NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.
For more than two decades, Elliott has been one of NPR's top breaking news reporters. She's covered dozens of natural disasters – including hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and Harvey. She reported on the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, introducing NPR listeners to teenage boys orphaned in the disaster, struggling to survive on their own.
Elliott spent months covering the nation's worst man-made environmental disaster, the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, documenting its lingering impact on Gulf coast communities and the complex legal battles that ensued. She launched the series "The Disappearing Coast," which examines the oil spill's lasting imprint on a fragile coastline.
She was honored with a 2018 Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation for crisis coverage, in part for her work covering the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the mass murder of worshippers at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. She was part of NPR's teams covering the mass shootings at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church and the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
Elliott has followed national debates over immigration, healthcare, abortion, tobacco, voting rights, welfare reform, same-sex marriage, Confederate monuments, criminal justice and policing in America. She examined the obesity epidemic in Mississippi, a shortage of public defenders in Louisiana, a rise in the incarceration of girls in Florida and chronic inhumane conditions at state prisons in Alabama and Mississippi.
A particular focus for Elliott has been exploring how Americans live through the prism of race, culture and history. Her coverage links lessons from the past to the movement for racial justice in America today.
She's looked at the legacy of landmark civil rights events, including the integration of Little Rock's Central High, the assassination of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers, the Montgomery bus boycott and the voting rights march in Selma, Alabama. She contributed a four-part series on the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, which earned a 2019 Gracie Award for documentary.
She was present for the re-opening of civil rights era murder cases, covering trials in the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham, the murder of Hattiesburg, Miss., NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer and the killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Miss.
Elliott has profiled key figures in politics and the arts, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, historian John Hope Franklin, Congressman John Lewis, children's book author Eric Carle, musician Trombone Shorty and former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. She covered the funerals of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, and the King of the Blues BB King, and she took listeners along for the second line jazz procession in memory of Fats Domino in New Orleans.
Her stories give a taste of southern culture, from the Nashville hot chicken craze to the traditions of Mardi Gras to the roots of American music at Mississippi's new Grammy Museum. She's highlighted little-known treasures such as North Carolina artist Freeman Vines and his hanging tree guitars, the magical House of Dance and Feathers in New Orleans' Lower 9th ward, a remote Coon Dog Cemetery in north Alabama and the Cajun Christmas tradition of lighting bonfires on the levees of the Mississippi River.
Elliott is a former host of NPR's newsmagazine All Things Considered on the weekends, and is a former Capitol Hill Correspondent. She's an occasional guest host of NPR's news programs and is a contributor to podcasts and live programming.
Elliott was born in Atlanta, grew up in the Memphis area, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. She lives in south Alabama with her husband, two children and a pet beagle.
University of Mississippi students meet members of the school's Black Student Union from 1970. They were jailed and expelled from Ole Miss for protesting token integration.
University of Mississippi students meet members of the school's Black Student Union who were jailed in 1970 for protesting token integration, comparing their demands back then to campus life today.
Thousands of people are still displaced and living in limbo six months after the wildfires on Maui. The disaster has deepened a housing crisis and is taking a toll on fire survivors.
NPR's Debbie Elliott talks with photographer Kate Medley about her book, "Thank You Please Come Again," on eateries in Southern gas stations. She also speaks with Otha Campbell who helps run one.
NPR's Debbie Elliott speaks with NPR's Political Correspondent, Sue Davis, about Senator minority leader Mitch McConnell's current influence over his conference.
NPR's Debbie Elliot speaks with Reforma columnist Carlos Bravo Regidor about Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's new constitutional reforms.
Israel's military showed journalists what it claims is a Hamas tunnel beneath the Gaza headquarters of the UN agency that assists Palestinians.
A team in Antarctica is testing a drone to help with key climate research. NPR's Debbie Elliott talks with engineer Rebecca Toomey and scientist Tom Jordan about using and operating the drone.
NPR's Debbie Elliot speaks with Ian McNulty, a food culture writer for nola.com about Mardi Gras cakes and the first Mardi Gras king cake bracket.
NPR's Debbie Elliott speaks with actor Camila Mendes, star of the movie "Upgraded," now streaming on Amazon Prime. It's a romantic comedy about an intern at a New York art auction house.