Sunday, March 29, 2015
I think a major difference between New Orleans and other southern cities is their history of slavery. The French (who first populated New Orleans) learned early on that it’s better to have loyal servants than fearful slaves. Also, the type of work needed in New Orleans was different than the plantation type of work. New Orleans needed handymen to build the city, and the slaves were very skilled craftsmen. The slaves living in New Orleans had better living conditions (only when compared to plantation slaves) and were able to do more things.
We learned during the bus tour that slaves in New Orleans would sometimes have weekends free and they were able to congregate and play music and dance. This was a stark difference to the lives of slaves who worked on plantations. Many of the plantation owners knew that the slaves could communicate using drum beats across long distances, but in New Orleans they were able to express themselves freely during those weekend gatherings. Additionally if other people wanted to hire the slaves during the weekend, both the slave and the slave owner would take a cut of the profit. Plantation slaves were never paid for their work, so this is a big difference as well.