A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 03, 2017
Chocolate City (New Orleans nickname)

The term “chocolate city” refer to a city with a large (or, usually, a majority) African American population. In the early 1970s, the terms “chocolate city” and “vanilla suburbs” applied to Washington, DC. “Chocolate City” was printed in the Washington (DC) Post in March and August 1973.

The song “Chocolate City,” by the funk band Parliament from the 1975 album of the same name, helped popularize the term nationally.

African American residents of New Orleans, Louisiana, suffered much of the damage from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said before a Congressional committee in November 2005:

“New Orleans is a chocolate city, but most African-Americans don’t participate economically in a meaningful way. There is an element in the city that would like to see what used to be. Some of it’s racial, but most of it’s economic.”

Nagin used “chocolate city” several times in January 2006, and they made national news, starting racial discussions.

Other New Orleans nicknames include “America’s Most Interesting City,” “Baghdad-on-the-Bayou,” “Big Crescent,” “Big Easy,” “Big Greasy,” “Big Sleazy,” “Birthplace of Jazz,” “Chopper City,” “City of a Million Dreams,” “City of Yes,” “City That Care Forgot,” “City That Forgot to Care,” “Convention City,” “Crawfish Town,” “Creole City,” “Crescent City,” “Gateway of the Mississippi Valley,” “Gumbo City,” “Hollywood South,” “Jump City,” “Mardi Gras City,” “Metropolis of the South,” “N’Awlins,” “Nerlins,” “No Orleans” (after Hurricane Katrina), “NOLA,” “Northernmost Banana Republic,” “Northernmost Caribbean City,” “Old Swampy,” “Paris of America,” “Queen City,” “Saint City,” “Silicon Bayou,” “Silicon Swamp” and “Sweet Lady Gumbo.”


Wikipedia: New Orleans
New Orleans (/njuː ˈɔːrli.ənz, -ˈɔːrˈliːnz, -ˈɔːrlənz/, or /ˈnɔːrlənz/; French: La Nouvelle-Orléans [la nuvɛlɔʁleɑ̃]) is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana.

The population of the city was 343,829 as of the 2010 U.S. Census. The New Orleans metropolitan area (New Orleans–Metairie–Kenner Metropolitan Statistical Area) had a population of 1,167,764 in 2010 and was the 46th largest in the United States.

Wikipedia: Chocolate City (song)
“Chocolate City” is a song by the funk band Parliament, the lead track of their 1975 album of the same name. It was also released as a two-part single, the first from the album.

The song’s largely spoken vocals (delivered by George Clinton) express pride in “Chocolate Cities”, that is, cities with a majority black population. The song also reflects on the solidarity of African-American society at the time.

Wikipedia: Chocolate City speech
The Chocolate City speech is the nickname that some people have given to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day speech by Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 16, 2006. The speech concerned race politics in New Orleans several months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the city. The reference is to the occurrence of the phrase chocolate city in Nagin’s speech, which was one of several points in the speech that occasioned significant controversy.

History of the phrase
In African American culture, the term chocolate city refers to a city with a predominantly African American population and/or African American political leadership. The concept originated with radio DJs in Washington D.C. in the early 1970s and was popularized by the band Parliament, who released the album Chocolate City in 1975. The term has been used by scholar Cornel West in his 1993 book Race Matters and by comedian Chris Rock.

In an interview with Public Radio International’s Tavis Smiley (originally broadcast on January 13, 2006) Nagin used the phrase “chocolate city” in reference to New Orleans’ future demographics, a term that would become troublesome for him just a few days later.
(...)
The speech
At a Martin Luther King Day celebration at City Hall New Orleans on January 16, 2006, the mayor gave a speech.
(...)
Shortly after, Nagin continued, “We as black people, it’s time, it’s time for us to come together. It’s time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don’t care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day.”

Nagin also stated that New Orleans “will be a majority African-American city. It’s the way God wants it to be.” As most New Orleanians knew the city had been majority African American for decades before Katrina, certain people found the implication of Nagin claiming to know God’s will more troubling than the suggested return of pre-Katrina demographics.

1 March 1973, Washington (DC) Post, “Clay Goss: Busy Building” by Angela Terrell, pg. H9, col. 2:
But Goss, who grew up in the Philadelphia black community known affectionately by locals as “North Philly,” wants to remain here and work.

“I like to think of Washington as ‘Chocolate City’ but in an esthetic, beautiful sense. A lot of good things can happen here,” he said.

4 August 1973, Washington (DC) Post, “In Search of Local Honor” by Don Shirley, pg. D2, col. 1:
Chocolate City, said emcee Fred Thomas, “will create exposure for more James Weldon Johnsons and Ralph Ellisons and it’s not necessarily a voice of anger but also a lot of love and happiness.”

Love and happiness seemed to abound at Chocolate City’s first venture last night, a benefit show at the American Theater in L’Enfant Plaza.

19 April 1975, Billboard (Cincinnati, OH), “FM Action,” pg. 32, col. 3:
PARLIAMENTS, CHOCOLATE CITY, Casablanca

14 June 1975, Journal and Guide (Norfolk, VA), sec. B, pg. 19, col. 1:
‘Chocolate City’: Idea, Ideal City And Song
IN A HIGHLY innovative move to unite a record company with the community it serves, Casablanca Records has launched the “Chocolate City’ campaign under the directorship of Cecil Holmes, vice president-general manager of R&B Operations for the Hollywood-based label.

According to Holmes, “‘Chocolate City’ is an idea and an ideal, a city and a song, and three dynamite new albums on Casablanca Records.”

SPARKED BY THE title track on Parliament’s “Chocolate City” album, the town is in reality Washington, D.C., and its “Vanilla Suburbs.” Yet, it could just as well be any American community where mutual mistrust has been replaced by reason and concord.

“‘Chocolate City’ is entertainment, but at the same time it’s a very important record to the total community. It preaches unity and self-survival, music which entertains and educates,” Holmes asserts. “Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about?”

29 May 1976, Pittsburgh (PA) Courier, “Pittsburgh: First And Second Impressions” by Jadyl (a New Yorker), pg. 17, col. 3:
Even with all this in consideration, the most pleasing and surprising discovery of all was the size and extent of the Black community here. It was much more than I expected and seemed to house as much potential as some of the better known “chocolate cities.”

4 August 1977, Sun Reporter (San Francisco, CA), “Bay Bits” by Edith Austin, pg. 9:
EDITOR’S NOTE: EDITH AUSTIN IS VACATIONING IN AFRICA. TEE FORD WOLFE IS FILLING IN FOR HER.
Dear Edith.

Although you didn’t leave me a list of your ole haunts to haunt, I know one I won’t have any trouble finding. That’s the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Womens Clubs Inc., at the Oakland Hyatt House.
(...)
Larry finds the Bay Area a perfect place to clear the cement from his brain and relax from the frequent strategizing of the “chocolate city.” Says he loves “the cool Bay breezes and the warmth of its people.”

OCLC WorldCat record
“Chocolate city, vanilla suburbs:” Will the trend toward racially separate communities continue?
Author: Reynolds Farley; Howard Schuman; Suzanne Bianchi; Diane Colasanto; Shirley Hatchett Affiliation: University of Michigan at Ann Arbor USA
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Social Science Research, v7 n4 (1978): 319-344
Database: ScienceDirect
Summary:
Almost a decade ago, the Kerner Commission warned that this country was moving toward two societies—one white and one black. Data on residential segregation indicate clear-cut boundaries for these two societies—large cities are becoming black but most suburban areas remain white.

28 September 2005, National Review, “‘Racism!’ They Charged” by John McWhorter, pg. 28, col. 3:
New Orleans is where Homer Plessy boarded a first-class train coach in 1892, which sparked the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision that legalized segregation nationwide. The Ninth Ward that Katrina pounded was the same Ninth Ward where four black first-grade girls braved racist taunts on national television in 1960, as they took their places in all-white schools. Couldn’t the Congressional Black Caucus take this as an opportunity for activism both symbolic and proactive, and work with Louisiana and New Orleans to channel billions of dollars into making a real-life Chocolate City?

7 December 2005, Knight Ridder Tribune News Service (Washington, DC), “In a city split and sinking before storm, racial issues boil” by Lee Hancock:
In a congressional hearing just before Thanksgiving, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., pressed the mayor about meeting privately with white New Orleans business leaders in Dallas just after the storm. Were those businessmen the city’s “shadow government?” she demanded to know, according to an account in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“New Orleans is a chocolate city, but most African-Americans don’t participate economically in a meaningful way,” the mayor (Ray Nagin—ed.) responded. “There is an element in the city that would like to see what used to be. Some of it’s racial, but most of it’s economic.”

12 January 2006, Los Angeles (CA) Sentinel, “An Exclusive Interview with Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans” by Yussuf J. Simmons, pg. A4:
It was easy to see that Nagin had been answering these questions to groups of his townsfolk (evacuees) all over the country and because he understood their hurt, pain and frustration, he was able to convey the human-ness of the tragedy in graphic terms. He said, “I’ve visited many cities (where evacuees have been temporarily displaced) and I say to them, ‘come back to New Orleans.’ But I also say to them, ‘you have a personal decision to make; the city is starting to rebound and I don’t see a scenario where the city is not a chocolate city at the end of the day.’ If you look at the facts and the demographics, it was 57 percent pre-Katrina and I don’t see it being lower than that percentage. So disregard all that hyperbole, everybody’s welcome.”

17 January 2006, Charleston (WV) Gazette, “Mayor says storm was wrath of God” by Brett Martel, pg. 3A:
NEW ORLEANS - Mayor Ray Nagin suggested Monday that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that “God is mad at America,” and at black communities, too, for tearing themselves apart with violence and political infighting.

“Surely, God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it’s destroyed and put stress on this country,” Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.

“Surely, he doesn’t approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America, also. We’re not taking care of ourselves.”

Nagin also promised that New Orleans will be a “chocolate” city again. Many of the city’s black neighborhoods were heavily damaged by Katrina.

(Trademark)
Word Mark CHOCOLATE CITY
Goods and Services (EXPIRED) IC 009. US 036. G & S: PHONOGRAPH RECORDS AND MAGNETIC PRE-RECORDED TAPES. FIRST USE: 19750313. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19750313
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 73069076
Filing Date November 14, 1975
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 1088551
Registration Date April 4, 1978
Owner (REGISTRANT) CASABLANCA RECORD AND FILMWORKS, INC. CORPORATION CALIFORNIA 1112 N. SHERBOURNE DRIVE LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA 90069
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD

Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesBig Easy, City That Care Forgot (New Orleans nicknames) • Tuesday, October 03, 2017 • Permalink