May 14, 2006 — -- Reese Witherspoon, who recently won an Oscar for playing June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line," went back home to New Orleans this week for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. With a bus full of Hollywood's leading ladies, Witherspoon helped open the city's first Freedom School, reinventing that hallmark of the civil rights era to help children who lost just about everything to the storm.
Reese Witherspoon: I think that this issue has waned in the media. I think that the children of Katrina, and the mothers and the families, are not at the forefront of the news media right now. I feel really like it's absolutely imperative that myself and this delegation of women have gotten together to come down and show that we haven't forgotten. We still care about these children. We are going to continue to lobby for these children.
A lot of what we're doing today is getting an organization of women together that crosses socio-economic lines and ethnic lines, and is sort of in line with what they were doing in the '60s with Wednesdays in Mississippi: Women coming from the North to the South to talk about issues and to really see what was going on.
The money we've raised has created this amazing after-school opportunity for so many children with amazing counselors -- these kids who've come in and done leadership training and are motivating these children and taking care of their health care and mental care, health care needs.
I think that having children is such a common denominator that … once you have children in your life you can no longer close your eyes to people who … are in a similar situation.
I feel really blessed to be able to be on this side of it, but I also recognize the huge responsibility that we have to these people. And I will never forget this experience.