New Orleans public schools lift century-long ban on jazz music and dancing

▶ Watch Video: New Orleans Jazz band preserves music of the Old South

The Orleans Parish School Board voted unanimously Thursday to repeal a ban on jazz music and dancing in public schools. The decision comes exactly 100 years to the date after the resolution was originally passed, school officials said. 

“I’m very glad that we can rescind this policy,” school board president Olin Parker said at a committee meeting this week. “I want to acknowledge it was rooted in racism. I also want to acknowledge the tremendous contributions of our students and especially of our band directors whose legacy continues from 1922 on now through the carnival season.”

According to the Associated Press, the New Orleans public schools abolished playing and dancing to jazz music on March 24, 1922. The resolution was sponsored by former school board member Adolph Baumgartner, who said she had witnessed “a lot of rough dancing” at school events. 

Executive director of the Greater New Orleans Collaborative of Charter Schools Dr. Ken Ducote called the former policy “absurd,” and said it is the result of one board member’s personal preferences. He argued that public schools have played “a tremendous role” in the development of New Orleans jazz music and the economy, by providing jobs to jazz musicians and church vocalists as band teachers. 

Since the rule took effect a century ago, some students and teachers have disregarded it, according to board member Katherine Baudouin. 

“In this instance and in this instance only, we’re glad that the policy was ignored,” she said.

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