Black Louisiana Voters: I’ve Got Questions

Walter M. Kimbrough
3 min readOct 16, 2023

One of my favorite Common songs, featuring Mos Def, is called “The Questions.” My favorite lines are:

Why do I need I.D. to get I.D.
(I don’t know, beats me beats me)
If I had I.D. I wouldn’t need I.D.
(That’s right, that’s true)

The election yesterday was interesting. My wife and I watched the results and were shocked, like most, with the outcome. Of course Landry was the prohibitive favorite and probably would win if it had gone to a runoff, but winning outright was a surprise. Even more surprising? The anemic voter turnout, especially in New Orleans and of Black citizens.

I REALLY hope there are discussions around town to help break this down. This would be good for one or more the local HBCUs (in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport) to host to discuss what happened and what a Landry administration might mean for Black Louisianans.

I have lots of questions. Here are some:

  1. Did people know Shawn Wilson was running? Did they realize that he, a Black man, was the endorsed Democratic party candidate?
  2. Why was so little money spent by the state and national Democratic parties? Have they totally given up on the state even though it has a high percentage of Black voters?
  3. Was any spent on Black media?
  4. There was very little canvassing for Wilson- few people on the streets with signs. Why?
  5. I don’t recall seeing flyers on cars, coming in the mail, etc. How much was spent on advertising as a whole?
  6. Why did Wilson get a lower share of Black voters than Edwards? I read Wilson got about 72% to Edwards’ 90%. Why weren’t Black voters excited about Wilson?
  7. There was a noticeable absence of the state's Black elected leaders pushing for Wilson. Why?
  8. There we also no national Black elected leaders supporting Wilson. Why?
  9. How many people were familiar with Landry’s stances on a second Black voting district and his support of a bill to make the criminal records of people ages 13–18 public, but only in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport (and nowhere else in the state)?
  10. With such poor turnout do we even deserve a second majority Black district?
  11. Where is Take ’Em Down NOLA? Why was there more energy for removing monuments to dead folks that electing a live person who could make history?
  12. Have Black citizens simply given up on voting despite potentially harmful consequences?
  13. How do we reengage Black voters?
  14. Why do we talk about voter enthusiasm when there are lots of things we have to do (like take out the trash) that are necessary for our health and wellbeing?
  15. Who are the trusted voices in the state who can rally people around the issues?
  16. What will a Landry administration look like? Will he be like Sanders in Arkansas and DeSantis in Florida or strike a more balanced tone.
  17. If Gary Chambers (grassroots activist) nor Shawn Wilson (Ph.D.’d government official) can’t win statewide, is it simply impossible for a Black woman or man to be elected statewide in Louisiana? If so, what does that say about the state?

Y’all let me know if you see an organization or university have a forum. I’ve got questions, and I bet you do too!




Walter M. Kimbrough

12th president of Philander Smith College. 7th president of Dillard University. Now in an Intermission.