How Did Mardi Gras Spark A Social Movement For These Women?

Mardi Gras Zulu Baby dolls
Leslie Taylor-Grover
January 19, 2021

The Black Baby Dolls are hard to miss during Mardi Gras. Groups of Black women, dressed in bonnets, bloomers, and doll dresses, traipse to the sounds of the music. But these dolls are NOT to be toyed with!

During the Jim Crow years, the early 1900s, New Orleans segregated its businesses, pushing most Black enterprises to the edges of town while preserving the best locations for white businesses. Many in the community remained quiet, except for one group of Black women.

They came from the poorest parts of town, and were already harassed by police and ignored by the legal system. They decided to “doll themselves up” to draw attention to the racism and sexism keeping them impoverished. 

Doing this during Mardi Gras of all times was not only unheard of – but also dangerous. The crowd could’ve attacked them!

Nevertheless, these women crashed Mardi Gras, ready to protect themselves against anyone who dared to hurt them during the parades. The result? They inspired the Black elite to use their resources to fight back, too!

Like the Black Baby Dolls, we must remember that our rights are nothing to play with! We can use creativity to challenge the system, demonstrate our power and resilience, and inspire others – even in the face of those who seek to hurt and oppress us!

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