"All that New Orleans is - is a result of Congo Square" -- Tommye Myrick, Assistant Director of the Center for African and African American Studies at Southern University at New Orleans.
Congo Square 1810
In 1804 Fort St. Ferdinand was demolished, leaving an area of land, used for the commonwealth, called "Circus Place", and later called "Congo Square". Even before 1800, it was a place, where slaves gathered on Sundays. There was a law that stated, "slaves must be free to enjoy Sundays, or they were to be paid fifty cents a day if they worked." In 1817, the slaves were only allowed to gather for games, dances, weddings and funerals.
When they gathered, hollowed drums were used. They were hit with all body parts. Primitive banjos joined the instrumentation. The music, influenced by Creoles, was not monotone, and at times lovely and subtle.
The dance was creative. Sensual movements, without arms or legs, were particular to slaves owned by Latino masters.
Congo Square 1910
After slavery was abolished Afro-Americans, continued to meet there on Sundays. the music was varied. A new form was heard. This form was played on Sundays, and the sound reverberated all over the city. It was the birthplace of JAZZ.
Pre-Katrina Congo Park
Now Congo Square is part of Louis Armstrong Park in New Orleans. If an outdoor concert or political demonstration, in New Orleans, needs a gathering place, with a story to tell, there is Congo Square.
Congo Square survived Katrina.RENEGADE EYE