying, “I am here”. Once I got into college and into a program, I got to explore what acting is. But, a famous acting teacher said, “Acting is reacting truthfully under a given circumstance” your script is your circumstance. Almost any character I played in college, I could relate too and bring about, whether Shakespeare or falling in love with someone who you do NOT love.
Ciera currently resides in Los Angeles, where she continues to pursue her acting career. This year, she will be seen on NBC’s Days of Our Lives as Officer Martine Kent, CBS’s The Mentalist as Angel, TNT’s Common Law as Michael Ealy’s flame Kelly, and many more. In June Ciera will be presenting her one-woman show Michael’s Daughter in Los Angeles as a part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Her one-woman show highlights her paper-trail relationship with her incarcerated father.
I am working on a one woman show about my upbring, when I say my father is in jail, but for me and my family it is nothing to be ashamed of, it is my life. It is normal, the way my life has been for so long, it is normal. Therefore, we can laugh and joke and deal with it, that is our reality being from New Orleans, we are use to being the underdog. That’s why we have amazing food, music, and personable we can turn lemons into lemonade.
This New Orleans Native always brings the spice and flavor of her city wherever she goes. And will continue to do so in her career as an artist. Watch out now!!!! www.CieraPayton.com and www.MichaelsDaughter.org
What have you appeared in?
Explain to us about your life after Katrina?
I was enrolled in college right before the storm at theUniversity of North Carolina. Katrina had hit that August when I was still home and Hurricane Ivan hit earlier in the summer. My family evacuated to Mississippi during Hurricane Ivan so we did not leave when Katrina hit. My mom was in Gulfport (MS) and I was in New Orleans. But my neighbor went to LSU, so we decided to go to Baton Rouge. I was there for 10 days and did not hear from my family because phone service was down... After receiving an email from my college telling me they could help me there, we ended up driving to NC. They were there with open arms
My first role was at age 15 in a show about the Louisiana Purchase (a Creole/African American who speaks French). The people were impressed with my French which led to my story being narrated and aired on PBS. After Hurricane Katrina, I went back to college depressed which resulted in me failing a class despite me regularly being a straight A student. My depression also brought me to the realization that I no longer wanted to act. However, during Mardi Gras, when I went to New Orleans I had the opportunity to interview for Steven Segal. Unfortunately, the interview and meeting did not go very well. However, a month later, I got a phone call to play a part in Flight of Fury. I went to Romania to shoot the film as a leading role. After that I was blessed with more opportunities. In 2006 I did a commercial with VISA for the Saints
and later starred in the film Lord of the Streets. Once I graduated from school I played in All my Children, Midnight Bayou, and the Way Home (CW).
What are your most recent or current pieces of work?
The closer, Californication, a new show coming out in June the Common Law, the Mentalist, and, Days of Our Lives. I am a spiritual person on a path. I believe that if this spiritual journey of wanting to act was not for me, God would have reveled that to me a while ago.
What advice would you give to young girls or other actors?
In college no one prepared me for the real world, but I donâ€™t think anyone can prepare you for the real world. But, I believe in the notion of being who you are. I donâ€™t want to sound cliche but, I think to go into acting you have to educate yourself, read books about acting, go to acting class. Acting is a craft that takes time. Like athletes practicing everyday, it eventually leads to strong results. Going into the acting field takes a lot of effort and dedication. While it is important to be ambitious and anxious about the future, you must be patient at the same time. Many people who began starring in shows had to work at restaurants on the side. These experiences give you humility and patience.
Amy LaCour is a contemporary musician with classic influences. Her music is rooted in soul and singer/songwriter traditions while drawing loosely from jazz, folk and blues. She has spent over a decade singing from New York City to Los Angeles, with stops in Germany and England, all the while refining her sound and her songwriting into her own, definitive fusion. Since 2007, Amy has released two CDs under own label, Voice Recordings. The first, Bitter Suite, featured a stellar line-up of backing musicians including Curt Bisquera, Reggie Hamilton, Randy Jacobs, James Harrah, and Debra Dobkin. The set was richly textured, moody, and highlighted the jazz influence in Amy’s singing and songwriting. Urban Network described the sound as “a thinking man’s cross between Norah Jones and Bill Withers. Rooted,” and named the lead single, “One Man’s Stone,” one of the best songs of 2008. The follow up, 2010’s The Upswing, was a big departure in sound. Her second release illustrated more of Amy’s pop music influences, and featured spare arrangements and colorful vocal harmonies. “Making The Upswing was a tremendous learning process for me,” Amy explains. “I was incredibly proud of the results, but knew that I still had so much more growing to do as a musician.” So rather than touring in support of the re-
lease, Amy chose instead to attend a local music school in order to deepen her knowledge of theory and technique. After nearly a year of study, Amy discovered a renewed sense of focus and a deeper connection to the American traditions of blues and soul. “The past year has brought mentors and new friends into my life who have helped me grow as a singer and as a performer,” says Amy. “I will be forever grateful.” That year has culminated in a live recording, videotaped for fans. Supported by a band of new friends and mentors, Amy has recorded a set of both original and cover songs that highlight her soulful voice and her creative arrangements. Titled, The Sonora Sessions (for the studio in which she recorded), Amy will be releasing one new video per month through much of the spring and summer. She hopes to turn the sessions into a CD by the year’s end. Fans can follow Amy’s tumblr page for monthly video posts and weekly insights into each song. The sessions begin on Thursday, April 19th and will continue through August. A new video will be posted on the third Thursday of each month. “This project – from start to finish – was a joy to produce,” says Amy. “There are so many resources available to artists now. The power is in our hands and the possibilities are endless.”
amylacour.tumblr.com “Her husky, soulful vocals, as full-bodied as a fine wine, ache with a heartbreak fusion of fortitude and vulnerability, bringing to mind other great singers to whose league she belongs.” Paul Zollo, American Songwriter Magazine
Tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Amy LaCour?
I grew up in Seattle, WA. I lived there until I was 18. I went to Columbia University in New York City; I majored in African-American studies...New York is where I learned about music, but my dad had a huge classic-soul collection. So, I was always around music. New York, at 18, is where I started to sing. I started joining some bands in college and after school I began writing. After living in New York, I came back west to Los Angeles where my parents are originally from. There is a huge Creole population here [Los Angeles], which is nice. (Amy LaCour’s grandparents moved west from Natchitoches, Louisiana. Amy met her husband in California and they have been married for four years.)
How has music played a role in your life?
It has played a huge role in my life-- it is what I have chosen to do. My dad always played music after work. He
played a lot of Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, early jazz fusion.
I got to work with some really talented people, I love the creative process.
(Music was a big deal in the LaCour household; when Amy was younger she was not allowed to touch the stereo. It was sacred.)
Do you think the musical heritage of your Louisiana CrĂŠoles ancestors has influenced you?
When I got older, I clocked a lot of hours in front of MTV. I listened to some bad pop (laughs). But when I got to college, things got more serious. I had been taking classical piano lessons since the second grade. I liked it, but I did not have the discipline needed... but I continued to play through high school. Thanks to my mom, that gave me the background that I needed.
That is a good question! I think music, or at least in my family, has been a constant. We are always playing music and any celebration has music. From an early age, music has been a part of my life. A couple of years ago I went to New Orleans and spoke with a club owner, and he told about Creole lullabies. I would love to add that to my future set, to keep that alive...it is a goal of mine.
When I was in college I began to go deeper in my dadâ€™s collection. Those records had a deep influence on me and I also started to listen to jazz. But in New York there was so much live music and it allowed me to expand [musically]... I think I surprised everyone that I chose music as something to do with the rest of my life. My parents became more supportive of me the older I got.
What advice would you give to our readers pursuing a career in the music industry?
Explain the feel of your music?
Also reach out to people in your community. Network in your community, and beyond your community. The internet is an amazing resource to post a song, get yourself out there. Just make sure you are ready first.
It is a folky-soul or soulful funk, there is a little bit of jazz and blues. I went back to school to study music formally last year (2011). I did not study music in college. But, I wanted to focus on music exclusively. During the year we took some jazz performance and blues-focused classes... I loved those American traditions of blues, jazz, soul, and funk. I like to blend them all together, like a gumbo (laughs). It is a musical style!
What are your current dreams and aspirations for your music?
Who knows what the future holds? I just want to get my music out there to more people. I am not great in promotions. I do not go out to parties, but I need to get better at that. I need to build a strong fan base. I also need to tour more-- musicians playing in my genres do better outside of the United States for some reason. I did go to Germany last year. I would like to tour Europe more and reach audiences far and wide. (Roots music seems to do better abroad. There are audiences here, but it is harder to maintain a career.)
What are some of your musical highlights in your career?
In college I sang back up for a band. We had a really cool gig in London, it is the biggest show I have done to date... Definitely putting out my first recording in 2007-- that was a huge highlight; I felt a sense of accomplishment.
I suppose it depends what your goals are... focus on the craft first. I think it is easy to get caught up on the business side. Focus on the craft first, instruments, voice, or guitar... that is the starting point.
cuisine By: Rose Marie Johnson
Rose Marieâ€™s Jambalaya 19
Total Time: 1 hour Prep: 0 hours 20 minutes Cook: 0 hours 40 minutes Yield: 5 servings
Ingredients : 17 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped 6 ounces chicken , cubed 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, 4 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper 1/2 cup chopped celery 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic 1 cup dice tomatoes 1/2 cup tomato paste 4 bay leaves 1teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 1/2 cup of rice 4 1/2 cups of chicken stock 7 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced 3 to 4 ounces crawfish meat only, it can be found in the frozen sea food section 3 to 4 ounces crab meat only Salt and pepper 1 tablespoons paprika 2 tablespoons salt 2 tablespoons garlic powder 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper 1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder 1 tablespoon dried thyme 20
Directions In a bowl combine chicken, shrimp, crawfish, and crab and Creole seasoning , and work in seasoning real well. In a large saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion ,pepper, and celery, 4 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes , tomato paste, bay leaves . Stir in rice and slowly add broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. When rice is tender test with a fork for tenderness add shrimp, crawfish, crab, chicken mixture and sausage also add all remaining seasons at this time.. Cook until meat is done, 10 to 15 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning . Combine all ingredients well. Approximately 2/3 to 3/4 cup per person
Lamya Mollay (18)
I have to say that I am one of the proudest mothers in the world. My daughterâ€™s name is Lamya Mollay, and she just turned 18 February 12. She began college full time while she was in the eleventh grade of high school. This summer she will be graduating from high school and college with an Associates in Biology. She plans to transfer to Emory University in Atlanta Georgia. It has always been her dream to become an Anesthesiologist. She knows that the medical field is very demanding, that is the reason she wanted to get started on college early. She is always studying, and yet also finds time for family, friends, and faith. During her summers, she likes to participate in academic programs. This past summer she was chosen to attend the Howard Universityâ€™s College of Pharmacy summer enrichment program. She thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and learn through the vigorous course work provided. In her free time Lamya also enjoys working with an organization she founded by the name of Youth United. It is a youth organization that gathers at risk youth in the community, and helps them establish positive experiences through volunteering at nursing homes, community clean up days, and other fun activities. She also offers tutoring to students who are having difficulties in any subjects. -Her mother
Jason Holmes (24)
Born in Plattsburgh, New York on September 16, 1987. Jason attended Warren Easton Senior High School in New Orleans, LA; graduating in May 2005. He then went to college at University of New Orleans for two years to study Computer Engineering. Jason enlisted in the Air Force as an active duty member in May 2008. Upon graduation from technical school, where he graduated as Top Graduate in his class, Jason received his first assignment to Japan in November 2008-2011. Now he lives in Azores, Portugal. In his free time he blogs and vlogs because his dream job is to become a motivator for others.
Whitney Dabney (20)
Whitney is a 20 year old native of Houston, Texas. Whitney plans to open contemporary fashion stores throughout the U.S. with her good friend Mark Flores, (a student of UT) as her business partner. She is currently a freelance makeup artist, photographer, and aspiring cosmetologist. Whitney also desires to have her own cosmetic salon/spa. In 2008 she began working as a stage makeup artist. She has worked with Christian celebrities Shawn McLemore, Kim Burrell, Prozperad, etc. Whitney D. is very thankful to God for the creative abilities He has blessed her with & knows without Him she would be nothing.
Jon Devin (27)
Jon is a multimedia specialist born and raised in New Orleans, LA. His journey started behind a news room camera in Lafayette, LA after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Since then he has done many things in the broadcasting and entertainment industry which include investigative news reporter, voice of Harrah’s Casino New Orleans, and and “Activist” for the online edutainment group known as 2centTV. Currently JonDevin is living in Los Angeles still working to make his dreams come true. In his years of hard work he has won a few awards including a “Best Radio Journalist” award from the Society of Professional Journalism. More than anything else, Jon hopes to serve as an inspiration to youth of his community, he says “I want them to look at me and say if he did it, so can I.”
Cliford Johnson (26)
Cliford is a 26 year old Creole and a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is currently an instructor of Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole at LSU. He also serves as a private tutor for both languages and has served as a freelance translator for nearly 5 years. In addition to his many linguistic accomplishments, he is also a professional Singer, Actor, Pianist, Writer, and Composer who has appeared in more than 5 feature films and was a contestant on the last season of American Idol. He’s currently working on his first solo Soul/R&B project to release soon. Stay tuned for more of this multi-talented Creole as he advances in his career!
Samuel Cook III (28)
Samuel is a non-profit executive and social entrepreneur who has worked relentlessly to improve quality of life concerns for New Orleans citizens. As executive director of the 7th Ward Neighborhood Center, he has pumped tens of thousands of dollars into the local economy through housing recovery initiatives and education and job training programs. Active in local politics, Sam also serves as Neighborhood Team Leader for Obama for America Louisiana and organizes volunteers, phone banks and voter registration events in the Gentilly Terrace, Gentilly Woods, Pontchartrain Park, St. Anthony, Milneburg and Filmore neighborhoods. He is also former Vice President of Programs for the Young Democrats of Louisiana. Sam holds numerous awards and recognitions, including being named an “Emerging Youth Leader” by the Tavis Smiley Foundation, a Gilder Lehrman Fellow, a Puentes Public Leaders Fellow and one of “The Gambit” Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40” leaders in New Orleans. He holds a BA in public relations and an MA in history. Sam is also an adoption advocate who believes every child deserves a strong family. He is father to an adopted a son, Lance, who is a student.
rushed to get dressed having only one goal in mind, to get to work to give the ACT to students who were preparing for college. However, I would soon embark upon several obstacles that attempted to block me from achieving this goal, but gave me a valuable lesson that I did not expect. As I made it to my car, I sat in
it and pressed the start button. My car lights flashed and the radio came on, but it would not start. I tried to start my car several times, but to no avail. I became aggravated and panicky. God, why would this happen on such an important morning, I thought. I spent the next few minutes telling to my schoolâ€™s guidance counselor that I thought my bat-
By: Jamie Mayes
Faith As I arose on Saturday morning, I
tery was dead. After explaining my car’s symptoms, she concluded that it was not my battery but perhaps my alternator or my starter. Suddenly, I recalled that the battery in my car’s key pad had been flashing low battery. With this in mind, I whipped out my key pad, placed it in the key slot, and my car started! I whipped out of the parking lot, assuming that I would arrive to work within minutes.
of the old bridge, rain drops began falling onto my windshield. Heavy splashes soon followed, and I had no umbrella in my car. I frowned, for I had anticipated a beautiful day. After crossing the bridge, I continued to drive en route to my destination with no consideration of trying the interstate anymore. It seemed that they path I was on was best for me despite my problems. I coasted to my endpoint with ease despite the rain.
As I pulled away, I noticed a beautiful rainbow adorning the early morning sky. I smiled in anticipation of what was to come despite my early morning discrepancies. I zoomed towards the interstate but was immediately blocked from entrance to the fastway by flashing lights and signs that said “Road Blocked.” In frustration, I maneuvered my car hoping to gain access to the interstate some other way. To my dismay, every entrance to the interstate was blocked! I sighed loudly, rolling my eyes, and laying my head on the steering wheel trying figure out what to do next. I began driving towards the bridge that leads to Louisville Avenue thinking I would still be able to make it to my destination pretty quickly. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this bridge, too, was closed for construction. I stopped my car, and sat in a store parking lot on the verge of tears; it seemed that every route to my goal was blocked. I questioned whether it was even meant for me to go to work. Just as the first tear was about to fall, I looked up at the sky again and discovered that the beautiful rainbow was still shining in the sky. I smiled and took a deep breath, being convinced that God still promised a beautiful day.
Upon arriving at the school, the rain stopped and the sky was clear again. As I made it into the building, I was greeted by the smiling faces of ROTC students who eagerly pointed the way to my class. Upon arrival to my assigned classroom, my guidance counselor greeted me. Catch your breath a minute; everything is fine, she said with a warm smile on her face. As she finished the last sentence of directions, I slid into my position with ease and began the test administration.
I turned around and drove down to the old bridge where literally hundreds of cars seemed to be going in the same direction. This time, instead of getting flustered, I called the guidance counselor again to assure her I was coming. She told me that everything was fine and that she would start working with my students. Her attitude gave me a calm spirit, and I patiently waited for my turn to cross the bridge. When I finally arrived to the midsection
So often, we set goals and have a structured plan to achieve them. We claim to have faith and believe, but when obstacles arrive we are tested. We often want the path to success to be a straight and clear path that works out according to our plans. However, there are times when no matter how we plan, obstacles occur and we struggle to find the direction in which to turn. It seems that nearly every route we try to take is blocked, and we dread taking the long route to achieve our goal. It is natural to feel distressed or weary sometimes, but it is in these moments that we must call our guidance counselor, God, and take a moment to breathe. He provides comfort and reminds us that things will be ok until we reach our destination. We must keep our eye on the promise of God and press towards our goal. We must not allow the troubles that hinder or seem to delay us make us lose sight of God’s “rainbow” or promise. God is with us on our path to achievement, and if we allow Him to guide us He will show us how to accomplish our objective. When we feel impatient, God sends reminders that His promise is
on the way. Sometimes He must block certain routes so that we can truly follow the path that He created for us. Be assured that God will point the direction and place people in our path to help along the journey. True, at times, we may not understand the obstacles we incur while in the traveling process, but once we arrive at our destination we understand that everything was ultimately a part of his plan. Obstacles are often set before us so that God can gain our complete confidence and trust in him. However, once we are in the position that God desires, we will easily fit into and succeed in our assigned roles. He wants us to avoid rushing and instead, bask in the lessons we must learn along the journey so that we are better and stronger once we arrived at our destination. He will lead us to our destination; give us strength to overcome obstacles, and the endurance to trust Him to the very end. As long as we keep the faith and keep our eyes focused on His rainbow, He will give us the beautiful day that he promised.
Beverley Anderson 27
here are several reasons for writing this book as I soothe a part of my nostalgic soul following Hurricane Katrina. As a senior citizen, I feel free and compelled to share the many positives and some negatives of my Creole culture and educational experiences and of those of my classmates as we relive our formative school years mainly during the 1950’s. During that period, teachers, parents, and principals — all African Americans — valued education during racial segregation in the south; they set high standards for student achievement and believed that the students could reach those standards. They set standards of performance for the common good, and they believed that we could become good citizens and rewarded us for doing so. Those beliefs and the experiences provided by the teachers and principals and supported by our parents helped to produce competitive individuals in all walks of life who serve their communities with distinction. Many of our parents were not formally educated; however, they were steadfast in supporting the education of their children. I also wrote this book to share with others what the learning environment was like at Valena C. Jones School and other public and Catholic schools for blacks of the 7th Ward of New Orleans, how the schools supported the community and how the community supported the schools. Perhaps, there are aspects of that culture that could be useful in informing the educational environment in our schools today. The memories my classmates and I have of our parents, teachers, and school leaders will no doubt touch the hearts of parents, teachers, principals, other school administrators, and students. The reader will clearly see the school was an extension of the home and vice versa. Finally, I wrote this book to share glimpses of my valuable education and life experiences, as well as those of some of my classmates with my family and
future generations. It is one of the best gifts that I can give to these groups. This book is intended for teachers, parents, school administrators, Schools of teacher education, teacher professional
organizations, community leaders concerned about education, school board members, school system leaders, and the religious societies that have had a great impact on the education of blacks.
Snapshots of Life and Lessons from a 1950s New Orleans Creole Village
Aryanneâ€™s Take on Cherished Memoirs by Aryanne Young
Valena C. Jones School Building in the 7th Ward, New Orleans
The tepid arrival of hurricane Katrina changed more than the landscape of New Orleans. Those brutal rushing winds and relentlessly rising waters signaled the turn of a century and illuminated the fierce and sudden reality that time and nature could eradicate the fragile identity and powerful history of a generation. Dr. Beverly Jaques Anderson chose to write her memoirs following the storm to preserve the foundation of cultural values and experiences
of herself and 12 other students who attended Valena C. Jones Elementary School. She recounts the story of being a young Creole in homogenous Catholic environment and the community that raised her and her classmates to become pivotal figures in the region, impacting change and defining the future. In an era where the United States ranks 17th in global education and school districts desperately seek to find innovative ways to increase test scores and graduation,
Anderson outlines the unique success of herself and a large majority of her elementary class, reflecting on the positive influenced offered by their exceptional teachers. She is able to articulate the value received from the â€œCreoleâ€? experience, admitting the flaws and embracing the richness. Anderson creates through, Cherished Memories, a world of learning, understanding and empathy, her diction echoing a voice not yet silenced by the past.
Crowning of Jacques Girls in 1944
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