Data News Staff Edited Report
The Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, founded in 1909, is New Orleans’ largest predominantly African American Carnival Organization known for its iconic Mardi Gras Day Parade and the most sought-after parade throw, coconuts. Inspired by theater, the Zulu Tradition started from humble beginnings with costumes designed to pay homage to African ancestry. The history is illustrious, at times colorful but remains an integral part of the New Orleans culture.
King Zulu 2024: Melvin Louis Labat
Melvin Louis Labat is a kind-hearted, gentle giant. He is affectionately known as “ZO” to some and just “Mel” to others. He is the oldest and only boy of three siblings raised in the Metro New Orleans area. Presently, he resides on the Westbank in Gretna, Louisiana.
Melvin was the proud father of Melvin John Eric Labat, who was tragically killed in 2012. The memory of his son lingers in his heart and soul every day. Melvin fills this void in his life by spending countless hours with his nephews and nieces. He provides a positive male image to them, which strengthens their family bond. Through his Catholic faith and Christian bond at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, Melvin continually pushes on.
Melvin received his education in the New Orleans Public and Parochial School Systems, attending Epiphany Catholic School, St. Augustine High School, and John F. Kennedy High School. He later attended Prairie View A&M University in Texas on an athletic scholarship, where he joined Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. Melvin achieved academic success, earning dual degrees in Marketing and Business, along with a Master of Business Administration.
Community service holds a special place in Melvin’s heart. As a Community Outreach Manager for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, he has facilitated financial contributions to educational institutions including Lafayette Academy Charter School, McDonogh 35 Senior High School, Patrick F. Taylor Science, Technology Academy, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Southern University of New Orleans. He is actively involved in inspiring students in programs like STARBASE and the University of New Orleans Upward Bound Program.
As Melvin reflects on what he has done, representing Zulu as King in 2024 will be the crowning touch of his life. Melvin’s son, “Lil Mel,” would always say, “Ace” (that’s what he called his dad), I want you to be KING one day,” and would now say, “Job Well Done, Ace.”
Queen Zulu 2024: A. Angélique Roché
A. Angélique Roché, a Louisiana native, is the youngest daughter of Alvin Alphonse Roché, Jr., from New Orleans, and Queen Zulu 1996 Rose A. Lee Roché, from Port Allen.
From a young age, her parents and grandparents emphasized the significance of personal education, cultural preservation, and community enrichment. Having a father from Gretna, a grandmother from the 7th Ward, a paternal grandfather from McDonoghville, and a maternal grandfather who graduated from Xavier University in New Orleans; she developed a deep affection for the Crescent City and a profound understanding of New Orleans’ cultural impact around the globe.
Her mother also ensured that her daughters understood the significance and importance of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, Inc.; each was presented as a Zulu Maid during their senior year of high school. Angélique was part of the Zulu Royal Court of the late King Roy E. Glapion, Jr. and Queen Desire Glapion-Rogers (2000). She also served as a handmaid for her mother during the reign of the late King Louis Rainey, Jr (1996).
She graduated with honors from Southern University and A&M College (BA, Mass Communications, Print Journalism), the ARMY Cadet Leadership Training Institute, the Southern University Law Center (Juris Doctorate), and The George Washington University Law School (LL.M, International and Comparative Law).
After earning her final degree, she worked for Senator Mary L. Landrieu as a Legislative Aide (2008-2012). In 2012, she transitioned to campaign politics working on the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama and serving as the Associate Director of Volunteer Operations for his 2013 Inauguration. And in 2014, she was the Campaign Manager for then-State Senator Nina Turner’s Campaign for Secretary of State in Ohio. The next year she joined the leadership team at the Ms. Foundation for Women serving as Director of Communications and the Vice President for External Affairs from 2015-2018.
She is currently a consultant, writer, and host. In 2018 she joined the team at Marvel Entertainment as a host and producer. In 2020 her work expanded to include being a Member of the Marvel Editorial Team and as a Consultant for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
A lifelong Catholic, Angélique is a member of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in St. Roch, the OLSSCC Choir, the Archdiocese of New Orleans Gospel Choir, and serves as a Lector for the Parish. She is also a member of several service, social, and honors organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Alpha Delta, American Inns of Court, and Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity. She is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and currently resides in the St. Roch Neighborhood in New Orleans.
Zulu Ball Feb. 9, 2024, New Orleans Convention Center Halls G, H, I (smaller bold font these three lines)
Lund Gras Celebration, Feb. 12, 2024
Zulu Parade, Feb. 13, 2024