We Will Not Forget Katrina: A Special Event to Commemorate Hurricane Katrina
August 24, 2006 NYC’s Crobar played host to the one year anniversary
event We Will Not Forget Katrina: A Special Event to Commemorate
Hurricane Katrina and the launching of the new book It Takes a Nation: How Strangers Became Family in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina from
Palace Press International. The co-sponsors of the night were
MoveOn.org and ColorOfChange.org. Special celebrity guests in
attendance included Rosie Perez, The Roots, Moby and Julia Stiles.
Actress, Rosie Perez was the master of ceremonies for the anniversary benefit concert presenting each speaker and summing up what the night was to be about. Representatives for the sponsor organizations as well as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) took the stage to speak on their involvement in the efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. MoveOn.org project HurricaneHousing.org helped secure shelter, jobs, clothes, and healthcare for nearly 30,000 our citizens whose lives were forever changed by Katrina. In the face of the pathetic failure of our government to act in this devastating time of our people’s needs, it’s a hope filled example for the future and a reminder that in the phrase “of the people, by the people, for the people” is a foundation of a powerful ideology that can work. While bureaucracy discuss, analyze and debate, the people can act; which is something that we need more of if we hope to stabilize this country.
When asked by BlackintheCity.net editor Kirshan Murphy what he thought about how long it is taking to recover New Orleans, The Roots’ QuestLove answered, “I am disappointed in how long it is taking. But that comes second to my disappointment in how quickly people forgot about what happened.”
The night also served as the launch of the book It Takes a Nation: How Strangers Became Family in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane victims and those that offered a helping hand tell the stories in the book through photographs, interviews and first person narratives. All proceeds from the sells of the book will go to the New Orleans chapter of ACORN. A few passages were read by Julia Stiles, Tarik Trotter aka Black Thought of the Roots and Rosie Perez, with the latter two giving particularly impressive readings. The dialogues were interesting and compelling and gave an opportunity to hear from the perspective of those that lived through the destruction.
Julia Stiles and Black Thought read complimentary passages from the book, being the voices of a young black man from New Orleans and the white woman that opened her home to him as refuge. Their accounts spoke of their newly forged relationship and the coming together of people from different realities. Of particular and disturbing note in the story from the young man, that I don’t remember hearing reported in the news then nor since, is that the citizens housed in the Superdome were separated into sections, not by neighborhoods so they would be around familiar faces as he thought would have been a better option but by race. Which goes a long way in showing that even in situations like that there are still those that can’t or refuse to see people as people, citizens as citizens or each other as countrymen.
Connecticut senatorial candidate Ned Lamont made an appearance and campaigned his way through his whole speech. His very presence felt very self-serving and insincere. With rolled eyes, I felt that, Mr. Lamont you should have taken that back to Connecticut, your voters weren’t there and that was neither the time nor the place for your personal political aspirations; this was not your rally.
The packed Crobar was treated to several high-energy performances. Multi platinum artist Moby took the stage to the delight of the crowd. MoveOn.org Cultural Director and It Takes A Nation editor Laura Dawn joined him on stage for two songs, proving that she can do more than direct but participate as well. Unfortunately, the highlight of Moby’s set was with a female vocalist whose name I may not remember but whose voice and energy will not be forgotten.
Hip Hop was in the building. For me, the Roots owned the stage and rounded off the performances perfectly. Black Thought did nothing less than shine again on stage that night for a second time. The Grammy Award winning Roots band was joined on stage throughout their set by all brass Jazz band Brass Heaven.
MoveOn.org, ColorOfChange.org showed with this event that not everyone has forgotten Hurricane Katrina and her victims and that there are still those out there working to help rebuild the city and the lives that were affected.
The Roots just finished several appearances on the Pharcyde’s national tour that also included Common and Talib Kweli. Their latest album “Game Theory” is currently in stores.
The book, It Takes a Nation: How Strangers Became Family in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina is on sale now.