Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It is (Not) done but it is a good start

(Mayor Landrieu's speech from May 22 as the Lee statue came down.)

Thank you for coming.

The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way — for both good and for ill. It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans — the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Colorix, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of France and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese and so many more.

You see - New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures. There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e Pluribus Unum — out of many we are one. But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America's largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined 'separate but equal'; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions; why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame... all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.

For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth. As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, "A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them." So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other. So, let's start with the facts.

The historic record is clear, the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This 'cult' had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone's lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city. Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy. He said in his now famous 'cornerstone speech' that the Confederacy's "cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears ... I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us. And make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago — we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and a more perfect union.

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it. President Obama said, "Consider what this artifact tells us about history ... on a stone where day after day for years, men, and women ... bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men."

A piece of stone — one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored. As clear as it is for me today ... for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans' most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family's long proud history of fighting for civil rights ... I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought. So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race.

I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes. Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth-grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it? Can you look into that young girl's eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too? We all know the answer to these very simple questions. When you look into this child's eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can't walk away from this truth.

And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naive quest to solve all our problems at once.

This is however about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong. Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division and yes with violence.

To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past. It is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future. History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans — or anyone else — to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person's humanity seems perverse and absurd. Centuries old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place. Here is the essential truth. We are better together than we are apart.

Indivisibility is our essence. Isn't this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world? We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz, the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures. Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think.

All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity. We are proof that out of many we are one — and better for it! Out of many we are one — and we really do love it! And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush's words, "A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them."

We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say 'wait'/not so fast, but like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "wait has almost always meant never." We can't wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now.

No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don't change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain. While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts; not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

Earlier this week, as the cult of the lost cause statue of P.G.T Beauregard came down, world renowned musician Terence Blanchard stood watch, his wife Robin and their two beautiful daughters at their side. Terence went to a high school on the edge of City Park named after one of America's greatest heroes and patriots, John F. Kennedy. But to get there he had to pass by this monument to a man who fought to deny him his humanity.

He said, "I've never looked at them as a source of pride ... it's always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don't respect us. This is something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime. It's a sign that the world is changing." Yes, Terence, it is and it is long overdue. Now is the time to send a new message to the next generation of New Orleanians who can follow in Terence and Robin's remarkable footsteps.

A message about the future, about the next 300 years and beyond; let us not miss this opportunity New Orleans and let us help the rest of the country do the same. Because now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to actually make this the City we always should have been, had we gotten it right in the first place.

We should stop for a moment and ask ourselves — at this point in our history — after Katrina, after Rita, after Ike, after Gustav, after the national recession, after the BP oil catastrophe and after the tornado — if presented with the opportunity to build monuments that told our story or to curate these particular spaces ... would these monuments be what we want the world to see? Is this really our story?

We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city's history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations. And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols but to do it together, as one people. In our blessed land, we all come to the table of democracy as equals. We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That is what really makes America great and today it is more important than ever to hold fast to these values and together say a self-evident truth that out of many we are one. That is why today we reclaim these spaces for the United States of America. Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all ... not some. We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in ... all of the way. It is in this union and in this truth that real patriotism is rooted and flourishes. Instead of revering a 4-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans and set the tone for the next 300 years.

After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community led commissions. After two robust public hearings and a 6-1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council. After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments in accordance with the law have been removed. So now is the time to come together and heal and focus on our larger task. Not only building new symbols but making this city a beautiful manifestation of what is possible and what we as a people can become.

Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned and now universally loved Nelson Mandela and what he said after the fall of apartheid. "If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation's humanity." So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans' Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move passed, a painful part of our history.

Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause. Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds ... to do all which may achieve and cherish — a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Thank you.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Anti Trump Inauguration Rally & March

I have been absent from this blog to focus on my food and farming work and blog and my French Quarter research. While those remain important, with the rise of white nationalism into the highest office in our country, it is time to remind others of the relevance of New Orleans, a majority African-American city that has been defiant for generations against white privilege to those seeking examples.

J20Nola: Anti Trump Inauguration Rally & March
Friday at 3 PM - 6 PM

Duncan Park. City Hall Plaza

On January 20, Trump becomes President and starts to unleash a campaign of impoverishment, war, extreme racism, sexism, and homophobia. The plan to imprison, deport and discriminate against immigrants and Muslims is dangerous and real. Pretending to be for “the people” his cabinet is filling with white supremacists, environment destroyers, war crazy generals, and opponents of any social benefit we have won. We will see an increased curtailment of constitutional rights, more prisons, and less education. His cabinet is also a who’s who of Wall St. banks, hedge funds, fast food moguls, and opponents of higher wages.

In Washington and hundreds of cities across the U.S. January 20 will mark the first day of united mobilizations to resist and stop Trump’s war on the people. New Orleans should be counted on that day by bringing out thousands to say “We Will Not Go Back.”

We have to unite all of our work with a mighty voice and together we can move mountains.

#J20, is our counter-inauguration of the Trump regime, our day to inaugurate unity, and start the resistance.

So it is with urgency and confidence that we are sending out a call to all sectors in the struggle for social and economic justice to join together in a #J20Nola action.

Monday, August 24, 2015

2006 list of events planned for the anniversary of Katrina Levee Breaks

Commemorating Katrina: More than 50 events planned to honor and heal
by via New Orleans Network list
Monday Aug 21st, 2006 3:18 PM
> This Calendar of whats up this week in New Orleans is brought to you by your friends at

> Dear Nola:
> The one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall and the devastating levee breaches that flooded most of New Orleans and took so many lives is fast approaching. Over the next week New Orleanians will gather to honor our dead and reflect on all we have endured over the past year.
> New Orleans Network has compiled a list of more than 50 events planned around the one-year anniversary of Katrina. We'd like to particularly draw your attention to two events coming up this week and the community-driven commemoration march on August 29th.
> This Tuesday at 4 p.m. you can join ( at the Hale
> Bogg's Building as they release a report card on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Then on Friday the African-American Leadership Project will kick off a series of activities leading up to the anniversary with a panel discussion from 7 to 9 p.m. at Ashe' Cultural Arts Center.
> On August 29th, about 30 local organizations have worked with People's Hurricane Relief Fund to plan a commemoration march beginning with a 10 a.m. ceremony at Jourdan and N. Galvez (site of the L9W levee breach). The march will proceed to Congo Square and end with reflections from families who lost loved ones and community leaders.
> Those are just a few of the more than 50 events planned to commemorate our tragedies and rally against the continuing injustices. Read on to learn about many other events or visit the anniversary section of our site at While you are there, you can also check out the calendar to get a glimpse of other meetings and community events on tap for the week.
> Thanks for all your help building this resource.
> 8/16, 8/21-22, 8/29-Spike Lee's cable-TV documentary about New Orleans devastation by failed levees, described by one network executives as "one of the most important films HBO has ever made," will be hosted by the New Orleans Arena on August 16 at 7pm, five days before it airs on the cable network. An estimated 10,000 seats will be made available for the event, which Lee is expected to attend. You can get tickets for FREE on The two-part TV premiere of the four-hour film, titled "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," will be Aug. 21 and 22. And four hours will repeat on Aug. 29, the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall.
> 8/21-8/24 – NAACP Housing Hearings and Public Action Event will occur in several cities including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette/Lake Charles, on the North Shore and Wash, D.C. with possible satellite meetings in Houston and Dallas. NAACP will take public testimony and comments on housing issues and rights to return. On the last day there will be a public action in Wash, D.C. to gather information and demand response to problems from federal officials.
> Coordinator: NAACP Gulf Coast Advocacy Center
> Contact: Tracie Washington, twashington [at]
> 8/22 – will observe the worst engineering disaster in U.S. history with the release of a report card on the performance of the U.S. Corps of Engineers since August 29, 2005, the date of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. At the event the group will also unveil a commemorative poster made up of photos of flag-draped flooded homes.
> The event begins at 4 p.m. on Aug. 22 in the courtyard of the Hale Bogg’s Building at Magazine and Poydras streets.
> Coordinating group: (
> Contact: Sandy Rosenthal – (504) 616.5159 or sandy [at]
> 8/23 – New Orleans Council on Aging: Katrina Theater
> The performance will feature employees and seniors of the New Orleans Council on Aging in recognition of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The event begins at 10 a.m. at the council’s temporary headquarters at 2020 Jackson Ave.
> Coordinating group: New Orleans Council on Aging
> Contact: Howard Rodgers – 504.827.7843 or primemin3 [at]
> 8/23-8/28 – “HEAR ME NOW! Reflections One Year After Katrina-Rita” The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation will kick-off a five day listing tour of the Gulf South with a press conference at 10 a.m. on Aug. 23 at Loew’s Hotel (300 Poydras Ave).
> The tour, which will provide an outlet for Gulf Coast women to talk about their experiences and outline their current needs will travel through five cities in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
> The tour itinerary:
> Aug. 24: Mobile, Ala.
> Aug. 25: Gulfport, Miss.
> Aug. 26: New Orleans, La.
> Aug. 27: Lafayette, La.
> Aug. 28: Jackson Miss.
> Coordinating group: National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
> Contact: Leslie Watson Malachi, 202.256.8531, 202.659.4929 or leslie5560 [at]
> 8/25 & 8/26 – One Year Later: What Have We Learned
> Loyola Center for Environmental Law and Land Use host this daylong conference and tour.
> Conference: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25 @ Loyola University School of Law (526 Pine St.)
> Tour: 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 26 @ Holy Name Church (6363 St. Charles Ave.)
> Coordinator: Loyola Center for Environmental Law and Land Use
> Contact: 504.865-2011
> 8/25-8/29 – The African-American Leadership Project is planning a series of commemorative events and collaborating with People’s Hurricane Relief Fund as part of the United Front to Commemorate the Great Flood, a coalition of more than 30 New Orleans-based grass-roots organizations.
> 8/25 – National Dialogue: What We learned from Katrina – panel discussion, 7 – 9 p.m. @ Ashe' Cultural Arts Center
> 8/26 –Hands around the Dome – An Umoja Circle around the Superdome followed by a march to the Convention Center in memory of the lives lost during Hurricane, 12 – 3 p.m. @ the Superdome and Convention Center
> 8/27 – Ecumenical Interfaith Worship Service, 2 – 4:30 p.m. @ Watson Teaching Ministries
> White Buffalo Day and Katrina Observance, 4:30 p.m. @ Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park
> 8/28 – Katrina Lecture Series featuring Dr. Ivan Van Heerden, author of “The Storm” and deputy director for the LSU Hurricane Research Center with possible appearance by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, author of “come Hell or High Water,” 7 – 9:30 p.m. @ Ashe' Cultural Arts Center.
> 8/29 – Great Flood Commemoration March from Lower 9th Ward to Congo Square in conjunction with the United Front to Commemorate the Great Flood (a coalition led by People’s Hurricane Relief Fund), 10 a.m. assemble at Jordan and N. Galvez streets
> - Closing Event: Let the Circle Be Unbroken featuring the premier of “Unmasking New Orleans” (a DVD from The Final Call) and town hall meeting on the future of New Orleans 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. @ Ashe' Cultural Arts Center
> Coordinator: African-American Leadership Project (in collaboration with United Front to Commemorate the Great Flood)
> Contact: Mtangulizi Sanyinka, wazuri [at]
> 8/26-ACORN's Tour of Hope will leave Saturday, August 26 at 2:00 p.m. from 1024 Elysian Fields in New Orleans. The tour bus will stop at locations in the neighborhoods where non-profits and others have made contributions to save the community and return residents. For reservations on the bus, contact ACORN 800-239-7379 x 127. To trail the bus in your own vehicle, please contact 800-239-7379 x 127.
> ACORN's Katrina Memorial Event will be held Saturday evening, August 26 at 6:00 p.m. Reservations required: Contact 800-239-7379 x 127 for more info.
> 8/26 The New Orleans City Council is inviting the youth of New Orleans to participate in “the Children’s Village of Healing – Nurturing What Eyes Have Seen and Ears Have Heard” from 2 to 5 p.m. at Duncan Plaza, across from City Hall. Children will express their feelings through arts – painting, poetry, dance and creative writing. Artist Dixie Moore will lead the children through a Katrina mural project. Author Laverne Dunn will lead a creative writing workshop. Many community organizations that serve children will be providing informational materials and children’s activities. They include Children’s Hospital, Agenda for Children, the Parenting Center, the Children’s Museum, Total Community Action, Healthy Start, the Umoja Committee, the New Orleans Public Schools Homeless Education Program, the Children’s Defense Fund, the state Department of Social Services Office of Family Support, O. Perry Walker, the Ashe Cultural Cen
> ter and the Greater New Orleans Chapter of the Louisiana Association for the Education of Young Children.
> Coordinator: New Orleans City Council
> 8/26 A Candlelight Ceremony for Katrina Victims will begin at 8:30 p.m. at Algiers Point. At this event sponsored by Councilman James Carter a candle will be lit for each person who died as a result of the storm and flood.
> Coordinator: Councilman James Carter
> Contact: New Orleans City Council at 504.658.1000
> 8/26 – Rising Tide Conference
> Daylong conference with panel discussion about Hurricane Katrina, the immediate aftermath of the storm and flood and the role of bloggers in the struggle to rebuild to be held at the New Orleans Yacht Club (403 N. Roadway St.)
> 8:00 - 9:00: Keynote Address: Christopher Cooper and Robert Bloch, authors of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security.
> 9:15 - 10:15: Panel Discussion: Personal Viewpoints moderated by Mark Moseley, including bloggers who stayed through the storm.
> 10:30 - 11:30: Think New Orleans by Alan Gutierrez.
> 1:00 - 2:00: Panel Discussion: New Orleans Politics moderated by Peter Athas.
> 2:15 - 3:15: Panel Discussion: Influence of Journalists and Bloggers moderated by Maitri Venkat-Ramani and Mark Folse, with NOLA.Com editor Jon Donley.
> 3:30 - 4:30: Panel Discussion: Bloggers & Neighborhood Associations moderated by Morwen Madrigal and Peter Athas with blogger/neighborhood activists representing the Gentilly, Mid-City, Northwest Carrollton and B neighborhoods.
> Contact: Mark Folse 504.872.0091 or 701.200.6424 (cell phone for day of event)
> 8/27 – Members of the Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Council will hold a Memorial Tribute to the Victims of Hurricane Katrina at 1 p.m. at the corner of Claiborne Avenue and Tennessee Street.
> 8/27 – Katrina Memorial Concert
> A free Katrina Memorial Concert commemorating the one-year anniversary of the catastrophe and featuring several of the area's most distinguished musicians, including sopranos Phyllis Treigle, Thais St Julien, Cyril Hellier, Libbye Hellier and Melissa Brocato; flautist Louis Hackett; and organists James Hammann, Marcus St Julien and Brian Morgan. The New Orleans Musica da Camera will also perform. Composers heard will include Stephen Adams, Jacques Berthier, Joseph Gelineau SJ, George Frideric Handel, Nicola A Montani, Gerald Near and Ethelbert Nevin.
> The concert begins at 3 p.m. at the Church of Our Lady of Good Council (1235 Louisiana Ave.)
> Contact: Brian Morgan, (504)710.0891 or brianjaemorgan [at]
> OLGC rectory at (504)891-1906 or olgc [at]
> 8/27 – New Orleans is the Soul of her People
> Poet Brenda Marie Osbey and others from the William Faulkner Society will present works. Event also features a concert by Davell Crawford and other gospel singers. Concert begins at 4:30 p.m. at St. Louis Cathedral followed by reception and book signing in the Cabildo.
> 8/27 – Baton Rouge Community Worship: A community gathering of "Remembrance, Thanksgiving, and Hope" on the anniversary week of Hurricane Katrina will be held on August 27, 2006 at 4:00 pm at First United Methodist Church, 930 North Blvd, in downtown Baton Rouge. This worship service of light will help remember those who have suffered loss in the tragedy of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, express our unity in prayer and spirit with all those in need, and to lift up the hope of God who brings light out of darkness and hope out of despair. We remember those who lost loved ones, those forced to evacuate, those who are homeless, those serving in rescue and relief, those in the medical profession, those in leadership, and others. We gather to give thanks to God for guiding and sustaining us through difficult days and nights.
> Baton Rouge Training Event: "Best Practices Used in Disasters" is a community training event which precedes the Aug. 27 worship. The training begins at 2 p.m. in the same location as the 4 p.m. worship (First United Methodist Church). Teams are invited to come to learn the best practices for shelters, food distribution, donations, volunteers, and handling a crisis. Register by August 23 at 225-343-8270 or online:
> Coordinator: Greater Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues
> 8/28 Town Hall Meeting sponsored by the NAACP Gulf Coast Advocacy Center
> Panel discussion about the city's redevelopment and lack of progress moderated by Michael Eric Dyson. Participants include NAACP President/CEO Bruce Gordon, America’s Second Harvest President/CEO Vicki B. Escarra, New Orleans Council President Oliver Thomas, State Sen. Diana Bajoie, Xavier University President Dr. Norman Francis, Loyola University Professor Bill Quigley, and other invited elected officials and policy makers.
> 6 to 8:30 p.m. @ Xavier University Student Center (1 Drexel Dr.)
> 8/28 – KaBOOM!’s Week of Play
> KaBOOM!’s and its partners, The Home Depot, Playworld Systems and Hands On Network, will build ten playgrounds in the Gulf Coast during the last week of August. On August 28, a playground will be built at Nelson UNO Charter School.
> Coordinator: KaBOOM!
> Contact: info [at]
> 8/28 – “Reality Check” Tour
> Survivor’s Village, a tent city protest for the reopening of public housing in New Orleans, is putting together a media exclusive tour of the state of public housing and public housing residents in New Orleans. The tour is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
> Coordinator: Survivors Village
> Contact: survivorsvillage [at] for more information or to RSVP.
> 8/29 – Come Back Home Campaign
> Around 5,000 survivors who are still displaced and scattered all across the U.S. will be traveling to New Orleans to make their demands to return home heard by the city council of New Orleans. The People’s Organizing Committee is working with survivor’s councils around the country to build toward this coordinated effort. This event is the last part of the Come Back Home Campaign.
> Coordinator: People’s Organizing Committee
> Contact: Ishmael Muhammad, ishmaelmuhammad [at]
> 8/29 – Trinity Episcopal Church (1329 Jackson Ave) will host a musical vigil to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. From 12 noon to 12 midnight, the church will be open to all who seek a space to pray, meditate, grieve, hope, walk the labyrinth, listen to music, and find strength for the future. The vigil will begin with Noonday prayer, and will also include musical prayer services at 5 pm (Evensong) and 9 pm (Compline), with music and readings in between. The vigil will conclude at 12:01 am on Wednesday August 30. We also invite the public to write, draw, or paste their memories, losses, burdens and fears in a Book of Remembrance. Please come as you are and stay as long as you like.
> Coordinator: Trinity Episcopal Church
> Contact: Albinas Prizgintas – aprizgintas [at], 670-2520; Nell Bolton – nbolton [at], 670-2543
> 8/29- New Orleans Jazz Funeral Requiem - In Honor of the Victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and the flooding of New Orleans caused by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
> * As an invitation to New Orleans: Cultural Artist & Activists, Social Service Organizations, Neighborhood Organizations, and Citizens.
> Where: New Orleans Superdome, Poydras St.
> Time: 11:30am, Procession to Congo Square
> phone: 504-312-9546 or email: nola_saw_hammer_nails [at]
> 8/29 – United Front to Commemorate the Great Flood memorial march
> People’s Hurricane Relief Fund is working to coordinate a memorial event around the anniversary of H. Katrina’s landfall and the ensuing Flood. PHRF is working with more than 30 grassroots organizations to plan and execute the memorial. Current plans center on a memorial march from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 29 beginning at the levee breach in the Lower Ninth Ward and ending at Congo Square.
> March Schedule:
> - 10 a.m. gather @ Jourdan and N. Galvez, the site of the 9th Ward Levee Break. Olayeela Daste will preside over a memorial ceremony that includes the Franklin Avenue Baptist Choir and Zion Trinity, along with a number of spiritual leaders and Patricia Jones of the Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Association. Commemoration planners are requesting that people bring candles and white flowers.
> - 11 a.m. march across the Claiborne Street Bridge, take a left onto Poland and a right onto St Claude. The Hot 8 Brass Band will join the procession as it crosses Franklin to provide a Second Line beat for the remainder of the march. From St Claude, the march will proceed to Rampart Street and end at Congo Square.
> - 1 p.m. commemoration activities continue at Congo Square with reflections from family members whose loved ones have passed and from community leaders including Jerome Smith (aka Big Duck) and Malcolm Suber, as well as the next generation of community spokespeople, including hip hop artists: Skip UTP, Mia X, Ms. Tee, Sess 4-5 and Mr Meana. These artists will speak about their experience during and after the Great Flood. Music appropriate to the commemoration will include gospel, Mardi Gras Indians, African drums, Suga and others. Sunni Patterson and Wild Wayne will emcee. A healing tent and memorial wall will also provide support for people at Congo Square.
> Free bus transportation has been arranged for people from Houston, Jackson, Baton Rouge and Atlanta who want to attend the Commemoration. For information about Atlanta buses, call Addis at 770-256-1882; for Houston buses call Gina at 713 433-4194; for Jackson buses call Chokwe at 601-353-4455 and for Baton Rouge buses call Demetrius at 504-931-2065.
> Visit for more information
> Contacts: Malcolm Suber - 504.931.7614, msuber4366 [at]
> Arlene (to arrange interviews)- (504)301-0215 (PHRF office) or (415) 305-7835
> 8/29- Desire Street Ministries and Desire St. Academy
> On the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Aug. 29 at 10 a.m. CT, students, faculty, family and friends will all gather in the New Orleans' Upper Ninth Ward at the former ministry and school headquarters of Desire Street Ministries and Desire St. Academy, at 3600 Desire Street, for a time of prayer, remembrance, and thanksgiving lead by executive director and former New Orleans Saints quarterback Danny Wuerffel.
> Desire Street Ministries was established in the Upper Ninth Ward in 1990 when Mo Leverett, a pastor, musician and missionary, moved into the Desire Street neighborhood to reach out to children who were trapped in poverty and crime. Fifteen years later, the ministry was supporting a church, an academy for urban young men, a pediatric clinic, and various programs designed to help revitalize the Desire neighborhood, most of which was lost on Aug. 29, 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, as is completely devastated the Ninth Ward and dislocated the entire Desire St. neighborhood.
> In the aftermath of the storm, Leverett and Wuerffel worked tirelessly to locate the students currently enrolled in the academy who had been scattered throughout the United States, and find a suitable location to restart the school, and to care for staff, family, and friends. Shortly after, Desire Street Academy relocated to Camp Timpoochee, a 4-H camp located in Niceville, Fla., operated by the University of Florida, Wuerffel's alma mater.
> CONTACT: Marcia Peterson, (866) 633-0070, mpeterson [at]
> 8/29 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- To commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, The Historic New Orleans Collection will host an all-day event on Tuesday, August 29, 2006, featuring presentations by the Times-Picayune reporting staff, winners of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Hurricane Katrina coverage, and a lecture and book signing by Richard Campanella (Geographies of New Orleans: Urban Fabrics Before the Storm, August 2006). The anniversary event, free and open to the public, will be followed by a reception and exhibition viewing.
> 8/27-8/29 – The City of New Orleans has planned Hurricane Katrina memorial activities themed Remembrance, Renewal, and Rebirth on Sunday August 27, 2006 and Tuesday, August 29, 2006. All City events are free and open to the public.
> Schedule of Activities:
> Sunday, August 27, 2006
> 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Gospel Concert in the 2nd Floor Auditorium, Hall H, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (900 Convention Center Blvd.). The concert will reflect on the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, honor survivors and memorialize the lives that were lost through songs of praise and worship. The concert will feature a performance by the One New Orleans Mass Choir and other gospel artists.
> Tuesday, August 29, 2006
> 8:30 a.m.: Prayer Breakfast at Asia Baptist Church (1400 Sere Street). Mayor Ray Nagin will be the special guest of Dr. William J. Shaw, President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and Dr. R. B. Holmes, Jr., President of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education at a prayer breakfast to pray for the rebuilding of New Orleans.
> 9:38 a.m.: Ceremonial Bell Ringing and Wreath Laying
> Mayor Nagin and Mrs. Nagin will be joined by community leaders, elected officials, dignitaries, city employees, and the public at 9:38 a.m. on the front steps of City Hall (1300 Perdido St.) to ring ceremonial bells signifying the series of levee breaches that occurred throughout the city. Bells will ring for two minutes. (9:38 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.) Simultaneously, members of the New Orleans City Council will lay wreaths on levees throughout the city.
> 10:30 a.m.: Mississippi River Heritage Park Dedication Ceremony
> Mayor Nagin will join City Council President Oliver Thomas and members of the New Orleans City Council, to dedicate a monument titled, “A Place of Remembrance,” at the Mississippi River Heritage Park (1100 block of Convention Center Blvd) in remembrance of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
> Noon: Citywide Interfaith Service
> National, state, and local leaders will reflect and offer inspirational words of encouragement at the Citywide Interfaith Service at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (900 Convention Center Blvd.). Clergy from various religious backgrounds will offer scriptural readings and prayer. Bishop G.E. Patterson, Presiding Bishop of the Church of God In Christ Inc. and Pastor of Temple of Deliverance Church of God In Christ in Memphis, Tennessee, will deliver the Keynote Address.
> 2:00 p.m.: One New Orleans Procession in the tradition of a Jazz Funeral from
> the Convention Center to Superdome
> The Traditional New Orleans Jazz Funeral Procession will be a 1.5 mile march, led by Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to the Louisiana Superdome. The procession will include first responders, national, state and local elected officials, dignitaries, jazz musicians and the community at large. The traditional jazz funeral procession will honor first responders and the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
> A traditional New Orleans Jazz Funeral is a musical tribute honoring the passing of noted members of the community. This cultural ceremony is distinguished by an assemblage of musicians, usually featuring several brass band elements who stage a procession. The procession begins with the playing of the dirge, a slow, mournful, solemn tempo that expresses a somber respect for the deceased. At a certain point, the procession picks up the tempo and energy in celebration of the positive accomplishments of the individual and an acknowledgement of his or her zest for life.
> Contact: For more information about memorial activities, please e-mail katrinaanniversary [at]
> 8/29 – St. Bernard Parish daylong remembrance beings at 10 a.m. with the dedication of an illuminated, stainless steel crucifix and stone monument bearing the names of the 129 St. Bernard Parish residents who died in Hurricane Katrina. The monument will be located at the site of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet
> Coordinator: St. Bernard Parish Council
> Contact: Tony “Ricky” Melerine, parish councilman and committee co-chair and Charlie Reppel, chief of staff for Parish President Junior Rodriguez
> 8/29 –Back to the 9th on the 29th
> Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans plans a “Back to the 9th on the 29th” lunch (12 noon) at the Shirley Landry Benson PACE Center at St. Cecilia (4201 N. Rampart St.) to recognize Catholic Charities’ dedication to models of excellence in healthcare, education, housing and economic development in the neighborhoods of New Orleans.
> Coordinator: Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans
> Contact: Sarah Comiskey, associate director of communication - 504-596-3023, scomiskey [at]
> 8/29 –Interfaith Prayer Service
> The Archdiocese of New Orleans will hold a prayer service from 7 to 8 p.m. on August 29 at St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square hosted by Archbishop Hughes. Members of 12 faiths, including Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu will participate in this service. The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will play in Jackson Square from 8:00-8:55, and at 8:55, the Katrina bell (twin to the 9/11 bell in New York City) will be rung to commemorate the lives lost in Katrina.
> Early September – Student Hurricane Network will coordinate a lobbying effort in Wash, D.C.
> Coordinator: Student Hurricane Network
> Contact: Lauren Bartlett, lauren_bartlett [at] or Michael Goldstone, mgoldstone [at]
> 9/1 (early Sept.) – Planned opening of Women’s Health Clinic
> With Charity Hospital shuttered, adequate and accessible health care for New Orleans' uninsured returning residents is in poor shape. The women of Incite! Women of Color, a collective of feminist activists dedicated to ending violence against women of color, has partnered with other local organizations to attempt to open a free health clinic for women and children in the historic Treme district.
> Coordinator: New Orleans Women’s Health and Justice Initiative
> Contact: Shana Griffin, ambkeysha [at]
> 9/12 – Community Forum on Katrina Arrests
> Critical Resistance New Orleans will host a forum to discuss the plight of hundreds of New Orleanians who were arrested in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for committing “crimes” while trying to care for their basic needs and the survival of their families. Many of these citizens spent nearly a year in prison and some still remain behind bars awaiting charges on issues such as public intoxication or trespassing. Critical Resistance will host community forum at 7 p.m. on Tues., Sept. 12 at Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center.
> Coordinator: Cricitical Resistance New Orleans
> Contact: 504.304.3784 or visit
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Friday, August 21, 2015

"I worked for the governor of Louisiana during Katrina. Here are 5 things I learned."

"To my surprise, those television reporters were often reluctant to issue a correction. They simply changed their stories slightly the next time. I learned, especially with TV news, that the truth is mostly a work in progress."

"While the US Coast Guard did a heroic job of plucking many people from rooftops, there are people today who think that federal agency made all the rescues. In truth, there were more people saved by state employees on Wildlife and Fisheries boats and National Guard helicopters."

"...One afternoon, I arrived in New Orleans with Gov. Blanco, and we went directly to City Hall. But Nagin was gone, and nobody knew where he was. On another occasion, reaching Mayor Nagin meant me calling one of his staff members who had evacuated to Houston. She relayed the message to someone in New Orleans who, in turn, got our message to the mayor."
I worked for the governor of Louisiana during Katrina. Here are 5 things I learned. - Vox