Debbie Elliott

After a stint on Capitol Hill, NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott is back covering the news in her native South.

Based in Alabama, Elliott's reporting has ranged from hurricanes and oil spills to industry and politics. Her coverage of the BP oil spill in 2010 and its aftermath focus on the human impact of the spill, the government’s response and the region’s recovery. In 2010, she launched a series on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, “The Disappearing Coast,” which examines the history and culture of south Louisiana, the state’s complicated relationship with the oil and gas industry and the oil spill’s lasting impact on a fragile coastline.

Elliott has covered the efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina and the other storms that have hit the coast. She also tracks what the economic downturn means for states and municipalities, and whether the federal stimulus package is helping. In Elliott’s political reporting, she watches vulnerable Congressional seats and follows southern governors who have higher political aspirations.

While based in Washington, D.C., Elliott covered Congress and was part of NPR’s 2008 election team. She co-hosted late election night returns, reported live from the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Denver and broadcast from the grounds of the US Capitol during the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Elliott is a former weekend host of NPR's All Things Considered. In that role she interviewed a variety of luminaries and world leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She celebrated the 40th Anniversary of “Alice’s Restaurant” with Arlo Guthrie, and mixed it up on the rink with the Baltimore’s Charm City Roller Girls. She profiled the late historian John Hope Franklin and the children's book author Eric Carle.

Since joining NPR in 1995, Elliott has covered the re-opening of Civil Rights-era murder cases, the legal battle over displaying the Ten Commandments in courthouses, the Elian Gonzales custody dispute from Miami, and a number of hurricanes, from Andrew to Katrina. On Election night in 2000, Elliott was stationed in Tallahassee, Fla., and was one of the first national reporters on the scene for the contentious presidential election contest that followed. She has covered landmark smoker lawsuits, the tobacco settlement with states, the latest trends in youth smoking and tobacco-control policy and regulation. She’s been to a Super Bowl, the Summer Olympics and baseball spring training.

Born in Atlanta, Elliott grew up in the Memphis area and graduated from the University of Alabama College of Communication. She’s the former news director of member station WUAL (now Alabama Public Radio).

Elliott lives in south Alabama with her husband and two children.

 

Most of the roads in Florida's Bay County are now impassable. There's no electricity, no working sewers, no gasoline, very little cell service, and a boil water advisory.

"This whole town's destroyed" after Hurricane Michael, says Ryan Smith, a mechanic in Lynn Haven, on the north side of Panama City, Fla.

He's standing outside a red brick apartment complex where most of the roofs are gone and giant pine trees have fallen through some of the buildings.

"This was our house," he says. "Now all our stuff's destroyed."

The sun is shining again on North Carolina as the remnants of Hurricane Florence have moved into the mid-Atlantic. But a catastrophe is still unfolding, as rivers rise after days of torrential rains. As residents of the Carolinas start to clean up, difficult questions are being raised about how to best recover along the coastline and whether some residents facing repeated flooding should consider moving inland.

In downtown New Bern, N.C. , accountant Mike Rogers, hammer in hand, spent Sunday tearing 2 feet of drenched drywall out of his CPA office.

"At least it's not tax season," he says, trying to keep a good attitude after a foot of water flooded the storefront office. He is using fans to dry things out, as colleagues remove files from the second story.

"It came in quick, left quick," Rogers says. "We're trying to save as much as we can."

The front window is still boarded up with the spray-painted message #NewBernStrong.

Hundreds lined up Tuesday outside Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where Aretha Franklin's body is lying in repose for two days ahead of her funeral on Friday.

"This is history right here," said 22-year-old Sidney Lloyd of Detroit. His family arrived by 7 a.m. Tuesday to be among the first to say goodbye to the Queen of Soul.

Charlottesville has long been known known as a charming college town — home to the University of Virginia and its founder Thomas Jefferson. After a deadly clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters on Aug. 12 last year, Charlottesville has become shorthand for racial strife.

One year ago, a car rammed into counterprotesters during a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Dozens of people were injured and paralegal and activist Heather Heyer was killed. Now, her mother is trying to fulfill a promise made at her funeral.

"They tried to kill my child to shut her up," Susan Bro told mourners last August. "Well, guess what? You just magnified her!"

Fifty years ago today, a mule train left the small town of Marks, Miss., bound for the nation's capital. They were answering a call to action the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made just days before he was assassinated.

"We're coming to Washington in a poor people's campaign," King announced at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on March 31, 1968. "I was in Marks, Miss., the other day, which is in Quitman County, the poorest county in the United States. And I tell you I saw hundreds of black boys and black girls walking the streets with no shoes to wear."

Coretta Scott King was often referred to as the "first lady of civil rights," known primarily as the wife and then widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

But her presence in Memphis, Tenn., just four days after her husband was slain there, was the act of a civil rights leader in her own right.

On April 8, 1968, Coretta Scott King wore a black lace headscarf as she led a march through downtown Memphis. Three of her four children were at her side.

It was a call for help from activists that took the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis in March 1968. Days later he would be fatally shot by James Earl Ray on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

But before the motel, the shooting, the riots and the mourning, there was the Memphis sanitation workers' strike.

King broke away from his work on the Poor People's Campaign to travel from Atlanta to Tennessee and help energize the strikers — his last cause for economic justice.

Couples – gay or straight — looking for a marriage license in Pike County, Ala. won't get one from local probate judge Wes Allen.

"We have not issued any marriage licenses since Feb. 9, 2015," Allen says.

That's when a federal judge struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage. The state's then-Chief Justice Roy Moore told local officials they weren't bound by the federal court ruling. That threw Alabama's marriage license system into chaos. Some offices closed altogether.

For Allen, the decision came down to his religious beliefs.

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