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5/5 ⭐ | If New Orleans Could Talk: Early 1900s Segregation In A City With Secrets by Alvin M. Hayes

Recently relocated to New Orleans, Earl Thomas sets about getting his family settled and in the business of making money so they can get to their next safe destination, Chicago. As freed slaves, the Thomas family seeks what no Black person has done before them, obtaining a port license, and starting a business. With Earl’s daughter, Linda, leading the helm with brothel owner, Betty Jones, these two intelligent women craft a plan that might just work. Full of criminals, thugs, white overseers, and a community of people unwilling to give up, “If New Orleans Could Talk: Early 1900s Segregation In A City With Secrets (The whileBlack Chronicles Book 3)” is a look into the world of being a free man in a white world.

Author Alvin M. Hayes brings us characters that are relatable, real, strong, intelligent, and fierce go-getters. Going beyond the story line, Hayes shows readers his passion for Black history, allowing it to shine through, like his insertion of the McDonoghville Cemetery. This cemetery is a burial site in New Orleans of enslaved and formerly enslaved people, a landmark readers may otherwise never know without the peppering of real history sprinkled throughout this fictional read.

Despite being the third book in the whileBlack Chronicles, “If New Orleans Could Talk” seamlessly stood as a standalone read. While there was certainly family history that drove them to New Orleans, the fresh backdrop of the French Quarter and bustling port made this a well-rounded story on its own volition. However, with the powerful ending and mentions of Chicago throughout, I cannot wait for the author’s next installment in the Chronicles, as the time of Jim Crow segregation begins to take hold.

Hayes is a maestro in the art of educating readers while providing an engaging, thought provoking, and powerful read. With strong females, a plan for the ages, and the backdrop of lively New Orleans in the early 1900s, “If New Orleans Could Talk” is an enduring tale.

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