2018 – The Year in Review

Data Looks Back at the Top Stories of 2018

Data News Weekly Staff Edited Report
 
Happy New Year!  

 
2018 was an unprecedented year, filled with turmoil, intrigue, disbelief and disturbing news headlines that dominated conversations across the country.  For many, the actions and statements of President Donald Trump and his administration, have caused sleepless nights and anxiety as citizens hold their breath, waiting for the next shoe to drop; and for some sort of resolution to what once seemed unimaginable.  As we move into 2019, the chaos has continued, and the nation continues to hold it’s breath as we continue to experience the saga of the Trump Administration.  
 
However, on the brighter side, instead of sitting idly by, the citizens of the United States, mounted a movement.  Not content to sit it out or throw in the towel, millions of voters, across the country, found their voices, and moved in masse to the polls during the 2018 Mid-Term elections.  The results were resounding as the nation moved to overturn the unified Republican government that was. And, instead, elected  a Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives, poised to return oversight and accountability to the government.  
 
2018 indeed, was a chaotic and head-spinning year, one that will undoubtedly go down in history as an unprecedented one, and here at Data News Weekly, we focused on our local as well as national stories that made a difference.  New Orleans, our home, is a place filled with stories of community, of families and of good and interesting stories.  Stories that do not always make the mainstream news headlines.  It is our mission, to bring these stories to our readers, to uplift, enlighten and inform our city, and yes, to educate our fellow New Orleanians, on the important work being done in our city, celebrations of our unique and storied culture, and important decisions we all are charged with making in the pursuit of a better and more equatable New Orleans.  Election decisions, city business, justice and education.  These are the stories that made up the year in Data News Weekly, because these are the things that made up the year, 2018, in New Orleans.  – Enjoy.  
Jan 13

Leah Chase 
Queen of Creole Cuisine Celebrates 95th Birthday
Honoring a Great New Orleanian
 
The City of New Orleans is a place with a rich and colorful history that’s spanned 300 years. One of those who have contributed to the legacy of this Great Historical City is the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase, who recently celebrated her 95th birthday on January 6, 2018 at the Downtown Hyatt Regency New Orleans surrounded by family, friends, leaders from the civic and business community and other well-wishers. The proceeds from the gala supports the Edgar “Dooky” Jr. and Leah Chase Family Foundation. That’s dedicated to cultivate and support historically disenfranchised organizations by making significant contributions to education, cultural arts and social justice. Data News was at this amazing event honoring one of our local treasures that’s given the gift of our culture, flavor and the recipe for a great and inspiring life and sharing it with the world.
 
Feb 3
New Orleans: A House Divided Affordable Housing Crisis Threatens Future of New Orleans
 
Putting Housing as Top Priority First is Key to Full Recovery for New Orleans
Andreanecia Morris, President of the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA) is one of many who is on the frontlines of the fight for fair housing in New Orleans. Morris is leading the Housing First Campaign that’s goal is to secure the commitment of 80,000 registered voters to support GNOHA’s advocacy efforts and the implementation of the 10-Year HousingNOLA Plan.  That can ensure that city leaders will prioritize safe, affordable, healthy housing for all in New Orleans.  They are asking people to sign up and get involved and support candidates and hold elected officials accountable who will help residents stay in our neighborhoods and make them better; help citizens of New Orleans live close to good jobs and use tax dollars collected to make communities strong.  Speaking of the Housing First Campaign she says, “We are pushing our Housing First Campaign because every time we vote or make a decision you have to put housing first. That doesn’t mean ignoring the other issues; the City Council is working to approve a Masterplan and we have made suggestions and the one we are going back and forth about is giving people a chance to live in neighborhoods that are closer to where they work that are affordable. We are in the greatest housing crisis post-Katrina as it relates to affordable housing.”
 
Feb 17
Celebrating 300 Years Inside Black Mardi Gras 
 
New Orleans: A Colorful History
As we are in the 300th Anniversary of New Orleans, with its rich and colorful history; it is one where the African influence is seen in everything from the food, music, dance and culture. It is everywhere you look and is the heartbeat that continues to pump the blood through the veins of the City keeping it alive.
The Crescent City has just finished the Carnival Season, with its many balls and parades bringing people from across the globe to explore the spectacle and splendor that is the Big Easy.
 
Black Mardi Gras
The Black Traditions of Mardi Gras, which for a long time, was unknown to those outside of the African-American Community have come to the forefront are now being discovered by others and given their true place and being recognized.
We at Data News Weekly would like to briefly explore some of these great traditions.
 
Zulu Parade
They marched in Mardi Gras as early as 1901 but made their first appearance as the Zulus in 1909. Their original routes were through the Black neighborhoods of New Orleans. Today they have a route that goes through both African-American and the traditional route along St. Charles Ave. where their beads and customized painted coconuts are highly sought after by people of all races.
 
Baby Dolls
As part of the Mardi Gras Celebration in New Orleans, the Baby Dolls were formed in 1912. The Baby Dolls were a group started in an area outside the legal red-light district called (Black) Storyville.

 Throughout the years, the women expanded their group, possibly becoming the first women’s organization in the Mardi Gras celebration. Their styles then varied, even being dressed as actual babies, or baby dolls, depending on the group.
 
Black Masking Tradition (Mardi Gras Indians)
The Black Masking Tradition (Mardi Gras Indian) is as old as the City itself beginning in 1718. As slavery spread slaves began to escape and found refuge with the indigenous people. They eventually begin to intermarry and form communities. The Africans who were already masking integrated some of the native people’s traditions with their own to create what is known as the Black Masking (Mardi Gras Indian) Tradition.  
 
 
The Movie Black Panther Inspires a Community to Greatness
 
Black Panther Strike Box Office Gold
Black Panther,” Disney/Marvel’s African-oriented comic book adaptation, has taken the movie industry by storm breaking box office records for a film with a primarily Black cast.  In its first week, the movie has grossed over 200 million dollars at the box-office domestically and an estimated 369 million internationally.
 
On the heels of the release of the of Disney/Marvel Studios “Black Panther”, local Attorney Juan LaFonta, gave back to the community by treating inner-city kids and local families to a red-carpet premiere of the film at the AMC Palace Elmwood Theater.  New Orleans native Brandon Okpalobi runs Dibia Dream, Inc., an organization dedicated to giving back to the youth. Dibia Dream, Inc. sponsored a group of kids in New Orleans to see the film as well. 
 
Data News Weekly and its community partner Cumulus Radio, were on hand for the event. 102.9 Radio Personality Downtown Leslie Brown telling Data’s Glenn Jones on the red-carpet of the significance of Black Panther the movie in inspiring a community of young people, “As a Black woman with a Black son and Black daughter they need to see more positive role models.”
 
 
And A Child Shall Lead Them
 
On March 24,  fifth-grader Naomi Wadler was onstage speaking at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.  During her three-minute speech, she spoke decisively about the lack of sustained media attention that Black women and girls receive when they are impacted by gun violence.  “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” she said.  “I am here to say never again for those girls too.” 
 
Her speech was quickly circulated online, earning her fans like Sen. Kamala Harris, Shonda Rhimes, Tessa Thompson and Ellen DeGeneres.  In the weeks following her launch into the national conversation, she says the whole experience has been “weird,” but was still ready to use her new platform to give journalists some strong advice.
 
“The media can pay attention; I feel that a lot of them are very ignorant,” she said, stressing that this ignorance is particularly clear when it comes to white journalists perpetuation racial stereotypes about Black and brown people.  “It’s the racial imbalance in the reporting that starts a chain reaction where then, other people start to believe that.” 
 
 
Bill Cosby Found Guilty on All Charges in Sex Assault Trial
 
A Montgomery County jury last Thursday, found comedian Bill Cosby guilty on all three counts of aggravated indecent assault in the case involving Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, who sought career advice and friendship from the entertainer.
 
The decision came after more than a day of deliberations and after having Cosby’s deposition testimony read back to them.
Cosby, 80, faces up to 30 years in prison.  Several television analysts questioned the verdict.  Lawyer and famed CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson, who before the verdict said the case should have been declared a mistrial, said after the decision that Cosby’s team has “many grounds for appeal.” He said he was stunned by the verdict as well as the swiftness in which the jury delivered it.
 
“Certainly, the prosecution put up vigorous case … but I thought the defense did a significant job of discrediting Andrea Constand giving the jury an indication that there was a number of lies she told over a period of time,” Jackson said.
 
 
Latoya Cantrell Makes History as First Female Mayor of New Orleans
 
 Historic Day in New Orleans
On May 7, 2018 history was made as New Orleans inaugurated its First Female Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Data News Weekly had the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview the new mayor on the eve of her big day about her feelings of being elected mayor and her vision for the City. In addition, Data News Weekly attended Cantrell’s swearing in and the Mayor’s Ball later than night.
Her Inaugural Address was emotion filled, at times, as she surveyed the to-capacity crowd where former mayors, elected officials, family and friends and supports came out to witness and support her on this historic day. Some wept visibly proud and overwhelmed that the City elected its first female mayor. That the City had overcome and torn down another barrier and that they were witnessing the dawning of a new age.
 
Her voice ringing in a triumphant tone Cantrell said, “We broke every kind of glass ceiling and color line and old outdated rule about who the mayor is supposed to be.” And anyone familiar with the history of New Orleans where issues of race, privilege and colorism among Blacks were often determining factors of who should lead the City.”   She addressed this issue head on as well saying, “What we have done in this election is we have changed people’s ideas about what the mayor is supposed to look like or where he was supposed to be born,” proclaimed Cantrell who came from Los Angeles to New Orleans as a student attending Xavier University and since then has made this her home building her career and family in the Crescent City.
 
 
Former First Lady Michelle Obama Comes to New Orleans
 
The Continuing of the American Dream: Former First Lady Michelle Obama 
America is at a crossroads at home and on the global stage. We have witnessed a shift from the Obama years, ones that promoted openness and inclusion, fast forward to today, we are seeing the exact opposite coming from the Oval Office.
 
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden moderated the conversation with former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama during the Opening General Session of the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference and Exhibition Friday, June 22nd. This session took place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
 
Hayden and Obama ended the opening program with an in-depth conversation around Obama’s forthcoming memoir “Becoming” (Crown Publishing Group) to be released in November of 2018. The book focuses on the experiences that have impacted her life, her family and the country.
 
Hayden, a phenomenal woman in her own right is the first woman and the first African-American to lead the Library of Congress. She was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama in February 2016, and her nomination confirmed by the U.S. Senate in July 2016.
 
Obama’s memoir will be published in the U.S. and Canada and in 25 languages around the world. The book invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.
 
 
Trump Administration Creates Humanitarian Crisis in America  
 
The New Orleans City Council issued a demand for the end of detention of children at the U.S. Mexico border.  
As Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speak across town at the National Sheriffs convention, the City Council President and Vice President’s office filed a joint resolution for Thursday’s full Council meeting demanding an end to the un-American and inhumane DHS policy of forcibly separating immigrant children from their parents. 
 
“I will continue to publicly condemn the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ enforcement of their new immigration policy to separate families,” said Council President Jason Williams. “Forcibly separating children from parents as a matter of course is inhumane and unnecessary, and as an African American and a descendant of American slaves, this policy is evocative of some of darkest days in this country’s young history. This policy is truly self-inflicted wound, and like many we have seen from the current administration, is antithetical to American values and basic humanity.”
 
The resolution calls for an end to this policy and immediate reunification for those children separated. 
 
 
A Love Supreme: The Life and Legacy of Paul Beaulieu
 
A Life Dedicated to Serving Others
On July 24 the city loss a great New Orleanian and selfless servant and humanitarian who dedicated his life to helping others. Paul Beaulieu, who was a trailblazer using his positions as a broadcaster and educator passed away at the age of 75.
 
For those who crossed paths with this native of New Orleans, hailing from the 7th Ward experienced a man who represented the best of what the City has to offer pouring from his cup into others and inspiring them to greatness. After graduating from Xavier University in 1965 he worked tirelessly as an English Teacher at his alma mater St. Augustine where he led the alumni association before founding the Cornerstone Club, where graduates over the years would maintain their ties to the purple and gold contributing resources to continue its mission teaching young men; and giving them the tools to become leaders in many fields of endeavor not just in New Orleans but across the nation.
 
Paul Beaulieu was also one of the pioneers in the field of journalism, breaking barriers and giving African-Americans a larger voice in media. Writing an opinion column for one of the daily newspapers, “The States-Item.” In addition, he started his own newspaper, “The Spectator News Journal” he also was the host a Public Affairs Program called “Dimensions.” Later in his career he would serve as the co-host of the popular TV Program “Between the Lines” with fellow St. Aug Alum and community advocate Lloyd Dennis. Then he lent his voice to WBOK AM-1230 where he would have a top-rated show and later serve as the Station’s General Manager before retiring in 2015 with one of his last interviews being the present New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
 
The Most Important Vote In History 
Louisiana Voters Have a Chance on Nov. 6th to Change Controversial Split Verdict Law
 
Proposed Amendment No. 2
As the citizens of New Orleans head to the polls on November 6th the weight of history hangs in the balance. Unlike other elections this one goes beyond voting for those who would hold various elected offices. This election has on the ballot one of the most important and impactful issues that affect disproportionately effect on African-Americans.
 
Controversial Split Verdict Law (Non-Unanimous).  Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2 reads, ‘Do you support an amendment that require a unanimous jury verdict in all non-capital offenses that are committed on or after January 1, 2019.’
 
In short, Louisiana is only one of two states (other is Oregon) in the country that do not require a unanimous jury verdict in serious felony cases. A result that often leads to sending people to jail often for life. In fact, Louisiana only requires 10 of twelve jurors to consent in serious felony trials to get a guilty conviction. This unusual and controversial practice is something that’s contributed to Louisiana being (recently Oklahoma took top spot) as the prison capital of the world. 
 
This law has historical links to a race-based legacy of segregation and racism that in 1898 worked to restore White Supremacy by preventing Blacks from voting and removing them from all aspects of power and relegating them to second-class citizenship. 

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