Tulane community mourns tragic death of Kim Boutte

Kim+Boutte

Courtesy of the Boutte Family

Gabby Abrams, News Editor

On Aug. 22, Big Queen Kim ‘Cutie’ Boutte of the Spirit of Fi Yi Yi and Mandingo Mardi Gras Indian Tribe, a beloved member of the Tulane community, was laid to rest. On Aug. 11, Boutte attended a funeral reception in honor of Dellmarcus Kirton, when a gunman shot into the crowd of mourners, striking and killing Boutte.

Boutte was honored with a traditional procession of drums, Indian chants and feathers of every color following her funeral at the Treme Community Center. Boutte’s family requested that the funeral be held at Treme Community Center as it serves as the home base of the Tambourine and Fan children’s group, of which Boutte was a member.

Kim Boutte

When Boutte was five years old, she was given the title of Queen of Fi Yi Yi by her uncle. Since then she has been a leader in many aspects of New Orleans life. Boutte was a decorated track star and softball player as well as a devoted bible student of The Church Without Walls. As Queen, Boutte kept cultural traditions alive by teaching them to fellow community members — especially youth.

Former Tulane athlete Jordan Sullen organized a change.org petition on behalf of the Tulane community in honor of Boutte’s legacy.

Boutte was a Tulane Sodexo employee and was known to spend her wage on “beads, feathers and other paraphernalia every year to keep tradition alive for her city,” Sullen said in the petition.

“Kim played a huge role in my tolerance of Tulane University throughout my collegiate years as a student-athlete,” Sullen said. “The relatability alone was a huge deciding factor in whether I transferred or finished the mission at TU.”

The petition, which has now amassed over 2,000 signatures, lists four “projects” for President Mike Fitts to respond to. The first request is to use university funding to cover Boutte’s funeral expenses.

“Over the years, we’ve lost others in Kim’s position whose lives have been taken at the hands of gun violence,” Sullen said. “They too were once household names throughout campus, and we want to take this opportunity to begin teaching and learning the importance of paying homage to the pillars that keep Tulane prestigious.”

Sullen also created a GoFundMe page to raise funds for “memorial alterations and an honorary bronze statue/bust, which shall be planted in a desired location based on Kim’s family.” The fund has received over $800 in donations thus far.

The petition elaborates on additional ways to honor Boutte’s life and legacy. These include posts on Tulane’s social media channels as well as dedicated pieces in Tulane’s magazine,The Tulanian,” and The Hullabaloo.

Finally, Sullen demanded that a mural created by New Orleans artist and activist, Brandan Odums, be erected in her honor. Odums is the founder of Studio Be, a warehouse art gallery in the Bywater, and has also created art in Tulane’s own Newcomb Art Gallery.

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“Although Tulane is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, I want to acknowledge that it is nothing within the frontline workers who have nurtured it into what it remains to be today,” Sullen said to conclude the petition. “In the midst of so much taking place in our city and our world, there is truly no better time to bridge the gap and fill the voids that have left so many feeling under-appreciated for far too long.”