I spoke with Wendell Pierce - most famous for his HBO series roles in The Wire and Treme - on the closing weekend of Brothers from the Bottom, a critically-acclaimed play about gentrification in New Orleans after the storm, in which Pierce played a lead role both on stage and in production.
The President did the right thing by going to struggling neighborhoods and spending time with the young people who could see in a man who, through the dedication, love and hard work, a mirror of themselves and what they too could accomplish.
Despite the various narratives of progress, black and brown kids across our city--almost regardless of school, age, neighborhood, or income--are punished, threatened, failing, and producing predictable, vilified, low test scores. This is no surprise to any of us--not a one.
I struggled to find words to best commemorate this day. Today, on the ten-year anniversary since Hurricane Katrina struck and devastated the Gulf Coast, there is little that has not been said already.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, children were caught in the floods when the levees failed. Some were killed; others orphaned. Thousands were separated from family and hundreds of thousands were displaced. But there is another part of the story that is not often told. Children took action.
New Orleans is a tale of 200,000 cities. That's how many people were left in New Orleans post-Katrina. After the diaspora, each of them became a city unto themselves. And each has lived a lifetime in the last 10 years.
The storm brought a new level of destruction to the city schools. More than 100 schools were severely damaged, rooms flooded with mud, holes torn in walls, rubble strewn in hallways. It was hard to imagine that New Orleans schools could come back from all of that, but they did.
While Hurricane Katrina initially devastated New Orleans, it reaffirmed my belief in the capacity of a community to come together not just to survive, but to thrive; to build upon a dream, born of disaster; to no longer be the city that care forgot.
"Our story is just one. Add those of a hundred people I know and then multiply that by ten thousand and you will be getting close to getting the picture of the more than a million people with dramatic stories from this massive disaster."
Forced to leave their world behind, members of a top-ranked team leaned on one another for support in their new communities.
It's been exactly 10 years since the worst civil engineering disaster in U.S. history when levees built by the federal government failed catastrophically during Hurricane Katrina and flooded New Orleans and nearby St. Bernard Parish.
I did not realize ten years ago this week that, I would never again live in New Orleans, but I am astonished that after so many years I cannot talk about this anniversary of Hurricane Katrina without my voice cracking.
The story of rebirth in New Orleans' schools since Hurricane Katrina is one of nationally historic significance - but as is true of the city's recovery, it is a profoundly unfinished story.
Despite the tremendous losses suffered during those terrifying days and nights in August ten years ago, we pause to remember those who were lost... celebrate those who survived... and praise those who call New Orleans home.
Katrina's devastation was, by so many measures, due to the mistakes of people. And the recovery is, by every measure, due to the strength of people.
Some dates settle in our nation's collective consciousness and can never be forgotten. August 29, 2005 is one of them. But the devastation of Katrina extends beyond the physical, and its aftermath can be felt by New Orleans residents old and new.