“Inaugural Trip” Day 4: NOLA and Biloxi

1/15/21 Blogs

Breakfast at Jackson Square

Jayelynn Bordeaux

You can’t visit New Orleans with stopping by Café du Monde, so the LEAP students did just that. This morning, we made our way to Café du Monde for breakfast and got some beignets. Beignets are essentially fried dough with powdered sugar on top, and they reminded me of a funnel cake.

Café du Monde is located near the French Market and Jackson Square. The cafe has been open since 1862 and has become the most famous shop serving beignets in New Orleans.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, NOLA, New Orleans, Cafe du Monde

I personally am not a huge fan of sweets so I also got some breakfast at Monty’s on the Square, which is right across the street. We enjoyed our breakfast and the music performed outside Cafe du Monde, after which we explored Jackson Square.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, NOLA, New Orleans, Jackson Square

After breakfast, we walked to the French Market, which is a really nice spot for souvenirs. All three of these spots are popular areas for tourists.

An Afternoon in Biloxi

Jessica Cuevas

After spending two days learning about and experiencing the historical significance of several sites within the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, we visited the Ohr-O’Keefe’s Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi.

In many ways, it was unlike any other museum that I have seen before. Not only was it smaller, but it was not the typical modern building I am used to. In fact, it has its own unique and very beautiful architectural structure and style. It was designed by the well-known American Canadian modern architect Frank Gehry, who despite designing a modern expressionist structure, incorporated and tied in the history and culture of Mississippi into the design in such a way that it would not awkwardly stand out. He did this by utilizing local materials and historical local vernacular.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum

Interestingly, Frank Gehry worked around the live oak trees at this site to preserve and minimize any damage to them. What makes Gehry’s work unique is the fact that his structural design would not have been possible without computer programs to create renderings of it.

This museum is named after both Jeremiah O’Keefe, who helped turn the vision of this museum a reality, and George Ohr, known as the “Mad Potter of Biloxi.” Ohr is famous for his modern art and ceramic work, which defied the 19th century convention through its aestheticism which is highly admired by artists today.

In the main building, there was a bust of Booker T. Washington, an African American leader who emphasized education orally and through written text, by Richmond Barthé, a sculptor known for his connection to the Harlem Renaissance.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum

Booker T. Washington contributed to the civil rights movement in one way by being the first African American to eat at the White House, having been invited Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States.

The first exhibit we saw at this museum featured a New Orleans artist by the name of Sally Heller, a multi-media creator whose art pieces may be openly interpreted.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum, Sally Heller

The exhibit was titled “I can see all obstacles in my way.” It is composed of fabric, clothing, fishing net, plastic objects, and conveyor belts.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum, Sally Heller

My interpretation of this exhibit was bitter-sweet, since I was impressed by the local art pieces since they were abstract, but the web like shape along with the length of it led me to wonder if it represented the barriers she faced and conquered.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum

The second exhibition was titled a city within a city. Within this exhibit there were photographs and a timeline related to the civil rights movement, and specifically its impact on Biloxi.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum

The city was heavily impacted by hurricane Katrina in 2005, and many historical buildings were highlighted within the photographs in this exhibit.

It is also in this exhibit that we learned about how Medgar Evers participated in “wade-ins” to attempt to desegregate the beaches – a fact which many of us were not aware of.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum

The final exhibition was a set of buildings referred to as “the pods,” which held visual and audio artwork that was heightened or emphasized by the acoustics within the building because of its dome-like figure.

  • SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum
  • SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum
  • SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum
  • SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum

While we have visited many museums on this trip, this museum has been a completely different experience, and exposed us not just to the city’s historical significance, but gave us an insight into the cultural and architectural significance.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Ohr-Okeefe Museum

A Ray of Hope

Jayelynn Bordeaux

Later in the day, we visited the beach in Biloxi, Mississippi, and attempted to feed bread to the seagulls, however the seagulls either were not hungry or it was too chilly for them to come out and socialize. I never realized there was a beach in Mississippi, but I was more distracted by how cold I was.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS

To end the day off, we took a picture in front of Biloxi lighthouse. The lighthouse was established in 1848 and has become a well-known feature of the city, symbolizing both hope and resilience.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS, Biloxi Lighthouse

I felt this was an appropriate end to our day on the eve of the weekend before Martin Luther King Day.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Biloxi MS

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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