Meet Gaynell Brady
From the Lower Ninth Ward, Gaynell Brady and Our Mammy's facilitate history and genealogy experiences like none other
As the owner/educator of Our Mammy’s, Gaynell Brady dons the image and spirit of her maternal ancestors and teaches history in a manner that honors the legacy of Louisiana’s African Americans.
She designs and implements interactive programs dressed in full 18th-century gowns, hats, and boots worn by her—and possibly all of our— Louisiana “mammy”.
To watch Brady's historical interpretations in action is an experience like none other.
The 44-year old earned a BA in history and MA in museum studies from Southern University at New Orleans. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Capella University, in Minneapolis, MN, working on her dissertation that includes teaching and interpreting slavery to students. Gaynell is a native of New Orleans with roots in East Feliciana, West Feliciana, West Baton Rouge, and Pointe Coupee parishes. She is also the executive director of the Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association where she leads the organization’s work in reducing barriers to homeownership.
Meet Gaynell Brady, one of The Drum’s eight persons to watch in 2022.
Moves made: In 2019, I was employed at the National World War II Museum as the public engagement and community program coordinator. In this role, I coordinated large public programs and lectures. My position was eliminated in May 2019, during the onset of the pandemic. After leaving the museum, I took off a few months to increase Our Mammy’s online and physical footprint. I joined the L9WHA in August 2019.
What to expect in 2022 from you: In 2022, the L9WHA is positioned to offer green infrastructure training for homeowners. We are seeking innovative ways to eliminate floodwaters from the yards of our neighbors. We are looking to work with Waterwise, the Urban Conservancy, and other non-profits to educate the community about environmental issues that may cause problems for homeowners and the larger community.
Personal resolution for 2022: My personal resolution for 2022 and beyond is to incorporate self-care in all that I do. I need to build in time to take care of my mental, spiritual, and physical well-being.
Life/business motto: My life motto is “Your ancestors are always watching you.”
Business resolution: My business resolution is to increase the board and staff capacity
What is your #1 priority right now? To make sure the community uses the skills and practices of our ancestors to rebuild the Lower 9th Ward.
Best advice you’ve ever received? Plant a seed, so the next generation can enjoy the fruit of the trees.
What do you want people to remember/know most about you? I love my family, I admire the strength of my ancestors, and I try my hardest not to take anything or anyone for granted.
Role Models: My parents Florence and Charles, and my grandmothers Polly, Zoeline, Delilah, Bernice, Bell, Florence, Adelaide, Maslean, Classie, Josephine, Sarah, Rebecca, and Lizzy
What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward--especially during the coronavirus pandemic? Losing my job at the National World War II Museum pushed me into my purpose. It reminded me that I have an important role to play in my community.
What music are you listening/dancing to? 60s and 70s R&B
What are you reading? Self Made by A’lelia Bundles
What’s entertaining you? Dr. Antoinette Harrell’s YouTube channel “Nurturing Our Roots”
Website: L9WHA.org or www.ourmammys.com
Social media: @lower9nola @Our Mammy’s
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