Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mardi Gras Events in support of HR 4048 on SJSU campus reported in Spartan Daily: Dressing, marching for Katrina

The following is the full article that was published in the Spartan Daily. They covered the events that took place at SJSU on Tuesday Feb. 5th in support of HR 4048:

Dressing, marching for Katrina

By Tommy Wright

To help bring awareness of the conditions in the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, members of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project held a Mardi Gras celebration at SJSU on Tuesday.

"We are trying to draw attention to the bill we have in Congress right now, H.R. 4048, to help rebuild the Gulf because the Lower Ninth Ward is still not rebuilt," said Carlyn Steward, a senior behavioral science major and member of the group. "It's been two years."

"So, we're trying to do something about it, but we are all the way in California," Steward said. "So we're just trying to help bring awareness here in California by celebrating Mardi Gras in the traditional way that they would in New Orleans."

H.R. 4048, or the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Zoe Lofgren with the purpose of rebuilding homes, public infrastructure, and community resources in the areas that were devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

It would provide at least 100,000 jobs to those affected by the hurricanes.

"That's the dirty little secret, the reconstruction that has been done and the clean up that has been done didn't go to the people of the Gulf," said associate professor Scott Myers-Lipton, who runs the project. "It went to outside labor, cheap labor, exploited labor."

"I think people don't realize the extent of what's going on over there," said Julia Lang a sophomore sociology major and member of the group. "There's human rights violations, there's government negligence, but we're targeting this area because it's been exposed."

According to Myers-Lipton, the problem is nationwide.

"We're at the lowest level of investment in public infrastructure since the Great Depression."

He said they want to look at the problem as a whole, but they are using what they are trying to do for the Gulf Coast as a test.

"There's really a crisis in America, but the crisis is just more clearly seen in the Gulf Coast because four out of the seven hospitals are still down, 65 percent of all the schools are still down in New Orleans, and not just in New Orleans, in the larger Gulf," said Myers-Lipton.

The event started with sign and mask making at the Seventh Street Plaza. The group later met at the John Carlos and Tommie Smith statue to begin their procession around campus. The event featured New Orleans cuisine and the band Bug Horn Rex playing jazz music.

Myers-Lipton said the group hopes to gain the support of 100 members of the House of Representatives for the bill, which now only has Lofgren and two cosponsors on board, but they need help.

"There's tens of thousands of things to do … get involved," he said.


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