In the book "Why We Can't Wait", Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., explained how history and centuries of social and economic injustice converged in 1963 to spur into action the Civil Rights movement. What came next was a coordinated effort to right the wrongs of the past and lead America to a more prosperous future.
In 2013, fifty years later, New Orleans is at crossroads similar to that of America in 1963. Decades of neglect of the City's infrastructure, combined with hurricane Katrina, the most devastating man-made disaster in American history, followed by hurricane Rita, the BP oil spill, the global economic downturn and the violence that plagues our streets, every day we live in a world that appears to be doing its best to stop us from moving our City and our lives towards a more prosperous future.
Sometimes we refer to the past and our present day challenges to defend why we haven't done better as individuals or as a City. As individuals and as a City, we must take a stand and agree that our challenges can no longer serve as impediments to our prosperity and here's why.
We can't wait for the past to undo itself because it never will. We can't wait for the economy to recover before we take steps towards rebuilding our financial security. We can't wait to realize that our City's crime problem is as much an economic problem as it is a social problem. And small business owners can't wait for opportunities to knock on their doors, they must take the initiative to create their own opportunities by taking ownership of where they are and developing strategies to move their businesses forward.
The opportunity is now New Orleans. With over $4 billion in infrastructure projects planned in New Orleans over the next decade, there is an opportunity to have a lasting economic impact on our City through construction jobs and later through the thousands of permanent jobs at the University Medical Center, the VA Hospital, new Recovery School District schools and in the private sector.
We can't wait New Orleans because every day we wait for the world to change for us we miss the opportunity to start building a better City for ourselves and our children.