Lafayette, LA (January 31, 2021) – Recent actions by the Lafayette Public Library Board and the Mayor-President’s office to deny a grant-supported public discussion of voting rights and ballot access in the United States raises questions for the League of Women Voters of Lafayette.
A review of the published minutes of the LPL Board meetings on December 21st and January 25th indicates that the program was in the planning process until a member of the board suggested that the Mayor-President was unwilling to provide the necessary signature to accept the grant. A majority of the board, following the Mayor-President’s lead, denied any more action on the program. Noted in the minutes were sentiments expressed by some LPL board members over a lack of “balance” in the program or one that “shows both sides”.
What is the other side of this discussion?
The Voting Rights Act of 1965, one subject of the now-canceled library event, is landmark legislation that provided long-overdue protections for American minorities exercising their voting rights. It is impossible to overstate the debt each of us owes to those who have fought, died, and continue to work to make the ballot equally accessible to all Americans.
The LWV of Lafayette believes that as participants in a democracy, we should be unified in our efforts to educate ourselves on historic injustices, to work to end injustices that still persist and to better understand how an injustice for any one of us is an injustice for all of us.
As appointees of the Lafayette Parish Council and President, the Library Board of Control provides critical oversight for the public funds that sustain the library system. However, we urge the Lafayette Parish Council to review the procedures in place that have raised questions about how programming and planning for library events ultimately lives or dies by the signature of the Mayor-President. We also ask that the parish council consider in their deliberations the autonomy of the experts hired to manage library programming and ensure consistent, legal pathways for outside funding sources vital for a vibrant library system and the community that depends on it.
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