A tribute to the preserver of New Orleans’ African-American cultural traditions

Ronald Lewis passed away on March 20, 2020 at the age of 68.

Lewis was a participant in New Orleans’ Mardi Gras parades from an early age and loved the culture so much that he became an authority on New Orleans’ parading customs.

When he retired after working for 31 years for the Regional Transit Authority as a streetcar track repairman, he devoted himself fulltime to parade culture.

Lewis’ collection of Mardi Gras costumes, supplies and memorabilia along with his photos (he was a skilled photographer) so overwhelmed his family’s residence that his wife persuaded him to move his collection elsewhere.

In the early 2000s, Ronald Lewis opened his cultural museum, The House of Dance and Feathers, in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans with the original purpose of teaching children about New Orleans’ culture.

Hurricane Katrina caused major damage but he was able to rebuild the museum which became an important cultural landmark; he also wrote a book about his collection and the legacy that it represented.

This film, which was made at the House of Dance and Feathers, features Ronald Lewis talking about New Orleans culture and his collection.

– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

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