Lords of Misrule: Mardi Gras and the Politics of Race in New Orleans - James Gill

This was a challenging book to read, and not because of a level of difficulty.

It's easy to look at New Orleans, with its primarily Black population, and assume that desegregation is complete and all is well. Yet, in the 1990s, Dorothy Mae Taylor, a Black city councilwoman, put forth a bill to require that the old line parade krewes be required to desegregate.

The krewes had their origins in white supremacy, led by the Americans on the uptown side of town as a way to show their superiority to the Creoles, free people of color, etc., in the French Quarter. They focused on obscure mythologies, and promoted that membership should only be among whites. Krewe members were instrumental in the white supremacist uprising in the 1870s referred to as the Battle of Liberty Place, and some of their parades referred to that theme.

This book chronicles the history of the old line krewes, as well as Taylor's attempts to force integration in the krewes and social clubs that spawned them. As such, it is an outstanding text on civil rights and the history of suppression in the South. That Taylor was even remotely successful ( the adopted bill was amended and water down so many times as to be essentially toothless) was an affront to the white populace, such that three of the old line krewes (Comus, Momus, and Proteus) cancelled their parades in perpetuity and now only meet for private balls.

This is an important book for those studying the civil rights movement, as many seem to resume that ours is a post-racial society for having elected a Black president. Those paying attention to the bigotry he faces know better, and this book is an interesting look at one aspect of the problem.