The first real New Orleans saint? Henriette Delille’s path to canonization

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Religion, United States, Women on 2017-04-30 00:56Z by Steven

The first real New Orleans saint? Henriette Delille’s path to canonization

The Times-Picayune
2017-03-02

Kim Chatelain


Portrait of Henriette Delille. This “carte de visite” albumen photo was taken by New Orleans photographer A. Constant at his studio on Hospital Street (now Governor Nichols). It’s the only known portrait of Delille.

It was 2011, and┬áArchbishop Gregory Aymond was seeking a sacred antidote to the violence, murder and racism infesting his hometown. He turned to a venerable figure in New Orleans history, but a person only vaguely known to even the most ardent Roman Catholics, and composed a prayer that is now recited at every local Mass. It ends with the plea: “Mother Henriette Delille, pray for us that we may be a holy family.”

Unknown to many Catholics, the object of their prayers was a French-speaking woman of African descent. She was born in 1812 and grew up in the 500 block of Burgundy Street, and she lived a part of her life as a mistress in a social system known as placage, whereby wealthy white European men entered relationships with free women of color to circumvent laws against interracial marriage.

After the deaths of her two young children born through a concubine relationship, however, Delille at age 24 formally rejected the societal norms and experienced a religious transformation that eventually led to the formation of the Sisters of the Holy Family order. The community of Creole nuns provided care for those on the bottom rung of antebellum society, administering to the elderly, nursing the sick and teaching people of color who at the time had limited education opportunities. To this day, Holy Family nuns continue to serve out the mission launched in the mid-1800s by doing good works around the globe.

Now, 175 years after she founded the order, Delille stands at the doorstep of sainthood. If canonized, she will become the first New Orleanian, and the first U.S.-born black person, to be recognized as a saint by the┬áRoman Catholic Church…

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Krazy racial rules: New biography of cartoonist George Herriman

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-11-25 23:08Z by Steven

Krazy racial rules: New biography of cartoonist George Herriman

The Times-Picayune
New Orleans, Louisiana
2016-11-25

Doug MacCash, Arts and Entertainment Writer


New Orleans-born Krazy Kat cartoonist George Herriman (Photo by Will Connell, courtesy Michael Tisserand)

Krazy: A Life in Black and White,” the biography of Crescent City-born newspaper cartoonist extraordinaire George Herriman (1880-1944) is an absorbing study of a genius with a secret.

Herriman’s equally compelling and confounding “Krazy Kat” cartoon is considered a milestone in modern art. As New Orleans author Michael Tisserand deftly points out in his 549-page volume, the illogic of Herriman’s ink-on-paper drawings mirror the absurdity of the racial divide in early 20th-century America.

After 10 years of scouring microfilm archives, yellowed newspapers and public records, Tisserand has pieced together Herriman’s journey from his humble birth in the Treme neighborhood to heights of fame in Jazz-era New York and Los Angeles. It wasn’t easy.

“I had to teach myself to be an historian,” Tisserand said. “I didn’t anticipate the amount of difficulty it would be finding Herman’s work.”

Like a snake handler, Tisserand uncoils the confusing racial politics of New Orleans in the Jim Crow era, where the descendants of slaves and the descendants of so-called free people of color suffered segregation, discrimination and violence at the hands of the white population.

As Tisserand explains, when Herriman was 10 years old, his parents fled the South for a new beginning in California, where personal reinvention was possible. As Tisserand wrote, “Herriman was a black man born in New Orleans.” But upon reaching the Pacific, Herriman’s parents “had obscured their identity and ‘passed’ for white.”…

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