From the late 1980s until Hurrican Katrina struck we lived in New Orleans small metro area. When we first moved there people would jokingly be puzzled why we moved there as everybody else had been moving away. Starting with 'Dutch' Morial in the early 1980s, New Orleans black mayors were a grubby, grabby lot. When we moved there (we had the sense to buy a home in close in Metairie, Jefferson Parish, not New Orleans city limits) Sidney Barthelomy was mayor. These 'Creole' politicians consolidated their power by dispensing spoils and keeping the underclass riled with fake issues. One typical issue was the City Council prez, Dorothy Mae Taylor's crusade to forcibly integrate the Mardi Gras private clubs (known as 'krewes', a term which some of you Scotch Irish might know) which presented themselves in the 2 week long festival of pre-Lenten Carnival parades . The whole concept of these annual parades comes down from the ancient Roman Republic!
Old time prominent Carnival Krewes in NOLA (not Metairie which had its own krewes and parades!) included Rex, Comus, and many more. The members of the krewes were businessmen and professionals of all kinds who had the money to pay fairly high dues. My friend Vince was in the krewe of Momus. Momus was primarily a club of physicians and other medical professionals. Our Congressman Bob Livingston was in it too.
On the whole members of the krewes retained anonyminity and masked on the floats, even at their balls, except for the 'Kings' whose identities were revealed on the nights or days they paraded. A krewe which wasn't as anonymous was Bacchus, which for decades had invited national celebrities to 'rule' as their parade 'Kings'. Among the Bacchus kings who'd gladly come to participate in the Carnival festivities were more Hollywood stars and comedians than I can list. Most important to remember about these krewes whose efforts made NOLA's Mardi Gras parades a world famous annual event was the parades were funded and directed by members. There were no 'corporate sponsorships' allowed.
The floats, Krewe balls and other accoutrement of the celebrations weren't cheap. The black community had one big krewe called 'Zulu' which went back to the 1940s, I think. Other than that they participated in Carnival festivities with music, marching clubs and the krewes of feathered and beaded 'Mardi Gras Indians'. :) Black parading groups often 'couldn't get it together'. After the Civil Rights ruckus the 1960s-1970s Zulu krewes bullied the Carnival organising and planning committee to allow Zulu's parade to precede that of august, ancient Rex on Fat Tuesday. As usual black demands won out.
Well, 20 years later some of the the higher up blacks hadn't started any krewes themselves. They demanded to be admitted to the old timey prestigious krewes. But please understand these krewes go back to the 19th century and like any really good clubs if you have to ask or push to be admitted, then the membership wouldn't want anything to do with you. There were two prestigious ladies parading krewes too! :) (You should have seen me in 1990 wearing a grand satin Martha Washington costume for a Revolutionary War parade theme. )
So, Councilwoman Dorothy Mae Taylor, a nasty near useless NOLA troublemaker forwarded the agenda to 'desegregate' the krewes. She and other fools claimed city roads, police, and civic accommodations somehow meant the carnival clubs should be open to the public. That men's krewes should be forced to admit women. Let's try to remember that the largesse of private krewes in mounting the grand parades happened to be the goose laying golden eggs which brought in millions of tourists through many decades!
Nearly all the parade krewes and most of the public protested Taylor's efforts to destroy the krewes. We all saw exactly what she and her patrons wanted. They knew if the krewes surrendered the blacks could easily take over maybe even control krewes by obtaining sponsorships or grants for membership dues from corporations, or NGOs. Should corporations become involved through sponsorships, they would choose the parade themes, plaster logos all over once lovely floats. The timeless artfully magical Mardi Gras floats would begin to resemble NASCAR racing cars. The themes of floats and float riders costumes might be dictated to exclude any controversial or satyrical content.
The Krewe of Momus (a god of comedy), including Dr. Vince and Bob Livingston (both being among 300 'secret' members) most protested and fought Taylor's 'equal opportunity' legislation. Of course the Leftist professors of Tulane and Xavier universities supported all schemes to bust into private clubs, the bastion of white privilege. Somehow they imagined they had a right to intrude into and take over what they did not create, even though through the decades nobody ever put anything in their way to prevent them from forming parading krewes and commissioning their own floats and holding balls. ('Mardi Gras' is big business in the area. There are several major float builders, costume designers and makers, etc.) BTW, Dorothy Mae Taylor's Carnival 'civil rights' legislation was passed by the council. Momus was the first krewe disband rather than abide governmental authority. :(
The attempts by ignorant leftists to obliterate historical artifacts reminded me of the surrender of the Krewes. Councilwoman Dorothy Mae Taylor and some of her repulsive constituents next turned their attention to removing or destroying the great post-Confederate monuments of New Orleans, including the statue of General Robert E. Lee in the middle of Lee Circle. I despise people who seek to destroy history. It's akin to destroying truth.