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Reflections From Behind The Mic

Allison Keyes
Steve Barrett

I’ve had a blast sitting in the host chair this past week as always.

Hilariously, Michel and I look similar (light-skinned African-American women with natural hair) and my live guest this morning, Bishop Harry Jackson, actually did a double take as he walked into the studio, which was pretty funny!

Our conversation with him was interesting. And he had interesting things to say about whether socially conservative blacks who like the religious tone of Glenn Beck’s rally might be disturbed by the perception that Beck has issues with African-Americans and with President Obama.  In fact, Bishop Jackson said he was initially concerned about joining the rally for just those reasons.

Other stories I enjoyed this week included the whole of our Hurricane Katrina anniversary coverage. I was in New Orleans at the beginning of this month.  I love the city and the resilient spirit of residents, like Gralen Banks, for whom there is nowhere else to call home.

I love the city’s heart. And its vibrancy.  But it is clear that there are major disparities in how and where the reconstruction is being done.

It was wonderful checking in with Mary and Morris Martin, two of the most upstanding, friendly, strong and determined people I have ever met. It was heartbreaking to hear their emotion after seeing pictures of  their home – nearly demolished by the storm – that still stands on  Flood Street in the city’s Lower 9th Ward.  I wanted to cry standing on that street looking at the Martin’s home, with two other ruined homes right next to it, all of them standing in several feet of grass and debris. Only one house at the far end of the block appeared to be inhabited, though there were signs that the owner of a house across the street is trying to restore that property one little piece at a time.

In some nearby blocks all that stands are the foundations of the homes that once stood there, and in some cases only the steps. Even with the new development – Brad Pitt’s ‘Make it Right’ homes with their space-age architecture – there are still gaping holes in the Lower 9th Ward, and a lack of basic services like grocery stores.

One of my favorite new Orleans stories though has got to be my interview with the fabulous Glen David Andrews, a man who is such a force of nature that he almost blew the mics out in the studio with the power of his voice!  You really should see him in person.  His vibe sucks in everybody in the room and you see people dancing ‘til they drop, hypnotically yelling the lyrics (when they aren’t improvised on the spot) to the tunes Andrews belts with such abandon.

So, I turn the mic over to Tony Cox for the rest of this week into next.  But no worries, I’ll be back filling in for the illustrious Michel sometime during the holidays!