Roosevelt Harris and Zack Carter
DescriptionRoosevelt Harris (68) has a conversation with his colleague Zack Carter (59) about the effect of the oil spill on his own family and on his community.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Roosevelt Harris
- Zack Carter
Recording LocationSouth Bay Communities Alliance
Partnership TypeFee for Service
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00:05 My name is Zach Carter my full legal name for the record is AZ Carter third?
00:13 My age is 59 years. And today's date is October 15th, 2010. We are in the unincorporated community of code in Alabama and I'm privileged to have as my partner today. Mr. Roosevelt Harris. He is a community activist like myself.
00:36 And my name is Roosevelt hat George Harris and my age is 68 years old and my date is October 5th.
00:52 And I'm a retired Bella from Dallas, Texas, but I was born and raised here in a little town called fire River by 7 my phone why I'm speaking at now.
01:09 So can I ask what what are you guys doing? The creative coding was? What's your
01:17 Disaster relief for take Food Lion to the elders the Blind and the ones who can't hardly get around and I do that sometimes six days a week.
01:35 And I like doing that because it give a retired person something to do. Then. I have to sit home and look at the four walls every day when it's a disaster relief. Does that mean? Yeah, that should go around and
01:52 You know, like if they have need fix, I report it to the peoples and they are coming see what could they do about it?
02:03 And it's mostly based on the Church of Christ Hamlin Hamlin Street Road Church of Christ is what is it? Disaster relief it is.
02:17 Hurricane Katrina, that's after Hurricane Katrina. And that's after the hospital to
02:24 And Zack, you said you knew the Roosevelt. You're both Community acting so what would what are you doing? My job is community organizer for South Bay Community Alliance. South Bay was founded some seven months after Katrina hit this area.
02:48 And it's basic mission was to instill is to advocate for Katrina relief and in the unincorporated areas of of of Alabama specifically, South Mobile County.
03:03 Because this area received very little Katrina relief.
03:10 And today we we are having to have coarse focus on what another disaster the BP disaster. Where are some of the same folks who who actually qualified for federal rebuilding assistance three years ago now have to face the BP oil and dispersant which is taking them out of out of work.
03:34 So did you get both meet through doing disaster like after Katrina work your work after Katrina and let me say the
03:46 The first time I heard the Roosevelt to publicly speak was actually just a couple of weeks ago and he did he did an incredible job. He stood up in front of about 150 people and I guess at that that time was mr. Fred Tom bar. Who is the senior advisor to HUD secretary Shaun Donovan and mr. Harris spoke about to a family that he had seen in the area where he was raised. Tell River Bellefontaine just about 10 miles north of here.
04:20 And he gave a very moving account of the little girl who was actually coughing laying down on the couch sick because of the mold and her house mold that was caused by the Katrina damage. That was never repaired.
04:37 And I'm
04:38 Roosevelt actually got a you got very moved to the to the point of tears and he spoke to his tear and he moved the entire crowd and including this to Tom bar who I just heard from Recently, he and the assistant Secretary of Hud will be back down here in a couple of weeks.
04:59 I know you talked about this, but I was wondering if you might do if you want to tell him about the house that you saw with that little girl to this day. I went to Bellefontaine that Thursday morning about Channel.
05:16 And I went to Bellefontaine Missionary Baptist Church.
05:21 And I asked
05:22 Knocked on the preachers don't and ask him. Did he know anyone up there? I need assistance from Katrina to get their house fixed.
05:34 So maybe I'm started talkin in.
05:39 He didn't want me to go in the community and see the
05:44 What I would find
05:49 My mind just told Mena.
05:52 You got Common Sense go on your own. So I went knocked on some doors behind the church.
06:01 Didn't buy the never come to the first two toes. So I went to the 4th house knocked on the door and the lady came in.
06:11 And she said I said or did you call him the Rose Street Church of Christ to find someone to come and help fix your house. She said yes, I did. Mr. Harris.
06:26 So I say we are then let's look at your house. You don't mind me walking around in your house. She said no, so we walked around in the house. We went into being Force.
06:40 And I saw a light fixture.
06:44 I said what how you turn the light fixture on she said I got to pull it out of the wall and
06:53 Flip the switch up and going to get electrocuted by pulling you so long.
07:07 In the sheetrock had got soft and it was
07:15 Ragbir on it to every time you touch it it'll fall in the wall. If you didn't hold it, so we went through from the den to the bathroom. You can see holes all in the bathroom from the outside of the other bathroom, then we went to another room and
07:33 I want some coughing and I said I may not go in there. She's saving all that's okay. So it's a little girl about
07:42 Selma eight-years-old laying on the sofa. She all covered up.
07:47 And she was coughing real bad. So I say will she got a bad cough how long she been coughing like that? She said old by 9-10 months and I happened to look around the wall.
08:03 And I saw the mole.
08:05 It was growing just like Helm people's head. And I said, oh baby, you can't live in the house like this. She should wear. Mr. Harris. Nothing else I could do. Anyway, I can go.
08:22 Should I say whatever then I'm going to see you later that I could help and do?
08:28 That's when I come back and told Miss Joni and she got in touch with Zak.
08:36 And they want me to come down here.
08:40 Wednesday and speak
08:43 So I came at wind and told him what I just said.
08:49 And then we set up a date to go see that later.
08:53 But when we got to the lady's house that Thursday morning.
08:59 She had death in the family and she had to go to.
09:04 New Orleans to a Feeling
09:06 So that's kept me and Zack from seeing her.
09:11 And I told him I said, well, I know a place we could go we can go in my hometown where I was born and raised and we went over there.
09:24 And he said is a little church that he went to when he was small.
09:31 I was a young man, and he wanted to find it and I asked him what kind of church you was and he said the Catholic church and the Catholic church was named Saint Margaret.
09:43 And we went over there and we found the church.
09:47 And we looked at the church and
09:50 They got the church up for soy yo.
09:55 I was telling them about some Creoles.
09:59 That place we used to go to have fun when we was teenagers coming up call Mon Louis Island? Creoles and French people live that.
10:12 And we went over there.
10:14 And rode around the road around so we found one family a new family just had moved in there. So he invited us in it.
10:26 He talked to me and Zack can answer for Buy.
10:31 3 hours over there that moan and I guess I could tell you about what all he say.
10:41 Roosevelt I want to I want to thank you for referring to the to your community at the end how Multicultural it is. There are a lot of folks in our country that don't even realize that Alabama has a gulf coast much less that we are Multicultural and that there are actually some Elders that you introduced us to that actually still speak Creole French and I wanted to I just wanted to read this little phrase from from an anthropologist who actually is is in so many words is backing up or or saying what you're saying in regard to our area and this is a this is an impact study that was done by Dr. John Salter just a few months before Katrina hit it was an impact study that was commissioned by the United States Coast Guard because there were folks in this community like mr. Paul Nelson who were advocating
11:41 Against l&g or liquid nitrogen gas lines from coming into the area and I just want to read what dr. Salter says about about your hometown about you about. What's my hometown? Do I do want to say that I was raised in Mobile. I just right up the road and
12:03 And I and I am a community organizer for South Bay. But I'm also invested in terms of family and friends here. For example, my sister and my nephew and my brother-in-law like many hundreds of people after Katrina had to live in a formaldehyde contaminated FEMA camper. They have not seen good health sense.
12:30 So that's a little bit more about my background and and I'm and I'm proud to say that I'm from mobile and I was raised here. This is the study that I was referring to from. Dr. Salter. He says that the quote the South Mobile County should be evaluated for environmental justice concerns incomes in this area are considered to be low too modest without a significant middle class.
12:57 The colonial population consisted of a mixture of French African and Native Americans social and racial lines tended to be and remain somewhat blurred as a consequence of this background. There is a recent emergence of what locals term a creation culture resulting from the blending of the lawn long-standing Creole and cajun and recent Asian ethnicities. Social impact assessment sponsored by u.s. Coast Guard January 2005 by John Salter PhD. I'm proud to be of this community. I'm proud to be sitting here with you and I would like I would like for a country to know that that we are we're struggling for a community that not only contribute significantly in terms of the seafood industry, but this community is is truly a a multicultural Jewel. That is something
13:57 In and of itself 254 because unfortunately and I Society race still matters and that what is what was happening to you that day that you tried to find some folks would actually replied to your church saying that they needed assistance.
14:14 Because as you were saying earlier the the preacher that you talk to us was white striped but you persisted and and so I let me stop and tell me how it how do you feel about I wonder why I do I want to say one thing when I ask you I hate how you feel about
14:36 About the immense
14:39 Number of people who who like these folks that you that you met that day have not received assistant and I want to I read this went when we had the meeting with with mr. Tom bar. And this is a letter from from our from our state representative or one of our members of Congress are to Davis.
14:59 Who actually he he he answer repeated what Senator Shelby and and representative. Joe Bonner said the Congress earlier and he says and I quote here. This is the speaker Nancy Pelosi said that over 3,400 occupied the housing unit suffered major has severe damage in South Mobile County 1020 qualify for federal assistance, but with existing funds the county that does Mobile County will assist less than 300 household as always we had over a thousand people qualify yet. We only had enough money for 300 and that's how it stands today a letter will soon be going out to all these hundreds of families saying,
15:43 Sorry, even though you qualify, even though you qualify for federal rebuilding assistance Congress has not allocated the funds. How does that make you feel when you think about this family that you went to see the doctor. Congress isn't providing for them that family that I run into that day. What the government?
16:07 Hal it down
16:13 A hard pill for people in their people's hollaback you not qualify.
16:22 If you are a citizen of the United States.
16:26 Everybody should be quiet if I didn't get
16:30 Whatever they need from the government and if you don't
16:37 Happy get it. Don't put no dead no date or no deadline on on some people's and people's up there in Bellefontaine. Didn't know they could get
16:51 Disaster relief from Hurricane Katrina because the water came in there and then people been living this summer been the hottest summer that movie account Ella and you've had the oil I want I want to ask you this how much time do we have on?
17:12 Oh, okay. Good. I work if there's better time, can you tell me how how significant is I know I know that you do a lot of fishing and how significant how important is that for your income? And how have you been affected by the BP disaster?
17:33 Let me first say this.
17:36 They told everybody that who had fishing license in Mobile County.
17:42 The Dakota want to be peas.
17:45 Staging area
17:47 And fill out a form.
17:50 For BP in their game of thousand dollars
17:53 I went to a p p I went to push to want to BB's stage and Farms with my fishing license and I put them on show them to the Feller and Feller looked at me and told me you say I'm sorry mister. I can't do nothing for you. Cuz your license is old 1994. But you have your license with your sis permanent write my license a permanent cuz of your Mage my chicken and I told him I said what why did they write on it on the top of
18:27 And you say now but every time does
18:31 Game on see me. He said I'm good. So what is that telling me and how much does this hurt you economically not to be able to fish where that hurt me a whole lot and I have a family to feed I got a granddaughter got a wife.
18:52 Why don't friends come by won't food sometime. Just like you see you're a hungry man walking the street.
19:00 You can tell him you can give nothing to eat cuz that ain't in.
19:06 Movie accountant will feed anybody but the fishing BP's are messed up the fishing and see if
19:18 Men's and women's in the families around Cody in
19:24 Bala Batre Saint Elmo Grand Bay Irvington mon Louis Island, Dauphin Island, depending on the Gulf
19:34 How to make the living and when BP made that all spill that hurted everybody everybody the fisherman's the Artemis the Swampers in the Krampus
19:52 A people's right boys me when they told me my fishing license one, no good.
20:03 I said where I've been.
20:07 That's window close on the fishing license. So I feel it called me and told me she might go back down there and try again. I went back down there.
20:19 Had another lady this time.
20:22 Jones I think her name was and she told me she said I can't help you cuz your fishing license it's too old.
20:32 So that was the second time I went to pee pee.
20:36 So I was riding through bottle back to you one day and I saw Miss German laughing to German.
20:44 She asked me what was I doing? Just I couldn't go fishing no more and I told you I wasn't doing nothing.
20:51 She said well and I got to
20:55 She told me your freezer was empty as a realtor as well and we didn't have too much food to eat. So she said well, I kind of something I want you to help me do.
21:08 I want you to help me take food.
21:11 To the hungry
21:13 Into the Widow's into the
21:17 Ola Peepers in Bala Batre
21:23 And she said well I can't pay you.
21:26 But I could give you food to make up for what you lost with the fishing. So I said
21:35 That's Garden Oldman an adult for me where they close BP close window for God open another one for me to make the
21:44 Is meat with the food that I could take home from taking food?
21:52 So I started that and I like doing this.
21:58 Then I'm she told me one day she say it off.
22:04 I want you to go to.
22:06 Heron Bay as a little town about two miles from here.
22:13 Metal 8in Man
22:19 In the house
22:21 And they staying in blue trailer.
22:24 With the mom and dad at that made 9
22:27 So I say let mister I got some food on my truck.
22:33 I want to give you some of that.
22:35 He look at me and he told me he said
22:39 Mr. Harris
22:41 Somebody out there need this food more than me.
22:46 I said where I'm mister. I said, let me put it to you like this.
22:51 Xavier let child look up in your face tonight before she go to bed and say Daddy I'm hungry, but is you going to tell her?
23:02 He say I guess that's what he use it. Well.
23:05 You trying to get me some food, then ain't nothing. I say it show you how God sent me by your house today and this hour about the next House movie get to it. So he said I so I left him some food there for his fist you.
23:26 Then I left his house where to buy Out 3 Doors Down.
23:33 Dad, not a family.
23:37 Hospital heart what are you trying to show me today?
23:43 Big families you let me run into it.
23:49 You showing me that?
23:53 I guess when I was a little boy.
23:56 A people's had to help my mom and dad.
24:02 Theatre-style rolling down my eyes
24:06 And I started thinking.
24:09 I said wonder what mama would say today my dad would say today.
24:15 If a
24:16 In these people just food.
24:20 Lady proud of you, right? I Hope they've been tried on this or not. I gave him some food.
24:27 And I went back to the church.
24:29 And I told him and Daphne I say Miss Daphne I say.
24:35 I run into something was strange and hard for me to date.
24:40 She said you didn't run into nobody wanted to jump out your no not like that. I ran into them.
24:47 A family of Salem and then I run into a family of 15.
24:52 And I thought about
24:56 I was coming up.
25:00 I thought it.
25:02 Crab it.
25:04 She came on and put it on surround me. She said.
25:08 That's welcome. We need you.
25:12 Are you ain't going to let nobody go home?
25:17 And from that day off, I've been where I pray at night. I asked the Lord to give me strength that go the next day and Mr. Zachary. I love this. I love this job. I'm doing and the people then got to see me coming.
25:41 They don't be home.
25:44 Yeah, tell me to go back there and look in the shed and there's a refrigerator in this year yet for me to put the food in the shed when they ain't home and I say what am I saying is somebody come home and see me back there. They ain't going to want to call or nothing. She said no cuz I want to make it plain that that you trying to get leave and a lot of people doing that now that's good. I want to ask you a question as a fisherman.
26:20 I was speaking I just the other day to a woman originally from Thailand that she's crab her. She said she actually has two boats her family does and they've been craving for about 5 years in the bays and bayous around here.
26:36 She told me that only in the last two weeks have they been able to catch crabs again? Finally since the BP disaster? She said she had to
26:49 She emptied all her trap. She had sixteen hundred pounds of crabs in a truck and she took it to the first processing plant that she been used to working with. It was actually owned by another woman. I love you. I was in a woman and sadly that the shop was closed down. She found out later that this lady had was current is now working for Jubilee Seafood having to take orders call in orders from Mostly out-of-state Seafood. She told me that she finally found a shop. It was the fourth one that she went to the lots of crabs.
27:32 But they bought the crabs at less than half the price for BP hit and specifically was fifty cents a pound where she had been selling it as a dollar 10.
27:47 Who did the who you think should make up the difference of that end and Howard Howard. How was your fishing right now? I know you were telling me the other day that you are what you are anticipating what redfish running again. Okay, but she BP shouldn't be made to pay the
28:08 Surprise for that lady did not know where she taking a crash do it every crab shop up on bottle back in Irvington Highway and easy cheapest man it is
28:21 Amobia on buying crabs, but he making some money out.
28:27 But up
28:29 When people is like that, I just like when I had a good friend of mine his name was he when he went swimming for us.
28:40 He bought Smith back. It went to get him $0.35 a pound.
28:47 And 35 cents a pound what when was this was this was about
28:53 300 weeks ago when they open the water but and and how much were shrimp salad for prior to the V festival 2013 on $3 a pound some like that you make you make a good what if a person was a helper. You didn't know what you said. He was selling it to a process yet to a process to read $3 plus a pound now. He was only off of $0.35.
29:27 I was going fishing my own self.
29:30 I'll come home and my wife get in the backyard with straight to fish fillet the fish cut the rib cage on.
29:41 Put 22 pieces of fish in a bag for $10 and right now you can't put party pieces in a bag for $10 for people going by a spear that at all.
29:58 And let them sign is all still out there for all these on the bottom and that's why I'm I won't go fishing no more until
30:08 They get that all off the bottom end in a redfish now.
30:14 Hinton mobile I used to take one redfish 18 lb and that'll bring you $22 and use it but now you catch 18 Hand mobile. It won't even give you $12. You mentioned something. I I think is is is is very important for the rest of the country to know that cuz you said the oil is still on the bottom now, I want to tell you a little story about the
30:46 What happened? Well, I remember the exact day was June 11th to it's a day before we had a Statewide meeting here in this very building.
30:57 We met with the Alabama agriculture commissioner. Ron Sparks. We demonstrated and oil water separator actually not we we didn't demonstrate it was a company by the name of hydrocele. These Engineers had actually designed as oil water separator for the TVA, Tennessee Valley Authority 1930s and brought it electrification too much of our southern area and
31:29 These Engineers have been trying for almost a month to get BP to approve the salt water separator to be put for example on on these shrimpers boats. We had 40 shrimpers right there and meeting with ag commissioner. Ron Sparks looking at this oil water separator seeing how well it worked oil was pumped into it 50 from a 55 gallon drum spent. Dirty oil Clear Water came out from the from the other side. This is not new technology told technology, but for them to see that and to know that it could be put on their boats.
32:05 And what were they using instead Little Crab didn't that shrimp next pill every single shrimper to a man and woman said yeah, they would like to have that on their boats.
32:19 What we found out to actually the following Monday that the commissioner Sparks actually handle over the letter to our president President Barack Obama asking that's one of the things he has two D's or water separator be approved.
32:33 I found out later in the week that they finally were proved hydroset told me they were approved but they said they're very little company and they already had a backlog at 3 weeks and that's the last information that we had on that and we felt like these oil water separators should be used on a mass scale from Florida to Texas and to our knowledge. We don't we don't know how many were used to or where you are. Now it was it was very few because it was a small company. So now we have oil on the bottom. We still have oil on the bottom. We have scientists like dr. Samantha Joy a chief of oceanography at the University of Georgia saying that oil is still out there on the bottom.
33:16 Yeah, yes.
33:24 Yes, absolutely. Again, the name of the company is hydrus app and it's a it's a it's an old technology actually folks from Jean-Michel Cousteau to John Hofmeister. We're saying from day one of the oil spill that does super tanker should be brought out to the source and and suck up the oil and water into the supertanker and then take them on Shore and and have had and have them run through oil water separators at my understanding is it's what you know oil floats so that it's not it's not a very complicated procedure to separate two and it and it and it and it could it could have been done. I mean it's still probably could be done today. I'd I'd love for like for example on a dr. Joyce boat to have an engineer out there. So when she finds the oil, you know an engineer could say okay. This is how I think you know that it could be cleaned up cuz that still is it at
34:24 That's it. That's a major problem that we're facing the day of just several days ago was reported in the tar balls are still washing up and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. That oil is is just right offshore buried under the Sand 5 in we like to know what we we like we like some transparency it is that could be cleaned up an end. And if so how and I
34:53 Yeah, go ahead a heavy how do you feel about the up knowing that the TVA oil water separator was it wasn't approved until we had a a demonstration like that, but I went fishing and crab in a bag.
35:08 Three weeks ago. I went to Dolphin Island.
35:12 I caught some crabs.
35:15 I put the crabs on ice.
35:19 I woke up that next morning that Monday morning.
35:23 I had to throw them crabs away.
35:25 Gardevoir full all how long ago was it that was three weeks ago and seeing crabs crawl around on the bottom sure, but I don't you when you catch a crab catch a fish.
35:43 If you put them in some cold water.
35:46 You can see the beads off. Where is on the inside of the what do you think is the solution to that problem should do right now to that problem right now BP need to get
36:02 The refiners
36:04 And go down and read the bottom of the bait and see for they self how much are is dying their car? They spray the solution to make the or go to the bar.
36:20 And if they correct correct itself.
36:27 And help the Gulf.
36:30 It ain't no good because I don't do people's no more good rhyme about a battery Janelle Monae grandbay. Don't let me ask you what what you think of this solution. We talked a little bit about the forming a Fisher cooperative. And what we'd like to do is to get folks like yourself who who who pitched for a Snapper or Reds and then Miss Hall who does crabbing and to be able to go to the processes ahead of time and the go she ate a fair price.
37:11 And then what we do if any we want to work with with Scientists independent scientist to continue to test to monitor the seafood and and if it still has oil or this person in it, then that's why we're talking about this early then B Piada buy it, right and but on the other hand were thinking is okay. Ultimately we know it's going to be clean. The people I would we'd like to have is is a is a sticker on on these Co-op products saying that this has oil and dispersant free has been tested by independent scientist. That's what we're thinking of this as solution like that were Cooperative would come together and negotiate a fair price for these processors and then work with independent scientist to continue to test monitor our food till it's safe or after.
38:03 They come in when you
38:12 Got there. I'm going to say it the big shots like BP years. They get the little money. They'll give the little man.
38:23 A few thousand dollars
38:25 He'll say it is. All right.
38:28 But they scared to eat it itself cuz they want by and things unlike the old folk you to say under the table before they buy and like these peoples going out.
38:46 Crabbing. I just laid it and getting $0.50 a pound for crab the dollar to be made to pay the $0.60 that you got.
39:00 And then at the 6% that make it hard to get a doll intention to file for but
39:08 Is hurting
39:10 And you catch a man got phone with you.
39:15 And he live in on the Gulf Coast.
39:20 Did you and going to school?
39:23 I can hardly take care of his family.
39:27 All normal family
39:30 Of what you know how to do it. Let me ask you just alone that turns out just how bad people are suffering. I remember when we had a meeting here was a second week of July. We had five assistant secretaries of Labor and there was a lady that was standing up and she spoke about you been staying for two is the second time she stood in a bread line. It was actually organized by the National Guard at the second time in a row. She was told sorry. There's no more food. You got to come back how many people do you know like that? That was so hungry that they would come and stand up and talk at a public meeting like that since the BP spill do we have hunger in this community? We got home. We got a lot of hungry in this community since PPSSPP, especially in
40:16 Kahoot with it cost
40:21 Damn, the people that I take groceries to every day, and then the people that I find with the families and got nothing to eat you go to you knock on the door.
40:35 You say ma'am. I got some groceries out there. Would you like to have some of these groceries? She said how much is it? I tell her I said members of the Church of Christ. We give all of the food away. She said why show I text him with much cuz I don't have no money then they want to give you.
40:58 To $3 for donation for the church I should know.
41:05 Keep it and put it on your light bill or your water bill when you get it. Are you sure it might get sick?
41:12 Missy that's why I say BP on a come down here.
41:17 Leo with the papers live with the people see how the people live get in their household coming around here holding a meeting you're doing a body to say it because I've been going to these people is in BP spill and I've been fine you got to get out and go in the kravis and the creeks and the way up into countries and see in the dirt road and see just how these folks by the way you storycorps is going to do that today. They're going to go see Linda Goldman and and also Belinda Belinda Wilkinson, I think that's a great idea. Goldman is a person that they ought to go and see because
42:15 Katrina year and MVP year
42:24 People Ronnie and committed suicide
42:28 Because if I was in the shape like they are and I apple pie Alice mulcher.
42:34 I'll be in town. Some Inland is actually a grandparent. We actually went by their house with Fred tomboy. Okay, and and Shirley are husband. Just you know, he explained he used to tongo Oyster, but he doesn't have the strength to any more than Dad. You suck some he's in he's in his late seventies, but BP put him out of work and I only paid him $1,000.
43:06 I want us I want to thank you so much for having this conversation with me today. I think I think that's what we call it a conversation with storycorps a and thank you storycorps for coming to but code in, Alabama.