Politics

Obama To Herald New Orleans' Progress Ahead Of Katrina Anniversary

PresidentBarackObamaByReutersCarlosBarria

President Barack Obama on Thursday will highlight the "structural inequality" that hurt poor black people in New Orleans before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, during a visit to celebrate the city's progress 10 years after the storm.

On what the White House said was his ninth trip to Louisiana, Obama will meet with people who lived through the storm and recovered, heralding a city reborn.

Obama, who as a presidential candidate in 2008 sharply criticized Republican President George W. Bush for his administration's handling of the storm, will touch on that past again, according to excerpts of his remarks released by the White House.

"What started out as a natural disaster became a manmade one, a failure of government to look out for its own citizens," Obama will say.

"But what that storm revealed was another tragedy, one that had been brewing for decades. New Orleans had long been plagued by structural inequality that left too many people, especially poor people of color, without good jobs or affordable health care or decent housing."

With 1-1/2 years left in his presidency and a slew of recent racially charged incidents of gun violence and police use of force against minorities, Obama has spent increasing amounts of time publicly addressing racial inequalities.

Obama will note that the city has progressed since then.

"We acknowledge this loss, this pain, not to harp on what happened, but to memorialize it," he will say. "We do this not in order to dwell in the past, but in order to keep moving forward."

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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