Oldest Zulu King George Rainey has died



NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) — The oldest Zulu king has died.

Zulu officials confirmed that George Rainey died Wednesday night. He was 89-years-old.

Rainey made history as the oldest Zulu king at the age of 87 when he reigned with his granddaughter in 2019.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell spoke about King Rainey at a press conference Thursday morning, saying: “I’m thinking about our King Rainey, who we lost last night, so I wanted to extend my condolences to the family on behalf of the entire city of New Orleans. King Rainey was my first king under my leadership as mayor and when I got here, they gave me a history lesson, and how the king would be greeted by the mayor and have coffee and tea cakes and the like, and so I said I’m going to make sure I set it out for Zulu, and so now I’m on their No. 1 list as being the mayor who provides continental breakfast. ‘We didn’t get breakfast,’ but with me, they get breakfast. So it really is an honor and a privilege to be able to send that love to King Rainey, and again, my condolences to the family.”

According to a biography posted by the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, George V. Rainey was born in New Orleans and educated in New Orleans’ Public School System at Booker T. Washington High School, first graduating 12th grade class, in 1949.

Rainey entered the United States Army and served for six years before returning home to start a restaurant called Rainey’s.

According to his biography, Rainey’s grew to be one of the larger African American restaurants in the city of New Orleans for 50 years. Rainey’s Catering provided services to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and one of the first to serve the Essence Festival for nearly 20 years.

Rainey’s history and blood have been deeply rooted as a member of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club since 1972.

In 1978 Rainey earned the title “Zulu Big Shot.” In addition, he secured Zulu its first corporate sponsorship — the largest donation of any corporate sponsor.

Rainey has secured more than 40 sponsors under his leadership, according to his biography.

He served as a Zulu board member 1978 to 1993. He served as vice president 1991-1996. Again, reelected as a board member 1996-2007.

Rainey has received many awards during his days. He was recognized by President George W. Bush and The Jefferson Award Foundation for his community services.

In 1983, Rainey spearheaded the production of Zulu’s 1st poster series. In 1993, Rainey founded New Orleans’ world renown Zulu Lundi Gras Festival.

In 2004, Rainey was appointed Zulu board member emeritus. He’s also noted as Zulu’s, longest seated, fundraising committee chair of more than 25 years to date.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the city, many families had no place to get food. Led by his pastor, Bishop James Nelson Brown of Fisher Community Church, along with the 82nd Airborne Division cooks, Rainey returned home to serve and feed over 1,000 people for two months daily and for free.

But, his services to the community don’t end there. In 2006, Mardi Gras was in jeopardy. However, Rainey co-authored a speech before the New Orleans’ City Council that saved Mardi Gras.

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