Internationally, 2020 was a year of medical, social, political, racial, and economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. More than 7,000 Louisianans died while 173,000 were unemployed and all 710,000 K-12 students and teachers were sent into virtual schooling. Within the struggles of the year, the America saw its own horrors and beauty. Moving into 2021, The Drum sought Louisianans who are not only people to watch but are people who work for the community, for the demands of nation building, and for the growth of others. They are People for 2021.
State Representative Ted James said he gives Louisiana residents “trusTED leadership, inspiration, and public service,” but his most important title is father. “Other than that, God has blessed me to become a lawyer, professor, and state representative. In addition to being chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, I’m also the chairman of the criminal justice committee,” he said. James is a person for the moment, a Person for 2021.
The Drum asked him about 2020 and his focus for 2021. “Honestly, I’m still learning from 2020. When I think about my own battle with COVID-19, I know that God pulled me and warned me about getting too comfortable. Too comfortable with my faith, my health, my finances, and my career.”
“I never wanted my story to become public but God revealed that the community needed my story to highlight the seriousness of the virus and that the virus would and could impact anybody. I’ve found a renewed focus on my work in the legislature because this virus has exposed so many injustices in communities of color.”
What has been the best thing to do during the pandemic? A nice picnic with my daughter Harper Ryan
What advice would you give others? We’ve been through much worse and only we are strong enough to get past these difficult times. I constantly remind my friends about the story of Nehemiah and how he was a leader who went directly to the people to rebuild their community, The story there is that we only recover when we move in a spirit of unity.
What’s your motto for 2021? “There’s no partial commitment to justice. You are either in or you are out,” by Olympian John Carlos.
What can we look forward to? Leading efforts to reform policing in Louisiana to address systemic racism, leading a detailed agenda for the Black Caucus, and working with the Power Coalition to increase Black voter participation.
This year I resolve to be a better father, son, friend, and public servant. Walking into this year with a greater appreciation for the small things and spending more time with family.
How will you impact others? This year when the legislature undergoes the redistricting process, I’m focused on increasing the number of African Americans in the legislature, Congress, and other elected bodies. I am working with Governor John bel Edwards on the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine in communities of color and working to assist impacted communities in rebounding from the economic toll of the COVID19 pandemic.
What are your recent successes? Elected Chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, and received the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center’s Fit for a King Award
What are you reading? “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama and “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson
What are you watching? “Your Honor”, “Cobra Kai”, “This is Us”, and “One Night in Miami”