Friday, September 14, 2007

New Orleans Post-Katrina: Race, Class, and History -- 15th Annual Humanities Symposium at the University of Dayton

Next Friday, September 21, 2007 (7:30 p.m.) the first of a four-part series, New Orleans Post-Katrina: Race, Class, and History, will feature the Rev. Inman Houston, director of the Habitat for Humanity Musicians’ Village, and musician J.D. Hill at Sears Recital Hall on campus at the University of Dayton. The evening will include a discussion about the role of faith communities in reconstructing New Orleans. Several critical questions about New Orleans' future will be raised at these events.

As I was looking into the current state of New Orleans for this post, I was surprised that many of the city’s problems are not being blamed on Hurricane Katrina, but rather on problems that existed long before the storm. With the current population of New Orleans at less than half its pre-Katrina size, many economists predict that it will never climb back to a population of 444,000. Even before the storm, New Orleans was already losing 1.5% of its population every year, the economy was stagnant, and one quarter of the population was living in poverty. There was a staggering rate of unemployment . . . as many as one in five were jobless or not seeking work at all.

With all the negativity around the devastation from the hurricane and the focus falling on the poor response from the federal government, it made me stop and wonder if Hurricane Katrina wasn't the spotlight that New Orleans needed to shine a light on problems that many had chosen to ignore. Perhaps now, the city and its people will see some positive changes.

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