It was another gray and rainy day and it was still sprinkling when I headed out on my bike for an errand or two. I pedaled Uptown to visit a video store–look it up–and then back downtown for a trip through the Ogden. I stopped at the intersection of Prytania and Camp to snap a picture of this statue of Margaret Haughery. It’s the first statue of a woman erected in the U.S., and it’s right there, and it took reading a book about Civil War memory for me to learn about her. Anyway. She was born in 1813, her parents died, she was adopted, those parents died,and she was all alone in the world. She worked hard, moved her way up some kind of ladder, and became a rich baker. She distributed free bread to the needy, gave away most of what she had to provide for the (white?) widows and children of New Orleans, and seems to have been generally incredibly generous and supportive of the community’s poor. Maybe we should trim some of those trees and remind people of some alternatives to the way the vast majority of those of us with economic privilege act now. I rode to the museum, watched that Benny Andrews video again. Art can do something special, for sure. It was a good ride.
Wonderful post on Margaret. Please visit our Facebook Page “Beloved Margaret Haughery of New Orleans” where you’ll find more information on this wonderful woman. When she died, she left her fortune to the orphans of New Orleans, black and white, Catholic, Jewish and Protestant.
Margaret was much beloved by the people of New Orleans who said: “She was a mother to the motherless; she was a friend to those who had no friends; she had wisdom greater than schools can teach; we will not let her memory go from us.” So they made a statue of her, just as she used to look, sitting in her own office door, or driving in her own little cart. And there it stands today, in memory of the great love and the great power of plain Margaret Haughery, of New Orleans.