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I’m a proud 2016 New Leaders Council Louisiana fellow and was thrilled when we kicked off our 2016 Institute in my hometown, Shreveport. One of our special guests during the weekend was former Shreveport mayor (and current State Representative for District 4) Cedric B. Glover, and in his remarks to our cohort he highlighted his December 2009 executive order protecting LGBT city employees from employment discrimination as a point of personal and professional pride – a bright spot for concrete progressive action in a very conservative corner of the state. Four years later, in 2013, the Shreveport City Council adopted the Shreveport Fairness Ordinance prohibiting discrimination against all LGBT city residents in employment, housing, and public facilities, making Shreveport only the second city in Louisiana to legislate specific protections for LGBT citizens.
These tangible policies are impressive and important. But the story of progress toward LGBT rights in Shreveport isn’t really about executive orders and city council ordinances. It’s about effective organizing and people power – specifically, the work of People Acting for Change and Equality, or PACE. Read the rest of this entry
My friend Lamar White published an in-depth look at how Louisiana’s United States Senate race is shaping up this year. In case you forgot, this is the seat currently occupied by Senator David Vitter who announced following his gubernatorial defeat that he would not seek reelection for his current post.
Here are some fun Cliff’s Notes on some of the candidates… Read the rest of this entry
For some time now, I have lamented the fundamental breakdown of community as one of the core challenges hindering our politics and civic progress. It seems that, despite all the opportunities to connect virtually via social media, people are less close than they once were. I have to admit, other than talking, I’ve not done enough to address this unfortunate trend myself. And this breakdown means that coming together with our neighbors and fellow citizens to address community concerns is much more difficult.
Enter Together Baton Rouge, a nonprofit organization that has built a powerful coalition of community groups and church congregations to advocate for progress across all parts of Louisiana’s capital city. Read the rest of this entry
At the end of Thanksgiving break during my senior year of college, I found myself in the company of seven or eight other eager young citizens in a traditionally elegant private school in Metairie. When we weren’t taking turns being called before a panel of intimidating interviewers in a dimly lit, stifling library, we – the Louisiana state finalists for a prestigious national scholarship – sized each other up via awkward, falsely self-deprecating small talk.
Large parts of that stressful day are now a blur, but one memory has always stuck with me. There was a television in our waiting area tuned to a national cable network, and the regularly scheduled programming was interrupted several times with updates on the chaotic protests that accompanied the November 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. As images of the angry, chanting crowds filled the screen, one of my fellow scholarship hopefuls exclaimed, “This is just so horrible, for this to be happening in our country. It’s so un-American!” Read the rest of this entry