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Marie Laveau Edmond Dede Rose Nicaud Thomy Lafon: Free Man of Color Alice Dunbar-Nelson: Free Woman of Color Edmond Dede: Free man of Color Marie Laveau: Free Woman of Color

In February 2002, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art/University of New Orleans initiated its educational outreach program called "The Artist and A Sense of Place" with a month-long residency by multidisciplinary artist Jose Torres Tama. Three artists whose work was in the Mueum’s permanent visual arts collection were placed in schools to work in neighborhoods with students from a local middle school and explore the richness of each particular area. Jose was the first artist chosen for a month-long residency at McDonogh 15 in the French Quarter--right outside of his own Marigny neighborhood. He worked extensively with the 6th grade class to develop a “Youth Performance Project” that also contained a visual arts component.

As part of the project, the students were involved in discovering the rich heritage of the French Quarter, and they learned about the lives of the “free people of color” who were instrumental in building the Vieux Carre and and were an integral part of the social and political life of the city during the late 18th and early 19th Century.

The artist created three new drawings that celebrated and honored “free people of color” such as Marie Laveau, the renown Voodoo priestess; Edmond Dede, a classical composer and violinist; and Rose Nicaud, an African woman who bought herself out of slavery by starting the first coffee stand on the river. The students learned about the heroic lives of these individuals and their cultural contributions.

In addition, about twenty the students performed an ensemble performance piece called “Discovering the Quarter: A Sense of Place in New Orleans” in which they performed their spoken word poems, vignettes and musical pieces exploring their lives as young students in historical New Orleans and commenting on the legacy of the “free people of color”.

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