As we commemorate the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we are reminded of the devastation of the manmade disaster and the power of the people of Louisiana to recover and restore. Katrina put a spotlight on issues and systems that have plagued communities of color for far too long.

Fifteen years later, as we deal with the country’s reckoning with race and a global pandemic, we need a commitment to truth and to each other in order to address the issues that we continue to experience today.

Let us use this day to remember our collective strength and our capacity to build more fair and equitable systems so that all are able to thrive in the future.

We feel the weight of this moment alongside our neighbors in Southwest Louisiana who are at the beginning of their road to recovery. We remain encouraged by the work of so many in our community who are working to create the lasting change that we all envision.

As social justice icon John Lewis expressed, “In spite of all the things, the issues, that we may be confronting today, I’m very hopeful, very optimistic about the future.”