CONGO SQUARE


Congo Square is located inside Louis Armstrong Park in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, LA. It is a place where enslaved and free people of color could gather on Sundays. In 1817 the mayor of New Orleans made it the only acceptable place where black people could congregate.


On Sundays Congo Square would have been a loud, lively place where enslaved people that had family on other plantations could possibility visit with each other. Congo Square

was many things for many people. It was an open-air market where people bought and sold goods, it was a place where people socialized, and practiced their religion. Africans would have been beating the bamboula drums, and the Haitian would have been beating the tambou drums. Drums, bells, banjos and other rhythmic instruments would have been played. Imagine sellers yelling for people to come and see their wares, child running around laughing and yelling to each other; joyful greetings intermixing with the drumming and children laugher.


The morning that I visited Congo Square it was quiet, a solitary man was dancing and worshipping in the middle of the square. That’s when it hit me that Congo Square was also a sacred place, Voudon, not Voodoo was practiced in Congo Square. I got emotional as I realized that it was possible that my ancestors gathered in Congo Square. I walked around Congo Square just wanting to walk in the same space that they walked in as they enjoyed their one day away from slave labor. I was solemn as I walked out of the park because I couldn't imagine what they felt as they left the one place where they could be happy if only for a moment.


Although I was sad to leave that sacred place, I was grateful that Congo Square had been preserved by the city of New Orleans.






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