Rick Gallot, a Black member of the Louisiana House of Representatives sees a disconnect between his state's governor and his African-American constituents. Since about one-third of the state's residences are Black, Gallot wants to know why Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal hasn't done a better a job of appointing minorities, and particularly African-Americans, to positions in state government.
The flash point occurred earlier this year, when Jindal, who is of South Asian Indian descent, did not appoint any Blacks to the State Board of Regents, which coordinates higher education. The lack of diversity became a real issue for the Legislative Black Caucus of Louisiana when Jindal later proposed merging historically Black Southern University in New Orleans with the University of New Orleans, which is racially mixed but majority white.
Gov. Jindal's office released its appointment list recently. He has appointed 337 Blacks to state government positions, since 2008, and they constitute roughly 10.6 percent of his 3,191 political appointments.
Gallot, who is chairman of the House Committee on House and Governmental Affairs, had pushed for Jindal to release his appointment numbers.
The current Black representation of appointments is disproportionally small, as the Pelican State’s Black population equals 1.4 million or 31 percent of the 4.5 million total population.
The state also has a large number of college-educated Black residents with professional experience. Beyond the state’s majority-white public and private institutions there are six Historically Black Colleges and Universities. They are Grambling State University, Southern University A&M College, Southern University at New Orleans, Dillard University of Louisiana, Xavier University and Southern University at Shreveport.
Learn more about HBCUs.
One historical note: in the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, P.B.S. Pinchback was appointed Louisiana’s only Black governor, from Dec. 9, 1872 to Jan. 13, 1873 during impeachment proceedings against the elected governor.
Pinchback was also one of the founders of Southern University.