Saturday, September 01, 2012

Hurricane Katrina Radio Special

With the storm approaching I spoke to Dwight Henry, co-star in the film, Beasts of a Southern Wild, currently in Bay Area theatres. President Barack Obama asked Oprah Winfrey if she knew the film; she didn’t.

After a special interview with Mr. Henry, the director and the other co-star, which aired Sunday, August 26, she knows the film and story of the baker who portrays a single father in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Henry called me Tuesday morning about 6 a.m. in response to a query I'd posted on his Facebook page. I’d seen the film a few weeks earlier. My mother sent me an article from The Wave, a community paper in LA she gets and then tears articles for me she thinks I might like. I am happy she did. For some reason, when the film opened in San Francisco and the press was alerted, my star was not on the horizon despite the involvement of the San Francisco Film Society, yes the folks who produce the San Francisco International Film Festival. Numerous attempts to contact publicists for the film were stonewalled, so I checked on-line to see if the baker-actor has a Facebook page and he does, so I sent him an email (smile). And a week or so later, he called. We were to talk Wednesday morning on the air, but Hurricane Isaac was making its way through New Orleans. His representative deemed it practical to save his cell phone power. I was fine with that, so I will speak to him once things settle down. Mr. Henry spoke of being in California often, at least 3-4 times in the past five months: Tavis Smiley had him on his show too. Within the past year, he’s been to the Lucas Studios here and to Pixar. I don’t know how I missed or was not included in the loop, but my Mama was watching out for me (smile).

In lue of a formal program, which we do annually each year, I wanted to do a buy out for the film to raise money for Katrina survivors in the Gulf and the San Francisco Bay Area, August 29, 2012. In years past we have a report back or update too, but the will wasn’t there. This year, perhaps more than those past, was one where money would have helped. People can still send money to the organizations we support: Common Ground Health Clinic and Living Independence for Everyone or LIFE of Mississippi, Biloxi site Let them know you are a San Francisco Bay Area supporter. We earmark funds to people with disabilities and elders. We are interested in supporting the lesser funded alternative therapies.

Mali Rahim, co-founder of Common Ground Relief said in a brief conversation after I spoke to Mr. Henry Tuesday morning, August 28, that the situation hadn’t improved over the past seven years. Most people are without electricity or any kind of power. On his street in Algiers, Mr. Rahim shares power with neighbors, but he was furious that the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana has been so negligent once again in providing basic emergency preparedness services to those who could not afford to leave town. “School just started,” he said, “which means, people don’t have money for relocation.” In years past, one of the ways LIFE of MS has used our donations is to prepare and distribute Disaster Preparedness kits.

In a special broadcast, one hour earlier (5 a.m. PST) than usual August 29, 2012, I spoke to three men who are riding the storm out: Parnell Herbert, A3 activist and playwright, Mwalimu Johnson, community organizer, and prison abolitionist, and Malik Rahim, former Black Panther. All the men are Katrina survivors, including Robert King, author, political prisoner and only freed member of Angola 3, who now lives in Austin. King joined us as well. The four men gathered on the air to reflect on the unrelenting push to force African people from New Orleans. The gentrification is not subtle. At times heated, the conversation covered a variety of topics as winds pushed through town at a potentially lethal yet leisurely pace. I could not rest, even though Herb told me this storm is not as threatening as Katrina.

At the time of this writing, the hurricane had been downgraded to a tropical storm; there is flooding, evacuations and rescues, plus, believe it or not, the levees were breached once again (CRAZY!) All my family who rode out Isaac in the Gulf are fine, just without amenities like water and heat and light. Listen to the 7th Anniversary interview on See

I played music from Boukman Eksperyans, thinking of Haiti and the 24 deaths there, 42 injuries and the miserable conditions in the Internally Displaced Persons Camps ( I can’t imagine the horrific conditions as we approach the fourth anniversary of the earthquake, especially now that cholera is endemic. See

If one wants to watch the award winning film Baseball in the Time of Cholera, which looks at the intentional infection of a nation, and the suit initiated by IJDH/BAI One can send funds to: The Institute for Justice and Democracy, Haiti is doing fine work in collaboration its Haiti-based affil­i­ate, the Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux (BAI), in Port-au-Prince. I have visited there and met the wonderful director and many of the women and men who direct multiple programs from its offices. This is the organization where I slept in a tent on the ground and the next day couldn’t move (smile). See


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