Wynton speaks to the devastation brought by hurricane Katrina

Posted on September 2nd, 2005 in Speech | Tags: katrina, new orleans, speech

Below is Wynton’s statement on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in his hometown, New Orleans:

“New Orleans is the most unique of American cities because it is the only city in the world that has created its own culture. With architecture, music and festive ceremonies, it’s of singular importance to the United States of America. Moreover, with a mixture of Spanish, French, British, West African and American people living in the same city, New Orleans can be depicted as the original melting pot. The collision of these cultures created jazz, the only art form that embodies the fundamental principles of American democracy. Serving to represent the best of the United States, it eventually swept the country and the world at large.

New Orleanians are blues people. We are resilient, so we are sure that our city will come back. This tragedy however, provides an opportunity for the American people to demonstrate to the world that we are one nation determined to overcome our legacies of injustices based on race and class. At this time all New Orleanians need the nation to unite in a deafening crescendo of affirmation to silence that desperate cry that is this disaster.
We need people with their prayers, their pocketbooks, and above all their sense of purpose to show the world just who the modern American is and then we’ll put our city back together in even greater fashion. This is gut check time for all of us as Americans.

In a country with the most incredible resources in the world we need the ingenuity of our best engineers to put the cultural heart of our nation back together. To put it together with 2005 technical expertise and social consciousness without accommodating the ignorance of racism, the deplorable poverty, and lack of education that has been allowed to fester in many great American cities since slavery.

We’re only as civilized as our level of hospitality. Let’s demonstrate to the world that what actually makes America the most powerful nation on earth is not guns, pornography and material wealth but transcendent and abiding soul, something perhaps we have lost a grip on, and this catastrophe gives us a great opportunity to handle up on.”