Has Racial Peace Broken Out in New Orleans?

HAS RACIAL PEACE BROKEN OUT IN NEW ORLEANS?…. Everyone knows New Orleans has changed dramatically since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, but the national media has largely overlooked one of the city’s most sweeping and extraordinary shifts. When Katrina made landfall, New Orleans had a black mayor, a black police chief, a black district attorney, and black majorities on the city council and the school board. Today, though still a majority-black city, New Orleans has a white mayor, a white district attorney, a white police chief, and white majorities on the city council and the school board. The elected leadership looks almost like a photo-negative of the pre-Katrina government.

At the center of this transformation stands Mitch Landrieu, the first white mayor of New Orleans in more than thirty years. Landrieu was elected last February by winning both the white and black vote, the rarest of achievements in American politics. But how long can he keep it all together? In a masterfully reported feature story in the latest issue of the Washington Monthly, Justin Vogt chronicles the Big Easy’s distinctly-uneasy experiment in post-racial politics — an experiment whose outcome may hold lessons for the whole country.

Read Justin Vogt’s “A Time Against Race.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.