Reconstruction and Segregation:
– Although Republican lawmakers enfranchised African Americans in New Orleans during Reconstruction (1865-1877), conservative whites soon voted these politicians out of office. Democrats won power in 1867, intent on “redeeming” the state by returning it to the social and political conditions of the pre-war period. New white leaders segregated accommodations and schools, and, after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) allowed these “separate but equal” public facilities, whites pushed for the segregation of public transit. The historian Caryn Cossé Bell writes, “Radical Reconstruction’s promise of freedom, opportunity, and equal citizenship had ended in a nightmare of semiservitude, Jim Crow laws, and disfranchisement.” The growing tension led to the New Orleans riot of 1900, which was sparked by an instance of police harassment and marked by rampant violence of whites against blacks.
While Reconstruction-era politics strained relations between blacks and whites, it also upset relationships within the African American community. The educated black Creoles, whose racism often rivaled that of whites, suddenly found themselves grouped with black freedpeople. African American leaders had to contend with internal prejudice and resentment in governing this larger community.
Despite the growing discrimination, however, African American culture thrived. In the last quarter of the century, blacks created secret societies and social lodges, opened theaters, played baseball, and founded three colleges. Ensembles of children roamed the streets, improvising music in so-called spasm bands, and blues, ragtime, and jazz music developed.
After the riot in 1900, which marked the height of the city’s racial discord, blacks fought a slow battle for civil rights. A branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) formed in the 1920s, under the leadership of A. P. Tureaud, a Creole activist. Over the following three decades, the chapter won gains in housing desegregation, salary equalization for teachers, expanded voting rights, and access to Louisiana State University. http://www.tureaud.com/Southern/new_orleans_history.htm
– In the early 1800s, blacks were allowed to sing, dance, and play drums in accordance with their African traditions in Congo Square, in what is known today as the French Quarter. At these Sunday gatherings traditional African music could cross-pollinate with European musical traditions. African-styled instruments, made by slaves after they arrived in America, were commonly used in the festivities. European music and dances were also performed, and participating musicians added trumpets, clarinets, and even violins to their collections of African-styled instruments. Congo Square became a melting pot of music. By the late 1800s, New Orleans at large was filled with the shouts of black street vendors, the hallelujahs of Baptist church choirs, the strains of traditional Spanish dance music, the lilt of British folk songs, and the marching figures of brass bands modeled on French and Prussian ensembles.
New Orleans may not have been the sole birthplace of jazz, as is often claimed, but the city was a principal hub for the singular fusion of African and European musical elements into what became known as jazz music. The first documented jazz band, formed in 1895, was led by New Orleans cornet player Buddy Bolden. Bolden’s group played ragtime melodies, marches, quadrilles (a song form based on a European square dance), and the blues. A typical early New Orleans jazz ensemble consisted of three melody instruments (cornet, trombone, clarinet) and a rhythm section of banjo or guitar, string bass or tuba, and drums. http://www.tureaud.com/Southern/new_orleans_history.htm
– Jazz music was, ultimately, the product of New Orleans’ melting pot.
At the turn of the century, the streets of New Orleans were awash in blues music, ragtime and the native brass-band fanfares. The latter, used both in the Mardi Gras parades and in funerals, boasted a vast repertory of styles, from military marches to “rags” (not necessarily related to Scott Joplin’s ragtime music). The Excelsior Brass Band, formed in 1880, raised the Creole drummer John Robichaux and the Creole clarinetist Alphonse Picou. The Onward Brass Band, formed around 1884, featured Creole cornet player Manuel Perez. Notably missing from this mix was religious music, that played a lesser role in the birth and development of jazz music. Also missing was white popular music, that would define the “commercial” format of jazz music, but not its core technical characteristics.
New Orleans’ brass bands eventually spread into the saloons and the dancehalls of “Storyville”, the red-light district created by a city ordinance in 1897. These bands (such as Jack “Papa” Laine’s Reliance Brass Band, the first major white band, formed in 1892, John Robichaux’s band, formed in 1893, the main popularizer of the Creole style, Buddy Bolden’s band, formed in 1895, Alphonse Picou’s Columbia Brass Band, formed in 1897, Manuel Perez’s Imperial Orchestra (formed in 1900) probably played a mixture of blues, ragtime and traditional dance music.
The performers who shared a passion for syncopation and for improvisation were either brass bands (cornet or trumpet for the melody, clarinet for counterpoint, trombone or tuba or percussion for rhythm), that very often were marching bands, or solo pianists, who very often were ragtime pianists.
In 1898 the US defeated Spain (gaining Puerto Rico and “liberating” Cuba). The troops that were coming back from the Caribbean front landed in New Orleans with European brass instruments that were sold cheaply on the black market. Within a few years, every neighborhood in New Orleans boasted a brass band. The influence of blues music could be heard in the way these instruments were played, because they basically imitated the vocal styles of blues music (often on a syncopated rhythm borrowed from ragtime).
A fundamental attribute of New Orleans was the perennial party atmosphere. This was not New York’s melting pot, very competitive in nature: this was a melting pot that allowed for a lot of fun. New York was a cosmopolitan financial center. New Orleans was a cosmopolitan amusement park. Thus music was always in demand, not just as paid entertainment but as the soundtrack of a never-ending party. In other cities ethnicity was a problem. In New Orleans ethnicity was an opportunity to improve the party, because each ethnic group brought its different style of partying (e.g., dances) to the party. TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved. http://www.scaruffi.com/history/jazz1.html
– One of the more distinguished aspects of New Orleans culture is the jazz funeral. Architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe noted in 1819 that New Orleans jazz funerals were “peculiar to New Orleans alone among all American cities.” The late jazzman Danny Barker, writing in his book Bourbon Street Black, noted the funeral is seen as “a major celebration. The roots of the jazz funeral date back to Africa. Four centuries ago, the Dahomeans of Benin and the Yoruba of Nigeria, West Africa were laying the foundation for one of today’s most novel social practices on the North American Continent, the jazz funeral.”
The secret societies of the Dahomeans and Yoruba people assured fellow tribesmen that a proper burial would be performed at the time of death. To accomplish this guarantee, resources were pooled to form what many have labeled an early form of insurance.
When slaves were brought to America, the idea of providing a proper burial to your fellow brother or sister remained strong. As time passed, these same concepts that were rooted in African ideology became one of the basic principles of the social and pleasure club. As did many fraternal orders and lodges, the social and pleasure club guaranteed proper burial conditions to any member who passed. These organizations were precursors to debit insurance companies and the concept of burial insurance.
The practice of having music during funeral processions, Danny Barker said, was added to the basic African pattern of celebration for most aspects of life, including death. As the brass band became increasingly popular during the early 20th century, they were frequently called on to play processional music. Eileen Southern in The Music of Black American wrote, “On the way to the cemetery it was customary to play very slowly and mournfully a dirge, or an ‘old Negro spiritual’ such as ‘Nearer My God to Thee,’ but on the return from the cemetery, the band would strike up a rousing, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ or a ragtime song such as ‘Didn’t He Ramble.’ Sidney Bechet, the renowned New Orleans jazzman, after observing the celebrations of the jazz funeral, stated, “Music here is as much a part of death as it is of life.”
The traditional New Orleans jazz funeral is as much a part of the fabric and rich cultural traditions of New Orleans as red beans and rice. http://www.neworleansonline.com/index.html
– A West African tradition, the precursor of the jazz funeral was used by the Dahomeans and Yoruba people to give fellow tribesmen proper burial at the time of their deaths. Enslaved Africans in America continued the tradition. In the 19th century, a brass band was added to the procession. On the way to the cemetery traditional, slow, mournful music is played; upon leaving the cemetery, the band strikes up lively tunes. http://www.tureaud.com/Southern/new_orleans_history.htm
– A Main Line is the “main section or the members of the actual club, that has the permit to parade. The parades consist of a larger element of fans and the curious following that section of members .
Those fans, admirers and curious are the “second line” or part two of this planned street parade. These parades have come to be called and known by this fact.
Normally called, “Second Lines”, the sponsoring element is the “Main Line” and is usually a Social & Pleasure Club of the neighborhood in which they are parading. By state and city ordinances and law, very seldom does these parades take up routes on heavily traffic laden thoroughfares in the city. Most are held in the back areas, visiting the stops that help the clubs to continue the tradition.
The Social Aide & Pleasure Club tradition is a mixture of African traditions that came together to form one of the most unique forms of celebration in the united States. The tradition’s history dates back to the late 19th century in the African American community in New Orleans. The New Orleans Freedmen’s Aid Association, was founded after the Civil War in 1865. This organization’s goal was to provide loans, assistance and legal counsel, and a means of education to the newly freed slaves. This organization was the first form of “insurance”, to ever exist in the African American communities. They paid funeral costs, when possible, and arranged for Jazz funerals. This function is where the clubs and groups that followed derive their core name, “social aid”.
After the Civil War, it was much easier to get musical instruments, so newly freed African Americans, began to form marching bands that consisted of only brass instruments with the lone exception of a bass and tom tom drums. In the late 1890’s and the early 1900’s these “Brass bands” began to be asked to perform at Jazz funerals. Jazz funerals were at the heart of an early African slave religious practice, of celebrating of the life of a deceased person.
When the church’s funeral service was over, and the procession began the movement from the church to the cemetery, the band would play slow, sad, funeral hymns, known as a “dirge”. Led by a “Grand Marshal”, the band and mourners would move to the burial site, with the band playing a dirge to signal the struggles, the hardships, the ups and downs of life.
On the way back, the music became more joyful. The band played high-spirited tunes such as “Didn’t He Ramble,” and “Lil Liza Jane”, amongst other tunes. This was to signal the dismissal, and interment of the physical body, and the joyous event of the release, of the soul, to heaven. Relatives, friends, and acquaintances would become the second line and dance with wild abandon. The second line, usually sporting umbrellas and handkerchiefs, became traditional at these jazz funerals.
After the Association’s untimely demise, more benevolent organizations arose within neighborhoods to function as mutual aid societies. These Social Aid Clubs of the early 20th Century provided and (some still do,) aid to fellow African Americans and insure that club members get a proper burial.
The Clubs, and organizations, operated like a social safety net. A member paid dues each month, and could even borrow against it, with some clubs. If times were hard, they were your social safety net. But unlike today’s welfare, that net had a very real limit. It was important to get on your feet again as quickly as possible.
Once the member’s burial expenses itself are paid, the balance of the money is used to finance the funeral of the member in style, sometimes, if desired, with a traditional New Orleans jazz funeral.
Usually, the club would host a jazz funeral, complete with a brass band and horse drawn carriage bearing the casket.
Since more enrolled members meant the organization would continue to be solvent, these societies had to advertise, in a very unique way, their style. Throughout the city of New Orleans, there were fraternal organizations, groups and burial societies, who often competed with each other to see which group could send off a member in the greatest style.
Members would dress in matching suits, and outfits, with handmade decorative chest banners, called “sashes” and they carried elaborately decorated fans, umbrellas, and handkerchiefs. All embroidered, engraved or imprinted with the organization’s name. One member would carry the club’s official banner. This gave the prospective members a glance of what their “processional” would look like.
Several Social & Pleasure Clubs, that were founded before and shortly after the turn of the century, are still around today. The Young Men Olympians, was formed in 1884, the Zulu’s in 1909, and the Prince of Wales in 1928.
Over time, these organizations were phased out by the influx of the “Insurance Industry” into the metro area. In 1978, there were only 6 to 10 clubs of this nature on the books and parading in the neighborhood streets of New Orleans, Louisiana. The S&P Clubs are today, known as the, “Keepers of the Second Line Tradition.” Grand Marshal’s are the exception and no longer the rule. There are female and male only clubs, as well as mixed organizations that include white members, as well. The second line (n), is also the name of a “unique dance”, performed to the beat of New Orleans’ traditional jazz. The dance is an evolved version of an old African dance known as the, “Bambula”.
Each year, club members will choose a color scheme, then set about to assemble or make new suits and host their annual second line parade. With names like the “Jolly Bunch”, “Money Wasters,” “Lady Buck Jumpers”, and the “Golden Trumpets,” the S&P Clubs played a vital role the community during legalized segregation that created an entertaining counterpart to Mardi Gras.
Until segregation ended, African Americans enjoyed “Carnival Day” all along the Claiborne Avenue neutral ground, from St. Bernard Avenue to Orleans Avenue. The Black Indians (now called Mardi Gras Indians), and brass bands would parade by, sparking excitement, until the most famous and largest S&P Club arrived—The Zulu Club.
From, just before the turn of the century, to the dawn of the civil rights era in the mid-1950s, African Americans were prohibited from enjoying the greatest free show on earth–”Mardi Gras”. African Americans, were prohibited from entering the French Quarter, or congregating, even parading on the main streets, until the late 1960’s, therefore most outsiders knew nothing about the inner most secrets of the second line.
The police, indeed, enforced a prohibition on the presence of African Americans in the French quarter up into the late 1960’s. So, the Social Aide and Pleasure Clubs, a.k.a. second line clubs, celebrated Fat Tuesday in their own unique ways. It was the S&P Clubs, along with the “Black Indians” and “street bands”, which provided the Black culture all along Claiborne with that alternate entertainment. The Zulu Social Aide & Pleasure Club is the largest of the organizations in New Orleans. It is also the only club to date, that is both a S.A.P.C. & a Mardi Gras Krewe. Thus ushering in the clubs mergence into the fabric of Mardi Gras or Carnival.
During the 1980’s, more clubs began to be formed for the soul purpose of “parading” and not for the “social aid” aspect. A new wrinkle had been born in the culture. The club’s purpose was not to render aid for burial, but to be the actual social fabric, the bonding agent as it were, of the members, and the community.
These clubs of the new era, began to drop the “aide” from their names and their missions. If you look closely at the names of the latest clubs you will notice that the word, “aid”, is missing from some names and their missions. While the mission of the Social Aide & Pleasure clubs put them in the category of non-profit orgs, the category was still the same as a Carnival Krewe. The Category is known by it’s tax code, Section 501 subsection C Chapter 3, or 501(C3).
These new clubs were now strictly for the pleasure of the members, therefore the category that they would operate would also change. They no longer rendered aid or benefit to themselves or others. They were now under law, Fraternal Orders, or Bother and Sisterhoods, that are bound by the rules of a different set of codes. That Section is still 501, the subsection is still C, but the chapter is now 7, or 501(C7).
Starting in the late 1990’s, another page was turned in, what is now known as the, “Main Line culture”, when Kings and Queens started to appear, on the parade routes with the groups. Most of the royalty, are from other clubs or older members that are honored by the club, but some have taken to honoring the city’s influential, and famous.
Another aspect of change in the modern Main Line, is the arrival of floats, where a few years ago there were none to be found in the city’s parades. Where in years past, a Main Line processional may have only stretched for a block or two, now, a Main Line could stretch for several blocks.
These now, mostly African American Clubs, do not, and can not, by city ordinance, parade or celebrate 2 weeks prior to or on Mardi Gras Day. They also can not parade during the annual Jazz Festival that comes to the city each season. Most clubs will not heavily advertise before hand, that they will be marching. They will spread the word in their respective neighborhood and disseminate, route sheets. Some may even sport custom handkerchiefs while others opt for just plain white ones. It is up to each club as to how elaborate they want to be.
Each club has it’s membership stop at set bars along the “parade route”. This is not to drink alcohol, but rather to rest, drink some water and take a restroom break, if needed. Also it more importantly brings patrons into the bars to allow the owner to take advantage of the opportunity to make a little profit from the Line. It is a hold over from the days long ago when the bars actually would sponsor each and every float in the Zulu parade. Dixieland Jazz or brass bands frequently join in the roving celebrations.
Researched by Willie Clark
– Louis Armstrong described a New Orleans Jazz Funeral to Edward R. Murrow in the documentary film Satchmo the Great.
And, speaking of real beautiful music, if you ever witnessed a funeral in New Orleans and they have one of those brass bands playing this funeral, you really have a bunch of musicians playing from the heart, because as they go to the cemetery they play in a funeral march, they play “Flee As a Bird,” “Nearer My God Today,” and they express themselves in those instruments singing those notes the same as a singer would, you know. And, they take this body to the cemetery and they put this body in the ground. While he’s doin’ that the snare drummer takes the handkerchief from under the drum, from under the snare, and they say “Ashes to Ashes” and put him away and everything, and the drummer rolls up the drum real loud. And, outside the cemetery they form and they start swinging “Didn’t He Ramble.” And, all the members, the Oddfellows, whatever lodge it is, they are on this side. And on this (other) side is a bunch of raggedy guys, you know, old hustlers and cats and Good-time Charlies and everything. Well, they right with the parade too. And, when they get to wailin’ this “Didn’t He Ramble,” and finish, seems as though they have more fun than anybody, because they applaud for Joe Oliver, and Manny Perez, with the brass band, to play it over again, so they got to give this second line, they call it, an encore. So, that makes them have a lot of fun too, and it’s really something to see.
Social & Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans
– Don’t cheat yourself out of something really special for tourist and native alike. You really have to experience one or two of the second line walking clubs, because they are a very visual treat. By city ordinance the Social & Pleasure Clubs can not parade on Mardi Gras Day. If they do, it will be as part of the Mardi Gras Krewe Parades.
There is a difference between the Mardi Gras walking clubs and a Social & Pleasure club. That difference is the fact that walking clubs rarely if ever do the authentic second Line. So if it is a marching club on Mardi Gras day that you want to see, be sure to get an early start, because the earliest of the walking clubs march around 6:45am, so in some cases, you will be able to see the French Qtr walking clubs, and still view the Zulu parade around 9:30 a.m.
The African American Clubs, or the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, are a different story altogether. None celebrate or parade on Mardi Gras Day, and most will not advertise before hand that they will be marching. These diverse groups share many things in common: all participants wear colorful and color coordinated outfits, with fan, and umbrella accessories. Some sport custom handkerchiefs while others opt for just plain white ones. It is up to each club as to how elaborate they want to be. Each club has members that stop at set bars along the “parade route”.
This is not to drink alcohol, but rather to rest, drink some water and take a restroom break, if needed. This part is the only hold over from the days long ago when the bars actually would sponsor each and every float in the Tramp , later called Zulu parade. Dixieland Jazz or brass bands frequently join in the roving celebrations.
Some of the Second Line Clubs, are also known as Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs and are something to behold, also, these clubs march on some major holidays, like Easter.
The second line season is currently made up of 42 specific Sunday’s of the year, but on some weekends and with Jazz Funerals, you’ll see an extra parade or two. We will now begin to bring you some sort of schedule of when and where the second line clubs or groups will be. We do know that they mostly march on Sunday’s on the early spring and summer months. Each picks out a Sunday and on that Sunday the Club or group will put on a walking parade all it’s own. These are not “Jazz Funerals”, but they are a celebration of life!
Walking Clubs and second line clubs or groups are very different. While walking clubs are specifically clubs that were formed to be Carnival clubs groups, Second Line Clubs are a remnant of the Social Aid and Benevolent era of long ago, as these clubs supplied the only insurance for African Americans in this area of the country, for quite a few years. When the major insurance companies began to move in and assume the financial role of these clubs, most simply turned their attention to the celebrations that these clubs had sponsored each year as “advertisement” of their respective rank, and service.
Most of these clubs and organizations reside in the downtown Treme’ area of the city, still others in Gertown, in the Uptown districts, in or near Carrollton. Others are scattered throughout the city, even on the West bank, in the Algiers district. Now the newest club is located in the city on the East side of the river, called New Orleans East. They call themselves appropriately enough, the New Orleans East Steppers.
Membership is extremely hard to come by in these clubs, and they remain still fairly selective as to whom they will accept into their ranks. Dues range from $275 to as much as $890 per year, per person. That doesn’t includes the various, and sometime numerous, outfits that a club can require it’s members to wear.
Their finery has a vibrant and lively history, in and of itself. The history of the second line umbrella, the big sashes, as well as the feathered fans, and custom handkerchiefs, threaten to take on a life of their own in the telling of it.
We’re still in the final stages of counting and looking, and these are the ones we know of so far. By some estimates, we’ve heard, there are up to approximately, 85 Main Line Social Clubs out there.
Second line umbrella
– They say if you don’t like the weather here in New Orleans, just wait a minute, it’ll change. But that statement applies to just about any place in the U.S., now-a-days. The one constant thing you can say about New Orleans weather is, that in the summer time, the sun grabs hold on the city and doesn’t let go.
With plenty of the trees around, it was easy, back in the times, to really find shade from the sun. But portable shade was something different. Most took to wearing caps, which some say cost them their hair. Some who wore them, still sweated. For those of you whom have never come to the southern states in the summer time, let me say, it can get, down right, HOT, here. I’m talking temps, well into the 100 degree range, with 70 percent humidity. Here in New Orleans, it can be a chore sometimes, just to breathe. It’s little wander, that many people across the south started to use rain umbrella’s to shield them from the sun’s punishing rays.
Everywhere you went, there were the umbrella’s providing a lone spot of shade. Sometimes it was the only spot of shade, sometimes for blocks, or even miles before you got some relief from the relentless heat and light of the sun.
In the south the idea of carrying an umbrella for shade, just sort of just caught on! Hey! It was a great idea. The Southern Bells, who would dress in their finery, each Sunday, started to always carry an umbrella to provide instant shade to them when necessary. It made a great accessory, and in the 1840’s, the umbrella started showing up in catalogs as accessories to the bells’ Sunday dress. In any other place in the United States that would be the end of it, but here in Louisiana, it became a southern idea that would evolve into a Mardi Gras tradition.
When the Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs were founded, many took to the back streets, and paraded as did the Mardi Gras Indians, during the late 1890’s, during Carnival. This was black carnival in full swing, since no African-Americans were permitted to celebrate with whites.
The SA&P Club’s were the only real money sources able to help celebrate carnival with any real pageantry. They chiefly did this to advertise the respective clubs which then provided the main insurance for the black community. To enhance their appearance, they dressed alike, much as they do now. Most members bought brand new suits to signify the newness of life that was the coming Easter. Usually they would all buy one color.
They also borrowed a page from the then young bands of M.G. Indians as well and started using feathers and other frilly tassels, stones, etc. to enhance their standing in the ranks. Talk about looking good, but some took it to extremes, of course. Even the large sashes, which were used to identify the group were feathered and dressed up.
The main purpose, however, of the SA&P Club’s, were to provide some benefit to the community in the form of payments, should a member that had paid their dues become ill or die. In effect, they were the first form of insurance for the African American neighborhoods here in the area.
When the Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs started to fade somewhat in the early 1940’s due to the influx of the big northern insurance companies coming into the area, a need arose to somehow keep the traditions going. That signaled the birth of the Tambourine and Fan Clubs. Also known as second line clubs or organizations, so named for the dance they do so well. These clubs and groups, are not and do not meet the definition of Krewes.
Carrying on the traditions of their predecessor’s, they continued the feather and sash building, which even today is still practiced. Depending on the date of Carnival, Super Sunday, Easter, and some other southern festivities, it could get quite hot underneath all that fine clothing.
Mardi Gras is on movable dates and as such, can fall between February 3rd and March 9th each year, depending on the date determined by the Easter holiday. Seasons when the later dates occur can bring as much heat as the celebration and as alluded to before, “that sun doesn’t play”. When the fans, fail to provide adequate cooling during times of rest, the umbrella was used to augment the fans.
It used to be, that the clubs would parade on the back streets on Mardi Gras Day! Now a days, because there are so many clubs now, who want their own special day, that practice has been abandoned in favor of a schedule of Sunday parades throughout the rest of the year, in the back neighborhoods of the city, each in the one that spawned the group.
No one we could find or talk too could remember who was the first to use the umbrellas, but it finally became one of the accessories that the Fan Clubs used. It finally became part of the walking uniform and was decorated as such, not long there after.
There are no records of the exact dates most of this occurs, but this report rather comes from the aural and some written records that are still handed down from family to family by the elders who are still with us. That number is fast dwindling, let me tell you.
Old newspapers like “the Bee”, an old Creole news paper, and old periodicals such as ” TAN”, black carnival guides has a lot on some of the traditions.
The second Line umbrella was born of a necessity to try to keep as cool as one could, and stay out of the sun’s heat and light. This use of the umbrella continues today as it was more than a hundred years ago, as a useful shield against the weather. Many did not see it as a sunshade, but that’s how some southern people in the cities adapt. One thing is for sure, it’s here to stay. So is the scarf that often accompanies it. The scarf is very easy to figure out…….
– Colors of Mardi Gras:
The Meaning and Origin of Purple, Green, and Gold in Mardi Gras
Rex selected the official Mardi Gras colors in 1872. The 1892 Rex Parade theme Symbolism of Colors gave meaning to the colors: purple represents justice; green, faith; and gold, power.