New Orleans renames Robert E. Lee Blvd. for Allen Toussaint
January 8, 2022 5:55 PM   Subscribe

New Orleans City Council votes unanimously to rename Robert E. Lee Blvd for legendary musician Allen Toussaint (CNN, Chris Boyette and Keith Allen)

Perhaps best known as a musician (piano and vocals), Allen Toussaint was also a songwriter (including "Working in the Coal Mine" and "Yes We Can Can"), arranger (including the horn arrangements for The Last Waltz), and record producer (including "Right Place, Wrong Time" by Dr. John and "Lady Marmalade" by Labelle).

Toussaint was an enormous influence on a vast array of musicians. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, and the Blues Hall of Fame. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts.

He died in 2015 while on tour in Spain.

From New Orleans councilmember Jared C. Brossett's statement:
It's well beyond time to make this change. The City of New Orleans should prioritize celebrating our culture bearers, our diversity, and everything that makes our City special, not those who worked to tear us apart and represent a horrible history of racism that we are still dealing with today."
posted by kristi (22 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Hooray! I had been defaulting to "Robert E Smalls", since most people would get where I was talking about, even if not very many know Robert Smalls, and Smalls had no middle initial. Also Smalls had little to do with Louisiana, but that was the point

You can tell your cranky uncles not to worry, though. We still have streets named for Washington DC slave traders like Isaac Franklin.
posted by eustatic at 7:22 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

I will endeavor to post the historical review done for the street re-namings by the City's street committee.

It s a wonderful document, and I think it could be a guide for other American cities to purge the themselves of the Lost Cause disinformation campaign.
posted by eustatic at 7:25 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]

Yes they did did!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]

Right on.
posted by HotToddy at 8:15 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

I’ll be happy when they rename Jefferson Davis Parkway. Maybe they could call it Dr. John Boulevard.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:15 PM on January 8 [19 favorites]

Yay! But I was puzzled for a moment until I realized I was confusing Allen with André Toussaint.

Dr. John Boulevard
I was in the right lane/
But I musta made a wrong turn

posted by bartleby at 8:29 PM on January 8 [24 favorites]

posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 8:51 PM on January 8

Works for me.
posted by y2karl at 9:13 PM on January 8

I’ll be happy when they rename Jefferson Davis Parkway.

Wardell Quezergue comes to mind.
posted by y2karl at 9:19 PM on January 8

I’ll be happy when they rename Jefferson Davis Parkway. Maybe they could call it Dr. John Boulevard.

It's been renamed for a while now
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:47 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]

JD became Norman C Francis Pkwy in Aug 2020, i think? signs have been up, but you can still see older street signs in street view
posted by eustatic at 10:30 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]

Hell yes!

I do believe I'll celebrate with a tasty Toussaint tidbit that's criminally overlooked, courtesy of Ms. Betty Harris..
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:25 PM on January 8

I like this!
posted by not_on_display at 12:50 AM on January 9

Is there an Ignatius J. Reilly Boulevard?
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:25 AM on January 9 [8 favorites]

StrikeTheViol, that’s good news! My grandmother and great-aunt lived on that street (near the old Blue Plate building). It’s been over 20 years since I’ve been to New Orleans, since I went to Granny No’s funeral.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:00 AM on January 9

No Ignatius Reilly street as such, but there is a statue somewhere.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:34 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

I live right off of Norm Francis Parkway, which has not been Racist Traitor Failure Parkway since somewhere in the middle of the pandemic. The statue of said traitor at the intersection with Canal has been gone since somewhere before I moved here in 2019, and the empty pedestal where it used to be still gives me a smile.

It wasn't until recently that the bust of the First Rich Asshole From Louisiana Who Bought A Commission And Died For The Right To Keep Humans As Property that faced the heroic statue of Davis from across Canal was pulled down. The pedestal currently still has writing on it but mostly it just sees use as a place to put a boombox when people are having a game of volleyball on the parkway. The little standing plaque elsewhere on the parkway commemorating some asshole who was "the Poet Laureate of the Confederacy" was knocked down too. It feels good to see all this stuff coming down and getting renamed.

The relative fortunes of white people and black people in my home town are still really horribly unbalanced, there's a lot left that needs changing, but it's really nice to not constantly see memorials that hold up the Confederacy as people we should honor.
posted by egypturnash at 7:57 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]

Sneaking Sally through the Allen Toussaint Bvld? Quite an upgrade from an alley, if not quite as felicitous for the rhyme scheme.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 11:45 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Hell yes!
posted by epj at 12:23 PM on January 9

Ignatius J Reilly Statue at 823 canal
posted by eustatic at 9:04 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Here are Wynton Marsalis and Abram Wilson playing in Toussaint's Second Line. I watch this video once a year. It is swell.
posted by nestor_makhno at 4:59 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]

Ignatius J Reilly Statue at 823 canal

Oh, man, oh, man, that username -- Ignatius J. Reilly -- along with MiguelCardoso, stavrosthewonderchicken, quonsar, madamejujujive, mwhybark and tkchrist are names now so silent here and their absence I sadly deplore. Their voices contributed such a tremendous amount to this place. And I still miss iconomy so much.

mais ou sont les étoiles d'antan?
posted by y2karl at 8:33 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]

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