Author-Beverly Kimble Davis and 'NEW ORLEANS' KATRINA, History and Law of Yesteryear In Force Today'
This interview will speak for itself, but I am humbled & honored to be able to have learned from Mrs. Beverly Kimble Davis about the racists atrocities covered up by the storm, Hurricane Katrina.
Davis found herself struck, bewildered, and angered by what happened too the people of New Orleans, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Beverly vowed to document the tragic man-made disaster so the world would come to know what happened. She did so with a series of paintings called, The New Orleans Katrina Holocaust, and a well researched and referenced history-based book entitled, NEW ORLEANS' KATRINA: History and Law of Yesteryear in Force Today. Beverly Davis has dedicated her life to use art to speak out in her desire to ensure that history includes a more complete and accurate documentation. A more comprehensive recording of the many unreported horrors experienced during and after the flood can not be found.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
From childhood I knew that I wanted to be a writer. However, it was not until I was age 30 or so that I wrote a religious book.
Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
“Katrina was more than an economic and social catastrophe; it was also a human rights disaster… the U.S. fell short in living up to international human rights standards it claimed to uphold…U.S. officials failed to live up to global human rights standards at every step of the process.” (Kromm, 2015)
The Institute for Southern Studies launched Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch to investi- gate the Katrina aftermath and recovery effort. Staff members made several investigative trips to the Gulf Coast, interviewed more than 100 Gulf Coast leaders, and analyzed thousands of pages of private reports and government records all of which resulted in several reports on the status of recovery of the Gulf.
In regards to the human rights standards, many violations began immediately after the storm hit. It is estimated that more than 1.3 million people were uprooted from their homes and were scattered across the country. The people were referred to as ‘refugees’ and ‘evacuees’. Both of these terms were incorrect. Not only the people who were fleeing were outraged but people from every area of the country, as well, were furious and outraged at the reference and at what they witnessed through media.
The term “refugees” officially applies to citizens of another country crossing borders.
The term “evacuees” was also inaccurate because the people were never ‘evacuated’ after
the storm. The people were fleeing but they were not evacuated.
Those impacted should have been referred to as ‘INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS’, and afforded international human rights protection. In the 1990s the United Nations put forward a set of 30 Guiding Principles, which were later endorsed by the United States, to protect the rights of people uprooted by disasters and wars within a country’s borders.
“National governments have the “primary duty and responsibility” of preventing their peo- ple from being displaced, protecting their rights during displacement, and ensuring that those displaced can return to their communities in safety and with dignity.” (Kromm, 2015)
The two historical documents that affected me most and which drove me to deeper research and study were the Dred Scott case, which I refer to as a doctrine of dehumanization, and the Papal Bulls, decrees issues by popes of early centuries. Throughout the years I had heard that the Dred Scott case was about a slave trying to gain freedom for himself and his family. I heard that in that case it said that Black people have no rights that the white man must respect. However when I read that Supreme Court case in full, and realized all the horrible things it said about Black people I realized it was about more that getting free from slavery. It was a lot more and a lot worse. Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney said,
“They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics, which no one thought of disputing, or supposed to be open to dispute; and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion.”
When I read Dum Diversas, a Papal Bull, and realized what priests were saying about Black people, I was again shocked. I was never a history buff, or an activist. It is just that Katrina hit me so hard that I had to find answers to explain the hatred, the evil and the violence inflicted on Black people. It was a pope of the Roman Catholic Church that condemned Black people to perpetual servitude.
Of course I knew of the negative attitudes and treatments that Black people have experienced throughout the centuries but this was my first time actually reading the words written in official government and church documents. It shocked me. Both made me very angry.
The Roman Catholic Church authorized the eradication and subjugation of African people and taught that slavery originated from God. The Roman Catholic Church legitimized slavery, which then became law. The church declared Dum Diversas:
“We grant you [Kings of Spain and Portugal] by these present documents, with our Apostolic Authority, full and free permission to invade, search out, capture, and subju- gate the Saracens (Africans) and pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of Christ wherever they may be, as well as their kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities, and other property … and to reduce their persons into perpetual servitude.” This was attributed to God. The Roman Catholic Church, and other religious groups, attributed the perpetual servitude of Africans to God.
Both of these helped me to understand the horror and evil waged during the aftermath of Katrina.
Are there any secrets from the book you can share with your readers?
There are no secrets. However, the book does contain an abundance of laws of the past (that are still in effect), and current laws creating a paper trail of hatred toward Black people. It also contains a plethora of references so that readers can research everything addressed in the book. The book also has images from the New Orleans Holocaust Series, a 13 painting pictorial documentation of the atrocities and injustices of those dreadful two weeks following the hurricane.
Can you share a snippet that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt?
While my book is about the treatment, there is much more to the story of Katrina. See the trailer for Shipwrecked America.
Why does New Orleans hold a special place in your heart?
I was born and grew up here in New Orleans, I love the feel, the friendliness and the culture of New Orleans.
What was the inspiration for the story?
I was more than inspired to write this book. I was compelled to write New Orleans: Katrina. I say that because of the seriousness of what happened. And because of knowing that so much of our history has been whitewashed, and swept under the carpet. More than that, I strongly felt that our creator and the ancestors had given me a mission that I had no choice but to complete. The story of Katrina had to be written by a person affected, by a Black person. Otherwise, who would have written it? Who would have told them what to write? What relationship would they have had with Katrina victims? Would their story have just been about a city being ravished by a storm and recovering to become a world-class tourism, medical industry mecca?
Too much has been left out of black history.
What happened in New Orleans was sure to be forgotten because it is the government’s desire that it is forgotten. Even in the city of New Orleans there is almost nothing in remembrance of Katrina’s victims. It is said that pictures say a thousand words, but the devastating horrors of Katrina demanded much more than a thousand. After painting all of the atrocities; I felt that I had no choice but to write because the paintings could not explain enough by themselves.
What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
The key message that I want to get across is that many of the injustices happening in this time are rooted in the laws of the past, which most people are not aware of.
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
I hope everyone reading this gains a deeper understanding of the people in the Big Easy. I hope that the people of New Orleans are never forgotten. I want the readers to understand that the colonial white supremacist agenda, that has over the centuries ravaged the indigenous population across the world and how that continues today, I want Black people to understandstand more fully why our lives have been marked with such struggle, oppression, and death. God did not curse us as we were taught. I want white people to recognize that that superiority which they boast of is a delusion. Readers will not only learn about what happened in New Orleans, and what happened throughout history, but they will get a much better understanding of today's society, they will get a better understanding of everything that is happeneing today.
What is the significance of the title?
Many states, cities, towns and communities were affected by Hurricane Katrina, in none of them were the people treated as the people in New Orleans were treated. In no other location did a community, Black people specifically, get treated like trash to be discarded, like animals, like thugs and enemies. How could the people be treated so cruelly here in the United States? It was not until I began to study history and the laws of the past that I begun to get insight as to how and why this could happen.
Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover
On the cover of my book is the flooded New Orleans, this painting is the first of the New Orleans Holocaust series. Everyone who hears the name Hurricane Katrina associates it with the flooding of the city. When they observe the picture and read the text in the cover they have to wonder what history and laws of the past have to do with the flooding, which took place in 2005. As they read the statement under the painting they will realize that the book is as not only about history and laws of the past but also about atrocities and injustices of today. They will realize that the book not only has pictures showing what happened but also that there is an abundance of references, so that if so desired, they can do their own research to confirm that which I have written.
Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book?
Although I love music of the 60s and 70s, I do not write listening to music.
If you had to describe experiencing Katrina in three words, what would those three words be?
I was not in the city during the aftermath of the storm when the atrocities and injustices occured. I would say:
HELL ON EARTH
END OF LIFE
If your book were to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
Of course Denzel Washington would play General Russel L. Honoré and Loretta Devine as Myself.
What challenges did you face writing about this experience?
First challenge was the feeling of inadequacy, that I could not do it. Then a few months after starting I had to have a cataract eye surgery. Two months later I woke up totally blind in one eye. For a while I did give up due to feeling defeated. Then I began to force myself to get back to writing. Two years later I finally had enough courage to go back to another specialist for my other eye. He performed what he said would be a mild procedure. His laser setting was too high and my other eye was badly burned. Seeing has been very difficult, and painful. Another challenge was to refrain from sharing my anger at what I was learning about the treatment and about history. These were my worst challenges.
What was the highlight of writing this book?
I do not know if I would say any part has been a highlight. What I would say is that the highlight is actually getting the book completed. That is probably because of the vision challenges. There were times that I thought I would never get the book completed. There is more I would add, but my vision will not allow me to continue.
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