Edwin Edwards tenure fostered diversity in state government


NEW ORLEANS— One part of the legacy of the late governor involves political diversity. Edwards is credited with bringing more minorities and women into positions in state government.

Former New Orleans Mayor Sidney Barthelemy said, “Many of the legislators from New Orleans wanted to see a lot of diversity in government and we supported issues like that and we made presentations to Edwin, some he accepted and some he didn’t.”

Edwards took office on the tail end of the civil rights movement and did his part to move the state along.

Marc Morial, former mayor and CEO of the National Urban League stated, “He was the first governor to really appoint black people to positions of responsibility in state government and he will always be remembered for that. Dorothy Mae Taylor became the head of Housing and Urban Affairs.”

And there were others. Edwards built bridges across races, cultures, and parties.

According to for state legislator and businessman Sherman Copelin, “He was very skillful at building coalitions and moving things forward when it wasn’t even popular to do that. And he always was a supporter of making sure that folks who looked like me had a fair share.”

Congressman Troy Carter worked with the former governor as a young state rep and recalled Edwards as a man who got things done for all people.

“He didn’t have a whole office full of staff, He didn’t have a note pad to take notes and say ‘I’ll get back with you.’ He’d say what do your need? And then he’d get on the phone and he’d call that particular secretary or agency head and he’d say ‘I’ve got Rep. Carter here and he needs X-Y-Z how soon can we get it done?’ And that’s demonstrative of someone who understood people and the needs of the people,” said Carter.

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