New Orleans Event to Elevate Issues and Focus on Post-Katrina Rebuilding
“Many Americans caught in the whirlwind of market forces this year have experienced hardships with homeownership – a dream that Wells Fargo is committed to fulfilling and sustaining,” said Andre Brooks, head of Diverse Segments for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. “This event provides a vital venue for discussion about this issue with an important segment of our customers, including thousands of customers we helped following Hurricane Katrina. We are proud to sponsor this event for the third year in a row.”
The State of the Black Union weekend kicks off in New Orleans on Friday, Feb. 22 with volunteers working at six simultaneous city service projects in the Upper Ninth Ward, the Lower Ninth Ward, Central City, Hollygrove, New Orleans East and Broadmoor.
On Saturday, Smiley will host a conversation with 24 noted politicians, educators, social scientists, business leaders and clergy on “Reclaiming our Democracy, Deciding our Future” from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Ernest E. Morial Convention Center and broadcast live on C-SPAN.
Participation in the service project and attendance at the panel discussion is free and open to the public. Advanced free registration is required at www.tavistalks.com. All registered attendees will receive a DVD of Jonathan Demme’s documentary “Right to Return: New Home Movies from the Lower 9th Ward.”.
“Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath provided a portrait of disenfranchisement at its worst. The service we will provide to so many still in need on Friday sets up the conversation on Saturday on what leadership must look like for the next four years. If we can bring everyday people together to restore hope to this jewel city in a grassroots, hands-on fashion; the body politic should at the very least meet the people halfway and do its part. That is the true intersection of love and service,” Smiley said.
SOBU Builds, in partnership with the office of Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, will mobilize volunteers with the support of local community partners who are currently addressing community needs. The sections selected for the projects represent some of the worst hit areas of New Orleans. While millions have been spent on these neighborhoods, there continues to be a need for recovery in three key areas: housing, education and recreation. Volunteers will be assigned to one of six projects.
“We are excited to roll up our sleeves, once again, and to build a home that will benefit a New Orleans family,” said Wells Fargo’s Brooks. “A home is the foundation on which a family’s financial security is built, and we at Wells Fargo are committed to helping all of our customers achieve and maintain that critical financial goal.”
A partial list of panelists for the symposium include: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin; Norman Francis, president of Xavier University; Cornel West; Bishop Paul S. Morton; Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker; the Rev. Al Sharpton; the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.; Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu; Angela Glover Blackwell, Michael Eric Dyson and Michael Steele.
Other symposium supporters include National sponsors Allstate Insurance Company, ExxonMobil and Community Sponsors McDonald’s and the AARP.
SOBU BUILDS DAY OF SERVICE PROJECTS – FRIDAY, FEB. 22
Project 1 – Build a Home: Volunteers will take hammers and nails to help in the construction of a house
Project 2 – Beautify a City Park: Volunteers will clean up, refurbish park benches, clean equipment and restore landscaping.
Project 3 – Build a Playground: In an effort to give kids an opportunity to play; volunteers will assist in rebuilding playgrounds.
Project 4 – Demolish a Home: Volunteers will clear debris from homes.
Project 5 – Beautify a School Yard & Donate Books: Volunteers will plant flowers and clean school yard areas of debris.
Project 6 – Build Shelves for Public Library and Donate Books: Teams will collect and sort books.
Note to Editors:
Media may register on-site with identification certifying that you are a working member of the press. Business cards, press badges, or letters from editors from established news organizations are sufficient to establish eligibility. To register, contact Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati at The Literary (office) 215-877-2012, e-mail email@example.com or (fax) 215-877-4846 .
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $575 billion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through almost 6,000 stores and the internet (wellsfargo.com) across North America and internationally. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is the only bank in the U.S., and one of only two banks worldwide, to have the highest credit rating from both Moody’s Investors Service, “Aaa,” and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, “AAA.”
About Tavis Smiley Presents
Tavis Smiley Presents is an event production company dedicated to bringing thought provoking discussions, engaging town hall meetings, and consumer expos to communities across the country. During the last nine years its programs have reached more than 350,000 conference attendees and attracted millions of television viewers nationwide. Tavis Smiley is the host of Tavis Smiley on PBS, a weeknight half-hour talk show and the host of The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI, a two-hour news and opinion program featuring provocative commentary and exclusive interviews. He’s the author of 12 books including his bestselling memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America. He founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation to provide leadership training skills to youth ages 13 to 18. For more information, visit: www.tavistalks.com.