Doctor Donates Statue Honoring Latino Workers Who Rebuilt New Orleans After Katrina
Local doctor pays tribute to the unsung Latino heroes of NOLA's post-Katrina cleanup and reconstruction.
Retired neonatologist Juan Gershanik was mentoring at local public schools when he became aware of something that really troubled him: young Latino students, sons and daughters of the workers came to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, felt that their parents cleaning and construction jobs were considered "inferior."
The long-time New Orleans resident was horrified; "I couldn't believe they were saying that."
The majority of the workers who helped rebuild after Katrina were Latino, working long hours for low wages. Many settled in New Orleans. According to community organizer Fernando Lopez, Latinos didn't just help rebuild, they revitalized the city economically and culturally.
Gershanik, who rescued premature babies from a flooded hospital after Katrina, doesn't take for granted the work Latinos did to revive his city.
"[I said to them:] Guys, thanks to your relatives and so many others, we got our town back."
Latino workers rebuilding the retaining wall on the city's Industrial Canal.
The grateful doctor wanted to demonstrate to his students, his community, and future generations that Latino workers may be humble, but their work and presence was and continues to be essential to the revival of New Orleans -- and it is appreciated.
So Gershanik commissioned a solid marble and bronze statue in honor of the Latino re-construction workers and their invaluable contribution to restoring the city.
"I thought: this will be the message they need to have; this will be something...for generations to come."
Check out the statue in the video below: