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Flambeaux - The Flaming Torches

Lisa DuBois | New Orleans, United States

Organization: Enfoco

A Flambeaux krewe member marches in the Mardi Gras parade

The words Mardi Gras conjures up images of people in costumes; drinking alcohol and dancing in the streets. That image is an accurate portrayal but the history behind the festive scene tells a different story. 

Some Mardi Gras traditions tethers us to the past and subconsciously keep us connected to the ideologies of a bygone era. The flambeaux, is an example of an outdated mardi Gras tradition that was born during slavery and still exists.

The original flambeaux were slaves who carried heavy dangerous torches for miles to light the way for the paraders and floats. These individuals labored endlessly so others could have a joyous experience.

Today’s flambeaux members carry the heavy torches but now dance for tips. Many would say that picking up coins and dollars off the street reinforces stereotypes of the black man performing for white people.

Today the parades remain largely segregated by power, money, and race.Simultaneously, on Mardi Gras day  the predominantly black parade Zulu, takes place on one side of town while the mostly white Rex parade occurs on the other side of town.


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