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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8:16am

Wed November 23, 2011
Law

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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10:01pm

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

Economy Mutes A Longtime Louisville Record Shop

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 7:02 am

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

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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3:00am

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

Alabama's 'Rocket City' Hopes For Another Boom

Originally published on Fri November 11, 2011 6:40 am

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

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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10:45am

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

Miss. Couple Lament Loss Of The American Dream

Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 3:31 pm

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

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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3:19am

Mon October 24, 2011
Around the Nation

Labor Worries Rise As Planting Season Nears In Ala.

Originally published on Tue October 25, 2011 10:26 pm

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

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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2:00am

Fri October 14, 2011
Business

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.

2:00am

Thu October 6, 2011
Law

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.

12:05pm

Wed October 5, 2011
Remembrances

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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2:00am

Thu September 29, 2011
NPR Story

Alabama's Controversial Immigration Law Takes Effect

Originally published on Thu September 29, 2011 5:56 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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4:06am

Sat September 10, 2011
Reflecting On Sept. 11, 2001

Tennessee Town Grapples With Sept. 11 Legacy

Hundreds of men pray at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tenn. The congregation wants to build a new, bigger place to worship, but has faced stiff opposition from citizens who fear the local Muslims have a political agenda. Imam Ossama Bahloul says it's nonsense to think the congregation is a threat.
Debbie Elliott

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., more than 5,000 people are expected Sunday for the annual Sept. 11 memorial. What started as a small flag ceremony at the Rutherford County's Sheriff's Department 10 years ago is now a major community event. Murfreesboro has been dealing with another legacy of the attacks, which is playing out in a controversy over a mosque.

A Local Response To The Trauma

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10:01pm

Tue August 23, 2011
Around the Nation

Ala. Businesses Riled By State's New Immigration Law

The dispute over immigration policy is being fought in an Alabama federal court Wednesday.

The state's Republican leaders say they passed the toughest immigration bill in the country to preserve jobs for Alabamians. But critics say the law goes too far, criminalizing all kinds of contact with undocumented residents and putting an extra burden on small business.

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2:53pm

Tue August 23, 2011
Law

Clergy Sue To Stop Alabama's Immigration Law

Alabama's new immigration law gets its first test in federal court Wednesday.

The Justice Department and civil rights groups are suing to stop what's considered to be the toughest illegal immigration crackdown coming out of the states.

But the law is also being challenged from a Bible Belt institution.

'It Goes Against Tenets Of Our Christian Faith'

At First United Methodist Church in downtown Birmingham, clergy from around the city take turns leading a prayer service called in response to the new immigration law.

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6:00am

Sun August 14, 2011
Politics

Bachmann Passes Test Of Iowa's Straw Poll

Less than two months into her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman won Saturday's Iowa straw poll. Bachman won what is considered to be a bellwether event and one measure of a presidential candidate's strength. NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

2:00am

Fri August 12, 2011
Politics

Romney Stops By Iowa State Fair

The Iowa State Fair opened this week, and it provides the backdrop for two major political events in the state — last night's GOP presidential candidate debate and Saturday's Ames Straw Poll. The fair is an essential destination for the candidates. It's where they get the chance to engage with voters and eat deep-fried novelties on sticks.

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