Marie Laveau : Transgressing Powerful Gentility and Darkness

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Hernandez, Aby
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Marie Laveau and voodoo have been such great influences to religion, the media, and people. All the religious believers and non-believers have created their own perceptions of Marie Laveau based on her relation to Christianity. There are many myths and folktales about Marie and for many the truth has been unveiled but for others because of the mystery of her life we do not know for sure if they are real or not which makes the stories and legend that much more interesting, so it becomes up to others to decide what they want to believe. Out of all stories that exist of Marie what matters is that Marie Laveau can be an example of a genuine leader inside and outside of New Orleans borders. She was able to withstand constant harassment and others and find ways to fight off the bullies. Marie is an individual that could be talked about more in relation to religious history in the south and even in relation to Haitian history because of what she did for voodoo as a religion. To begin to study Marie is a mission in itself, there is no verifiable source explicitly stating that Marie practiced voodoo, but there are plenty of newspaper articles and her obituaries from her time that provide information on Marie and some of the work she did for her community. As more information comes to light, there are sources to back it up such as church records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. proving that she existed because some people suspect that she is simply a folktale character. The sources available through churches and city halls are the ones that most scholars and historians have based their research and work on. Scholars like Ina Fandrich went to New Orleans to do extensive research and she writes a little about how much she struggled initially to find anything out about Marie because it is as if it all disappeared when she passed away. She explains that it was not until she found Marie's children's baptism and birth certificates that she could begin to trace their family tree. There are some family members who today still uphold Marie's traditions like Luke Turner who Zora Neale Hurston interviewed for her book, Mules and Men. He showed Neale Hurston which rituals were helpful and harmful to people depending on how they were used, but she did not do bad that would not have something good come out of it. Marie is someone who can be looked up to by both men and women, black and white, not only because she was part of both communities but because of the help she provided out of the kindness of her heart and because she understood class and racial struggles and wanted both groups to benefit from each other and be able to coexist. Her bravery to resist a greater power showed people what religion really was. Religion was not what white people thought it was, where they colonized areas and took its people to work for them till death set them free. Religion is about regardless of what someone believes in, they will not harm those that think differently. Marie came a long way throughout history and today she is either loved or hated because of what she did to help her community of both blacks and whites. I appreciated this project because I learned a lot about not only Marie Laveau but also about the culture and some history of New Orleans and it even helped me understand different aspects of slavery that we had not discussed in a classroom.
53 p.
Kalamazoo, Mich. : Kalamazoo College
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