According to the October 26, 1999 edition of the Baton Rouge Advocate, only 48 percent of the registered voting population
participated in the 1999 fall elections. The turnout represented the lowest electoral
participation in Louisiana in the last 25 years.
However, these numbers represent more than a decline in overall voter participation, but also a decrease in public
participation in the public policy arena that makes day-to-day decisions that affect every Louisiana
Public policy makers that have a direct impact
on every citizen of the state are deciding everyday issues. However, under our
current political system, the influence of money determines what constituent is able to have his or her issues addressed by
those individuals who serve in an elected leadership position.
For example, the issue of a quality education
is a high priority throughout our state. However, there are many barriers to
such an education for communities of color including: (1) The continued need for the existence of court-ordered desegregation;
(2) State and local school boards who do not address issues presented by the community; (3) School systems which tolerate
the rampant disrespect of people of color; and (4) The staunch refusal to adequately incorporate the issue of culture diversity
into school curriculums. As a result of these conscious and inherent choices
of inequality and oppression, African-Americans and other communities of color suffer a disparate impact poverty, illiteracy,
Similar analysis may also be done in relation
to issues involving, transportation, the environment, and a host of other real community concerns. The unmistakable fact of the matter is while communities of color bear the greatest burden of these obstacles;
those same communities are systematically excluded from the democratic process of formulating the policies that govern the
educational system. However, in addition to these apparent public policy obstacles, organizers who speak out against such
injustice encounter more direct fears including the threat of termination, being vilified by the press, and being ostracized
by the very community that they seek to serve.
Therefore, in order to address this problem, the
following three critical areas must be addressed: (1) The creation of a state coalition that provides a vast support system
for activists and progressive organizations that minimizes a feeling of isolation; (2)
The creation of a vehicle that can serve as a conduit for respected and trustworthy information on campaign finance reform
in Louisiana, and (3) The creation of the opportunity to develop and empower new grassroots leadership.