Scholars and experts on New Orleans history will gather this weekend for a four-day symposium, designed as one of the seminal events celebrating the city's 300th birthday.
Hosted by the Historic New Orleans Collection, the free lecture series, which starts Thursday, will explore various topics, ranging from French colonial New Orleans to the transatlantic slave trade.
Called “Making New Orleans Home: A Tricentennial Symposium," the discussions will be held at various universities, as well as the Monteleone Hotel and the New Orleans Jazz Museum.
Officials with the Historic Collection joined forces with the city's 2018 Commission’s Cultural and Historical Committee to organize the event.
Cokie Roberts, a political commentator for ABC News and NPR's "Morning Edition," will present the keynote address Thursday evening at Tulane University’s McAlister Auditorium.
Roberts, whose mother Lindy Boggs and father Hale Boggs both represented Louisiana in Congress, has a "really eloquent way of demonstrating how New Orleanians call the city home but live all over place," said Emily Clark, a history professor at Tulane. Roberts also has authored several books on American history.
Tucina Olidge, executive director of the Amistad Research Center, said each day’s programming reflects a different century in the city's history.
"It's about so much more than migration," said Clark, a member of the committee that helped plan the symposium. "Some were brought as captives from Africa. There are people who were born and raised here who have never left. And there are also people who call New Orleans home who don’t live here anymore."
On Friday, Tulane emeritus professor Lawrence Powell will interview Walter Johnson, director of Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center, at the Monteleone Hotel on New Orleans’ role in the slave trade.
Isabel Wilkerson, author of the award-winning book “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” is the featured speaker on Saturday. She will give her address at Xavier University’s McCaffrey Ballroom in the University Center. Wilkerson won a Pulitzer Prize for her earlier work at the New York Times.
Also on Saturday, Xavier will host a panel in the McCaffrey Ballroom exploring the city’s musical legacy with Bruce Raeburn, director emeritus of the Hogan Jazz Archive; professor of anthropology Nick Spitzer; and clarinetist Michael White, who holds Xavier’s Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities.
A schedule of events can be found at hnoc.org.
"This is for the public," Clark said. "It’s not for scholars or history buffs — it’s for everybody."