Former U.S. President George W. Bush returned to New Orleans this morning to give a speech commemorating the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Bush spoke at Warren Easton Charter School which his wife’s foundation helped to rebuild after the storm. He also spoke at the same school after the first anniversary of Katrina.
Although he received a warm welcome and a standing ovation following his speech, we all can remember when his administration was severely scrutinized for the way they handled the disaster initially.
Something which just seemed very odd:..... George Bush visiting New Orleans on the anniversary of the flooding. 10 years too late?— Tom (@waswhaler) August 28, 2015
The Bush administration’s response to Katrina and the recovery efforts (or lack thereof) have been deemed by many historians and political experts as the lowest point in his presidency.
It has been said by activists and New Orleans residents that the Black population of the city suffered the most during and after Katrina.
Several neighborhoods such as the Lower 9th Ward – a predominantly Black area – are still struggling to rebuild and its residents are still living amongst ruins.
One grassroots organizer and New Orleans native declared earlier this week that Black people were just left for dead after Katrina hit and it should have been the government’s responsibility to do any and everything possible to save lives.
During his speech today, Bush said “The darkness from a decade ago has lifted, the crescent has risen again, and its best days lie ahead.”
He also praised the school system for its reform efforts and educators for their resilience.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Bush said. “The storm nearly destroys New Orleans, and now New Orleans is the beacon of school reform.”
Bush said that because of the success the New Orleans schools have had after Katrina, it sends a message to all Americans that the city is “back and better than ever.”
The only thing is, although his words are quite motivational…they aren’t entirely true.
Protesters who showed up to the event made sure everyone knew that things were not all rainbows and roses 10 years post Katrina.
Aaron Grant, 35, stood outside alone for most of the event holding a picket sign with the iconic picture of Bush looking over the devastation from Air Force One that read “You’re Early, Come Back In A Week.”
“I wanted to let the president know, we still remember,” said Grant. “At the time he did his fly-by, there were people dying in their attics. It was upsetting to me. It’s still upsetting to me 10 years later.”
Three other protesters arrived near the end of the event holding signs that read, “Black Lives Matter,” “We Charge Genocide,” and “George Bush Still Hates Black People,” in reference to rapper Kanye West’s outburst 10 years ago during a live televised Katrina special.
The protesters were chanting, “You Let New Orleans Drown!” as they stood peacefully outside on the sidewalk.
Although there wasn't a large turnout of protesters, their statements were profound and their voices heard clear.
Outside Warren Easton Charter School where George Bush spoke in New Orleans this morning for anniversary of Katrina pic.twitter.com/cR8OY5idGh— SONG (@ignitekindred) August 28, 2015
Despite the great things that have happened in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina, it is insulting for Bush to ignore the struggles that still exist and the better role he could have played as president during such a dark time.