Brother Clarence A. Becknell, Sr. Awarded The New Orleans Legend AwardBrother Clarence A. Becknell, Sr. is a member of the Knights of Peter Claver 4th Degree, E.O.Moss Grand Assembly #4; the Knights of St. Peter Claver, 3rd Degree, Holy Ghost Parish Council No. 52. He notably serves as ;the "Official Zulu Historian Emeritus". He joined the famed Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, Inc. in May 1981. and is a Retired Elementary School Principal of the New Orleans Public School System.
Becknell holds a BA Degree in Early Childhood Education from Xavier University of New Orleans, a Masters in Education from Loyola University, and a Masters Degree + 30 from Xavier University. He also took graduate courses from the University of New Orleans as well as undergraduate classes at the University of Berkley.
A former Principal at Morris Jeff Elementary School, Becknell worked in various position with New Orleans Public Schools from 1972-2005. Commander Becknell retired from the Military after 40 years of service, having served in the Unites State Air Force from 1968-1972 achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant, and various stays with both the Louisiana Air National Guard, and the Louisiana Army Guard between 1974-2008.
Bro. Becknell has been a very active member in Zulu since he joined. He has served on several committees simultaneously as a Chairman and Officer. He has been a part of Zulu's growth beginning in the 1980's and continuing today. He instituted Zulu Community Programs, (Appearances, Displays, Guest Speaker) that positively impacted Zulu's notoriety, respect, appreciation and awareness. His involvement in Zulu is evidenced by the numerous committees and positions he has held and continues to serve currently.
Some of the committees he has served includes that of Zulu Historian-Chairman, Souvenir Booklet- Chairman, Director-Public Relations, Zulu Newsletter-Chairman, Anniversary Committee, Zulu Pall Bearer, Carnival Activities Committee, Float Captain, Lundi Gras Committee, Telephone Committee, Coronation Committee, Coronation Duke, Community Activities Committee, Night Out Against Crime, Pic Nic Committee, Zulu Constitution Committee, Developed Junior Zulus Program, Creator-Minister of Fun, Christmas Basket Committee, Zulu Character Appearances, Adopt A School Committee, Zulu Chaplain Assistant, Hall of Fame Review Committee, Property Venture Committee, Education Committee, Religious Service Committee, Morris Jeff Community School Committee, Zulu Attire Committee, Host- Zulu TV Show, Zulu King Duke, Zulu Queen Duke, Zulu King Charge D' Affaire, and he developed the Float Captain's Reference Guide.
In 2004, the organization voted to change the name of his float from Aseqoi to that of Zulu Historian. In terms of elected positions, Mr. Becknell has held the position of Assistant Financial Secretary, Zulu Parliamentarian, and that of Assistant Recording Secretary.
Honored as a Zulu Hall of Fame and Zulu Honorary Member, Becknell has received several other recognition; including the Best Float Award, Outstanding Zulu Award, Zulu Ensemble Appreciation Award, Longest Tenured Float Captain 1984-Present, and the Ron Tassin Appreciation Award.
In 1982, 6 months after becoming a member, Roy E. Glapion, Jr. then President, in search of a member to document the club's history, appointed Clarence Zulu Historian. Clarence conducted 8 years of research on the organization. His research guided him to various libraries across Louisiana, speaking with Jazz Historians & Musicians such as Danny Barker, and establishing working relationships with older Zulu Members who became his mentors, including Emanuel Bernard-King Zulu 1941, Albert Snake Hamilton, King Zulu 1956, Morris Jeff, Sr. King Zulu 1974, Harold Doley, King Zulu 1975, Joseph O. Misshore Jr., King Zulu 1979, John Rousseau, Zulu Historian and Author, Clinton Scott, Dir. Of Zulu Publicity, Marion Porter, Official Zulu Photographer, Harold Dudley, Zulu Grand Marshal, George Rainey, and was understudy to James Russell, King Zulu 1992 for two years giving him 10 years of studying & learning Zulu History. He has been appointed Zulu Historian by each President of Zulu to Include Roy E. Glapion, Jr., James A. Wright, Michael Johnson, Gary Thornton, Frank Boutte, & Charles E. Hamilton, Jr., and David Belfield, III serving under 7 Presidents, 1983-Present.
In 1984, Becknell began introducing the Zulu organization to community via school visitations. His first school appearance was at Lockett Elementary School where he was Assistant Principal. He, Roy Glapion, President and the late Jesse Balancier, King Zulu 1983 made a presentation to the students and the rest is history. Since then he has visited every school in New Orleans, spreading the word and marketing the Zulu brand. He ensured that each school's library within the New Orleans Public School System received a copy of Zulu's official documentary.
In 2008 Becknell authored and registered the unpublished history of Zulu entitled "From Tramps to Kings". In 2010, the Zulu Board of Directors and membership voted unanimously to bestow upon Becknell the title of "Official Zulu Historian Emeritus". He has been Producer and Host of Zulu's monthly TV Show since 1992-present, Cable/Cox New Orleans, which he received the Documentary of the Year Award. His extensive knowledge of Zulu, dedication, loyalty, and love for Zulu has gained him respect from other historians and Mardi Gras organizations.
After years of being declined by major department stores in New Orleans the opportunity to set up Zulu displays, in 1992 Becknell received permission to do so by Lakeside Shopping Mall's marketing director Donna Mumphrey to do so. New Orleans' First Lady Mickey Barthelemy, wife of Mayor Sidney Barthelemy saw the display and offered the Zulu organization the opportunity to exhibit a display at the Mayor's Mardi Gras Ball. Since then other exhibit locations have included the New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture, & History; the River Road African American Museum, St. Peter Clavier Gala, Kings Club Brunch, Royal Scepter Queens Club Brunch, Zulu Dukes Brunch, La. School Board Association Conference, New Orleans & Jazz Heritage Festival, Audubon Nature Institute, (Aquarium) Audubon Park, Xavier University, Dillard University, and Southern University. Since 2007, the Zulu organization has been invited to set up a display annually at the Essence Music Festival Empowerment Zone. In 2009, for Zulu's 100th Year Anniversary, Becknell set up the largest Zulu Historical Display ever at the Louisiana State Museum and Becknell was recognized by LT. Governor Mitch Landrieu for his work.
In 2012, Becknell was instrumental in bringing Zulu, Knights of Peter Claver, and Dooky Chase Restaurant into a community partnership for the first time in history and added the Knights of Peter Claver and reinstituted Dooky Chase Restaurant to its parade route as official stops to toast King and Queen Zulu. He also instituted a King's Dinner to be held annually at Dooky Chase Restaurant with the agreement that King Zulu Elect will place his photo in the restaurant for viewing by restaurant patrons.
In 2015, Becknell was instrumental in getting a Louisiana State Historical Marker for the organization placed at Orleans & Broad Street, thus allowing Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club take its rightful place in Louisiana History.
He currently serves as WWL-TV Ch-4 Zulu Mardi Gras Analyst each Mardi Gras Day.
In addition to his dedication to the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, Inc., Mr. Becknell is affiliated with the Louisiana Association of Elementary School Principals; Louisiana Association of Principals; the Louisiana Association of School Executives; the National Guard Association; Xavier University Alumni; Loyola University Alumni; the Buffalo Soldiers National Association; and the American Legion.