New Orleans Cultural Historian Died of Coronavirus, But His Family Only Found Out on the Day of FuneralHistorians in the News
tags: historic preservation, African American history, New Orleans, Mardi Gras, cultural history, public history
When a man like Ronald Lewis dies there's supposed to be brass bands marching the streets, sharply dressed members of the New Orleans social clubs falling in behind the musicians, and Mardi Gras Indians dancing alongside them in their elaborately beaded suits.
That didn't happen. Lewis hasn't received the tribute his family believes he deserves, at least not yet. The coronavirus pandemic dashed any hopes of bringing thousands of people together to honor the man New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell called a "culture bearer" of this city....
"He's a giant," said Brent Taylor, Mr. Lewis' nephew. "They should put a statue of him on Tupelo."
Tupelo is the street in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans where Mr. Lewis opened the House of Dance and Feathers museum dedicated to documenting and preserving the city's rich cultural history. He served as the director and curator of the museum that strove to tell the stories of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
"I want to educate the world about our great culture," Lewis wrote on the museum's website. "How we do this, and why we are so successful at it even though the economics say we ain't supposed to be."
The death of Lewis is seen as the passing of a cultural icon in the city. Lewis wrote a book called "House of Dance and Feathers" with Breunlin. The book serves as a "detailed map" of New Orleans culture.
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