No Peace No Culture: Save Our Soul Coalition To Update Stakeholders April 3rd

Photo courtesy of Save Our Soul Coalition Facebook Page

The Save Our Soul (SOS) coalition will host a public meeting Sunday, April 3, to plan the next steps in their effort to return the Municipal Auditorium to its historic role as an important hub of New Orleans culture and redevelop Armstrong Park to better serve community needs. The meeting will be held in Congo Square at Louis Armstrong Park and begins at 3 p.m.

Confirmed speakers include Congressman Troy Carter, State Rep. Royce Duplessis, Councilmember Freddie King III and former Mayor Marc Morial. Mayor Cantrell as well as Council President Helena Moreno and Councilmember at Large J.P. Morrell been invited to participate. Other councilmembers including Lesli Harris are invited to attend. The event will also include a Prayer for Peace, cultural presentations from the Jackson Square Allstars Brass Band, the Congo Square Preservation Society African Drummers, the Baby Dolls Sisterhood of New Orleans, Big Chief David Montana, Washitaw Nation and Big Chief Shaka Zulu, Golden Feather.

SOS leaders will update citizens about results from its community engagement sessions surveys and petitions. In August, 2021 thousands of New Orleanians marched to protest plans to move City Hall to the Morris F.X. Jeff Municipal Auditorium. The City Council passed several ordinances and resolutions supporting the community’s vision. The struggle continues because the City Administration has so far failed to ask FEMA to extend the August 2023 deadline to spend the $38 million allocated to restore the auditorium after Hurricane Katrina. It is also not clear if the Administration made a request to FEMA for additional funding after the damage from Hurricane Ida.

During the last few months, Coalition members have briefed city officials including Mayor LaToya Cantrell and are awaiting a response from her regarding the City’s interest in working with SOS and Coalition members to further develop and implement plans for the restoration of the auditorium and Armstrong Park. SOS is not only interested in renovating the buildings and developing programming but is also planning to address storm water mitigation that will relieve a significant amount of flooding in Treme and surrounding neighborhoods.

As part of their vision for the future of New Orleans, the SOS Coalition along with individual culture bearers and community organizations inside and outside the greater Tremeneighborhood, have created a Movement for Peace and Culture(MP&C). The peaceful culture of New Orleans drives the city’s tourism industry. Millions of people from around the world come to the Crescent City each year to experience our music, dance, cuisine, art, architecture and humanity. Unfortunately, New Orleans Black cultural bearers and entrepreneurs have yet to equitably share in the benefits of this industry to the same extent as major hotels, restaurants, and hospitality enterprises.

Substantial redevelopment and programming in Armstrong Park can help level that playing field.  Culture bearers also need Congo Square and Louis Armstrong Park to be designated as the city’s premiere cultural attraction so that artists of all persuasions have a place to call home.

Another current deterrent is the increase in violent crime in the city. Some people are afraid to go out to attend cultural and entertainment events that have always been so much a part of life in New Orleans. When there is no peace, it is hard to support and participate in the culture. Artists need a safe city where they can nurture their creative juices and earn a living in peace.  Customers should not be afraid to patronize them.

“The culture of New Orleans drives the city’s beat. We hope everyone will join SOS’s Movement for Peace & Culture (MP&C) by attending our April 3rd public meeting,” said SOS member Sabrina Mays.


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