In a city ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak, members of one of New Orleans' most famous Mardi Gras groups - the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club - have paid a heavy price.
Sunday, April 12, 2020
Friday, March 27, 2020
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell would have canceled Mardi Gras if feds had taken coronavirus more seriously
Mardi Gras may have been the perfect breeding ground for the coronavirus, leading New Orleans to become one of the epicenters of the virus.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell appeared on CNN Thursday afternoon saying if she had more information from the federal government, she would have pulled the plug on carnival season.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Essence Communications Inc. has released the following statement concerning the status of the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture in light of the Covid-19 outbreak:
"We know that we are all focused on the health of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities, and with 16 weeks until the scheduled 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, we wanted to provide an update to our community and partners regarding our plans in light of coronavirus/COVID-19.
Our first priority will always be the safety and well-being of our Festival-goers and everyone who contributes to making the ESSENCE Festival of Culture such an enriching, entertaining and incredible experience, and we will continue to evaluate the situation and use all available resources and intelligence to that end. We are closely monitoring the unfolding developments and updated information from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health agencies and our partners in the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana.
Based on the latest information, including increasing public health interventions and measures being implemented domestically and internationally, and the considerable amount of time to assess and respond to developments between now and July, we are planning to proceed with the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture as currently scheduled, July 1-5 in New Orleans. Still, as a precautionary and proactive measure and with health as the foremost consideration, we are also identifying and securing alternate dates to ensure that we can adjust as quickly and seamlessly as possible in the event that circumstances require. Should that happen, we will honor all tickets sold for prior scheduled dates.
In the meantime, we are excited to share more about our daytime empowerment programming and our nighttime concert line-up — including headliners Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson — as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ESSENCE and look forward to seeing everyone in July.
‘ESSENCE is a multi-cultural, multi-generational treasure in the City of New Orleans and this year, with the return to Ghana, we've come full circle,’ said Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Mayor of New Orleans. ‘However, with the commemoration of our past, we must lean on wisdom and sound judgement to shape our future. Public health and public safety will always remain top priorities. As we continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19, know that we are taking every precaution to operate in the best interest of the attendees who make ESSENCE what it is.’
ESSENCE will continue to provide updates to our valued community of Festival-goers and partners regarding any new developments."
Monday, November 11, 2019
NEW ORLEANS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Today, ESSENCE Communications Inc., the leading media, technology and commerce company serving Black women, announced an extended five-year partnership agreement with the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana to host its signature ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ through 2024. A platform to advance global Black culture, economic ownership and inclusion, and community development, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture has contributed more than $4 billion to the local economy since its inception. Now the world’s largest cultural, music, entertainment and empowerment experience and the global epicenter of Black culture, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture has created a home for Black communities around the world and routinely attracts more than half a million international attendees over July 4th weekend – annually contributing more than a quarter billion dollars in economic impact to the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana.
To celebrate ESSENCE’s 50th Anniversary, the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture presented by Coca-Cola will be extended to five days for the first time ever and will run from July 1-5. The additional days will be curated with experiences and activations throughout New Orleans and Louisiana focused on advancing economic development, education and entrepreneurship.
Our decision to remain in New Orleans, Louisiana was ultimately rooted in the landmark partnership that we have developed with the City and the State over the past 25 years and in our collective intentionality to bring even more depth to that relationship,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of ESSENCE Communications. “This includes working together more closely to perpetuate a stronger cycle of Community Commerce that will equip Black and women-owned businesses with the access, expertise and financial resources to transform their local communities and economies today – and elevate their global influence and opportunity tomorrow. This is the purpose and power of the nearly 50-year old ESSENCE brand and the 25-year-old ESSENCE Festival of Culture as much more than a magical moment each summer, but as a movement in continuous service to Black women and Black communities in New Orleans, in Louisiana, across the nation and around the world.”
The Festival continues to be the only-of-its-kind merging epic entertainment experiences with extensive daytime programming that intersect key cultural pillars including Arts, Entertainment, Music, Beauty, Fashion, Technology, Film, Food, Wellness, Advocacy, Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment.
“It is always great to be in the City of New Orleans with our Essence family as we cannot accomplish what we do alone, and it takes great leadership to bring about change and elevation," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. "This commitment was made possible by all of our partners, and we are excited to sign our new contract for another five years. It really is a privilege to be the Mayor of the City of New Orleans. We made history with electing the first female Mayor of the City and of course marking the 25th year of the Essence Festival of Culture. It has always been a part of me as a woman, and as an African American woman, something to be particularly proud of.”
In 2019, in response to its identification of a critical void of Black professionals prepared to bid on large-scale live events and technical production, ESSENCE partnered with the City of New Orleans and the Urban League of Louisiana to launch “The Pipeline: An Economic Inclusion Initiative” in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Monroe. This ground-breaking effort – designed to increase the pool of women and Black professionals pursuing entrepreneurial business opportunities and careers in live events and technical production – will also create opportunities to connect existing production entrepreneurs to service contracts in the industry at both the corporate and governmental levels and give them access to networking, capital raising and opportunities for training and skills development. It also includes an internship program for youth seeking careers in media, live production and more.
“I am excited to welcome ESSENCE back to New Orleans through 2024 and am proud for the state of Louisiana to continue its partnership with this iconic event,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “New Orleans is a place like no other in the entire world, making it the best backdrop for the unique experience of the ESSENCE Festival of Culture. This is an economic opportunity not just for the state and the city, but also for the entrepreneurs, business leaders and others who will broaden their networks and connections through the many events associated with the ESSENCE Festival of Culture.”
In 2019, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture launched several new curated daytime-and-nighttime experiences across Louisiana in more than 40 venues, including the ESSENCE Global Black Economic Forum™, ESSENCE Fashion House™, ESSENCE Wellness House™, and ESSENCE After Dark™. In addition, more than 80 artists performed at the Louisiana Superdome – headlined by Forever First Lady Michelle Obama – including Mary J. Blige, Nas, Missy Elliott, H.E.R., Big Freedia, Pharrell Williams and more.
The ESSENCE Festival of Culture is supported by a host committee comprised of the City of New Orleans; New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation; New Orleans & Company; Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association; New Orleans Multi-Cultural Tourism Network, Inc.; the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center; and the State of Louisiana.
Sponsors for the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture include Coca-Cola and State Farm. The ESSENCE Festival of Culture is produced by ESSENCE Communications, Inc.
About Essence Communications, Inc.
Essence Communications, Inc. is the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and inspires a global audience of more than 20 million through diverse storytelling and immersive original content. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, experiential and online, ESSENCE encompasses its signature magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; and live events, including Black Women in Music™, Black Women in Hollywood™, Beauty Carnival™ and the ESSENCE Festival of Culture™. Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned, consumer technology company merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.
Sunday, July 14, 2019
But the service organization and its caterer, Centerplate, weren't about to let the meals that had been prepared for members go to waste. The group donated 17,000 meals to the Second Harvest Food Bank of South Louisiana, which will store them in a cooler through the storm, and then give them to residents who weather Barry, the food bank said Friday in a Facebook post.
"We are delighted that Centerplate donated the food we purchased making it available as a result of us terminating our convention early," the sorority's national president and CEO, Beverly Smith, said in a statement. "With 16,000 attendees and two food functions canceled -- our Sisterhood Luncheon and closing Soiree Celebration -- there was inordinate amounts of food that would have been wasted. Kudos to Centerplate."
Second Harvest Food Bank spokesman Jay Vise thanked the sorority for its donation.
"It's really heartwarming for these ladies ... when their major conference gets canceled, the first thing they thought of was to help other people," Vise said.
Founded in 1913, Delta Sigma Theta is a predominantly black sorority with more than 200,000 members nationwide.
Friday, May 17, 2019
The New Orleans Police Department is searching for a missing woman and her infant child.
Leeshinedra Davis was last seen Wednesday, May 15th by her family.
Davis told her family members through social media that she was “saying goodbye” to everyone, citing ongoing depression, according to police.
Since Davis’ social media message, neither she nor her 1-year-old infant child have been located.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Davis or her infant child is asked to contact NOPD Sixth District detectives at 504-658-6060.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
A Catholic school official said Monday that a suburban New Orleans school has rescinded its policy forbidding hair extensions.
But it remains unclear whether a sixth-grader who left school in tears last week after running afoul of the rule will return to Christ the King school.
A state judge blocked enforcement of the rule after the families of Faith and another girl, Tyrielle Davis, filed suit.
RaeNell Houston, the superintendent Archdiocese of New Orleans schools issued a statement that said Fennidy's family, and the family of Tyrielle Davis, another student who joined in a lawsuit over the policy, were told last week that Christ the King's hair extension policy had been rescinded.
"When this issue arose, the school immediately reviewed its policy and recognized that there may have been sensitivities that needed to be addressed," Houston's statement said. "They then reached out for input from the Office of Catholic Schools, the Office of Black Catholic Ministries, other principals, and parents."
Attorneys for the girls' families said the school did not immediately rescind the policy. They initially refused to change the policy, the attorneys claim, "instead asking that if Faith and Tyrielle return to school they pretend that their hair was natural."
Houston said she will work with school officials to "create a uniform policy that is sensitive to all races, religions, and cultures."
Sunday, December 03, 2017
The resentencing ended a 12-year legal saga for William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, whose case made headlines in 2005 after he was caught with $90,000 stashed in his freezer.
Jefferson walked out of an Alexandria courtroom a free man Friday, now facing only a year of post-release supervision after serving five years and five months of his original 13-year-prison sentence.
"I'm going to go back home and get a Christmas dinner," a smiling Jefferson told reporters after Friday's hearing.
Jefferson, 70, was convicted on 10 bribery-related counts in a 2009 trial. In October, though, the judge who sent him away ordered him freed. He said that a 2016 ruling by the Supreme Court overturning the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on corruption charges changed the law as to what constitutes an "official act" for which a public official can be charged with bribery.
The judge, T.S. Ellis III, tossed out seven of ten counts of conviction against Jefferson, and said Jefferson was entitled to a new sentencing hearing on the three counts that held up.
The new landscape prompted prosecutors and Jefferson's lawyers to negotiate, and this week they jointly proposed a universal settlement in which Jefferson's sentence would be reduced to time served plus a $189,000 fine, which amounts to what has already been collected on a $470,000 judgment entered at the time of his conviction.
At Friday's hearing, Ellis had the option to impose a stiffer sentence, but said the negotiated deal represented a reasonable conclusion to the case.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
LaToya Cantrell was coasting to victory and into the history books on Saturday, becoming New Orleans’ first female mayor. With more than a third of the voters counted, she was on the way to a resounding win against her opponent, former Judge Desiree Charbonnet who, despite a substantial early fundraising edge, could not recover from political action committee attacks that largely did the political dirty work and allowed Cantrell to keep her hands clean.
With a sizable mandate, Cantrell will take over as New Orleans’ 51st mayor as the city marks the 300th anniversary of its founding.
"Almost 300 years, my friends, and New Orleans, we're still making history," Cantrell said to supporters at New Orleans Jazz Market in Central City.
Cantrell told the crowd she had spoken to Charbonnet over the phone and congratulated her on making history. "Our history was two women making that runoff, and we both deserve to be proud of that," Cantrell said.
Cantrell started the race as an against-the-odds candidate who struggled to raise money early in the race. She finally broke out of the fundraising slump once she topped Charbonnet by nine points in the Oct. 14 primary.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
New Orleans is the nation’s largest and most complete experiment in charter schools. After Hurricane Katrina, the State of Louisiana took control of public schools in New Orleans and launched a nearly complete transformation of a public school system into a system of charter schools.
The birthing of the charter system occurred in 2005 when the community was displaced by Katrina. Control of the public school system was taken away from a board which had an elected majority of African American officials and was given to the white majority board of the state system
The first casualty of the abrupt change was the termination of the South’s largest local union and the firing of over 7000 most African American female teachers. Attorney Willie Zanders told the NAACP of the years of struggle for those teachers which, though initially successful, ended in bitter defeat years later. The city’s veteran black educators were replaced by younger, less qualified white teachers from Teach for America and Teach NOLA.
The change to charters reduced the percentage of black teachers from 74 percent to 51 percent. There are now fewer experienced teachers, fewer accredited teachers, fewer local teachers, and more teachers who are likely to leave than before Katrina. Five charter schools have tried to unionize with United Teachers of New Orleans. Though two schools cooperated, two other charters have said they are exempt from NLRB – a position rejected by the National Labor Relations Board. One of those charter schools shut out the public in 2016 by meeting privately and online over how to respond to unionization efforts.
New Orleans now spends more on administration and less on teaching than they did before Katrina. One charter school executive, who oversees one K-12 school on three campuses, was paid $262,000 in 2014. At least 62 other charter execs made more than $100,000. This compares with the salary of $138,915 for the superintendent of all the public schools in Baton Rouge.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
The New Orleans City Council has voted in favor of removing prominent Confederate monuments along some of its busiest streets — a sweeping move by a city seeking to break with its Confederate past.
The council's 6-1 vote on Thursday afternoon allows the city to remove four monuments, including a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that has stood at the center of a traffic circle for 131 years.
The decision came after months of impassioned debate. Now, the city faces possible lawsuits seeking to keep the monuments where they are.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu first proposed taking down these monuments after police said a white supremacist killed nine parishioners inside the African-American Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June.
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, the businessman-turned-politician who became the worldwide face of the city after Hurricane Katrina, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday.
Nagin, 58, was ordered to report to federal prison Sept. 8 and to pay restitution of $82,000. He was found guilty Feb. 12 of fraud, bribery and related charges involving crimes that took place before and after Katrina devastated the city in August 2005.