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.

 

This story is part of Kitchen Table Conversations, a series from NPR's National Desk that examines how Americans from all walks of life are moving forward from the presidential election.

Keitra Bates is standing in front of an empty storefront on the west side of Atlanta, Ga. The walls are yellow-painted stucco over cinderblocks, with iron bars on the windows and doors, and a small side yard littered with abandoned tires. A corner store, the Fair Street Superette, is next door.

As the Trump administration moves to step up deportations, immigrant rights groups are organizing a resistance.

"No papers, no fear" is the message at a meeting of the Congress of Day Laborers in New Orleans. A mostly Latino crowd is packed in the sanctuary of a church. They encourage one another to stand up for their rights.

"Fear is our fuel," says speaker Leticia Casildo as the audience cheers.

She says they're fighting for their families.

At lunch hour, the line stretches out the door at Taqueria del Sol on Atlanta's west side. Inside, the tiny kitchen is a swirl of activity.

"This is my crew," says co-owner and chef Eddie Hernandez. "They're all from Mexico."

The menu is a hybrid of cuisine from his native Monterrey, Mexico, and down-home Southern cooking, like tangy turnip greens seasoned with red chilies and re-fried black-eyed peas.

"The food can get us together," Hernandez says, "and make us think differently about each other."

A lawsuit on behalf of Alabama's prisoners, claiming they're being denied mental health care, begins in federal court Monday. The class-action suit states that Alabama doesn't provide adequate mental health treatment for those behind bars.

Lawyers for the prisoners argue that the state provides little other than medication, and sometimes inmates are forced to take it against their will. The plaintiffs allege prison conditions are dangerous and discriminatory, which amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Jeff Sessions of Alabama was the first Republican senator to get behind the-then renegade candidate Trump. Now, he is President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general — and his hard-line stance on immigration and 30-year-old allegations of racism are sure to draw scrutiny in confirmation hearings.

Long before Trump was winning primaries, or picking up political endorsements, he had a conservative ally in the Deep South.

Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke drew protesters to a U.S. Senate candidate debate in Louisiana on Wednesday night.

He's in a crowded field to replace retiring Republican Sen. David Vitter and earned enough support in polls to make the cut for this final debate, hosted by Raycom Media at Dillard University, a historically black college in New Orleans.

Dillard officials say they didn't know who would be participating when they agreed to rent the hall.

Jury selection starts Monday in the case of former North Charleston, S.C., officer Michael Slager. The white ex-cop is accused of murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, last year.

The killing was captured on video.

It started with a traffic stop in April 2015. Slager stopped Scott for a broken brake light on the Mercedes-Benz he was driving.

Alabama Republican Chief Justice Roy Moore is fighting to keep his job. He's accused of violating judicial ethics for telling local judges they were bound by Alabama's gay marriage ban — and not the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

His trial is set to start Wednesday. He's been suspended pending the trial, and faces removal from the bench.

Things are far from normal for people in Louisiana hit by last month's historic flood. Thousands have lost their homes, their cars, their jobs.

But one routine resumed this week in Baton Rouge: Students are back in class after a three-week interruption.

At Claiborne Elementary in north Baton Rouge, kids are tussling on school playgrounds again, even as their families' soaked belongings lay in heaps along neighborhood streets.

Just days after the tragic shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., last year, the pews at Emanuel AME were filled for Sunday service. A black cloth was draped over the chair where Emanuel's pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, should have been sitting.

Holding worship in the church sanctuary — while its basement was still a fresh crime scene — served as a way for the congregation to move forward while acknowledging the deaths of nine of its own.

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