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Katrina: Solutions are news

Actor and humanitarian Danny Glover visited New Orleans to support the work of the Algebra Project. Glover is a board member of the Vanguard Foundation which funds the work in New Orleans.

The Algebra Project is a national US mathematics literacy effort aimed at helping low-income students and students of color successfully achieve mathematical skills. The project says its mission is to ensure "full citizenship in today’s technological society."

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Story Transcript

VOICE OF REKHA VISWANATHAN: Actor and humanitarian Danny Glover visited New Orleans to support the work of the Algebra Project. Glover is a board member of the Vanguard Foundation, which funds this project in New Orleans. The Algebra Project is aimed at helping low-income students and students of color successfully achieve mathematical skills. The project’s mission is to ensure full citizenship in today’s technological society.

DANNY GLOVER, ACTOR: You know, I get up in front of the audience, I start sweating bullets, you know, basically. I’m just saying we all go through that. What you’re going through now, and watching your bodies growing and watching your minds evolve and grow, we all went through that.

DEBORAH ALFRED, COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT COORDINATOR: We’re here in New Orleans promoting quality education with our kids. We’ve got parents involved; we’ve got students involved; we’ve got men involved; we have the community involved. Danny, excitingly enough, came on through the Algebra Project and the Vanguard Foundation, and he’s on board with us to work with these young men, ’cause it’s so important for them to have role models. The project that I’m leading here is our family-involvement model. It promotes family involvement in our schools. But what’s very unique about the project is that all of those centers are managed by parents themselves, and so if there’s a problem in the school, they are the ones the parents talk to first.

PARTICIPANT: The John McQueens was a program that was intended to bring the girls together at John McDonough. We decided before I got in there that we were going to do a play focusing on teen pregnancy, and abuse, and all the things that young girls in New Orleans face these days.

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SHARMINI PERIES: Do you think that there’s been enough of a response to post-Katrina reconstruction?

PARTICIPANT: No.

PARTICIPANT: No, it hasn’t. I mean, there’s a lot of places where it’s still, you know, damaged and everything. And it’s under construction work, but I feel that it should have been finished by now. It’s two years has passed. I hate to walk in one area where it’s nice, and then I go on another side of town, it’s a whole different—it’s a disaster. You know, it’s a shame to see a city like this. And they say we’re in the richest country in the world. If we’re the richest country in the world, why are we still in bad shape as we are right now?

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GLOVER: And the question becomes [inaudible] where do we go from here? This happens to be the title of Dr. King’s last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos? When I was born 61 years ago, there were 2.5 billion people on the entire planet. Now, 61 years later, there are 2.5 billion people who live on less than two dollars a day. Three elements that happened in the last 35 years that characterize what we’re experiencing now. Mean income has remained stagnant among working people for the last 35 years. Interestingly enough, over the last 35 years, the population of women with children in the workforce has doubled, not because there were new advantages for women, but simply because they needed to supplement the family income.

PARTICIPANT: I really think that the reconstruction should have been done before Katrina. And now that Katrina has hit, it should be done. I mean, it should need more to get this done now, to start rebuilding these people’s lives, because when Katrina hit, you know, it took a lot of things from everybody. And there are people still living in Houston and people that are still in Georgia, people that are still all the way out in California that aren’t at home. They don’t know if their family’s okay. And I think that this reconstruction could have gone a little bit faster and that people really need to start coming home, because New Orleans is composed of the community, and right now we really don’t have much of a community.

GLOVER: American workers work 250 hours more a year than the average European worker, which means they almost work a month more. The third element of that is the fact that people have used credit and also used equity in their homes in order to fill the income gap. Also in that last 35 years, the further de-industrialization of our urban areas, places where there were manufacturing jobs, good-paying jobs, union jobs, where those jobs have been outsourced, particularly in communities of color. Then where do we go from here? Community or chaos? What are the stories that we have to tell in terms of building a new sensibility of advocating in the public sector, in the private sector, jobs that are not only sustainable and allows us to pass those onto our children, but also jobs that are socially valuable, the kind of work that is life-affirming, the kind of work that builds communities and build new relationships that are based upon people and the service of people, as opposed to the service of greed.

PARTICIPANT: I’m hoping that this program will spread throughout different schools. And I know that we have done a lot in the community. We try to get a lot of people involved. And I think that if we can make even two or three different people aware of what’s going on, that the news’ll spread and, hopefully, people will start coming back to New Orleans and try to help.

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PARTICIPANT: If you just work with somebody, be strong, be proactive, be kind, and a listener as well, you can get anything done. Anything.

PARTICIPANT: Yeah.

PARTICIPANT: Anything.

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GLOVER: As much courage as it has taken for every single person here who has come back to this city to help rebuild this city, we will have to go overstep and overleap that current to build the community that we need to build. And I’m here today because I believe you not only have the fortitude but the courage and the wisdom to move forward and to create that community that King talked about. Thank you.

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.