The Tremé, the oldest black neighborhood in the country, was founded in 1783. It is home to fascinating museums, restaurants and churches that help tell the story of the African-American experience in New Orleans. Here’s just a sampling of what there is to see and do:
Visit Saint Augustine Catholic Church
Saint Augustine is the oldest Black parish in America. Here free people of color and enslaved Americans worshipped side by side. Founded in 1841, many civil rights activists worshipped here, including Homer Plessy of Plessy vs. Fergusson “separate but equal” fame. After Hurricane Katrina, there was talk of tearing the old church down but the parishioners rose up to save their church. Outside, you’ll find the Tomb of the Unknown Slave. It’s a powerfully moving experience.
Experience Congo Square
Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park is perhaps the most sacred place in all of New Orleans for it can be argued that jazz was born here. Enslaved people were allowed to gathered here on Sundays before the Civil War to play music, dance, and celebrate their African culture and traditions. They say that the rhythms that were heard here were the basis for jazz. (Image: Artist's conception of Congo Square by E. W. Kemble from a century later.)
Tour the Backstreet Cultural Museum
This little museum is a treasure trove of African-American history. Come learn about Mardi Gras Indians, second-line parades and jazz funerals. View spectacular costumes and learn interesting trivia. This is one of those places you'll remember for the rest of your life.
Eat at Dooky Chase Restaurant
James Beard award-winning chef Leah Chase is not longer with us, but Dooky Chase is a great place to eat and celebrate black history. In the 1960s, it was a gathering place for Civil Rights activists. It also has an extensive African-American art collection. Come have lunch and take a look around.