Silence filled each and every one of the 72,000 seats, seats in which fans once sat. The turf, once home to gridiron titans competing for glory and excellence, was covered by cots, tables and sleeping bags. Players replaced by evacuees. Football helmets and shoulder pads replaced by damp clothes and bags filled with priceless memories. The blood, sweat and tears of athletic gods supplanted by the blood of the now homeless, the sweat of the living, and tears for the dead. When stillness finally rested upon the city, more than 1800 lay dead, scattered around the city. Eighty percent of the city was submerged beneath water. Ten years ago, New Orleans was the city of all cities. The best jazz, the best seafood, and the best southern style cooking one could find east of the Mississippi. It was the place where the native New Orleanians made you feel as though New Orleans was your home too with their warm southern hospitality. Ten years ago the warm smiles and sweet sounds of jazz faded away and were replaced by the sound of howling winds, cries of hunger, and weeps of desperation. Ten years ago, we saw, and I say “we” meaning the people of this country, what the United States government and the State of Louisiana really thought about its people, specifically, its Black residents.
Ten years later; the Big Easy has grown, in some ways unrecognizable. As the city’s once darken image has grown lighter due to Whites and Latinos pouring into the city building townhouses where housing projects once stood, New Orleans has watched for the past ten years as the combination of rising housing costs and government policies push the poor, Black residents that returned and remained to the outskirts of the city in search of cheaper rent—or to homeless camps under the city’s highways. Blacks, who once accounted for two-thirds of the city’s population before Hurricane Katrina, now make up slightly more than half of the city’s population. The thousands of Latino immigrants recruited to clean up and rebuild the city remained in New Orleans increasing the size of their population. According to a study by professors at Tulane University and University of California, Berkeley, an estimated 10,000-14,000 Latino workers moved to New Orleans within a year of Katrina.