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New Orleans Mayor’s Race:Will Mitch Landrieu Acknowledge African Ancestry?

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The race for New Orleans mayor has become very divisive of late, but some feel that more transparency could start a healing process that is a long time coming for New Orleans. The problem is the transparency being called for does not have much to do with politics. It has more to do more with old class and race issues New Orleans is famous for. In the center of the brewing storm is mayoral candidate Mitch Landrieu and his sister Senator Mary Landrieu.

Their father was a former mayor of New Orleans and whether he deserves it or not is credited with helping blacks take on larger roles in New Orleans city government. It was something the white community in New Orleans was not quite ready for. Why he did it is subject for debate.

With that kind of history to build upon a new trend is emerging down in New Orleans that has blacks voters developing their own litmus test of sorts. Many old stories still remain of the octoroon and quadroon balls where creole families hoped to "marry up" into white society. Now some black voters reinvigorated with the recent family tree transparency shown by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are hoping Mitch Landrieu does the same.

We'll start with a black women named "Yadda". Yadda's family has lived in New Orleans for generations and she like many black voters are watching the current New Orleans mayor's race very closely. A few polls show Mitch Landrieu with a slight lead that has been getting smaller. Yadda like many black voters in New Orleans is familiar with Mitch Landrieu and the mayor's race. She said something interesting to me during our interview," Mitch Landrieu and Mary Landrieu have some African ancestry in their family, you can see it in their face and their features". Yadda went on to say for Mitch Landrieu to get her vote "he would have to reveal his family tree and take pride in his African ancestry."

Interesting comments to say the least, at a time when many Democrats are calling for transparency and the way Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have embraced their bi-racial back grounds it could not be better timing for New Orleans. The question many black voters in New Orleans are wondering, will Mitch Landrieu shed away old family secrets and reveal his African ancestry? Will he have a study done to find his 100% African ancestor?

Some in New Orleans feel that blacks have set the bar too high for Mitch Landrieu. They feel that the moral fiber required to meet this demand is not in the Landrieu make up and would cost a great price politically at the hands of conservative white voters. Time will tell whether Barack Obama's grand vision of transparency can make its way down to the Old South.

Meanwhile and old long gone African ancestor of Mitch Landrieu might be watching and waiting for his distant relative to set him free. As he waits locked inside a family secret that may decide the political destiny of the Landrieu clan.

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About Clifford Bryan

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clifford –

    I really enjoyed your article! The others on BC will remember my personal story, but let me tell it to you, too. I’m a middle-aged white male, retired Navy, strong Christian, raised in the Mississippi Delta – and if you know NOLA, then you probably know about the Delta. Sen. James Eastland – the most powerful racist in the country for a generation – was a family acquaintance. My grandmother worked for him and he offered to get me into the Naval Academy (which I declined).

    All those factors normally lead my being a Strom Thurmond clone…but I’m a proud liberal, and thus my nom du guerre ‘Contrarian’. If you like reading about journeys out of racism, please read my articles here and here.

    Anyway, your story reminded me of a small family scandal. My mother was always big into genealogy. One day she told my grandmother that she had found out that one of our ancestors was a Union spy in Vicksburg during the siege the Civil War…and that spy happened to be black. My grandmother didn’t speak to her for three days.

    I live close to Seattle now, and it is normal – normal! – to see biracial couples here now. I cannot help but compare this to the Delta, where even in my latest visit there this last August, in all my years there I’ve never, ever seen a biracial couple…despite the fact that the ratio there is closer to 50-50 than anywhere else I know of.

    I love the land, the weather of the Delta…but being part of a biracial family myself (I married an Asian, and our Foster kids have been Asian, Hispanic, black, white, and Native American), I cannot abide the racism there of my fellow whites. It sometimes breaks my heart that they cannot see beyond their own skin there…but I can’t change them.

    That’s why I live near Seattle – no one bats an eye here. And as for Mississippi? I tell anyone who’ll listen that it’s a wonderful place to stay away from…and I tell them why.

    Again – great article, Clifford!

    • joy

      Clifford we are glad you now live in Seattle where “race mixing” is okay. I find it disturbing more and more each day at the amount of miscegenation that is occurring in our country. Glad to live in Mississippi with a not so liberal way of life.

      • Rob Knaggs

        Well, aren’t you a treat?

      • http://batman-news.com Renee S

        Something is truly wrong with you! My Grandmother is a white woman, and before she passed I kissed her everyday and THANKED her for being a wonderful person who didn’t see color otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here today! I just hope that you, Miss hateful “child” named Joy one day witness your lily white daughter OR son or grand daughter or son date, and marry and black man/woman and sire 6-10 BEAUTIFUL BIRACIAL BABIES! That’ll be the best Karma God can EVER give you lol…

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-19673-Michelle-Obama-Examiner Clifford Bryan

    Thanks for sharing Glenn

  • Zedd

    Just plain juicy! Yes and interesting.

    It’s amazing how the stigma of Blackness is wiping away almost at a startling pace. However, what is more delightful is how the shame is also fading.

  • Zedd

    Okay, I googled the pictures… awkward…. I wonder if they (the Landrieus) know the truth.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-19673-Michelle-Obama-Examiner Clifford Bryan

    Zedd You are hillarious, cheers, to the future!

  • creolelady08

    My GOD….Please stop all of this! Now the Landrieus are hiding their black history. Get a grip! I shook my tree, and a lot of stuff fell out..but it did not change who I am. What does it matter anyway? So what if my Great, great, great, grandfather, a Fenchmen, lived with my great, great, great, grandmother, a woman of color. That’s not only my story, but the story of many families who call New Orleans home. I am proud of my family’s history, and I’m sure Mr. Landrieu is proud of his as well. The only thing that should matter is, “the best man/women for the job.” And the next time you want to write something about my city’s history, do some research,and leave the Creoles out of it!!!!!!!!!!!! Pissed off..Creolelady08

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-19673-Michelle-Obama-Examiner Clifford Bryan

    Do some research? Not so I follow you there young lady.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-19673-Michelle-Obama-Examiner Clifford Bryan

    @creolelady08 I think you need to do some research on American history. Stop living in a bubble.

  • Zedd

    “What does it matter anyway?”

    That’s what Black people have been saying for generations but apparently it does – in these united states. Wait, you don’t know that?

    The reason that people HID or passed IS because it matters. Are we on the same page now?

  • Zedd

    Cliff,

    I don’t think anyone lives in a bubble. It’s selective amnesia. The question then becomes, what does one gain from pretending as if what is glaringly apparent does not exist.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-19673-Michelle-Obama-Examiner Clifford Bryan

    You hit it on the head Zedd. I would think transparency and bringing everything to light would be better. Old wounds take a long time to heal but you have to start someplace.

  • Susan

    It is very obvious to me that Mary has black ancestry. The straightening and blonde coloring along with a certain coarseness to her hair (however slight) and her facial features are dead give aways. When you have a family full of on-the-cusp looking relatives, you develop an eye. lol

  • Dawn

    Ridiculous. This page is so silly. Both the accusations and the anger.

    I’m the genealogy fanatic in my family. We have many different ancestral origins in our history that make up who we are today.

    My hair is just like Mary Landrieu’s. I threw Mardi Gras beads standing next to her more than once. Mary and Mitch look like their momma and daddy.

    My body shape is similar to the typical black woman.

    I’ve always had thick lips.

    There’s no black in my bloodline.

    Rumors are rumors. BS is BS. If they have it, good for them. It’s none of your business and it only matters to people like you. You’re just trying to make something out of nothing. BFD.