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New Orleans's African-American history is rich with important milestones, from the joyous nascence of jazz to the horrors of the slave trade (to say nothing of the essential contributions to the city's cuisine, politics, and literature). The historic Treme neighborhood is a touchstone itself, with a number of worthy sights within its bounds. The statewide African American Heritage Trail is an excellent network of cultural and historic points; information and downloadable maps are available at www.astorylikenoother.com. A tour of the 9th Ward may be of interest, and the House of Dance and Feathers (1317 Tupelo St.; tel. 504/957-2678) is essential for anyone interested in the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, though open by appointment only. The Essence Festival is a huge draw, and the restaurant and music options relevant to black heritage could fill a weeklong vacation without repetition.

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