September 15, 2005
Hurricane Katrina starkly revealed how class and race still divide Americans. Yet amid all the terrible tragedy, the nation now also has an opportunity to close these divides and build a region that is stronger and fairer than before. There is no time for progressives to waste before developing a way forward: Already, Congress has appropriated $62.3 billion for relief and reconstruction; regional business leaders have gathered to pursue reconstruction plans; and the Bush Administration is issuing huge contracts and suspending prevailing wage laws. The enormous challenges include strengthening the skills of low-wage workers, improving the stock of good-paying jobs, and improving residential integration.
What is the progressive vision for a reconstructed Gulf? And what steps must be taken now, particularly in Washington, to achieve that vision? A distinguished and diverse group of speakers will address these questions and offer specific proposals for moving forward.
Video & Resources
• Part 1: Video
• Part 2: Video
Note: All video provided in QuickTime (MPEG-4) format.
Lessons from History: A Blueprint for Revitalizing the Gulf Coast, by Allida Black, Ph.D., September 15, 2005
Recovery cannot begin without relief and cannot last without reform.
Jobs for All: The Key to Rebuilding after Katrina, by Thomas A. Kochan, September 15, 2005
It’s all about jobs. That should be the mantra and clear focus guiding efforts to rebuild the lives and restore the hopes of the families devastated by Katrina.
| Allida M. Black is Project Director and Editor of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, a project designed to preserve, teach and apply Eleanor Roosevelt’s writings and discussions of human rights and democratic politics, and Research Professor of History and International Affairs at The George Washington University. Professor Black is the recipient of the Millennium Medal from The George Washington University, the 2001 Person of Vision Award from the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women, and the James A Jordan Award for Outstanding Dedication and Excellence in Teaching from Penn State University, Harrisburg. She has received the JNG Finley Postdoctoral Fellowship at George Mason University, a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as fellowships from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, the Harry Truman Foundation, and the United States Information Agency. She received her Ph.D. from the George Washington University in 1993 and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from DePaul University in 2001. Her publications include four books — Casting Her Own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of Postwar Liberalism (Columbia University Press, November 1995), “What I Want to Leave Behind:” Democracy and the Selected Articles of Eleanor Roosevelt (Carlson Publishing, April 1995); Courage In A Dangerous World: The Political Writings of Eleanor Roosevelt (Columbia University Press, 1999), and with Jewel Fenzi, Democratic Women: An Oral History of the Women’s National Democratic Club (WNDC Educational Foundation, 2000) and as well as a variety of articles. Oxford University Press will publish Human Rights: Pages from History in 2006 and E.R.: Eleanor Roosevelt, Politics and the Dream of Democracy in 2008. Her biography of University of Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt, Reach for the Summitt: Pat Summitt and the Battle for Title IX will be published by University of New Mexico Press in 2009.
| U.S. Representative Artur Davis arrived in Congress in January 2003, and since then has been recognized by publications such as Roll Call and The National Journal as one of the future leaders to watch in Washington. Congressman Davis has earned a reputation as a legislator with an appreciation for bi-partisanship. His hard work has paid high dividends as he led the passage of five pieces of legislation during his first term in Congress on a range of issues from down payment assistance for first time home buyers to recognition of the victims and heroes of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. Because of his demonstrated leadership potential, Congressman Davis was appointed by Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic Whip, as a member of the Senior Whip Team for the Democratic Caucus during the 109th Congress. He is also Co-Chair of the centrist House New Democrat Coalition and Southern Regional Co-Chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. A product of Montgomery public schools, Congressman Davis excelled in academics including graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in 1990 and Cum Laude from Harvard Law School in 1993. While in law school, Davis distinguished himself as Best Oralist during the prestigious Moot Court competition – only the second African American to reach this achievement. Congressman Davis’ excellent academic career gave birth to a flourishing professional life as a successful attorney and advocate for justice. Upon graduation from law school, Congressman Davis received a clerkship with Judge Myron F. Thompson, one of the first African-American judges appointed to the federal bench in Alabama. From 1994 to 1998, Congressman Davis established a 90 percent conviction rate as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama fighting white-collar criminals and the scourge of drugs and violence on our streets and in our neighborhoods. From 1998 until his election to Congress, Congressman Davis fought as a civil rights attorney for the rights of those unjustly treated in the workplace. Congressman Davis’ challenge is representing a district in two paradoxical worlds containing some of the highest pockets of prosperity in the Southeast side-by-side with some of the poorest regions in America. Five of the 12 counties in the 7th Congressional District are identified in the list of 100 poorest counties in America as ranked by the U.S. Census Bureau.
| Steven Kest is the National Executive Director of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN, which was founded in 1970, is one of the largest and most powerful organizations of low and moderate income individuals and families in the country, with over 175,000 members organized in 800+ neighborhood chapters in 90 cities. ACORN’s current priorities include: promoting living wage campaigns; working to improve urban public schools; campaigning for affordable housing; combating predatory lending; and organizing voter participation projects. Kest has worked for ACORN since 1975, serving as Head Organizer in Arkansas, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and as national Campaign Director, before becoming Executive Director in 1990.
| Marc H. Morial was appointed as the President and Chief Executive Officer of The National Urban League in May 2003. Mr. Morial is the eighth leader of this venerable civil rights and community-based organization, following in the footsteps of Whitney M. Young and Vernon Jordan among others. Since his appointment, Morial has worked to re-energize the movements’ diverse constituencies by building on the strengths of the organization’s nearly one hundred year-old legacy and increasing the organization’s profile both locally and nationally. In his first year as President, Morial worked to streamline the organization’s headquarters, secured millions of new dollars in funding to support the local affiliate programs and developed a stronger strategic direction for the organization. Morial’s Empowerment Agenda for the League focuses on closing the equality gaps that exist for African Americans and other emerging ethnic communities in education, economic empowerment, health and quality of life, civic engagement, and civil rights and racial justice. Prior to his appointment as President, Marc H. Morial served two terms as the most effective mayor in the city’s history, leaving office with a 70% approval rating. Under his direction, crime plummeted by 60%, a corrupt police department was reformed, and a far-reaching bond issue was passed that provided $400 million in infrastructure improvements. His community reinvestment initiatives created 15,000 new home owners, improved 200 miles of streets, constructed a new sports arena, built 7,000 hotel rooms and expanded the Morial Convention Center, now one of the largest in America. He also brought the NBA back to New Orleans with the relocation of the Hornets from Charlotte. During his last two years in office he also served as President of the United States Conference of Mayors.
| Joel Rogers is a professor of law, political science, and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and founder and director of its Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS), and the John R. Commons Center on progressive federalism and state policy. He has written widely on democratic theory, American politics, and comparative public policy, including such books as On Democracy, Metro Futures, What Workers Want, The Forgotten Majority, and Working Capital; originated the high road/low road argument and frame for choice in competition strategy now widely used by advocates and progressive elected officials; designed and launched the nation’s first major regional skills alliance, later the inspiration for Clinton administration employment and training reform; and co-founded the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor, business, community and civil rights, and environmental groups organized, around a program to achieve sustainable U.S. energy independence within a decade, whose national steering committee he currently chairs. A contributing editor of The Nation and Boston Review and MacArthur Foundation fellow, Newsweek identified him as one of the 100 Americans most likely to shape U.S. politics and culture in the 21st century.
| Robert Gordon is a Senior Vice President at the Center for American Progress, focusing on domestic and economic policy issues, including education reform, family policy, and consumer protection. Before joining the Center, Robert was the domestic policy director for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, where he served as the campaign’s designee on the Democratic platform drafting committee. Previously, Robert worked for Senator John Edwards, first as his Judiciary Committee counsel and legislative director in the Senate, then as the policy director for his presidential campaign. Prior to his work on Capitol Hill, Robert was a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a Skadden Fellow at the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society in New York City, where he represented children in abuse and neglect proceedings. Robert also served in the Clinton White House as an aide to the National Economic Council and the Office of National Service, where he helped craft the legislation creating AmeriCorps. Robert graduated from Harvard College with highest honors and from Yale Law School. He is also a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution.