"It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans — the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans," the mayor said. "This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."
Not that having a majority black city is wrong, if that's just the way the cards fall. After all, there are more than enough majority white cities. I think Nagin could have chosen his words a bit more carefully, such as leaving the above statement out completely. What Nagin had to say didn't really bother me that much, but I can see how it would rub others the wrong way. I will concede that, if there is a god, that god probably could not care less what the racial background of any city is, let alone New Orleans. Nonetheless, NOLA was a beautiful city before Katrina and Rita laid waste to her, and that was because of the people that lived and worked there, day after day, to make her what she was.
Now! Nagin's anger (not his brashness and tactlessness, mind you) is understandable, seeing as there was a shooting at the MLK day parade the day before he made his statements - symptomatic of the lack of unity among the black populace that the good Doctor would have been swift to condemn. Nagin condemned it as well (non-italic commentary is mine):
Nagin described an imaginary conversation with King, the late civil rights leader.
"I said, 'What is it going to take for us to move on and live your dream and make it a reality?' He said, 'I don't think that we need to pay attention any more as much about other folks and racists on the other side.' He said, 'The thing we need to focus on as a community — black folks I'm talking about — is ourselves (ah, self sufficiency. Perfect.)."' Nagin said he also asked: "Why is black-on-black crime such an issue? Why do our young men hate each other so much that they look their brother in the face and they will take a gun and kill him in cold blood?" The reply, Nagin said, was: "We as a people need to fix ourselves first. (again, self-sufficiency, something Dr. King was all about)" Nagin also said King would have been dismayed with black leaders who are "most of the time tearing each other down publicly for the delight of many. Agreed."
So, were Nagin's comments taken out of context? Can anyone really know how Dr. King would react to this situation? We can only hope that we are following his example. We can only hope, furthermore, that we are operating on the ambition to simply leave this world in a better condition that we found it. That's all we can do.