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.

 

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12:03am

Wed August 14, 2013
Nickel Tours: Great Tour Guides

The Vintage Cadillac With The Memphis Soundtrack

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 7:16 am

American Safari tour guide Tad Pierson stands beside his 1955 pink Cadillac. Visitors to Memphis can get a personalized tour that highlights the city's rich music heritage.
Debbie Elliott NPR

In the town where I grew up — Memphis, Tenn. — Tad Pierson has made a career out of his love for cars and American music by working as a tour guide. We meet in the grand lobby of the Peabody Hotel, the downtown landmark famous for its ducks and Southern elegance. But it's also considered the starting point of the Mississippi Delta, a region steeped in the blues.

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2:48am

Sat July 6, 2013
Code Switch

Remembering Birmingham's 'Dynamite Hill' Neighborhood

Originally published on Sat July 6, 2013 7:54 am

Three civil rights workers stand guard in front NAACP attorney Arthur Shores' house in Sept. 1963. The house was blasted by dynamite the night before.
AP

Long before the Civil Rights marches of 1963 thrust Birmingham, Ala. into the national spotlight, black families along one residential street were steadily chipping away at Jim Crow segregation laws — and paying a price for it. As part of our series looking back at the seminal events that changed the nation 50 years ago, NPR's Debbie Elliott paid a visit to Birmingham's Dynamite Hill.

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9:45am

Mon June 17, 2013
The Salt

Spoken Dish Asks Southerners: What Is Your Food Identity?

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 2:11 pm

Cornbread in a cast-iron skillet. A taste of home?
Todd Patterson iStockphoto.com

Does cast-iron skillet cornbread, hot and crispy from the oven, transport you back to your grandma's kitchen? Do you cook with certain ingredients as a link to your roots in the South? If so, "A Spoken Dish" wants to hear your story.

The Southern Foodways Alliance is teaming up with Whole Foods Market and Georgia Organics in this video storytelling project as a way to celebrate and document food memories and rituals of the American South.

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4:04am

Wed June 5, 2013
Code Switch

Fifty Years After Medgar Evers' Killing, The Scars Remain

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 7:20 am

Medgar Evers' widow, Myrlie, comforts the couple's 9-year-old son, Darrel, at her husband's funeral in Jackson, Miss., on June 15, 1963.
AP

For Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain NAACP leader Medgar Evers, the memories of 1963 are still raw.

Her family lived in terror behind the locked doors of their Jackson, Miss., home — a modest, three-bedroom, ranch-style house in one of the first new subdivisions built for African-Americans in Mississippi's segregated capital city. A back window in the tiny kitchen frames the backyard where Evers-Williams once grew rose bushes and a plum tree.

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4:38pm

Tue May 28, 2013
Environment

Gulf Coast States Get Creative With BP Oil Spill Money

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 9:29 am

Tourists watch as workers clean oil from the sand along a strip of oil that washed up on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., in 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast.
Dave Martin AP

Gulf Coast states are lining up to spend $1 billion from BP on coastal restoration. The money is part of BP's legal responsibility to restore the Gulf of Mexico's natural resources in the aftermath of the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.

But the nature of some of the state projects, including boat ramps and a beachfront hotel, is raising questions about just what counts as coastal restoration.

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