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“I thank all the HBCUs for opening their doors. That was something they did not have to do. They could’ve said, ‘We’re too far along’ and could’ve been, ‘Sorry for you.’ The small to big, every single one of them opened their doors to somebody to let them in. Even the white universities, they opened their doors to let everybody in. So, I thank every single university that let people in.”
-Displaced student at Xavier University

While serving as Research Assistant Professor at Morehouse College, Dr. Mike Weaver had four displaced New Orleans university students to enroll in his Introduction to Epidemiology course. Watching the students´┐Ż challenges during their displacement provided the inspiration for this book. The Roots Cried Out: Hurricane Katrina One Year Later, Real Life Lessons from Young Adults in New Orleans and South Africa (ISBN-10: 0-9788587-0-0, ISBN-13: 978-0-9788587-0-4, 191pp., 8 ½ x 11 pbk) is a text written for educators, academicians, students and the general public. Written in the style of Studs Terkel's classic text on American labor, "Working: What People Do All Day Long and How They Feel About What They Do", The Roots Cried Out is based upon the perspectives of young people enrolled at New Orleans universities, e.g. Dillard University, Xavier University and Southern University at New Orleans. All students participating in the focus groups were displaced to various colleges and universities across the nation. The Roots Cried Out details their experiences while displaced at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other institutions of higher learning. Nineteen focus groups were conducted with 83 students soon after their return to New Orleans.

These students weighed in on topics such as FEMA, American Red Cross, the Tom Joyner Scholarship, WalMart, the government’s response, Black Greeks, spirituality, episodic depression, health challenges, and their interactions with students, faculty and administration at schools like Harvard, Howard, Columbia, Brown, FAMU, Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, Southern University, Wilberforce, Tennessee State, Fisk, Pine Bluff, Tuskegee, Alabama A&M, Grambling, Texas Southern, Paul Quinn, and many others. This is a must read for anyone involved in higher education (administrator, faculty or student), or planning for an academic career.

In addition, five focus groups were conducted on location at three South African universities. 25 students shared their perspectives on Hurricane Katrina’s portrayal in the international media. The students dealt with issues such as poverty and race in America, President George Bush and the United States government, September 11th, HIV/AIDS, the London terrorists attack, the tsunami, Oprah, hip-hop, and other topics. The young adults spoke candidly about what was portrayed in the media. Their insight offers a non-American viewpoint of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.

Part II of The Roots Cried Out is dedicated to photojournalism. Images from New Orleans and South Africa tell vivid stories. For example, the levees at Gentilly and the Lower Ninth Ward are shown in month-by-month progressions. The devastation of New Orleans is presented, as well as the beautiful landscape of South Africa. A comparison of cultures can be seen throughout the photos.

Lastly, licensed clinical-community psychologist Dr. Gary Wright provides an Afterword. His words give a socio-cultural and political examination of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. And as a psychologist, he discusses depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Wright’s Afterword brings splendid psychoanalytic closure to the book.

So, as a supplement for many academic disciplines (Public Health, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Political Science, Religion, etc.) or simply as a general read, The Roots Cried Out is available to students, educators, academicians and the everyday public. As of Spring 2007, The Roots Cried Out is required reading at University of North Carolina- Asheville, and selected reading at University of North Texas and University of Seattle. More colleges and universities are reviewing The Roots Cried Out in order to integrate into course readings. For ordering, please email.

To see recent service learning activities in New Orleans, visit 2017 Nola Volunteers.
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