President Barack Obama...On a summer day in 2007 then-Senator Obama asked to meet with a small group of New Orleans neighborhood leaders to learn why the recovery was so slow. Due to the publication of the LaRoots e-bulletin, a direct involvement in neighborhood recovery issues, and a campaign for the state legislature, Deborah Langhoff (red shirt) was invited to join in the hour long meeting. (Also pictured are NAACP leader Denatus King and Pam Deshiell from the Holy Cross neighborhood.
Especially noteworthy was his opening comment, "I understand that you expect to hear from me this afternoon, but you're here so that I can hear from you." He pulled up a chair and began asking questions. Many months later, Obama's Tulane speech was hailed as an overwhelming success as he revealed a deep understanding of the problems plaguing the recovery of the community to the thousands in that room. Effective use of the listening sessions months before revealed Obama's personal experience and his understanding that community organizing and grassroots knowledge are cornerstones of the best policy-making.