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Angelo Greco at (917) 499-2688  angelo@trillmulticultural.com

Aug 1, 2007

"A Day Of Presence" In Support Of Gulf Coast Recovery: We Matter, We Care, We Act

Coalition Mobilizing Nationwide for Massive Demonstration in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (Aug 1, 2007)—Appalled by the lack of progress in the Gulf, a group of prominent business, civic and entertainment organizations have joined forces to mobilize Americans to converge upon New Orleans on August 29, the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The event, "8/29, A Day of Presence," will take place on August 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ernest N. Morial Conventional Center and is intended to force the government to act swiftly to create a Marshall Plan to restore New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region.

A Day of Presence is supported by a growing coalition of national and local organizations, including the Gulf Coast Collaborative (Louisiana Justice Institute, Mississippi Economic Policy Center, Mississippi NAACP, Center for Healthy Communities at the University of South Alabama, and the Gulf Coast Young Leaders Network), ACORN Louisiana, The Advancement Project, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, African American Leadership Project, Alabama Coalition on Black Civic Participation, All Congregations Together, ANTJA, Children's Defense Fund, Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, Every Child Matters, Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, Katrina Information Network (KIN), LeftTurn Magazine, Louisiana Diaspora Project (LA-Dap), Louisiana United Methodist Church Disaster Ministry, Louisiana UNITY Coalition, Millions More Movement, Mississippi Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Moving Forward Gulf Coast, NAACP New Orleans Branch, The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Nation of Islam Mosque #46, National Action Network, National Urban League, New Voices Fellowship, NOLA.TV, Office of Mayor C. Ray Nagin, OneTorch, People’s Hurricane Relief Fund, People’s Organizing Committee, PolicyLink, Rainbow/PUSH, Residents of Public Housing, Safe Streets/Safe City, St. Luke's Homecoming Center, Saving Ourselves Coalition, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) New Orleans Chapter, Tulane Institute for Study of Race & Poverty and the United Teachers of New Orleans.

Those being invited to speak include Susan L. Taylor, Essence magazine; Marc Morial, National Urban League; Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., 100 Black Men of America; Melanie L. Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; author and professor Michael Eric Dyson; Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network; as well as all presidential candidates.

"Enough is enough!" said Taylor, during the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. "It's the shame of the nation," she said before tens of thousands gathered in the Superdome, "that the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have been abandoned and are suffering without the most basic necessary supports while our tax dollars are directed toward war."

During the recent Essence Festival, a group of celebrities and national leaders talked to local elected officials, organizers and citizens about the challenges and struggles they are still facing two years after the devastation. A "8/29, A Day of Presence" was called to send a message to the world — and specifically to the federal government — that the priorities should be to rebuild homes and strengthen families in the Gulf Coast region.

Two years have passed since the deadliest disaster in modern American history hit the Gulf Coast. While New Orleans is seeing some signs of recovery — utilities have been restored to all areas of the city, businesses are reopening and residents are moving back home — New Orleans and the region yet face significant challenges. Fifty public schools remain closed. Too many people who want to return have not been able to do so. Emergency rooms are overcrowded, and uninsured patients and poor people find it almost impossible to obtain specialty care. In addition, New Orleans has a dearth of public and affordable housing and an increasing number of homeless residents. Levees, although improved since Katrina, may not be able to protect residents and property in the future.

Determined not to allow the anniversary to come and go without action, a coalition has been formed to reach out to fraternities and sororities, civic and grassroots organizations and all faith-based communities to coordinate bus trips to New Orleans so that their constituencies can stand in unity for “A Day of Presence.”

"We urgently need as many people as possible to stand united on August 29," said Tracie Washington, president and CEO of the Louisiana Justice Institute. "If you can drive or fly, get on the bus or sponsor a bus, we need you to join us in letting our leaders know that we want immediate action in the Gulf Coast region."

In addition to the march and rally on the actual day of the anniversary, August 28 has been designated a "Day of Public Policy and Community Service," when volunteers from around the country will help to conduct an environmental clean-up of an Eastern New Orleans neighborhood, the restoration of a historic African American church, the painting of a local public school and a visit to a senior citizens home. Discussions, health and wellness sessions and workshops will be held, including the Gulf Coast Collaborative Recovery and Renewal's Public Policy Forum at Dillard University and Black Women's Roundtable Wellness Journey and dinner recognizing women volunteers from the Gulf Coast, who have made a significant impact on rebuilding efforts.

Those unable to travel to New Orleans are being urged to participate by contacting their national and state representatives to demand the immediate restoration and betterment of the entire Gulf Coast region and by rallying 10 family members, friends and colleagues to do the same. The toll-free number for the congressional switchboard is (888) 226-0627 or visit www.house.gov and www.senate.gov to locate state representatives.

"We are soliciting all people of conscience to join us for 'A Day of Presence' to show the people of the Gulf that we do care and to let the world know that the conditions in the Gulf Coast matter to all of us," said Melanie L. Campbell, executive director and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.

For more information or to register, log on to www.louisianajusticeinstitute.org or call (504) 304-7947.

A Day of Presence is supported by a growing coalition of national and local organizations, including the Gulf Coast Collaborative (Louisiana Justice Institute, Mississippi Economic Policy Center, Mississippi NAACP, Center for Healthy Communities at the University of South Alabama, and the Gulf Coast Young Leaders Network), ACORN Louisiana, The Advancement Project, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, African American Leadership Project, Alabama Coalition on Black Civic Participation, All Congregations Together, ANTJA, Children's Defense Fund, Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, Every Child Matters, Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, Katrina Information Network (KIN), LeftTurn Magazine, Louisiana Diaspora Project (LA-Dap), Louisiana United Methodist Church Disaster Ministry, Louisiana UNITY Coalition, Millions More Movement, Mississippi Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Moving Forward Gulf Coast, NAACP New Orleans Branch, The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Nation of Islam Mosque #46, National Action Network, National Urban League, New Voices Fellowship, NOLA.TV, Office of Mayor C. Ray Nagin, OneTorch, People’s Hurricane Relief Fund, People’s Organizing Committee, PolicyLink, Rainbow/PUSH, Residents of Public Housing, Safe Streets/Safe City, St. Luke's Homecoming Center, Saving Ourselves Coalition, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) New Orleans Chapter, Tulane Institute for Study of Race & Poverty and the United Teachers of New Orleans.

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