African American Leaders Speak Out on SCOTUS Roe Reversal

Ashley K. Shelton, founder and president of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice: “This moment is devastating. In a place like Louisiana, where you have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the country, you are literally sentencing Black women to death. Louisiana has a trigger law, and as soon as Roe came down, it automatically made abortion care illegal. …

Federal judge intervenes with new congressional district map after failure from legislature

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – A federal judge will redraw the state’s congressional map after state lawmakers abruptly ended a special session two days early. Saturday afternoon members of the Louisiana legislature decided there was no more moving forward with work to redraw the state’s congressional map. Dillard University political analyst Robert Collins says, “I think we were surprised by the …

Black Southern Women’s Collaborative to Hosts Juneteenth Voter Events

The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative today announced a series of Juneteenth events in Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, and Tennessee. The organization, which includes Black women organizers and executive directors in the South, will register people to vote, host a series of educational events and actions, and talk to communities about the true meaning of liberation. The group released the following statement:

Disaster relief system is broken – community activists gear up for wildfires and hurricanes ahead

 At an Ethnic Media Services briefing, June 3, speakers and moderator ­­– Ashley Shelton, Founder, President, and CEO of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice (Louisiana); MacKenzie Marcelin, Climate Justice Manager, Florida Rising; Chrishelle Palay, Executive Director of the HOME Coalition in Houston; Daysi Bedolla Sotelo, Senior Strategist for the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (California); and Moderator: Jennifer R. …

Summer Feeding programs in Calcasieu Parish

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – Kids are out on summer break and while some families are focusing on fun in the sun, others may be worrying about where their child’s next meal is coming from. At least one in four children in Louisiana experience food insecurity according to Feeding America. Groups in Calcasieu Parish are working to help. “Due to …

State rep, lawsuit plaintiff & LA SoS react to congressional map redraw order

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – On Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards called for a special legislative session in Baton Rouge to redraw the state’s congressional district maps before the upcoming election. The governor’s decision comes after a federal judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit claiming the maps do not accurately represent the state’s population.

A federal judge blocks Louisiana’s congressional map, calling it a racial gerrymander.

The judge ordered the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to redraw the map to include a second district that gives Black voters the chance to elect a candidate of their choice. A federal judge ruled on Monday that Louisiana’s new congressional map represented a racial gerrymander and must be redrawn to include a second district that gives Black voters the chance to …

Getting Ready for Natural Disasters

Hurricane season has just begun in Louisiana. Activists in several states are “organizing resilience” to prepare their communities and they are pushing officials to fix a disaster relief system which many consider broken. “The one thing that has actually worked in the aftermath of disaster is the community coming together to help each other,” said Ashley K. Shelton, the Founder, …

Fight over staffing changes in Baton Rouge schools continues as school board debates budget

East Baton Rouge Parish School Board members on Thursday took a deep examination of Superintendent Sito Narcisse’s spending plans for next year, quizzing him and other staff on staff changes, new positions in bilingual education and cutbacks in student transportation. The fallout from the forced reassignment of more than 230 school employees in early May continues. A handful of local activists held a …

Jefferson School Board reverses course, rejects expansion plan; here’s what they did

In a dramatic turnaround from a month ago, the Jefferson Parish School Board opted Wednesday night to stick with the same nine-district alignment it has had since 2012. Last month, the board indicated — in a narrow 5-4 vote — that it intended to add two seats to the board and possibly double the number of majority-minority districts to four. The vote will …

The war in Ukraine may ramp up pollution in US oil and gas communities

For the past year, Roishetta Ozane has been trying to stop new liquified natural gas, or LNG, export terminals from being built in southwest Louisiana. “We are already inundated with LNG and oil and gas,” said the clean energy organizing director with Healthy Gulf, who lives in the town of Sulphur. “We’re surrounded by it.”

Louisiana Senate Ignores Law Enforcement, Faith Leaders, Community Members and Advocates, Advances Permitless Carry Legislation

The Louisiana chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statement after the Louisiana Senate Judiciary C Committee voted to advance HB 37, dangerous permitless carry legislation to remove the state’s permitting requirement for carrying a concealed handgun in public. The vote comes despite fervent opposition from …

Louisiana Families for Vaccines hosting Day of Action at State Capitol

By Reggi Marion | BRProud BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A new grassroots advocacy group, Louisiana Families for Vaccines, is hosting a diverse group of partners, including the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, for a day of action at the Louisiana State Capitol to support evidence-based vaccine policy in the state.

Historic vote could add minority seats to Jefferson Parish School Board. See the proposals.

The Jefferson Parish School Board has published four redistricting proposals that the board will take up as it considers a generational shift that could add two new seats to the nine-member board. The four district maps published on the school district’s website include the current nine-member district alignment and three 11-seat options prepared by outside groups. The board is scheduled to vote on …

Crown Act bill advances in the Louisiana legislature

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Hairstyles come in all forms and a bill that advanced in the Louisiana legislature on Monday aims to prevent discrimination related to hair-dos. Some people say wearing braids, dreadlocks, cornrows, twists, curls, etc., has caused them to be discriminated against. House Bill 41 by Rep. Candace Newell, D-New Orleans, would prohibit such discrimination.

Demographer says political map to match Baton Rouge racial balance probably can’t be done

by Terry Jones for The Advocate Creating a sixth majority-minority district on the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council could be impossible.  While the city-parish’s racial demographics are pretty much 50/50 when it comes to the Black and White population, demographer Mike Hefner says the parish is still too geographically segregated to create the sixth majority-minority district that could even the power …

Arguments wrap up in battle to block congressional maps for upcoming elections

by Ariel Salk for BRPROUD BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — After five long days, arguments have wrapped up at the Middle District Court of Louisiana in the fight to challenge Louisiana’s congressional map. The evidentiary hearing for a preliminary injunction came to an end Friday. Civil rights groups argued the map is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting …

Advocates asking federal judge to block recently passed congressional maps

by Ariel Salk for BRPROUD BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The next step to challenge Louisiana’s congressional map happened Monday at the Middle District Court of Lousiana.  Civil rights groups are turning to the federal court, in what will be a week-long hearing, to block the congressional maps.

Rally to be held at EBR School Board Office

by Paula Jones for BRProud BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A group of local organizations are planning a Thursday evening rally at the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (EBR Schools) Office just prior to the Board’s 5 p.m. Public Hearing and Adoption/Ratification meeting. 

Residents ask Jefferson Parish School Board for more Black, Hispanic election districts

Board is two thirds White, school system one third White by Faimon A. Robers, III for Nola.com The Jefferson School Board has had nine members for more than a generation, but a number of impassioned speakers urged the board Thursday night to redraw its election districts – and perhaps add more – to reflect the parish’s mixed demographics. 

Grain elevator: Ruling lets slave descendants suit go ahead

By Rebecca Santana | AP EDGARD, La. — Descendants of slaves who lived and toiled in southeastern Louisiana won a key ruling Thursday allowing their legal challenge to go forward against a $400 million grain elevator planned along the Mississippi River, although the company behind the project said it would likely appeal.

From Bloody Sunday to the Present, We Must Continue to Resist

On this day, 57 years ago, March 7, 1965, activists endured attacks and abuse crossing the Edmund Pettus bridge to demonstrate for equal voting rights. Their sacrifice and valiant efforts led to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed the right to vote for all Americans, regardless of their color of their skin.

Open Letter to Governor Edwards Regarding Redistricting

Dear Governor Edwards, On behalf of the below signatories, we write to thank you for doing what is right and fair by vetoing the racially discriminatory and illegal Congressional map passed by the state legislature. By failing to pass maps that increase representation for Black Louisianians and other communities of color, the Legislature ignored the law, the Census numbers, and …

Food or power: Energy bill late fees force tough choices

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Chris Kinney, a resident of Rapides Parish in central Louisiana, has seen his electricity disconnected eight times in the past two years for falling behind on his energy bills to Cleco Power. His family did everything they could think of to catch up: pawning possessions, accumulating vast bank overdraft fees, borrowing money and applying for energy …

“A Matter of Survival”—Sade Dumas on Combating Racial Injustice in the Criminal Legal System

Sade Dumas, executive director of the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition(OPPRC) in Louisiana, has worked tirelessly to decrease the population of the Orleans Parish Prison and improve conditions there for those held behind bars. A Vera partner, she advocates for evidence-based methods to reduce incarceration and promotes alternatives to arrest. Under her leadership, OPPRC has helped stop a planned expansion of Orleans Parish …

Redistricting Louisiana: What You Need to Know About Redistricting in Louisiana 2022

Redistricting is how state and local governments redraw their political lines. Every 10 years following the Census, political maps are redrawn to account for population shifts. A Redistricting is supposed to ensure equal representation. However, the process is filled with controversy as tactics such as gerrymandering are utilized to influence future elections or maintain political power.

Janea Jamison: There is no ‘race blind’ fight in redistricting

Throughout the last six months, thousands of community members and fair redistricting advocacy groups have come together to shed light on the importance of a fair and equitable redistricting process. As the final Redistricting Roadshow concludes on January 20th, a misleading narrative has emerged: the Louisiana redistricting process should remain the same since its inception and not look at race. 

Grassroots groups in the South’s least-vaccinated states take on hesitancy

This summer, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, a coalition of community-based organizations that promotes civic engagement across Louisiana, started holding monthly “Sleeves Up” vaccination events. These gatherings, typically held at a church, community center, or apartment complex, offer games, food, and other incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Sweeping Constitutional amendments on the ballot

After years of doing taxes the same way, Louisiana voters beginning Saturday are being asked to decide if the state should head in a different direction. Forty-three parishes, like Orleans, are choosing local leadership or deciding propositions, like East Baton Rouge, which is seeking to renew a property tax that funds the local city buses.

Staging Nov. 13 election has been tough

Storm water had moved a tomb near the front door. When the door was opened a snake slithered out from the accumulated marsh grass. Jumping out of the way, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s only thought was “nope.”

Every Voice Matters: Why Redistricting Is Important

Ashley Shelton, Executive Director of the Power Coalition of Equity & Justice, discusses redistricting in Louisiana. By Ashley K. Shelton Originally published in Word in Black When any storm makes its way into the Gulf, one of my greatest fears is always that history will repeat itself. An overwhelming sense of concern came over me as I watched Hurricane Ida …

‘It’s always urgent when it’s about vote, voice and power’

‘It’s always urgent when it’s about vote, voice and power’ Climate change, a major concern of this week’s United Nations General Assembly, affects people across the globe through immigration, food production and the economy, to name a few. But as Ashley K. Shelton tells Mary C. Curtis, climate change is also spurring voter suppression. Shelton, who leads the Power Coalition for …

Disaster Recovery: A System That Continues to Fail Its People

OPINION: It is imperative that groups seeking to offer humanitarian relief direct funds to grassroots groups who are clNonprofits and churches are always the first, and often the only, to step up and provide basic needs during disasters. By Janea Jamison Originally published in Word in Black On the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida landed as a Category 4 …

Partner Spotlight: Power Coalition for Equity and Justice delivers the goods

Power Coalition for Equity and Justice is a group of community-based organizations that work together to educate and empower voters across Louisiana. Through their voter engagement and community organizing work, the Power Coalition seeks to unify community voices into a stronger, more cohesive force that can successfully advocate for an agenda of shared values and issues.

Resiliency Politics & Mutual Aid in the Wake of Hurricane Ida

The word resilient is one that has been oft-used to describe those of us in Louisiana who survived Hurricane Katrina. A description one finds in media spectacles, political assurances, and academic studies. However, this notion of resiliency overlooks all those who lost homes and lives, those who did not make it and those who could not return, those who could not withstand or recovery …

Black Southern Women’s Collective Urges Candidates to Focus on Needs of Marginalized People and Not Police Budgets

Ahead of a host of local and municipal elections, the Black Southern Women’s Collective, today urged marginalized communities to demand that their elected leaders prioritize their voices and concerns. The Black Southern Women’s Collective is a network of Black women organizing in the South to improve the material conditions of Black people. Several members of the collective – Nse Ufot, …

On Hurricane Ida, COVID-19, and trauma: Resilience cannot be a permanent state

OPINION: It is imperative that groups seeking to offer humanitarian relief direct funds to grassroots groups who are closest to the pain of marginalization By Ashley K. Shelton Originally published in The Grio: https://thegrio.com/2021/08/30/hurricane-ida-covid-19-resilience-permanent-state/ Today, one day after the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I cannot help but reflect as Ida ravishes our state. This storm comes as our region faces …

Additional early voting days nearly secured in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (KSLA) – Louisiana voters could have four additional days for early voting in the next presidential election. That is, if Governor John Bel Edwards signs the bill. HB 286, filed by Representative Frederick Jones, would give Louisianans 11 days instead of the current seven days for early voting. It has passed with bipartisan support in both the …

Louisiana has a voting access problem; expanding the number of voting days could help

An Election Day line at Eleanor McMain Secondary School in New Orleans Nov. 3, 2020. (Photo by Jarvis DeBerry)

Louisiana has a voting access problem, particularly in areas where Black voters reside. But one bill before the Louisiana Legislature, HB 286 sponsored by Rep. Frederick Jones (D-Monroe), would address this problem by increasing access to in-person voting and extending from seven days to 11 eleven days the window for early voting in presidential elections. 

Louisiana Power Coalition seeks to reach immigrants who avoided 2020 Census

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A coalition of Louisiana organizations dedicated to civic engagement wants to get the word out to those who did not participate in the 2020 census because of their immigration status that there is still time to be counted if enough people speak up.  “Right now what we’re focusing on is trying to remedy any possible damage …

La.’s GOP lawmakers now support COVID-19 accommodations for upcoming elections

Ashley Shelton, the executive director of the nonprofit, said Tuesday night that her organization appreciates Ardoin keeping the COVID-19 reasons to request and absentee ballot, “but (he) did not keep the extended early voting (which they also did not do in December) so while we support extended mail in voting, I think we would like to see extended in-person early …

Florida Just Passed A $15 Minimum Wage. Is The Time Right For A Big Nationwide Hike?

When news broke that Florida voters had approved a ballot measure raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Terrence Wise celebrated from a thousand miles away. “If we can get it in the Deep South, you know, down there in Florida, it’s bringing all workers closer to $15 an hour minimum wage on a national level,” says Wise, a …

Amendment 5 opponents say Louisiana lawmakers should take the amendment’s defeat to heart

‘The people are tired’ of corporate tax exemptions, one opponent says During Tuesday’s statewide election, Louisiana voters rejected Amendment 5, which would have allowed some manufacturers to avoid the property taxes they would otherwise owe local taxing jurisdictions for new projects or additions and instead negotiate lower payments with those jurisdictions.   Edgar Cage, a leader of Together Louisiana, a statewide …

The latest factor in voter suppression: Weather

Extreme temperatures and record storms are shuttering polls, leading climate advocates to raise concerns about disenfranchisement.  A record number of voters have cast ballots ahead of Election Day, but extreme weather has displaced thousands of others and shuttered polling sites across the country in what climate advocates are calling a new form of disenfranchisement. Red and blue precincts alike are dealing …

VOTER SOLUTIONS: Power Coalition makes sure no voter is turned away

WEST MONROE, LA. (KTVE/KARD)– Candice Battiste with Power Coalition Equity and Justice said this year’s early voter turnout was record breaking. “Every record has been shattered, I mean I don’t think there is anything left, any records left to break, which is really exciting,” Battiste said. Battiste said they are expecting the same for election day, but they’ve also experienced …

Historic election nears; how metro New Orleans officials plan to handle the crowds

Louisiana is gearing up for a historic election on Tuesday, with officials in the New Orleans area expecting extraordinary turnout for the presidential race despite hurdles that have added difficulty to voting this year. In addition to the headline race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, Louisiana ballots feature seven state constitutional amendments and dozens of …

Chronically homeless in Baton Rouge often miss out on right to vote

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – On Election Day Tuesday, there will be a population that has a much tougher time exercising one of the basic rights: voting. Chronically homeless face a number of barriers that prevent them from voting. Many do not have a permanent address they can use to register, even more do not have an ID. Even for …

Louisiana voting advocates rebuffed in effort to extend absentee-ballot deadlines in wake of Hurricane Zeta

In Louisiana, where 325,000 homes remained without electricity Friday in the wake of Hurricane Zeta, voting advocates were rebuffed in their effort to have absentee-ballot deadlines extended by a day. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Anti-Defamation League Southern Region and statewide group the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice had written Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and …

The Power Coalition is providing rides to the polls in Shreveport

SHREVEPORT, La- If you need a ride to the polls on Election Day, the Power Coalition –along with its Power Partners– are providing rides. The Power Coalition is a nonprofit organization in Louisiana. They are providing rides in Shreveport, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. To reserve a ride on November 3rd, call: Shreveport: 318-615-9203  Lafayette: 337-385-3887 Baton Rouge: 225-317-9028 …

What Happens to Voting When There’s a Natural Disaster

WEST MONROE, LA. (KTVE/KARD)– Candice Battiste with Power Coalition Equity and Justice said this year’s early voter turnout was record breaking. “Every record has been shattered, I mean I don’t think there is anything left, any records left to break, which is really exciting,” Battiste said. Battiste said they are expecting the same for election day, but they’ve also experienced …

Scalawag is answering your questions about voter suppression in the South.

On the precipice of a historic election in a global pandemic, as anti-racist action confronts increasing authoritarianism, voting is under attack, y’all—especially in the South. What’s going down in your community? Let us know. Scalawag reporters and Anoa Changa are responding directly to your texts, questions, and tips.

Organizations host information drives for Vote Early Day

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) – Long lines and anxious voters signal early voting across the United States, as the country prepares for the November election. For Louisiana, this is the last weekend for early voting. Community organizations such as the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), set up shop in Shreveport to educate voters before …

Voting down the ballot: Which local races matter?

How to make sense of the seemingly endless list of local offices up for election. “Overcrowded ballots are a form of voter suppression.” Ashley Shelton of Power Coalition Louisiana shared this powerful perspectiveduring the As The South Votes town hall last week, and it’s already ringing true for many voters across the country. Here in North Carolina, the ballot for my …

ID mix-up during early voting resolved for Caddo Parish voter

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) – With more than 41 million Americans already voting in the 2020 election, there’s a strong feeling that people want their voices heard this year. So imagine the surprise some people get when they arrive to vote only to discover their name is not on the voter registry. That’s exactly what happened to Amber Dixon on Tuesday …

Junebug Productions and Power Coalition Wants You to Exercises Your Right to Vote

Tomorrow, October 20, at 7:00 p.m., Stephanie Mckee-Anderson, Executive Artistic Director of Junebug Productions, a 40-year-old local and national leader in Performing Arts, will go live on Instagram with the Executive Director of the Power Coalition of Equity and Justice, Ashley Shelton, to discuss the importance of voting and the organization’s work to ensure that Louisianians are equipped with the information that …

How to Support Voting Rights and Protect our Elections: A Guide for Where to Donate Money

In the midst of a pandemic and uncertainty about what Nov. 3 will bring, it’s safe to say that the 2020 presidential election will be unlike any we’ve seen before. Even voter suppression — which has been a problem for years — is taking new forms. Some Americans are being targeted online with misinformation about the election, and many are worried mail-in ballots won’t be counted …

‘Bring a chair’ | Early voting in Jefferson Parish still takes hours on Day 3

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State, 16,880 people cast a ballot Friday and Saturday in Jefferson Parish during the first two days of early voting. HARVEY, La. — For as long as the early voting line at the Odom Building in Harvey seemed Monday, Rose Sanzone decided to give it another go after giving up on it Friday because …

Don’t discount the majority of your state: Reaching rural Southern voters

As The South Votes Town Hall—Part 2 Scalawag created the As the South Votes project in part as a resource for rural Southern voters whose stories often go uncovered—or are flat out misrepresented by national media outlets. Stereotypes of rural voters as those who vote against their own interests fail to see the structural ways in which rural communities are discounted and …

Black disillusionment is real, but Black liberation is possible

We all know someone who isn’t going to vote this election. Sometimes it’s out of deep frustration and disappointment, and sometimes it is out of immutable skepticism. And let’s admit, too: They aren’t necessarily wrong. With all the inaccurate information, doomsday reporting from national outlets, and tepid responses to injustice from progressive political officials, many voters—particularly Black voters—have a right …

Voter summit brings students together around importance of voting

A string of natural disasters has drastically altered how Lake Charles’ residents will cast their votes this election year.  In the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta nearly 70 percent of 123 voting precincts in the Lake Charles area have been moved to a new location, according to Lynn Jones, the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court. Residents from 85 voting …

Louisiana lawmakers push COVID-19 relief for businesses, but not workers

‘This is just not the time,’ business lobby says about increasing unemployment benefits Louisiana lawmakers approved several bills Monday (Oct. 12) that would provide relief to businesses in light of the state’s unprecedented, pandemic-related unemployment rate, but mostly left behind proposals that would benefit unemployed workers. The House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee rejected a bill that would have boosted …

Louisiana election precautions will remain in place despite appeal from Kyle Ardoin, Jeff Landry

Louisiana’s expanded early voting, mail ballots and other coronavirus precautions will still take place for the Nov. 3 presidential election, but Republicans Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Attorney General Jeff Landry are appealing a judge’s decision to implement the new rules. Ardoin said in late September he wanted to focus on putting on the election and didn’t plan to …

Appeal of Louisiana’s emergency election rules comes too late to change Nov. 3 rules

But Louisiana’s elections chief and A.G. want higher court to ‘review the law’ In a move that has the potential to confuse Louisiana residents who will start voting Friday for president, the U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry on Tuesday appealed a federal judge’s ruling that establishes the emergency …

La. lawmakers move to halt business tax hike, seek another way to refill unemployment fund

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A Louisiana House panel agreed Monday that the state’s unemployment trust fund needs replenishing, but claimed that higher business taxes are not the way to fill it. The House labor committee advanced legislation to halt an automatic $53 million tax increase on businesses. The tax was designed to take effect whenever the state refills its …

La. lawmakers vote down unemployment increase, move to suspend business tax hike

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – A House committee Monday, Oct. 12, killed an idea to boost the maximum weekly unemployment benefit by $100 dollars. Louisianans who are looking for a job can collect up to $247, the nation’s third-lowest rate. Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, wanted to boost the payment to $347. “At least begin to have the conversation around …

La. lawmakers reject unemployment pay increase as state trust fund dwindles

BATON ROUGE – A spirited rally of furloughed workers did nothing to sway the vote for a bill that could have increased unemployment pay Monday. The bill, authored by Representative Duplessis, would have added an additional hundred dollars on top of the $247 weekly payout already in place–one of the lowest rates in the country. It’s unsurvivable for people like …