Ray Nagin: 'What would Dr. King have
said about Katrina?'
story & photos copyright 2008 katrinaconnection.com
The mayor whose "Chocolate City" comments on Martin Luther King day reverberated
around the country and gained notoriety in 2006 after hurricane Katrina, used the
opportunity this year to boast of his administration's accomplishments since Katrina,
claiming, among other things, an estimated 318,000 residents have returned, and asked, if
King were alive today, "What would he have said about Katrina?"
A program attended by several hundred people on the steps of New Orleans city hall
began the day's official festivities, with city councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Shepard
officiating the program, which brought out many elected leaders including mayor C. Ray
Nagin and among them councilmembers James Carter & Jackie Clarkson, as well as
Congressman William Jefferson. Also, criminal sheriff Marlin Gusman, along with the
city's police and fire chiefs, a few state legislators and local judges all took part in the
march. A group calling itself "Stop the Demolitions" held a quiet demonstration nearby,
with signs denouncing recent housing demolitions.
About 50 units consisting of marching bands, drill teams, and vehicles participated in the
city of New Orleans Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday march from city hall to the city's
memorial monument to the slain leader. It was one of over a dozen programs or marches
scheduled to take place in and around the New Orleans metropolitan area as Dr. King's
birthday is celebrated throughout the nation.
Before beginning the march, the mayor asked, if King were alive today, "What would he
have said about Katrina?..what would he have said about a Road Home program where
the rest of our people are still waiting on their checks...what would he have said about
the billions of dollars that have been spent in and around the Gulf Coast, and very little of
those dollars have gotten to the people who need it the most?". Nagin went on to urge
people to step up and step forward to be leaders.
As the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) banner led the march that
made its way from downtown to the central city Martin Luther King monument at South
Claiborne Avenue, the mayor was greeted with waves and smiles by a thin crowd of
residents under sunny skies with chilly temperatures in the 40's. Community activist Rev.
Marie Galatas, walking alongside Nagin, led renditions of "We Shall Overcome", and
other civil rights-era spirituals. Several spectators along the route occasionally raised their
voices in unison.
At the King monument, Nagin, speaking confidently about New Orleans, said, "There will
be inevitable setbacks here and there...but we must go on anyway" and said "the city will
recover bigger, better, and stronger than ever before".
SCLC begins the MLK march from
New Orleans city hall
Mayor Nagin (second from left) with
Rev. Galatas, Congressman Jefferson,
criminal sheriff Gusman
New Orleans MLK day march passes a
boarded up house
"It's About More Than Just A Hurricane!"