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Mitchell: Overby Center Commemorates Hurricane Katrina’s 10th Anniversary


Students and Speakers alike gathered Tuesday at the Overby Center for an open discussion panel on the Tenth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the way it has been covered throughout the media.

It is hard to believe that 2005 was ten years ago. For many, it is a stark and haunting reality they are faced with every day.

The Overby Center held a discussion panel centered around the commemoration of Hurricane Katrina yesterday afternoon and welcomed students and local residents alike to share in the memories and momentous tragedy in history.

Professor Cynthia Joyce, who has done her own research on online blogging at the time of Katrina, served as the moderator. Featured speakers included Dr. Nancy DuPont, Professor Alysia Steele and award-winning filmmaker Joe York. Each brought with them a touch of their own perspective on the tragedy, as well as the way which it had personally touched their lives in some way.

Professor Alysia Steele, who had been a picture editor and photojournalist for The Dallas Morning News, began the discussion with heart-wrenching yet telling photographs that flashed across the screen throughout her presentation.

“We never held back our photos,” Steele said, “Because we wanted the public to see what was really happening, and in our very own country.” Steele described the personal toll the tragedy had taken on some of the staff she had worked with that had directly come into contact with the tragedy and saw the heart-wrenching course of events firsthand, many of which slept on top of their cars to capture the raw footage.

“Some of the photojournalists on our staff turned into first responders during the event because they saw the lack of aid in the area,” Steele added. There were many somber photos that came across the screen, but there were also very inspirational photos, such as one of a group of African American men on a roof that proudly still held the American flag in all of their desperation. Steele said it best when she commented that, “These are still Americans.”

University of Mississippi Filmmaker Joe York soon chimed into the discussion and brought in his own unique experiences, including the opportunity to interview children that had been in the midst of the tragedy. He described his own involvement to be by “happenstance” when he discovered a classroom role in Room 10 in an elementary school.

He decided to hold onto the list, where it sat in his office on a thumbtack for eight years before he decided to investigate further into who the children really were on the list. York was astonished to discover that this had been the first time that many of these children even had spoken about their personal experiences during the tragedy and many were overwhelmed with emotion. Audience members had the opportunity to view parts of the interview and were encouraged to watch the whole film, which was published by Garden & Gun

Dr. Nancy DuPont is originally from Gulfport, Mississippi, which was one of the areas directly affected by Hurricane Katrina. Her involvement with NewsWatch 99 brought in many talented students in the area to document and interview residents personally affected by the hurricane. It gave them the opportunity to talk about their experiences and explain the tragedy from their perspective.

Much of the documentaries and films became award-winning pieces and shed some insight even from student’s perspectives. DuPont introduced students, such Master’s student, Ji Hoon Heo, who had to helped to produce and edit some of the film. Students were then called on to speak on their own experiences and ask further questions on the speaker’s experiences.

Samantha Mitchell is a staff writer for HottyToddy.com and can be reached at Smitche3@go.olemiss.edu.

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