Robert Trudeau, a retired Caddo Parish teacher and Carnival enthusiast, brought a piece of New Orleans Mardi Gras rituals to Shreveport in 2008 with the start of Blanc et Noir, a French term meaning black and white.

Trudeau and New Orleans native Jerry Davenport formed the Blanc et Noir Second Line Brass Band as an instrument to create racial harmony. The second line is known for incorporating African dances in their performances, which were introduced to New Orleans by enslaved Africans as part of their burial rituals. The first line was the pallbearers and musicians. The “second line” was those who were beckoned to the cemetery procession by the percussions of the band.

“We wanted the krewe to be the krewe that brought people together from both sides of the city,” Trudeau mused.

The two men, both Shreveport transplants, bonded over the Faces of Katrina exhibit at Artspace in 2007. Hurricane Katrina displaced millions of people.

Talbot Trudeau, wife of Robert, designed their black and white logo, which is a nod to the Krewe of Zulu, one of the original Black krewes in New Orleans. Matthew Linn, Krewe of Highland Parade founder, gave the loosely formed second line group a place to march.

“The first years, people at the Krewe of Highland looked at us like we were crazy,” Trudeau explained. “People came to gradually accept us a brass band and bunch of marchers. Today, we are the most photographed krewe because we are the most unusual krewe.”

Sadly, this year Mardi Gras parades in Louisiana are cancelled. Yet, the spirit of Mardi Gras lives. Trudeau has a 36-page booklet called “How to Mardi Gras”. Pick it up at local favorite shops like Enchanted Gardens, 318 Art & Garden, and Tubb’s Hardware and Cajun Gifts.

When Mardi Gras comes roaring back, be sure to yell, “Throw me something mister!” and you are likely to get a coveted, hand-painted pecan from one of the smiling faces of Blanc et Noir members.

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