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Michel Martin. King Zulu waves to the crowds from his float on Mardi Gras day on Feb. This Tuesday's Mardi Gras celebration in Faces new orleans mardi gras masks Orleans has thrust into the spotlight a controversial local tradition dating back more than years.

Every year, members of the city's Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club don grass skirts, feather headdresses and bone jewelry for the Mardi Gras parade. The Zulus' African-American members — and even some of their white members — also paint their faces black. The practice has been an oddity existing in plain sight since the Zulu club adopted it in to pay homage to Zulu warriors in South Africa.

But in the weeks since photos depicting a person in blackface were discovered on the Faces new orleans mardi gras masks school yearbook page of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, the national conversation about blackface has intensified. Now, the Zulu club tradition is Faces new orleans mardi gras masks new scrutiny. The clubs sponsor community service projects, serve as social gathering spots and organize lively parades that wind through the streets of the city's neighborhoods on Sundays.

On Fat Tuesday, massive crowds gather along the parade route to watch the floats and try to catch a painted coconut, the Zulu prize throw. For the Zulus, she said, "it was a way to combat some of the racism and segregation taking place in Mardi Gras.

But now, some in New Orleans are accusing the Zulu club of racism. Take 'Em Down NOLA, a group that has worked to remove Confederate statues from the city, protested across the street from the Zulu clubhouse last month.

The Zulu club has faced similar criticism before. Inmusician Louis Armstrong was pilloried when he appeared on a float at the head of the Zulu parade with his face painted black. And according to a narrative of Zulu history posted on the group's website, membership dwindled to only 16 people during the Pokemon xxx photo anime power movement of the 's, when the Zulus' grass skirts and blackface were considered out of step with the times.

Inthe Zulus bowed to pressure from the African-American community to parade without the typical face makeup, according to Jarvis DeBerry, a columnist with the Times Picayune. They paraded with masks instead, until defiantly returning to the traditional face Faces new orleans mardi gras masks two years later.

In the run up to this year's Mardi Gras celebration, the club has remained unwilling to change its parade costume. In a statement, the club called the blackface minstrelsy of the past "a racist and vile form of entertainment," and distanced Zulu parade makeup from the blackface worn by people intending to mock African-Americans.

And as a proud New Orleans native, she said she finds the Zulu costume to be appropriate, given the context. Furthermore, Lewis said, it's a New Orleans tradition that many outsiders simply wouldn't understand. And for the average black person in New Orleans, including members of my own Black big boobs with girl, they Faces new orleans mardi gras masks do not connect the blackface in Zulu with minstrelsy Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player.

Don't Tell Me! NPR Shop. Now, they're facing calls to end the practice. Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email. March 3, PM ET. Heard on All Things Considered. Janaya Williams.

Enlarge this image. Zulu Parade - Mardi Gras

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