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 …

FEMA Isn’t the Only Solution to Climate Disaster. Government Must Fund Mutual Aid.

June 1 marks the start of hurricane and wildfire season. This is a time when many wait with bated breath, wondering how they will survive another storm even as they have yet to recover from prior weather emergencies. This is the time of year when anxiety kicks into high gear, and when post-traumatic stress disorder can take hold. This is …

Beyond Earth Day: More Must be Done to Address Environmental Racism

By Joy and Jo Banner Earth Day has passed but the need to continue the fight for environmental justice remains. We started our organization, the Descendants Project as a way to advance intergenerational healing and promote the flourishing of the Black descendant community in the Louisiana river parishes. Originally, this work was tied to making sure descendants of enslaved people …

The Fight for Our Schools Is Not Over

by Kaitlyn Joshua for the Bayou Progressive In case you hadn’t heard yet, on Thursday, April 7, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted to establish a 9 member plan at the Redistricting Special Meeting. Sure, a 9 member plan would have been an acceptable compromise if said plan resulted in a Black majority, but that was not at all the …

Why Voters Have the Right to a Real Chance at Representation

The lawful and efficient exercise of Democracy in the United States depends on voters being able to freely choose their leaders. In spite of that ideal, every ten years we subvert that process and instead allow leaders to choose their voters. We call this process Redistricting. Parts of this process are necessary and proper. It is necessary every ten years to …

Redistricting Tactics Threaten to Suppress Black Representation in Louisiana

By Ashley Shelton Originally published in Truthout.org The Louisiana Senate recently continued the state’s long history of racial oppression by voting down Sen. Cleo Fields’s congressional redistricting map. What’s more, the Louisiana House voted down Rep. Randal Gaines’s congressional redistricting map. Gaines is a veteran and civil rights attorney who represents one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ida …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. 

Will Sutton: Hurricane Zeta disrupted voting, and we should find a way to make votes count

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 …

Voting clouded by mystery for now

In between hurricanes over the past week or so, and in the wake of the national conventions for the Democratic and Republican parties, you may have given some thought to Louisiana’s eight electoral votes. Will President Donald Trump be the beneficiary or will it be former Vice President Joe Biden? You could probably offer an educated guess for that question …

Guest column: Get involved in the census count, or we all pay a high price

On Aug. 3, the Census Bureau issued a statement saying, “We will end field data collection by September 30, 2020. Self-response options will also close on that date to permit the commencement of data processing.” The new deadline is a month sooner than previously announced by the bureau. Ensuring a fair and accurate count in the 2020 U.S. Census, which …

Viewpoint: Before Kamala Harris, a very long battle for women in politics

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ selection as the 2020 Democratic vice presidential nominee — and potentially the most consequential vice president in American history — is the crowning glory of more than 150 years of incredible work by countless suffragists who first fought for the right to vote and later battled for unfettered access to the top echelons of U.S. government. …

Ashley Shelton and Candice Battiste: Now is the time to act on police reform

Not long after George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, which sparked Black Lives Matter protests locally, nationally, and globally, the people of Shreveport found out that we had our own George Floyd. On Sunday, April 5, 44-year-old Tommie McGlothen was beaten and tased by members of the Shreveport Police Department. That violent encounter apparently led to his death.  Video of the assault …

Commentary: Lawsuits rightly take aim at limits to mail balloting during pandemic

When the League of Women Voters challenges a state’s election laws in federal court, claiming those laws violate fundamental constitutional guarantees, it’s a safe bet that something’s amiss. The League is famously, and fastidiously, nonpartisan. It’s big news, therefore, that the League of Women Voters of Louisiana — along with 10 other plaintiffs in two federal lawsuits — has alleged …

The Coronavirus Is Devastating Already Devastated Communities

In Louisiana, and across the U.S., we are seeing a disproportionate number of Black people die from this virus. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The Coronavirus Is Devastating Already Devastated Communities The people and equity-centered recovery approach we are putting forward is intended to address immediate needs, but it’s also a guide for long-term change. BY Ashley Shelton Published on Monday, May 18, 2020 by Common Dreams In the midst of this pandemic, we’ve all been forced to ask ourselves some important questions, regardless of our religious …

United Way: Coronavius crisis makes equity and progress more important

United Way: Coronavius crisis makes equity and progress more important BY KIM SPORT and CHARMAINE CACCIOPPI MAY 4, 2020 – 6:00 PM Guest columnist Melissa S. Flournoy called recently for a vision for Louisiana’s future “that is inclusive and equitable and lifts families out of poverty and on a pathway to prosperity.” United Way of Southeast Louisiana couldn’t agree more. …

Guest column: Start to plan for long-term vision of more just and prosperous Louisiana

Guest column: Start to plan for long-term vision of more just and prosperous Louisiana By MELISSA S. FLOURNOY APR 29, 2020 – 6:00 PM We need leadership and optimism, and to remember the old saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Many people want to help in the short-term “let’s get back to work” efforts. We are fortunate to have …

I Never Planned to Be a Front-Line Worker at Dollar General

I Never Planned to Be a Front-Line Worker at Dollar General By Kenya Slaughter Ms. Slaughter works at Dollar General in Louisiana. Op Ed for the New York Times, April 26, 2020 ALEXANDRIA, La. — I’ve been working at Dollar General here for more than two years. My manager is wonderful, and I have a great relationship with my customers. …

Viewpoint: Mail-in ballots are essential for the safety of Louisiana voters

Who wants to potentially put themselves or their family members at risk by voting at a poll on upcoming election days? With Louisiana’s presidential primary and other ballot measures now scheduled for July 11, state officials are squabbling over how to hold safe elections during the pandemic and beyond. Newly minted state Rep. Mandie Landry, District 91, pre-filed House Bill …

Letters: Voters’ commitment to Medicaid mean Louisiana is better off in crisis

Letters: Voters’ commitment to Medicaid mean Louisiana is better off in crisis by Ashley Shelton, Executive Director for the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice APR 3, 2020 – 6:00 PM in The Advocate If our new COVID-19 reality has taught us anything, it’s the importance of public health, not just during crises, but every day. In order to avoid or …

Letters: No way for an ordinary worker to win in today’s system

Letters: No way for an ordinary worker to win in today’s system BY CLARIONTA JONES MARCH 30, 2020 – 6:00 PM Louisiana has changed since coronavirus hit. There is less food on the shelves, people are losing their jobs and getting sick. We don’t know what New Orleans will look like when this is over. It is scary. Gov. John Bel …

Our Views: Looking for an easy way to contribute? Fill out that census questionnaire

Our Views: Looking for an easy way to contribute? Fill out that census questionnaire Staff Editorial for The Advocate By now, everybody reading this should have gotten an invitation from the U.S. Census Bureau to fill out their household’s 2020 questionnaire. If you have internet access and are one of the many people stuck at home due to the coronavirus …

Our Views: In 2020, let’s all stand up and be counted

Our Views: In 2020, let’s all stand up and be counted STAFF EDITORIAL |  JAN 1, 2020 – 6:00 AM Before he moved on to more controversial topics at the Baton Rouge Press Club some weeks ago, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy offered something of a civic pitch: He urged all Louisianans to answer their U.S. Census questionnaire. “It’s not the …

Families and Activism Drive Real Change in Louisiana

Families and Activism Drive Real Change in Louisiana In an opinion essay, Ashley Shelton of the Power Coalition in Louisiana says the 2019 state elections are an example of how families and nonprofit organizations are making progress in the movement for equity. That includes record Black voter turnout. By Ashley Shelton December 16, 2019 After almost every election, pundits step out …

Raise minimum wage, as the people want politicians to do

BY ASHLEY SHELTON and MATT WOOD The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed the Raise the Wage Act, which would lift the federal minimum wage from an unlivable $7.25 an hour, where it’s been stuck for more than a decade, to $15 an hour. Five out of six of Louisiana’s congressional representatives voted against the bill, and it’s expected …

Kyle Ardoin can be a leader in ensuring fair, impartial elections

Louisiana is making progress towards ensuring free and fair elections for all voters. In addition to taking steps towards replacing its vulnerable electronic voting machines, the state has moved to re-enfranchise some people with criminal convictions. These steps are vital in ensuring that all Louisianans have confidence in the fairness and impartiality of its elections. In recent years, however, a …