So I am in Day 3 of the UNCF Leadership Conference in New Orleans, LA and it has been really interesting and helpful for both the college students and me. The trip up to the Crescent City was just like a restful road trip, alternately between long naps and fun movie watching of Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married. It also felt a little like I was going to a Youth Retreat but I didn’t know anyone on the bus. The students were sleeping most of the ride to LA yet strangely, it was almost natural to fall into Advisor/Chaperone-mode. The trip took about 12 hrs.
We arrived in New Orleans at about 2PM Miami Time (3PM NOLA Time) and checked in. My room is at the top floor of the first half of the hotel (29th) so I have a great view of Canal Street from my window. Strangely, Canal Street reminds me a lot of the Canal Street from NYC (small greasy spoon eateries mingled with nationally recognized stores like CVS, Payless, and Popeye’s). The further uptown you went, the nicer the area became.
I learned on the hotel’s public access channel that in the 19th century, Canal Street was supposed to an actual canal so it was widened. But I guess the plans fell through. It later became a boundary between the American and French Creole cultures and communities during the 19th century. The cultural diversity was so strong that the money at that time in NOLA was written in English on one side and French on the other.
Another thing that I noticed when I took a trip to Bourbon Street was that the younger local New Orleans citizens don’t eat Creole and Cajun cusine regularly at all; they rather eat soul food like fried chicken, red beans and rice, Popeye’s chicken, etc.
This is a picture I took with the Social Secretary for the White House and Personal Assistant of President Barack H. Obama. Her name is Desiree Rogers. She was very welcoming and humble when I met her, a true extension of the First Lady herself. I told her that it was an honor to meet her and that I also admired her strength in the face of adversity communicated in the current news.
For those who don’t know what I am talking about, let me give you some background . . .
About 3-6 months ago, Mrs. Rogers planned a wonderful party at the White House for dignataries from the country of India. It was a very exclusive affair; only the best of the best were admitted. Unfortunately, there was a couple who was invited to the event but because they were dressed appropriately and looked like they belonged, the Secret Service admitted them without question.
It was later found out that Mrs. Rogers did compile the guest list that was circulated to the Secret Service (the “bouncers” at the event) but at two checkpoints, the Secret Service did not have the list but let the couple in anyway. The news got a whiff of this story and it was publicized everywhere but the blame was laid upon Mrs. Rogers, claiming that she was socializing with the guests instead of checking the invitations. But what was not publicized was that her job responsibility for that night was to generate the guest list and make the guests feel comfortable. The Secret Service was in charge of screening, “bouncing” out anyone who did not belong.
The news got so bad that many people in Congress demanded that Mrs. Rogers confess to the fault in open court. Rightly, the White House blocked that request. So she didn’t lose her job and stayed true to the truth. We all can learn a great deal from this wonderful woman.