with Antoinette Seven
One, September 5, 2005
walked from water up to my neck to get to the
Convention Center. Every day they was moving us
around, go here, go there, the busses is gonna
meet you here, meet you there. They was lying.
There was never no busses, they was lying. They
was just making us tired. The had us in there
to kill us. I saw babies, two month old babies,
piled up in the bathroom dead. People was screaming,
"The water coming, the water coming."
I saw a girl raped and her throat cut. The mens
found the man that did that and cut his throat.
He had come over from the Superdome where he was
raping babies and started doing it there, so the
mens hunted him down and they slit his throat.
All this time the police locked us in there and
pointed guns at us. They made us kneel and then
lie face down while they held the guns over us.
Kids was screaming and saying, "Mommy, why
they doing this to us?" All the news was
just watching. Im on the news, I was screaming
at the news, just begging, on my knees. Babies
was dying and I couldn't help. Old people was
falling down dead. We told the police babies was
dying and they said "So what? What the fuck
can we do? They're dead." The news got us
out. Not the National Guard, not the Mayor, not
Blanco, the news people is the only ones who got
us out. Channel twenty-six got me out. They got
me out in they helicopter. Channel 26. The rest
of them was there to kill us. I died there, I
Two, September 13, 2005
I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. I have
I had eleven brothers and sisters, and
Im the eleventh child. My mom was a very
strong woman, she was a very strong leader. She
motivated us in her community. She once ran for
our state representative. She didnt win,
but she never stopped going. Shes a retired
beautician, shes a retired RTA bus driver.
She has a lot of grandchildren.
have seven children myself. I seen how hard it
was for my mom and I tried to be like my mom
which I could never be. But my children, they
had an easy life. When I had my first child at
seventeen, I said, Im going to work
and Im going to take care of my children.
looked like every two years I was having a baby.
After my third child, me and they father separated
and I met my last four childrens daddy.
He provided for me and my three children. Two
years later I began to have children for him.
I had four children for him.
always kept me a job. I was a housekeeper in hotels
and I was a bartender in many bars in New Orleans,
[which was] lots and lots of fun. Well, all the
barrooms were fun, and, you know, thats
how I always provided for my children. As they
grew up I was putting them in nursery at like
ten months old. I always wanted them to learn.
I have five boys and two girls. All athletes except
one. One has his own business with space walks
mother bought a house on Jackson Avenue and thats
where she raised us at. After I had my child,
I moved out. Ive been gone ever since because
I always wanted to be independent like my mom.
And to be a good mother. I volunteered at the
schools for over twenty-five years. I was never
in the PTA. I never did want to be a chaperone
because my children marched in the parade and
I always like to have fun on the sideline. I seen
the people on the side having more fun than the
chaperones. Chaperones cant smoke in the
parade, chaperones cant drink beer during
the parade. I was just walking; every step they
make I make, too.
so, about in 1989, I went to jail. I was incarcerated
because my baby girl was about seventeen months
old and she, uh, burned herself on the heater
trying to get a baby doll. We didnt bring
her to the hospital the same day because it didnt
appear to be bad. But the next day we woke up
and her arm was swollen and we brought her to
came arrested me for, uh, I think it was something
like child abuse. Thats what it started
out to be. At that time I was suicidal because
I knew what I had done for my children, all my
sisters children, my neighbors children.
I had hundreds of people trying to come to court
to tell the judge that I never abused my children.
And I took care of the neighborhood children.
really hurt me. Ive been arrested a lot
of times for fighting which you knew I was guilty.
But this time I was really innocent, and that
hurt my heart.
1990 I moved into Magnolia Housing Project. They
call it the CJ Pete housing project now. Thats
where the rough parts really started at. My children
my oldest one I think was eleven
or twelve. As my oldest daughter got older, the
girls always wanted to fight her because she was
very pretty. They all was back there as one big
family. We came out of another area in the city
and they didnt want us to be there. But
I just had to show them that they could not move
me. I had to fight. I fought. I fought. I fought.
I fought for them. I fought for them. The girls
that wanted to fight us my daughter was
like fifteen they was seventeen or eighteen.
I fought for my daughter and my boys.
five boys, well four of them are perfect. One
of them, he, you know, he got most of my blood.
Hes incarcerated in Polack, Louisiana. But
hes learned a lot and I think hes
going to do better. He was a running-back at McDonough
High School. I have one was a quarterback. I had
another son, he was a running-back at McDonough.
He played in the band. He ran track. My oldest
daughter, she was a majorette at all the schools
she went to, she was a mascot at two. My baby
girl was a mascot at two and she played all sports.
She marched on the marching units at Fortier High
baby boy, hes fifteen years old. And I think
thats why I kind of got, like, weakened,
because I ran behind the other six so much. I
was always trying to be there for them. They had
a daddy that always provided for them financially.
He went to a game every now and then and was in
a parade every now and then, but. . . he didnt
participate with my children like I did. For my
oldest son, out of four years, I missed, I think,
one game. My daughters, I was always there for
them. I was very proud of my children.
theyre very proud of me too. They just dont
like when I drink too much, cause I get
well, I just like to be myself. I just like to
party, I just like to have fun. A lot of people
have the tendency of saying that when people drink
they have another side to them. And the only way
the other side come out [is] if you make it come
out. If Im provoked, its that other
side coming out. Ive been into it numerous
times with the New Orleans police. If somebody
calls the police, and they have a fight or something,
a dispute, they would never want to listen to
my side, maybe because I was intoxicated, uh,
fifty percent of the time [laughing].
worked at this club in the Project. It was called
Les Tree at one time. They changed the name to
Marys Night Out. I went through a lot in
there, I seen a lot in there. I had to play the
strong role in front of my children, because they
always looked up to me. A lot of times I was scared,
but I never let them know I was scared. It was
a nightmare working in Marys Night Out,
yes it was. You know I even had ... people get
killed on my porch. I was standing ... and they
got shot. I was passing by and they got shot.
lot of people know that Im emotionally disturbed,
and they know it dont take much to upset
me. This old lady that was my neighbor for like
fourteen years, every time I used to get upset,
she used to come and see about me. She used to
always tell me, Pray. Which I always
do have a church home in New Orleans, Greater
St. Mathews Baptist Church. Ive been a member
there since 1969. But the devil do get ahold to
me sometimes [laughing]. Yeah sometimes Ill
go for like two or three months, and then Ill
back away for like two or three months. Thats
not good at all because as good as God has been
to me, I need to serve him every day of the week.
I had a heart attack in 2002. Its just been
so much that Ive been through. You know,
despite of all the fighting and stuff, I never
was abused by no man. Never ever, because they
knew. They knew: keep your hands to yourself.
main thing is that I try to motivate my children.
In 2002, and in 2001, they had this thing called
you could go to school, you know, adults go back
to school and make careers. I went back to school
to be a bartender and a professional casino dealer.
I ran and I ran and I ran. I auditioned at Boomtown
Casino and passed the audition. I auditioned at
Dallas Casino and passed the audition. But I couldnt
get the job because of my background. They said
it wasnt what I was convicted for, which
was for when my baby girl got burnt. They said
its just a matter that I was arrested so
many times for fighting. From what I understand,
I could go to another state and get a job, but
I cant get none in the state of Louisiana.
what I can see, the police could not control the
crime in New Orleans. Before the floods and the
hurricane. This had to happen. The hurricane had
to happen. This was the way the Lord had to clean
New Orleans up. Because the police could not stop
the violence, the drugs, the murder, the robbing,
the rape. The police couldnt stop it, so
that was the way for the Lord to stop it. He wiped
out what He wanted to wipe out.
lost a lot of people in New Orleans and at the
Convention Center. I was trying to help as many
people as I could... and my daughter, she come
to me and she say, Mama she said,
You cant help all these people, stop
crying. Then, you know, we go in the bathroom
and see dead babies. There were people trying
to call the news people. It took us like two days
before we got in touch with the news people. They
came and they interviewed. I showed them where
all the dead bodies was at. Yes, they took pictures
of the dead bodies. I insisted they take pictures.
just get upset when I think about how we had to
walk through the water, and the dead people. We
called in the police. It wasnt our NOPD
police. It was NOPD police but it wasnt
our regular district police. These were special
NOPD policemen. We was running from place to place
telling them, Oh, this person dead, that
person dead. They said, Well we cant
do nothing about no dead bodies. Yall just
dont worry. Yall just try to get the
fuck out of here. Thats just how they
was talking to us. Yeah, they told us try to get
the fuck out of here. So we were asking them,
where we had to go. They told us to leave our
house, they told us to go to the Superdome. They
say, Yall go to the bridge. The buss
going to pick you up on the bridge. We stayed
on the bridge nine hours. Then they came and told
us, the special police, they said Yall
go over to the Convention Center because the Superdome
is crowded. They going to have buses waiting on
yall at the Convention Center. We
waited four days for the buses. No buses coming.
night, theres somebody thatll pass,
like the Army, who will tell us, Oh, the
buses will be here in two hours, the buses will
be here in six hours. They needed to order
more buses. They telling us the same thing over
and over. So thats when everybody went to
getting scared and upset because we was like,
They abandoned us. They just didnt
care about us. So everybody went to calling the
news people until we got them out there. When
everybody seen the news people, then everybody
was saying, Oh, oh there go the news people.
You wanted the news people, well there they go.
So I ran to them. I was just trying to tell them
everything what was going on.
yes they did listen to me. He asked me my name,
he asked me could he put it in the paper and on
the T.V. I said, if you want to you can do that.
My thing is, our mayor, Ray Nagin, and our governor,
Kathleen Blanco, they know it was a Category Five.
Fifty percent of New Orleans had already evacuated.
Those were people with money. Those were people
with cars. Those were people who had people out
of town that they could go straight to.
those people in poverty it was the same as it
is with me. I have seven children. I say eight
because my sisters son, he is like mine,
and he would not leave until he found out for
sure I was alright. He is always there with me
and my children regardless the good or bad, he
is with us.
answer those that would ask, well why didnt
they leave? We didnt have no money. We didnt
have no cars. After they was lying to us for four
days telling us the bus was coming, people was
getting scared that they wasnt going to
never come and get us. They was telling us another
hurricane was coming. They was telling us the
place was on fire. They was setting certain places
on fire. So people were scared that they wasnt
coming to get us thats why they started
to steal the cars. The trucks, the vans, the RTA
buses. They stole all the rental cars, they stole
RTA buses. I even seen a postal truck. The only
thing I didnt see these people trying to
find was a fire truck and a police car.
was just so scary because we thought they just
was leaving us there on purpose. But the mayor
and the governor, I fault them because anytime
its a Category Five, you dont wait
until the day after to drop sandbags. A Category
Five is terrible. You know youre supposed
to drop those sandbags a day or two ahead of time,
Okay? And, okay, the hurricane didnt affect
us, it was the after-effect that affected us.
The hurricane was that Monday. The water didnt
start coming up really to our knees and our waists
until Wednesday. Thats when they called
for emergency evacuation for the whole state.
knew they still have people in Louisiana. I think
it was they job to send the National Guards and
the armored people in there to make sure everybody
was evacuated They left us out there for five,
six, seven days. They didnt care about us.
Because, like I said, they knew they have a lot
of poor people like myself dont have no
transportation, dont have no money. Well
I have a car but it got under the water. Dont
have no money to buy gas, dont have no money
to buy food. Living from day to day. Like I said,
it was thousands of people out there like that.
mom and them, they did offer me to go to Atlanta
when they left, but I said I could not leave.
I had two children here, two children here, three
children there, two grandchildren here. I had
to make sure all my children was gone. Then they
called me at the last minute talking about lets
go. No, I have to find all my children because
they keep me strong and they the reason Im
living. If it wasnt for them I dont
know what Id even done with myself. I could
have been just like a lot of people. I could have
been on drugs, but I, you know, Im strong.
The Lord, he knows what we can handle and what
we cant handle. I never tried it, you know
it never appealed to me.
strength was tested the most when every night
people would break out and say things to make
people run, like a fire, or water. My seven year-old
grandbaby whos been with me since birth,
she woke up out of her sleep. I was waking everybody
up. And she woke up out of her sleep and she got
lost in the Convention Center. She got up and
she ran with the crowd. She thought she was running
with us. When she realized that none of us was
We found her sleeping. We looked
for her for an hour and thirty minutes in the
Convention Center. We already new that the killer
people [were] putting them in the ice box, killing
little children and raping little children. The
men, the looters, the people that was staying
was just terrible because I was going all through
this looking for my grandbaby and I just got so
upset. I had about a hundred people looking for
my baby with me. Because a lot of people knew
me in New Orleans, and, its like Seven,
whats wrong? I couldnt talk,
so my children running up and down there hollering,
talking about we cant find Jada. So its
like a hundred people looking for Jada. It was
like attacking every male they seen, because we
knew what the males was doing to these little
girls when they go to the bathroom.
happened, they didnt have no lights in the
bathroom. They had electricity because we was
always charging our phones, the whole time we
was there. So it was electricity. Its just
that they didnt want to put the lights on.
Because they didnt care. Yeah, they turned
the lights off on purpose. There was electricity,
everybody was charging their phones up. All day
every day, people was charging their phones up.
From what I understand, they came that Monday
and turned the water off on purpose. They still
had water at the Convention Center. But that Monday
after, you know, I guess the people at the Convention
Center thought we was going to be there for a
little time. Like I said, it was a disaster.
when me and my children went to saying that if
we dont find Jada, were going to shoot
up the whole Convention Center. Everybody got
up and went to looking for Jada. My daughter,
she gave up. She told a girl, she said, Well,
Im going to sit down. Im a leave it
in the Lords hands. The Lord knows best.
She said as soon as she got back to her little
pad where we was sleeping at, the lady came to
her and told her, We have your little girl
over here. She was sleeping by this old
lady. I dont know if she just was looking
for us, because we had a big crowd of people with
us, and she just laid with the first crowd of
people she seen. The old lady was asleep. I dont
know how old she was. But they say the old lady
was holding her, had her arms around her, and
my baby was asleep too. So, we found her. They
was the scariest time in my life. In my life.
Because I wouldnt have been able to live
with myself. You know the first thing they say,
if something happen, if they got a crime, you
dont run, you just lay down wherever you
at, or you stay wherever you at. It would have
been my fault because I woke everybody up telling
them to run because the place was on fire. No,
the place wasnt on fire. It was some children
upstairs playing with the fire extinguisher. That
was the scariest time of my life.
my children children told me they found her
see, I passed out. When they told me they found
her. And I just knew they had found her dead
she was alive; shes in San Antonio with
her mama I just passes out cause
I just knew they had found her dead. I wouldnt
a been able to live with myself.
other than that, you know, like I said, my children
was blessed. I was always there for them. And
Im special to my mom. Because I always was
a problem child out of twelve children. I was
the eleventh child. I always if they said dont
do it, I done it. I just have to prove a point
to people. Its that if someone tell me I
cant do it
. When I went to the school
to be a dealer, I had quit twice. And my children,
they was beating my head in, Now you going
to tell us winners dont quit and quitters
cant win? You done quit twice. So
I thought about it, I drank my little beer that
night, I sit on the porch all night. And I said,
Now how can I make my children stay in school
and go to school, even though Im forty-one
years old that was three years ago
How can I convince them to keep going
to school, to continue to go to college. Im
almost finished with this school, I need three
weeks to finish and I done quit for the second
I went back and I talked to the teachers over
there. They was telling me, You can do it,
you can do it, youre halfway there.
They say, If you got off the roulette table,
which thats the hardest game to play in
the casino, they say if you got off the
roulette table, you going to walk through this
Blackjack. I had done all the deals and
stuff in the Blackjack, I just had to take my
finals and stuff and show them what I know. So
I got my certificate for that. And, Im okay.
Yeah, Im okay.
really didnt want to move to San Antonio,
but my twenty-four year old son and my twenty-six
year old daughter, they made themselves smart
and they enrolled their children in school. I
think my twenty-four year old son is trying to
get in somebodys university. I just cant
keep moving them from school to school like that.
But I really wanted to move to Atlanta. I really,
really wanted to move to, like, Biloxi but they
tell me its wiped out. Because they have
a lot of casinos there. They say I couldnt
get a gaming license in the state of Louisiana,
but I could go to another state and get a gaming
license. Im not going to give up on that
dealing. Las Vegas is too big for me, so if I
can get somewhere in Lake Charles or one of them
little Indian Reservations casinos, I can go there
and pursue my career. But if not, I want to be,
like, a little shuttle bus driver for the hospitals
or the clinics. Helping somebodys babies.
have so much love, and so much energy.]
I do, yes I do. In New Orleans, my children, all
of us would be sitting on the porch, and theyll
say, Oh Mama, go to the store and get me
a cold drink and a bag of potato chips.
My neighbor, shell get very angry. She said,
Theyre your children, you let them
send you to the store? I said I dont
have nothing better to do. Now, if they
had to go to Winn-Dixie, theyll get in the
car and go. Ill walk to Winn-Dixie.
I said, Ive been following my children around
because they just, you know, so beautiful. Theyre
right there for me. Right now, I really dont
want to get in no trouble because they know what
I done for them. I know if somebody hurt me accidentally,
or hurt me intentionally, I know theyre
not going to rest until
they might go around
just hurting people for nothing if something happened
to me. So I really do want to change, you know,
drama-wise. I dont want that in my life
most fun I had as far as my job, thats mixing
drinks. Mixing drinks. Yeah, I make people happy,
and a lot of people back in Louisiana they knew
me from nineteen years old working in the barroom.
Im forty-four now. And thats my thing,
mixing drinks. Im an expert. If you come
in there, we used to have dollar nights at these
clubs. After a while I convinced them to raise
the price to a dollar fifty. I convinced them
to do a lot of things. I even convinced them to
buy the building at Marys Night Out.
one time Mary was my, she was
why a lot of things happened to me. Because I
was putting this lady and her business before
church. When I fell out and when we did lose friendship,
it was over for good. Because my daughter wind
up having a baby for her son. Her son had been
with this lady for like eighteen, nineteen, twenty
years. She really loved all my children too, the
lady that owned the club, she really loved my
children too. When she see that the relationship
was serious with my daughter and her son, she
didnt like that. Thats what we really
fell out about. Because she put my daughter at
the barroom. Then she was saying bad things about
my daughter and I wasnt going to allow that.
Because my sisters, my mom and them, they all
know, when it come to my children, dont
even go there. Because Im not having it.
I said, youre all grown now and I just hope
I dont get in trouble with nobody, because
I know whats on their minds. So Im
going to be good. The Lords placed everybody
where he wanted them to be at for a reason. Hes
giving all us the opportunity to start all over
again. Now you know, a lot of people, they go
back to what they was doing in New Orleans. They
go back to New Orleans and try to do the same
thing they was doing. They dont want to
change. But far as myself, I think the Lord has
given me nine chances. I dont have no more.
I dont have no more chances with God. Its
time for me to give my life to God, even though
I like being a bartender and I like drinking my
beer. I drink Hennessey on special occasions like
my birthday yeah, Hennessey on the rocks.
Now if somebody in my immediate family die, I
might drink anything, gin, Jack, vodka. I might
drink anything because I love my family. Im
so close to my nieces and nephews, if something
happened to them Id feel it.
my mama started losing her children with the Crohns
disease, heart attacks, strokes. I lost two of
my favorite sisters. One died with kidney failure
cause she drank herself crazy, and she grieved
herself over her son with sickle-cell disease.
My other sister who was always there holding my
hand for me no matter right or wrong, she died
with Crohns disease. I have one brother,
he went into a coma. I have two brothers went
into a coma, and they died. My baby brother, he
had a terminal illness, and he passed away. So,
its like, you know, she only have seven
children. She buried some grandchildren, she buried
all five of her husbands. I think she was married
to all of them, and they all deceased. Shes
a minister. Shes in Atlanta with my brothers
and sisters. It was two weeks before the hurricane
before Ive seen my mom. Shes a Baptist
minister. I have two sisters in the ministry.
had went back to church about a month before this
happened and the head deacon of our church, he
was telling me, Well, you know its
time for you to come on get on the steward board
yeah, thats the mothers board.
They had a function at the church for the children
and he came to my table. He was patting me on
the shoulders. Time for you to get on the
mother board. And I turned around and I
looked at him and I said, When you get on
the mother board, you got to be right with God,
you got to be all the way right, I said.
And I aint going to never be right
cause Im always looking for somebody
else. And I like drink. [laughing].