Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Engstrom, Richard

Second Advisor

Chervenak, Edward

Third Advisor

Day, Christine L.


Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), the number of African- Americans competing for and holding state legislative offices has increased significantly. Their growth is most notable in southern state legislatures. A growing number of studies have been devoted to African-Americans in these state legislatures. Absent from previous studies is a comprehensive analysis of African-Americans in the Louisiana state legislature. In 2007 there were a total of 32 African-American legislators. Louisiana ranks among other states with the highest number, 32, and percentage, 22, of African-American legislators. Yet, despite their relatively large presence few scholarly studies have examined their legislative behavior. This study focused primarily on the substantive representation of African-Americans, especially during the post-Hurricane Katrina period. In this dissertation, the following questions were examined: Have the growing number of these legislators resulted in greater influence in state policy-making? Have they chaired any important, policy-relevant committees in the state legislature? Have they articulated and advocated a race-based legislative agenda for African-American constituents? Using a multi-methodological approach including the analysis of voting rights legislation introduced in the post-Hurricane Katrina legislative sessions and qualitative interviews, evidence was found to conclude that African-American House members have provided substantive representation to their constituents, obtained key institutional leadership positions, and campaigned in biracial terms, which has contributed to there ability to have a notable impact in the chamber.


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