For Ashley

Apr 3, 2008 by

by New Orleans City Council Member Shelly Midura syndicated, from an open email
I wanted to honor the life and passing of one of my district’s neighborhood activists, Professor Ashley Morris, who we lost to an early passing yesterday morning. He was a friend to my office and a champion of his neighborhood. More than almost anything though, he was a fierce lover of New Orleans. He spent much of his time during the week teaching at an out-of-town university, yet he had no desire to move there. He preferred to commute.

To Chicago. From New Orleans.

Why would he do that? Why do so many others in our city do such things? I believe it was because Professor Morris wanted to be able to tell people, “I’m from New Orleans.” He wanted people to know that New Orleans was his home and that this truth was not only conscious and deliberate, but perhaps also something fated. He seemed to believe that New Orleans chose him as much as he chose us, as if it were some quantum entanglement that could not be logically explained or rationalized. It was a matter of the heart and knowing in the bottom of your soul exactly where you belong. It was a deep yearning for a city he loved, cherished, and felt gratitude and appreciation towards every day, despite the challenges and the ups and downs of post-Katrina life.

On his blog only a couple months ago, he wrote about going out to lunch with his friend Ray to Willie Mae’s and grabbing take-out there and how “There on the stoop, we tore into a whole fried chicken, macaroni and cheese casserole, mixed greens, and candied yams that tasted more like bread pudding. An excellent meal, as you can see… anywhere else, we’d be having lunch. Here in New Orleans, we were having a world class meal. For lunch.” Ashley knew that any moment in New Orleans was unlike any moment anywhere else in the world, that typical days here are not typical days anywhere else on this planet, and that being a New Orleanian, especially now, comes with a special badge of honor.

And so I honor my fellow New Orleanian, Professor Ashley Morris. He will be so dearly missed by so many, of whom I am only one. New Orleans aches for him today and wishes his wife, young children, family, and loved ones its heartfelt condolences.

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for posting that msg from Shelly midura. Being out of town, this is the first place I’ve seen it.

  2. I also believe the photo (of ash in the dome) you were looking for is mine. I have the original.

  3. Let Ray know, I think he was the one looking for it.

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