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“Race, Media, Culture, and Health: The Black Community in the Aftermath of Katrina”


Presented on Sept. 14, 2005

On Aug. 29, the Gulf of Mexico’s U.S. coastline was ravaged by one of the worst hurricanes in recorded history. As America watched television coverage before, during, and after the devastating winds and water, the nation came face to face with another catastrophic event: the disparity of equitable treatment among the races and economic classes of its citizenry. The focus of attention centered on New Orleans, with its predominately African-American population, where the racism underlying governmental response at all levels was dramatically revealed.

In response to the IU Bloomington campus’s outrage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies took that tragedy as the theme for its first forum of fall 2005. Co-sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, “Race, Media, Culture, and Health: The Black Community in the Aftermath of Katrina” featured a seven-member panel of professors and activists who spoke of the tragic events from the perspective of their respective disciplines.

Scores of students, as well as IU and Bloomington citizens, attended the vigorous discussion, which included several firsthand anecdotes of heart-wrenching personal knowledge of the area and events. The evening ended with everyone agreeing that action must be taken to keep the awareness level high so that change can happen.