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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Diana E. Bajoie
Senator (D), District 5 Louisiana

Louisiana State Senator Diana Bajoie (D-New Orleans) is definitely one for the history books. In 1976, when she began her public service in the Louisiana House of Representatives, she was the only woman serving in that body. In 1991, she was the first African-American woman ever elected to the Louisiana Senate. In 2004, when she took the oath as Senate President Pro Tempore, she was the first woman ever elected to the leadership post in the Louisiana Senate.

Bajoie is not just a public servant in title - she is a public servant in spirit, heart and deeds. Her colleagues describe her as one who fights for communities, families and Louisiana with tireless compassion.

The senator nurtured her early interest in community service by attending Southern University and A & M College in Baton Rouge, earning a bachelor's degree in political science.

As a state legislator, Bajoie has led the way to create school-based health clinics, form the Minority Health Care Commission and increase health care coverage for citizens with mental health disorders.

Bajoie has also insisted that the legislature and state properly recognize the contributions of African Americans to New Orleans, Louisiana and the nation. Her efforts resulted in the creation of the Louisiana State Museum on Civil Rights and the expansion and renaming of the New Orleans Convention Center in honor of the city's first African-American mayor, Ernest N. Morial.

Currently, she is helping to develop plans to rebuild and renew Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - two of the worst natural disasters to ever befall the United States.

The senator is a founder and former chair of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and the Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus. She also serves as president of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, a national legislative women's organization which encourages and supports women in public and community service.

Bajoie, who is pursuing a master's degree in health administration and works as a political and marketing consultant, has words of wisdom for today's youth. "Be civic-minded and keep the community's needs at the center of everything you do."

Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

Recent Topics


     07/18 - Preventing Suicide

How is Louisiana addressing its suicide problem?

     06/18 - Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?  (ENCORE)

Is Louisiana a Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?

     05/18 - News About the News

How can viewers distinguish between fact and fake news and is social media blurring the difference?

     04/18 - Balancing Eldercare

How much does Louisiana spend on nursing homes versus home and community-based care?
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