The Krewe of Zulu is a predominantly African-American group that was formed as a parody of the Carnival parade thrown by the rich, white folks of Rex. Its King is usually a member, but in 1949 they honored the great Louis Armstrong:
You’re not hallucinating: Pops *was* in blackface. Krewe members to this very day wear blackface whilst parading, including white riders. It’s one reason Zulu nearly died in the 1960’s. Zulu is now seen as a symbol of African-American pride, not as minstrelsy or Uncle Tommery as it was at the peak of the Civil Rights movement. I still have qualms about the whole blackface thing though.
Satchmo was thrilled to be honored in his hometown but continued to live in Queens. He was unwilling to be treated as a second-class citizen, which meant living in New Orleans was out of the question. Besides, he spent most of the year on the road but New York was where he hung his hat or is that horn?
Louis received another signal honor that year. He was on the cover of Time Magazine:
Zulu has a brand spanking new signature float this year that honors their 1949 King. It will make its debut on Mardi Gras Day.
I’m not sure why the caption and the logo on the float don’t match but we’re not big on detail here in the Crescent City.
It’s time to give the great man the last word: