Local writers Fatima Shaik and Michael Tisserand sat down Friday (March 11) to talk about “Hidden History: Black and Creole Influence and Culture in New Orleans” at the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University.
Shaik’s book chronicles the history of Black New Orleans through a group of free men-of-color, the Société d’Economie et d’Assistance Mutuelle. “Hidden” is part of the title because this society and its activities were unknown even though the men of the Economic and Mutual Aid Association community were significant figures in the city from the Haitian Revolution in the 1790s to the creation of jazz in the early 20th century. The name “Economy Hall” refers to the Tremé building where the association met and held events. Tisserand is the author of “Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White,” the acclaimed biography of New Orleans-born illustrator, journalist and cartoonist George Herriman, the creator of “Krazy Kat,” a newspaper comic strip that ran from 1913 to 1944. The book investigates his life navigating — or hiding from — the color line in the early 20th century.
Shaik relates that she and Tisserand discovered many affinities due to their deep research and dedication to unknown New Orleans stories.