Wendell Pierce on Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

On this 10th anniversary year of Hurricane Katrina, we share this interview with actor, activist, and author Wendell Pierce—who’s family roots in New Orleans go back to his great-grandfather—on the “greatest crime” in the wake of the storm.

As Democracy Now! explains:

New Orleans actor and activist Wendell Pierce looks at how insurance companies discouraged poor and Black families from returning to New Orleans after Katrina by refusing to honor homeowner policies. Pierce, whose great-grandfather came to New Orleans in slavery in the 1850s, talks about how Allstate gave his parents just $400 after they paid premiums for 50 years.

Pierce writes about his family in his new book, The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, a Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken. Here is a brief excerpt from the book:

If we forget our stories, we will forget who we are, and we will forget who we must be to one another. The family is our strength. My personal triumphs are not mine alone; they represent the victory of all my forebears. You can trace a line from the Hollywood soundstages where I work to the sugarcane fields of Louisiana’s River Parishes. These stories, stories of ancestors I never knew, are my story too, not only because they formed the moral imaginations of those who formed me, but also because these tales from my family’s oral tradition tell me who I am.

We also recommend the CBCRadio interview with Pierce on “why art is essential to recovery.”