This 23-Year-Old Historian Is Defending the Culture of New Orleans Through Her Digital Platform

On a typical Saturday night in New Orleans, most 23-year-olds are searching for the next wave or ordering the next round of drinks at a local bar.

Cierra Chenier instead juggles the standard social life with her work, occasionally choosing to stay in and research topics like the Charles Deslondes who led the largest U.S. slave revolt that occurred just 20 miles outside of New Orleans for her blog platform NOIR N’ NOLA.

A natural storyteller, Chenier provides historical accounts of forgotten stories of the individuals who cultivated New Orleans culture as we know today, such as Voodoo Queen Marie Leveau who used Catholicism mixed with Voodoo to help her community (“My Queens Do Voodoo: The Legacy of Marie Laveau”) or the story of Charles Deslondes who lead the largest slave revolt in American history (“Charles Deslondes & The Forgotten Revolution”).

Inspired by those before her that put Blackness at the forefront of their work, Chenier chooses to only right about the culture, history, and lagniappe of Black New Orleans, hence why NOIR ‘N NOLA translates to “Black in New Orleans.”

Photo by: noirnnola.com

“I never struggle to find content,” said Chenier. “One interview or story can lead to 3 more. If you let the city speak, she will speak to you.”

Using the stories of respected elders, the local library, museums, and online platforms, Chenier is able to piece together history and share stories to a new generation.

“Correlating the past stories with the things happening today, help us to have a better understanding of who we are as individuals and a community.”

Photo by: noirnnola.com

Cierra Chenier also uses writing as a means for local activism. Her story about Gordon Plaza, an African American community in the Upper 9th Ward in New Orleans that was built on toxic land, was featured in the 25th-anniversary edition of Essence Magazine.
( “She, The People: Meet the Woman Defending Black Life On Toxic Land In New Orleans’ Upper 9th Ward”).

With Chenier’s efforts, the story gained national attention and that of the local government. The relocation of this group is still pending.
As NOIR ‘N NOLA comes up on its 3rd year anniversary, the platform continues to be a voice for the forgotten memories, impact, and the people of New Orleans.

For more information about Cierra Chenier and NOIR ‘N NOLA, visit www.noirnnola.com.

Written by Kayla Swanson

Kayla was born and raised in the Big Easy, where she currently works as the PR and digital media strategist for GrowHaus Studio. She also serves as the director of marketing for her family’s insurance agency Swanson Insurance Agency. Kayla and her sister are in the process of taking over the company in the next 5 years. Her hobbies include creating google documents for vacations and conferencing around the country. You can follow her journey via Instagram @kaylamswanson