Lambert Boissiere, Davante Lewis square off ahead of Public Service Commission runoff

The two candidates for the Public Service Commission district that represents New Orleans and parts of Baton Rouge sought to distance themselves from one another Wednesday in a testy debate ahead of the Dec. 10 runoff election. Commissioner Lambert Boissiere, who is facing a rare runoff for an incumbent, defended the commission’s record, touting Louisiana’s relatively low electric rates. He …

What Louisiana needs to know about 3 constitutional amendments on Dec. 10 runoff ballot

In New Orleans, all eyes are on the Public Service Commission runoff on Dec. 10, but in many parts of the state, three proposed constitutional amendments will be the only thing on Louisiana voters’ ballots. If passed, the amendments would clarify who can vote in state and local elections and would give the state Senate the opportunity to weigh in …

Louisiana voters rejected an antislavery ballot measure. The reasons are complicated

Out of five states that put measures to voters on the subject, Louisiana voters were the only ones to vote against banning slavery and involuntary servitude in the state constitution, according to calls by The Associated Press. This year, in Vermont, Oregon, Alabama and Tennessee, voters decided to ban slavery and involuntary servitude.

Four States Voted to End Slavery — But Not Louisiana. Here’s Why.

Voters in Vermont, Tennessee, Oregon and Alabama amended their state constitutions to abolish slavery and indentured servitude this week — but a similar initiative failed in Louisiana, garnering embarrassing headlines for a former slave state that remains infamous for modern mass incarceration and forced prison labor.

In Louisiana, Democrats seize on abortion to motivate voters

NEW ORLEANS – As early voting began in Louisiana last week, Taetrece Harrison and her mother waited for the polls to open. Most of the people in line with them were women. Harrison and her mother were both galvanized by this summer’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which triggered Louisiana’s near-total ban on abortion. More than 363,000 votes have been …

Members of Divine Nine organizations ‘Stroll to the Polls’ as early voting nears an end

SHREVEPORT, La.-In partnership with the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, members of the Divine Nine, a collective of Black Greek-lettered organizations, gathered in the parking lot of Remington College for a “Stroll to the Polls” event aimed at encouraging early voting in Shreveport.  The event featured food, entertainment and fellowship as a way to highlight the secondary early voting location at …

‘Bike N Vote’ getting young NOLA voters to the polls for early voting

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— The organization, Young People Vote, is hosting a “Bike N Vote” initiative, which provides free bikes for the community to use during early voting for local elections. The initiative is especially geared toward getting people of color out to the polls to vote.  “Voting is a part of our right as humans and our ancestors fought for years to …

Bike N Vote being held to inspire minorities to vote

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) – Young People Vote invites the public to bike through downtown Shreveport to go vote when the early voting is open. On Oct. 29, the nonpartisan state-based civic engagement and movement-building organization, Young People Vote is hosting Bike N Vote across the state of Louisiana with a focus on getting Black and brown people, especially gen Z, …

Voting Rights Activists Look Beyond Supreme Court To People Power

WASHINGTON, DC — Shortly ahead of arguing before the Supreme Court on a voting rights lawsuit that bears his name, Alabama attorney Evan Milligan was already looking forward to what needs to be done to secure permanent voting rights protections for all Americans. “My hope is not based on the court,” Milligan said at a recent news conference. “My hope …

Power Coalition for Equity & Justice President says ‘Every vote counts’

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – If you missed the deadline to register to vote in person you still have a chance to register to vote online. The Power Coalition for Equity & Justice explains why it’s important you make your voice heard.  “We must make sure that we are participating in this process, that we are voting and having our voices …

Vote Your Voice: In Louisiana, Power Coalition pursues justice at the polls

Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, a 2022 Vote Your Voice grantee, represents Louisianans like Deborah, who has a partial disability and walks with a cane. Deborah is one of the countless Black residents who, for over a century of Black voter suppression, have been forced to wage herculean efforts just to cast their ballots. Deborah was living in Red Cross evacuee housing …

Tech issues keep public out of Disability Voting Task Force meeting

Technical difficulties at the Claiborne Building plagued Louisiana’s Disability Voting Task Force meeting Monday, preventing nearly 20 people from attending via its virtual live stream — a critical means of access for some disabled people.  Louisiana Secretary of State spokesman John Tobler said in a phone interview that the task force had experienced technical problems with YouTube’s live stream function …

Here’s how to reduce power costs, help coastal communities

Competition in the electric utility industry, and more solar, nuclear and wind power, represent the best ways to reduce power costs for customers, according to The Times-Picayune Power Poll. Louisiana historically gives power utilities a monopoly in their geographic markets, but the Public Service Commission is considering competition, which was the No. 1 choice of Power Poll respondents. Here are the weighted …

SCOTUS takes on voting rights case

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – With midterms just over a month away, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on a case involving the Alabama electoral map and redistricting that could negatively impact Black voters in the state. Tuesday’s arguments present a test for the conservative-leaning court with more voting rights cases to come. This case could ultimately weaken the landmark …

Campus political groups seek to increase voter turnout

With midterm elections only a few weeks away, political groups on and off campus are working to mobilize student voters — a demographic that saw historic levels of voter turnout in the 2020 election.  Margaret Easley, vice president of Tulane College Democrats, said the group aims to get people registered to vote for upcoming elections and make sure they have all the …

Advocates show solidarity as SCOTUS hears redistricting case

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — On Tuesday, The U.S. Supreme Court took up the case of the congressional maps for Alabama, which will have major implications for the Voting Rights Act and Louisiana’s case that awaits a hearing. Advocates rallied at the state capitol to push for a second majority-minority district. The Republican majority of the Louisiana Legislature voted to …

Cenla residents weigh in on rising utility bills

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) – For citizens concerned about rising utility bills, Oct. 4 was the final chance residents could voice their opinions, at the second of two forums hosted by the Alliance of Affordable Energy. The forum gave citizens a chance to learn more about the Public Service Commission, and what role they play in utility rates. The P.S.C. is ultimately …

Get Out and Vote Canvassing Efforts Begin to Engage Black Voters Statewide

Statewide, LA –  Yesterday,  Monday, September 26, 2022, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice (PCEJ) started an on the ground canvassing initiative in major cities like New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Alexandria and Lake Charles. The campaign is part of a statewide Get Out and Vote (GOTV) strategy currently underway ahead of the November 8, 2022 Primary Congressional election. In the …

The specter of second-class citizenship

International Democracy Day came and went this year with barely a whisper, but a quartet of human rights and community advocates from Alabama and Louisiana took the opportunity to reflect on the challenges to achieving America’s promise of equity and fairness.  Among those challenges are the flurry of adverse rulings in redistricting cases soon to be heard by the U.S. …

New Orleans Needs More Money for Services, Not for Police

When the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed in 2021, White House officials were explicit: the $350 billion promised by the legislation was to be used by state and local governments to ensure sustainable, equitable, and inclusiverecovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. For communities of color hit hardest by both the pandemic and decades of socioeconomic inequality, it was a chance to build the kind …

Lawsuits Challenge Second Class Citizenship Status in Southern States.

International Democracy Day came and went this year with barely a whisper, but a quartet of human rights and community advocates from Alabama and Louisiana took the opportunity to reflect on the challenges to achieving America’s promise of equity and fairness.   Among those challenges are the flurry of adverse rulings in redistricting cases soon to be heard by the …

Shreveport mayoral candidates exchange ideas during downtown forum

SHREVEPORT, La. – Candidates for mayor of Shreveport faced off Tuesday night at a candidate forum exchanging ideas about how to drive the city forward. The event held at the Performance Gallery downtown on Commerce Street.  The event was moderated by Willie Burton.

Black Southern Women’s Collaborative Celebrates National Voter Registration Day 

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative today celebrated National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a civic holiday meant to encourage voters to register to vote. The collective, which organizes across the South to improve the material conditions of Black people, pledged to register thousands of voters on NVRD and beyond. They also vowed to address long-standing barriers to …

A Choice Toward Change

Voting has been an important aspect of community voices. It wasn’t until the 26th amendment that the minimum voting age for all citizens was 18 years old. This ratification enabled young adults in society to inspire change for newer generations as communities around the world continue to evolve.

Black Voters Are Fighting Racial Gerrymandering in Louisiana

Black women are uniquely saddled with student loan debt. by Ashley Shelton in Truthout From record inflation to attacks on reproductive rights, to an unfair and inequitable redistricting, it can feel like all hope has been lost this year. But many voters are not giving up. My state of Louisiana has faced multiple challenges, particularly when it comes to the …

Democracy Is Always On The Ballot For Black People

“As it has been for generations of Black Americans, freedom is on the ballot, along with the Constitutional rights that define our citizenship,” said BlackPac’s Executive Director Adrianne Shropshire.

Advocacy groups to hold briefing prior to International Day of Democracy

The briefing also comes a week before National Voter Registration Day, which is held annually on Sept. 20. Alabama Values and Spotlight PR LLC are scheduled to host a media briefing discussing “the state of democracy in the U.S” this upcoming Thursday, according to a release sent on Monday. The meeting is planned to coincide with the International Day of …

Family Fun Block Party being thrown by NWLA Makerspace, 318 Makes

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) – The NWLA Makerspace and creative group 318 Makes is inviting the public to bring their families to enjoy its Family Fun Block Party. The party begins on Sept 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a morning filled with music, family, food, and fun for all ages.  These events are to be held on one …

Who will protect communities of color from climate disaster?

Imagine waking up every day to the smell of sulfur dioxide, gas fumes and other foul-smelling chemicals. Even if you don’t live near gas export terminals on the Gulf Coast, you know the air must smell bad. Imagine your children are constantly breathing these chemicals and your elders have among the highest incidence of cancer in the nation. Now imagine that you also hear daily sirens …

Youth Justice Advocacy Group Fights To Keep Incarcerated Teens Out Of Louisiana’s Infamous Angola Prison

The state’s three juvenile detention centers, Bridge City, Monroe and Bunkie, have all suffered from chaotic violence and severe understaffing in recent months. On August 8th, youth justice advocates held a press conference outside of the Angola State Penitentiary in Lousiana in protest of the decision to move juvenile inmates into the facility. Dubbed “the bloodiest prison in the South,” …

Colors: A Dialogue on Race in America | Ep 112: “Disheartened: Black Women in the South Mobilizing for Change

Ashley Shelton, Founder, President and CEO of the Power Coalition says many Black women, are disappointed in what’s happened to them since the 2020 Presidential election. Despite, playing a decisive role in the election, they “have less rights than our grandparents had”, says Shelton. But that’s about to change. Podcast page: https://www.podcastone.com/episode/-EP-112–Disheartened-Black-Women-in-the-South-mobilizing-for-change

Dozens of advocates to hold protest over youth transfers to Jetson, Angola

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Dozens of advocates will host a press conference to protest the state’s plans to transfer youth inmates to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and the Jetson Center for Youth. “We don’t have to do it this way,” Rev. Alexis Anderson from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition said. In July, Gov. Edwards …

Drag queen tweet stirs controversy for Louisiana Department of Health

The Louisiana Department of Health faces backlash over a social media post that included a picture of a local drag queen at a health awareness event in Alexandria as part of LGBTQ Pride Month. The controversy began June 24 when LDH tweeted photos of a “family-friendly Pride event” at the Alexandria Convention Center with a description that said, in part, …

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.