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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

World's largest second line set for Katrina anniversary

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge Rapper Dee-1 joins a march and rally to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, along with Wild Wayne, Mia X and other artists and community organizations. - KOWARSKI/FLICKR
  • Rapper Dee-1 joins a march and rally to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, along with Wild Wayne, Mia X and other artists and community organizations.

Among the dozens of 10th anniversary events commemorating Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures is one annual event that promises to have its biggest, most important year yet. An annual second line and interfaith prayer service that begins at the site of the Lower 9th Ward levee breach will be the "world's largest," according to organizers, highlighting the needs and injustices still faced by low-income New Orleanians and people of color despite the "progress" championed in the Katrina narrative.

The event — presented by the New Orleans Katrina Commemoration Foundation, Hip Hop Caucus, Nuthin But Fire Records, Q93, People’s Climate Music and Sierra Club — will honor the lives lost during Katrina, calling on city, state and federal officials to fight for racial and economic justice and to recognize Aug. 29 as a local and state holiday, as well as global action on addressing climate change.

"This will be the people's march," said Hip Hop Caucus president Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. "We believe demonstration without legislation leads to frustration."

The event — hosted by Q93-FM DJ Wild Wayne and poet Sunni Patterson — will include several social aid and pleasure clubs, including 9 Times, CTC Steppers, Lady Buckjumpers, Extraordinary Gentlemen, DSS, Electrified Ladies, Westbank Ladies of Pleasure, Rebel Sistas, Dumaine Street Gang, Clutch Poppin' Motorcycle Club, Smokin' Aces Motorcycle Club and Str8 Wyl'n Motorcycle Club. The All For One, Hot 8, Most Wanted and Rebirth brass bands will perform.

The march begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29 and is expected to reach Hunter's Field between Claiborne and St. Bernard avenues at 12:30 p.m. Guest speakers and performers include rappers Dee-1 and Mia X, Kermit Ruffins, Nuthin But Fire records CEO Sess 4-5 and many others.

Sess 4-5 — who helped organize the first march in 2006 with Wayne and Mia X, among others — said the event will "make sure the world sees that New Orleans people, we're still fighting to be made whole."

Patterson said New Orleans still has a long way to go to "rebuild the hearts, minds and faiths of people who have lost so much."

"We're looking at housing, rising rents, rising food costs, and salaries aren't rising," she said. "Homelessness and complete despair in some cases ... We can't just push things under the rug when company is coming, when the reality is people are still suffering."

Mia X says the event will highlight the dire need for mental health services for young people in the wake of the storm and the levee failures.

"I don't feel there was enough help given to them in a mental capacity. Now we have a bunch of desensitized young men and women," she said. "When the tourists come, everything seems fine ... They don't know what's going on in the inner city where the real New Orleanians are ... struggling to make the rent, buy food, get our children from a to b, to get them in school, buy uniforms."

Dee-1, who was inspired to rap following Katrina, says he often is asked "how New Orleans is doing currently" while he's on tour.

"They know something isn't right," he said. "They know the mass media isn't painting the right picture. ... People's innate spirit tells them there's more to the story. They often ask me 'How's New Orleans really doing?'"

"There were so many people who were left behind and so many people who died, and I don't think it's been given the attention, it's been glossed over," Wayne said.

Wayne says the current media circus reflecting on New Orleans 10 years after Katrina has not properly represented the realities facing the city's poor and people of color. "I don't think it really is a fair or realistic reflection of what's going on," Wayne said. "I don't think it's a real reflection — there's a ton of progress but at the cost of some of the people who make up the fabric of the city. ... I read about all the great new jobs and everything, but I don't see that with people I know or people who look like me."

Wayne also said that the city's hip-hop community has been largely overlooked in the recovery narrative, while jazz and brass bands, though integral to New Orleans and its recovery, have been at the forefront. Outside of this march, Wayne said, hip-hop has been left out of the citywide panels, discussions and other events commemorating Katrina's 10th anniversary.

"Our people are coming from everywhere [to the march]," said Mia X. "We get to see them and we get to hug and we get to chant. ... They're still grieving and they're still hurting. This is far from over from being healed."

Ruffins says the event will show young people something positive despite the immense tragedy surrounding it.

"We are people who lived though one of the biggest tragedies, ever," he said. "To bring all those people together with the message on that stage, I can only imagine what it can do to kids who don't have the opportunity to hear something positive."

Ruffins says event is a chance to "celebrate life, spread the message and have a real good time and love real hard."

An interfaith prayer service and reading of names begins at North Galvez Street and Jourdan Avenue at 10 a.m., followed by a second line and march at 10:30 a.m. and a rally at Hunter's Field at 12:30 p.m. Here's the route.

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