“It might be superstition, but some kind of somethin’ goin' on down there/ It's an old time tradition when they play their drums at night in Congo Square.”
Congo Square IS the “Birthplace of American Music” - but it also has a long history as a crucial gathering place for our enslaved ancestors.
In the late 1700s, Africans in the New Orleans area were only allowed to have Sundays off from their plantation toil.
In Congo Square, on the outskirts of town, they’d gather to play music, sell food and goods, and socialize. For one day of the week, they could be human beings instead of just chattel.
They’d practice their cultural traditions like language, dance, music, and religion, and with the influence of Haitians, Cubans, and Caribbean people, a new culture formed.
Jazz and Blues were borne out of this mixture, and quickly spread throughout the Americas.
Congo Square became the heart of Black culture in New Orleans, and its influence was felt around the country - and still is today!
New Orleans is an incredible place to visit, if only for the deep history present there. Music and cultural activities, as well as activism, still happen in Congo Square to this day - if you have a chance to visit New Orleans, don’t miss it!