Synopses & Reviews
Overcoming Katrina tells the stories of 27 New Orleanians as they fought to survive Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Their oral histories offer first-hand experiences: three days on a roof with Navy veteran Leonard Smith; at the convention center with waitress Eleanor Thornton; and with Willie Pitford, an elevator man, as he rescued 150 people in New Orleans East. Overcoming approaches the question of why New Orleans matters, from perspectives of the individuals who lived, loved, worked, and celebrated life and death there prior to being scattered across the country by Hurricane Katrina. This book's twenty-seven narrators range from Mack Slan, a conservative businessman who disparages the younger generation for not sharing his ability to make "good, rational decisions," to Kalamu ya Salaam, who was followed by the New Orleans Police Department for several years as a militant defender of Black Power in the late 1960s and '70s. These narratives are memorials to the corner stores, the Baptist churches, the community health clinics, and those streets where the aunties stood on the corner, and whose physical traces have now all been washed away. They conclude with visions of a safer, equitably rebuilt New Orleans. *Scroll down for more audio excerpts from Overcoming Katrina*
This books brings together the narrated autobiographies of black New Orleanians, united by their residence in New Orleans, Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At its heart are stories of abandonment and evacuation, heroism and terror, prejudice and generosity, and displacement and rebuilding in the wake of the hurricane and its lengthy aftermath.
About the Author
DAnn R. Penner
is an oral historian focusing on how people respond to serial displacement. Between September 2005 and August 2008, she conducted over 275 interviews of survivors displaced by Hurricane Katrina. During this time, Penner was affiliated with the Benjamin L. Hooks institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis, the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, and finally with the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. Currently, she is a Scholar in Residence at the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Keith C. Ferdinand, a descendant of several generations of southern Louisianans, was the founder of Heartbeats Life Center, a cardiovascular clinic in the Ninth Ward, focused on the intersection of medicine and human rights for over twenty years until it was destroyed by the post-Katrina flooding. He is currently Chief Science Officer for the Association of Black Cardiologists, director of cardiovascular health at St. Thomas Community Health Center in New Orleans, and clinical professor of medicine, division of cardiology at Emory University. Ferdinand received his MD from Howard Medical School.
Table of Contents
Introduction * Retirees * At the Height of their Careers * Thirty Something * Coming of Age