I Won’t Drown on that Levee and You Ain’t Gonna Break My Back

A part of the Corrections Documentary Project

I Won’t Drown on that Levee and You Ain’t Gonna Break my Back began with an invitation to travel to New Orleans as part of a delegation to investigate what actually happened at the Orleans Parish Prison during and after Hurricane Katrina. What came up was not only a botched and deadly evacuation of the prison, but a broader climate of racial tension and brutality throughout the local and Federal response to the disaster, where the population was divided into survivors and looters along lines of race and class.

Based around a press conference by the delegation — itself an interesting form of public speech with its own politics of representation — it takes the viewer through a timeline of the disaster and its representation through the mass media, with stories of individuals returning to New Orleans for the first time, testimonies of the evacuation, and a look at grassroots relief efforts not covered in the media.

The video is a central part of a campaign calling for Amnesty for criminalized hurricane survivors and people whose legal cases have been jeopardized by the hurricane.

Following I Won’t Drown…, Hunt continued to work with the documents and memories of this time, leading to the essay, “A Fortification of Race” (Re-Thinking Marxism, 2006, republished in Social Medium: Artists Writing, 2000-2015), and Notes on the Emptying of a City (performance and book).

Special thanks to: Xochitl Bervera, Corinne Curry, Althea Francois, Tamika Middleton, Malik Rahim

2006 / 30 minutes

Special thanks to:
Xochitl Bervera
Corinne Curry
Althea Francois
Tamika Middleton
Malik Rahim

Important links:
The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund
Common Ground Collective
New Orleans Independent Media Center