On the night of January 19, 2010, the Loyola University Institute of Politics (IOP) hosted a closed session on the subject "Black Politics in New Orleans." The guest speaker was Moon Landrieu, the last white mayor of New Orleans. Landrieu's term in office ended in 1978.
Not only was the timing of this selection of a speaker curious, it suggests that former Mayor Landrieu is the best expert to lecture graduate students on the subject of Black politics in New Orleans.
While former Mayor Landrieu is certainly a wise political sage and he earned a reputation for racial fairness in his day, he is clearly not best qualified to lead a discussion of contemporary issues related to African Americans and politics in New Orleans and Louisiana. We find it curious that the IOP did not select one of dozens of recognized scholars and African American political professionals who have worked in this field for decades.
The entire community and particularly African Americans should be outraged. For far too long, we've allowed others to define our history, distort our struggles and attempt to determine our destiny. Enough is enough.
As center of higher learning, the Loyola Institute of Politics should be held to a higher standard of honest intellectual inquiry. Further, as a Jesuit-affiliated institution of higher education and a member of the academy, the IOP should not be allowed to miseducate our state's future political leadership by failing the standards of academic objectivity and scholarship, demeaning the integrity of the political struggles of African Americans in New Orleans.
Among the countless speakers who the IOP could have been considered are: Don Hubbard, Jerome Smith, Andy Washington, Dr. Rudy Lombard, Dr. Raphael Casimere, Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika, Lolis Edward Elie, King Wells, Ron Nabonne, James Gray, II, Dale Atkins, Dr. Gary Clark, Dr. Silas Lee, Sheriff Paul Valteau, Dr. Ron Gardner, Louis Charbonnett, III, Sherman Copelin, Vincent Sylvain, Doug Evans, Jay Banks, Jerome Bondi, Paul Beaulieu, Beverly McKenna, Renee' Lapeyrolerie, Judith Dangerfield, Sundiata Haley and Lolis Eric Elie.
So as we enter this political season readying ourselves for a change in municipal administration, as African-Americans we should also be mindful that the institutions influencing our future are most certainly not exclusively government related. While we know the African American community will be chastised with cries of racism for calling-out this IOP-type slights, we must not forget they are, indeed, injustices that must be confronted.
And no, in 2010 it is not the obligation of the African-American community to continue to meet with wrongdoers and explain again — for the 45th consecutive year post-Civil Rights Act of 1965 — why this and other acts are discriminatory. No more Mulligans. From this point forward, failure will be graded with 'F'.
Tracey Washington is a witer for the Louisiana Data News Weekly.
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