Through the Eye of Katrina  •  special issue, december 2007

Markers indicate locations discussed in this article; click on a marker for more details about a location.


Neighborhoods: Read more about the neighborhoods mentioned in this article. [+]

Garden District
Bordered by St. Charles, Louisiana, and Jackson Avenues and Magazine Street, the Garden District is a residential neighborhood in the heart of New Orleans. It is known for its lavish gardens, elaborate architecture, and the famous St. Charles streetcar. More >

Lower Ninth Ward
Border by St. Bernard Parish, the Florida Canal, the Industrial Canal, and the Mississippi River, the Lower Ninth Ward is one of the last districts to be developed in New Orleans. More >

The Politics of Poverty and History: Racial Inequality and the Long Prelude to Katrina

Kent B. Germany

Journal of American History, 94 (Dec. 2007), 743–51

On August 6, 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. His pen capped thirteen months of landmark legislation to fight segregation and poverty. A month later, a hurricane named Betsy grew to almost category 5 strength and threatened the Deep South. In its path to New Orleans stood an oil rig named Maverick, the pride of George H. W. Bush’s Zapata Offshore Oil Company. On the night of September 9, the storm came ashore with a fifteen-foot surge just south of New Orleans and soon crested levees in the city’s Ninth Ward and in St. Bernard Parish. Nasty water soaked into homes in a three-hundred-block area, prompting Gov. John McKeithen of Louisiana to call Betsy “the greatest catastrophe in our State since the Civil War.” Sen. Russell Long told President Johnson that Betsy had “picked the lake up and put it inside New Orleans.” Ultimately, the hurricane killed seventy-five people, most of them in Louisiana.[1] In the salt water south of town, the Maverick met a similar fate. Holding out hope, George H. W. Bush searched for his state-of-the-art steel rig for so long that his “eyes hurt.” The ocean had erased the best the Texans could offer, but fortunately for them, the company was able to collect an almost $6 million insurance payment (about $36 million in 2006 dollars). A few months later, Bush sold his part of Zapata, ran a successful campaign for a new Houston congressional seat, and began a historic career in government. His oldest son, George W., was nineteen and a student at Yale University, soon to become president of his old fraternity.[2]

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Glossary: Hurricanes along the Gulf Coast More [+]

Hurricane Katrina, the most expensive storm in U.S. history, is only the most recent hurricane to affect the U.S. gulf coast. Since the turn of the twentieth century, several notable storms have hit the region, bringing death and destruction to countless coastal communities.

The deadliest hurricane in U.S. history made landfall on the afternoon of September 8, 1900. A category 4 storm, the Galveston Hurricane arrived with little warning and beat the city with over 100 mph sustained winds until late into the night, killing over 8000 residents, and leveling 12 city blocks.

New Orleans States newpaper, September 22, 1947

New Orleans States, September 22, 1947. "Wind-driven water risingin new peril to Metairie." Courtesy

New Orleans States newpaper, September 22, 1947

New Orleans States, September 22, 1947. "Wind-driven water risingin new peril to Metairie." Courtesy

The 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane devastated parts of Florida before reenergizing over the Gulf of Mexico and making a second landfall in New Orleans on the morning of September 19. A direct hit, the category 3 hurricane flooded Metairie and other areas near the 17th Street Canal.

In 1965 Hurricane Betsy became the first hurricane to cause damages in excess of $1 billion. “Billion-dollar Betsy” was a category 3 hurricane, and it slammed into New Orleans on September 9, driving a storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain and overwhelming the Industrial Canal levees. Flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward reached the eaves of several homes and over the roofs of others.

On August 19, 1969, Hurricane Camille ravaged the Mississippi coastline with record-setting intensity. The strongest storm to ever make landfall along the Gulf Coast, Camille’s 190 mph sustained winds and a 25-ft storm surge stripped the land of all man-made structures within a half mile of the ocean and caused flooding as far north as Virginia.

Hurricane Georges was the second major hurricane of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season. It made seven landfalls in six different countries before coming ashore near Biloxi, Mississippi, on September 28. Despite being only a category 2 hurricane, the impact of Georges was felt throughout the gulf region. Parts of Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama endured 8- to 10-foot storm surges, torrential rains, and multiple tornados; however, due to advance warning and well-executed evacuation plans, the death toll from Hurricane Georges is low.

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most active on record. It spawned Katrina and six other major hurricanes, of which three—Dennis, Wilma, and Rita—made landfall in the United States. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was responsible for over 2,000 deaths and damages of over $125 billion.

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Forty years later, this son surveyed a new surge from the same sea, this tide almost twice as high as the one that sunk his father’s steel. On September 2, after a series of aerial surveys, President George W. Bush finally put his boots on the ground in the city—or at least on city-controlled property at the Louis Armstrong International Airport—and winked to the world about his fond memories of fun trips to New Orleans.[3] He did not, however, specify which New Orleans was the source of his nostalgia. Surely it was not the old, segregated city of his youth that had gone through a brutal contest to reorder race, remove Jim Crow, and redress inequality. Perhaps it was the architecturally stunning Garden District version with diverse columns and antebellum dreams or the shiny New South city with its tourist-obsessed progressivism and corporate-choreographed night life. Bush’s quip was an ill-advised throwaway line, but it helps underscore the role of historical understanding in establishing political priorities. The politics of the post–Hurricane Katrina recovery is in many ways a battle over history, a struggle to set the emotional and intellectual rationales that eventually dictate decisions. More than ever, conceptions of the past help decide who gets to decide.

One part of the city’s history is difficult to ignore: the persistence of poverty and racial inequality. The tragic conditions exposed by Katrina were long in the making, but for a period in the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of New Orleanians tried to shift the trajectory of deprivation and exclusion. They had a difficult task. In the mid-1960s, this city of almost 650,000 residents was one of the most impoverished, most unequal, most violent, and least educated places in the United States. Three of every four black residents lived near the poverty line; one of every two lived below it. Almost 50 percent of the city’s income went to the top fifth of the population, while the bottom fifth survived on 4 percent. In education, only three of every ten black men aged 25 to 44 had gone beyond middle school. The city’s traditionally all-black public schools were oppressively overcrowded, and over the next decade and a half, white residents abandoned all but a few public schools.[4] The local murder rate was almost twice the national average. The incidence of infant mortality, diphtheria, and tuberculosis rivaled any in the nation. Physical infrastructure was not much better. Perhaps half of the streets were essentially unpaved. In the predominantly black Lower Ninth Ward, almost 90 percent of the roads lacked adequate paving and drainage. Approximately one-fourth of the city’s 202,643 housing units were considered to be “dilapidated” or “deteriorating.”[5] According to the mayor’s office, the so-called slum areas accounted for about 25 percent of the city’s homes but contributed a scant 6 percent of its tax revenue. Such areas used almost half of the city’s services and were the site of half of major crimes and over one-third of reported fires. City hall was all-white except at the custodial level, and in a revealing development, white segregationists in state government fought vigorously to keep blood supplies segregated by race as late as 1970.[6]

The reasons for those problems are numerous, but in New Orleans each of them was a direct product of a system organized by Jim Crow imperatives, and by the 1960s, that system was failing from the inside out. The failure to include African Americans adequately in the modernization of the regional economy had begun to threaten the dreams of southern capitalists and had made the South’s most international city too exceptional for the world market. The complexities of racial inclusion and economic boosterism made the local fight against poverty and inequality about more than money. After 1964 the federally funded War on Poverty (defined here to include a broad range of civil rights and community development initiatives) became a multifaceted assault on exclusion and its effects: inefficiency, inequality, and alienation. It did not direct people into a life of dependency and despair, but carried forward a deeply traditional agenda to expand individualism and improve productivity. Stripped down to its barest form, the War on Poverty in New Orleans was about two things: encouraging growth (of both the local economy and the individual’s personality) and maintaining social stability. The major antipoverty strategy was to make individuals more adaptable to the demands of the marketplace, to turn the poor and segregated into better capitalists and capitalism into a better system for the poor and segregated. Hale Boggs, the New Orleans congressman and House majority whip, pointed to the need to improve “purchasing power.” Gillis Long, a distant cousin of Huey and Earl Long and a former congressman with racially moderate positions, stated publicly that poor “Negroes” were the costliest drain on productivity. Edward J. Steimel, the executive director of the Louisiana Public Affairs Research Council, a reformist, good-government group, summed up the sentiment in 1967 by explaining that “The Negro” was the “biggest problem that stands in the way of economic growth in Louisiana and the South.”[7]

Instead of being a radical challenge to the status quo, the War on Poverty proved quite conventional in its intent. A variety of programs tried to reshape the market in the interest of poor people and their neighborhoods by repackaging the poor and their neighborhoods for the market. Head Start was to catch poor children early and give them tools to communicate more effectively, provide an acceptance of schedules and procedures, and make them aware of life beyond the neighborhood. Project Enable was designed to improve the skills of parents in raising their child citizens and, according to a local report, teach “self-responsibility.” Adult education was to address the problems (and often the shame) of illiteracy. Upward Bound was to link aspiring high schoolers with opportunities for higher learning. Job Corps was supposed to isolate poor young people in a camp setting to teach them the secrets of being worthy workers. The Concentrated Employment program included an intensive orientation that taught the poor how to dress, how to interview, how to talk—in short, how to fit in. The food stamp program required recipients to purchase the stamps and use them as currency for specified items, imposing a budgetary regimen on those wishing to participate. Urban renewal and Model Cities were to improve public services, public infrastructure, and local participation in the hope of providing jobs, raising property values, and improving the desirability of affected neighborhoods. Similar ideas also came from amateur program planners in targeted poverty areas. One African American mother in the Central City neighborhood pitched an ambitious social worker–training program in which a principal objective was to teach the trainees to make themselves “pleasurable” to their clients.[8]

What gave the War on Poverty radical potential in the South was its helping people challenge the rules that controlled the mechanisms for social order and governed how black citizens took part in the local economy. In the post–Jim Crow South, using the government to integrate and assimilate black citizens instead of to segregate and alienate them represented a dramatic historical departure. In this climate of political and social reorganization, the Great Society replaced some of the managerial functions of Jim Crow, establishing structures and policies that shaped black inclusion. As such, it became part of an effort to reorient individual and social psychology to support post–Jim Crow citizenship, pressing forward individual-centered therapeutic solutions to broad political problems. Before the riots in Watts in 1965 and certainly before those in Detroit and Newark in 1967, New Orleans’s civic progressives, both white and black, were deeply concerned about disorder. This small, diverse group of leaders largely supported the end of Jim Crow and hoped for a smooth transition from segregation, but they fretted about the poor—in most cases, specifically the black poor—with almost every breath, characterizing them as alienated, isolated individuals who had lost contact with the real world. The poor were hopeless, helpless beings poised to destroy the larger world if nothing were done. The solutions to this civic problem were complicated, but rehabilitating the minds of the poor topped the priority list.

The therapeutic visions for inclusion had a wide audience, far beyond the coterie of civic boosters and corporate captains. Commentary from a variety of local War on Poverty participants showed that they wanted to belong, wanted to be included, wanted to be more competitive, and wanted to get assistance from anywhere they could. Countless contributions to grassroots neighborhood newspapers from the late 1960s called for residents to improve their self-esteem and self-reliance, thereby giving employers a reason to respect them. As the War on Poverty unfolded on the streets, messengers in the neighborhoods invoked this vision of self-improvement and community empowerment. One Algiers neighborhood activist argued that the poor could overcome their problems with “courage and fortitude” and could develop the “strength to control our lives.” Lavada Jefferson, a neighborhood organizer in the Desire area, lauded the antipoverty effort for fostering “security and contentment” and making it possible for men to leave home and fight in Vietnam “to save our country.” Students enrolled in the Neighborhood Youth Corps praised the program for helping them express themselves, have an outlet for their patriotism, and buy things they wanted. Linda Adams, an Algiers teenager, praised the War on Poverty for helping her “take over a great responsibility” and “strive . . . for a better America.” Others welcomed the “taste of independence” and the chance to “become [a] contributing member” of society.[9]

Federal policies stimulated grassroots political development and helped incorporate assertive black voices into the evolving, post–Jim Crow state. That growth of the state apparatus emerged amid a fragmented, decentralized hybrid of public and private efforts that arose from the margins of local politics and from the largess of the Great Society. The Great Society’s antipoverty and antisegregation initiatives were not matters of autocratic social engineering from Washington, D.C., but a complicated fusion of local, state, and federal arrangements that in New Orleans often had relatively little oversight from above. This flexibility allowed locals to tailor the use of federal dollars and control the political benefits derived from them. This quiet bureaucraticization and political entrepreneurialism represented an innovative experiment in racial inclusion. It provided a way to try to compensate for the stridently unequal Jim Crow state without having to pay for much of the change locally, and it made the state a vital place to expand economic opportunities, especially for well-positioned entrepreneurs and job seekers.

In New Orleans the broad War on Poverty helped a coalition of progressive interests move from the fringes of political power in the early 1960s to the center of it by 1970. One of the key vehicles for this political development was Total Community Action (tca), a federally funded nonprofit agency founded just before Christmas in 1964. Consisting of representatives from the local Social Welfare Planning Council, the Urban League, local universities, local churches, progressive business circles, and key local Jewish families, tca brought in several million dollars worth of Great Society community development money. tca’s leadership secured authority over federal grants by careful selection of its oversight board and creative use of federal rules designed to bypass traditional sources of power. During tca’s first three years of community organizing, an estimated five thousand residents participated in over eighty neighborhood groups in the five black target areas of Central City, Desire, St. Bernard, Algiers-Fischer, and the Lower Ninth Ward. The vast majority of those residents had not been civil rights activists, but they benefited from the tone set by leaders such as Richard Haley, an African American organizer who had once been the southern field director for the Congress of Racial Equality (core). As the director of this community organization effort, he oversaw the construction of what he termed the white progressive community’s “direct line to the ghetto.” Under his leadership, organizers in black target areas built enough power to take control of the multimillion-dollar tca from progressive white leaders by 1968.[10]

In the later 1960s, the massive Model Cities program, urban renewal projects, the Concentrated Employment program, the food stamp program, and several other smaller programs added over $20 million to black neighborhoods and used grants to expand the state’s capacity to address demands from black communities. While white employers proved resistant to hiring black workers for jobs traditionally held by whites, the Great Society helped form a parallel marketplace for ambitious African Americans, and that marketplace sustained a generation of black political and business leaders. Contracts and pinstripe patronage associated with Community Action, Model Cities, and urban renewal offered desperately needed sources of capital, income, and political power. Men such as Sherman Copelin, Donald Hubbard, and Theodore Marchand were able to develop long-term, lucrative careers at those intersections of the public and private marketplaces. After the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the number of black voters in New Orleans almost doubled. Those votes became crucial to securing control of the new Great Society–linked apparatus as the 1967 Green Amendment to the Office of Economic Opportunity appropriation bill gave mayors and city councils the authority to take over Community Action programs from nonprofit boards. The winners in this process were neighborhood-based political organizations led by bureaucratically savvy, college-educated leaders. The most prominent of these groups were the Ninth Ward’s Southern Organization for Unified Leadership (soul), Central City’s Black Organization for Leadership Development (bold), and the Creole-dominated Seventh Ward’s Community Organization for Urban Politics (coup). Winston Lill, the original tca director, said that those neighborhood-based groups “came out of our [tca’s] community organization [component] without question.” The capacity of the largely private groups to organize and to win elections gave them great authority to control policies and positions in antipoverty programs in black target areas, while the power from those programs helped them organize and win elections, particularly at the mayoral and gubernatorial levels.[11]

While leaders of political groups proved adept at playing racial-bureaucratic politics, other grassroots leaders had less success. Welfare rights activists, radical students, the Black Panthers, neighborhood activists, and an organization called Thugs United Incorporated flourished in the competitive, democratic flux after 1968. By 1971 most of them had collapsed. Internal friction, the lack of effective bureaucratic structures, and their exclusion from key parts of the local Great Society marketplace kept them outside a newly forming magic circle of local political power. Part of the reason that the acronym groups became the kings of local politics was the urban crisis signaled by civil disorders in many cities. In New Orleans the groups became keepers of the Great Society’s “line to the ghetto.” In short, they were the quintessential political fixers.[12]

In the 1970s this fight against poverty and inequality seemed to have been a worthwhile experiment. New Orleans had not exploded, and its cadre of powerful black leaders and black organizations helped project a progressive image. Following national trends, its poverty rate was falling quickly. Downtown New Orleans got a building so grand they called it the Superdome and made it look like a big brass spaceship—or a twenty-five-story trumpet shouting up from a historic piece of ground. Into that space-age horn marched the Saints, the National Football League (nfl) franchise that still holds the record for the longest streak of losing seasons. The oil economy was booming, and its profits further changed the architecture of downtown, producing a vertical New Orleans that turned the once-quaint Poydras Street into a mirrored canyon. This futuristic New Orleans looked away from the poverty of its past, and its political battles shifted from the search for equality to the search for usable political power. As one activist stated, the new era was about “politics, not civil rights” and was about getting “the most you can from whoever you can.”[13]

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Thread: The Superdome as symbol Expand thread [+]

The Superdome was another component in the renewal of downtown New Orleans and the civic area that had begun in the 1950s with the building of a new city hall. Follow thread in Kingsley, “Building Renewal” >

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< Return to Souther’s “French Quarter as Facade in a Divided City”

In the 1980s two primary engines of the local boom failed. The oil market went bust, which compounded problems associated with a long-term decline in the number of jobs at the port of New Orleans and left the metropolitan area in a depression from which it has never fully recovered. Almost at the same time, the federal pipeline to the cities almost shut down. The Reagan administration, following earlier trends, proposed in 1985 to cut support to cities by 50 percent and other relevant federal programs by 80 percent. To Mayor Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial of New Orleans, this signaled “the beginning of the end of the historical federal-city partnership.”[14] This economic and political trauma raised serious questions about a central premise of state-sponsored inclusion after Jim Crow. A rising tide, it turned out, did not lift all boats. Instead, that tide seemed to flow mostly out to the suburbs, and New Orleans, like other American cities, had experienced an epic exodus of white residents and many middle-class black residents. When out-migration began to slow in the late 1980s, the city had almost 200,000 fewer white residents. The white percentage of the population had steadily declined from 62 percent in 1960 to 40 percent in 1980, reaching 28 percent by 2000.[15]

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Thread: Decline of white population within the city Expand thread [+]

Out-migration was racially selective, and after 1980 the city of New Orleans (Orleans Parish) had a black majority, although the metropolitan area, which includes suburbs, did not. Follow thread in Fussell, “Population History” >

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In the 1980s and 1990s, city leaders had to come to grips with the reality that the city’s post–Jim Crow system for managing poverty and racial inequality had become a shell of its intended self. The community action–oriented War on Poverty had effectively been over since the mid-1970s, and even that had been less a war than a politically charged policy experiment dependent on grassroots insurgency. Some War on Poverty programs, such as Head Start, Medicaid, and Upward Bound, continued their role of assisting individuals on the economic margins, but the once-invigorating Community Action program had evolved into a set of fairly traditional social service delivery agencies, often overseeing Head Start programs. The mainstays of the remaining antipoverty framework were the means-tested, New Deal–era cash transfer programs. This situation was clearly not limited to New Orleans. In 1988 the resurgent problems of race and inequality led Ronald Reagan to declare that “poverty won” the War on Poverty.[16] He was right in some ways because the War on Poverty was no match for larger and far more powerful economic and demographic trends. The reality was not so much that poverty had won as that the forces of privatization and the search for security and stability—usually in white-dominated, if not white-only, areas—had been the victors. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina revealed how far the country had come from the optimism and idealism of the 1960s.

Katrina dramatically exposed this fragile state of race and poverty and highlighted a complicated political bargain made by leaders responsible for cities at every level—and by implication, most other Americans. They had made peace with poverty. Unable or unwilling to stop it, they mostly hoped to contain it, and their uneasy compromise depended largely on the vast law-and-order apparatus that had emerged in the late 1960s and the vast distances between the poor and the rest of society, whether geographical, psychological, or institutional. In the decade before Katrina hit, there was no mass movement for social justice equivalent to what had existed in the 1960s. In part, that situation reflected the way the events of September 11, 2001, had shifted the focus to terrors from other shores, but the stasis of liberalism was equally to blame. Poverty had slipped so far off the national radar that it took the worst storm in a century to put it back on the political screen, and then for only a short while.

For good or bad, storms start with no history. They are just molecules in chaos that join what is already underway. What matters most after them usually depends on what mattered most before them. Katrina’s place in the long narrative of American racial inequality will continue to unfold for several years. So far, the future is not bright. In the year after the storm, the overall Katrina recovery has become an issue of only occasional national interest, and poverty in New Orleans has largely returned to being a local matter. In January 2007, George W. Bush failed to mention Katrina or the recovery in his State of the Union message and used the word gulf only once and then in reference to the Middle East.[17] Katrina created poignant images and left a liquid arc of almost unparalleled destruction, but it has not effectively nationalized the issue of inequality or significantly altered the civic debate over social and economic rights and privileges. Sympathy and compassion awaken people’s attention, but they usually do not last long enough to set national agendas. In the 1960s and 1970s, the transformation related to the War on Poverty did not arise so much from compassion as from black political power, from fear, and from the momentum generated by the civil rights movement. Since Katrina, the dispersion of New Orleans’s population, especially its black middle class, has hampered the opportunities to have a mass local response that could stimulate grand action. Activists have worked feverishly, but they have struggled to gain much ground.

If history is any guide, until poverty and inequality threaten growth or become too much for the law enforcement–industrial complex to handle, the poor and marginalized will remain at the mercy of the market and the remnants of the welfare state. As time passes, the chance of turning the power of the Katrina crisis into long-term national policy slips away—if it ever existed. And if the War on Poverty offers any lessons, it is that federal policies can dramatically alter local cultures, but their impact depends on which locals implement them and on how they challenge existing sources of power and of community identity. The prevailing strategy of letting the market steer the recovery has some potential to create a better New Orleans for all, but as the War on Poverty demonstrated, citizens on the economic margins benefit from market forces most when they have a serious say in the policies that guide them and receive clear rewards from them. Poverty is a consequence of individual choices, but those choices are products of a complex system made up of people and institutions and politicians and many explicit decisions. The civil rights movement and some of the War on Poverty provided an important, if brief, conduit for voices on the margins. Unless systems are in place to guide the market-driven recovery from Katrina toward egalitarian ends, the Katrina marketplace will mostly reward the powerful and well-connected, and poverty, like water, will dictate the city’s future. A meaningful post-Katrina response depends on developing effective new grassroots methods for creating political pressure, on rethinking the management of market forces as they affect the lives of the poor, and on hoping that Katrina’s soldiers of compassion will create a national fuss over conditions in New Orleans and in their own communities.

Kent B. Germany is assistant professor of history and African American studies at the University of South Carolina. He wishes to thank the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs for its support for the project on which this essay was based.

Readers may contact Germany at germany at sc dot edu.

[1] Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, “Operations Progress Report: Disaster Activities in Connection with Hurricane ‘Betsy’ (Final Report),” July 28, 1967,; U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Hurricane Betsy Disaster of September 1965: Hearings before the Special Subcommittee to Investigate Areas of Destruction of Hurricane Betsy of the Committee on Public Works House of Representatives, 89 Cong., 1 sess., Sept. 25, 1965, p. 8; Russell Long and Lyndon B. Johnson, conversation, Sept. 10, 1965, 2:36 p.m., citation 8847, WH6509.03, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings (Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin, Tex.) (transcript at Kent B. Germany, “lbj and the Response to Hurricane Betsy,” Aug. 29, 2005,; Edward F. Haas, “Victor H. Schiro, Hurricane Betsy, and the ‘Forgiveness Bill,’” Gulf Coast Historical Review, 6 (Fall 1990), 67–90.

[2] George H. W. Bush quoted in Walter Pincus and Bob Woodward, “Doing Well with Help from Family, Friends; They Pointed Bush to Jobs, Investments,” Washington Post, Aug. 11, 1988, p. A1; Diane Austin et al., History of the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry in Southern Louisiana, vol. I: Papers on the Evolving Offshore Industry (New Orleans, 2004), 21–22. George H. W. Bush won a 1964 suit to redraw Texas congressional districts in the wake of the “one-man-one-vote” apportionment rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. Bush v. Martin, Civ. A. No. 63-H-266 (1964); Martin v. Bush, 376 U.S. 222 (1964). On George W. Bush in 1965, see John Tierney, “How Blue and Red Emerged from Old Blue,” New York Times, March 21, 2004.

[3] George W. Bush, “Remarks on Hurricane Katrina Recovery Efforts in Kenner, Louisiana,” Sept. 2, 2005,

[4] New Orleans City Planning Commission, Model Cities Application (New Orleans, 1970); James R. Bobo, The New Orleans Economy: Pro Bono Publico? (New Orleans, 1975), 30–32; Edward F. Haas, DeLesseps S. Morrison and the Image of Reform: New Orleans Politics, 1946–1961 (Baton Rouge, 1974), 57. On education, see James Harvey Kerns, “Facing the Facts of the Racial Relations Dilemma in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1964,” n.d., pp. 3–11, Folder ulgno Serials, box 64, Community Services Council Collection—Accession Number 34 (Earl K. Long Memorial Library, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, La.); Social Welfare Planning Council, “School Dropout and Youth Employment Committee,” Dec. 1963, unlabeled green folder, box 39, ibid.; State Department of Education of Louisiana, One Hundred Thirty-first Annual Report, Session 1979–80, Bulletin no. 1472 (Baton Rouge, 1980), 258, available at Louisiana Department of Education,

[5] City Demonstration Agency, Comprehensive Demonstration Plan (New Orleans, 1970), 12–58 (City Archives, Louisiana Division, New Orleans Public Library, New Orleans, La.); New Orleans City Planning Commission, Model Cities Application,13, 36–44; tca Research Department, “New Orleans” [1969], United Fund folder, box 55, naacp Office of Field Director of Louisiana Records (Amistad Research Center, Dillard University, New Orleans, La.); Bobo, New Orleans Economy, 63–64. On housing, see James R. Bobo, ed., Statistical Abstract of Louisiana (New Orleans, 1965), 252; Social Welfare Planning Council, Reports, Dec. 1, 1964, folder 16, box 3, Winston Lill Collection (Department of Special Collections, Tulane University Libraries, New Orleans, La.); and “Alarmed Citizens to Attack ‘Bad Housing,’” New Orleans Louisiana Weekly, April 4, 1964, p. 1.

[6] Victor Schiro to Marilyn Sublette Immualle, April 17, 1968, Housing folder, box 43, Public Relations Series, Schiro Collection (Louisiana Division, New Orleans Public Library); Roy Reed, “Louisiana House for Tighter Definition,” New York Times, June, 4, 1970; New Orleans Louisiana Weekly, June 27, 1970; “Blood Labeling Law Debated in La.,” Washington Post, June 21, 1970, p. 19; “Race Labels Maintained,” ibid., June 24, 1970, p. A6.

[7] On modernization, see Numan Bartley, The New South, 1945–1980 (Baton Rouge, 1995), 259–60. On traditionalism in the War on Poverty, see Gareth Davies, From Opportunity to Entitlement: The Transformation and Decline of Great Society Liberalism (Lawrence, 1996), 236–43; Alice O’Connor, Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History (Princeton, 2001), 146–95; Hale Boggs, “Speech for the Executive Club in N.O.,” April 30, 1964, box 5, Speaking Engagements, Boggs Collection (Department of Special Collections, Tulane University Libraries); Rosemary Powell, “Census Data Bares Blight: City and State Declared Poverty War Battlefield,” NOSI, n.d., in tca–newspaper clippings folder, box 55, Community Services Council Collection. Edward J. Steimel, “Impact on Louisiana’s Economy,” par Analysis, 141 (March 1967), 5; Allen J. Matusow, The Unraveling of America: A History of Liberalism in the 1960s (New York, 1984), 270–71.

[8] “Work Program—Conduct and Administration,” Sept. 30, 1966, Family Service Society Current 66–71 folder, box 25, Community Services Council Collection; “Project Enable,” Central City Areascope, Jan. 23, 1967, swpc Neighborhood Centers 1966–1968 folder, unprocessed box 24, ibid.; Alma M. Cottles, “Idea for War on the Poverty Program,” Nov. 5, 1966, Federal Agencies oeo folder, 1966 Subject files, Boggs Collection.

[9] Jennifer Hochschild, Facing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation (Princeton, 1995); “Where the Fault Lies,” Algiers Sentinel, Sept. 1967, swpc Neighborhood Centers 1966–1968 folder, unprocessed box 24, Community Services Council Collection; Linda Adams, Berhman High School student, to Hale Boggs, June 2, 1967, Poverty nyc folder, box 85, 1967 Subject Files, Boggs Collection; Karina Gracia to Boggs [June 1967], ibid.; Elaine Simoneaux to Boggs, June 6, 1967, ibid.; Mary Ellen Laners to Boggs, June 7, 1967, ibid.; Loria C. Jordan, “Youth Interest and Lack of Interest in the Poverty Program,” Central City Areascope, Jan. 23, 1967, swpc Neighborhood Centers 1966–1968 folder, unprocessed box 24, Community Services Council Collection.

[10] Rowena Courson, “Community Organization in Low-Income Neighborhoods in New Orleans,” swpc Project Report, Dec. 1968, swpc-tca c. 1960s folder, Report Forms, Series II, box L, Community Services Council Collection; Richard Haley, “Observations,” Feb. 22, 1968, Board of Directors, 1967–1968 folder, box II C, ibid.

[11] Michael K. Brown and Steven P. Erie, “Blacks and the Legacy of the Great Society: The Economic and Political Impact of Federal Social Policy,” Public Policy, 29 (Summer 1981), 299–330; voter registration statistics, Oct. 31, 1969, “Election—1969” folder, box 41, Public Relations Series, Schiro Collection; Winston Lill interview by Kent B. Germany, April 29, 1997, transcript (in Kent B. Germany’s possession).

[12] Kent B. Germany, New Orleans after the Promises: Poverty, Citizenship, and the Search for the Great Society (Athens, Ga., 2007), 209–70.

[13] U.S. Department of Interior, Census Office, “Poverty Status of People by Family Relationship, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1959 to 2005,” Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements. Poverty and Health Statistics Branch/hhes Division (Washington, 2006), Anonymous black leader quoted in Clarence “Bombay” Smith, “The Common Mans Political Analysis,” Black PAC Epitath, Aug. 11, 1972, Political Ephemera Collection (Department of Special Collections, Tulane University Libraries).

[14] Ernest Morial quoted in Milton Coleman, “Cities Feel Stranded, Mayor Reports,” Washington Post, Feb. 8, 1985, p. A5; John Herbers, “Mayors Stress ‘New Localism,’” New York Times, June 18, 1985, p. A12.

[15] Office of Economic Opportunity, “Community Profile Project: Orleans Parish, Louisiana” [1966], box 202, series E23, Records of the Community Services Administration, rg 381 (National Archives, College Park, Md.); tca Research Department, “New Orleans.” The two best governmental sources for recent census data on New Orleans are U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder,; and U.S. Census Bureau, State and County Quick Facts,

[16] Ronald W. Reagan, “Address before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union,” Jan. 25, 1988, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, 1988 (Washington, 1990), 87.

[17] George W. Bush, “Address before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union,” Jan. 27, 2007, The American Presidency Project,