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You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond Shows Louisiana It’s Possible To Work at the White House

Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, 

House Democratic Assistant to the Majority Whip, 

HBCU College Graduate, Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga, 

Juris Doctorate Graduate, Tulane University in New Orleans, La, 

Highschool Graduate, Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, La, 

A statesman, 

A father, 

A son, 

A Saints fan, 

A Black man from Louisiana in the White House.

These are all just a few ways to describe, U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond who is a well-respected public official  in Louisiana with over 21 years and has recently announced his acceptance of a new role in the White House,  Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. For a quick history tip on the White House Office of Public Engagement: The Office of Public Engagement is created to be the “front door” to the White House for Americans to participate in the work of the president. President Gerald Ford created the Office of Public Liaison by executive action in 1974. In 2009, newly elected President Barack Obama renamed it the Office of Public Engagement. While the newly named office maintained much of its original mission, the president added the goal of “getting information from the American people outside of the Washington beltway” through public events and on-line activities. 

Live from the Lakefront Airport in New Orleans on Tuesday November 17, 2020, U.S. Congressman Richmond announced to the world and most importantly to the residents of Louisiana that he plans to leave his 2nd Congressional District seat and accept an offer to join the Biden-Harris Administration. Richmond plans to officially transition from his seat in Congress in January 2021 and begin his new role. During a recent interview with the Breakfast Club, Congressman Richmond says it best, our government is broken” at least legislatively it is, so I’m going to see how I can change executively, from the White House.” 

During the press conference, he calls  out key reasons why this decision to join the Biden-Harris team  is important for Louisiana residents. One of the reasons is because his new position will allow him to offer advice and culturally informed solutions to the President and advise him on key issues affecting the American people with a special interest in the people of the great state of Louisiana. This is important because a senior adviser can influence important policy decisions affecting climate change, criminal justice reform, poverty alleviation economic mobility and other matters affecting Black America, see more plans in the new Administration’s plan for Black America listed out in the Lift Every Voice Plan. Next, Richmond believes this decision was important for Louisiana because he will be able to advocate for federal resources that most Southern states miss out on because they are eliminated from the conversation. With Richmond, sitting front and center at these tables, Louisiana can be confident that our voices will be heard. 

Richmond’s new appointment deserves a bonafide Mardi Gras celebration (of course, when it’s safe again) as this  symbolizes a huge win for hope, possibilities, and change for Louisiana. This appointment symbolizes what may seem imPOSSIBLE, POSSIBLE. In the eyes of many this is…..

  • A win for our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): In 1995, Richmond graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga (Go Tigers!) and quick shoutout to our VP-elect, Kamala Harris who is a HBCU graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C.  As a student of an HBCU, Richmond is well acquainted with the financial barriers that exist for students who are interested in attending these phenomenal institutions. According to the  Lift Every Voice Plan,  the Biden-Harris Administration  has committed to invest over $70 billion in HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). As Senior Adviser, Richmond will work with President-Elect Biden to take the necessary steps to rectify the funding disparities faced by HBCUs so that its students will not feel the financial burden. This is a huge win for Louisiana HBCUs such as Dillard, Xavier, and Southern University. 
  • A win for our Louisiana voices: If we want to know what Congressman Richmond will do in the White House then let’s look at his credible track record advocating on behalf of the people in Louisiana.  As a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, Richmond has  worked  to ensure New Orleans and surrounding communities are adequately prepared for any emergency through oversight of the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA). He plans to partner with vocal environmental justice groups to ensure the Biden Climate and Environmental Justice Plans are executed in a way that is equitable. 
  • A win for New Orleans public school system and Black and Brown kids: Marian Wright Edelman, President and Emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund (Spelman College Alumna, C’60) would be proud of her Moreshouse brother, Richmond. Marian, a pioneer in education reform for children around the world and a focus in the South,  coined the term, “it’s hard to be what you cannot see.” Cedric is an example to Black youth that it’s possible to  attend  public schools, participate in local community programs (such as the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD)) and head to the White House! Cedric Richmond symbolizes that all things are possible. 
  • A win for the Saints: Or should we wait for the season to finish? 

Richmond is well-positioned  to take his Louisiana experience to the White House.  The Congressman will keep his legislative staff and doors open during this time of transition. If you need to get in contact with his office please visit his site

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Louisiana native, Rachel C. Oatis is a youth advocate and nonprofit professional.  She has a B.A. in Political Science from Spelman College and a M.S. in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University. 

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