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).

Pages

U.S.
5:19 pm
Thu July 16, 2015

Tennessee Community Pushes To Reopen 'Civil Rights Hero' Cold Case

Williams is believed to be buried in the Taylor Cemetery in Brownsville, Tenn.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Thu July 16, 2015 8:10 pm

A rural West Tennessee community is pushing the Justice Department to reopen a 75-year-old civil rights murder case.

Elbert Williams is believed to be the first NAACP official killed for seeking to register black voters. Yet the mysterious story of his 1940 murder is not widely known.

Clues about Williams' murder are thought to be buried with him, here in the Taylor Cemetery just outside Brownsville, Tenn.

Local attorney Jim Emison walks to a corner of the cemetery, set off by two towering oaks.

"This is the area where we believe he lies," Emison says.

Read more
Around the Nation
3:46 am
Mon July 6, 2015

A Few Miles From Mobile, A Wealth Of History, Nature — And Danger

A cypress tree swamp in Byrnes Lake, part of the more than 200,000-acre Mobile delta. It's the most biologically diverse river delta system in the country.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Mon July 6, 2015 10:44 am

This summer, Morning Edition is taking you on adventures off the beaten path — trails that transport us to a special, hidden place. We start just minutes from downtown Mobile, Ala., at the point where five rivers converge in the Mobile Bay Delta. With our trail guide, we discover centuries of history, and biodiversity like no other place in the country.

The point where five rivers empty into Mobile Bay is a fisherman and hunter's paradise, but it's also a draw for naturalists and history buffs.

Read more
Law
10:34 am
Thu July 2, 2015

BP Agrees To Fork Over Nearly $19B For Role In Gulf Oil Spill

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 5:31 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Read more
Law
4:29 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Some Counties Stall On Same-Sex Marriage Licenses After Ruling

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 6:37 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Race
8:16 am
Sat June 20, 2015

'Hate Won't Win': Shock and Mourning In Charleston

Originally published on Sat June 20, 2015 8:43 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Read more
Around the Nation
5:51 pm
Fri June 19, 2015

Charleston, S.C., Residents Gather Outside Church To Mourn Victims

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 8:13 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
Music News
2:03 am
Wed June 10, 2015

Nashville's Living History Museum Expands

Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium re-opens this week with a new look.
Steve Lowry Ryman Auditorium

Originally published on Wed June 10, 2015 8:01 am

Read more
Around the Nation
7:35 am
Sun May 31, 2015

Mississippi's Beloved Blues-Playing Son Comes Home

Originally published on Sun May 31, 2015 12:12 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
5:04 am
Wed May 27, 2015

Alabama Considers Legalized Gambling To Close Budget Deficit

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 7:54 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
4:30 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

As States Ready Disaster Plans, Feds Urge Them To Consider Climate Change

Demolition crews remove the last remains of a house that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, which battered parts of the East Coast, in 2013.
Wayne Parry AP

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 7:06 pm

The Atlantic hurricane season starts next month — a time when coastal states have their disaster plans at the ready. Now, the federal government wants states to consider the potential effects of climate change in those blueprints.

States lay out strategies for reducing harm from a whole host of calamities that might strike, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or drought.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, gives states money to mitigate those risks — grants that might help pay for tornado safe rooms, or to elevate buildings in a flood zone, for instance.

Read more
The Two-Way
4:18 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

#NPRreads: Gambling In The Bible Belt

An electronic game at the Wind Creek Wetumpka casino in Wetumpka, Ala.
Dave Martin AP

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 1:59 pm

#NPRreads is a feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we bring you five reads.

From NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott:

Read more
Books
5:04 am
Mon May 4, 2015

A Town Divided Over The Next Chapter Of An Iconic Harper Lee Book

Every spring, local residents have staged a play based on To Kill a Mockingbird in this courthouse in Monroeville, Ala.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Mon May 4, 2015 12:13 pm

Business is brisk at the Ole Curiosities and Book Shoppe, a block off the town square in Monroeville, Ala.

Jennifer Brinkley and her friend Leigh Mikovch are at the counter, putting in a pre-order for Go Set a Watchman, the much anticipated forthcoming book from Harper Lee.

"We're big Harper Lee fans and To Kill a Mockingbird fans," Brinkley says.

Both are writers from Bowling Green, Ky. They're visiting Monroeville for the annual Alabama Writers Symposium. Brinkley says it will be meaningful to have the new book come from Lee's hometown.

Read more
Environment
5:37 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

5 Years After BP Oil Spill, Experts Debate Damage To Ecosystem

Fresh oil puddles on the white sand in Orange Beach, Ala., during the BP oil spill in 2010.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 12:23 am

At the Gulf State Park Pier in Orange Beach, Ala., Wetzel Wood casts his fishing line into the rough surf of the Gulf of Mexico. He pulls his bait, a cigar minnow, through the water just beyond where the waves break for the shore.

"On a good day you'd catch king mackerel, Spanish mackerel," he says. Wood first learned to fish at the pier with his grandfather in 1969. "I've seen a lot of different things out here. It's been wonderful."

Read more
U.S.
3:47 am
Mon April 20, 2015

5 Years After BP Oil Spill, Effects Linger And Recovery Is Slow

Pelicans are nesting at Queen Bess Island in Barataria Bay. Five years ago, the nesting season here was marred by the oil gushing out of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 7:04 pm

Five years ago, BP's out-of-control oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico exploded. Eleven workers were killed on the Deepwater Horizon rig. But it was more than a deadly accident — the blast unleashed the nation's worst offshore environmental catastrophe.

In the spring and summer of 2010, oil gushed from the Macondo well for nearly three months. More than 3 million barrels of Louisiana light crude fouled beaches and wetlands from Texas to Florida, affecting wildlife and livelihoods.

Today, the spill's impacts linger.

Read more
Children's Health
5:15 am
Fri April 17, 2015

E-Cigarettes Grow In Popularity Among Teen Students, Survey Says

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 7:35 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Read more
Code Switch
8:32 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Southern Baptists Don't Shy Away From Talking About Their Racist Past

Russell Moore preaching during the first plenary address, "Black, And White And Red All Over: Why Racial Reconciliation Is A Gospel Issue."
Alli Rader

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 10:52 pm

Southern Baptist leaders were supposed to be talking about bioethics this week at a summit in Nashville, Tenn. That changed in December after a New York grand jury declined to return an indictment in the police choking death of Eric Garner.

When Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, sent out tweets expressing his shock, there was pushback. Should the church get involved in a divisive political issue?

Read more
Around the Nation
4:54 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Investigation Continues Into Crash Of Blackhawk Military Helicopter In Fla.

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 10:40 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Read more
Race
8:10 am
Sun March 8, 2015

Obama Evokes The 'Eternal Struggle' In Selma

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 1:08 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
6:28 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

New Museum Depicts 'The Life Of A Slave From Cradle To The Tomb'

In recent years, some popular antebellum plantations have started to incorporate displays about slavery. But the Whitney Plantation has designed the visitor's entire experience around that history.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 8:31 pm

The section of Louisiana's serpentine River Road that tracks along the Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge is known as "Plantation Alley." The restored antebellum mansions along the route draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

The newest attraction aims to give visitors a realistic look at life in the pre-Civil War South. Don't expect hoop skirts and mint juleps, but stark relics that tell the story of a dark period in American history, through the eyes of the enslaved.

Read more
Law
6:26 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Ruling May Force Ala. Probate Judges To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Read more

Pages