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Transforming Community: Nyree Ramsey, BS’97, MEd’00, and Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes, BS’96

Dec. 10, 2018, 6:10 PM

When Nyree Ramsey visited New Orleans in 1995, three words came to mind: “This is home.”

“I loved the culture, the food, the sense of community—all things intergenerational,” she says. “My father was a musician, an immigrant from Jamaica, and my mom comes from a close-knit artistic family in New York. I understand that sense of family and community.”

It’s an ethos that Ramsey hopes to nurture as cultural innovation district director for the Claiborne Corridor Project, an attempt to rejuvenate New Orleans’ Seventh Ward and Tremé neighborhoods, which, more than a half-century ago, were bulldozed to make way for the elevated I-10 expressway.

Construction uprooted more than 300 thriving African American businesses, inviting blight along a two-mile stretch of Claiborne Avenue, home to the city’s historically black neighborhoods. The 25-block Claiborne Corridor Project aims to lay out the welcome mat for those who left decades ago, and for those forcibly relocated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.