Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ninth Ward: A long history of distrust and neglect

The very construction of the Industrial Canal in 1922 helped to choke off poorer New Orleans blacks, historians say.

"Ever since then, that part of the Ninth Ward has been orphaned," says John M. Barry, author of "Rising Tide," an acclaimed account of the devastating 1927 Mississippi River flood.

"That canal is a manmade body of water that's separated from the rest of the city. They've gotten no services ever since. Part of that is because they're poor and black. Nobody cared. Some of that area was developed, but a lot of it wasn't."

After the 1927 flood, hundreds of thousands of blacks along the Mississippi delta were forced into filthy refugee camps, often without food or water, sometimes ordered at gunpoint to work on levees and relief projects.

Historians have said the response of Republican President Calvin Coolidge - who was criticized in the press as failing to grasp the enormity of the crisis - helped spur the seismic shift of black voters to the Democratic Party.
The response to Katrina is reminding blacks of 1927. Bush has a 2% approval rate among African Americans.


Anonymous said... many people can remember 1927?

Joseph said...

Yes, indeed, and no one remembers the Potato Famine or the Holocaust either.