Dr. Michael Forster

No place celebrates community like New Orleans

The passing of New Orleans rock ‘n roll icon Fats Domino was the occasion for this captivating reflection by MSW student Shannon Smith on the role of joyful celebration in cultivating and sustaining community.  It deserves wider viewing than by my eyes only.

“Walking to New Orleans…”  by Shannon Smith

      I’ve been meaning to acknowledge this newsworthy event for a couple weeks now, but –
ya’know… grad school! In fact, grad school is the unfortunate (yet, very fortunate) reason for
my persistent lonesomeness for home. Hearing of Fats Domino’s passing after a long 89 years
of well-lived life, increased my nostalgia for everything New Orleans. I miss my city – the good,
bad and the ugly. New Orleans is the most culturally beautiful city on the planet (in my
opinion), with the unique trait of having a perpetually ugly underbelly that only adds to her
radiance. The mysterious grittiness is part of the Big Easy essence, so to speak. Some people
love it, some hate it.
      Some folks stick around even though they can leave, and some folks are just waiting for
their chance to flee. Despite fame and fortune, Fats chose to stay in his beloved home, and New
Orleanians are forever grateful. One look at footage from his memorial second line tells the tale
of the mark the man and his music left on the hearts of the people who loved him. Nothing but
joy and celebration. No division, no violence, no discrimination, no fear – only togetherness,
unity.  Beautiful sight to behold for a city normally wracked with racial divide and streets of
      I’ve seen this radiance and solidarity shine throughout the city on a couple of relatively
recent shared occasions – one being the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the other after the
ginormous Super Bowl win. One a tragedy and one a victory, both powerful enough to bring
awareness to the city’s citizens that we are ONE.  Just as in the passing of Fats Domino…a
solemn occasion to come together to celebrate the gift that we received from having him as one
of our OWN.
      Makes me feel like walking, and Fats said it best….
I’ve got no time for talkin’
I’ve got to keep a-walkin’
New Orleans is my home
That’s the reason why I’m goin’
Yes, I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
Shannon Smith
News Item #5
Fats Domino second line in New Orleans: Fitting tribute for a founding father of rock ‘n’ roll
Dr. Michael Forster
Dr. Michael Forster

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