New Orleans represents the best and worst of America. Its rich tapestry of African-American, Cajun, Creole, and European traditions gave birth to a unique and vibrant culture of music, food, and pageantry known around the world. New Orleanians have an indomitable spirit—drawn directly from a deep love of their heritage—that has fueled a remarkable resiliency in the face of disasters from Hurricane Katrina to the BP oil spill. While the city suffers from the legacy of slavery, a punitive criminal justice system, a weak infrastructure, and pervasive corruption, its residents are developing homegrown solutions that offer models for advocates around the nation and the world.
In this video, Ann Beeson, executive director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations, discusses why the organization is dedicating its resources to support the work of many of New Orleans's most dedicated, creative advocates for social change and social justice.
* * *
In the five years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the levees broke, residents have developed innovative approaches to tackling some of the city’s—and the nation’s—most persistent problems: criminal justice reform, unresponsive government, and racial and economic inequality. In recognition of these efforts, during the month of August the Open Society Blog shines a light on people and organizations in New Orleans bringing change from within one of the country’s most important cities.