preserving the people of New Orleans as a community

Lee Friedlander Sweet Emma Barrett, New Orleans 1958


I have no way of knowing how central this particular appeal may become, but it came to me through a friend and I share its anger and its emphasis on preserving a devasatated community intact. The call comes from some really good people, and I believe it should be broadcast widely. I decided not to wait for the promised formal press release.

Displaced New Orleans Community Demands Action, Accountability and Initiates A People’s Hurricane Fund

Not until the fifth day of the federal government’s
inept and inadequate emergency response to the
New Orleans’ disaster did George Bush even acknowledge
it was ‘unacceptable.’ ‘Unacceptable’ doesn’t begin to
describe the depth of the neglect, racism and classism
shown to the people of New Orleans. The government’s
actions and inactions were criminal. New Orleans, a
city whose population is almost 70% percent black, 40%
illiterate, and many are poor, was left day after day
to drown, to starve and to die of disease and thirst.

The people of New Orleans will not go quietly into the
night, scattering across this country to become
homeless in countless other cities while federal
relief funds are funneled into rebuilding casinos,
hotels, chemical plants and the wealthy white
districts of New Orleans like the French Quarter and
the Garden District. We will not stand idly by while
this disaster is used as an opportunity to replace our
homes with newly built mansions and condos in a
gentrified New Orleans.

Community Labor United (CLU), a coalition of the
progressive organizations throughout New Orleans, has
brought community members together for eight years to
discuss socio-economic issues. We have been
communicating with people from The Quality Education
as a Civil Right Campaign, the Algebra Project, the
Young People’s Project and the Louisiana Research
Institute for Community Empowerment. We are
preparing a press release and framing document that
will be out as a draft later today for comments.

Here is what we are calling for:

We are calling for all New Orleanians remaining in the
city to be evacuated immediately.

We are calling for information about where every
evacuee was taken.

We are calling for black and
progressive leadership to come together to meet in
Baton Rouge to initiate the formation of a
Community Oversight Committee of evacuees from all the
sites. This committee will demand to
oversee FEMA, the Red Cross and other organizations
collecting resources on behalf of our people.

We are calling for volunteers to enter the shelters
where our people are and to assist parents with
housing, food, water, health care and access to aid.
We are calling for teachers and educators to carve out
some time to come to evacuation sites and teach our

We are calling for city schools and universities near
evacuation sites to open their doors for our
children to go to school.

We are calling for health care workers and mental
health workers to come to evacuation sites to

We are calling for lawyers to investigate the wrongful
death of those who died, to protect the land of
the displaced, to investigate whether the levies broke
due to natural and other related matters.

We are calling for evacuees from our community to
actively participate in the rebuilding of New

We are calling for the addresses of all the relevant
list serves and press contacts to send our

We are in the process of setting up a central command
post in Jackson, MS, where we will have
phone lines, fax, email and a web page to centralize
information. We will need volunteers to staff this

We have set up a People’s Hurricane Fund that will be
directed and administered by New Orleanian evacuees.
The Young People’s Project, a 501(c)3 organization
formed by graduates of the Algebra Project, has agreed
to accept donations on behalf of this fund. Donations
can be mailed to:

The People’s Hurricane Fund c/o The Young People’s Project 99 Bishop Allen Drive Cambridge, MA 02139

If you have comments of how to proceed or need more
information, please email them to Curtis
Muhammad ( and Becky
Belcore (

Thank you


[image from Masters of Photography]