The Flexibility of Section 5 and the Politics of Disaster in Post-Katrina New Orleans

34 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2014

Date Written: 2013


On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, drowning the City of New Orleans and threatening to eternally unbalance New Orleans' political landscape. Rising floodwaters and emergency mass evacuations displaced nearly 375,000 New Orleanians, approximately 272,000 of whom were African American. The year before Katrina's onslaught, Orleans Parish had both the highest number and the second highest concentration of African-American voters in Louisiana. By July 2008, sixty percent of New Orleans's population had been regained. Astonishingly, despite being appallingly disproportionately displaced, African Americans have heroically redeemed near-pre-Katrina population status, now constituting sixty percent of New Orleans' population. Although the overall population demographic of New Orleans has virtually returned to pre-Katrina levels, the percentage of African Americans registered to vote and participating in elections in Orleans Parish post-Katrina fails to complement New Orleans' population restoration. Before Katrina, African Americans controlled a majority vote in New Orleans.This is no longer the case. Active voter registration percentages and numbers of voters participating in elections are now lower among African-American voters. These altered voting patterns first became most obvious in the 2008 elections following the reinstatement of Louisiana's annual canvass.

Keywords: hurricane katrina, politics, New Orleans, African Americans

Suggested Citation

Jefferson-Bullock, Jalila, The Flexibility of Section 5 and the Politics of Disaster in Post-Katrina New Orleans (2013). Journal of Gender, Race and Justice, Vol. 16, p. 825, 2013, Arizona Summit Law School Research Paper , Available at SSRN:

Jalila Jefferson-Bullock (Contact Author)

Duquesne University - School of Law ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States
412.396.6287 (Phone)


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