The Krewe of Zulu’s king and queen for 2016 talked about their priceless experiences and the rewards of their spectacular reign.
"This has my crest on it, which is one of the king's pins. My son designed this,” said King Zulu Jay H. Banks, as he held his dazzling crown.
His spacious Uptown home is filled with Zulu memorabilia.
"I think everybody wants to be. From day one you have that in the back of your mind," he said of his desire to one day realize his dream of being king.
Last year, it became reality.
"I have had the opportunity to work on presidential campaigns, gubernatorial campaigns - ain't no campaign like a Zulu campaign,” he said with a smile.
To wage a successful campaign among the krewe’s membership, Banks employed skills he learned in the political arena.
“I had phone banking going, I had rides to the polls going, robo calls going,” he stated.
Banks is an elected member of the Democratic State Central Committee. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Dillard University in New Orleans and a Master’s in Organizational Management from Springfield College in Massachusetts. King Jay Banks is currently employed as Director of the Dryades YMCA School of Commerce.
His reign as king coincides with major milestones the Krewe of Zulu is celebrating this year. For starters, it is the organization’s 100th year of incorporation.
"For the first time in our history we will be riding on floats that Zulu owns,” he said of another milestone.
His queen is his wife, Artelia Eudora Bennett-Banks. They have been together for over 40 years.
"I feel that we are reigning with a purpose,” said Queen Zulu.
The couple grew up attending the historic New Zion Baptist Church. The king had his eye her since he was age 13.
Queen Zulu is an accountant who has spent 28 years working for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. She is a program specialist with DCFS, having the responsibility of focusing on quality control. She is a graduate of Southern University.
Together, the royal couple has relished every moment of their reign including visiting schools, and using their platform to help worthy causes.
"Anybody that we could help bring attention to what they were trying to do That's been the magic for me,” said the king.
For their ride on Fat Tuesday, they invested in customized beads. Also there will be a return of Zulu doubloons, something the king remembers hitting the ground to get along parade routes when he was a child growing up in New Orleans.
On this Fat Tuesday, they hope their ride on the king and queen’s floats will serve as a healthy dose of inspiration for the young who will see them.
"I'm hoping that when they see me, that that inspires somebody to want to stay in school, work hard and achieve whatever their goal is. Success is not defined by anybody else, it's defined by you,” King Zulu said.
"You can achieve those dreams, and that they will look at me and say, 'I want to be that woman one day,'” said the queen.
Their wish is for a fun-filled and safe Mardi Gras.
The king and queen have two sons, Ryan Jaison Banks and Garland Thomas; one daughter in-law, Gizelle F. Johnson-Banks; and one granddaughter, Dakota Elizabeth Thomas.
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