Full Text Political Transcripts August 28, 2015: President George W. Bush’s Speech at Warren Easton Charter High School on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

BUSH PRESIDENCY:

Remarks by President George W. Bush at Warren Easton Charter High School on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Source: Bush Center, 8-28-15

Friday, August 28, 2015

New Orleans, Louisiana

(August 28, 2015)

Thank you all.  As has been mentioned, in 2006 Laura and I came here to Warren Easton Charter High School a year after Katrina hit, and we are honored and pleased to be back on the tenth anniversary of that devastating storm.  I can’t think of a better place to come here in New Orleans, except for some of the restaurants.  (Laughter.) The slogan that guided the school when we first visited is true today:  “We believe in success.”  And because of the success that schools like this have achieved, you have given all Americans reason to believe that New Orleans is back and better than ever.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for your hospitality.  You and the First Lady have been so gracious to us, and we want to thank you for your leadership.  If enthusiasm and a good strategy count, New Orleans is in good hands.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

By the way, I do bring greetings from one of the co-chairmen of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund:  41.  (Laughter.)  He had one of the great lines of all time.  He said, “Who would have thought that getting out of bed at age 91 would be more dangerous than jumping out of an airplane at age 90?”  (Laughter.)

I want to thank David Garland, President of the Warren Easton Charter Foundation Board.  I want to thank all the folks who have shown up.  As Laura said, we had a roundtable discussion.  Many of our friends were there, people who we worked with.  I think of Norman Francis for example, one of the great leaders of New Orleans, one of the great minds of New Orleans.  (Applause.)

In spite of the devastation, we have many fond memories.  I remember sitting with [General Russel] Honore on top one of those big ships, strategizing.  I think you were drinking; I wasn’t of course.  (Laughter.)  It is great to see you.  We’re honored that you took time to come.

Members of Congress, Members of the State House, Superintendent White, on and on:  thank you for coming.

I really want to thank the leadership of the school.  I’m going to talk about them here in a minute, although I must confess, the Principal is always a teacher.  So she tried to teach me how to Second Line with the band here at Warren Easton.  (Laughter.)  I know she didn’t say it, but she was thinking, this boy needs a lot of work.  (Laughter.)  So we’re thrilled we’re here.  Thanks for your hospitality.

In a cruel twist, Hurricane Katrina brought despair during what should have been a season of hope – the start of a new school year.  Students who had recently gone back to school suddenly had no school to go back to.  Many had nowhere to live.  The floodwaters, as you all know better than most, claimed schools and homes alike.  As Laura mentioned, the ground we’re on today was underwater.  All of us who are old enough to remember will never forget the images of our fellow Americans amid a sea of misery and ruin.  We will always remember the lives lost across the Gulf Coast.  Their memories are in our hearts – and I hope you pray for their families.

Hurricane Katrina is a story of loss beyond measure; it is also a story of commitment and compassion.  I hope you remember what I remember, and that is 30,000 people were saved in the immediate aftermath of the storm by U.S. military personnel, by Louisiana law enforcement, and by citizens who volunteered.  I hope you remember what I remember, and that  is the thousands who came here on a volunteer basis to provide food for the hungry and to help find shelter for those who had no home to live in.  There are people all around our country who prayed for you, many of whom showed up so they could say they helped a fellow citizen who was hurting.

One of the groups that stepped forward to serve were the educators of New Orleans.  At a time when it would have been easy to walk away from the wreckage, the educators here today thought of the children who would be left behind.  You understood that bringing New Orleans back to life required getting students back to school.  And even though some of the educators had lost almost everything you owned, you let nothing stand in your way.  Today, we celebrate the resurgence of New Orleans schools – and we honor the resilience of a great American city whose levees gave out but whose people never gave up.

Out of the devastation of Katrina, you vowed to do more than just open the schools.  You vowed to challenge the status quo.  Long before the great flood, too many students in this city drifted from grade to grade without ever learning the skills needed for success.  Parents lacked choices and the power to intervene.  Principals and teachers lacked the authority to chart a more hopeful course.  It was a system that stranded more than sixty percent of students failing in schools.  It was what I called the soft bigotry of low expectations.

The decisions you made in the dark hours after Katrina sparked a decade of reform.  Rather than just reopen the schools, you reorganized many into charter schools that are independently operated but publicly accountable for achieving high standards.  More than nine in ten public school students in this city now call a charter school home.  Administrators at these schools have the freedom to slice through red tape and the freedom to innovate.  Parents at these schools have choices if dissatisfied.  And the results at these schools have been extraordinary.  The reason we know is because we measure, and any attempt to undermine accountability our school system is a huge disservice to the students who go to the schools in New Orleans.  (Applause.)

According to a new report by the Cowen Institute, the percentage of New Orleans’ students graduating on time has soared since Katrina.  The percentage of students who attend schools that score better than the state average almost doubled.  And so has the percentage of students meeting basic standards.  You’ve got to ask, why?  It just didn’t happen.  A lot of it’s structural, and a lot of it requires strong leadership – people who stared into the eye of a storm and who refused to back down.  And so Laura and I are here in New Orleans to remind our country about what strong leadership means, and we’re here to salute the leaders.

I think of Jenny Rious here at Warren Easton.  After Katrina, Jenny was forced to leave New Orleans; she started Warren Easton in Exile. The site reunited students scattered across the country around a vision for returning to New Orleans, and reopening this school.  When Jenny returned to New Orleans, the first place she went was not her house.  It was this school.  And as she put it, “I would rather see my own house burn down than this school.”  Jenny would give anything for Easton – and today, we give teachers like her our sincere thanks.  (Applause.)

It’s amazing what happened in this city after a storm wiped out the school system.  Educational entrepreneurs decided to do something about the devastation, and the failure.  I met a lot of them when I was President, and subsequently.  Neerav Kingsland is one such person.  After Katrina, Neerav took a leadership role at an organization called New Schools for New Orleans, where he worked with others to help launch dozens of new schools and to turn ideas for reform into reality.  In other words, this isn’t just a theoretical exercise.  It’s important for people for our country to look at New Orleans and realize this is an exercise in implementing a plan which works.

Neerav was so encouraged by what he saw here, he was talking up the reforms that worked in New Orleans to other cities across the country.  Isn’t that amazing – the storm nearly destroys New Orleans, now New Orleans is a beacon for school reform. (Applause.) Neerav represents the virtues that Bill Clinton and I had in mind when we announced the new Presidential Leadership Scholars program – and we are honored that Neerav was among the first class of scholars.

Achieving these results took librarians who salvaged their collections from the watery wreckage.  Listen, I know something about librarians.  (Laughter.)  I married one.  (Laughter.)  I’m really proud of the Laura Bush Foundation.  She talked about the grants; she talked about Pam and Marshall.  These are citizens who supported this Foundation who, like many around the country, they care deeply about the future of this city.  I hope the students here – and I’m really thrilled you’re here by the way, thank you for staying awake (laughter) – I hope you realize the compassion of others in helping you realize a good education.

It turns out that every good school that’s succeeding – and we know it’s succeeding, because we measure against other standards – requires strong principals.  And there’s no doubt that Lexi Medley is a strong leader.  (Applause.)  I love when she says, “If you fail, we fail.  The student is our product.  We don’t believe in putting out anything but the best.”  In order to succeed, in order to lead properly, you’ve got to set high goals and high expectations.  And that’s what Lexi and this school have done.  As you heard, this school has graduated 100 percent of its seniors for the past five years.  (Applause.)  Lexi, you’ve earned our admiration and our gratitude, along with our best wishes for a happy birthday tomorrow.  (Laughter and Applause.)

In the stories of schools like yours, we see a determination to rebuild better than before.  It’s a spirit much stronger than any storm.  It’s a spirit that has lifted communities laid low by tornadoes or terrorist attacks.  It’s a spirit that I saw in New Orleans ten years ago, and that is very evident today.

We see that spirit in a population that has ticked back up as families settle back down.  We see it in tourists who are drawn not only by this city’s rich heritage but by the new hotel rooms and restaurants.  And we see that spirit in Lauren LeDuff.  As Lauren mentioned, Laura and I first met her in 2006 when she was a senior at Easton.  She was happy to be back at the school she loved at the time – and you know what she told me?  She said, “I want to be a teacher.”  And here she is as a member of this faculty, teaching English.  I probably needed her when I was in high school.   (Laughter.)  When asked how students have overcome adversity, Lauren says, “We teach our kids to be resilient.  That’s in the culture of the city.”

Lauren is right.  The resilience you teach at Warren Easton is the same resilience that this city showed the world in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  On this anniversary, the work of making a stronger and more hopeful New Orleans goes on.  We have achieved a lot over the past ten years.  And with belief in success and a faith in God, New Orleans will achieve even more.  The darkness from a decade ago has lifted.  The Crescent City has risen again.  And its best days lie ahead.   Thank you for having me.  (Applause.)

END

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Full Text Obama Presidency August 27, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Ten Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Source: WH, 8-27-15

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE TEN-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF HURRICANE KATRINA
Andrew Sanchez Community Center
New Orleans, Louisiana
4:00 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Everybody, have a seat.  Hello, everybody!  Where y’at?  It is good to be back in the Big Easy.  And this is the weather in August all the time, right?  (Laughter.)  As soon as I land in New Orleans, the first thing I do is get hungry.  When I was here with the family a few years ago, I had a shrimp po-boy at Parkway Bakery and Tavern.  I still remember it — that’s how good it was.  And one day, after I leave office, maybe I’ll finally hear Rebirth at the Maple Leaf on Tuesday night.  (Applause.)  I’ll get a chance to “see the Mardi Gras,” and somebody will tell me what’s Carnival for.  (Laughter.)  But right now, I just go to meetings.

I want to thank Michelle for the introduction and, more importantly, for the great work she’s doing, what she symbolizes, and what she represents in terms of the city bouncing back.  I want to acknowledge a great friend and somebody who has been working tirelessly on behalf of this city, and he’s following a family legacy of service — your mayor, Mitch Landrieu.  (Applause.)  Proud of him.  And his beautiful wife, Cheryl.  Senator Bill Cassidy is here.  Where did Senator Cassidy go?  There he is.  (Applause.)  Congressman Cedric Richmond.  (Applause.)  Where’s the Congressman?  There he is over there.  We’ve got a lifelong champion of Louisiana in your former senator, Mary Landrieu in the house.  Mary!  (Applause.)  I want to acknowledge a great supporter to the efforts to recover and rebuild, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries from New York, who has traveled down here with us.  (Applause.)

To all the elected officials from Louisiana and Mississippi who are here today, thank you so much for your reception.

I’m here to talk about a specific recovery.  But before I begin to talk just about New Orleans, I want to talk about America’s recovery, take a little moment of presidential privilege to talk about what’s been happening in our economy.    This morning, we learned that our economy grew at a stronger and more robust clip back in the spring than anybody knew at the time.  The data always lags.  We already knew that over the past five and a half years, our businesses have created 13 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  These new numbers that came out, showing that the economy was growing at a 3.7 percent clip, means that the United States of America remains an anchor of global strength and stability in the world — that we have recovered faster, more steadily, stronger than just about any economy after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

And it’s important for us to remember that strength.  It’s been a volatile few weeks around the world.  And there’s been a lot of reports in the news, and the stock market swinging, and worries about China and about Europe.  But the United States of America, for all the challenges that we still have, continue to have the best cards.  We just got to play them right.

Our economy has been moving, and continues to grow.  And unemployment continues to come down.  And our work is not yet done, but we have to have that sense of steadiness and vision and purpose in order to sustain this recovery so that it reaches everybody and not just some.  It’s why we need to do everything we can in government to make sure our economy keeps growing.  That requires Congress to protect our momentum — not kill it.  Congress is about to come back from a six-week recess.  The deadline to fund the government is, as always, the end of September.  And so I want everybody just to understand that Congress has about a month to pass a budget that helps our economy grow.  Otherwise, we risk shutting down the government and services that we all count on for the second time in two years.  That would not be responsible.  It does not have to happen.

Congress needs to fund America in a way that invests in our growth and our security, and not cuts us off at the knees by locking in mindless austerity or shortsighted sequester cuts to our economy or our military.  I’ve said I will veto a budget like that.  I think most Americans agree we’ve got to invest in, rather than cut, things like military readiness, infrastructure, schools, public health, the research and development that keeps our companies on the cutting edge.

That’s what great nations do.  (Applause.)  That’s what great nations do.  And you know, eventually, we’re going to do it anyway, so let’s just do it without too much drama.  (Laughter.)  Let’s do it without another round of threats to shut down the government.  (Applause.)  Let’s not introduce unrelated partisan issues.  Nobody gets to hold the American economy hostage over their own ideological demands.  You, the people who send us to Washington, expect better.  Am I correct?  (Applause.)

So my message to Congress is:  Pass a budget.  Prevent a shutdown.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Don’t worry our businesses or our workers by contributing unnecessarily to global uncertainty.  Get it done, and keep the United States of America the anchor of global strength that we are and always should be.

Now, that’s a process of national recovery that from coast to coast we’ve been going through.  But there’s been a specific process of recovery that is perhaps unique in my lifetime, right here in the state of Louisiana, right here in New Orleans.  (Applause.)

Not long ago, our gathering here in the Lower 9 probably would have seemed unlikely.  As I was flying here today with a homegirl from Louisiana, Donna Brazile, she was — she saved all the magazines, and she was whipping them out, and one of them was a picture of the Lower 9th right after the storm had happened.  And the notion that there would be anything left seemed unimaginable at the time.

Today, this new community center stands as a symbol of the extraordinary resilience of this city, the extraordinary resilience of its people, the extraordinary resilience of the entire Gulf Coast and of the United States of America.  You are an example of what is possible when, in the face of tragedy and in the face of hardship, good people come together to lend a hand, and, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, you build a better future.

And that, more than any other reason, is why I’ve come back here today — plus, Mitch Landrieu asked me to.  (Laughter.)  It’s been 10 years since Katrina hit, devastating communities in Louisiana and Mississippi, across the Gulf Coast.  In the days following its landfall, more than 1,800 of our fellow citizens — men, women and children — lost their lives.  Some folks in this room may have lost a loved one in that storm.

Thousands of people saw their homes destroyed, livelihoods wiped out, hopes and dreams shattered.  Many scattered in exodus to cities across the country, and too many still haven’t returned.  Those who stayed and lived through that epic struggle still feel the trauma sometimes of what happened.  As one woman from Gentilly recently wrote me, “A deep part of the whole story is the grief.”  So there’s grief then and there’s still some grief in our hearts.

Here in New Orleans, a city that embodies a celebration of life, suddenly seemed devoid of life.  A place once defined by color and sound — the second line down the street, the crawfish boils in backyards, the music always in the air — suddenly it was dark and silent.  And the world watched in horror.  We saw those rising waters drown the iconic streets of New Orleans.  Families stranded on rooftops.  Bodies in the streets.  Children crying, crowded in the Superdome.  An American city dark and under water.

And this was something that was supposed to never happen here — maybe somewhere else.  But not here, not in America.  And we came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a manmade disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens.  And the storm laid bare a deeper tragedy that had been brewing for decades because we came to understand that New Orleans, like so many cities and communities across the country, had for too long been plagued by structural inequalities that left too many people, especially poor people, especially people of color, without good jobs or affordable health care or decent housing.  Too many kids grew up surrounded by violent crime, cycling through substandard schools where few had a shot to break out of poverty.  And so like a body weakened already, undernourished already, when the storm hit, there was no resources to fall back on.

Shortly after I visited — shortly after the storm, I visited with folks not here because we couldn’t distract local recover efforts.  Instead, I visited folks in a shelter in Houston — many who had been displaced.  And one woman told me, “We had nothing before the hurricane.  And now we have less than nothing.”  We had nothing before the hurricane — now we had less than nothing.

And we acknowledge this loss, and this pain, not to dwell on the past, not to wallow in grief; we do it to fortify our commitment and to bolster our hope, to understand what it is that we’ve learned, and how far we’ve come.

Because this is a city that slowly, unmistakably, together, is moving forward.  Because the project of rebuilding here wasn’t just to restore the city as it had been.  It was to build a city as it should be — a city where everyone, no matter what they look like, how much money they’ve got, where they come from, where they’re born has a chance to make it.  (Applause.)

And I’m here to say that on that larger project of a better, stronger, more just New Orleans, the progress that you have made is remarkable.   The progress you’ve made is remarkable.  (Applause.)

That’s not to say things are perfect.  Mitch would be the first one to say that.  We know that African Americans and folks in hard-hit parishes like Plaquemines and St. Bernard are less likely to feel like they’ve recovered.  Certainly we know violence still scars the lives of too many youth in this city.  As hard as rebuilding levees are, as hard as —

PARTICIPANT:  (Inaudible) mental health.

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree with that.  But I’ll get to that.  Thank you, ma’am.

As hard as rebuilding levees is, as hard as rebuilding housing is, real change — real lasting, structural change — that’s even harder.  And it takes courage to experiment with new ideas and change the old ways of doing things.  That’s hard.  Getting it right, and making sure that everybody is included and everybody has a fair shot at success — that takes time.  That’s not unique to New Orleans.  We’ve got those challenges all across the country.

But I’m here to say, I’m here to hold up a mirror and say because of you, the people of New Orleans, working together, this city is moving in the right direction.  And I have never been more confident that together we will get to where we need to go.  You inspire me.  (Applause.)

Your efforts inspire me.  And no matter how hard it’s been and how hard and how long the road ahead might seem, you’re working and building and striving for a better tomorrow.  I see evidence of it all across this city.  And, by the way, along the way, the people of New Orleans didn’t just inspire me, you inspired all of America.  Folks have been watching what’s happened here, and they’ve seen a reflection of the very best of the American spirit.

As President, I’ve been proud to be your partner.  Across the board, I’ve made the recovery and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast a priority.  I made promises when I was a senator that I’d help.  And I’ve kept those promises.  (Applause.)

We’re cutting red tape to help you build back even stronger.  We’re taking the lessons we’ve learned here, we’ve applied them across the country, including places like New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

If Katrina was initially an example of what happens when government fails, the recovery has been an example of what’s possible when government works together — (applause) — state and local, community — everybody working together as true partners.

Together, we’ve delivered resources to help Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida rebuild schools and hospitals, roads, police and fire stations, restore historic buildings and museums.  And we’re building smarter, doing everything from elevating homes to retrofitting buildings to improving drainage, so that our communities are better prepared for the next storm.

Working together, we’ve transformed education in this city.  Before the storm, New Orleans public schools were largely broken, leaving generations of low-income kids without a decent education.  Today, thanks to parents and educators, school leaders, nonprofits, we’re seeing real gains in achievement, with new schools, more resources to retain and develop and support great teachers and principals.  We have data that shows before the storm, the high school graduation rate was 54 percent.  Today, it’s up to 73 percent.  (Applause.)  Before the storm, college enrollment was 37 percent.  Today, it’s almost 60 percent.  (Applause.)  We still have a long way to go, but that is real progress.  New Orleans is coming back better and stronger.

Working together, we’re providing housing assistance to more families today than before the storm, with new apartments and housing vouchers.  And we will keep working until everybody who wants to come home can come home.  (Applause.)

Together, we’re building a New Orleans that is as entrepreneurial as any place in the country, with a focus on expanding job opportunities and making sure that more people benefit from a growing economy here.  We’re creating jobs to rebuild the city’s transportation infrastructure, expanding training programs for industries like high-tech manufacturing, but also water management, because we’ve been building some good water management around here and we want to make sure everybody has access to those good, well-paying jobs.  Small businesses like Michelle’s are growing.  It’s small businesses like hers that are helping to fuel 65 straight months of private sector job growth in America.  That’s the longest streak in American history.  (Applause.)

Together, we’re doing more to make sure that everyone in this city has access to great health care.  More folks have access to primary care at neighborhood clinics so that they can get the preventive care that they need.  We’re building a brand new VA Medical Center downtown, alongside a thriving biosciences corridor that’s attracting new jobs and investment.  We are working to make sure that we have additional mental health facilities across the city and across the country, and more people have access to quality, affordable health care –- some of the more than 16 million Americans who have gained health insurance over the past few years.  (Applause.)

All of this progress is the result of the commitment and drive of the people of this region.  I saw that spirit today.  Mitch and I started walking around a little bit.  Such a nice day outside.  And we went to Faubourg Lafitte, we were in Tremé, and we saw returning residents living in brand new homes, mixed income — new homes near schools and clinics and parks, child care centers; more opportunities for working families.

We saw that spirit today at Willie Mae’s Scotch House.  After Katrina had destroyed that legendary restaurant, some of the best chefs from the country decided America could not afford to lose such an important place.  So they came down here to help — helped rebuild.  And I just sampled some of her fried chicken.  (Laughter.)  It was really good.  (Laughter.)  Although I did get a grease spot on my suit.  (Laughter.)  But that’s okay.  If you come to New Orleans and you don’t have a grease spot somewhere — (applause) — then you didn’t enjoy the city.  Just glad I didn’t get it on my tie.  (Laughter.)

 

 

We all just heard that spirit of New Orleans in the remarkable young people from Roots of Music.  (Applause.)  When the storm washed away a lot of middle school music programs, Roots of Music helped fill that gap.  And today, it’s building the next generation of musical talent — the next Irma Thomas, or the next Trombone Shorty, or the next Dr. John.  (Applause.)  There’s a Marsalis kid in here somewhere.  How you doing?

 

And I saw it in the wonderful young men I met earlier who are part of “NOLA for Life,” which is focused on reducing the number of murders in the city of New Orleans.  (Applause.)  This is a program that works with the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative to make sure that all young people, and particularly our boys and young men of color who so disproportionately are impacted by crime and violence, have the opportunity to fulfill their full potential.

In fact, after the storm, this city became a laboratory for urban innovation across the board.  And we’ve been tackling with you, as a partner, all sorts of major challenges — fighting poverty, supporting our homeless veterans.  And as a result, New Orleans has become a model for the nation as the first city, the first major city to end veterans’ homelessness — (applause) — which is a remarkable achievement.

You’re also becoming a model for the nation when it comes to disaster response and resilience.  We learned lessons from Katrina.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed stricter standards, more advanced techniques for levees.  Here in Louisiana, we built a $14 billion system of improved levees and pump stations and gates — a system that stood the test of Hurricane Isaac.

We’ve revamped FEMA — and I just have to say, by the way, there’s a man named Craig Fugate who runs FEMA — (applause) — and has been doing extraordinary work, and his team, all across the country, every time there’s a disaster.  I love me some Craig Fugate.  (Laughter.)  Although it’s a little disturbing — he gets excited when there are disasters — (laughter) — because he gets restless if everything is just quiet.  But under his leadership, we’ve revamped FEMA into a stronger, more efficient agency.  In fact, the whole federal government has gotten smarter at preventing and recovering from disasters, and serving as a better partner to local and state governments.

And as I’ll talk about next week, when I visit Alaska, making our communities more resilient is going to be increasingly important, because we’re going to see more extreme weather events as the result of climate change — deeper droughts, deadlier wildfires, stronger storms.  That’s why, in addition to things like new and better levees, we’ve also been investing in restoring wetlands and other natural systems that are just as critical for storm protection.

So we’ve made a lot of progress over the past 10 years. You’ve made a lot of progress.  That gives us hope.  But it doesn’t allow for complacency.  It doesn’t mean we can rest.  Our work here won’t be done when almost 40 percent of children still live in poverty in this city.  That’s not a finished job.  That’s not a full recovery.  Our work won’t be done when a typical black household earns half the income of white households in this city.  The work is not done yet.  (Applause.)

Our work is not done when there’s still too many people who have yet to find good, affordable housing, and too many people — especially African American men — who can’t find a job.  Not when there are still too many people who haven’t been able to come back home; folks who, around the country, every day, live the words sung by Louis Armstrong, “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?”

But the thing is, the people of New Orleans, there’s something in you guys that is just irrepressible.  You guys have a way of making a way out of no way.  (Applause.)  You know the sun comes out after every storm.  You’ve got hope — especially your young people reflect hope — young people like Victor York-Carter.  Where’s Victor?  Victor York-Carter.  Stand up, Victor.  I was just talking to Victor.  I had some lunch with him.  He’s this fine young man that I just met with.  (Applause.)  Stand up — everybody.  See, these are the guys who I ate chicken with.  (Applause.)  Really impressive — have overcome more than their fair share of challenges, but are still focused on the future.  Yes, sit down.  I don’t want you to start getting embarrassed.  (Laughter.)

So I’ll just give you one example.  Victor grew up in the 8th Ward.  Gifted art student, loved math.  He was 13 when Katrina hit.  And he remembers waking up to what looked like something out of a disaster movie.  He and his family waded across the city, towing his younger brother in a trash can to keep him afloat.

They were eventually evacuated to Texas.  Six months later, they returned, and the city was almost unrecognizable.  Victor saw his peers struggling to cope, many of them still traumatized, their lives still disordered.  So he joined an organization called Rethink to help young people get more involved in rebuilding New Orleans.  And recently, he finished a coding bootcamp at Operation Spark; today, he’s studying to earn a high-tech job.  He wants to introduce more young people to science and technology and civics so that they have the tools to change the world.

And so Victor and these young men that I just met with, they’ve overcome extraordinary odds.  They’ve lived through more than most of us will ever have to endure.  (Applause.)  They’ve made some mistakes along the way.  But for all that they’ve been through, they have been just as determined to improve their own lives, to take responsibility for themselves, but also to try to see if they can help others along the way.

So when I talk to young men like that, that gives me hope.  It’s still hard.  I told them they can’t get down on themselves.  Tough stuff will happen along the way.  But if they’ve come this far, they can keep on going.  (Applause.)

And Americans like you — the people of New Orleans, young men like this — you’re what recovery has been all about.  You’re why I’m confident that we can recover from crisis and start to move forward.  You’ve helped this country recover from a crisis and helped it move forward.  You’re the reason 13 million new jobs have been created.  You’re the reason the unemployment rate fell from 10 percent to 5.3.  You’re the reason that layoffs are near an all-time low.  You’re the reason the uninsured rate is at an all-time low and the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, and the deficit has been cut by two-thirds, and two wars are over.  (Applause.)  And nearly 180,000 American troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have now gone down to 15,000.  And a clean energy revolution is helping to save this planet.

You’re the reason why justice has expanded and now we’re focused on making sure that everybody is treated fairly under the law, and why people have the freedom to marry whoever they love from sea to shining sea.  (Applause.)

I tell you, we’re moving into the next presidential cycle and the next political season, and you will hear a lot of people telling you everything that’s wrong with America.  And that’s okay.  That’s a proper part of our democracy.  One of the things about America is we’re never satisfied.  We keep pushing forward.   We keep asking questions.  We keep challenging our government.  We keep challenging our leaders.  We keep looking for the next set of challenges to tackle.  We find what’s wrong because we have confidence that we can fix it.

But it’s important that we remember what’s right, and what’s good, and what’s hopeful about this country.  It’s worth remembering that for all the tragedy, for the all images of Katrina in those first few days, in those first few months, look at what’s happened here.  It’s worth remembering the thousands of Americans like Michelle, and Victor, and Mrs. Willie Mae and the folks who rallied around her — Americans all across this country who when they saw neighbors and friends or strangers in need came to help.  And people who today still spend their time every day helping others — rolling up their sleeves, doing the hard work of changing this country without the need for credit or the need for glory; don’t get their name in the papers, don’t see their day in the sun, do it because it’s right.

These Americans live the basic values that define this country — the value we’ve been reminded of in these past 10 years as we’ve come back from a crisis that changed this city, and an economic crisis that spread throughout the nation — the basic notion that I am my brother’s keeper, and I am my sister’s keeper, and that we look out for each other and that we’re all in this together.

That’s the story of New Orleans — but that’s also the story of America — a city that, for almost 300 years, has been the gateway to America’s soul.  Where the jazz makes you cry, the funerals make you dance — (laughter) — the bayou makes you believe all kinds of things.  (Laughter.)  A place that has always brought together people of all races and religions and languages.  And everybody adds their culture and their flavor into this city’s gumbo.  You remind our nation that for all of our differences, in the end, what matters is we’re all in the same boat.  We all share a similar destiny.

If we stay focused on that common purpose, if we remember our responsibility to ourselves but also our responsibilities and obligations to one another, we will not just rebuild this city, we will rebuild this country.  We’ll make sure not just these young men, but every child in America has a structure and support and love and the kind of nurturing that they need to succeed.  We’ll leave behind a city and a nation that’s worthy of generations to come.

That’s what you’ve gotten started.  Now we got to finish the job.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

4:36 P.M. CDT

 

White House Recap August 27-September 2, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Focuses on the Aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Jobs Plan & Economic Growth — Urges Extension of Transportation Act

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: AUGUST 20-26, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: We the People

Source: WH, 9-2-11
Weekly Address September 1st 2011

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address in the Blue Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Here’s what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov

Hurricane Irene: The storm may have passed, but the recovery is just beginning. Irene caused severe flooding throughout the Northeast.  As cities and towns along the East coast continue assessing damage, President Obama also reflected on the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

We the People:  This week Whitehouse.gov announced our most recent initiative:  We the People will bring significant change to how the public can engage with the White House online. This new tool enables people to easily start a petition; once a petition garners enough support, it will be reviewed by White House policy officials.

Council of Economic Advisers: On Monday in the Rose Garden, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Alan B. Krueger to lead the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). As one of the nation’s leading economists, Dr. Krueger will bring decades of experience, including a stint as chief economist at the Treasury Department, and a wealth of knowledge to the challenge of creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

American Legion Conference: Speaking before the American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis on Tuesday, President Obama said that America’s military is the best it’s ever been, and celebrated the contributions of the post 9/11 generation, who have changed the way America fights and wins our wars.

Surface Transportation Act:  On Wednesday, President Obama spoke on the South Lawn urging Congress to pass a clean extension of key transportation programs as soon as possible. If Congress doesn’t act, the nation’s surface transportation program will expire at the end of September.  This provides funding for highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and other essential projects that keep our people and our commerce moving quickly and safely. When the law expires, those projects will shut down, taking precious jobs with them.

Double Feature: This week on West Wing Week we follow Vice President Biden on his trip to Asia. Meanwhile, President Obama led the federal response to Hurricane Irene, made a key nomination announcement, and addressed the American Legion’s 93rd annual conference.

Full Text August 29, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Hurricane Katrina’s 6th Anniversary

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Statement from President Obama on the Six Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Source: WH, 8-29-11

Six years ago today, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, upending families and ravaging communities – and no one will forget the tragic events of those days.  But what’s required of us is more than remembrance – what’s required of us is our continued efforts to make sure that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast fully recover, and to make sure that our response to such disasters is the best it can possibly be.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen what Americans are capable of when tested.  We’ve seen the grit and determination of people on the Gulf Coast coming together to rebuild their communities, brick by brick, block by block.  At the same time, we’ve made sure the federal government is doing its part to help.  We’ve cut through red tape to free up funding for recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.  We’ve taken steps to help school systems get children the tools and resources they need for a proper education.  We’ve broken through gridlock on behalf of tens of thousands of displaced families, making sure they have long-term housing solutions. And we’ll keep at it until these communities have come back stronger than before.

When it comes to disaster response, we’ve worked very seriously to enhance our preparedness efforts so that Americans are ready before disaster strikes, and to strengthen our recovery capabilities so that we’re more resilient after disaster strikes.  Over the last week, we have experienced the power of another storm, Hurricane Irene.  Before the storm made landfall, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA worked closely with our state and local partners to preposition supplies and teams of first responders, and support their response efforts. Those response efforts are ongoing and we will continue that partnership, responding as quickly and effectively as possible, for as long as necessary, until the affected communities are back on their feet.

Today is a reminder of not just the immediate devastation that can be caused by these storms, but the long term needs of communities impacted by disasters – whether in Mississippi or Alabama, Tennessee or Missouri, North Dakota, or the east coast states impacted by Hurricane Irene. This Administration will stand by those communities until the work is done.

History Buzz August 16-30, 2010: Hurricane Katrina 5 Years Later

HISTORY BUZZ:

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Her blog is History Musings

RELATED LINKS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

IN FOCUS: KATRINA 5 YEARS LATERS

  • Douglas Brinkley: What Happened To Our National Conversation On Race And Poverty?: Later Brian Williams asked historian Douglas Brinkley “what happened to that national conversation we were all supposed to have about what was exposed by Katrina?” Brinkley says we “got amnesia” and “forget quickly.” One might suggest the country would be less apt to get “amnesia” and “forget” if powerful media folks like NBC and it’s uber popular anchors were more apt to shine a consistent light on the problem in the intervening years between big anniversaries. One might also suggest that we are in fact embroiled in a national conversation about race, it just simply does not look like what anyone imagined or hoped it would five years ago…. – mediaite.com, 8-29-10
  • Edward Kohn: Before Katrina, There Was New York’s 1896 Heat Wave What the government can learn from perhaps America’s most forgotten natural disaster: Long before Americans could retreat into air conditioning to escape the worst of the summer, a 10-day heat wave claimed the lives of about 1,300 New Yorkers in “the deadliest, urban heat disaster in American history,” writes historian Edward Kohn. The year was 1896, when poor laborers living in crowded tenements had few options for relief from the heat. In Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt, Kohn recounts how Roosevelt, then New York City police commissioner, came to the aid of the working masses. Kohn, an assistant professor of American history at Bilkent University in Turkey, recently spoke with U.S. News. Excerpts…. – US News, 8-27-10

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Carlos E. Cortes: ‘Dora The Explorer’ may change a whole generation: So producers turned to such experts as historian Carlos E. Cortes, author of “The Children Are Watching” and “The Making — and Remaking — of a Multiculturalist.” “He was absolutely instrumental in helping us find the best way to put Dora forward in terms of culture,” said Gifford. Cortes advised that Dora should always be inclusive, so producers decided not to give her a particular country of origin.
    “I am delighted with the way ‘Dora’ has come out, particularly the impact it seems to be having in young people,” said Cortes, professor emeritus of history at the University of California, Riverside. “The Latino kids take pride having Dora as a lead character and non-Latino kids can embrace someone different.”… – AP, 8-27-10
  • Harold Seymour, Dorothy Jane Mills: Author Credit for Widow of Baseball Historian: In baseball terms you might describe it as a walk-off hit deep into extra innings. Dorothy Jane Mills, the widow of the revered baseball historian Harold Seymour, has been belatedly recognized by Oxford University Press as co-author, along with Mr. Seymour, of three landmark scholarly works on the history of baseball, Publishers Weekly reported. Tim Bent, Oxford’s executive editor, said that Ms. Mills, 81, formerly Dorothy Z. Seymour, would be given formal credit and that her name would now accompany her late husband’s on the covers and title pages of “Baseball: The Early Years” (1960); “Baseball: The Golden Age,” (1971); and “Baseball: The People’s Game” (1991)…. = NYT (8-22-10)
  • New OAH Membership Dues Structure Adopted: In conjunction with the recently adopted strategic plan, the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians has enacted a simplified dues structure for individual members. After studying the dues structures of other learned societies, the Board concluded that the organization needed fewer membership categories. The new structure is not only simpler, but creates a lower-priced membership category for professional historians who are in the first three years of their careers. In addition, the revised structure will reduce paperwork in the OAH office, and it will allow staff to concentrate on improving member service, develop new member benefits, and better promote the organization…. – OAH (8-12-10)
  • Darrell Lewis: Historian writes about Leichhardt findings: A historian studying the life of Ludwig Leichhardt has begun collating findings about the famous explorer. National Museum of Australia spokesman Dr Darrell Lewis has been tracking Leichhardt’s trail through Queensland and central Australia. Leichhardt and his expedition party disappeared in 1848 and Dr Lewis has been looking for trees marked with an “L” to trace the journey…. – abc.net.au (8-17-10)
  • Katherine Rowe, Dan Cohen: Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review: For professors, publishing in elite journals is an unavoidable part of university life. The grueling process of subjecting work to the up-or-down judgment of credentialed scholarly peers has been a cornerstone of academic culture since at least the mid-20th century. Now some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career- making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience…. – NYT (8-23-10)
  • Historians Join Effort To Preserve Federal K-12 History Education Funding: In July, the National Coalition for History (NCH), and ten other NCH members joined forces with over 20 educational organizations representing other K-12 academic disciplines in issuing a statement to Congress and the Administration calling for the continued robust funding of core academic subjects including history. This includes maintenance of discrete budget lines—such as the Teaching American History grants—for each discipline…. – Lee White at the National Coalition for History (8-6-10)

OP-EDs:

  • John B. Judis: Defending ‘The Unnecessary Fall of Barack Obama’: In the week since my story on “the unnecessary fall of Barack Obama” came out, I have been accused of being “hysterical” and “ahistorical,” of glorifying Ronald Reagan, of “moving away from” my “previously clear-eyed stance on the primary source of Obama’s troubles,” and of relying on the same “white-working-class Theory of Everything” I have been “peddling … ever since summer 2008.” And that’s just in public. Privately, the criticism has been far more withering and has included words far too incendiary to print in a family magazine. But I’ve spent a lot of time considering some of the (quite thought-provoking and reasonable) counter-arguments to my piece, and I’d like to take the opportunity to respond to them here…. – The New Republic (8-25-10)
  • John B. Judis: The Unnecessary Fall of Barack Obama: On April 14, 2009, as Barack Obama’s standing in the polls was beginning to slip, and as Tea Party demonstrators were amassing in Washington for tax day protests, the president gave a lengthy address at Georgetown University explaining the “five pillars” of his economic policies. The speech was intended to promote a memorable slogan for Obama’s program that would evoke comparisons with Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal, Franklin Rooseveltind’s New Deal, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society…. – The New Republic (8-12-10)
  • Alan Brinkley: ‘Mad Men’: A Conversation (Season 4, Episode 5): Much of episode 5 was about competition — a particularly deceitful kind of competition that manipulated what was supposed to be a strictly regimented process of finding an advertiser for Honda. After Roger’s implausible explosion of anti-Japanese bigotry (20 years after the end of World War II), Don tricks his competitors to violate the rules of the competition — leaving Don (and Cooper, Sterling, Draper, Pryce) one of the only competitors still standing. Don recognizes the damage done to their bid by Roger’s explosion, but he also knows that the Japanese will respond to presenting himself as the honorable man as opposed to the cheating of his rivals, which Don had tricked them into doing. (In the end, Draper’s deceit is outdone by the Japanese, who apparently never had any intention of changing agencies.) This was a clever plot line, despite Roger’s ugliness, and it revives our image of Don as the man who can always find a way out of a dilemma — a talent he seemed to have lost in the last few episodes…. – WSJ, 8-23-10
  • Daniel J. Flynn: An FBI History of Howard Zinn: In the late 1940s and early 1950s, as Joseph Stalin entered the final years of his reign of terror in the Soviet Union, twentysomething Howard Zinn served as a foot soldier in the Communist Party of the United States of America—this according to recently declassified FBI files. Zinn, the Marxist historian and progressive hero who died in January, may also have lied to the FBI about his Communist Party membership. Is it at all surprising that someone who got history so wrong stood on the wrong side of history?…. – City Journal (8-19-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Of Thee He Sings Historian Sean Wilentz claims Bob Dylan as one of his own: Sean Wilentz, a Princeton history professor and author of Bob Dylan in America, has agreed to lead a tour of Dylan’s Greenwich Village, a place he knows better than any other. We visit the singer’s former apartment on West 4th Street, above what’s now a sex shop; the clubs he played along Macdougal Street; the building where he first encountered Allen Ginsberg. “This whole neighborhood has such a long history that there is a sense—for some of us, anyway—of revenants, of ghosts,” says Wilentz, better-heeled than your average tour guide, in Brooks Brothers and custom-made shoes. “Dylan talks about walking around here and thinking that it really is 1880. I don’t mean to be mystical or spooky, but if you know what’s going on, you can’t help but feel it.” Although Wilentz has done plenty of journalism, the Dylan book is a departure from his hardbound oeuvre, which includes a 1,100-page tome on American democracy and biographies of Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan. Bob Dylan in America may be an unusually rigorous Dylan book, but “it was easier to do than the others,” he says, “because in effect I’ve been doing the research all my life.”… – NY Mag, 8-22-10
  • Alex Heard: Where Hatred Ruled: THE EYES OF WILLIE MCGEE A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South First, the facts. Willie McGee, an African-American driver of a ­grocery-delivery truck, was accused of raping a white woman, Willette Hawkins, in November 1945 in Laurel, Miss. After deliberating for less than three minutes, an all-white jury sentenced him to death, and the “small-town crime,” as Alex Heard writes, “became famous around the world.” Bella Abzug, long before she became a congress­woman, served as McGee’s defense lawyer during the appeals process, working on a case that today evokes the story line of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Albert Einstein, Norman Mailer and Paul Robeson supported McGee, and left-wing journalists ranted about the trial in The Daily Worker. In contrast to their reports, “The Eyes of Willie McGee” does not crackle with rage, despite its horrific ending: on May 8, 1951, McGee was electrocuted in the local courthouse, leaving an odor of burned flesh in the room…. – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Richard Rhodes: Nuclear Family: THE TWILIGHT OF THE BOMBS Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons …So ends the first paragraph of the first book in Richard Rhodes’s four-volume epic. In that book, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, Rhodes explained how exactly the United States came to build atomic weapons. His next volume, “Dark Sun,” traced the early years of the cold war. “Arsenals of Folly” told the story of its end. And now “The Twilight of the Bombs” describes the fate of nuclear weapons since the Soviet Union ­collapsed…. – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Alex Butterworth’s “The World That Never Was,” a history of anarchism: THE WORLD THAT NEVER WAS A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists and Secret Agents Arguably, no single act produces a more immediate and lasting effect on history than a political assassination. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, such deeds were frequently the work of the anarchist movement, which rose from the anger and frustration of the working class. However, as British historian Alex Butterworth demonstrates in “The World That Never Was,” too seldom was it acknowledged that these killers were also moved by the highest ideals and dreams of utopia…. – WaPo, 8-27-10
  • Carolyn Warner: Review of “The Words of Extraordinary Women,” a book of quotations: THE WORDS OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN Selected and Introduced Perhaps Shirley Temple Black said it best: “Nothing crushes freedom as substantially as a tank.”
    Or maybe Lady Bird Johnson said it best: “The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.”
    So many women have said it so well on so many subjects — politics, the arts, humor, success, family, faith, education — that businesswoman Carolyn Warner has collected their pithy thoughts and compiled them in a slim, useful volume, “The Words of Extraordinary Women.” Useful because as Warner, founder of Corporate Education Consulting, says, the right quotation can nail home your point in just about any setting…. – WaPo, 8-27-10
  • Kevin Starr: The Building of a Symbol: How It Got There, and Why It’s Orange: GOLDEN GATE The Life and Times of America’s Greatest Bridge …Despite the many existing odes to the Golden Gate Bridge, Kevin Starr seems particularly well equipped to write a biography of that famous orange bridge. The author of more than half a dozen histories of California, Mr. Starr — a professor of history at the University of Southern California and state librarian of California emeritus — has written frequently about the myths and metaphors that festoon the Golden State, and he seems to instinctively understand the place that the Golden Gate Bridge has come to occupy in the national imagination as a symbol of American enterprise and the gateway to the Pacific…. – NYT, 8-24-10
  • TOM SEGEV on Jonathan Schneer: ‘View With Favor’: THE BALFOUR DECLARATION The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict In this comprehensive study, richly documented by diplomatic correspondence, Jonathan Schneer concludes that the famous declaration seems to have just missed the sidetrack of history: in contrast to a common myth, Britain’s support for Zionism was not the result of an inevitable process. In fact, as Schneer reveals, shortly after Balfour’s promise to the Jews, the British government offered the Ottoman Empire the opportunity to keep Palestine and to continue to fly the Turkish flag over it. Schneer, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of History, Technology and Society, is a talented writer…. – NYT, 8-22-10
  • Richard Rhodes: The unmaking of the atomic bomb: THE TWILIGHT OF THE BOMBS Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons No one writes better about nuclear history than Rhodes does, ably combining a scholar’s attention to detail with a novelist’s devotion to character and pacing. He began his exploration in 1987 with “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He also earned praise for “Dark Sun,” the story of the hydrogen bomb’s creation. “Arsenals of Folly” tackled the beginning of U.S. and Soviet cooperation to end the arms race.
    In “The Twilight of the Bombs,” Rhodes documents events from the end of the Cold War to 2003 that, he believes, point toward the feasibility of eradicating nuclear weapons. He chronicles the underpublicized drama of the era: the efforts to contain the spread of nuclear weapons after the Soviet Union’s collapse, the nuclear disarmament of South Africa, the fallout from India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear tests, and the negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions. In Rhodes’s telling, big personalities clash and cooperate, jokes and epiphanies punctuate the debate, and offbeat details energize the narrative…. – WaPo, 8-20-10
  • Ilyon Woo’s ‘The Great Divorce: A 19th-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight’: THE GREAT DIVORCE A Nineteenth-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight Against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times The title of historian Ilyon Woo’s provocative book certainly sparks curiosity and debate. Which of our many American divorces merits the epithet “great”? In this case, it’s the legislative decree won in New York by Eunice Chapman in 1818, a victory for maternal custody rights in an era when children legally belonged to their fathers. And what about the challenging subtitle?.. – WaPo, 8-20-10
  • Lucy Worsley’s “The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue at Kensington Palace” As inspiration for this account of life in the 18th-century Georgian court, Lucy Worsley takes the “portraits of forty-five royal servants that look down upon palace visitors from the walls and ceiling of the King’s Grand Staircase” in Kensington Palace, best known today as the final residence of Princess Diana. This palace was “the one royal home that George I and his son [George II] really transformed and made their own,” a place where the servants “witnessed romance and violence, intrigue and infighting, and almost unimaginable acts of hatred and cruelty between members of the same family.”… – WaPo, 8-20-10
  • Diane Ravitch reviews Three books about education reformWaPo, 8-20-10
  • Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus: Why Johnny’s College Isn’t What It Used to Be: HIGHER EDUCATION? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus have written a lucid, passionate and wide-ranging book on the state of American higher education and what they perceive as its increasing betrayal of its primary mission — for them, the teaching of undergraduates. That both are academics — one a well-known professor (Mr. Hacker) and the other consigned to the adjunct, or what they call “contingent,” faculty (Ms. Dreifus, who is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times) — provides them with memorable, often acerbic anecdotes that neatly offset their citations of statistics and (it must be said) their sometimes rather sweeping generalizations… – NYT, 8-19-10
  • Andrew Pettegree: Start the Presses: THE BOOK IN THE RENAISSANCE “The humanist mythology of print.” With this phrase the British scholar Andrew Pettegree indicates the cultural story his book amends, and to some extent transforms. In an understated, judicious manner, he offers a radically new understanding of printing in the years of its birth and youth. Print, in Pettegree’s account, was never as dignified or lofty a medium as that “humanist mythology” of disseminated classics would suggest…. – NYT, 8-15-10
  • Richard Toye: The Two Churchills: CHURCHILL’S EMPIRE The World That Made Him and the World He Made Winston Churchill is remembered for leading Britain through her finest hour — but what if he also led the country through her most shameful one? What if, in addition to rousing a nation to save the world from the Nazis, he fought for a raw white supremacy and a concentration camp network of his own? This question burns through Richard Toye’s superb, unsettling new history, “Churchill’s Empire” — and is even seeping into the Oval Office…. – NYT, 8-15-10Excerpt

FEATURES:

  • Bryan McNerney: Historian uses ancient maps to block ramblers: Bryan McNerney, who presented several successful history series on ITV, has been accused of blocking a footpath through the grounds of his country home. But the 57-year-old insists that a mistake by a map maker half a century ago wrongly showed the right of way through the property – ironically called “Garden of Eden”…. – Telegraph (UK) (8-24-10)
  • Old Irish bones may yield murderous secrets in Pa.: Young and strapping, the 57 Irish immigrants began grueling work in the summer of 1832 on the Philadelphia and Columbia railroad. Within weeks, all were dead of cholera. Or were they murdered? Two skulls unearthed at a probable mass grave near Philadelphia this month showed signs of violence, including a possible bullet hole. Another pair of skulls found earlier at the woodsy site also displayed traumas, seeming to confirm the suspicions of two historians leading the archaeological dig…. – Washington Times (8-16-10)

PROFILES:

  • Forever Young: Staughton Lynd at 80: Suddenly Staughton Lynd is all the rage. Again. In the last 18 months, Lynd has published two new books, a third that’s a reprint of an earlier work, plus a memoir co-authored with his wife Alice. In addition, a portrait of his life as an activist through 1970 by Carl Mirra of Adelphi University has been published, with another book about his work after 1970 by Mark Weber of Kent State University due soon…. – Center for Labor Renewal (8-25-10)

QUOTES:

  • Jonathan Sarna: Black and Jewish, and Seeing No Contradiction: “Everyone agrees that the numbers have grown, and they should be noticed,” said Jonathan D. Sarna of Brandeis University, a pre-eminent historian of American Jewry. “Once, there was a sense that ‘so-and-so looked Jewish.’ Today, because of conversion and intermarriage and patrilineal descent, that’s less and less true. The average synagogue looks more like America. “Even in an Orthodox synagogue, there’s likely to be a few people who look different,” Professor Sarna said, “and everybody assumes that will grow.”… – NYT, 8-28-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Pressure mounts for ‘Sheriff’ Elizabeth Warren: “The administration is hesitating because they’re faced with the traditional problem that Obama has faced,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. If the White House passes Warren over, Zelizer says, they disappoint liberals whose support has been key throughout the administration. If Warren gets the nod, the White House must deal with “political difficulties on Capitol Hill where centrists have quite a lot of power and Republicans are becoming quite obstinate,” Zelizer said. – CNN.com (8-26-10)
  • David A. Moss: Income inequality may contribute to financial crises, says Harvard economic historian: David A. Moss, an economic and policy historian at the Harvard Business School, has spent years studying income inequality. While he has long believed that the growing disparity between the rich and poor was harmful to the people on the bottom, he says he hadn’t seen the risks to the world of finance, where many of the richest earn their great fortunes. Now, as he studies the financial crisis of 2008, Mr. Moss says that even Wall Street may have something serious to fear from inequality — namely, another crisis….
    “I could hardly believe how tight the fit was — it was a stunning correlation,” he said. “And it began to raise the question of whether there are causal links between financial deregulation, economic inequality and instability in the financial sector. Are all of these things connected?”… – NYT (8-21-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: Obama Just Like Jimmy Carter: Is Barack Obama really like Jimmy Carter? Julian Zelizer, author of the forthcoming Jimmy Carter, part of Henry Holt & Co.’s American Presidents series, thinks so. Both are smart, both promised reform, and both, he adds, “entered office at a time Republicans were in bad condition as a result of previous presidents … and found it difficult to capitalize on this situation.” Other similarities: “There was a sense, that became worse over time, that Carter was cold and distant, and not very personable,” Zelizer told our Suzi Parker. Also, the right succeeded in demonizing Carter’s successes. And Obama should heed this Carter lesson: “Being straight with voters and telling them the reality of a situation is fine, but voters also need to know how you will make things better.” – US News, 8-18-10
  • David Kennedy: Happy 75th Birthday, Social Security: Social Security was a centerpiece of FDR’s New Deal reforms that helped this country recover from the Great Depression. These programs provided Americans a measure of dignity and hope and lasting security against the vicissitudes of the market and life. FDR therefore accomplished what the venerable New Deal historian David Kennedy says is the challenge now facing President Obama—a rescue from the current economic crisis which will also make us “more resilient to face those future crises that inevitably await us.”…. – The Nation, 8-13-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • Red Menace: David Gentilcore Talks the Tasty History of the Tomato: In his new book, “Pomodoro! A History of the Tomato in Italy,” Gentilcore traces the tomato from its origins in the New World, where it was domesticated by the Maya, then cultivated by the Aztecs. It likely entered Europe via Spain, after conquistador Hernan Cortes’s conquest of Mexico. When it arrived on the scene in Italy, it was strictly a curiosity for those who studied plants — not something anyone faint of heart would consider eating. In 1628, Paduan physician Giovanni Domenico Sala called tomatoes “strange and horrible things” in a discussion that included the consumption of locusts, crickets, and worms. When people ate tomatoes, it was as a novelty. “People were curious about new foods, the way gourmets are today with new combinations and new uses of high technology in preparation,” Gentilcore said. Yesterday’s tomato is today’s molecular gastronomy…. Boston Globe (8-15-10)
  • William Jelani Cobb: The Root Interview: William Jelani Cobb on Obama and Black Leadership: William Jelani Cobb: Initially they made it more difficult because I’m accustomed to writing about things that are more static. This was an attempt to place the election into a context in terms of history, and in some ways in terms of irony. But this was also a rapidly changing subject. The result was that I wrote about three-quarters of the book and then threw it all out and started again from scratch. It was much more difficult to decide what story I wanted to tell…. – The Root (8-19-10)
  • Obama’s Teachable Mosque Moment: FrontPage Interviews Victor Davis Hanson: Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern…. – FrontPageMag (8-23-10)
  • Talking About Brazil with Lilia Schwarcz: On a recent trip to Brazil, I struck up a conversation with Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, one of Brazil’s finest historians and anthropologists. The talk turned to the two subjects she has studied most—racism and national identity…. – NYRBlog (8-17-10)
  • Q. & A.: Sean Wilentz on Bob Dylan: The historian Sean Wilentz, the author of “The Rise of American Democracy” and “The Age of Reagan,” has a long-standing interest in the songs of Bob Dylan, going back to his childhood in Greenwich Village. His father and uncle ran the Eighth Street Bookshop, an important gathering place for the Beats and other downtown literary spirits; it was in his uncle’s apartment, above the store, that Dylan first met Allen Ginsberg. Wilentz has synthesized his memories, musical impressions, and historical analysis in a striking new book entitled “Bob Dylan in America,” which Doubleday will publish next month; newyorker.com runs an excerpt this week. As a sometime Dylan obsessive—in 1999 I wrote a long piece about Dylan, which will reappear in my forthcoming book “Listen to This”—I approached Wilentz with some questions about his latest work…. – New Yorker (8-16-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Kenneth M. LudmererWash U professor receives honor: Kenneth M. Ludmerer, MD, has been named the Mabel Dorn Reeder Distinguished Professor in the History of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Ludmerer, a renowned medical historian and educator, is professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and professor of history in the College of Arts & Sciences…. – Globe Democrat, 8-25-10
  • Elaine Chalus: Bath historian finds diaries of woman who nursed Nelson: A Bath historian is hoping to give an admiral’s wife – who tended to a wounded Lord Nelson – “her rightful place in history”. Dr Elaine Chalus has won a major research grant of more than £100,000 to investigate diaries kept by Elizabeth Wynne…. – BBC News (8-24-10)

SPOTTED:

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700″ is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Christopher Tomlins, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (Paperback and Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Holger Hoock: Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850, (Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, (Hardcover), September 7, 2010
  • James L. Swanson: Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse, (Hardcover), September 28, 2010
  • Timothy Snyder: The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), September 28, 2010
  • Ron Chernow: Washington: A Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • George William Van Cleve: A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, (Hardcover), October 1, 2010.
  • John Keegan: The American Civil War: A Military History, (Paperback), October 5, 2010
  • Bill Bryson: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • David Weber, Southwest Expert, Dies at 69: David J. Weber, whose groundbreaking works on the American Southwest under Spain and Mexico opened new territory for historians, died on Aug. 20 in Gallup, N.M. He was 69 and lived in Dallas and Ramah, N.M. The cause was complications from multiple myeloma, said his wife, Carol…. – NYT (8-27-10)
  • David Weber, Vice-president of the AHA’s Professional Division, Dies at 69: David J. Weber, historian of the Borderlands, the American West, and Latin America and vice-president of the American Historical Association’s Professional Division, died on Friday, August 20, after a long struggle with multiple myeloma…. – Debbie Ann Doyle at the AHA Blog (8-23-10)
  • Bernard Knox, distinguished classicist, dies at 95: Bernard M. W. Knox, an authority on the works of Sophocles, a prolific scholar and the founding director of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, died July 22 at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 95. The cause was a heart attack, said his son, MacGregor…. – NYT (8-17-10)
  • Professor Ray Beachey, 94, of Makerere University: Professor Ray Beachey, who died on July 10 aged 94, encouraged the hopes of a generation of East African leaders as head of History at Makerere University in Uganda during the 1950s and early 1960s…. – Telegraph (UK) (8-13-10)

Tulane: Caught in the Middle of a Disaster

HISTORY ARTICLES

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HNN, 9-02-05

Tulane: Caught in the Middle of a Disaster

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an Assistant Editor at HNN.

This past week hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with New Orleans suffering some of the worst devastation as water levels rose throughout the city, leading to an unprecedented peace-time order to evacuate the entire area.. Students at Tulane University were set to start classes this week. At first the university was hopeful that it would be possible to resume classes on September 1. Soon that date was pushed back to September 7, but with 80 percent of the city flooded the university is uncertain now when the school will reopen. However, with the entire city being evacuated hope seems gone for this semester, if not longer.

Presently the university has relocated, and is now making its administrative headquarters in Houston, Texas. The university’s regular web server is down but Tulane University president Scott Cowan has been managing an emergency page on the Tulane site updating the university community and the public on the school’s status.

Starting last Saturday Tulane officials ordered students to evacuate the university. Tulane arranged for twelve buses to take students to nearby Jackson State University in Mississippi, where it was believed they would be safe. Students had just arrived for the academic year and were reluctant to leave; only 700 of the university’s 13,000 students chose to evacuate. Most stayed on campus never believing the magnitude of the disaster about to befall the city. The situation was no better at Jackson State where the Associated Press reported on August 31 that the university “suffered power outages, darkening the wood-floored gymnasium where the Tulane students were staying. On Tuesday, the gym’s bathrooms went out of service.” Students relocated again on Wednesday to Atlanta’s Georgia Tech University and Dallas’s Southern Methodist University; universities in the two closest cities not affected by Katrina.

University President Cowan reported on September 1, 2005 that there were faculty and staff who remained on campus, living in unsatisfactory conditions. The entire uptown campus was evacuated with only a “core team of public safety and facilities personnel” remaining. Cowan reported that “All of the students who were evacuated to Jackson State University in Mississippi have returned to their homes or are in the process of returning to their homes.”

Campus buildings themselves survived the storm nearly intact, accordimng to the president:”The campus did sustain some damage, though it generally fared very well during the storm. There are many downed trees, some buildings sustained water damage, and some roofing tiles were damaged. The necessary repairs are manageable. The dorms are intact and students’ belongings are safe.”

HNN has been paying special attention to the situation for students and faculty of Tulane’s history department. HNN has set up the Katrina Blog for Tulane History Students & Faculty to help students and professors to communicate. Lists of missing professors and students have been posted along with offers from volunteers ready to offer assistance and housing.

History Department chairman Jim Boyden, safe in Baton Rouge, notified HNN about the history department’s current status. Boyden sadly confessed that he has ” no two-way communication with Tulane administrators,” but added, “I’m very confident that we’ll have answers to basic questions and be able to begin reconstituting the department soon.”

With Tulane’s undergraduate and graduate students having no place to attend classes and with faculty having nowhere to teach; universities across the country are offering to take in Tulane students and faculty for the fall semester, and perhaps the rest of the academic year if need be. Many of these universities will be waiving tuition for the fall semester, while others are offering in-state tuition rates. Early offers were from Atlanta’s Georgia Tech and Dallas’s Southern Methodist University. Approximately 275 Tulane students chose to go to Atlanta, and another 140 went to Dallas including the football team, coaches and training staff. According to the AP “Georgia Tech and Southern Methodist were providing rooms, food, telephones, computer access and free airport shuttle services to the Tulane students and staff.”

Both Cornell University in New York and Texas A&M University have notified HNN via the blog of their offers to admit Tulane students. Cornell University President Hunter R. Rawlings announced that the university will take in some of Tulane’s undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and will possibly allow Tulane faculty to teach as visiting professors. Cornell has set up a site with more information. Texas A&M will let in students from Tulane and surrounding universities in New Orleans including Dillard, Southern, Xavier, and Loyola Universities and the University of New Orleans. Additional universities extending offers include: Yale University in Connecticut; Loyola University in Chicago, Syracuse University in New York; Rice University in Texas; Boston University in Massachusetts; and McGill University in Montreal, Canada among others.

In his most recent post on the Tulane site University President Cowan expressed his gratitude for exterior support for the university writing “When possible, I’ve been trying to scan the student web blogs and am deeply touched beyond words by your support and passion. Your loyalty to Tulane University is touching and vital to our recovery plan.”

Related Links

HNN Katrina Blog for Tulane History Students & Faculty
Hot Topics: Katrina
Tulane University Emergency Information
Cornell Special Katrina Admission Information

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