Photography as A Window Into Cross-Cultural Relationships



In Talk That Music Talk, Anthony Bennett explains he encourages young people to get involved in music because, “it affects the way you live, and the way that you deal with people. To say it simply, it creates a harmony in you. This peace. It comes in colors.” This lesson will look at how music brought people together in New Orleans by doing a photographic analysis, and then linking the images back to the storylines in the book. The images come from over 100 years of playing music in New Orleans, spanning from the days of segregation, through the Civil Rights Movement, and into the new millenium.

Wesley Schmidt, in the Storyville Stompers hat, stands in front of his mentor, “King” Richard Matthews at the funeral for the leader of the Olympia Brass Band, Harold Dejan. After years of following King Richard, Wesley has become a well-known grand marshal of parades in his own right. Photograph by Bruce Sunpie Barnes.




• Students will learn to critically analyze candid photography.

• Students will look at historical data (photographs) to see that integration is not a one directional movement in society.

•Students will analyze how musical opportunities created opportunities for cross-cultural connections and consider whether it happens in their own lives.



One-two class periods between 30 minutes to one hour each.



• Talk That Music Talk

• National Archives’ photo anaylsis template


STEP 1:  Pass out the photo analysis sheet from the National Archives, copies of the photographs from the book, and a list of questions for students to fill out.

STEP 2:  Students will break into small groups to work on one particular photograph.

• Students spend five minutes filling out the analysis on their own (skipping 3.B, as they will be able to read the storylines from the book), and then share their work with the others in the group.

STEP 3:  Students will then return to the chapters in Talk That Music Talk where the photographs are located. The page numbers are located under the images. Together, they will read the stories that accompany the photograph to learn more about what was going on in the image, and answer the questions provided.

STEP 4:  Each group will present their image to the class. The order of presentations can be determined by the date of the image. The group that has the oldest image should go first. Everyone in the group should go to the front of the class to do the presentation and everyone in the group should present at least one answer.



Page 54: A spasm band in the French Quarter, New Orleans, by Dan Leyrer, courtesy of the Hogan Jazz Archive. Circa 1910. This image accompanies an interview with the legendary jazz musician Danny Barker. In this chapter, he remembers his own youth band, the Boozan Kings. The group had a following in the French Quarter, which, at the time, was an integrated, working class neighborhood. The photograph provides early evidence of young people organizing themselves around muisc, which, according to Barker, was more popular than baseball as a pastime in his youth.


Page 83: Dodie Smith Simmons and her husband John “Kid” Simmons in front of Preservation Hall, courtesy of Simmons. Circa 1967. In their chapter, Dodie and her brother Will tell the story of Kid Simmons coming to New Orleans from England to learn New Orleans-style jazz and encountering the racism of the United States.Will and Dodie explain how at the time when Preservation Hall was one of the few integrated public establishments, their family had to learn to deal with the backlash against Dodie’s relationship with Kid.


Page 168: Trumpeter Kenneth Terry as a Mardi Gras Indian with the Yellow Pocahontas in the Seventh Ward, New Orleans, courtesy of Anthony “Meathead” Hingle. Circa late 1970s. In Kenneth Terry’s chapter, he describes his involvement in the Yellow Pocahontas and how the Mardi Gras Indian tribe was connected to the civil rights organization, Tambourine and Fan. He said, “ We were kids. We were having fun. It was more serious than we really thought. It was about our culture, and giving appreciation to the Indians for hiding the slaves through slavery time.”


Page 41: Young girls getting ready for a Tambourine and Fan parade dressed in tignons, the headwrap that free women of color in New Orleans were mandated to wear by the Spanish colonial government, and then turned into their own fashion statements, before a parade. Photograph courtesy of Jerome Smith. Circa late 1970s. The photograph is from the section of Fred Johnson’s chapter about his involvement in starting Super Sunday, Tambourine and Fan’s parade dedicated to social justice and cultural arts. In it, he explains how he learned to organize a parade, and what makes one successful. Like many African American traditions, the call and response is important. In this photograph there is a call back to history. Why were the young girls wearing it?


Page 199: Grand marshals Wesley Schmidt (front) and King Richard Matthews (back) at the leader of the Olympia Brass Band, Harold Dejan’s, funeral. Photograph by Bruce Sunpie Barnes. 2002. In Wesley’s interview about beginning a brass band with a group of white musicians, he says he learned who he knows about second lines and jazz funerals from King Richard—the grand marshal for the Olympia Brass Band. At first, he felt out of his league: “I would be like ‘Okay, Richard, go away. I don’t want you to see this.’ But over time, he realized that many bands like the Dirty Dozen got their start from learning as they went, and, “that thing I was so embarrassed about was probably the most genuine thing I’ve ever done in my life.” In this photograph, they are grand marshaling together.


Page 69: First year of the Black Men of Labor Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s annual second line parade, by Eric Waters, courtesy of the BMOL archive. 1994. This photograph is part of the history of the organization, which traces its roots back to the Yellow Pocahontas, Tambourine and Fan, and Danny Barker’s jazz funeral. The organization is an all male, African American club that began on Labor Day to combat the stereotypes of Black men. Fred Johnson says in the chapter, “black men always get a bad rap about how they don’t care of their business or their house…[but] that’s not true for most of us.” The club also honored the African roots of parading traditions in New Orleans by their choice of fabric, which is also on the cover of the book and at the beginning of each chapter.


Page 2: The New Orleans Young Traditional Brass Band at the beginning of the Black Men of Labor parade at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club, Seventh Ward, New Orleans. Photograph by Eric Waters circa 2008: The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park’s Music for All Ages Program started this band under the direction of interpretive park ranger Bruce Sunpie Barnes. The program was open to all young people who were interested in learning to play traditional brass band music by sitting in with profesisonal musicians. Each year, their own band played at the Black Men of Labor Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s second line parade. They joined a long legacy of young people taking to the streets of the city. The diversity of the young people is a testament to the Park Service’s mission to be open to the general public. After generations of preventing integration, the federal government is now mandated not to discriminate.


Page 135: Dancing to the Tremé Brass Band at the Candle Light Lounge in Tremé, New Orleans, by Bruce Sunpie Barnes. 2012. One of the bartenders at the Candlelight dances with a customer on a Wednesday night. The photograph complements a conversation that Anthony Bennett, a musician from the Tremé, has with one of his students’ mother about visiting the local bar. Pat Besselman, a white woman who raised her family in the suburbs, said she would never have thought it safe to go to a predominantly black bar before getting involved with music, but she is glad she got to know it.


Page 284: Doyle Cooper and Mark Smith playing a dirge for Julius Lewis’ jazz funeral. Photogaph by Rachel Breunlin. 2012. The images from this chapter are woven through an edited transcript of Julius’ funeral. On the following pages, the pastor talks about Julius’ commitment to teaching music and calls out Doyle for being one of his students.In his eulogy, you can tell the pastor is a bit surprised (“a brother from another mother”) but proud of the connection between the two musiicans. Doyle graduated from college with a degree in music education, and continues to work with young people and runs his own band, the Red Hot Brass Band.

STEP 6:  After the students completed the reading, ask them to put it aside while they answer a series of questions about what they have read. As a group, they should write down their answers to the questions. After they have completed all the answers, they can return to excerpt and find the direct answers from the narrators of the stories. Students will highlight these answers as a way of helping them return to the direct responses of the storyteller.

STEP 7:  After students have highlighted the answers, ask them to discuss in their group if there were things that they did not remember or were different from what the storytellers had origianlly shared. Ask each group to write down their responses in preparation for sharing with the entire class.

STEP 8:  Lead a classroom discussion about what they leared about Dodie’s experiences in the Civil Rights movement, what they learned about active listening, and what this might tell them about how history is remembered.





On your own, take five minutes to fill out a Photo Analysis Worksheet. When you have completed it, break into small groups and share your responses with your classmates. Once everyone has shared, find the chapter in Talk That Music Talk where the image is located (the page number is below the picture) and read the stories as a group to figure out what is going on in the picture. The Group Presentation Worksheet will help you prepare for presenting your findings to the class.

Page 54
Page 83
Page 168
Page 135
Page 284 (Story in Julius’ Eulogy, pages-286-287)
Page 2
Page 41
Page 69




Complete the following questions to prepare for your group presentation. Each person in the group will have to share at least one answer.

1. Before reading the story, what were the reactions of the group members to the photograph?


2. Whose chapter is the photograph in?

Who gave the picture to the book project, and what time period was it taken?


3. Who is in the photograph and where is it taken?


4. Are there people who are not in the photograph, but are important to the story the photograph helps to tell?

If so, who are they person and why are they significant?


5. How did music bring the people in the image together? How did their lives change by playing music?


6. How did playing music help further the work of the Civil Rights Movement?


7. What was your favorite part of the story and how does it make you look at the picture now?


8. What do you want your classmates to see? What does it remind you of? [Turn over for more room if needed.]