Turns out the space that has been known since the 1800s as Congo Square is actually called Beauregard Square for a Confed general who also has a statue at the entrance of City Park and a house tour in the Quarter. Seems the name change in favor of the general came in 1893 which seems about right, knowing the revisionist history that went on in the South around that time and that it was the year of his death. From the T-P article: “According to widely accepted historical tradition, African-American slaves were allowed to gather on Sunday afternoons in an open field just outside the city, at a spot known by various names including Place Congo. The slaves and free people of color used this space to market goods, to socialize and to sing, make music and dance, maintaining their cultural heritage as well as social cohesion. White New Orleanians and visitors to the city would go there to witness African-American music and dance.”
Congo Square is within Louis Armstrong Park at the “end” of Saint Ann if you are leaving the Quarter. The park’s current condition is deplorable and maybe the name change for this most important history will spark some action for this public space to be a jewel rather than an locked up eyesore. (Can I suggest a tearing down of the fence to begin?)
Author of “Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans” Freddi Evans is appearing at Octavia Books and I am sure more signings to come to showcase her definitive history. I saw her speak at the TWLF this year and she is a delightful, gentle speaker with a firm grasp of her subject. Do yourself a favor and go hear her speak.
To order book
She will be at Octavia Tuesday at 6 pm.