New Orleans has long attracted people to its shores and continues to foster cultures from across the globe. Although, as Gwendolyn Midlo Hall writes, New Orleans “remains, in spirit, perhaps the most African city in the United States,” vital to its cultural heritage are the stories of the many peoples who planted roots, blossomed, and made New Orleans the panoply it is today. The eighteenth century brought German indentured workers, Acadian migrants and Cannary Islanders. In 1809, white and non-white refugees from Saint Domingue by way of Cuba flooded the city following the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804). During the antebellum years, the Irish fled famine to work in New Orleans, and across multiple centuries, Mexican and Caribbean migrants made their way to the city—including Haitian expatriates, Cuban exiles, Korean war brides, and Vietnamese refugees. In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, new waves of Latino and Latin-American workers moved to New Orleans, contributing to the city’s rebuilding efforts. While scholarship in this field is growing, New Orleans’ language, food, religion, music, economy, demographics, politics and play continue to be enriched by a diverse and global population. The history and legacy of the city is incomprehensible without looking beyond black and white.
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