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Black History Month program poet Mona Saloy

Mona Saloy
Mona Saloy

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana will celebrate Black History Month with a virtual presentation featuring New Orleans native and former Louisiana Poet Laureate Mona Lisa Saloy, whose books of poetry focus on Black Creole culture. The recorded presentation will debut on YouTube and Facebook on Monday, February 26, 2024.

Saloy’s presentation, titled Some History of the 7th Ward, will shine a spotlight on the historic Black neighborhood in New Orleans.

“The 7th Ward has nurtured so much of the Black culture that makes Louisiana and New Orleans such unique places. Its importance can’t be overstated,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “There are few people as qualified as Mona Lisa Saloy to tell the stories of the neighborhood and its people, and I am proud The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana has partnered with her to honor Louisiana’s rich Black history and culture.”

Mona Lisa Saloy is an author, folklorist, and scholar of Creole culture. She is the Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professor of English at Dillard University in New Orleans and recently completed her second term as Louisiana Poet Laureate.

Her first poetry collection, Red Beans and Ricely Yours, won the T.S. Eliot Prize and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Her second, Second Line Home, celebrates New Orleans Black Creole culture.

Black Creole Chronicles, her most recent book, continues that theme. It is the 2024 selection for One Book One New Orleans, a program that invites people to read the same book at the same time as a way to increase literacy and a sense of community.

Saloy said her presentation will focus on the importance of the 7th Ward, a neighborhood with a rich but often overlooked history despite its location near the French Quarter.

“Many folks ask what’s the deal with the 7th Ward? Where was the Black downtown? Gens de couleur what? We’ll celebrate some highlights of the neighborhood’s distinct history, from arts of the streets up to the founders of jazz, architectural links to Africa, and the St. Augustine Marching 100,” Saloy said. “You’ll also hear some new poems.”

The Louisiana Center for the Book, established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994 for the purpose of stimulating public interest in reading, books, literacy, and libraries and celebrating Louisiana’s rich literary heritage, is the state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. For more information, please visit and follow us on Facebook.