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Residents of Pontchartrain Park celebrate historic marker declaring area as ‘safe cradle for Black hope’ 

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Residents of the historic Pontchartrain Park neighborhood in New Orleans celebrated a new marker that declares their community as a “safe cradle for Black hope and prosperity.”

Pontchartrain Park was put on the National Register of Historic Places two years ago, as noted by NOLA.com. The designation came during the summer of racial reckoning — in June 2020. 

Pontchartrain Park, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places two years ago, celebrated a new marker that declares their community as a “safe cradle for Black hope and prosperity.” (Photo: Screenshot/WWLTV/YouTube.com)

Former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, now the president of the National Urban League, spoke at the dedication ceremony on Thursday, held in advance of the Essence Festival of Culture, which recently took over The Big Easy.

“For the recognition to be done while we are all still here is also significant,” said Morial, “so we can recognize it and enjoy it. It’s a proud moment.” 

Also in attendance at the dedication ceremony was Morial’s mother, Sybil, a former Xavier University administrator, who owns two homes in the district that she bought with her husband Dutch Morial — also a former mayor of New Orleans.  

In 1955, when the district was commissioned, its founders envisioned it as a place for Black homeowners, one that would keep them segregated from their white counterparts. The neighborhood birthed many famous New Orleanians, including famed jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard and former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson.

“It was built because the city fathers were trying to maintain ‘separate but equal,’” Morial said, describing Pontchartrain Park as “a neighborhood of strivers and hard-working families.”

“It was just an incredible place to grow up in,” he told those gathered. “It was like a little village unto itself.” 

Like many other areas and monuments in the city, Pontchartrain Park faced serious challenges after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, and Hurricane Ida in 2021. Like its legendary city, this neighborhood continues to win against all odds.

“It’s still a great place to raise a family,” said Gretchen Bradford, who serves as neighborhood association president and whose family has lived in the area since 1958, per NOLA.com. “We are a very diverse community now, but just about everyone who lives in the neighborhood, they really enjoy this neighborhood and the amenities.”

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