By Mitch Landrieu, Founder and President

Even without two storms churning in the Gulf, many of us along the Gulf Coast were already on edge. You see, the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is on the horizon. Without fail, the images come flashing back. Each year, anniversaries are a time for us to reflect on where we’ve been. Each year, it is a time for us to stop to mourn the souls and ways of life that we’re lost. We can never forget. New Orleans faced a tragedy that threatened our very existence.

The still-vivid images of the huddled masses at the Convention Center and Superdome are a constant in my mind. We wondered how this could happen in America. In a way that few other events have in history, Hurricane Katrina exposed a global audience to epic damage, great suffering, severe racial disparities and a breakdown in government operations without precedent in recent American history, perhaps until today’s pandemic response.

Angela Glover Blackwell, the founder of PolicyLink who also serves on our EPU National Advisory Council, has written that because of Katrina, “America was forced to recognize that, for Black America, far too little has changed since the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Despite anti-poverty efforts, our nation has not addressed the fundamental factors that keep people poor. To lift people out of poverty and make good on the promise of opportunity for all, we must honestly and authentically confront our nation’s deepest fissure and most entrenched barrier to equity: race.”

Katrina taught us that we could not continue to do the same thing and expect a different outcome. Today, the city and region are much better prepared for a major hurricane, although the truth is that the underlying inequities that made us so vulnerable to start with remain present. We need not look any farther than the impact of the pandemic 15 years later.

Katrina left us battered, bruised and scarred. But with grit, determination and help, the people of this city rose out of the water, bearing the burden together that none of us could bear alone. Our resilience leads us down the winding path to resurrection. The recovery from COVID, like this long journey after Katrina, will take time. And again, applying a lesson learned from Katrina, we need to build our systems back better than before to emerge even stronger. Together, we can do it. Together, let’s honor the more than 1,800 lives lost in Hurricane Katrina by building a more equitable country today.

Mitch Landrieu
Founder and President


With less than 40 days to fill out the 2020 Census, we are engaging with civic and faith leaders to urge their communities to complete the census.

There are just 37 days left to complete the 2020 Census. As a part of our engagement around the census, we have been working in partnership with Fair Count to increase community completion rates across the South. We are working together to provide helpful resources & online webinars and leverage faith-based partnerships to bring awareness to the importance of the census.

Our second faith-based webinar will be this Thursday, Aug. 27 and will focus on faith leaders and census completion in Central Appalachia.

Learn more here.

As part of a final push to complete the census, EPU and Fair Count will partner for a special webinar and announcement featuring Fair Count founder Stacey Abrams and our founder & president Mitch Landrieu on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

For more information, click here.


Alabama: Secretary of State John Merrill: Alabama’s current statewide mask order specifically excludes polling places and no one will be prevented from casting a ballot in person if they don’t wear a mask []

Arkansas: U.S Bank Announces $1M in Grants to Black-Led CDFIs — Including Institutions in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, & Virginia [U.S Bank]

Florida: ‘Dream Team’ of three Florida women and their network of volunteers have helped more than 50,000 unemployed Floridians navigate the state’s notoriously bad unemployment system [OZY]

Kentucky: The University of Kentucky is putting more effort into addressing systemic racism officials announced [WKLY]

Louisiana: New Orleans street honoring Confederate icon renamed for HBCU president [PBS News Hour]

Mississippi: The choices for Mississippi’s new flag were narrowed to five after commissioners discussed the merits of several design modifications [Jackson Clarion Ledger]

North Carolina: The hit to the economy caused by COVID-19 is having an impact on roads as the North Carolina Department of Transportation confirmed they have had to cut back on interstate maintenance [FOX 46]

South Carolina: Health and environmental data show jurisdictions with mask requirements have shown a 46.3% greater decrease in cases since the mask mandates were implemented at the beginning of July [Charleston City Paper]

Tennessee: 74% of Tennesseans surveyed say they support mask requirements in their local communities [Jackson Sun]

Texas: The Houston region has seen more eviction filings during the COVID-19 pandemic than nearly any other city in the nation [Houston Business Journal]

Virginia: Detailed plans in place for careful removal of Lee statue [Associated Press]