“Now if you’ve ever been down to New Orleans then you can understand just what I mean. All through the week, it’s quiet as a mouse, but on Saturday night they go from house to house. You don’t have to pay the usual admission if you’re a cook, waiter or a good musician so if you happen to be just passin’ by stop in at the Saturday night fish. BB King

“The difference of races, moreover, is no evidence of superiority or of inferiority. This merely indicates that each race has certain gifts which the others do not possess.” Carter G. Woodson

February is the designated month to celebrate the contributions African Americans have made in the building of our nation. We celebrate African- American contributions when we open the refrigerator, turn on a light, stop for a traffic signal, process our hair, use sugar, have shoes repaired, answer the telephone, ride a well-oiled train, ride a streetcar, use the computer, squirt the super soaker, eat peanuts, wear a pacemaker, see an amputee feed themselves, use an ironing board, tell time by a clock or sleep on a fold up bed. So the next time you do something “Think” about it and smile.

In this last week of February, Living for the Weekend salutes African Americans and thanks them for their contributions, President Barack Obama, First lady Michelle Obama, Eric Holder, Valerie Jarrett,  Angela Davis, Marion Andersen, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Hattie McDaniels, Frank Snowden, Shani Davis, C.T. Vivian, Dr. Dre, Alvin Ailey, Marion Berry, Garrett Morgan, Benjamin Banneker, Elijah McCoy, Lewis Latimer, George Patricia Bath, Charles Drew, Percy Julian, Jan Matzeliger, Daddy Grace, Hubron Blackwell, Geoffrey Holder, George Crum, Williams Cathay aka Cathay Williams, Octavia Butler, Gloria Hill, Stagecoach Mary Fields,  Nina Simone, Sidney Poitier,  Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr. and Bessie Blount 

“ Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler” let the good times roll.”

The plans were to spend a long weekend in New Orleans at the conclusion of Mardi Gras; but if you know Nawlings every day is Mardi Gras. We left BWI early Friday morning; the temperature in Baltimore was 0 degree. After a direct flight from BWI we arrived in New Orleans to 63-degree balmy weather.

“The smaller the club, the bigger the party something about this room the smaller the club, the better the party the dance floor, you can barely move” Mel Waiters

Friday night we visited the historic Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club located in historic Treme. From the moment, we walked in the Krewe members invited us to be a part of their “Friday Night fish fry” warmly welcoming us. The elated yet exhausted members were already planning 2016’s Mardi Gras parade and delighted sharing their stories and the history of the Zulu Krewe.

“You got me going in circles” on Saturday we joined the throngs of people, gathered around the unique rotating Carousel Bar in the famous Hotel Monteleone located in the French Quarters.

With 75-degree weather, we almost felt guilty when friends started posting pictures on face book about the surprise snowstorm that had citizens pushing buses up the hill and a traffic nightmare. Notice I said almost because on Sunday in New Orleans it was a picture perfect day for “sitting on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away” along the mighty Mississippi and strolling along the riverfront. Later riding the famed streetcar through the renowned garden district was the perfect opportunity to see the beautiful antebellum homes lining St. Charles Avenue stopping for a seafood dinner at Copeland’s. After an exhilarating day, we stopped on Bourbon Street listening to jazz and “dancing in the streets.” I was in awe at the changes on Bourbon Street, where jazz used to filter through the air now there is hip-hop and mainstream music but the streets are still crowded and exciting.

“Shawty, I don’t mind if you dance on a pole…” Usher

My trip to New Orleans would not be complete until I visited my lamppost on the corner of Bourbon and St. Peters where the music drifts from each club on the corner providing a cornucopia of eclectic music.

 “You are my friend, I never knew it ’til then my friend, my friend you hold my hand,
you might not say a word but I see your tears when I show my pain.”
Patti LaBelle

They live with, work with and travel together and that is how Arlene Gill, Shirley Johnson, Shirley Owens, Donna El-Am, Vanessa Johnson-Day, Delores Quick, Marian Daniel and Terra Harris maintain their 30 years of friendship. Recently they gathered at Colin’s Seafood and Grill in Randallstown to celebrate Shirley Rouse Johnson’s retirement from the Department of Juvenile Services after 30 years of dedicated service.  Most of them met while establishing the first Gender Responsive Program for Young Women in the State of Maryland.

“Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains.” Khalil Gibran

Sending love and condolences to Rev. Mary Conaway on the death of her husband Frank Conaway. A colorful character, he created a political family dynasty. At 81, he remained the conscious of Baltimore and the state of Maryland, quick to defend the citizens who could not speak for himself. Agreed or disagree with Frank’s method or politics, you admired the man who in the words of Frank Sinatra “I did it my way.” I couldn’t attend Frank’s homecoming service, so I’m glad I recently saw him on Park Heights driving; he looked out the window blowing me kisses with both hands, greeting me as we passed. That’s how I’ll remember him.

“I’ll be seeing you” Valerie and the Friday Night Bunch