Bloody Bogalusa and the Deacons For Defense and Justice

Sometimes you have to meet violence with greater violence.

That was the creed espoused by the Deacons for Defense and Justice, a paramilitary group of Black men dedicated to protecting civil rights workers and regular Black citizens during the bloody battles pitched on the city streets and country roads of Jim Crow-era Louisiana. Continue Reading

The Peculiar Genius Of Lafcadio Hearn by RL Reeves Jr

It was an only-in-New Orleans moment. Hundreds of people crowded onto balconies in the French Quarter as a brass-heavy marching band honked their way down Bourbon Street. The mob was chanting “Lafcadio…Lafcadio…Lafcadio.”

What makes it remarkable is that Lafcadio Hearn had quit our city some 130 years earlier in 1887 for the greener pastures of Martinique in the Caribbean Sea.

He would die in 1904.

And over a century later a raucous street party would fete the man who famously spoke on New Orleans saying “…it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio.”

Continue Reading

Chain-Smoking Rebel Playwright Lillian Hellman Was Born In New Orleans


Blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer by Hollywood.

Her most famous work banned in Chicago, London, and Boston.



Lust-filled, and promiscuous.

A “tough broad … the kind of girl who can take the tops off bottles with her teeth.”

Louche companion of Dashiell Hammet who cracked Hellman in the jaw at a party one night, and refused to marry her in the course of their 30-year affair.

Elia Kazan would call Hellman a “bitch with balls.” But in light of each of their appearances at the McCarthy hearings on Communism in the US it could be said that Lillian had enough balls for the both of them. Continue Reading

The Black Panthers Desire Stronghold in New Orleans

“Death to the pigs!” “Death to the pigs!” “Death to the pigs!”

It’s fall 1970, and the folks who live in New Orleans’ Desire Housing Project are verbally unloading on police officers who have shown up 250 strong in an effort to forcibly evict the local chapter of the Black Panther Party.

Little kids are chanting, middle-aged folks are hollering, and old folks are shouting as well. The crowd is determined to drive the police out of their neighborhood, and in a result that seems shocking a half-century later; they did just that. The cops withdrew. Continue Reading

Notes On The Life Of Gospel Singer Raymond Anthony Myles (publicity photo)

The greatest gospel singer of his generation, Raymond Anthony Miles was on the cusp of international glory when he was gunned down at the corner of Elysian Fields, and Chartres Street on October 11th, 1998. Decades before, the Queen of Gospel Mahalia Jackson had taken Raymond under her wing when he was a slip of a lad only five years of age. Continue Reading

Notes On The Life Of Anthony ‘Tuba Fats’ Lacen (photo: The Daily Spectrum)

Back in the eighties you could regularly find Anthony ‘Tuba Fats’ Lacen performing live at Jackson Square in New Orleans’ French Quarter. He was already famous as a founding member of Dirty Dozen Brass Band but he kept it real on the streets by playing for tips tossed in a plastic bucket on the stone flagons of the sidewalks. Continue Reading

They Caught The Devil And Put Him In Jail In Eudora Arkansas: Notes On The Life Of Tony Joe White

Tony Joe White grew up on a 40 acre farm outside a small town in northern Louisiana near the Arkansas border. How small? “Goodwill had three stores, a cotton gin, a pool hall, and a church,” he would state in a sixties newspaper interview.

The Mississippi River was a one mile walk to the east. Continue Reading