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).

In Charleston, S.C., federal court Thursday, a jury got a look inside Emanuel AME Church in the aftermath of last year's mass shooting that left nine black worshippers dead. They were gunned down during Wednesday Bible study as they bowed their heads for the closing prayer. Prosecutors say Dylann Roof, a self-avowed white supremacist, targeted the historic church to start a race war. Testimony from crime scene investigators involved graphic, bloody photos, including a panoramic view of the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: The federal hate crimes trial against Dylann Roof began today in South Carolina. He's the man prosecutors say killed nine worshippers at a historic black church last year. They say Roof wanted to start a race war. NPR's Debbie Elliott was in court today. She joins us now from outside the federal courthouse in Charleston. And Debbie, I understand it was actually a rather dramatic day of opening testimony, and a...

A lawsuit on behalf of Alabama's prisoners, claiming they're being denied mental health care, begins in federal court Monday. The class-action suit states that Alabama doesn't provide adequate mental health treatment for those behind bars. Lawyers for the prisoners argue that the state provides little other than medication, and sometimes inmates are forced to take it against their will. The plaintiffs allege prison conditions are dangerous and discriminatory, which amounts to cruel and...

Jeff Sessions of Alabama was the first Republican senator to get behind the-then renegade candidate Trump. Now, he is President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general — and his hard-line stance on immigration and 30-year-old allegations of racism are sure to draw scrutiny in confirmation hearings. Long before Trump was winning primaries, or picking up political endorsements, he had a conservative ally in the Deep South. "We have a man here who really helped me," Trump said about...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: And now a view from some African-Americans in conservative South Carolina. NPR's Debbie Elliott spoke with voters trying to make sense of the election. DEBBIE ELLIOT, BYLINE: Ernestyne Adams welcomes Sammie Tucker, Jr., to her home in Camden, S.C., a small town just outside the state capitol, Columbia. ERNESTYNE ADAMS: Hey, there. SAMMIE TUCKER, JR: Good morning. Good morning. ADAMS: How are you, young man?...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: A federal judge in South Carolina has postponed jury selection in the high-profile hate crime trial of Dylann Roof. He's the self-proclaimed white supremacist who's accused of killing nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston last year. NPR's Debbie Elliott joins us now in Charleston. And, Debbie, this morning, proceedings were put on hold for a closed-door hearing. What was that about? DEBBIE...

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Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke drew protesters to a U.S. Senate candidate debate in Louisiana on Wednesday night. He's in a crowded field to replace retiring Republican Sen. David Vitter and earned enough support in polls to make the cut for this final debate, hosted by Raycom Media at Dillard University , a historically black college in New Orleans. Dillard officials say they didn't know who would be participating when they agreed to rent the hall. Unlike the presidential...

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Jury selection starts Monday in the case of former North Charleston, S.C., officer Michael Slager. The white ex-cop is accused of murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, last year. The killing was captured on video. It started with a traffic stop in April 2015. Slager stopped Scott for a broken brake light on the Mercedes-Benz he was driving. Video from Slager's dashcam shows the officer at the driver's window, asking for Scott's driver's license and questioning...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: Hurricane Matthew made landfall in South Carolina today just north of Charleston. The storm caused widespread flooding and power outages across the southeast and deaths in three states, but the country was spared the huge damage scene in Haiti. We're going to talk about the response in Haiti in just a few minutes, but we're going to start with NPR's Debbie Elliott, who reports that in Florida the cleanup is just...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: There are now hurricane warnings extending up the U.S. Atlantic Coast from Florida to North Carolina. Hurricane Matthew was downgraded earlier in the evening to a Category 2 storm, but it is still incredibly powerful. It left the southwestern part of Haiti devastated. Hundreds of people have been killed there. President Obama is urging people in the storm's path in the U.S. to take the threat seriously. ...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: Hurricane Matthew has lost some strength. It is now a Category 2 storm. But it's still very powerful, with sustained winds of more than 100 miles per hour. It has already devastated Haiti, killed hundreds of people. And today, it's cut a destructive path up Florida's east coast and is affecting Georgia and the Carolinas. President Obama is urging people to take the threat seriously. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED...

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Alabama Republican Chief Justice Roy Moore is fighting to keep his job. He's accused of violating judicial ethics for telling local judges they were bound by Alabama's gay marriage ban — and not the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. His trial is set to start Wednesday. He's been suspended pending the trial, and faces removal from the bench. "Roy Moore doesn't know the difference between being a judge and being a preacher," says Richard Cohen, president of the...

Susan Glisson stands on the campus of the University of Mississippi near a 1906 Confederate memorial that has long been at the center of racial strife here. The statue — a Confederate soldier atop a gray obelisk — was a rallying point for a white mob opposing integration in a deadly 1962 riot. Decades later, Glisson recalls, she was a graduate student during dueling protests near the statue over the practice of flying Confederate battle flags at Ole Miss football games. Flag supporters argued...

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Things are far from normal for people in Louisiana hit by last month's historic flood. Thousands have lost their homes, their cars, their jobs. But one routine resumed this week in Baton Rouge: Students are back in class after a three-week interruption. At Claiborne Elementary in north Baton Rouge, kids are tussling on school playgrounds again, even as their families' soaked belongings lay in heaps along neighborhood streets. Every available space at the school has been converted to a...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: All right, an opponent of same-sex marriage has his day in court today. Alabama's Chief Justice Roy Moore is fighting to keep his job. He's a religious conservative. He's been accused of judicial ethics violations after defying the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Justice Moore was suspended from the bench. He'll make a case for those charges to be dropped at a hearing today as NPR's...

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