The Orleans Parish School Board unanimously agreed to lift a prohibition on jazz music and dancing in public schools on Thursday. According to school authorities, the decision comes exactly 100 years after the resolution was passed.
At a committee meeting this week, school board president Olin Parker remarked, “I’m really delighted that we can withdraw this policy.” “I’d like to accept that it was based on prejudice. I’d also like to recognize the significant efforts of our students, particularly our band leaders, whose heritage dates back to 1922 and continues through the carnival season.”
On March 24, 1922, the New Orleans public schools banned playing and dancing to jazz music, according to the Associated Press. Former school board member Adolph Baumgartner introduced the resolution, saying she had witnessed “a lot of rough dancing” at school functions.
The former policy, according to Dr. Ken Ducote, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Collaborative of Charter Schools, is “absurd” and the consequence of one board member’s personal preferences. He claimed that by employing jazz musicians and church vocalists as band teachers, public schools had played a “vital role” in the development of New Orleans jazz music and the economy.
According to board member Katherine Baudouin, some students and teachers have disobeyed the rule since it was implemented a century ago.
“We’re delighted the policy was ignored in this circumstance and just this instance,” she said.