The weekend of Nov 21-23 I was in New Orleans! This was my first visit, and the first time I’d been down south since my family moved from Texas. I went as part of a “Volunteer Study Tour” put together by Butler University’s Diversity Center. The goal of the trip was to educate us on New Orleans culture and history and to get us engaged in helping the community.
The trip was split over three days, with the first two days being taken up with tours of the city’s museums, streets, historic districts and the like. We took a boat tour of a swamp(it was really cold, I had dressed for a warmer NOLA, and I was let down) where we saw wild boar and learned about how Katrina affected the area.
The most important tour that we went on was probably of the Whitney plantation, which is home to the only slavery museum in Louisiana. We were walked through memorials to all the children born into slavery in Louisiana, all those enslaved on the plantation, and all those enslaved in Louisiana. There were thousands of names, accompanied by quotes by survivors about their treatment and their life. Parts of it were quite harrowing. It was the first time I had been on a plantation tour that didn’t revolve around the White owning class, but instead looked through the eyes of those who lived every day in such an atrocious system.
The other part of the trip that had a real impact on me was the Volunteer Day. We spent the day with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans working construction on houses that were either devastated by Katrina or were being built from scratch. We were split into groups and assigned different tasks. My group roofed a house. Which was a very fun and rewarding experience. (pics to come)
In all, I would say that the trip was everything I expected it to be.