Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blue Bayou

In addition to visiting New Orleans, I also wanted to drive down the Mississippi to visit places I had never actually seen, but read much about in the wake of Katrina.

St. Bernard Parish is immediately adjacent Orleans Parish. It was the site of the Battle of New Orleans; it was also where the levee was intentionally blown up when the Mississippi River threatened the city in 1929. Back then, poor whites were sacrificed to save the city.

St Bernard largely consisted of people who would have proudly called themselves "coonasses." They also were (are?) extreme racists who, led by Leander Perez, entered New Orleans in the early 1960s to threaten black 1st grade schoolgirls integrating schools in Orleans for the first time in 90 years (yes, America, we had integrated schools in 1869). St Bernard is proud to be associated with Perez even today; their main street is named after him.

Plaquemines is actually whence Perez hailed. In Port Sulphur, Perez refused to provide plumbing to the black community until his death.

Anyway, these places do not necessarily exist any longer, at least not as they did before Katrina. They were wiped out by a 22 foot wall of water in parts, and Venice LA was even flooded during Hurricane Ida last week, which did not even cause rain in Orleans.

For some pictures of what's going on down there today, see my slideshow.


  1. We have a few friends who are from St. Bernard. I can't comment on their views on race, but I never heard them say a bad thing about another person. They are some of the friendliest people I've known.

    My main impression of St. Bernarders is that they have a fierce loyalty to their land. Fierce the way Gerald O'Hara is in Gone With the Wind. They also have some of the best accents in the area.

  2. Yes, there will always be exceptions, and I have also known some good people from Chalmette. But I have a special distaste for St. Bernard given its historical relations to Orleans Parish. In fact, the only place I probably dislike Moore is Jefferson Parish, which was a backwater swamp until the 1960s, when white flight set in. More then anything else -- even more than Katrina -- this white flight from Orleans to Jefferson (Metarie) has done irreparable damage to the city.

    And all that just because we didn't want to integrate schools ;-((((((((