Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Bryant, Earle

Second Advisor

Osundare, Oluwaniyi

Third Advisor

Hazlett, John


Perpetuating African ancestral customs, Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans avoid the African American identity crises illuminated by the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. The poetry of Langston Hughes, Claude McKay and Waring Cuney incorporate W.E.B. DuBois’ double-consciousness theory to reveal the identity issues and ancestral alienation plaguing African Americans at the turn of the twentieth-century. In comparison, unique political and social circumstances in New Orleans allowed enslaved Africans to practice their ancestral customs weekly. The preservation of this heritage fostered a black community in New Orleans rich in traditions, pride and self-conviction. The development of Mardi Gras Indian culture and the allusions to Africa in Harlem poetry reveal the power of ancestry to establish identity.


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