NEW YORK—New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina must be allowed to return and have the chance to profit from the rebuilding effort, NAACP President Bruce Gordon said.
Gordon was among civil rights leaders, lawmakers and businessmen gathered Sunday at the Wall Street Project, an annual conference in New York created to promote diversity and equity in the financial sector. It coincides with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
"We have to make sure that the housing stock that is recreated is ultimately occupied by those who owned a home before Katrina," Gordon said at a news conference kicking off the conference.
The president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said that 20 years from now "there will be generations of families who will become multimillionaires because they participated in the restoration of the Gulf Coast."
"We need to make sure that the folks who watched their homes washed away are the same ones who have jobs, who run companies, and participate in the economic uplift that I assure you will occur 10 to 15 to 20 years from now," Gordon said.
Gordon; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Alden McDonald Jr., president of New Orleans-based Liberty Bank & Trust; and U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., discussed wide-ranging concerns surrounding the hurricane damage, including financial issues and voting rights for displaced residents.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and FEMA's acting director, R. David Paulison, were invited to Sunday's opening session but didn't attend.
— The Associated Press