Decades Of Nola


Decades Of Nola




New Orleans Over The Years


An interview detailing the life of a Woman of Xavier.


John Turner


My Nola, My Story via YouTube


Mass Communications Department at the Xavier University of Louisiana


April 18, 2022


John Turner, Isaiah Washington, Benjamin Davis, Chamberlain Newman


My Nola, My Story


My Nola, My Story 2021




iMovie Video


An XCOR Project by Xavier University of Louisiana Exponential students, led by Dr. Shearon Roberts

Original Format


John: Good afternoon, everybody. I am with Miss Zena. And she is....

Ms. Zena: The administrative assistant to the Department of Music.

And I'll be asking her several questions that detail her life while being in worlds. So, Ms. Zena Question one, how was your life as a child for you? And what were some of your favorite childhood memories? Well, life is a child.

Ms. Zena: For me. I come from a very big family. I come from a family of nine, two were deceased. My mother was an only child. And my father comes from a very big family, but unfortunately, I didn't know his side of the family that well so my immediate family is my family, my siblings.

John: Okay.

Ms. Zena: Growing up, I attended James Weldon Johnson, Alfred C, priestly. And LC for she in that in that manner, elementary, junior high in high school.

Okay, I think he asked me about some of my fondest memories.

Things that you all probably you're not probably even familiar with. I played marbles. I loved playing marbles.

And then playing marbles, it was considered to be a boys game. But because I have six brothers. I always played marbles and always wanted the nice clear shiny ones, they were always pretty. And another game we played that you're probably not familiar with is called Rubber baby, where you throw the ball in the air, you throw out a number and whatever number the child who's playing is they had to catch the ball, throw it up again, and then it consistently went. So it was a good exercise that kept us real busy.

John: Right and fun. Right, right. So how did you end up as Xavier? You know, I see I see the Xavier gear we all know you.

Ms. Zena: Thank you. Um, yeah, I'm repping Xavier now, but I have worked at many universities. And I have changed what I do for a living in many, many aspects. And some things I still do. I ended up at Xavier as a result of retiring and then going to another university.

Loyola for one and also worked at Tulane University, which were very nice universities. But for me, having worked at the university, for about 35 years of my life, which was still at university, I retired. And after retiring, I said, Well, I'm still too young, to just sit home and sit at home and do anything. So I went back and I took another job ended up at Loyola.

Then, I decided that that's not what I wanted to do, left, went home, worked at home for a little while, did some things and said, Okay, I missed the kids, with you all the young adults, but to me, your kids because I'm old enough to be a grandmother. So I went back and said, Okay, let me apply somewhere. And I went back, and I worked there too late and still didn't get that field that I was looking for. And when I had that dealer, then there was a job at posted for Xavier. Mind you, I watched this job for almost two years before I applied. And because it stayed so long, I felt that it spoke to me and said Zena, that's where you're supposed to be right. So then I applied and I was hired. And I've been here ever since it's been four years now. But what I was missing was my children, the young black student at an HBCU trying to work in to obtain a degree that that's why I am that's what speaks to me. I want to be a part of any and every young African American not to say that I'm
leaving out the other kids there. But for me, it that's where it spoke to me. That's why I felt my greatest when I came back, I was fulfilled again. And that's how I ended up here at Xavier.

John: That's a nice, definitely nice story. So then I have to pose this question. Now you say you've gone down different avenues in life.... If you could go back and speak to your younger self... maybe at the age of 18, What would you say? In other words, what words of advice would you give to your younger self?

Ms. Zena: To be honest with you, my life has been so fulfilled. The only thing I would tell my younger self is to give myself more time from me. Okay not to be the person who tries to fix everything or the person who does everything for everybody. But give myself during that time in my life, more of me fulfill more fulfill more of the things that I wanted to do.

John: Yes, that's powerful. Thank you. So many people from all parts of the world come and visit New Orleans, such as myself. I mean, I'm from up north but I go to school here now. So and now I've been immersed in New Orleans.

What makes New Orleans such a special place? And if you can speak on the favorite aspects of New Orleans culture to you?

Ms. Zena: Okay, I would think that and this is just me speaking personally, the most important I think the most thing, the thing that draws everybody to us is our Congeniality, our ability to make you feel like you are a part of us. We are like family, whether it's here at home, doing the venue's or the whatever we're doing, you always have a feeling of acceptance, and a feeling of belonging. For me, when I grew up, I grew up kind of rural, because, you know, we didn't have drink soft drinks and coffee. And all the time, my mother didn't allow us to do that we're, I eat more vegetables than anything I still do. I still don't drink soft drinks.

And I still do certain things I just do not eat, but I was raised that way. So like to say if you never had it, you can't miss it. Right. And that's the way it was.

But for me, our connection to our heritage is, I think the most wonderful thing we have, I don't know if they still do it now.

But when I was a child, come Super Sunday, you got up at 5:30 in the morning, got dressed, and you went and you waited for the Indians to come out and parade and show themselves and their beauty. So that part of New Orleans that I grew up with, is still important to me, is still something I enjoy. Another thing I enjoyed was that we got to show our talents that were taught to us by our people. We don't have too much of that anymore because children are bused in and sent to other schools. And it's a fight to see who can get where I went to schools in my neighborhood with my friends.

And I had a sense of safety as a result of that. Because if your mom worked, you could go by your friend's house and your friend's mother would call and say, Look, I know you're not home yet busyness over here or Clyde's over here, Glenn's over here, and vice versa. And to me, that's the part of New Orleans that I now cherish because I got to experience it. And I also missed the most because these kids are everywhere. Now. You don't have that safety, I can name everybody I went to school with from kindergarten to senior high, we all went to the same school. And that's nothing to say that you have 12 years of friendship with children that you went to school with in your neighborhood, the kids don't have that anymore. They're all over. So that's a part of New Orleans that I missed. I also miss the fact that we have rhythm. We have music and our soul, we have all those things. I was one who was able to go to schools where there were bands, and performances and you actually practice and you went out and you showed your talent in a way that people took away from you and said, Wow, I really enjoyed New Orleans, they do things differently. The schools nowadays don't even have those things anymore. You don't even I don't think I don't know if you've even been exposed to as many schools that had bands.

And dancers flag twirls major rednblooded other things, cheerleaders, all of these people marched in a parade during Mardi Gras season, and it was a sight to see, because we did so many different things. Y'all get a little bit of because some of the schools are still here like my damn 35 call call for those schools are still here. But the ones coin

Madame 35 is still here. McDonnell, John McDonald, all these schools are no longer in existence. And if they are, they're not doing the things that we did when we were in school. So I feel that that's a

it's a disappointment and something I'm sorry that you all won't ever, oh, I won't say won't ever be because it may come back around. Everything goes full circle. So maybe. But it's something I'm sorry that the people come to New Orleans who visit New Orleans are missing right now. So
So, but I love our festivals, they're still here. They are going strong. And I have to say I have not missed one yet this year since they've come back.

John: That's That's great. That's great. So I was going to ask you a question on like, you know, the music culture down here and the history of the music, but I feel like you kind of touched on it from your perspective already. So I can shift it to the aftermath of Katrina. How has to Orleans evolved since the aftermath of Katrina? I guess you already touched on like the noticeable differences somewhat, but could you go into that deeper

Ms. Zena: About when you say evolved, do you mean in terms of the of the good things I think I've touched on

On the things that I missed, but I can say in the good things, although everything is being torn up, everything's in disarray right now. I think that finally, New Orleans is making the changes and putting in the infrastructure that we need at this time. It's a mess isn't miserable, the roads and stuff are crazy. But I think when it's all over this time, we will get to see our tax monies, our government monies, our federal monies, all those monies that have come together, being put to work the way they're supposed to, right, because I had to ask them, if we've seen so much devastation and tragedy, I never get to hear like a positive side of it. So that I can say that is I can also say that our councilman, our council people, because it's more than men, our council people are more attentive. This this this group of people we have now they are more attentive, and they're more easily accessible. And instead of us having to go to them, a lot of them have have branched out and say, Well, let me go to my constituent. And then we go to the people who have voted me in that I have really enjoyed that really enjoy the fact that they're reaching out to us telling us what they would like to see down. And what we like to add to it, or what we like to see taken away from it. That's another good thing. I think that's happening in the city. And the fact that everything is back somewhat, the festivals, the essence faster, the performers, our musicians are back to work that I love, I've missed it, oh, you don't miss something until it's really taken away. And it's been taken away. So in such a definite pattern that any little thing that I hear about, you know, I'm trying to go, I'm trying to be a part of it. So it's wonderful. It's wonderful to have some of those things back.

John: It's understandable. And I can definitely touch on the fact that but you know, once you miss something, once you you don't realize something is going to tell it's taken away for an extended amount of time.

Ms. Zena: Yes, it is. It's wonderful. It's wonderful. I'm glad to see everybody still mask up. Everybody taken all the precautions they need to take. So that makes me feel good about what's going on. And the fact that because I have a daughter who is an artist, I have a grandson who's an artist, that they're finally back to work, and they're feeling better about themselves.

John: Well, thank you Mrs. Zena, for providing me your wisdom, time and just knowledge because you said some things that I would never have known.

Ms. Zena Well, thank you.

John: That was nice talking to you. Until next time, everybody.

Ms. Zena: Thank you. Thank you

Date Added
April 18, 2022
Item Type
Moving Image
John Turner, “Decades Of Nola,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed November 29, 2022,