by Willie Bradford
“Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” That cliché can be applied the election for the Next District Attorney for Caddo Parish.
When I was in school in the early 1960s there were less then five thousand black registered voters in Caddo Parish - And no blacks elected to political office. Dr. C.O. Simpkins did run for the Caddo Parish School Board in 1952, as well as in1958. Between 1958 and 1968 several other blacks sought political office as well, but because of the low number of black registered voters they all lost their elections.
After the 1964 Voting Rights Act, blacks started registering in greater numbers. By 1970 black registered voters had tripled, and Dr. E.E. Allen, a local dentist became the first African-American elected official in Caddo Parish. People of all colors responded in this election and elected Dr. Allen to the Caddo Parish School Board. Dr. Allen’s victory represented an idea whose time had come.
By 1971 the political awaking of blacks in Caddo Parish had arrived. Black registration grew, and black political organizations like Blacks United for Lasting Leadership (BULL) and the United Democratic Campaign Committee (UDCC) were formed. For the next 5 years many other blacks were elected to the Caddo Parish Police Jury and other offices. Caddo Parish was becoming a place of racial progress and shared political leadership. BULL, UDCC and the election of more blacks to political office once again represented an idea whose time had come.
In 1972, a respected educator, Alphonse Jackson, Jr. sought and became the first black elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from North Louisiana. Progressive business people, professional practitioners-black and white worked together in his campaign because everyone understood it was time for the diversity of Caddo Parish to be translated into tangible political leadership. This campaign would dispelled the belief that whites would not vote for a black who desired to hold a state office. It was an idea whose time had come.
In 1974, Atty. Hilry Huckaby filed and won a lawsuit against the City of Shreveport’s Commissioner Form of Government. Because of the actions Huckaby and other black leaders, the Courts order Shreveport to change its form of Government from Mayor- Commissioner, to Mayor-Council. As a result 3 African-Americans, Gregory Tarver, Atty. Hilry Huckaby and Rev. Herman Farr were elected to the Shreveport City Council.
This too represented an idea whose time had come.
In 1978 Atty. Paul Lynch, one of the most popular and distinguished attorneys in Shreveport vied to become the first black elected a Caddo Parish District Judgeship. Atty. Lynch defied that traditional logic and put together one of the most diverse campaigns ever — And was victorious. His election was an idea whose time had come.
In November of 1983 Gregory Tarver climaxed a well-organized campaign by defeating the incumbent to become the first black since C.C. Antoine to be elected a State Senator from North Louisiana. He came as one who represented all the people, but expressed a propensity to reach out, especially on behalf of the poor and oppressed. He was elected and became a great force in state and local government. Sen. Tarver represented an idea whose time had come.
In this dawn of electing new leadership in Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office, looms on the horizon an idea whose time has come.
As the Rev. Harry Blake, the distinguished pastor of Mt. Canaan Baptist Church has expressed so well, Caddo Parish can elect an African-American as District Attorney on November 21. If other counties and parishes can elect an African-American, why not Caddo?
As I measure the two remaining candidates, James E. Stewart is the most experienced and qualified. His leadership qualities, professional accomplishments and character represents an idea whose time has come.
Without question, he has detected what has made winners of others, who desire an idea to become fruitful.
He was born, reared and went to school in Caddo Parish — He has a properly focused, very diverse, issue-oriented campaign. He exemplifies a compassion of fairness to the each citizen, has Parish-wide constituent appeal, has made a concerted effort to touch bases with diverse population of Caddo Parish; is a faithful member in the church, and expresses a commitment to justice and the well-being of all citizens, even the least of us.
–Councilman Willie Bradford, Shreveport