Date of Award

Summer 8-6-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Michael Mizell-Nelson

Second Advisor

Connie Atkinson

Third Advisor

Mary Niall Mitchell


In 1979, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras celebration was disrupted by a police strike. The strike exposed the new political positioning that had resulted from national pressures such as the realization of black political power and the brief surge in public worker unions. New Orleans’ weakening white social elite was forced to assert its remaining power through Mardi Gras, while finding an unexpected ally in Mayor Ernest N. Morial, the first black mayor of New Orleans. This temporary alliance exemplifies an experience that was different than that of other American cities. While strong racial tension persisted, the old establishment’s interests coincided with Mayor Morial’s when Mardi Gras, a powerful cultural and economic institution, was threatened. This temporary alliance managed to defeat the local police union by galvanizing the citizens of the city against the strikers.


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