Debbie Elliott

After a stint on Capitol Hill, NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott is back covering her native South.

From a giant sinkhole swallowing up a bayou community in Louisiana to new state restrictions on abortion providers, Elliott keeps track of the region's news. She also reports on cultural treasures such as an historic church in need of preservation in Helena, Arkansas; the magical House of Dance and Feathers in New Orleans' lower 9th ward; and the hidden-away Coon Dog Cemetery in north Alabama.

She's looking back at the legacy of landmark civil rights events, and following the legal battles between states and the federal government over immigration enforcement, healthcare, and voting rights.

Her coverage of the BP oil spill has focused on the human impact of the spill, the complex litigation to determine responsibility for the disaster, and how the region is recovering. She launched the series, "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.

Debbie has reported on the new entrepreneurial boom in post-Katrina New Orleans, as well as that city's decades-long struggle with violent crime, and a broken criminal justice system. She's examined the obesity epidemic in Mississippi, and a ground-breaking prisoner meditation program at Alabama's toughest lockup. She's taken NPR listeners on a musical tour of Memphis in a pink Cadillac, and profiled writers and musicians including Aaron Neville, Sandra Boynton, and Trombone Shorty.

Look for Debbie's signature political coverage as well. She's watching vulnerable Congressional seats and tracking southern politicians who have higher political aspirations. She was part of NPR's election team in 2008 and 2112 — reporting live from the floor of the political conventions, following the Presidential campaigns around the country, and giving voice to voters making their choice.

During her tenure in Washington, DC, Debbie covered Congress and hosted NPR's All Things Considered on the weekends. 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, Debbie 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 major hurricanes, from Andrew to Katrina. Debbie was stationed in Tallahassee, Florida, for election night in 2000, 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 electronic cigarettes, and tobacco-control policy and regulation. NPR has sent her to cover a Super Bowl, the Summer Olympics, Bama football fans, and baseball spring training.

Debbie Elliott was born in Atlanta, grew up in the Memphis area, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama College of Communication. She's the former news director of member station WUAL (now Alabama Public Radio).

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Hard Times: A Journey Across America
5:12 am
Sat December 24, 2011

In Camden, S.C., A Family's Generations Talk Race

Sisters Ernestyne James Adams (right) and Althea James Truitt are concerned about the economy and today's political climate.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Sat December 24, 2011 11:07 pm

Part of a series

With the 2012 presidential election on the horizon, NPR's Debbie Elliott heads to Camden, S.C., to hear from the close-knit Gaither-James family. Like other African-Americans — considered the political base for President Obama — they're concerned about the economy and today's political climate.

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Law
9:16 am
Wed November 23, 2011

The Newest Magazine Fad: The Mug-Shot Tabloid

Each week, Little Rock, Ark., residents snap up some 7,000 copies of The Slammer.
Dave Anderson

A new kind of tabloid is popping up in convenience stores around the country. The papers are nothing more than a compendium of mug shots letting readers keep up with who's been arrested every week.

With titles like Cellmates, Jailbirds, Just Busted, Jail House Rocs and The Slammer, it's clear what you'll find inside.

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Hard Times: A Journey Across America
11:01 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Economy Mutes A Longtime Louisville Record Shop

Timmons browses the racks of his now-closed business. The record store will have a final clearance sale on Nov. 29.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 8:02 am

Part of a monthlong series

In Louisville, Ky., local businessman John Timmons is trying to figure out what's next after selling music for more than a quarter of a century.

Timmons owned ear X-tacy records for 26 years here. The shop closed at the end of October. On a recent visit, dead roses, farewell notes and other mementos are taped to the glass doors. Fans of the shop have also been slipping notes of support under the door.

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Hard Times: A Journey Across America
4:00 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Alabama's 'Rocket City' Hopes For Another Boom

In 1962, President John Kennedy (center) and Vice President Lyndon Johnson visited Dr. Wernher von Braun (left), who designed the Saturn rocket in Huntsville, Ala.
AP

Originally published on Fri November 11, 2011 7:40 am

Part of a monthlong series

Driving into Huntsville, Ala., it's clear what this city is all about: A giant Saturn V rocket looms ahead in the skyline. This is the city that made the Saturn rockets that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

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Hard Times: A Journey Across America
11:45 am
Mon October 31, 2011

Miss. Couple Lament Loss Of The American Dream

Norris and Janis Galatas at their home in Collinsville, Miss., with their horse, Cinnamon. The couple is struggling to make their mortgage payments.

Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 4:31 pm

Part of a monthlong series

The plan for Norris and Janis Galatas was that they would be settled and comfortable at middle age — paying off their bills and putting away something for the future. But now the wounded warrior and his wife are rethinking the American dream.

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Around the Nation
4:19 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Labor Worries Rise As Planting Season Nears In Ala.

Farmer Scott Allgood, front, of Allgood, Ala., listens during a meeting of farmers and state officials to discuss the impact of the Alabama Immigration law on their livelihoods in Oneonta, Ala.

Dave Martin AP

Originally published on Tue October 25, 2011 11:26 pm

Alabama farmers are facing a labor crisis because of the state's new immigration law as both legal and undocumented migrant workers have fled the state since the strict new rules went into effect last month.

So far, piecemeal efforts to match the unemployed or work release inmates to farm jobs are not panning out, and farmers are asking state lawmakers to do something before the spring planting season.

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NPR Story
3:00 am
Fri October 14, 2011

Ala. Immigration Law Has Potential Workers Leaving The State

Alabama business owners are furious about the state's new immigration law. They say it is costing them business. Some wonder if the state will ultimately change the law, which is leading legal and illegal immigrants to flee the state.

Law
3:00 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Tough Ala. Immigration Law Changes Ways Of Life

A federal judge has ruled that Alabama's strict immigration laws will go forward even as appeals are made through the judicial system. Hispanic-owned businesses in the state say their customers have vanished. Among other things, the new law requires police to verify the immigrations status of suspects if there's "reasonable suspicion" they are in the country illegally.

Remembrances
1:05 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Civil Rights Pioneer, Dies

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a pioneer of the civil rights movement, died Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala. Shuttlesworth led Birmingham's battle against segregation — a battle that focused the national spotlight on the violent resistance to equal rights in the South and forced change. He was 89.

As Birmingham goes, so goes the nation. That belief was the driving force behind Shuttlesworth's crusade for equality.

"He was the soul and heart of the Birmingham movement," Georgia Congressman John Lewis said. It was Birmingham, he said, that brought the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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U.S.
3:00 am
Thu September 29, 2011

Alabama's Controversial Immigration Law Takes Effect

Originally published on Thu September 29, 2011 6:56 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, Host:

And I'm David Greene.

How to handle illegal immigration has been a big topic on the presidential campaign trail and a big debate in many states. Alabama has what's considered to be the toughest law against illegal immigration in the country, and much of that law takes effect today. A Birmingham federal judge refused to block some of the most stringent provisions in the state's crackdown.

NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

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