From the Supplement to the 120th Annual Meeting

What is Lost, What Comes Next? Historians Consider Hurricane Katrina

AHA Staff, December 2005

You have to reach back to the Dust Bowl to find a parallel to the demographic displacement caused by Hurricane Katrina. Some believe the forced relocation of the hundreds of thousands of poor black New Orleanians forcibly resettled from their homes by the evacuation is more akin to the Trail of Tears. This panel of historians, many of them based in New Orleans, will try to place the Katrina tragedy in historical perspective and assess the failure of government at every level to alleviate the human suffering. It will also ponder the challenge of rebuilding. In whose vision of the future will the Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans be rebuilt and for whose benefit? How can the voting and property rights of the diaspora be guaranteed? How can the values of equity and diversity be promoted as the rebuilding goes forward?

Moderator:
  • Lawrence Powell
    Professor Powell has taught and lived in New Orleans for almost three decades. For the last seven years he administered a gamut of social service programs for public housing residents and other low-income residents of the Crescent City. His last book was Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke’s Louisiana.
Panelists:
  • Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
    A native of New Orleans, a prolific historian, and a long-time activist, Professor Hall is best known for her critically acclaimed Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century.
  • Lance Hill, Executive Director, Southern Institute for Education and Research
    An adjunct professor of history at Tulane University, Professor Hill has been doing civil rights work since the mid-1970s, including leading the PAC that defeated David Duke. He is currently involved in tolerance education, anti-racist activism, and cross-cultural communication. His last book was Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Arnold Hirsch, University of New Orleans
    Widely known for his Making of the Second Ghetto, Professor Hirsch has taught and lived in New Orleans for over a quarter of a century. He has written extensively on black politics in New Orleans, including Creole New Orleans, co-edited with the late Joseph Logsdon. He is currently at work on a study of public housing policy in several cities.
  • Martin Reuss, Senior Historian, Office of History, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    Dr. Reuss is currently working on a history of hydrology in the United States and has written extesnsively on urban planning and water management projects, including Desiging the Bayous: The Control of Water in the Atchafalaya Basin, 1800–1995, published in 1998 by the Office of History, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Craig Wilder, Dartmouth College
    Professor Wilder has written numerous works on United States urban history, with a particular focus on race, religion, and culture. Professor Wilder began his career as a community organizer in the South Bronx, and he continues to belance teaching, scholarship, and activism. He is currently at work on a study of the historical evolution of the ghetto and is pursuing community and scholarly work on mental illness and the urban poor.