The second essay in the COVID-19: The Bigger Picture series in partnership with Thomson Reuters Foundation, the essay and photos documents the impact of working people in the midst of the pandemic.
For decades, New Orleans has had more than its share of hurricanes, economic slumps, and gentrifying neighborhoods, and Sportsman’s Corner, a Black-owned bar, has endured it all.
But Steven Elloie, the third generation owner, wonders if the bar will survive the global pandemic, after his mother, 63-year-old Theresa Elloie, fell victim to COVID-19.
“It just kind of killed my spirit,” said Elloie, 41, sitting in one of the bar’s red vinyl-covered chairs, tears in his eyes.
“It took a big toll on me, and I didn’t feel the same about going on to operate. I was just that hurt about the whole situation.”
His mother was known in the community for her activism and for making detailed ribbon corsages for various occasions, but she also moonlighted as an Uber driver.
This is how Elloie thinks she contracted the virus in March.
She was hospitalized for two weeks before her death. He didn’t get the chance to see or talk to her again.
Small business owners like Elloie know hardship, having survived Hurricane Katrina exactly 15 years ago that wreaked unimaginable devastation on the city nicknamed the “Big Easy” and famed for its relaxed disposition, music and cuisine.
Ahead of Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans on August 29, 2005, an estimated 1.2 million people evacuated but about 120,000 people remained behind to ride out the storm, some by choice but many by force of circumstances.
Read the rest of the essay here.