The Notorious, Mixed-Race New Orleans Madam Who Turned Her Identity Into a Brand

By Repackaging the Myths of the Tragic Octoroon and the Self-Made Woman, Lulu White Crafted a Persona That Haunts Beyoncé's "Formation"

In 2016, music and pop-culture idol Beyoncé released the album Lemonade to rapturous reviews. As a historian of New Orleans, I was especially intrigued by the video for one of the songs on the album, “Formation.” The video includes iconic images of the city: Katrina flood waters and post-flood graffiti; “second-lines”; marching bands; crawfish eating; and even a dancing “Mardi Gras Indian.” As we move through various neighborhoods, we visit a church service, a St. Charles Avenue mansion, and, in what appears to be a move through time into the …

More In: Louisiana

How the South Made Hubert Humphrey Care About Race

The Minnesota Liberal's Louisiana School Years Turned His 'Abstract Commitment' to Civil Rights Into 'Flesh and Blood'

It is one of the great ironies of 20th-century American history: Hubert Humphrey, the foremost proponent of civil rights among American politicians, had little contact with African Americans until age …

Unraveling a Forgotten Massacre in My Louisiana Hometown

A History Teacher Discovers a Racially Driven Rampage That Still Haunts His Students' Lives

On a chilly Louisiana afternoon in October 1868, Louis Wilson left the courthouse, where he’d testified in an ongoing case. Wilson was a freedman living in St. Bernard Parish, a …

The Slave Gardener Who Turned the Pecan Into a Cash Crop

A Louisianan Known Only as Antoine Tamed a Wild Tree and Launched an Industry

Pecan trees, armored with scaly, gray bark and waving their green leaves in the breeze, grow in neat, uniform rows upon the Southern U.S. landscape and yield more than 300 …