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New Orleans survivor gathers stories

Displaced from his home in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans poet, filmmaker, educator and critic Kalamu ya Salaam is leading an effort to record the experiences of scattered New Orleanians during and after the devastating storm and to share these stories with the world via the Internet.

Salaam will discuss his project and web site on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. in Room 4-163.

Salaam likens this project to those of the 1930s Works Projects Administration, which collected the stories of those who had experienced slavery.

"We collect the stories of people who survived a defining moment in American and world history," Salaam writes on his web site.

"Too often when major historic events take place, those who live at the margins of the mainstream are ignored," Salaam writes. "We know what the presidents and generals did; we know what the business leaders and major cultural figures thought; but do we know anything about the poor, the disenfranchised, the people of the dome, the overpass, as well as those who left the city on Sunday and as of Tuesday night had no city to return to?"

Salaam, who is living temporarily in Nashville, will also read from his past and current work about New Orleans and displacement.

The event is sponsored by the MIT Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. For more information, call x3-7894.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 2, 2005 (download PDF).

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