Deborah Cotton was perhaps New Orleans’ most famous grassroots journalist and one of its most devoted celebrants. To visitors, she was the oracle you consulted if you wanted to avoid tourist bars and your source for all information on any upcoming second-line parade.
In 2013, Cotton was one of 19 people shot during a Mother’s Day parade. The city almost lost her, but she survived, despite being critically wounded, and lived on to continue her work as a tireless advocate for young, black New Orleanians swept up in poverty and violent crime. On May 2, Cotton passed away at age 52 due to injuries related to that shooting.