Mourning Circle Food Store

Christine "Cfreedom" Brown
New Orleans native | mother | activist | Black artist,  business, and youth advocate | entrepreneur | photographer | filmmaker @cfreedomphotography 

To: My loving community 

From: Your loving community member 

Mood: Mourning 

Time: 5 o'clock in the Morning 

Date: 4/30/19 Tuesday 

Theme Song: "How Long Will They Mourn Me" by Tupac 

Saying: "Give me my flowers while I can still smell them." 

Hashtags: #RipCircleFoodStore, #TheAntiGentrificationMovement #50centBellPeppers #PutYourMoneyWhereYourMelaninIs #WCWM 

Color: Green and Blues 

Paper or Plastic: Both, double bag it please 

Mourning Circle Food Store: Yet, Another Wake Up Call

.  .  .

Can I be transparent with y'all? I barely slept last night. I've been in a season of mourning. Personally, I have had some major changes in my life last year; starting with the loss of my father in January to the theft of most of my camera equipment in December. My livelihood has been significantly altered and on my quest for balance I am racing to catch up places where I've fell behind. I've bought some camera equipment back and started therapy to support my emotional and mental wellness, but still the past few months have been pretty tight financially.

TBH there were times I wanted to throw in the towel on my company. I was discouraged by not meeting my fundraising goal of only $6,000 and getting my things back seemed further away then close. Even with the graciousness of raising half of my goal (which is more than any of my film fundraising efforts), it felt like most of my community didn't quite have my back as strong as I thought they would. 

I know that no one owes me anything and if I want something then I must work to get it. I also know that God always works things out as long as we are working on it. However, my vision for how community looks and feels, did not quite reflect onto me in my time of need.

I had to look beyond my own needs to recognize that some people just don't have extra money to donate. I've been there before; wanting to support but the most I could do is share a flyer. And even those small contributions can seem difficult when you aren't in a headstrong place.

Thanks to the support of my family, friends, and therapy, I have been learning and working through most of these obstacles. It is an everyday struggle but I give thanks for each new sunrise. Balance and financial freedom is on the horizon as I have made new commitments to myself to create the change I want to see in my own life. As I navigate through my life changes, I recognize the ways I have been affected by the changes in my community.

In New Orleans, we have recently suffered as a community with the knowledge of rape culture being protected by patriarchy within many of our immediate circles. Nationally and internationally, black people have shared the loss of an iconic La community leader being murdered in his neighborhood; the neighborhood where he invested in creating economic development, businesses, and jobs for his people. And here we are in a swift gentrification era in New Orleans where its becoming harder and harder for black people to create and grow sustainable black businesses. Let us reflect.

BLACK SPACE CLOSURES IN NEW ORLEANS WITHIN THE LAST 2 YEARS

1. Krewe du Brew Coffee Shop

2012-2018

Located in the 1600 block of St. Charles Ave., Krewe du Brew was a quaint wood grained coffee shop with golden walls decorated with gorgeous local art and tables surrounded by familiar faces. My favorite coffee shop and the only Black owned business on St. Charles, (that I know of other than Hubbard Mansion), closed around this time last year. For me, it was like a morning ritual to be at Krewe du Brew; drinking coffee, writing, editing, holding meetings, playing board games, seeing everyday community folks...Krewe du Brew was the place to be. 

Krewe du Brew's owner, Eugene Anderson, said the main reason for closing his coffee shop was because he needed to spend more time with his family. What a grown man decision, right? Eugene has a beautiful wife and two small children. Running the coffee shop required more of his presence and took time away from his new and growing family members. 

Family first is definitely the right way to go. Similarly, as we move forward, we should surely use this Eugene approved motto by supporting our local coffee shops and bypassing the bigger Starbucks chains as much as humanly possible.

I can't help but to think that if Krewe du Brew was able to better sustain itself, Eugene would have been able to hire others to manage his shop and better balance his family time. Who knows, they could have even grown into a multi-location coffee shop. While that wasn't quite the story here, we still can remember the community vibe Krewe du Brew gave us and thank the Anderson's for the sacrifices and contributions they made. We miss you Krewe du Brew! 

2. Blackstar Books & Caffe

1st location 2010-11, re-location 2013-2017; reopen pending

About two year ago, another Westbank coffee and sammich shop, Blackstar Books and Caffe, closed. However, owner, Baakir Tyehimba, says he still has plans of reopening. Blackstar closed due to repairs needed and the the owner of the building being ready to sell it. Baakir has been working towards raising the funds to do so. Currently, he still needs money for the purchase as well as necessary renovations. Maybe the reopen will be at the same location or maybe he will choose to relocate and start over again. If so, it wouldn't be the first time Blackstar took a two year intermission and relocated.

In 2011, Blackstar's first location closed after a year of being opened and two years later it reopened in at a new location. The new location had a very unique repurposed wood theme with afrocentric art, a revolutionary book collection and freedom music. Local musicians would gather at Blackstar to vibe, rehearse, and even some musicians have formed their world renowned bands from their Blackstar roots.

Throughout the week, Blackstar served their signature sammiches, coffees, and teas. Community members held meetings in this space. There was also a marketplace in the back called the Soko Mahali which sold merchandise from local artists and merchants. Late Sunday morning to early afternoon, you could find families dining at Blackstar for their vegan brunch pop ups. Sunday night was open mic event called Liberation Lounge. It featured a house band initially called the Blackstar Bangas, and later a new band called the Free Souls.

The Blackstar Bangas was the band that started Tarriona "Tank" Ball's official singing career. Eventually the Blackstar Bangas shifted members and soon become better known as The Bangas, from the internationally known Tank and the Bangas band. (Plug! Tank and the Bangas's album titled "Green Balloon" just dropped. Check it out.)

Like many Eastbankers, going to the Westbank isn't the most advertising location for an event. Blackstar was located in Old Algiers, a historic part of New Orleans located right off of the crescent city connection. Still this unapologetically black space didn't get the consistent support it needed in order to flourish.

As we await the determination of the space's reopening, let us consider the importance of black spaces in the city and work together more transparently to sustain them.

3. Craige Cultural Center

1974-2018

Another Old Algiers treasure was lost last year.  Craige Cultural Center, located near Blackstar on Newton St. was founded by the late Dr. Thomas Craige and originally called the Craige Chiropractor Center. When Dr. Craige passed, his wife, Loyce V. Craige, renamed it the Craige Professional Building as it was no longer used for chiropractor services but more for community services. The building was later passed down to their children and in 2004, they renamed it Craige Cultural Center, in honor of their parent's commitment to community and culture.

Craige Cultural Center provided many programs (mostly free) to the community. Some of the programs included Mardi Gras Indian suit beading classes, cooking classes, GED prep class, computer classes, Know Your Rights seminars, mini health fairs, free breakfast programs, Undoing Racism trainings and more. The focal point of the center was certainly on community empowerment.

While these programs didn't quite help to pay the bills, the Craige's worked to promote their t-shirt printing company and space rentals. One of their most patronized event rentals soon became repasses. Craige Cultural Arts Center offered an affordable community space for the family and friends of deceased community members to gather in celebration of their life.

Other ways they generated money was through occasionally sell fish plates. Still it was not an easy task to manage the sustainability of the space. Soon, the Craige's fell behind on their building payments and unfortunately their property went up for foreclosure.

Vince Craige, co-owner of CCC says the property was put on auction and purchased illegally, after they complied with what they needed to do to save the space. He says the mortgage lender refused their payments. Vince was being advised by two "brothers" in our immediate community, and he believes they intentionally set it up for the space to be sold instead of doing what they said they would and could do.

One of the involved parties highly recommended his lawyer. This highly recommended lawyer file the wrong paperwork twice. This lead to the building being sold even after he told Vince he had stopped the sell. The party who recommended the scandalous lawyer didn't even offer an apology or check in with Vince after he caused them to lose the building.

Vince is determined to get justice in the situation and he also wants to expose those who violated his and the communities trust.

Craige Cultural Center was certainly a staple in the Algiers New Orleans community. It will be missed. Ironically, this space was purchased by black woman property developer. I'm not too sure what she plans to do with the space but she is nearing the completion of a complete renovation. Not too long ago, they painted over the long standing Craige Cultural Center logo and mural paintings that used to decorate the building.

You don't have to be a Craige to know how heavy this is for the family. We keep the Craige family lifting up and hope that justice is served. Even if not in that same building, maybe one day we will see the Craige Cultural Center standing strong in our community once again.

What happened to the Craige Cultural City is a very unfortunate story. We work hard to trust each other and still are faced with untrustworthy people in our own community. While we know that everyone is not worthy of our trust, we must be committed to building trustworthy communities with morals. We must hold each other accountable and protect ourselves and others from such violations.

4. Charlie Boy Nola

2013-2018

Charlie Boy was a men's consignment shop located in Central City on the corner of Oretha Castle Haley and Josephine St. The building used to house a barbershop. In 2012, New Orleans native Zaneta Flowers, opened Charlie Boy in honor of her father and in celebration of Black men dressing in style.

Whether you needed a suit for a job interview or some vintage street clothing, Charlie Boy was the place to go for inexpensive stylish brands. Local brands, including WCWM and Blk Light, sold there merchandise here. You could even purchase local artist work and attend community events at the space.

A sister opening a men's consignment shop?! How cool is that. What a way to show black men that they are loved, right? Well, if only the love could have been reciprocated with a little more consistent support for the business, maybe this space could still be opened. Unfortunately, Charlie Boy closed late 2018.

5. Dreamy Weenies

2012-2017

Located in the French Quarter Treme area, directly across from the Armstrong arch at Louis Armstrong Park was a unique hotdog shop called Dreamy Weenies. Hot Dogs Gone Nola was the slogan. Their New Orleans and creole style toppings, (succotash, red beans, etc), their hot dog options (beef, halal, and vegan), waffle fries or sweet potato fries with drizzle sauce were like no other.

Dreamy Weenies was started by two New Orleans men who intentionally positioned themselves in the French Quarters to tap into the tourist economy. Not many of us can afford to swing French Quarter rent, or even benefit from living in a tourist city. For five years they pulled it off, but in an increasingly gentrified city, the landlord raising the rent, sometimes even double, can cause the business to fold. 

On July 29, 2017 Dreamy Weenies served the community their last hot dogs. For many of us, it came as an abrupt surprise. However, we kind of know how it goes in New Orleans. Though I look forward to the day that us knowing how it goes, gets us ahead of the game so we can prevent things like this from happening again and again.

6. Golden Feather Mardi Gras Indian Restaurant Gallery

2010-2019

Neighbor to Dreamie Weenies, (even shared the same landlord), was Golden Feather Mardi Gras Indian Restaurant Gallery. Established by Shaka and Na’imah Zulu, Golden Feather was located in the 700 block of N. Rampart, across the street from the Congo Square entrance of Louis Armstrong Park. In Treme, French Quarter area, a tourist destination and local gathering space, restaurant, and gallery, Golden Feather was rich in history and stories of the Mardi Gras Indians. 

The gallery was decorated with Mardi Gras Indian suits and photography. The restaurant was more of a vegan cuisine pop-up. The space was mainly used for Mardi Gras Indian meetings and cultural events. I had the pleasure of renting the space for two events; last time was in 2017. We used it for our production office as we were shooting our short film across the street in Congo Square. 

Golden Feather closed this year due to the landlord doubling the rent. As culture bearers in the city of New Orleans, spaces like Golden Feather, which was preserving our righteous presence in the oldest black neighborhood in America, should not be lost due to landlords doubling rent or due to outsiders being able to afford double the rent of locals. We must bring our minds, hearts, dollars, and power together to fight against this modern day segragation.

7. Circle Food Store

1938-2018

As a child, I vaguely remember my mom taking my siblings and I uniform shopping at Circle Food Store. My parents, (and maybe my older siblings), have more vivid memories of Circle when it used to be a "one stop shop" for all of the black communities shopping needs. Home of the 50 cent bell peppers. There was a pharmacy, a place to pay your bills, and even a bank inside of this store.

When Circle reopened in 2014, I was proud to finally shop at this place that many older generations took pride in. I would bring my son to the store with me so he could feel the goodness of supporting our own. Walking up the aisles of Circle felt like an old school bar room vibe (and I mean that in the most pleasant way). The music they played had you singing songs from aisle to aisle to cashier. Many of the cashiers and employees were even students I taught at a local high school in the neighborhood. Employing our youth is a priority of mine and for that I had much respect for Circle Food Store in our community.

They didn't always have everything I needed, but I did my best to buy what they had and get others things elsewhere. Sometimes it was an extra step but a necessary move towards a necessary goal. I had my Circle grocery list, and my "other store" list. 

I would leave suggestions in the suggestion box. Many of the suggestions ended up making it to the shelves...coconut oil, agave, vegan options, organic this and that. However, it was hard for a place surrounded by a community that doesn't eat organic to keep up with the costs of low demand goods. It was on us to make the demand higher.

If I asked for coconut oil, then it was my responsibility as a community member to make sure it doesn't just collect dust on the shelves. I'd even ask other community members to help to support the demand we want to see Circle supply. Unfortunately, it was a struggle that never quite reached its goal.

Circle Food Store inspired this writing and these reflections on spaces that we have lost in the black community. Losing Circle Food Store is one step closer what it would feel like if we lost Congo Square. Makes me wish we had a Circle Food Store Preservation Society like we have for Congo Square. Because, yes our historically black spaces are being challenged and snatched! And who are we to just sit back and mourn without taking action?! Who are we?

Circle has been a staple in the black New Orleans community for 80 years. Located on the corner of St. Bernard and Claiborne Ave, in the 7th ward, (the ward that received the least investments since Hurricane Katrina), it has been a struggle for this historic store for most of its existence.

Circle has faced continuous economic blows, mostly manmade. Some of the main ones are: the building of an interstate (1966-1972) through the Claiborne corridor (what used to be like the Black Wall Street of New Orleans), flooding from the breaching of the levees after Hurricane Katrina (2005), and flooding at least twice (last time in 2017) since their 2014 re-opening due to of the city's poor drainage infrastructure. 

Historically, Circle Food Store was one of a few existing black owned grocery stores in the country. Surrounded by an impoverished community, it became increasingly difficult for the owner to sustain the building without going into more debt. Eventually, the owner reached out to community members for support.

The first person I saw pushing efforts of supporting Circle Food Store was Lamont Simmons of U.D.A. He hosted events at the historic store to get folks out spending money at Circle. He used the say "WE GOT YOU BOO!" to garner the support of the community in these efforts. Shortly after, Lamont connected my brother Jerry Brown with Circle Food Store owner, Dwayne Boudreaux. Jerry brought his business Dough to Dough, a pizza and donut shop, to Circle Food Store in 2017. This presented something new to the store and the community. With Dough to Dough's vegan options, it also brought new faces into the store as well.

True Love Movement also worked to raise community support for Circle Food Store. They hosted some community meetings with Dwayne asking him to share ways the community could help and also allowing the community to offer some innovative ideas of expanding Circle Food Store so it could maximize its potential. Mid-2018, True Love Movement hosted a pop-up event at Circle Food Store with local vendors and performances. Unfortunately, it was not well attended.

Even with all of these attempts, it could have just been too late for the amount of debt Circle Food Store was in. The flood of 2017 added yet another expense to the already existing debt. Circle finally closed their doors permanently in late 2018.

In my opinion, I believe the City of New Orleans should have done much more for Circle Food Store than it did. Maybe they could have covered the Entergy & Sewerage & Water bill for a year, provided resources for infrastructure renovations, and even an award to support them growing and competing with healthier food stores that most people choose over Circle. After all, the City of New Orleans was responsible for most of the hardship the store struggled with. Circle Food Store deserves some form of reparations for the continuous flooding of the city and the years of struggle during the building the interstate. 

However, I will not solely leave it up to the City of New Orleans or outsiders to reinvest, support, and sustain our business in our community. It is up to us! Whether it is about education on how to manage, market, and grow businesses or it is education on why we need to create, support, and maintain our own, then this is the direction I would like to see our work grow. 

Sure it is also a necessary step for us to challenge and demand what is rightfully ours. We can boycott the spaces that outsiders take from us. We could simply challenge and demand that it works for our community. We can go to city council meetings and demand that City of New Orleans do more for local black folks. We can also support the organizations and entities that are invested in this work.

WCWM: Who's Coming With Me has always been about us being the solutions to our own problems. We may need to demand from others some days, but we must demand from ourselves everyday! There is no time to take off from the mission of black empowerment. Black youth should grow up knowing the importance of supporting and creating their own. There are no businesses needed in our community that don't re-invest into our community.

Just days before hearing the sad new of Circle Food Store being sold, we received the exciting news that four black men came together to form a new company and bought WBOK. The former owner of WBOK is a New Orleans native who moved away and found that maintaining the radio station was more difficult to do while living so far away. He made a conscious commitment to sell it to someone from the New Orleans community. Unity would have it that the combined economic power of four New Orleans brothers made it possible for us to maintain this necessary avenue for black media and commentary. Somehow, I imagined something similar happening with Circle Food Store. But least than a week after this great news, came the news that Sidney Torres and "a partner" purchased Circle Food Store for $1.7 million dollars.

This is when I realized all of the consecutive mourning that I had been going through. Subconsiously, it allowed me to reflect on how we can do better together. It also allowed me to reflect on how we must do better individually. Then it brought me to the thought that if we did better for each other then each other would do better. It's the reciprocity of unity. Together we are better.

Currently, a national business called "We Buy Black" is crowdfunding to open the first Black owned grocery store chain called Soul Foods. While I'm excited and an avid We Buy Black supporter, I can't help but to think about what it would have been like if Circle Food Store had grown into a chain, or even if Soul Foods could have bought Circle Food Store. At least that would have been better than a gentrification flipping trash man who cares nothing about the communities he flips upside down into his trash binds.

As I openly reflect, I am intentionally using this as a tool of practicing transparency within our community. Instead of being ashamed of judgement when we aren't at our best, I think its important to share when we need support. If we silence our troubles, then we can count on the number of community losses increasing and the fingers being pointed everywhere except to the culture of silence that we help to perpetuate. We've got work to do!

Join WCWM & the Black New Orleans community for a transparent conversation on ways we can come together to heal, grow, and sustain our spaces, businesses, and community. Hosted at the Tombar Life Center, and as a part of a call to action for their space, the schedule will be as followed:

5:45-6pm | "Early" The New CP Time (meet at Circle Food Store or Tombar Life Center but at Circle no later than 6 for the group shot)

6-6:30pm | Group Shot at Circle Food Store (diagonal from Tombar Life Center)

6:30-7pm | Meet & Greet & Eat (first come first serve food)

7-8pm | Remembering & Preserving Black Spaces in New Orleans (Call to Action for Tombar Life Center)

8-9pm | Solutions: ideas from the community and personal finance presentations by Budget Queen 4 U and TLC Elevate

BECOME A WCWM MEMBER TODAY!

Thanks for your time and support! Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on these topics.

One Love,
Cfreedom

10 Reasons Why New Orleans Is The Most African City In America

June 15, 2018, by Christine Brown 

New Orleans is the most African city in America. How do I know? Well, I'm from New Orleans, I'm a descendant of Africa, and though I haven't been to Africa or many other places in America to compare, I know because I can feel it in my spirit. It's in my DNA. And I knew it before I took my DNA test. Or before my father and son took theirs.

You know the saying, "I wasn't born in Africa, but Africa was born in me?" Well, that's how my dear, New Orleans makes me feel about my love, Africa. I have a few theories and historical facts to support my spiritual feelings. And I'll share a few suggested readings and links at the end of this article too. I think this is a worthwhile subject to generate conversations, conjure spiritual awakenness, and spread history on.

I'm on a journey to further my understanding of what it means to be from the most African city in America. I am certain that such a title entails great responsibility from us who are from New Orleans. So while I am on this journey, I invite you to join me. This is a spiritual journey of discovery, healing, and direction. Who's Coming With Me?

I'm not the first to discuss this topic and I hope I'm not the last, but it has been near and dear to my heart over the past decade, since I became more in touch with my African roots. I write this with hopes to re-connect, not only myself but, the African diaspora in New Orleans and across America to our roots, our Motherland, Africa. This is also intended to pay homage to those who contribute to the preservation of African roots in New Orleans.

In the spirit of educating and empowering people of the African diaspora in New Orleans, WCWM is proud to release "The Most African City In America" shirt. This shirt is an educational piece for all. It is also a fundraising effort that will help to further my research on this subject.

Featured on the back of this shirt are "10 Reasons Why New Orleans Is The Most African City In America". We hope that this article, shirt, and history encourages more research, conversations, travels, and intentional celebrations of our African roots in New Orleans, especially during and beyond New Orleans' 300th birth year. Let's make sure New Orleans remains the most African city in America for another 300 plus years to come.

"The Most African City In America"

Shop WCWM Marketplace TODAY. FREE SHIPPING during JUNE 2018. PROMO CODE: FREEDOM2TRAVEL

There are certainly more than just ten reasons that New Orleans is the most African city in America but we thought we'd kick off the conversation with ten. Feel free to add any additional reasons in the comments of the article.

Here are our "10 Reasons Why New Orleans Is The Most African City In America".

1. NEW ORLEANS WAS THE PRINCIPLE SLAVE TRADE PORT OF AMERICA.

Freddi Williams Evans and Luther Gray at the unveling of the Transatlantic Slave Trade historic marker

You probably know that the Port of New Orleans is a leading port in America. But did you know that New Orleans was the principle slave trade port in America during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade? It's a painful fact of the past that carries a modern pain in the present; Louisiana is currently the prison capital of the world and New Orleans plays a major role in this.

Image of the triangular trade of the Middle Passage.

Louisiana State Penitentiary aka Angola Prison is the largest maximum security prison in the country. It is formerly known as Angola Plantation, a plantation named after Angola, the Africa country. Many stolen Africans captured from Angola were brought to Louisiana as slaves. The cycle continues as many of the descendants of those enslaved African ancestors are incarcerated in Angola Prison. 

Due to the history of New Orleans, Louisiana, survival for African descendants continues to be unjust. From the education and economic systems to the housing, health, and justice systems, the oppression and struggle of African people continue to fuel this country. African descendants in New Orleans have had to bear quite the burden of oppression in America.

The cases of Angola Three members, Robert King, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox, are examples of modern-day slavery in New Orleans, Louisiana. Three young men from New Orleans were incarcerated in Angola Prison then put in solitary confinement for an inhumane number of years. Wallace and Woodfox were falsely accused of the murder of an Angola prison guard, and King was falsely accused of the murder of an inmate. Their extreme mistreatment was because the prison was intimidated by their powerful organizing and connection with of the Black Panther Party. Together, the Angola Three served over 100 collective years in solitary confinement.  

Herman Wallace, Robert King, and Albert Woodfox aka the Angola Three

Robert King served 29 years in solitary confinement. Herman Wallace served 41 years in solitary confinement. He was released in 2013, but due to illness, he transitioned three short days after his release. Albert Woodfox, the last of the three to be released from prison, served 43 years in solitary confinement. This is the longest solitary confinement sentence in the history of America. Clearly this a violation of the 8th Amendment, "no cruel and unusual punishment...".

Albert Woodfox was released from prison on his 69th birthday. Feb. 19, 2016 Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Above is a photo of Albert Woodfox and Robert King of the Angola Three, along with many of their Black Panther Party brothers. It was taken on February 19, 2016, Woodfox's 69 birthday, at a film screening and panel discussion on the Black Panther Party. As the world and all major media outlets got the news of his release, Albert was being transported straight from Angola Prison to Ashe Cultural Arts Center, where he celebrated his homecoming with his Black Panther brothers and sisters, his community, his family. 

New Orleans BPP members, Malik Rahim, Robert King, and Albert Woodfox at Robert Kings 74th birthday celebration May 2016 Photo by Cfreedom Photography

The stories of the Angola Three are three in one of many others, that exposes New Orleans and Louisiana for its wicked injustice system. New Orleans being the principle slave trade port of America co-relates to the systematic oppressions of African descendants in New Orleans. Oppressions such as poverty, poor health, mis-education, and mental illness produce high crime, homicides, and incarceration rates. This formula is what America uses to keep slavery alive in the 21st century (via the 13th Amendment). 

African descendants in New Orleans and America continue to struggle for their freedom and justice every day. Despite these struggles African descendants still manage to carry on many of their African traditions.  This is one of the reasons that makes New Orleans most African in America. Though this isn't such a happy fact, it is important history about New Orleans' strong African roots. 

2.  LIKE AFRICA, COLONIZERS AKA GENTRIFIERS LOVE NEW ORLEANS BECA-- USE OF ITS AFRICAN PEOPLE, THEIR CULTURE AND CREATIONS.

"Don't Sell Them People Your House. They Gentrifying Out'Chea..." Sign courtesy of BLKxLIGHT

This above message is brought to you by BLKxLIGHT. It is increasingly relevant to the climate of a Post-Katrina New Orleans. Colonizers/Gentrifiers are buying up the city and the cost of living has skyrocketed. While the racial income gaps brutally carve bloody "whites only" signs throughout much of our historically Black city, most Black New Orleans natives can't even afford to live in their own city.

One of BLKxLIGHT's t-shirts reads, New Orleans vs Gentrification. This has been a struggle designed against Black people in New Orleans for many years. Most certainly it was in the works when they started shutting down the projects, trading the public schools and teachers for Charters and Teach for America. Need I mention, when they broke the levees after Hurricane Katrina. It's just unfortunate that we didn't see the signs, work together, and  jump on the opportunities to keep our city before the prices segregated those opportunities.

"New Orleans vs. Gentrification" shirt from BLK x LIGHT. Click image for the store.

As described on their website, "BLKxLIGHT stems from recognizing that there is a drought in our communities when it comes to positive imagery that reflects where we come from, who we are, and who we have the potential to become..." We, at WCWM, are in full support of BLKxLIGHT's work and creative expressions.

Another awesome shirt that connects with a message I have overstood and spoken on for some years is this "Everything You Love about New Orleans Is Because of Black People" shirt by another local t-shirt company named Little Pralines.

"Everything You Love About New Orleans Is Because of Black People" Click the image for the store.

This shirt reminds me of my message at a 2015 City Council Public meeting about why four white supremacist confederacy statues should or shouldn't be removed. The city council chambers were packed and open for community consideration of the statue removals. People for and against the statues being removed signed up to advocate their stance. Many of the people against the statues being removed were white supremacists from other states.

Cfreedom stands up in front of City Council Chamber in support of white supremacists statues coming down. Photo by Angela Kinlaw

When I spoke to the City Council, I stated that everyone in the room loved New Orleans because of everything that Black people bring to the city. From the food to the music, to the art and culture, New Orleans is New Orleans because of Black people. A few minutes after I spoke, a white woman repping "All History Matters" began to present her point "you can't change history".

As she proceeded with her argument, she told a story of a Louis Armstrong painting she bought from a New Orleans painter. She said she questioned the artist about why he painted a cigarette in Louis Armstrong's hand. The artist's reply was because Louis Armstrong smoked cigarettes. She said she had to accept the fact that she can't change history. In closing, she then pulled the Louis Armstrong painting from her bag to show it to the City Council members, turned around to show the painting to the crowd, then went to her seat. 

My argument was she bought a painting of a Black musician from a Black painter. Coincidentally, it wasn't just any painter, it was my little brother, Bryan Brown.

Louis Armstrong from the "Jazz Stork Series" by Bryan Brown

She actually brought my brother's art piece to the city council meeting to prove her point that "you can't change history" and "all history matters" but what she really did, was prove that Little Pralines t-shirt and my argument was 100% accurate. "Everything you love about New Orleans is because of Black people."

3. MANY NEW ORLEANS’ FOODS HAVE AFRICAN ORIGINS AND INCLUDE CROPS CULTIVATED BY AFRICAN PEOPLE.

America still reaps the benefits of African people and their unpaid labor. One of the many benefits is agriculturally. African people brought many of their native foods to America. Additionally, they also cultivated many foods that are essential to New Orleans' food culture. Crops such as sugar cane, black eye peas, coffee, watermelon are just a few contributions from African people. 

Gumbo is a signature New Orleans dish. The word gumbo is an African Bantu word that translates to okra. It is inspired from a West African dish.  It can include different kinds of meats, seafood, herbs, and spices as sometimes okra.

Gumbo from The Half Shell on The Bayou. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Okra, a crop brought to America from Africa, is cooked in many New Orleans dishes, including okra and tomato stew, shrimp and okra, and succotash. Succotash is a southern dish that also includes lima beans, which were brought to America from Africa.

Okra and Tomato Stew from Sweet Vegan Soul Food. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Succotash with Okra, Lima Beans, and Rice Photo courtesy of Black Swan Food Experience

Rice is another major New Orleans commodity brought to America and cultivated by African people. Can you imagine a bowl of gumbo without a scoop of rice?  What would a Monday in New Orleans be like without a classic dish of red beans and rice? We have the hard work and unpaid labor of African people to thank for these dishes.

Froot Orleans set up and selling froot bowls. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Currently, we have some great chefs, and health conscious cuisine companies doing great things in our community. From Vegan Chef Nola to Froot Orleans, they are taking charge of the cities health while also keeping the unique African inspired New Orleans swag. Companies like Mama Isis Farm & Market are using their green thumb to bring farming and natural herbs back to the community. UDA offers flower bed building services to anyone interested in gardening. This is the New Orleans that we must cultivate for the future. 

Watermelon Chilled Soup by Ital Garden Nola

4. MANY AFRICAN SYMBOLS ARE INCLUDING IN NEW ORLEANS' ARCHITECTURE.

Sankofa, an Adinkra symbol from West African meaning to go back and get it.

As African people were enslaved and forced into free labor, many of our ancestors brought their spirituality and languages with them. Though communication wasn't always allowed among enslaved people, they found ways to communicate through songs and even symbols.

Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Much of New Orleans' architecture, especially the ironworks, was created by enslaved African people and cleverly, they included African symbols in their work. A popular symbol used throughout the city is an Adinkra symbol called the Sankofa. Sankofa means to go back and get it or to learn from the past. This symbol is also represented with a bird reaching back to an egg that is on its back. I find it significantly powerful to have a constant reminder re-directing African people to, Sankofa, learn from the past.

Fleur-de-lis on a rod iron gate in New Orleans. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

The fleur-de-lis is probably the most popular symbol in New Orleans. It's so popular here, it is often used to represent the city of New Orleans. You can find fleur-de-lis throughout the city almost anywhere including rod ironwork, stuckle, and woodwork.

The fleur-de-lis is also a very popular tattoo for New Orleanians. It is a symbol that has helped many displaced New Orleanians feel connected to home. Many New Orleans businesses or businesses of people from New Orleans often use this symbol in their logos or on their buildings.

Krewe du Brew, a New Orleans coffee shop logo which includes the fleur-de-lis. Located at 1610 St. Charles Ave.

The New Orleans Saints use the fleur-de-lis as their logo for their national football team. It is also found on the Louisiana French coat of arms. On a much darker note, the fleur-de-lis symbol was used to brand enslaved Louisiana people who ran away from the plantation. Many people criticize the use of the fleur-de-lis because of this notion, however, the roots of the fleur-de-lis go back even further than slavery.

The Fleur-de-lis aka Flower of the Lily is an image derived from Egypt.

The fleur-de-lis translates to "flower of the lily". It is connected to the lotus flower, the three-pronged flower of Egypt. The lotus flower is symbolic of the Nile River's streams. You can find images of this three-pronged flower in many Egyptian hieroglyphics.

I had the pleasure of learning much of this information through a short documentary project I worked on with Ashé Cultural Arts Center called The Redemption of the Fleur de Lis. Carol Bebelle, Co-Founder/Executive Director of Ashé, shared a book with me titled, Fleur of the Nile. It's a great book to check out.

Home is Where the Heart Is. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

5. NEW ORLEANS IS THE HOME OF THE HISTORIC CONGO SQUARE, A SACRED GATHERING PLACE FOR AFRICAN PEOPLE SINCE THE LATE 1740s.

Night-time shot of the Armstrong Park arch. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Located inside of Armstrong Park in New Orleans, Congo Square is the oldest gathering place for African people in the country. Since the late 1740s during slavery, African people in New Orleans, gathered in Congo Square on Sundays for dance, music, spiritual works, markets, and to, seemingly, have a day off to connect with their African roots and people. Many times even free people of color came out to Congo Square to connect with their culture as well.

Congo Square Historic Marker. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

In 1997, Congo Square received a historic marker. 20 years later, in 2017, it was refurbished in red and unveiled by the Congo Square Preservation Society. The Congo Square Preservation Society, formerly known as The Congo Square Foundation, has been the major catalyst in the resurrection and continuation of activities, advocacy, and preservation of historic and sacred Congo Square since 1989.

Currently, you can visit Congo Square throughout the week, however, on Sundays 3-5pm you can join the traditional drum and dance gatherings led by the Congo Square Preservation Society. Donations and memberships are encouraged to support the work of keeping this historic sacred space available to the African diaspora.

Other special events and festivals happen in Congo Square throughout the year, such as the Congo Square Festival, Jazz in the Park, The Celebration of the African American Child, Maafa, and more. Many times Congo Square is the go-to space for community healing circles, the culmination of protests, press conferences, weddings and even repasses. Spiritual rituals and practices are especially among some the activities that take place in Congo Square. Many times their practices are done at the foot of the ancestor tree, one of the oldest trees in the park.

Ancestor Tree in Congo Square. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Healing Circle in Congo Square for Charleston Massacre. 2016 Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Aerial shot of circular pattern of square bricks in Congo Square. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Close up of square bricks paved in a circular pattern in Congo Square. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

One local shero, who has invested much of her research and heart work to sharing the history of Congo Square, is historian, independent scholar, author, and arts educator, Freddi Williams Evans.

Historian, Freddi Williams Evans, speaking to Amaru Come-Unity Homeschool students about her new book, Come Sunday. 2018 Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Freddi Williams Evans speaking on a panel at TED Women New Orleans. 2018 Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Freddi Williams Evans was essentially the driving force to encourage the creation of the 2011 ordinance that officially renamed the historic Congo Square, Congo Square. Mrs. Evans is the author of several books including "Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans" and her latest book, "Come Sunday: A Young Reader's History of Congo Square".

Each of these books deserves to be a part of your collection and knowledge base. I'm not just saying that because she gave a shout out to BYP100 Nola, a chapter of BYP100 that I founded, and Take Em Down Nola, an organization that branched out from BYP100 Nola. But that just adds another reason for you to add it to your book collection.

BYP100 Nola at Congo square after their "Circle For Mike Brown" march & protest, Nov. 2014

It's truly an honor to know this amazing scholar and legend. Just think. Without her contributions, Congo Square could still be named after a Confederate general and white supremacist. Asante Sana to you, Mrs. Freddi, for helping to preserve and share our history. #TakeEmDownFreddi

Freddi Evans, Photo by Gus Bennett

6. THE OLDEST AFRICAN DIASPORIC NEIGHBORHOOD IN THE COUNTRY, TREME, IS IN NEW ORLEANS.

Faubourg Treme historic marker

You probably heard of Treme from the HBO TV Series. If not, then maybe you have heard of jazz music which was born in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans. Well Treme is the oldest African America neighborhood in the country. Historically known as "Backatown" to signify the area behind Rampart, Treme was also where most free people of color lived.

In addition to jazz, Treme gave birth to some of the most magical musicians in New Orleans. Such contributions like world renowned "Rebirth Brass Band", co-founded by Kermit Ruffins, was formed in Treme. Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews is another successful young musician raised in Treme. He began playing the Trombone at the age of 4. I believe, it is the spirit of our African ancestors, their music, and culture that makes this neighborhood and community such a powerful contribution to the city and the world.

Trombone Shorty at Voodoo Festival 2011 Photo by Cfreedom Photography

In additon to Treme's history as a neighborhood where many musicians and artists, lived, worked, and created, it is also where many historic African and African diasporic gathering places are. Congo Square and Mahalia Jackson Theater, located inside of Louis Armstrong Park, are in the Treme neighborhood. St. Augustine Church, the oldest African America Catholic parish in the country is located in Treme too. Powerful freedom rider and community leader, Jerome "Big Duck" Smith is from Treme and is a director of Treme Recreation Community Center, a staple in the Treme community. Even Angola Three member, Albert Woodfox, grew up in Treme.

Currently, Treme has been heavily gentrified and it is becoming increasingly more difficult for Black New Orleans artists, musicians, and creators to live in this historically Black neighborhood. A recent article headline read, "Treme home built with affordable a housing grant currently a $400 per night air bnb". This is one of many other ways Black people are being outpriced in their neighborhoods and city.

I couldn't help but think about this powerful t-shirt from Local New Orleans, a t-shirt company. It reads "Make Treme Black Again". We need to bring all of our Trombone Shorty's, Kermit Ruffin's, Brass bands, spiritual workers, and community leaders together for a meeting of the minds to take action before it is too late.

"Make Treme Black Again" shirt by Local New Orleans. Click image for the store.

7. IN NEW ORLEANS, MANY AFRICAN AND AFRICAN INSPIRED TRADITIONS ARE STILL PRACTICED TODAY.

New Orleans is a city rich in traditions and culture. From the Mardi Gras Indian culture to African spirituality, New Orleans is a place like none other in the country. What a blessing to be able to call this place home.

Big Queen Cherice Harrison-Nelson of the Guardians of the Flame at Katrina 10 Commemoration March August 29, 2015. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Big Chief Victor Harris of Spirit of FiYiYi resting at a Maafa Commemoration stop. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Spy Boy of the 7th Ward Creole Hunters. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Living in a city that never sleeps, its only natural that you don't get to experience all its excitement. I don't make it to as many second lines as I'd like but I get to live out the celebration through images from young photographer prodigy, Patrick Melon. Patrick is a second line photographer guru, aka a modern day Eric Waters. He captures the cities second lines like none other. I've included some of his photos to share the powerful unity that he captures at our New Orleans second lines.

Aerial shot of a brass band playing at a second line. Photo by Patrick Melon

When I think of New Orleans second lines, I think about a place of unity among New Orleans people, Black people, people of African descent. Some cases of unfortunate violent acts have taken place at second lines and caused some negative stigmas to form about the tradition. However, I believe the majority of the people who come out to second lines come out to experience and celebrate the culture.

How powerful would it be, if all of the Mardi Gras Indian tribes, Brass Bands, Second liners, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, and Culture Bearers came together to develop and educate people on keeping and protecting the culture? In addition, it would be important to create community accountability protocol for violators who taint the culture? I believe such actions and messages are necessary to the set the standards of unity, love, and respect between the culture bearers as an example to the community. We must adopt the parts of African culture that shows communities coming together but also being accountable to each other. Together we can do this in love.

The traditions that New Orleans continue to practice and pass on is one of the most unique parts of the city. It is one of the largest parts of what makes it the most African city in America. These traditions must be passed down with care and in better conditions then what we received them. It is our duty as the most African city in America. The next generations are following our lead. It is up to us to guide them in the spirit of unity, love, and respect. This is what should guide 100% of their footwork. 

Two young boys second line on the rooftop of a Treme home, across the street from the Treme Center. Photo by Patrick Melon

8. THE ART OF STORY-TELLING IS A PART OF NEW ORLEANS THAT IS ROOTED IN AFRICAN CULTURE.

Ever noticed how people from New Orleans say bye or see you later almost five times before they actually depart from events or conversations. That's because we are natural storytellers. Story-telling is a major part of New Orleans culture, as it is of African culture. It's also a part of why New Orleans people like to greet people when they enter each other's space or pass by you while walking down the street.

"What's up", "How ya doing", "How ya mama nem" are all some common greetings you might hear from New Orleans people while walking up any given New Orleans street. Some may call it "southern hospitality" but I call it "African hospitality" because as natural as Africans, New Orleans people love to speak to and look out for each other.  

Storytelling has been a part of my New Orleans roots since my elementary school days. One of our most popular community storytellers was Adella Adella the Storyteller aka Adella Gautier. If you attended public schools in New Orleans the Hurricane, chances are you got to experience this wonderful storyteller throughout your childhood.

Adella Adella the Storyteller (Adella Gautier) Photo by Gus Bennett, Jr.

Some other great elder storytellers are Mama Olayeela Daste, Mama Jennifer, Chakula cha Jua, and John O'neal. These wonderful storytelling artists, many of whom are battling illnesses, are community treasures.

Storytellers and culture bearers awarded at 2017 Nia Kwanzaa celebration at Treme Community Center. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Mama Jennifer gives Adella Gautier a kiss after she receives her award at the 2017 Nia Kwanzaa Celebration. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Storyteller, Chakula cha Jua at 2017 Nia Kwanzaa celebration. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Mama Jennifer speaks after getting her award at the 2017 Nia Kwanzaa celebration. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Cfreedom poses with storyteller and educator, Mama Olayeela Daste at the 2017 Nia Kwanzaa celebration. Photo by Dfreedom

As many of our storytellers face some of the challenges of aging, it is pressingly important that the storytelling traditions get passed along and kept alive in New Orleans culture. One young playwright, mother, and storyteller that is keeping the tradition alive is Briceshanney Grisham. She occasionally hosts community storytelling events in the city. During July and August, she will be hosting kids summer workshops at the Broadmoor Wellness Center on the Westbank. (more info in events suggestions at the end of this article)

Briceshanney Grisham leads a storytelling workshop with Ashé's BirthRite breastfeeding support group. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

A few days ago, I walked into Community Book Center on a Wednesday morning and was pleased to see some community mothers have started a weekly storytelling event. They will be hosting them at Community Book Center 11 am on Wednesdays. Mama Jennifer, co-director of Community Book Center, scholar, and one of the communities most treasured storytellers, was present and happily documenting the storytime on her cellphone.

Weekly storytelling for children at Community Book Center Wednesdays 11 am Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Wendi O'neal, daughter of actor, director, writer, and freedom rider, John O'neal, is keeping the storytelling tradition alive by using story circles, a group storytelling technique. Wendi is a cultural worker, activist, facilitator, and educator. She is the founder of Jaliyah Consulting, an organization that uses freedom singing, story circles, and group facilitation to share civil rights movement history, culture, and traditions. Jaliyah Consulting hosts a bi-weekly event called The People's Community Sing. (more info in the events section at the end of this article)

Ashé Cultural Arts Center produces an annual play adapted from David Anderson's book called "The Origin of Life on Earth: An African Myth". This story is a beautiful introduction to the different Orisha deities. Narrated by the co-founder of Junebug Productions, John O'neal, Origins is a great story that connects African origins and the connection to African people in New Orleans.

John O'neal, actor, storyteller, writer, and founding Artistic Director of Junebug Productions

It wasn't until I visited Cuba, a country rich in African spirituality and roots, that I saw such a play with powerful African spiritual connections. While many Black people in New Orleans may have never experienced plays or productions like "Origins" or the one I saw in Cuba, I do think it is very important that exposure to storytellers and stories, especially African stories, become more pronounced in New Orleans Black culture.

I consider myself a storyteller as well. Though my most pronounced form of storytelling isn't oral, I do use photography and film as well in addition to writing, poetry, music, and fashion to tell stories. I'm currently working on my first narrative short film production called The Essence of N.O.W., set to be released in late 2018. The Essence of N.O.W. is a story of a New Orleans woman on her journey to self-love, healing, and sisterhood. It is a silent film that is told through all original songs from New Orleans women. This story is an ode to Black women in New Orleans and to the strong African roots in New Orleans.

The Essence of N.O.W. : A Short Film by Christine Brown. Coming Soon late 2018.

9. THE AFRICAN SPIRITUAL PRACTICE OF  HONORING ANCESTORS IS A PART OF NEW ORLEANS CULTURE.

New Orleans is known for their jazz funerals and second lines. A jazz funeral is a funeral procession accompanied by a brass band. People take to the streets often dancing in a very spiritual manner. This tradition of celebrating the life of the deceased is connected to the West African Yoruba religion among others. Below is a photograph of a woman dancing on top of a casket. This photograph was taken by New Orleans photographer, Eric Waters. Eric Waters is known for his jazz funeral, second line, and social aid and pleasure club photography. He has a book called Freedom's Dance that shares many of his images and information on the culture.

Lady dancing on coffin at a New Orleans funeral. Photo by Eric Waters

Brass Band Photo by Eric Waters

My 2006 introduction to Ashé Cultural Arts Center is where received most of my African cultural awareness. Ashé is an art space dedicated to culture, community, and commerce. Co-founded in 1998 by Carol Bebelle and the late Douglas Redd, this tricentennial birth year for New Orleans is Ashé's 20th birth year.

Ashé Cultural Arts Center's 20th Anniversary logo which includes a Sankofa symbol

For the past 17 years, Ashé has hosted a commemoration of our ancestors from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. This commemoration is called "Maafa" which translates to "great tragedy" in Kiswahili. It refers to the period called the Middle Passage or Transatlantic Slave Trade.

This year on July 7, 2018, Ashé presents the 18th Annual Maafa "A New Orleans Tricentennial Commemoration". Starting at 7am inside at Congo Square in Armstrong Park 701 N. Rampart St. Per the Ashé website,"The MAAFA Commemoration offers an opportunity for the whole community to pause and reflect on this great transgression against humanity and to personally, as a community, agree to distance ourselves institutionally in word and deed from that transgression, its legacy and the evolved practice of racism in our civic, social, spiritual and personal lives."

For more information on Maafa. Click the Maafa flyer below.

The 18th Annual Maafa Commemoration, Saturday, July 7, 2018, 7 am Congo Square

I've had the pleasure of attending quite a number of Maafa Commemoration's and each year, I must say, it is growing and becoming more powerful. Below are a few photos I took during different years at Maafa.


Often at African spiritual gathering and ceremonies, people wear white attire. Below is a photo of a homegoing ceremony for a great New Orleans leader, Mama Suma held in Congo Square. Big Queen Ausettua of the Washitaw Nation Black Indian Tribe lifts her hand, sending praises up for ancestor Mama Suma. Though Mama Suma has transitioned into the ancestor realm, through African rituals, her family, contributions, and community, her spirit lives on.

Big Queen Ausettua of the Washitaw Nation of the Black Indian Tribe at Mama Suma's homegoing ceremony in Congo Square. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

If there is one thing that I understand about African spirituality, it is that it is an important part of our culture that was stolen from us and is being used against us. Though there are individuals who righteously practice African spiritualities in New Orleans, one would think that being the most African city in America, it would make African spiritual practices the norm. Unfortunately, it is not as prevalent as other colonized religious practices. However, I believe African spirituality is the answer to many of the problems we face in our communities today.

Sula Spirit of the Temple of Light: Ile de Coin Coin is a spiritual leader in New Orleans who has a beautiful spiritual shrine designed to support African people in spiritual cleansing and guidance. Sula Spirit's Temple of Light is a highly recommended grounding place for spiritual balance and guidance.

Currently, I don't have a specific African spiritual practice that I have chosen for my life's path. However, I have adopted some of the common practices of honoring our ancestors, opening up space with them, pouring libations, and honoring their names. These are some of the rituals I have picked up from some of my closest, trusted spiritual beings and workers.

Whenever, I have a chance to host a gathering, especially with African people, I take time to open up the space paying homage to our ancestors. In doing so, I usually pour a libation, a drink poured out as an offering to a deity. This is something often seen during Kwanzaa celebrations in New Orleans as a way of connecting African descendants to some of Africa's culture. 

Dr. Samori Camara pours libation at Umoja Committee's 2014 Kuumba Kwanzaa Celebration at Ashe. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Another place African American may have seen libations is in movies and music videos. DRS's 1993 hit "Gangsta Lean" is my earliest memory of libations being poured in the form of a 40 ounce being poured out for the lost of their homies. Their lyrics sing "I tilt my 40 to your memory..."

DRS "Gangsta Lean" video still

In 1994, Tupac Shakur came out with a song called "Pour out a Little Liquor". Even in this gangsta rap song, he is referencing his connection to African spirituality via pouring a libation. Tupac probably was exposed to African spirituality via his mother and her connection to the Black Panther Party. However, I wonder if DRS was aware of the African libations then or even if other hip-hop artists and fans got the connection back then. I know I didn't.

liquor GIF

Our ancestor names being lifted up in songs is also a connection to African spirituality. In, New Orleans rapper, Master P's 1997 song, "I Miss My Homies", he calls out the names of some of his loved ones that he lost. There is even a sand scene in his video that looks just like the "ancestor's plain" scene in Black Panther. I guess the records Master P broke can be considered sort of Wakandan for the Calio ice cream man. 

Perhaps Haitian hip-hop artist, Wyclef Jean is an artist more likely to be aware of his African roots, given Haiti's rich African roots. In his 2000 album, Ecleftic, he included calling the names of the ancestors and pouring liquor in his song called Thug Angel. Haiti and New Orleans have quite a strong connection due to the history of slavery. I haven't been to Haiti yet but I have been to the neighboring country, Cuba, which has similar connections to Africa and New Orleans for some of the same reasons.

Through my travels to Cuba and experiencing their strong presence of African spirituality, it was clear that Cuba practices African religions more primarily then New Orleans. And even though African spiritual practices take place in New Orleans more than many other places in America, I am even more convinced that we should be growing our spiritual practices more in New Orleans. 

In my lifetime, one of the most powerful examples of African spirituality being used by African people is around the removal of Robert E. Lee and three other symbols of white supremacy in New Orleans. As a direct organizer in the removal of these symbols, I largely credit the removal of the statues to the intentional spiritual rituals that were performed at the spaces throughout the organizing of their removal.

Ifa Seyi, ordained West Afrikan Yoruba Ifa-Orisa Priest, was a leading spiritual worker to support the removal of these statues, particularly Robert E. Lee. We give thanks to those spiritual workers and practices that are used to guide and protect us. Below are photos from 2014-2017 that show the process of removing the statues.

Ifa Seyi provides spiritual cleansing at the former Lee Circle site before BYP100 NOLA's 2014 "Circle For Mike Brown" rally. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Spiritual workers who were instrumental in the removal of Robert E. Lee statue. 2015 Photo by Cfreedom Photography

On May 19, 2017, local Black organizers removed 133 year old Robert E. Lee statue, one of many statues of white supremacists in New Orleans. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

On May 19, 2017, New Orleans organizers removed 133 year old Robert E. Lee statue. Photo by Cfreedom Photography

10. FOR MAJORITY OF NEW ORLEANS' 300 YEARS, IT HAS BEEN POPULATED BY MOSTLY PEOPLE OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA.

Though many people of the African diaspora remain displaced since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Black people still remain the majority of New Orleans' residents. Gentrification, poor education, lack of career opportunities, and poverty continue to make it difficult for Black people to flourish in New Orleans. Such symbols of white supremacy represent many of the injustices Black people face in the city. 

I'm an avid advocate for Black people uniting and practicing group economics as a way of bringing forth their own freedom and power. New Orleans wouldn't be able to survive without all of the contributions African descendants continue to bring. It is beyond the time that we come together and put our money where our melanin is. When we come together to educate, empower, create, and support our communities, there won't be room for outsiders to come in and violate our spaces.

Below are some beautiful photos of what Black unity looks like in New Orleans. Together we can make sure New Orleans remains the most African city in America for 300 years to come.

Wholely Living, Simply Living "Calling All My Sistahs" Day Retreat. 2012 Photo by Cfreedom Photography

Cfreedom speaks at BYP100 Nola "Circle for Mike Brown" Rally at the former Lee Circle. Nov. 2014

Uptown second line Photo by Patrick Melon

Suggested reading materials:

Come Sunday by Freddi Evans

Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans by Freddi Evans

Fleur of the Nile by Casey Delmont Johnson

Freedom's Dance: Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans by Eric Waters and Karen Celestan

Marking Time Making Place by James B. Borders IV

Suggested organizations to support:

Amaru Come-Unity Homeschool

Andrew's Welding & Blacksmith Shop

Art Journey Allen Gallery & Studio

The Angola III

Ashé Cultural Arts Center

Black Star Books & Caffe

Braveheart Foundation

Claiborne Corridor Cultural Innovative District

Congo Square Preservation Society

Community Book Center

Ellis Marsalis Center For Music

Hidden History Tours

Jaliyah Consulting

Junebug Productions

Know Nola Tours

New Orleans Master Crafts Guild

New Corp, Inc.

Noirlinians

Sista Midwife Productions

Take Em Down Nola

Tombar Life Center

True Love Movement

UDA (United Descendants of Africa)

Umoja Committee

WCWM: Who's Coming With Me

Wholely Living, Simply Living

Artists and Culture Bearers referenced in article:

Art by Bryan Brown

BLK x LIGHT

Cfreedom Photography

Eric Waters Photography

Freddi Williams Evans

Little Praline

Local New Orleans

Patrick Melon

Sula Spirit - Temple of Light

Trombone Shorty

Suggested African and African Inspired Restaurants to support:

14 Parishes Jamaican Grill

Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant

Bennechin African Restaurant

Black Swan Food Experience

Boswell's Jamaican Grill

Cafe Porche 

Coco Hut Caribbean Restaurant

Dooky Chase

Froot Orleans

Krewe du Brew

Lil Dizzy's

Mama Isis Farm & Market

Ms. Beasley's

Queen Trini

Sweet Vegan Soul Food

The Half Shell on the Bayou

Vegan Chef Nola

Veggie Nola

Suggested events to attend:

The People's Community Sing 4-6PM

1st & 3rd Sundays of the month

People's Assembly - 1418 N Claiborne Ave

Juneteenth Celebrations

Saturday, June 16, 2018 - Stand with Dignity - Juneteeth Block Party - 2-7p 217 N. Prier St.

Saturday & Sunday , June 16 & 17, 2018 11am-7pm - CID_NOLA - Kings Corridor Weekend - N. Claiborne & Orleans

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - UDA - Nola Juneteenth Celebration - 3p-8p L B Landry-Walker 1200 L B Landry Ave.

Lecture by Professor Griff - 10pm - Cafe Istanbul 2372 St. Claude Ave.

Ashe' 18th Annual Maafa Commemoration 

Saturday, July 7, 2018, 7 am - Congo Square

Storyjamas Kids Summer Workshops

July 23, 27, 30 & Aug 3 4:30-6pm

Broadmoor Wellness Center - 3700 General Taylor

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE AFRICAN ROOTS OF NEW ORLEANS!

Cfreedom is a New Orleans based international universal queen yeyo artist, activist, educator, and entrepreneur. TW: @cfreedomHIPHOP IG: @cfreedom504

The Essence of N.O.W. : A Short Film is Shooting the Last Scene on Sat 3.31.18

THE ESSENCE OF N.O.W.: A SHORT FILM

New Orleans, LA, March 30, 2018 – The Essence of N.O.W.: A Short Film is produced by WCWM: Who’s Coming With Me and Cfreedom Photography. This story of self-love, healing, and sisterhood is a silent film told through the original songs of New Orleans women. Produced with an all women and girls production crew, this film is intended to shine light upon the power and unity of New Orleans women while archiving and celebrating their genius.

"I just need to world to be able to see, hear, feel, and experience what I get to experience on a regular basis; extraordinary New Orleans women working together and healing the world. The music they sing, their style, their hair, clothing, jewelry, energy…it has got to be some of the most spiritually healing medicine on Earth. In addition, we are celebrating women in film and helping to widen this narrow lane that we fought so hard to bring into existence. We are committed to creating a new wave of films and stories produced by all Black women and girls crews. It’s a tough job and somebody’s gotta do it, right? Let the somebodies be us.” - Cfreedom

 “The Red Carpet Performance Scene” is the last scene of The Essence of N.O.W. It features some of the most talented New Orleans women vocalists including, main character, Yahjah, along with Kelly Love Jones, Caren Green, Casme and more. In addition, some of the music you will hear throughout the film is from well known artists such as, Joy Clark, Charm Taylor, Sybil Shanell, Zion Trinity, Monica McIntyre, Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Michaela Harrison, and a few other great additions.

Production of “The Red Carpet Performance Scene” is taking place this Saturday, March 31, 2018 from 5-10pm at the Ashe Power House 1731 Baronne St. Anyone who is interested in being a part of this production needs to RSVP at www.theessenceofnow.com to receive the information for call times. Extras are asked to arrive red carpet-camera ready no later than 15 minutes prior to call time. The attire requested is anywhere within a Wakandan-Zulu-Essence mix. Complimentary food and snacks will be provided.

The Essence of N.O.W.: A Short Film is projected to be released late Summer 2018 during the tricentennial year of New Orleans. All extras who RSVP and participate in this scene will have free entry to the premiere screening.

Follow @theessenceofnow on instagram. Donations are accepted on the website.
Christine ‘Cfreedom’ Brown - 504-595-9442  - theessenceofnow.com

DONATE TO THE ESSENCE OF N.O.W.: A SHORT FILM

KWANZAA 2017 IN NEW ORLEANS

HAPPY KWANZAA

BY THE 2017 KWANZAA COALITION

KWANZAA 2017 IN NEW ORLEANS

Celebrate Kwanzaa in the New Orleans community and at your homes. Wanna know how and why? Check our schedule and see all of the events and locations happening in New Orleans.

 

Practice the seven principles of Kwanzaa (NguzoSaba) everyday of the year. Happy New Year!

SUPPORT FOR BLACK PEOPLE DURING UNSETTLING TIMES

Written by Ayanna Molina

Over the last 3 weeks or so, some people have come to me with specific complaints.  These weren’t all “clients”; some were friends & some were family, too. The complaints were the same though: worse than normal feelings of anxiety, like something terrible was getting ready to happen + a feeling like not wanting to be in the world any longer (not suicidal, but more so “tired of the world”). All were still functioning normally (able to sleep, work, eat & relate normally) but definitely more anxious, sad and a bit paranoid. So, we have been witnessing the current political climate & dealing with mental/emotional fall out from facing the truth about the country we were born/raised in. We have also had to balance the everyday stress of living in an oppressed state, as well as recent stressors like the children going back to school, effects of flooding etc.
I think added to the cosmic shifts that are also happening, the system of White Supremacy is literally crumbling (which is related to the cosmic shift).
We feel all of this!
Take into account that there are things we can’t “see” or control, but still impact us like vibrations, frequencies & energies.
So what can we do?
Treat your body well: Eat high vibrational foods that we prepare ourselves (while thinking healthy, high vibrational thoughts). Include live/raw non-GMO fruit/vegetables at every meal. Drink only plenty quality water all day, workout daily (yoga, walking/running, dancing, intentionally moving the body to release stress & tension, going to the gym, etc.). Sit in the sun daily for as long as you can.
Treat your mind well: Use the tools that have proven to get you through tough times. For me the tools are: intentional journaling daily, listening to high vibrational music all day by high vibrational artists + singing to the top of my lungs when no one is around 🙂 (no music focused on sex, drugs, murder, hate, etc), using positive affirmations all day coupled with intentional deep breathing techniques (ex: inhale joy, exhale anxiety). Try: Intentional visioning of a world where ALL people are treated fairly and justice is real! Visualize a world where Black people and all people of color are strong, healthy, viable, self-sufficient and free from all oppressive systems! What does it look like? What does it feel like?
* If needed, make an appointment with a trusted therapist with good fit for your specific needs.
Treat Spirit well: Put your spiritual practice to work…everyday! This looks different for everyone. I won’t share my practice here for sacredness & privacy, but it may look like prayer, meditation, reading devotionals/psalms, lighting candles, chants, going to church, going to places that feel good to you (in nature, with great trusted friends/family, etc.)
You aren’t “mentally ill” if you’re feeling some anxiety right now & you are still able to function normally. This is the time to take the best care of yourself & your family. It’s hard to ensure you add all these pieces to an already full life, I know. In these days/times, you have to find space/time to take great care. Brothas & Sistahs, Mamas & Babas, YOU HAVE TO FIT IT IN!
If you are not functioning normally (not being able to go to school, work, not being able to take care of your home/children, sleeping too much/too little, eating too much/too little, having to use alcohol/drugs increasingly to cope, having relational problems with others (violence, withdrawal from people who love/care about you), dangerous/risky behavior etc. talk it over with a someone you trust. Consider reaching out for professional support. True Love Movement may be able to help. Call the Love Line: 504-309-5683. We will return your call as soon as possible.
If you are suicidal (wanting to die/kill yourself, have a plan to die/kill yourself or can’t stop thinking about dying/killing yourself) call the National Suicide Hotline IMMEDIATELY:1-800-273-8255
Or call 911.
Don’t deny your feelings.
Do take great care, Family. Get help if you need to.
Ayanna Molina, M.Ed, NCC, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor
True Love Movement, LLC
NOTE FROM WCWM:
True Love Movement provides professional counseling services. We also wanted to share a few other healing resources that may be of assistance through these unsettling times.
ASCENT BLENDS
(Headquarters Barber Shop 1101 N. Broad Ave.)
Organic Smoothies prepared with love.
BACKYARD GARDENERS NETWORK
Get out into the gardener. Experience nature.
DETOX INTERNATIONAL
Cleansing/Detox
Cleanse your body. Also Kemetic Yoga classes available. Contact via website.
FROOT ORLEANS
TU-SAT 10am-6pm
Organic Fruit Bowls
2441 Bayou Rd.
Fresh fruit by the bowl.
ORIGINAL THOUGHT’s HEALTH FOOD & VEGGIE
WED-SUN 11am-6pm
2400 Bayou Rd.
Vegan, Alkaline, Whole Foods prepared for you.
SUPA NOVA FIT
Exercise/Personal Trainer
supanovafit1@gmail.com
TEMPLE OF LIGHT – ILE DE COIN-COIN
PRIESTESS NANA SULA SPIRIT
Sulaspirit@yahoo.com
Libation, Prayers, Spiritual Cleansing…
THE BREATH IS LIFE, SPA
Massage Therapist
504.430.1565
Relax a bit. Get a massage.

101 BLACK WOMEN BUSINESSES IN NEW ORLEANS TO SUPPORT

I woke up one day with it on my mind. I was like, [thought bubble], how powerful it would be to have a collective list of Black women businesses in New Orleans. The original idea was to spotlight 10 of our “Black Women WCWM Members Businesses.” But when I googled “Black women businesses in New Orleans”,  I didn’t see much. Immediately, I recognized a more significant idea to have our WCWM Member list connected to a larger group of Black women businesses in New Orleans.

So, we have 10 featured WCWM Members women businesses with a list of 100 businesses to follow. I know the article is titled 101 Black women businesses…and there are only 100 listed but don’t forget to count WCWM: Who’s Coming With Me in as a Black woman owned business in New Orleans too. We, #TheUnityMovement, are honored to present this list to you.

And it wasn’t easy getting it down to just 100 Black women businesses because there are so many amazing women doing excellent business in New Orleans. It surely isn’t possible to fit them all on one flyer, but we have a few on the Ujamaa Directory, our New Orleans Black business directory, and we are working hard to list more each day. We hope that this supports leveling an unbalanced playing field and brings forth equity to the arena of Black women businesses in New Orleans.

Black women businesses are said to be the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America. Ironically, we deal with more discrimination inside and outside of our businesses than most groups. Many times we have to work more than three times harder than men, just to get half the jobs at a percentage of the pay. Don’t get me wrong, we bring quality work, worth, and skills to the table but many times there are slim to no seat(s) at the table for us, let alone being pulled out for us to rest our bones. That’s why we have started building our own tables and chairs and offering other sisters seats at the tables; getting our Solange on so to speak.

Cause lets face it, patriarchy is a real ugly beast. As a root of white supremacy and all of the systems America operations under, patriarchy tiers down from white men and women to even dwelling in the mind of some black men and women. Yes even Black men and women participate in the practice of patriarchy at times.

Think about it, how many times do you see Black men supporting each other? Very often, right?! Even more often than we see Black women supporting each other. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with Black men supporting each other either. Its actually a good thing. However, sometimes it is exclusive and that’s when the good thing of supporting your brother turns into discrimination towards your sister.

Now think about it, how many times do you see Black women supporting Black men? Most often, right?! And this isn’t a bad thing but it isn’t as common to see Black men supporting Black women. This doesn’t mean that women love men more or vice versa. Nor does this mean all men don’t support women and all women do support men. This isn’t even a competition between man and woman, but it is intended to raise a point that when you put any group up to Black women, even Black women up to Black women, usually the Black women get the least support. Malcolm X said it before in the 60s and not too much as changed in reference to this subject; the most disrespect, unprotected, and neglected person in America is the Black woman.

Moreover, it takes a special kind of muscle to be a Black woman business. Sometimes you have to flex those muscles while bearing child(ren), breastfeeding, providing meals for sets of hungry little bellies, or even nurturing other peoples children. Trust me, there is so much more to being a woman beyond reproducing and nurturing; like forgetting what society tells you to be in order to get to know who you truly are…Then, you have the challenge of managing self-care and self-time. Its the beautiful struggle of being the mothers of civilization. However, we don’t have to struggle so hard if we simply take time to reflect on the ways we all can contribute in making it more of a blessing to be a Black woman.

I encourage us all, starting with Black women and men, to intentionally support Black women businesses, even if its recognizing when there are slim to no seats for women at the table. We have got to work together to make it better for us all; including the future of Black women and men to come. When we as Black women, and supporters of Black women set the example and standards in our communities then we are sure to grow healthy, stable, and nurtured communities of children, and Black women and men of the future.

Check out our 10 WCWM Members features along with the list of 101 Black Women Businesses in New Orleans to Support. Please spread the word & love. Thanks for your support in advance.

AMARU COME-UNITY HOMESCHOOL

Amaru Come-Unity Homeschool, founded in 2015 by Nicole Adams, is dedicated to nurturing the Black child; mind, body, and spirit. Amaru is a tuition based business that uses its community based resources and love to provide young people with the education and knowledge of self need to propel them in the necessary directions to acheive success. For more info: www.amarucomeunity.com

 

HAPPY VILLAGE KIDS

Kids Handmade African Attire

Happy Village’s goal is to create African inspired fashion for kids of all ages, at affordable prices. Founder and world traveler, Renee Johnson, says her inspiration for Happy Village Kids was inspired by the culture and traditions around the world with a special affection for those created in the motherland. Renee Johnson is also the founder of Afrimodiste, an African inspired formal attire line that formed its roots during Zulu Ball 2015.  Happy Village Kids has a commitment to sharing global discoveries through fashion and designs, hoping to inspire kids of all ages in rediscovering the gifts of Africa and encouraging international exploration. For more info: www.happyvillagekids.com.

 

TRUE LOVE MOVEMENT

Certified Counseling & Wellness Services

The mission of True Love Movement is to empower Black people to achieve optimal health and wellness through counseling, education, community activism and the production of creative arts and media all of which promotes self-awareness and self-love. Founded by New Orleans native,  Ayanna Molina, True Love Movement has been growing and building in the community in various ways including free community wellness events, workshops, etc. They can even be found on WBOK1230AM on Saturdays 5-6PM for the True Love Movement Hour. For more info: www.truelovemovement.com

SISTA MIDWIFE PRODUCTIONS

Midwife & Doula Trainer

Sista Midwife Productions is founded by Nicole Deggins. They provides education and training through teleconferences, webinars, keynotes and live workshops. They work with pregnant women, doulas, families, birth workers, communities, advocates, and allies. Sista Midwife Productions hosts a Breast feeding support group every Monday 6:30-8:30pm at Black Star Books & Caffe. Their website hosts a directory of midwives and doulas across the country. For more info: www.sistamidwife.com

KEYS OF BEAUTY, LLC

Hair Studio

Keys of Beauty, LLC is founded by Keysha Dennis aka the Beard Oil Lady and located at 2518 Bayou Rd. Keysha is also the owner of BeardTifull Beard Oil, an all natural product used to support health beard growth while reducing razor bumps and keeping beards smelling and looking fresh. Not only is Keys of Beauty a Black woman business but they are also a Black woman business employer. Visit Keys of Beauty Hair Studio for all your hair needs. For more info: www.keysofbeauty.com

 

MONTANA PRODUCTIONS, LLC

Event & Festival Productions

Montana Productions LLC is a full service production management company specializing in art fairs and music festivals. Founded by New Orleans native Gina Montana, Montana Productions LLC, a locally owned and nationally recognized company, has over 20 years experience in special events and festival productions. For more info: www.montanaproductionsllc.com

 

ARTIST JOURNEY ALLEN GALLERY STUDIO

Art Gallery & Studio Space

Situated in the heart of New Orleans’ historic 7th Ward district, Artist Journey Allen Gallery Studio strives to build community and empower its members through its consistent provision of creative opportunities. Simply stated, Artist Journey Allen is more than JUST a gallery or painting studio. In addition to exhibiting artwork by local artists and hosting public paint and sip sessions throughout the week, AJA Gallery Studio is further developing its intention to provide a platform for under-served youth (as well as others) who are interested in exploring the gift of creativity through art classes and exploratory workshops. For more info: www.artistjourneyallen.com

 

NAILS BY NALO

Nail Salon

Located in Body Bistro Spa at 8710 Oak Street, Nails By Nalo provides natural nail care services in a one-on-one spa environment. Nails by Nalo is founded by Nalo Johnson. Check out their services and book your appoint with Nails by Nalo. For more info: Nails by Nalo

 

BLACK SWAN FOOD EXPERIENCE

 

Food & Restaurant

Black Swan is a pop-up restaurant and catering company that merges casual fine dining with street food culture. Their food is Creole, Thai, Caribbean-inspired, contemporary Soul food that honors tradition and creativity. Black Swan was founded in 2014 by Native New Orleanian Chef Nikki Wright. Chef Nikki brings more than 7 years catering experience and takes great pride in highlighting the African and Native American influences on New Orleans cuisine. For more info: www.blackswanfoodexperience.com

 

CFREEDOM PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography & Cinematography Production Company

Cfreedom Photography LLC is a photography & cinematography production company based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cfreedom Photography is located in Central City New Orleans on Oretha Castle Haley (also known as historic Dryades St.) and provides services and products locally, nationally, and internationally, specializing in all things positive, festive, musical, colorful, historical and monumental. Founded in 2008 by New Orleans artist and activist, Cfreedom (Christine Brown), Cfreedom Photography is currently co-producing a short film along with WCWM titled The Essence of N.O.W. : A Short Film to spotlight and unify New Orleans. For more info: www.cfreedomphotography.com and www.theessenceofnow.com

Below is a list of 101 Black Women Businesses in New Orleans that we thought you should know and support. While many are listed on the Ujamaa Directory, we want you to do your research and check them out for yourselves. When you do, feel free to visit our Ujamaa Directory and rate and comment on the businesses. Also feel free to screenshot and share this list with your friends, print it up on your wall, on the wall at your job, put it in the glove compartment of your car… Make a conscious decision to support Black women businesses as often as possible.

 

4 NEW ORLEANS WOMEN: VOCALISTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

4 New Orleans Women : Vocalists You Should Know

Written By: Christine Brown

History is the very moment that just passed and all the moments they’re before. Therefore, history is being made every day, minute, and second of our lives. It is essential that we time-stamp our existence, cultivate seeds of greatness, and give birth to relevant history; the kind that will last much longer than just our lifetimes; the kind that honors the past and prepares the future.

In the spirit of Women’s History month,  we give thanks for those New Orleans women who have come and gone before us, making it possible for our existence; women like Mahalia Jackson and Oretha Castle Haley. We give thanks for those New Orleans women ancestors who we do not know by name but those hidden figures who have planted the seeds that blossomed into we. We also give thanks for those wise (elder) New Orleans women who have come before us and are still here with us sharing and guiding through their experiences; women like Mama Carol, Mama Vera, and Mama Jennifer. And finally, we give thanks for all the New Orleans women who are blessing the world with their essence and breaking through barriers to simply be.

In this edition of 4 New Orleans Women, we have chosen 4 New Orleans women vocalists we think you should know. They are certainly time-stamping their existence in the hearts, spirits, and memories of others. Through their songs, they share their stories and give volume to the stories of others.

We’ve provided each of these ladies with a few brief interview questions as a way to get a closer look at them as artists, women, business owners, leaders, and more. I’ve also taken the liberty of sharing personal testimonies of their growth and excellence. Visit their site. Follow them on social media. Purchase their music. Support their work. You deserve some of the goodness they are serving.

It is our pleasure, at WCWM: Who’s Coming With Me, to present to you 4 New Orleans Women : Vocalists You Should Know.

 

CASME´

@iamcasme @casmecares @nolasgotit @cafeagape2101

Casme’ (Kaz-May), aka QUEEN OF THE BAYOU, is a New Orleans Indie Singer/Songwriter. She has traveled the world as an Entertainer & Philanthropist. After being away from New Orleans for over a decade, Casme´moved back home in late 2015. Now she is here like she never left, giving back to New Orleans through community works, creativity, fitness events, business ventures, and more.
I had the pleasure of meeting Casme´ on the New Orleans music scene sometime last year and soon learned that she is and does more than an average singer.  This sister is a renaissance woman, making more moves than a Queen on a chess board. She has several music videos, albums, and mixtapes and has even created a new dance with the matching song and movement, called the “Nola Step”.  Everyone (including me, lol) should learn it. As a matter of fact, she has been traveling around the country teaching it to folks. Stay tuned for the forthcoming “Nola Step” video. In the meantime, get to know her a little more by reading her interview below and checking out some of her many endeavors.

What part(s) of New Orleans did you grow up in?

Born in the 10th Ward on Annunciation next door to the St.Thomas Projects. 

Favorite street in New Orleans and why?

Royal Street. It’s a place where musicians, poets, actors, singers, dancers & human statues can be free to express their gifts and/or talents and be paid for it in the namesake of NOLA ART/CULTURE. 

Tell us about any of your non-music related endeavors?

1. I’ve written a book, Daughter of The King 101 available on Amazon designed to guide young girls to womanhood. Basically it’s a 101 rules of being a lady, a devotional and diary. 

2. Casme Cares Community Outreach, a company designed to unite the community through mentoring & educational workshops, free events & concerts and more. Our desire is to uplift at risk youth, homeless, elderly and orphans. 

3. Nola’s Got IT is an event production company I started to showcase some of the passionate people of New Orleans. It’s a huge networking opportunity for like minds & good spirits to be active one with another. Our events include Fitness, Music, Art, Gaming, Athletics & More! 

How long have you been singing?

Since I was 2.

How do you sustain yourself as a singer in New Orleans?

I sing every weekend at different venues in the city for high end weddings & corporate events. I am also blessed to receive residual royalty checks from past work with national projects such as TYLER Perry productions, Grand Hustle Records & now Walmart.  

Coffee or Tea?

Tea. I’m addicted. Part of the reason I’m opening a Cafe lol

Favorite color and number?

I have two lol Royal Blue & Burnt orange. I see 1’s everywhere I turn. 1:11 11:11 1 etc… I had to look it up because at one point it became so in the face to me. It means LIGHT…Illumination…Being on the Right path. 

Favorite Black owned New Orleans restaurant/eatery?

We Dat – Edna Karr Magnet Alumni ya heard me?! I was Miss Karr when I graduated so I have mad school spirit & pride! I rep my alums! 

Best ways you relax?

Praying & Meditating. A Hot Tub. Zen or classical instrumental music. 

Any New Orleans women singer collaborations? If so, who?

Keedy Black will be featured soon on my Nola Step dance song. Soulja Slim’s sister G.I. Peaches recently did a feature on a song, “Down Before” that we’ll soon be releasing and promoting alongside a Bullying/Suicide campaign. There’s a few other talented women with great spirits that I’ll be soon reaching out to for my upcoming album this summer.  

Do you have any mentors and do you mentor anyone?

Jesus, the life He lived, the love He spread and the compassion He had for people inspires me to walk like Him.  Also my mother is a mentor, she’s one of the most talented women I’ve ever met…she can do anything hence the reason I know I can! lol Roderick Glover a motivational speaker in Nashville Tn who motivates me to constantly motivate & inspire our youth with my energy & gifts. Vocal coach/ Acting coach, Delores Burgess, in Atlanta who pushes me towards greatness in an acting/musical productions. I also listen to Joyce Meyer and TD Jakes on a regular. I’ve personally mentored over 40 young girls as apart of my own “4U mentoring”, Usher’s “New Look” & Steve & Marjoree Harvey’s “Girls Who Rule the World” programs worldwide. 

Unique ways you prepare for a show?
Honestly I don’t have any lol I need to do better! I don’t warm up or nothin! But that voice come through in the name of Jesus Everytime!!! ?????

Biggest Moment in your music career?

Traveling the world with many major artists. The last tour I did was the most amazing … I flew out of the country & filled up my passport as background singer for B.O.B. We performed for BET, VH1, Jimmy Kim Mel, the View, Wendy Williams, Jay Leno and on & on! That experience was A huge inspiration to me for my future endeavors. I’ll be back but as CASMÈ Queen of the Bayou! 

Biggest Challenge in your music career?
Balanced being a community activist, artist & multi talented human being. It’s like Lord, which one do you want me to do. I have millions of ideas and 20 gifts. Trying to balance them all has its challenges but I remain faithful to God and try my best to stay connected to His spirit so He leads me and my footsteps. ❤️️

Upcoming 2017 projects? 

Cafe Agape (my music venue/cafe)

Music- 

1. The Nola Step & The Nola Steppers debut! Video, Song & Dance Troupe

2. Work on My New Album (untitled)! Some Grammy Awards hitters are already on deck! 

3. Keep spreading Love throughout the Algiers / Nola Community – (monthly) Blessings on the Bricks free community breakfast & Nola All star Apollo, (quarterly) Nola Gladiators & Love N Basketball & (weekly) Singers Vibe. 

Shout out some of your crew.

My mommy, daddy, 6 sister, brother & all of my beautiful family who support all of my endeavors,the love of my life Gary, my promoter/friend Curt Star w/ 504 Fresh, Co owner of Cafe Agape ..my partner/sister Chaval Barnes, My Nola producer Jamal Batiste, my past managers in Nashville and Atlanta and to new team for Nola’s Got IT & Casme Cares – Eyonka, TK Debbie, J Shine, Ericka, Chaval, Carolyn, Jared, Crystal, Corisma, Cathy, Cekell, Elisha, Morion, Dj Dee & Gary. Thanks to
crew members Martha, Nilo photographer,  & Ja Champ Videographer.
And C Freedom for this opportunity to let my Nola folks know a lil bit more about who I am!! After 16years I’m Home & I’m Happy to be Home!

DENISIA

@whoisdenisia

Denisia, well known for her bounce cover of Adele’s “Hello”, has been holding it down in the music industry for over a decade. I met her back in 2010, when she was going by the name of Princess Denisia. And even though she dropped Princess from her name, she is still The Life of The Party as her hit single proclaimed. Even in 2010, she stood out and above average as a singer/songwriter/performing/recording artist. When she hit the stage, she came with the full package; wardrobe, dancers, choreography, beautiful vocals, and even original songs that keep the crowd engaged, dancing and singing along. Fast forward 7 years and here she is; re-inventing herself, often collaborating with other artists, and steady rising to the top of the in this music industry as an independent New Orleans artist.
Denisia is like our New Orleans Beyonce´. She has such a fierce work ethic and keeps raising the bar every time she performs. In 2016, she is won Best Live Performance and Best Female R&B/Pop/Soul Artist at the Nola Music Awards. And she has been winner the heart of many; including the young people in New Orleans. She is an inspiration and a role model to many of my former high school student. I believe one of them even started a fan page for her.
Denisia takes us on R&B/ Bounce adventures every morning teamed with her comrad, Hasizzle, as they give us life with THE MORNING BEAT. She keeps fresh videos, songs, photo shoots, and shows dropping with her amazing team, keeping her fans satisfied and looking for more. Last week, she re-released her latest album, (currently my favorite album) HIM and held an album release party at Peaches Records, hosted and attended by several New Orleans celebrities. I suggest you to get this album and even subscribe to her youtube, because if you haven’t been following her, then you have much catching up to do.

What part(s) of New Orleans did you grow up in?
Uptown, NO East & Kenner

Favorite street in New Orleans and why?
Valence and Soniat I met and grew with some of the most amazing friends I consider my family now. 

Tell us about any of your non-music related endeavors?

I’m planning more youth outreach events this year. I love children and I want to use my platform in the city to inspire and push the next generation to be their full selves and share their magic with the world.

How long have you been singing?

Since I was 3. My first paid show was at 5 lol. But professionally since 2006.

Coffee or Tea?

Tea.

Favorite color and number?

Orange .. 7

Favorite Black owned New Orleans restaurant/eatery?

WeDats of COURSE!! The best “buffalo cheese shrimp fries ever” #DenisiaSpecial on this side of heaven lol.

Best ways you relax?

Lay inside under the covers and just let pandora roll or watch old movies all day.. I also enjoy hotels with beautiful views that on the highest floors so I could just stare out of the window and just chill.

 Any New Orleans women singer collaborations? If so, who?

I’m really excited to get on a record with Kristen Avian and Ambre Perkins. 

Do you have any mentors and do you mentor anyone?

Yes one of my managers Elbee has been a mentor since I was 16. I have a few young girls that I do mentor from time to time.  

Unique ways you prepare for a show?

Im usually really quiet .. I don’t eat anything before I sing .. and I just zone out until I hear my name. 

Biggest Moment in your music career?

I have a few but one of my biggest moments was when I received my first songwriting placement for co -writing a song called “Love It” for Tamar Braxton.

Biggest Challenge in your music career?

Biggest challenge is dealing with some of the negativity when you are trying to spread love and show the world that anything is possible. But I’m a tough soldier.

Upcoming 2017 projects?

I will be releasing my bounce and soul mixtape in the spring called “Run Dat Beat” My original song “Our Year” will be featured in a film called “No Regrets” this year. 
Shout out some of your crew.

Mom & Dad lol @bdragonimery (my right hand) @ro.armstrong @hasizzlethevoice @sol_inajoe @oglilgod @porshapaints 

@elbeemusik @euniqeent 

CAREN GREEN

New Orleans native, Caren Green is a mother, author, poet, an motivational speaker. She has invested much of her time working with youth in the New Orleans community, through education and mentoring. Recently she has taken  her career to the next level by pursuing music full-time. We, at WCWM, couldn’t be more proud of her, after all, that is part of what the Who’s Coming With Me movement is all about.
I met Caren in 2008 and had the privilege of photographing her in the beginning stages of my photography career. Here voice, spirit, and style has remained one of my favorites throughout the years. Caren has even turned it up a few more notches as she released her debut album “The Green House Effect”,  January 2017. Her Album Release Party, hosted by renowned poet/mc Sunni Patterson, was held in the New Orleans Jazz Market auditorium; standing room only. This release party was truly a great propeller in the New Year for every one who attended, including myself.
Caren Green’s first single “Air I Breathe” is an extremely heart felt song that she dedicated to her sons. The inspiration for this song came from an unfortunate violent act in the city that claimed the life of an innocent young child. Though the child was not a child that Caren knew, she knew that it could have been anyone’s child, even hers or any of the young people she works with throughout the city.
The sincerity and compassion in Caren’s singing/songwriting is what sets her apart from many. Her lyrics to The Air I Breathe, and its video, make “Air I Breathe” a timeless mother to child song. Her album, The Green House Effect, is comprised of this song and ten others that can be purchased at here. This album has the potential to be Grammy Nominated and we at WCWM, will do what we can to support it getting the exposure it deserves.
Caren Green is the WCWM Featured Artist of the Month and we will be talking about her all month long so get used to the name and support the artist!

What part(s) of New Orleans did you grow up in?

New  Orleans East

Favorite street in New Orleans and why?

My favorite street in New Orleans is Leonidas, I have a lot of fun memories  hanging with friends going to beauty shops, seating on my friends stoop, and being a teenager and yung adult. this street comes to mind it was the gateway to so many great memories.

Tell us about any of your non-music related endeavors?

I am a doula,  future author of The Greenhouse Effect, and I am also very invested in the mental wellness of our youth and young adults. I serve on the board of Divine Intervention an agency that provides such services. I receive so much light from both and don’t take for granted how important the work is.

How long have you been singing?

I started singing in church at the age of 4.

How do you sustain yourself as a singer in New Orleans?

I know its apart of my divine purpose. So I EXPECT it to yield provision, open doors, and stability, because it is what I am supposed to do.  I  remain consistent  in the building process., which includes the building of our youth, city, and community.

Coffee or Tea?

neither lol

Favorite color and number?

white and 304

Favorite Black owned New Orleans restaurant/eatery?

Neyow’s and Not Too Fancy Bakery

Best ways you relax?

Pajamas and Mommy and Me time with my sons

Any New Orleans women singer collaborations?

None yet. In the future I would love to collab with Indie Wrytes and Tank and the Bangas.

Do you have any mentors and do you mentor anyone?

My first mentor was Lady BJ Crosby she recently passed last year. I am so grateful to have my Pastor Ava Richardson and Dr. Holden as my current mentors/ life coach. Everyone needs someone to help them climb.

Unique ways you prepare for a show?

Lol. Overwork myself which is not healthy. I love to laugh and often seek to have people around me who can aid me in such humor.

Biggest Moment in your music career?

My album release last month. I conquered all kinds of fears that day. That day I realized I can do anything I put my mind and faith too.

Biggest Challenge in your music career?

Becoming Fearless!!. I still struggle with fear of the unknown, age, and overall wonder. but I wake up and fight it everyday. And Everyday I win!! I want my sons to know all things are possible and I want to be the example.

Upcoming 2017 projects? 

I am also a future author. I am currently working on my book. The Greenhouse Effect.ease of album: Green w/ Indie ,  and tons of other infinite possibilities.

YAHJAH

@yahjahsings @evolutionfitnessnola

Allow me to introduce you to baby of these four artists, YahJah. She is one of the newest r&b/neo soul singer/songwriter sensations in New Orleans and has been pursuing music for the shortest time of the four. However, she is coming out hard and learning as she goes.  I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing her metamorphosis from a fragile caterpillar,in its cocoon stage, into a fierce butterfly, steadily gaining new colors and patterns with each stretch of its wings. I’ve known her the longest of all of the four, all her life actually. She is my baby sister and I am very proud of her for sharing herself and shining her light as an artist.
YahJah is a poet, as well as a recording and performing artist who has recently been gracing quite a few stages and even some air waves throughout the city. Not long ago, she released her new song, “Who Do You Turn To”. She has a video shoot schedule this month, March 17, for her previously released hit single, Sunrise. This will be Yahjah’s first official video shoot. You can be a part of the video shoot by RSVPing to sunrisevideoshoot@gmail.com.
Yahjah’s first single “More To Me” will be featured in upcoming short film, The Essence of N.O.W. : A Short Film later this year.  She also anticipates the release her debut EP mid-late 2017. Stay tuned and stay connected because this is only the beginning.

What part(s) of New Orleans did you grow up in?

Seabrook or the 8th ward, some refer to it as Gentilly

Favorite street in New Orleans and why?

Music Street. Aside from the obvious, I lived on this street for majority of my childhood. 

Tell us about any of your non-music related endeavors?

I fell in love with Pilates about 5-7 years ago. Recently, I’ve obtained my license to teach mat Pilates and started my business, Evolution Fitness Nola.

I absolutely love children of all ages.  I nanny sporadically and do my best to ensure I maintain an active relationship with my 20 plus nieces and nephews. 

How long have you been singing?

I don’t remember an exact age but for all long as I can remember. Actively pursuing singing since 2014.

How do you sustain yourself as a singer in New Orleans?

Honestly I’m still working on this. I recently decided to pursue my music career full out. I’m still in the beginning phases, but I do believe I am well on my way. 

Coffee or Tea?

Definitely tea! 

Favorite color and number?

I’ve never been able to decide on one color but I guess I can say teal, for now at least lol. #11 

Favorite Black owned New Orleans restaurant/eatery?

Hmmmm I’d have to say Rollin Fatties food truck. 

Best ways you relax?

Listening to music, singing in shower,  exercising, singing & dancing freely around the house. Keeps me sane and light hearted. 

Any New Orleans women singer collaborations? If so, who?

I don’t have any as of yet but I’d love to collaborate. Kelly Love Jones in particular would be amazing to collab with. Her music is so powerful and healing. Her cd “Love Is the Frequency “stays in my CD player at all times and gets me through a lot of tough moments. 

Do you have any mentors and do you mentor anyone?

I don’t have a designated mentor but I do seek advice from a couple of my older brothers as well as a renowned music director. I would love to find a mentor that is established in their music career.

Unique ways you prepare for a show?

Prayer, meditation, and positive uplifting people and surroundings always does me well. I also listen to motivational speeches to rid myself of any negative thoughts. 

Biggest Moment in your music career?

Hmmm, I’d have to say my biggest moment so far was writing and recording my first single “More To Me.” It has a very special place in my heart and tells an intimate story. 

Biggest Challenge in your music career?

Aside from financial resources, I believe my biggest challenge has been believing in myself and in my visions. I’ve battled with confidence issues and low self esteem since I was a child. I am finally learning to love myself and this journey to self love has brought me closer to pursuing my passion, which is music. 

Upcoming 2017 projects?

Currently fundraising for my very first music video to my single “Sunrise” that I will be shooting on March 17, 2017. I plan on having an EP completed mid/late 2017. Recently I’ve began working with a few talented musicians to start a band as well. My single “Sunrise” will be featured in a short film and maybe even myself. Shhhh!

15. Shout out some of your crew.

Willy- performance coach & choreographer 
Jenna McSwain- vocal coach 
Christian Jay- Stylist
Photographer- Cfreedom Photography 
Band members- Joshua Hawkins, Donald Magee, Dominic Tardy, & Jarvin Chapman 
My husband Moe for his support in my musical endeavors. 

Happy Women’s History Month. Thanks for reading. Always give a queen her props when you see her doing her thing. Please share and support! And stay tuned for our upcoming short film production, The Essence of N.O.W. : A Short Film. Learn more at www.theessenceofnow.com

QUEEN SUGAR NEW ORLEANS 2-SPECIAL PREMIERE SCREENINGS

WCWM & CFREEDOM PHOTOGRAPHY PRESENTS A TWO NIGHT PREMIERE SCREENING OF NEW TV SERIES "QUEEN SUGAR", FROM THE VISIONARY FILMMAKER AVA DUVERNAY AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OPRAH WINFREY. HOSTED BY TWO AMAZING TREASURES IN THE NEW ORLEANS COMMUNITY, COMMUNITY BOOK CENTER & ASHE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER, BOTH NIGHTS PROVIDE A VERY WORTH WILD EXPERIENCE AND INTENTION OF CELEBRATING QUEEN SUGAR CAST & CREW MEMBERS IN NEW ORLEANS AS WELL AS THE BLACK BUSINESSES THAT SO GRACIOUSLY PROVIDED THEIR SPACE FOR THE SCREENINGS. DETAILS BELOW!

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QUEEN SUGAR TWO NIGHT PREMIERE

#QUEENSUGARNEWORLEANS

TWO SCREENINGS x TWO NIGHTS x TWO BLACK BUSINESSES

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 6, 2016

COMMUNITY BOOK CENTER

2523 BAYOU RD.

6:30-10PM

&

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 7, 2016

ASHE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER

1712 ORETHA CASTLE HALEY BLVD.
NEWORLEANS, LOUISIANA

7-10PM

FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

DONATIONS TO THE VENUES ARE SUGGESTED!

queensugarneworleans

TUESDAY x COMMUNITY BOOK CENTER x 6:30-10PM

Its a celebration of all Queen Sugar cast & crew in New Orleans. Whether you were a producer or an extra, we are celebrating you! We are also celebrating Black businesses, artists, and youth in New Orleans. Special guests and cast member Adella Gautier aka "Adella Adella the Storyteller" will be at Community Book Center with us so spread the word and the love! Performances by New Orleans women followed by the premiere of Queen Sugar on OWN at 9pm! Food by "For The Occasion Catering". Drink sells donated to Community Book Center. Come early to shop, eat, drink and build community!

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WEDNESDAY x ASHE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER x 7-10PM

Join us for on the 2nd premiere night at Ashe Cultural Arts Center, for a very special back to back screening of Episodes 1 & 2 of Queen Sugar. Doors open at 6pm! Please shop at the Diasporic Boutique, and make a donation to the venue!

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About “Queen Sugar" 

From award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) and executive producer Oprah Winfrey, the contemporary drama “Queen Sugar” chronicles the lives and loves of the estranged Bordelon siblings in Saint Josephine, Louisiana: Nova (Rutina Wesley, “True Blood”), a world-wise journalist and activist; Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner, “Unforgettable”), the savvy wife and manager of a professional basketball star; and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe, “Awkward”), a formerly incarcerated young father in search of redemption.  After a family tragedy, the Bordelons must navigate the triumphs and struggles of their complicated lives in order to run an ailing sugarcane farm in the Deep South. Led by acclaimed film director DuVernay, who directed the first two episodes, all episodes in the series’ debut season are directed by women. “Queen Sugar” is produced for OWN by Warner Horizon Television. The executive producers are Ava DuVernay, Melissa Carter and Oprah Winfrey.  The series is based on the book by Natalie Baszile.

 

The expansive cast includes Tina Lifford (“Parenthood”) as Aunt Violet; Omar J. Dorsey (“Ray Donovan,” “Selma”) as Violet’s much younger boyfriend Hollywood Desonier; Dondré Whitfield (“Mistresses”) as trusted Bordelon family friend Remy Newell; Timon Kyle Durrett (“Single Ladies”) as Charley’s husband, professional basketball star Davis West, Nicholas L. Ashe (The Lion King - National Tour) as Charley and Davis’ teenage son, Micah; Greg Vaughan (“Days of Our Lives”) as a local cop and Nova’s lover, Calvin; and Ethan Hutchison (“The Path”) as Ralph-Angel’s son, Blue. Additionally, Emmy and multiple NAACP Image Award-winning actor Glynn Turman (“The Wire”) guest stars as family patriarch Ernest Bordelon; Henry G. Sanders (“Rocky Balboa”) recurs as Prosper Denton, a farmer and longtime friend of Ernest, Bianca Lawson (“Rogue”) guest stars as Ralph Angel’s ex-girlfriend and mother of Blue, Darla; and Marycarmen Lopez (“From Dusk ‘Til Dawn: The Series”) as Blue’s elementary school teacher.

 

DuVernay directed the first two episodes of “Queen Sugar” and hand-picked an all-female roster of directors to helm the subsequent episodes of the series’ first season. The slate of both seasoned and emerging directing talent includes Tina Mabry (“Mississippi Damned”), Victoria Mahoney (“Yelling to the Sky”), Tanya Hamilton (“Night Catches Us”), So Yong Kim (“Lovesong,”  “Treeless Mountain”), Kat Candler (“Hellion”), Salli Richardson-Whitfield (“Eureka”) and Neema Barnette (“Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day,” “Being Mary Jane”).

WCWM POOL PARTY SUNDAY AUGUST 28, 2016 2-7PM

WCWM POOL PARTY BLK TRIM

THIS SUNDAY Join us for the WCWM Pool Party 2-7PM! RSVP TODAY at wcwmcfreedom@gmail.com and let us know you plan to come. Space is limited! Purchase your ticket at http://buytickets.at/wcwmpoolparty/64027 . Receive location information upon purchase of your ticket(s). WCWM Members get in FREE! BECOME A WCWM MEMBER!  50% OFF for all Virgos. Just use PROMO CODE: VIRGOSEASON. Must have ID to verify.

We are featuring some your favorite Black businesses in New Orleans and if you don’t know who they are then we are pleased to introduce you to them. Black Swan Food Experience is a pop-up foodie giving you the Creole Thai Cuisine with an extra side of Southern hospitality. Be sure to get your food fix with them as well as your fruit from Froot Orleans who will also be vending pool side.  Froot Orleans is a pop-up fruit stand located on Bayou Rd (across from Club Caribbean) weekdays 10am-6pm and popping up just about everywhere people need fruit in the city. Also we will have local beverage companies Bissap Breeze and Yimalade as our featured drinks (non-alcoholic and mixed). And to keep us fly in the sunshine we will have local glasses company Bold Lense vending with their various pairs of stunnas (sunshades).

Help us spread the word! Follow us on instagram at @wcwm504, @ujamaadirectory504 and on twitter @ujamaadirectory! Follow our featured businesses on instagram @bissapbreeze @blackswanfoodexperience @boldlense @yimalade and @frootorleans. Thanks for the support!

WCWM POOL PARTY BLK TRIM

SUNDAY

AUGUST 28, 2016

2-7PM

RSVP: wcwmcfreedom@gmail.com

 

AUGUST WCWM FEATURES

AUGUST 2016 FEATURES
wcwm features aug 2016
FEATURED ARTIST : AYANNA MOLINA
Ayanna Molina is more than just a mother, artist, teacher, and healer who is doing the M.A.T.H., as her song “M.A.T.H.” so creatively expresses. Her investments and contribution to the Black community are so thorough; she is officially doing the M.A.T.H.E.M.A.T.I.C.S. ,S.C.I.E.N.C.E. , and more. There is no shortage of words to form acronyms about the many things this woman does. Her five children are exceptionally intelligent and talented. She is an amazing poet, EMCEE, recording artist,writer, and more. Ayanna is an educator in New Orleans schools and a Licensed Certified Counselor at her business True Love Movement which she founded and co-directs. She is also the founder of Womanifest, a community event that celebrates sistahs who have vision and purpose through their work. Look out for Womanifest 7  August 20 1-7PM and her second book, “Keep It High” which is releasing soon as well. Pre-order your copy on www.truelovemovement.com Follow True Love Movement and Ayanna on instagram at @truelovemovement and @fiyahlikeayanna.

temple of zen

Ashlin Washington, founder of Temple of Zen, has been actively producing professional digital media since 2010. Temple of Zen Studios is dedicated to revolutionizing the media & entertainment industry by offering to the community & small businesses the exposure they deserve in breath-taking detail. From photography & videography services, website building, music videos, commercials, marketing & branding, Temple of Zen is available to move your business and brand to the next level. Visit their website at www.templeofzen.com and follow them on instagram at @templeofzen.

 

FEATURED YOUTH : CAIRO MOORE

Cairo Moore is a 9 year old New Orleans native. He has been acting since the age of 6 but got his big break in the 2016 movie, All Eyez On Me. The movie is a bio pic based on the life of rapper/actor Tupac Shakur. In the movie, set to be released in November 2016, Cairo plays 11 year old Tupac. Cairo has also been featured in a student film, Pangaea which is being screened at several film festivals and various other projects that have not yet been released. Besides acting Cairo is also a Brand Ambassador for Happy Village Kids Clothing Line. Cairo also has an appreciation for music, he enjoys playing the West African kinkikini drum and is also a trumpet player with the Roots of Music Marching Band. Cairo plans on continuing acting, as long as he enjoys it, but aspires to be a football player/engineer when he grows up. Follow him on instagram @thecairomoore.