Dear Mayor Cantrell,
I am a lifelong resident of Treme. My deeply rooted sentiments and first-hand experiences led me to form the Ole & Nu Style Fellas Social Aid and Pleasure Organization. For the past 21 years, we have been dedicated to contributing to the local second-line culture. In addition to this, we have also demonstrated avid community service in the form of annual neighborhood cleanups, voter registration drives, meet and greets with candidates, school supply giveaways, debutante sponsorships, coat and blanket drives for the homeless and much more.
As a resident of Treme, I view the interests of community as a top priority. The community wants to keep the historic Municipal Auditorium as a jewel for the people, like other historic cultural landmarks within the Treme community such as the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, Louis Armstrong Park and Congo Square.
To bring City Hall into historically Black Treme and create a business district would be an impudent act and an insult to the people of the community. True to its intent, the Municipal Auditorium has had a tremendous impact on Treme. The restoration and revitalization of this historic landmark should reflect the people’s vision and not used for New Orleans City Hall, especially in this historic neighborhood.
I was invited to one of the forums to discuss the Municipal Auditorium becoming the new City Hall. There, I asked the question, “Can the people vote on the matter?” The response, “No!”
As mayor of color, I am sure you know, understand, recognize and appreciate how important this historic building and other landmarks are to lifetime New Orleanians. If you do not know the history of the Municipal Auditorium, then you do not know the significance this building has in this community. Its future should be to remain as a cultural landmark.
Treme has gotten the attention of many investors. I genuinely do believe there are people of good will with a passion for progress in Treme. Even though much has been done, there is much more left to do. Combating blight is a critical issue that lies within the community, but it is not the only issue that demands attention. Gentrification and consumerism are direct threats to people of color. The cultural community serves as collateral for the city’s tourism-driven consumer negotiations. Our hard work and persistence are the main sources of its success. So, our voices must be acknowledged and heard.
I speak on the behalf of many, with a voice for the general welfare of the community. It’s time to stop and rethink the relocation of City Hall.
Thank you for your time.
Sue Press is a lifelong resident of Treme and founder of the Ole & Nu Style Fellas Social Aid and Pleasure Organization.
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