Race, Poverty and Katrina

photoWhen Hurricane Katrina tore up the Gulf Coast and the levees of New Orleans last week, it also laid bare a deep fault line in American life and the American South between the haves and the have-nots.

Raw poverty was thrust onto America's television screens in volume, for days, and in extreme distress. It was black and white but the overwhelming number of faces we saw in desperate straights belonged to people of color.

The Reverend Calvin Butts says that if the hurricane had struck a white, middle-class neighborhood in the Northeast, the government response would have been stronger and swifter.

But American poverty — largely ignored now for years — is so pronounced that a storm would have had a hard time missing it. As Katrina was rolling north last week, the US Census Bureau released new numbers showing more national poverty and the whole South — black AND white — hit hard.

Hear a conversation about race and poverty on the front burner in the wake of Katrina.


Rev. Calvin Butts, Pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York

Robert Pratt, Professor of African-American History at the University of Georgia

James Ziliak, Director of the University Kentucky Center for Poverty Research.

This program aired on September 6, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.


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