A Bush Cabinet officer predicted this week that New Orleans likely will never again be a majority black city, and several black officials are outraged.
Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development, during a visit with hurricane victims in Houston, said New Orleans would not reach its pre-Katrina population of “500,000 people for a long time,” and “it’s not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again.”
Rep. Danny K. Davis, Illinois Democrat and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, quickly took issue.
“Anybody who can make that kind of projection with some degree of certainty or accuracy must have a crystal ball that I can’t see or maybe they are more prophetic than any of us can imagine,” he said.
Other members of the caucus said the comments by Mr. Jackson, who is black, could be misconstrued as a goal, particularly considering his position of responsibility in the administration.
“I would beg and hope that the secretary, if that is what he is saying, would re-evaluate the situation,” said Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat.
Rep. Bobby L. Rush, Illinois Democrat, said Alphonso Jackson’s remarks and the prospects of real-estate speculators and developers in New Orleans are “foreboding.”
“Gentrification is a demon that is looming on the landscape, and we have to be aware of it and vigilant. . . Right now, I don’t know if the resistance to it is strong enough,” Mr. Rush said.
He said a history of forced removal of blacks from their homes and property cannot be ignored as the reconstruction moves forward.