“Mardi Gras, while it is talked about from a fun perspective, is really about family, values and culture,” said Kenneth Kelly, the 2020 Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association (MAMGA) Grand Marshal, during a local newscast. For eight decades, the nonprofit Carnival association has held tight to that perspective, which certainly echoes MAMGA cofounder Dr. Wilborne L. Russell’s proclamation for the organization: to promote knowledge in arts and sciences and to encourage member participation in Mardi Gras events, which will lead to “civic and national betterment.” “I am so honored to have been chosen to be part of this elite group,” says MAMGA’s 1975 Queen Winifred Lucy (pictured above). “I will cherish my reign always.” Lucy currently works for the Mobile Public Library. Sadly, her King Elixis I, Walker “Champ” LeFlore Jr., passed away in the mid-’90s.
“…from their quarters through Dauphin, Royal and St. Louis streets to the Gilmer Hall, making a very pretty show. Costumes represented no particular cast, they were made up of silk, satin, velvets and represented princes, knights and cavaliers.”Excerpt from a March 4, 1897, Mobile Daily Register article on the Order of Doves’ 4th annual parade
1894 – Order of Doves, believed to be the first Black mystic society in Mobile, is formed.
1938 – First Black Mardi Gras parade. The first King hailed “Mayor of Carnival.”
1939 – “Colored Carnival Association” formed. It later became Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association (MAMGA).
1940 – MAMGA’s first Royal Court presented, with King Alex Herman and Queen Aliene Necella Jenkins. MAMGA pioneer Frederica Evans suggests the title, “King Elixis I,” a moniker that’s still used today.
1956 – MAMGA names Hank Aaron as its mayor for the celebration.
1969 – MAMGA dedicates its first float warehouse; develops revolutionary system of pulling floats in and out of warehouse.
1974 – Alexis Herman, Secretary of Labor under the last administration of Bill Clinton, named Queen of MAMGA.
1990 – MAMGA celebrates its 50th anniversary.