The Black History of Mardi Gras

Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 8:51 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Not only is February Black History Month, it’s also Mardi Gras season. Did you know the both topics go hand and hand?

Mardi Gras is a time of universal celebration with a history deeply rooted in African American culture. The tradition originally started in Mobile, Alabama in 1703, not in New Orleans.

“Everyone was not celebrating Mardi Gras together equally, so in my hometown of Mobile, there were a group of African Americans that founded the Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association,” said Columbus Mardi Gras enthusiast Rocky Marsh. “Which is the first African American Mardi Gras Association.”

Dr. Rocky Marsh is a Mobile native and serves as President and Founder of the Fountain City Mardi Gras Association in Columbus. Marsh said the religious preparation for Lent and celebratory themes helped people in black communities thrive.

“It found its way to be a platform with philanthropic ventures, businesses, ownership, rentals, celebrations and community.”

Then it’s the unique cultural traditions.

From the honoring of Native Americans, Krewes, beautiful balls, and royal courts as a way to introduce youth to society, African Americans continue to use their traditions to uplift and educate future generations.

Education is why Dr. Marsh founded the Fountain City Mardi Gras Association in 2017.

He’s helping communities in the Chattahoochee Valley understand what Mardi Gras is all about and assisting in making area celebrations memorable, to make it universal for everyone.

“It’s a part of carrying the culture forward,” said Marsh. “Black History Month is two parts. We mostly talk about honoring the past. But there’s another aspect and that’s to honor what is going on currently, the appreciation of African Americans and black history achievements.”

Mardi Gras season is in full swing in the Chattahoochee Valley. LaGrange will hosts its Krewe Of Mask Mardi Gras parade Saturday, February 18, while Columbus’s parade is March 11 where the Krewe of Columbus will make its debut.