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Shreveport-Bossier City draws influence from ethnic groups

A 2 day tour of Louisiana
Southeastern,
Spring 2013.

Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter forever plays the guitar in Shreveport.
Photo: Shreveport Bossier CVB
Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter forever plays the guitar in Shreveport.

Shreveport-Bossier City has a rich African-American and multicultural heritage.

On Louisiana’s Other Side, you’ll find a generous helping of history and an inclusive view of the different influences that make the area unique.

There are 26 ethnic groups that influence the area, and groups can see much of that influence on a multicultural tour.


DAY ONE

Check in to the Courtyard by Marriott Louisiana Boardwalk before beginning the tour.

Head to Texas Street to visit the many historic churches that are an important part of the city’s history: Holy Cross Episcopal, Antioch Baptist, First Methodist Church, B’nai Zion Temple, Central Christian Church, and Galilee Baptist. Four of these six churches still have active congregations.

First Methodist Church, at the head of Texas Street, appears to loom over the downtown as travelers cross the Texas Street Bridge first and catch sight of the imposing structure. Texas Street ends abruptly at Common Street, directly in front of the church’s entrance.

The late Johnnie Cochran, O.J. Simpson’s defense lawyer, was born and lived in Shreveport as a boy. His family’s home, which stands today near the historical Little Union Baptist Church, is where many civil rights activities took place.

Texas Street, known as The Avenue, was the scene of a good deal of music history. It was also the central business district of the African American community, and home to African American entrepreneurship and creativity. The city’s largest black churches, theaters, hotels and restaurants were located there.

Rooftop parties were famous on top of the Calanthean Temple, built by the women’s auxiliary of the black lodge of the fraternal order Knights of Pythias in the 1920s. Count Basie, Jelly Roll Morton and other jazz bands played at the Calanthean and other clubs on The Avenue. Jelly Roll Morton even created a song that reflected the excitement of The Avenue and Shreveport during that time, “The Shreveport Stomp.”

On Texas Avenue and Marshall Street is a bronze statue of Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, a legendary blues guitar player and singer. Ledbetter performed in an area called “Bluegoose,” on the southwest edge of Shreveport’s Central Business District. Bluegoose takes it name from a speakeasy that operated during prohibition. Ledbetter, who was raised in Mooringsport, played the 12-string guitar. Stop in for a visit at the Southern University Museum of Art, which houses key African and African American artifacts. 

Down the street is the Multicultural Center of the South, which has displays from 26 cultures in Shreveport-Bossier City.

Dine at Ernest’s Orleans Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, featuring prime steaks, fresh seafood and Italian dishes for 60 years.


DAY TWO

After breakfast at the Courtyard by Marriott, spend time shopping at the many brand name outlet malls at the Louisiana Boardwalk, including Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. It is also home to the Stadium 14 Theatre and several restaurants. 

Visit the Municipal Auditorium where Elvis Presley got his start on the Louisiana Hayride, a live radio broadcast. Other great notables are “The Godfather of Soul” James Brown, Little Stevie Wonder, “Soul Sister No. 1” Aretha Franklin, The Late Great Otis Redding, Wicked Wilson Pickett, William “Smokey” Robinson, Johnnie Taylor, Bobbie “Blue” Bland, B.B. King, Hank Williams Sr. and many more. 

Inside the Municipal Auditorium is a great music museum, Stage of Stars Museum.

The Stephens African-American Museum, the ending point of this historical tour, highlights seven generations of three black families and how they dealt with issues such as racism, segregation and civil rights. Photos, equipment used in daily chores and other artifacts are featured.


GO
Shreveport and Bossier City

SEE 
Multicultural Center of the South
(318) 424-1380
www.mccsouth.org

Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
(318) 518-5027
www.shreveportmunicipalauditorium.com

Southern University Museum of Art
318-670-6631
www.subr.edu

EAT
Ernest’s Orleans Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge
(318) 226-1325
www.ernestsorleans.com

SHOP 
Louisiana Boardwalk
(800) 892-2937
www.louisianaboardwalk.com

STAY
Courtyard by Marriott Louisiana Boardwalk
(318) 742-8300
www.courtyard.com/shvsb

ASK
Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau
(800) 551-8682, ext. 104

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