". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blumenfeld: WSJ: Unlocking Congo Square, Reopening Mahalia Jackson Theater

Larry writes:

Whenever a piece of mine sits awaiting publication, as this one did, I conjure a complete rewrite in my head. Still, the following describes the scene I found at Armstrong Park in New Orleans earlier this month, set against the backdrop of a reality-check. For me, the spiritual value of unlocking Congo Square trumps all else. LB


January 28, 2009/ page D7
"The Arts Come Marching In Again By Larry Blumenfeld
New Orleans

Once alight with bulbs that spelled out "Armstrong," the large steel archway above North Rampart Street, across from the venerable Donna's Bar & Grill, was dark much of the past decade, largely rusted. Beneath it, the main gate to a park named for trumpeter Louis Armstrong had been padlocked for more than three years, save for the occasional special event. Just inside, Congo Square - where two centuries ago enslaved Africans and free people of color spent Sundays dancing and drumming to the bamboula rhythm, seeding the pulse of New Orleans jazz - had been effectively off limits. The adjacent Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, home to opera and ballet performances for more than 30 years, sat empty and in need of repair after taking on 14 feet of water in 2005.

Check out the full piece at the link above.

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