Debbie Elliott NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South.
Debbie Elliot
Stories By

Debbie Elliott

Christine Uter
Debbie Elliot
Christine Uter

Debbie Elliott

Correspondent, National Desk

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.

For more than two decades, Elliott has been one of NPR's top breaking news reporters. She's covered dozens of natural disasters – including hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and Harvey. She reported on the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, introducing NPR listeners to teenage boys orphaned in the disaster, struggling to survive on their own.

Elliott spent months covering the nation's worst man-made environmental disaster, the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, documenting its lingering impact on Gulf coast communities and the complex legal battles that ensued. She launched the series "The Disappearing Coast," which examines the oil spill's lasting imprint on a fragile coastline.

She was honored with a 2018 Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation for crisis coverage, in part for her work covering the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the mass murder of worshippers at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. She was part of NPR's teams covering the mass shootings at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church and the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

Elliott has followed national debates over immigration, healthcare, abortion, tobacco, voting rights, welfare reform, same-sex marriage, Confederate monuments, criminal justice and policing in America. She examined the obesity epidemic in Mississippi, a shortage of public defenders in Louisiana, a rise in the incarceration of girls in Florida and chronic inhumane conditions at state prisons in Alabama and Mississippi.

A particular focus for Elliott has been exploring how Americans live through the prism of race, culture and history. Her coverage links lessons from the past to the movement for racial justice in America today.

She's looked at the legacy of landmark civil rights events, including the integration of Little Rock's Central High, the assassination of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers, the Montgomery bus boycott and the voting rights march in Selma, Alabama. She contributed a four-part series on the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, which earned a 2019 Gracie Award for documentary.

She was present for the re-opening of civil rights era murder cases, covering trials in the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham, the murder of Hattiesburg, Miss., NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer and the killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Miss.

Elliott has profiled key figures in politics and the arts, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, historian John Hope Franklin, Congressman John Lewis, children's book author Eric Carle, musician Trombone Shorty and former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. She covered the funerals of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, and the King of the Blues BB King, and she took listeners along for the second line jazz procession in memory of Fats Domino in New Orleans.

Her stories give a taste of southern culture, from the Nashville hot chicken craze to the traditions of Mardi Gras to the roots of American music at Mississippi's new Grammy Museum. She's highlighted little-known treasures such as North Carolina artist Freeman Vines and his hanging tree guitars, the magical House of Dance and Feathers in New Orleans' Lower 9th ward, a remote Coon Dog Cemetery in north Alabama and the Cajun Christmas tradition of lighting bonfires on the levees of the Mississippi River.

Elliott is a former host of NPR's newsmagazine All Things Considered on the weekends, and is a former Capitol Hill Correspondent. She's an occasional guest host of NPR's news programs and is a contributor to podcasts and live programming.

Elliott was born in Atlanta, grew up in the Memphis area, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. She lives in south Alabama with her husband, two children and a pet beagle.

Story Archive

Friday

Sheryl Crow, 2024 Dove Shore/Big Machine/Full Coverage hide caption

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Dove Shore/Big Machine/Full Coverage

Sheryl Crow changed her mind about releasing a new album. The change did her good

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Thursday

Federal probe into why a cargo ship hit a Baltimore bridge is in its early stages

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Ex-crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried will be sentenced for defrauding FTX investors

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Wednesday

NBC drops former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel as a contributor following outcry

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The impact of the Baltimore bridge collapse on shipping and supply chains

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Morning news brief

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Tuesday

Search and rescue teams scour water after Baltimore bridge collapse

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Israel cancels Washington talks after cease-fire vote clears the U.N.

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After Baltimore bridge collapse, emergency crews respond to mass casualty event

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Ohtani says he's shocked over gambling allegations involving his interpreter

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As he campaigns, Trump has been leaning into his narrative of Jan. 6

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Wednesday

Michael Corey Jenkins, right, follows a friend as he enters the federal courthouse in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, for sentencing on the third of the six former Rankin County law enforcement officers who committed racially motivated, violent torture on him and his friend Eddie Terrell Parker in 2023. The six former law officers pleaded guilty to torturing them. Rogelio V. Solis/AP hide caption

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Maui Mayor Richard Bissen speaks at a community meeting at the Lahaina Civic Center. A complex cleanup is underway seven months after the wildfire, intended to protect historic buildings and artifacts. Deanne Fitzmaurice for NPR hide caption

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Native Hawaiians aim to bring cultural sensitivity to Maui wildfire cleanup

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Tuesday

Chef Jojo Vasquez in the open kitchen of FOND – a Neighborhood Eatery, in west Maui. Deanne Fitzmaurice for NPR hide caption

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A Maui chef's lifeline: his restaurant as the island recovers from Lahaina wildfires

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Thursday

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs IVF bill giving immunity to patients, providers

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Wednesday

Hannah Miles of Birmingham speaks with Dr Dr. Mamie McLean outside the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala. on Feb. 28, 2024. They were among patients and doctors urging Alabama lawmakers to take action to get IVF services in the state. Fertility clinics paused some services in the wake of a state court ruling related to whether embryos are children under a state law. Kim Chandler/AP hide caption

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Alabama governor signs IVF bill giving immunity to patients and providers

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Wednesday

Kenneth Mayfield was in the Black Student Union at the University of Mississippi in 1970. Members of the group were jailed after protesting token integration on the Ole Miss campus. Mayfield, now an attorney in Tupelo, Miss., was also one of eight students expelled. Timothy Ivy for NPR hide caption

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A half-century later, students at the University of Mississippi reckon with the past

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Friday

University of Mississippi Black students compare campus life of today and 1970

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Monday

Arica Lynn Souza and her children Ayla, 3, left, and Silas, 4, on the porch of the family home where they are staying temporarily after losing their Lahaina townhome in the wildfires. Deanne Fitzmaurice for NPR hide caption

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Sunday

The most romantic ways to say 'I love you', from the romance experts

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Streaming services announce a joint bundle for live sports

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