Almost ten days ago, Common Ground posted three audio files of Rahim and Crow talking about the founding of the Common Ground Collective, what it has faced so far, and what it plans for the future. For those unfamiliar, Common Ground "is a local, community-run organization offering assistance, mutual aid and support to New Orleans communities that have been historically neglected and underserved."
I loaded the three mp3s on my iPod and listened (not to worry, through my car stereo) as I drove around on my errands and to and from work yesterday. Maybe not the wisest decision, since I was alternately banging my fist on the dashboard and crying a good bit of the time. But I got all the way through the talk, and I'm really glad I did. If you want to understand what it has been like on the ground, since the early days of the flooding, and if you want to understand more about the history of criminal neglect of low-income people and African Americans that contextualizes what we are seeing now—then you must listen to Crow and Rahim.
Scott Crow is a community organizer from Texas who has been involved in the National Coalition to Free the Angola 3. In Part 1 (14:55), he tells his story of going to New Orleans with a friend, in the first days of the flooding, to try to rescue Robert "King" Wilkerson, one of the Angola 3 who was finally released after thirty-one years of wrongful imprisonment—almost twenty-nine of which were in solitary confinement. Crow's story is harrowing and moving and reveals a great deal about what was actually happening in that first week after Katrina. Through his amazing efforts to save Wilkerson, which were ultimately successful, Crow met up with Malik Rahim and began working with him to bring free medical care and food and other relief to the storm victims in NOLA and its environs.