Saturday, November 26, 2005

Second Line of Hope in NOLA

Jazz parade marks hope in New Orleans
Traditional ‘second-line’ procession snakes through once-flooded streets
Updated: 6:16 p.m. ET Nov. 26, 2005

NEW ORLEANS - Led by brass bands and filmed by director Spike Lee, New Orleans gave thanks Saturday for things not lost in Hurricane Katrina at a "second-line" jazz procession through once-flooded streets.

The parade, with several hundred participants, started at the headquarters of a benevolent association just beyond the city's famed French Quarter and snaked its way through streets still littered with debris from the hurricane.

"We had to make a statement to the world that our history, that our African-American culture, will continue," said Fred Johnson of the benevolent group Black Men of Labor.

"It's to help the culture become better in life AK (after Katrina) than it was BK."

Joyful music
A second line, like the colorful procession in the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die," traditionally accompanies black funerals in New Orleans, when dancers and musicians follow the coffin through the streets. The music is somber on the way to the cemetery and joyful on the way back.

"There's no other way to be buried from where we came from," said Johnson, who wore a black suit and bright yellow shirt, with a matching yellow umbrella and a black fedora.

"If you got buried with a band, you are going to meet your maker."

Organizers described Saturday's procession as "a second line of thanks" and urged people to bring optimism and hopes to renew the city. Even now, almost three months after the storm, much of New Orleans remains dark and empty, and tens of thousands of people have yet to return home.

"I grew up listening to jazz parades and I grew up dancing in the street and when I heard that this was happening I knew I had to be here," said Sarah Earl, a New Orleans native now living in New York. "I thought it was a jazz funeral for New Orleans. Every single minute you are thinking about the city and the magic of the city. The people are astounding, in fact breath-taking."

Lee, who is making a documentary about how race and politics collided in the aftermath of the hurricane, directed a team of cameras at the procession. His documentary will be produced by Time Warner's HBO cable channel. He plans to have it ready for the first anniversary of Katrina.
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© 2005


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