DYAN “MAMA D” FRENCH COLE 2018-11-26T12:24:41+00:00

Project Description

THE ICON: Dyan “Mama D” French Cole

THE LEGACY: Dyan French Cole, known to all as “Mama D,” was a longtime fixture in the struggle for racial justice in New Orleans, a woman who went to Criminal District Court regularly to support young African-Americans appearing in court. She achieved widespread recognition, though, in the days after Hurricane Katrina and the flooding ravaged New Orleans. Cole, who had refused to evacuate, rose early each morning to push a cart of food and supplies through the silent, nearly empty streets of Treme and the 7th Ward, distributing it to those who needed it. She was probably best known for her false allegation that the New Orleans levees were dynamited after the storm to flood black neighborhoods and drive away those residents. When she died of cancer in May 2017, Mayor Mitch Landrieu praised her in a statement as “a longtime community leader who advocated for quality housing, recreation and justice.”

THE ARTIST: Sean Randall

THE INSPIRATION: “I can’t think of a better gift in the face of this tragedy than Mama D. She’s just the sweetest person. With this city being so sad right now, (it’s nice) to see her so willing to help bring smiles to our faces, the only ones we’ve had in two weeks.” — Lt. Ken Noack of the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg in North Carolina, in a 2005 post-Katrina interview with The Times-Picayune