In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there were images that shocked America and the world. Not just the damage caused by the storm, but the sight of people left behind: inner-city blacks stranded by poverty, neglect, and failure from above and below. It’s been almost a year since the storm, but in black neighborhoods across America, the same desperate conditions still exist.
In the upcoming “Tom Brokaw Reports: Separate and Unequal,” Brokaw travels to 200 miles north of New Orleans to Jackson, Miss., for an in-depth report on race and poverty, airing on Sunday, July 23 at 7 PM/ET on NBC. Jackson was just brushed by Katrina, but it struggles every day with the ongoing issues of race in America. Jackson has many examples of great progress: a black mayor; a black editor in chief at its daily newspaper; a black professional class sending children to elite universities. However, Jackson also has thousands of blacks who are every bit as stranded as the people in New Orleans, and millions of others across the country.
“Separate and Unequal” is an honest look at the progress that’s been made, and the problems that persist, 40 years after the civil rights movement. It focuses on several students at an inner city high school in Jackson, and follows them from last fall through the school year, showing first hand how problems like poverty, teen pregnancy, absentee fathers, and drug addiction play out in the lives of young people. Brokaw interviews students, parents, and teachers, as well as members of Jackson’s black elite as they grapple with the problems of neighborhoods they had left behind. In addition, the broadcast explores the sometimes-surprising ways in which whites did or didn’t choose to help.