Tuesday, May 10, 2011

American Experience: New Orleans

The PBS special "New Orleans" is a great introduction and study of New Orleans. Introducing it with the event of Hurricane Katrina, it opens our eyes to the devastation and negativity that Katrina has brought upon the city of New Orleans. After viewing this catastrophe, we are then transported back to the beginning of the city. From here on, we given what made New Orleans today.

New Orleans is a city of history, tradition, culture, and livelihood. New Orleans was originally the capitol of French Louisiana back in the 1700's, but eventually came to being sold as part of the Louisiana Purchase to the Americans in 1803. Although there were black slaves in New Orleans, there were free African Americans living with White Americans. In most places this may be uncommon, but in New Orleans it was very common. At around this time, most colored people weren't allowed to do things such as owning land or their own businesses. In New Orleans, however, this was possible and common. This city was, in my own eyes, one of the original cities of unity. Everyone lived side by side and built this city together without any disregard for the color of ones skin.

Diversity was strong in New Orleans, that was until English speaking Americans and change the culture of the city. The wanted everything French gone and transform it strictly into an American town. They wanted to spread their ways and culture and it was around this time that segregation started to take its toll in the city. The Americans settled in an business area known as the American Center.

One of the most powerful parts of the film was when it took a look at the broken city after the hurricane. It shows a local looking at the restaurant that she owned and noticing the damage that the storm has brought. The disappointment and uncertainty  could be heard in her voice. It then shows her and some others still getting together to make meal that was like how they use to make. It showed that the community is really strong in this city and also that there is determination to keep the traditions alive and rebuild it back to what it was.

There was a line at the beginning of the film that really stood out to me. It was one of the locals explaining his passion for the city and he goes on to say "I love the city. The sidewalks speak to me." That shows me that New Orleans has really left its mark. It was built with so much history and traditions. It has played a major part in the development of diversity in this country. It has been a city that is always alive and always open, and the devastation of the Hurricane is a true tragedy to hit this nation. It has hurt a major part of this great nation. It has hurt a truly historical landmark: New Orleans.

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