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New Orleans: Dining & Touring Around 2019 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Plan a late April or early May vacation to New Orleans around the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and your opportunities for enriching yourself with NOLA’s wonderful culture grow exponentially.

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By Dwight Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Plan a late April or early May vacation to New Orleans around the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and your opportunities for enriching yourself with NOLA’s wonderful culture grow exponentially.

When you’re not at the Fair Grounds listening to your favorite artists, you get to explore the city. Concerts begin around 12pm and end by 7pm, so you can tour by day and dine out at night.

Get around town, and you’ll find that people on the streets often say hello. The neighborhoods (French Quarter, Garden District, Tremé, City Park) are either lively or calm and often shrouded with stately oversized oak, cypress and magnolia trees. Greek revival, Colonial and Victorian houses are so beautiful you’ll be tempted to buy one. And bars stay open to the wee hours—some all night—so If you’re looking for a good time, you will find it.

Eat like a king or queen.

 

Commander's Palace Shrimp & Tasso Henican by Dwight Brown

Commander’s Palace Shrimp & Tasso Henican by Dwight Brown

Commander’s Palace — This James Beard Foundation Award-winning Haute Creole restaurant is easily one of NOLA’s most famous. Dating back to 1893, it was remodeled in 1969, adding large windows so customers could enjoy the view. How good are the chefs at Commander’s? This is the place that launched famed Chef Emeril Lagasse’s career. Come here on a night when you feel like an elegant meal with impeccable service. The dining rooms are just formal enough to make you feel like royalty, but friendly enough for you to have a good time. Located in the tony Garden District, a trip here will give you a chance to experience a neighborhood other than the famed French Quarter.

TIPS:

  • It’s hard to choose appetizers but go with either the Shrimp & Tasso Henican (set in 5 pepper jelly and Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc), or the adventurous Chili and Lemongrass Glazed Alligator.
  • Pecan Roasted Gulf Fish is hearty and light, as is the flavorful Black Skillet Roasted Halibut entrees.
  • Throw caution out the door for dessert. Feast on the Creole Cream Cheese Cheesecake or Pecan Pie à la Mode.

 

 

oBou Restaurant Interior by Dwight Brown

oBou Restaurant Interior by Dwight Brown

SoBou – Set on picturesque Rue Chartres in the French Quarter, and attached to the W Hotel (free parking!), this contemporary Creole restaurant is away from heavy foot traffic on Bourbon Street. It has a low-key and refined atmosphere that attracts sophisticated adults. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up to the streets. People flock here for the food, drinks and ambiance. The signature cocktail is the Taylor Bird Sazerac, which is the rage of NOLA: Rye, brandy, bitters, Steen’s cane syrup and Herbsaint rinse. It’s a nice way to set yourself up for a swank dinner and memorable evening.

 

TIPS:

  • How does Wild Shrimp Crawfish Boil Beignets sound for an appetizer?
  • For dinner, their NOLA Style BBQ Shrimp “Shortcake” is served with a buttermilk biscuit and the Rustic Griddle Seared Gulf Fish is topped with a brandy flambeed brown butter.
  • You’ve probably never heard of a Bread Pudding Lollipop. But now you have. Taste the Toulouse Red Absinthe Soaked Strawberries, too.

 

 

Brennan's Rhubarb Glazed Lamb by Dwight Brown

Brennan’s Rhubarb Glazed Lamb by Dwight Brown

Brennan’s – That very attractive pink Vieux Carre building (circa 1795) at 417 Royal Street in the French Quarter is the home of the iconic establishment Brennan’s. This is the restaurant that launched the Brennan culinary dynasty back in 1946. The old-world charm and setting with modern NOLA cooking and precision service are the hallmarks of this classic dining experience. It’s best known for its nearly daylong and elaborate brunches, but dinner here is an equal treasure. After dinner or brunch, take a tour of the restaurant that invented the flaming dessert Bananas Foster. It’s steeped in history.

TIPS:

  • For starters, the Chicken Fried Sweetbreads with a Bacon-sherry Jus is as delicate as the Louisiana Seafood Filé Gumbo is hearty.
  • There is something so tasty about the Rhubarb Glazed Lamb with its Piri Piri Spiced Lamb Rib Pithivier and Spring Vegetables, or the Raviolo of Chevre & Sheep Feta.
  • Bananas Foster is an obvious choice and the Seasonal Sorbet is refreshing.

 

Palace Cafe Jay-Ray and Gee Singers by Dwight Brown

Palace Cafe Jay-Ray and Gee Singers by Dwight Brown

Palace Café — If you’re staying downtown in a hotel on Canal Street, that makes the Palace Café at 605 Canal a convenient excursion. The two-story restaurant looks like a French bistro, with a dazzling and dramatic central, spiral staircase that adds to the room’s allure. If you’re lucky, at some point during your meal, the lively Jay-Ray & Gee acapella singers will weave through the brasserie taking requests and singing in perfect harmony. Ask them to sing the classic soul song “Up on the Roof” and they will do it with special verve. It’s easy to take the warmth of the Palace with you when you leave.

TIPS:

  • The signature starter is the light and fluffy Crabmeat Cheesecake, which is something like a quiche, only soft and more flavorful.
  • The Andouille Crusted Fish entrée is covered with Andouille breadcrumbs, roasted and comes with a chive aioli.
  • You won’t go wrong with the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée or White Chocolate Bread Pudding.

 

Dooky Chase's Restaurant Buffet Line by Dwight Brown

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant Buffet Line by Dwight Brown

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant — This classic soul food restaurant dates back to 1941, when it was a sandwich shop in the Tremé district. Over the years, restaurateur

Leah Chase has turned it into NOLA’s must-dine restaurant. History lurks in every corner, as back in the ’60s, upstairs at Dooky’s was a meeting place for Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King and other social activists who would strategize their fight for civil rights. James Baldwin, Sarah Vaughn, Quincy Jones and President Barack Obama have all dined at this landmark. Dooky’s is to NOLA what Sylvia’s is to NYC; it’s a community treasure where local politicians gather along with locals and tourists.

TIPS:

  • The restaurant is opened daily for a lunch buffet or a la carte orders and serves dinner on Friday nights. Plan accordingly.
  • Crispy fried chicken, red beans and rice, Shrimp Clemenceau and lima beans are staples.
  • The Peach Cobbler with a scoop of ice cream is a nice way to put a smile on your face.

Things to Do

 

City Park Pepsi Tennis Center Corey Clarke Teaching Pro by Dwight Brown

City Park Pepsi Tennis Center Corey Clarke Teaching Pro by Dwight Brown

City Park/Pepsi Tennis Center — Tennis pro Corey Clarke has been a coach at this well-run and friendly tennis center for decades. Take a lesson with him, or the other pros, and you can play on any of the 26 lighted courts, which include 16 hard courts, 10 clay courts and also a practice court with two backboards. The complex is part of the 1,300-acre City Park, which is just a 15-minute drive from downtown. Tennis in City Park dates back to 1922. The 3700 sq. ft Clubhouse dates back to 2011. Tennis has come a long way in NOLA and playing here is a nice way to meet locals.

TIPS:

  • If you don’t have anyone to play with there’s always the Monday Night: Tennis “Drop In” Doubles ($8).
  • Tuesday Night: Advanced Adult Tennis Clinic 6:30 – 9 pm ($25).
  • Wednesday Night: Beginner Adult Tennis Clinic 6:30 – 8 pm ($25) and Intermediate Adult Tennis Clinic 8 – 9:30 pm ($25).

 

New Orleans Museum of Art by Dwight Brown

New Orleans Museum of Art by Dwight Brown

New Orleans Museum of Art – NOMA is just down the road from the Pepsi Tennis Center in City Park. New Orleans’ largest museum was built in 1911. These days the vast gallery is filled with a permanent collection of over 40,000 artifacts. Next to paintings by Renoir, Degas and Picasso are works by local artists from the city and state. Exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, glass, furniture, ceramics and crafts are augmented by a strong collection of over 12,000 photographs. You can walk around and gaze on your own, or take a guided tour to get the inside scoop on the artists and their work. Recent exhibitions include Bondye: Between and Beyond (12 sequined prayer flags inspired by the religious Haitian rituals of Vodou) and Timothy Duffy: Blue Muse (tintype portraits of American musicians, some of them are black blues musicians.)

TIPS:

  • Stroll around the foot paths at the five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden.
  • The Gold Log Cabin exhibit glistens and has eye-catching textures. You have to take a photo (no flash).
  • In 2018, Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba, PhD. became the Françoise Billion Richardson Curator of African Art. The fruits of his labor can be found on the 3rd floor in the museum’s permanent Africa Art collection.

Topnotch cuisine. Tennis in a multi-purpose park. African Art in a city that celebrates its African connections. And a whole lot of music too!

It’s guaranteed, if you come to NOLA for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, or any other time of the year, you’ll have a great time. And if you come back again, you will feel like you’re returning home.

Visit travel writer Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com and at BlackPressUSA.com

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U.S. Business Leaders Step Up to Fight Inequities in the South

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

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Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr./ NNPA Newswire

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

This toxic atmosphere has left them incapable of addressing pressing, yet ingrained issues like the racial wealth gap, the digital divide, and vast inequalities in everything from health care to home ownership.

With COVID-19 still an omnipresent concern and the country’s recovery still very much in jeopardy, individuals, families, and communities – particularly communities of color throughout the South – are struggling to deal with issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

From impediments to wealth creation opportunities and a dearth of education and workforce development to a lack of access to reliable broadband, substandard housing, and inadequate political representation, communities of color have suffered an outsized toll during the ongoing public health crisis.

Yet political leaders can’t even agree on basic facts that would allow the nation to implement a coherent national strategy for combatting a pandemic that appears to be entering a new wave amid the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant that is currently ravaging parts of the South.

Against that disillusioning backdrop, there is at least some reason for hope. Moving to fill the vacuum created by the inaction of our political class, a group of business leaders in the technology and investment sectors have embarked on a far-reaching – and perhaps unprecedented – campaign to address the social inequities and systemic racism that has historically plagued our country’s southern communities.

Known as the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI), the campaign was founded by financial technology company PayPal, the investment firm Vista Equity Partners (Vista), and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

SCI was formed to work with local elected officials and advocacy groups to tackle the ubiquitous problems of structural racism and inequalities facing communities of color in six communities throughout the South. SCI notes that these areas – Atlanta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., Houston, Texas, Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans, La., – were chosen in part because they are home to around 50% of the country’s Black population and are where some of the greatest disparities exist.

SCI is aiming to drive long-term change, as outlined by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, Vista CEO Robert F. Smith and BCG CEO Rich Lesser. 

In Atlanta, for example, SCI is working to bridge the wealth gap that exists among the region’s African-American residents. While there is a strong Black business community in the city, and high levels of Black educational achievement thanks to the regional presence of several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and the voice of the Black press, there is still an extremely low level of Black entrepreneurship and business ownership with only 6% of employer firms being Black-owned.

To remedy this disparity, SCI is working with the Southern Economic Advancement Project to create entrepreneurship hubs and accelerator programs to increase the number of minority-owned businesses. The corporations behind SCI are also using their networks to help other companies work with minority-owned supply companies.

In Alabama, SCI is seeking to bridge the massive digital divide in an urban area where 450,000 households are without connection to the internet. In order to tackle the crisis, SCI is leveraging relationships with local schools and libraries to distribute laptops and service vouchers. Another tact SCI is taking is to partner with the owners of multi-unit buildings in low-income neighborhoods to install free public Wi-Fi for residents.

The lack of access to capital is another reason Black communities throughout the South have been traditionally underbanked. In Memphis, where 47% of Black households are underbanked, SCI is partnering with Grameen America to cover the $2 million per year per branch start-up cost to build brick-and-mortar banks in minority communities.

This alone will provide 20,000 women access to more than $250 million per year in financing.

Beyond these initiatives, SCI is partnering with groups like the Greater Houston Partnership and the Urban League of Louisiana to provide in-kind support to improve job outcomes for minority college students, expand access to home financing through partnerships with community development financial institutions, and harness the power of technology to expand health care access in underserved urban and rural neighborhoods.

The issues facing these communities throughout the South are not new nor will they be fixed overnight.

Fortunately, SCI is taking a long-term approach that is focused on getting to the root of structural racism in the United States and creating a more just and equitable country for every American.

A once-in-a-century pandemic and a social justice movement not seen since the 1960s were not enough to break the malaise and rancorous partisanship in Washington. Fortunately, corporate leaders are stepping up and partnering with local advocates and non-profit groups to fix the problem of systemic injustice in the U.S.

We, therefore, salute and welcome the transformative commitments of the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI). There is no time to delay, because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so accurately said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

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NNPA – Black Press w/ Hendriks Video Interview

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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