To The People of New Orleans:

In May 2014, citizens from across our great city volunteered to participate in the Welcome Table New Orleans, an initiative of the Mayor’s Office that focuses on race, reconciliation and community building. The Welcome Table brings people of different ethnicities and backgrounds together to build relationships, tackle the issue of race and work together on projects that will make our city better and stronger.I applaud the Welcome Table New Orleans participants for their courage to share and listen, for their open minds and open hearts.We can all agree – it’s not easy for anyone to discuss race – and their willingness to do so demonstrates the new way in New Orleans.

It is my belief that we must find ways to gain a greater understanding of others, and, in so doing, we will gain a greater understanding of ourselves. When this happens, anything is possible. Historical wrongs can be addressed. Diversity can be seen as a strength, not a weakness. And New Orleans can live up to the hopes and dreams of all her people.

We are committed to the process of discussion, relationship building and action through the Welcome Table New Orleans. Many thanks to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for their generous funding support and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans for their partnership in this initiative.


Mitchell J. Landrieu


Dear Welcome Table New Orleans Participants:

I am writing to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to each of you for your participation in the inaugural class of the Welcome Table New Orleans initiative. What the people of New Orleans and the larger public will see today represents the time, energy, ideas, perspectives and love that you have for our city, but in many ways only scratches the surface of what really happened in the circles you shared with each other. How could your reconciliation projects show the honesty and courage that was demonstrated by so many of you for the past year? Or the inherent challenge of balancing personal interests with those of the greater good? Or the moments when you recognized that the change you seek could mean first making changes within yourself?

As Deputy Mayor for Citywide Initiatives, it has been an honor to lead this effort on behalf of Mayor Landrieu and the City of New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu has long envisioned a “New South,” a place where diversity is a strength, not a weakness; a place where people seeking common ground can come together in spaces that are civil and respectful to discuss, debate and then move forward TOGETHER, for the betterment of all. The vision has been and remains strong, however, until it is tested it cannot become a reality. The work that each of you has done by coming together to build relationships, gaining a greater understanding of race and working towards reconciling the impact of this man-made construct on our city is proof that change is possible. It can happen. It is happening.

As the Welcome Table New Orleans initiative continues, I hope you will recognize and feel the importance of what you have experienced and accomplished together. I also want you to know how much your efforts have meant to me, personally and professionally. I am inspired by your courage, your commitment and your willingness to lead on this issue, not knowing whether anyone would follow. It is my hope that the people of New Orleans, and people in cities across the nation, will follow your lead to advance racial reconciliation. We will ALL be better for it.

Sincerely and with admiration,


Judy Reese Morse
Deputy Mayor, Citywide Initiatives
City of New Orleans

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