Louisiana State Senator Diana Bajoie (D-New Orleans) is definitely one for the history books. In 1976, when she began her public service in the Louisiana House of Representatives, she was the only woman serving in that body. In 1991, she was the first African-American woman ever elected to the Louisiana Senate. In 2004, when she took the oath as Senate President Pro Tempore, she was the first woman ever elected to the leadership post in the Louisiana Senate.
Bajoie is not just a public servant in title - she is a public servant in spirit, heart and deeds. Her colleagues describe her as one who fights for communities, families and Louisiana with tireless compassion.
The senator nurtured her early interest in community service by attending Southern University and A & M College in Baton Rouge, earning a bachelor's degree in political science.
As a state legislator, Bajoie has led the way to create school-based health clinics, form the Minority Health Care Commission and increase health care coverage for citizens with mental health disorders.
Bajoie has also insisted that the legislature and state properly recognize the contributions of African Americans to New Orleans, Louisiana and the nation. Her efforts resulted in the creation of the Louisiana State Museum on Civil Rights and the expansion and renaming of the New Orleans Convention Center in honor of the city's first African-American mayor, Ernest N. Morial.
Currently, she is helping to develop plans to rebuild and renew Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - two of the worst natural disasters to ever befall the United States.
The senator is a founder and former chair of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and the Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus. She also serves as president of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, a national legislative women's organization which encourages and supports women in public and community service.
Bajoie, who is pursuing a master's degree in health administration and works as a political and marketing consultant, has words of wisdom for today's youth. "Be civic-minded and keep the community's needs at the center of everything you do."
What concerns are on citizens’ minds as they go to the polls this fall?
The presidential election may be getting all of the attention, but Louisiana residents will be making several important decisions at the ballot box in November. The U.S. Senate seat left up for grabs by retiring Sen. David Vitter has drawn a field of 24 candidates. Louisianians in the south- and northwest parts of the state will also be voting on congressmen. So, what national concerns are on citizens’ minds as they go to the polls this fall? What statewide issues should be on the mind of Louisiana’s next Congressional leaders? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers on “Election 2016” Wednesday, October 26 at 7p.m.
• Elizabeth Crisp / The Advocate
• Greg Hilburn / Gannett Newspapers
• Martin Johnson, Ph.D. / LSU Manship School of Mass Communication
• Albert Samuels, Ph.D. / Mandela School of Public Policy, Southern University
LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Patricia Smith, with the College of Government and Social Sciences at Southern University, moderate the discussion.
“Election 2016” can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.
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