Congo Square



from Cyril Neville (

In the 18th and 19th century Congo Square, in New Orleans,  was outside the city proper and served as a market where slaves and Indians sold and bartered goods.

It was a Native gathering place where they probably had corn festivals and harvest festivals. After the Haitian Revolution in 1804, where people with hoes and clubs threw out the French slave masters, the slaveholders in New Orleans — some of them rich escapees from Haiti — decided to appease the slaves by letting them blow off steam.

My assessment is that in the beginning the Africans were going out there to worship and play music with the Native people and they’d all cook and play music together and eventually it attracted the Europeans. They came to see what the hullabaloo
was about and they [the Europeans] started throwing money at the players.
It was the first time that Africans played music for anything but to honor the ancestors or religious rituals. The
Europeans allowed it so Haiti wouldn’t happen in America.”

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