An event marking the 25th anniversary of the re-opening of the Old State Capitol after an extensive renovation included an opportunity to “meet Mammy,” but the Secretary of State’s office is defending the event against inference that it could be politically incorrect.
SOS spokesman Tyler Brey said museum staff met the founder of a group called Mammy’s, at a history conference.
“Museum staff had a great conversation with her,” Brey said, and decided to incorporate her historical talk, complete with period attire, into the Sunday event at the Old Capitol. “She came and put on her program and it got overwhelmingly positive results."
"Mammy" is typically a reference to a historically racist caricature of female slaves pre-Civil War and later black housemaids and nannies to white families during the Jim Crow era.
The Mammy's website describes the organization as an attempt to reclaim the name.
"Mammy was stereotyped as a uneducated, submissive, dark skin, overweight, and very maternal woman," it reads. "Yet, Mammy is so much more than depicted by Hollywood. She is and was a central to the development and success of the community ... Mammy's was created to honor the legacy of those who sacrificed their lives to take care of others."
Hi Elizabeth I take great pride in honoring every contribution of each of my my ancestors to the state of Louisiana. We have been contributing to the success of Louisiana since my first ancestors arrived.— Mammy's (@ourmammys) May 6, 2019
The programs for the Old Capitol event – printed on the backs of paper fans — did not identify the appearance as part of an organized group or give additional context that it would be a historical presentation beyond “Meet Mammy.”
Brey said the Secretary of State’s office received no complaints from anyone who attended the event but word of it prompted online complaints and calls.
The Secretary of State’s office plans to continue the relationship and have “Mammy” attend future events, Brey said.
“She tells the story in a way that our museum staff can’t,” he said.
So one of the events at the “old-fashioned” picnic at the Louisiana Old State Capitol today is “Meet Mammy” - a woman dressed just as you would expect, per a friend who attended. https://t.co/dUdC91iA0j— Elizabeth Crisp (@elizabethcrisp) May 5, 2019