Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) –The Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association, or MAMGA, is the African-American organization founded in 1938. The regalia of kings and queens of the organization is now on display at the ‘Parading Through Time’ exhibit at the History Museum of Mobile.
MAMGA was started by a group of businessmen who wanted to pave a path for young African-Americans.
“They wanted to provide cultural activities for young African-Americans that were in college and provide them on a path to success,” said MAMGA President Eric Finley.
The first king, Alex Herman, was a politician and father of a later queen, Alexis Herman, who served as the Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. The first queen, Aline Howard Jenkins, was a long-time Mobile educator and principal at Council Elementary. Miss Jenkins died only last month at the age of 97.
MAMGA was started to foster the kind of success these people and many others achieved. While the racial separation between MAMGA and the mostly white Mobile Carnival Association has been noted by some, Finley says it’s also not as stark as some might think.
“We’re not knocking at Mobile Carnival Association’s door and they’re not knocking at Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association’s door, we have events, and we do joint events–we have projects and we’ve found out that in some cases economically its an advantage that we share some venues,” he said.
One of the largest venues they share is downtown Mobile itself, with what is by far the largest parade in the city on Fat Tuesday, the Mammoth Parade.
You can learn more about the history of MAMGA and see their items on display now at the History Museum of Mobile. The display runs through April 20th.