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​​How one Louisiana funeral home is preserving a town's Black history through unearthed documents

From left to right: Valerie Richarson, Dr. Antoinette Harrell, and Earl Richardson Jr. sort through old funeral program documents.
Courtesy of Dr. Antoinette Harrell
From left to right: Valerie Richarson, Dr. Antoinette Harrell, and Earl Richardson Jr. sort through old funeral program documents.

Today on Louisiana Considered, we learn why thousands of women might soon lose their Medicaid coverage shortly after giving birth. Then we discover how a funeral home in Amite, Louisiana is preserving stories of Black history.

Throughout the pandemic, the public health emergency made it so that anyone enrolled in Medicaid would not lose coverage, including pregnant women. But now that emergency status could end as early as April 16, meaning tens of thousands of women in the Gulf South could lose their Medicaid coverage just two months after giving birth — all the while in the background are increasing restrictions on abortion access, including a pivotal Supreme Court case.

WWNO public health reporter Rosemary Westwood and Gulf States Newsroom health care reporter Shalina Chatlani join us to discuss the multiple obstacles currently faced by pregnant women in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

A funeral home in Amite, Louisiana, owned by generations of the same family, has become a historical window into the life of the Black community it served after the owners discovered funeral programs dating back more than 50 years. One of the owners of Richardson Funeral Home, Valarie Richardson, and historian and genealogist Dr. Antoinette Harrell tell us more about the stories they have unearthed and how they are preserving them.

Today’s episode of Louisiana Considered was hosted by Karen Henderson. Our managing producer is Alana Schreiber and our digital editor is Katelyn Umholtz. Our engineers are Garrett Pittman, Aubrey Procell, and Thomas Walsh. 

You can listen to Louisiana Considered Monday through Friday at 12:00 and 7:30 pm. It’s available on Spotify, Google Play, and wherever you get your podcasts. 

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Alana Schreiber is the managing producer for the live daily news program, Louisiana Considered. She comes to WWNO from KUNC in Northern Colorado, where she worked as a radio producer for the daily news magazine, Colorado Edition. She has previously interned for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul and The Documentary Group in New York City.