Al Kennedy



Al Kennedy is an award-winning author who taught American history at UNO, where he earned a PhD in urban history. He has authored Chord Changes on the Chalkboard: How Public School Teachers Shaped Jazz and the Music of New Orleans, and Big Chief Harrison and the Mardi Gras Indians. His latest book, Chief of Chiefs: Robert Nathaniel Lee and the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans, 1915-2001, was published in 2018 by Pelican Publishing.




2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
State Capitol Building, House Committee Room 5
Spy Boys, Flag Boys, Big Chiefs: Mardi Gras Indians

3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
Book Signing


Chief of Chiefs: Robert Nathaniel Lee and the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans, 1915-2001

A glimpse into the legacy of the “chief of chiefs.”

Robert Nathanial Lee, known as Chief Robbe, was the first and only person to be named “chief of chiefs” by the Mardi Gras Indian Council. From his birth in 1915, Chief Robbe faced hardship and discrimination, but he always found a way to do what he believed in. By the end of his life in 2001, he had been the Big Chief of four different tribes, given a lecture at Yale University, and become a role model for generations of New Orleans black youth. Author Al Kennedy enhances the story of Chief Robbe’s life with extensive detail and interviews from their personal relationship, creating a biography perfect for both New Orleanians and those who simply love the city.


Book-loving volunteers are essential to the Louisiana Book Festival's success. Whether it's escorting authors, guiding visitors, selling refreshments, working with children in the Young Readers Pavilion or other fun and rewarding assignments, the Louisiana Book Festival wants you to join the volunteer team.

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