Wynton speaks to the devastation brought by hurricane Katrina

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.”

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  1. Dear who evers
    Frist of all wynton by no means is making this racial issue in my eyes. however, How long did it take the Pres. peeps to respond to riots in those same states?not a week!President shook all the white members hands but when it came to the one token black man standing there he patted him on the back like a pet!!
    That was the first time he came. I have never seen bush shake a black mans hands since this has been going on televised and i was glued to all channels and my friends have not seen it. So something is up! Its up how they took the monies regarding the levees, its up now how they don’t want to treat the water AT ALL going back to the lakes that is infested with God knows what. its how the red cross had food and water at the airports and refused to aid at the beginings. we can tallk about freedom of speech but when we do it whats up? Granted if this was another class of citizens it would have been a new day!!! thank GOD the south isn’t like it used to be so much and all levels of citizens no matter race care!!!!!!!

    whitney marchelle jackson on Sep 8th, 2005 at 9:08am

  2. Wynton’s eloquent words speak to the beauty of jazz and the people who created and upheld the rich tradition jazz has brought to the culture of the United States. We pride ourselves as being the richest nation in the world, yet the images we’ve seen on TV tell a very different, harrowing story. The people of New Orleans and the states decimated by this tragedy should be given the opportunity to rebuild their lives, not as before, but better than before.

    Sonalii on Sep 6th, 2005 at 4:07am

  3. I hear Wynton talking here about the richness, democrazy, and potential that is the very heart of jazz–an amazing and transcendent mix of talent and the spirit of music itself. New Orleans is an amazing, creative, powerful culture because, like jazz, it is open and mixing and swirling and alive. What I heard here is not Wynton “making this about race” but rather trying to shine a light on the importance of jazz and the value of the culture–the whole culture, not just sections of it–that come together making this music. And in order to value something, you have to be able to tell the truth about it–about what’s good and what’s not. There is not an even playing field in this country. And maybe this horrible tragedy–and New Orleans herself–will be able to help the rest of understand that in a new and transforming way.

    Katherine on Sep 3rd, 2005 at 8:06pm

  4. Well well Cindy,

    Obviously you believe everything you see and hear in the media. You seem to be a little ignorant on the fact that Wynton is talking about politics, not the humanitarian and noble feats of your family, friends and neighbors. He’s talking about the unlevel playing fields created by government and polititans. He’s commenting on notions associated with being black and American. If you don’t know about this then you have got to be white. Don’t apologise for being so. No ones seeks your permission or sympathy. Instead Wynton is calling for empathy-gut, true grit, not pity- a platform that many hide behind.

    If you saw the relief effort Wynton’s trumpet was connected to his mouth and his music rang true and through the soul. What is it that is connected to your mouth? Count the I’s in your message and ask yourself WHY you do what you do. Does it help you ‘feel better?

    Do the right thing and keep your mouth shut on issues of power, If Wynton chooses to talk about ‘his city’, cultural legacies, political, social and economic atrocitites from his position of power-step back and do your thing.Let him do his. Don’t sweat it Cindy because it may not be about you.

    me on Sep 3rd, 2005 at 1:05pm

  5. I am so upset that Wynton is making this a racial issue. I spent my afternoon contributing to 5 different relief causes and I was not done yet…but I AM NOW!!!! I have a 23 year old firefighting son that is dropping everything to go and help in rescues. I have a neighbor who has left his young wife and family as a volunteer in the National Guard to hand out food and water. I won’t even mention any of their nationalities…except American..because it is COMPLETELY INSIGNIFICANT!!! If Wynton wants relief for his fellow Americans, I suggest he retract his statements,…and then if he feels the need to open his mouth…make sure there’s a trumpet connected to it!!!!

    Cindy on Sep 2nd, 2005 at 5:04am

  6. This speech touches me so deeply it brings tears
    to my eyes not for just sadness,joy of the compassion in the speech, and the calling of real people doing the right real thing!!!!!!!!!!!!! On this note I have a friend who books in Europe and Aisa who is looking for musicians and singers from the DISASTER AREAS WHO WANT TO TRAVEL AND WORK!!!! eMAIL ME [email protected]!!!!!!!!!!!!!ASAP

    marchelle jackson on Sep 2nd, 2005 at 5:03am