Free Virtual Event Will Explore History of Economy Hall

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The Louisiana Creole Research Association will host an online event from 3 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 27, that explores the history of Economy Hall.

Every year, music lovers have enjoyed old-school jazz under the Economy Hall Tent at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Many have heard of Economy Hall, but few are aware of the early history of this notable venue. The performers and historians in the LA Creole program will celebrate the history of this important New Orleans location through music and lectures.

This virtual event is free, open to the public, and will feature performances by award-winning artists Dr. Michael White, Don Vappie, and Givonna Joseph and OperaCréole. Additionally, Fatima Shaik, author of Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood, and Mark Roudané, author of The New Orleans Tribune: An Introduction to America’s First Black Daily Newspaper, will discuss the early and significant history of Economy Hall.

Located in the 1400 block of Ursulines Street in Tremé, Economy Hall was the meeting place of the Société d’Economie et d’Assistance Mutuelle (Economy and Mutual Assistance Society), founded in 1836 by free men of African descent in New Orleans. For more than a century, the Economy Society assisted with medical and funeral costs, supported education and the poor, and sponsored balls and dances.

Countless musical performances were held there. In the 1860s, audiences enjoyed opera and recitals by classical musicians such as Samuel Snaër, Edmond Dédé and Basile Barès. The hall incubated early 20th-century jazz music, hosting performers the likes of Kid Ory, Joe Oliver, and Louis Armstrong.

Members of the Economy and Mutual Assistance Society also opened Economy Hall’s doors to New Orleans for progressive causes. According to America’s first Black daily newspaper, The New Orleans Tribune, it was “the hall where the oppressed and the friends of liberty in Louisiana first met in council.” Economy Hall was also the site of frequent mass meetings and organizing efforts to secure voting rights for men of African descent during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.

Registration for the virtual event opens June 7 at http://www.lacreole.org.