The Congo Square was established in the 19th century in New Orleans.
The Congo Square was a place where slave’s dances occurred. It was an open area to provide a real time and place of comfort, an actual transfer of totally African ritual to the native soil of the New World.
Sidney Bechet was a musician wrote in his autobiography, Treat it Gentle, “Sundays when the slaves would meet – that was their free day – he beat out rhythms on the drum at the square – Congo Square they called it …”
This community helped maintain a musical heritage and social cohesion in the African community. In 1817, the City Council of New Orleans passed legislation allowing African slaves meetings for dancing on Sundays. These meetings would take place in a public location chosen by the mayor, which was Congo Square.
Today, Congo Square holds a special symbolic importance to African-Americans. It is significant because of the role the square played in New Orleans’ musical heritage and as a symbol of the early African contributions to the origins of jazz and other American musical forms.