Saturday, September 24, 2005

The more things change, the more they stay the same: 

Apparently back in 1965 New Orleans as hit by a bad hurricane called Betsy. At that time Lyndon Johnson was president and he made a trip to New Orleans to inspect the damage. Today in the New York Times there was a recounting of that trip.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

The presidential motorcade drove down Canal Street, broken store windows lining both sides, and made several stops. Johnson spoke with bystanders and toured a shelter packed with storm victims. An aide wrote, "Most of the people inside and outside of the building were Negro ... the people all about were bedraggled and homeless ... thirsty and hungry."

At one point, a woman rushed up to the president to tell him that both of her sons had drowned. The next day's New York Times reported, "according to Bill D. Moyers, the presidential press secretary, Mr. Johnson was 'almost overcome.' " He watched the stream of evacuees who had been rescued by boat from the rooftops of their houses and were now on foot, carrying whatever possessions were left.

When another woman asked the president for drinking water, Johnson dispatched a Secret Service agent to make sure it was delivered. An entry in the White House travel diary paints a grim picture: "Calls of 'water - water - water' were resounded over and over again in terribly emotional wails from voices of all ages." The president suggested that local soft drink bottlers (in an era before bottled water was an American staple) make their inventory available.

Sure does seem like not a lot has changed in 40 years. Then again, let me not be too harsh. I don’t think you hear the word “negro” too much anymore.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?