New Orleans has a rich history of racial diversity, but a legacy of discrimination and economic disparity lurks below the surface. Hurricane Katrina was a dramatic reminder of that legacy and provided a unique opportunity to address it, and recent studies suggest that citizens of every race believe the racial divide prevents progress on the city’s major problems. These factors point to the need to forge a new understanding among races and generations to build a community that embraces its history while it builds on its strength as a uniquely diverse city.
This project will engage a demographically representative sample of New Orleans citizens in a process that leads to collective action on policy, economic and quality of life issues. Key activities will include: Sector/Affinity Forums - to explore how past actions and present policies have led to current disparities and how this impacts current experiences; Multi-Sector Forums - select groups to clarify what is required to move beyond racial wounds, prioritize issues and recommend action; Community-Wide Dialogues; and Collective Action – based on recommended actions.
Additional funding will be sought to convene a city-wide meeting to strengthen implementation. In the end, dialogue and action will address the real legacy of discrimination and the need for broader, multi-racial coalitions. Children and youth will be engaged, and the issues that affect them most will be addressed.