New Orleans has a diverse and vibrant culture, which includes an overriding subculture related to the history of the city and the Mardi Gras parade. The Mardi Gras subculture refers to a variety of organized "krewes," or groups, primarily of African Americans, whose costumed parades and traditions date back to the post–Civil War era, when Jim Crow laws prevented African Americans from participating in the Mardi Gras festivities. Because originally festival groups excluded African Americans, along with other people, such as Italians and Jews, a strong protest tradition developed, and the ostracized groups formed their own clubs and marching groups that flourished into a vibrant subculture that calls attention to the racial divisions that characterized the city’s history. This subculture includes not only these marching groups and their traditions but also Creole cuisine and jazz and blues music, all of which call attention to the cultural contributions of African Americans, who historically have been marginalized and excluded from the white culture of New Orleans.
In addition to elevating the status of African Americans and celebrating their contributions to the cultural richness of city, the subculture of New Orleans fuels the city’s economy by bringing in thousands of tourists each year. According to statistics from 2013, the cultural sector of the city was responsible for close to 14 percent of the city’s workforce and 1.1 billion in wages. Furthermore, the city’s music and food traditions are a fundamental part of the New Orleans subculture and a significant force in building community, as they bring people from all races, religions, and ethnicities together in a unifying cultural experience.