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Rebuilding After Katrina
O n December 10, International Human Rights Day, survivors of Hurricane Katrina together with hundreds of supporters took buses from Jackson, Mississippi and nearby states to a rally in New Orleans. A two-mile long march began at Congo Square, with a jazz music march to City Hall to present a Declaration of the People to Mayor Nagin, declaring, “New Orleans hurricane survivors want to return to their homes.”
The Hurricane Katrina assembly and rally was organized by the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund & Oversight Coalition (PHRF), a New Orleans and Gulf South umbrella coalition. Their message is “From outrage to action, the people must decide.”
Three months after the hurricane many poor black, Asian, indigenous
American, and white survivors are still out of jobs, building contracts,
and other aspects of the city’s rebuilding. Some estimate that
over 100,000 immigrants— many of them undocumented—have
been directly affected by Hurricane Katrina in the southern states.
Before the hurricane, they worked at sweatshop jobs across the city;
after the flooding, they fled the city with no chance of receiving
any federal assistance because of their immigration status. Several
were arrested by immigration officials for deportation because they
asked for government assistance. Though some of them were re-hired
by private contractors to help rebuild the city, in several cases,
they were cheated of their pay after the work was done.
With FEMA cutting Katrina survivors’ hotel vouchers in early January 2006, activist collectives like Common Ground and Community Labor United have built support centers to offer food and legal aid to returning hurricane survivors and the ACLU of Louisiana and Mississippi is considering complaints of constitutional violations from hurricane victims. With the need for long-term humanitarian operations in the Gulf region, the PHRF decided to call an emergency conference to discuss how to build a long-term nationally coordinated effort to support the victims. The one-day December 9 assembly in Jackson, Mississippi (210 miles north of New Orleans) attracted 400 activists from across the country—including approximately 150 hurricane survivors—to strategize how displaced people could rebuild their communities and how supporters could help.
Throughout the assembly and rally, everyone agreed that the key issue for post-Katrina recovery was helping survivors find permanent housing. After the assembly, the survivors presented the following list of demands to New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the U.S. government:
- Local, state and federal governments must make conditions possible for our immediate return.
- The government must provide funds for all families to be reunited, and the databases of FEMA, the Red Cross, and any organizations tracking our people must be made public.
- There must be open, public accountability for and oversight of the over $50 billion FEMA funds and the money raised by other organizations, foundations, and funds in our name.
- Survivors must have representation on all boards that are making decisions about relief and reconstruction. Those most affected by Hurricane Katrina must be present in every stage of the planning process.
- No commercial Mardi Gras will take place until the suffering of the people is lifted.
- Nationwide local support groups to help survivors with long-term needs.
- Counseling services for youth survivors.
- A community tribunal to hold the government accountable for the disaster.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.