Madam Mayor: Meet the Black female mayors of Louisiana

Village of Mansfield mayor Dessie Lee Patterson was known across Louisiana as a lone ranger in her fight for universal civil rights. On March 14, 1971, she became the first Black female to serve as mayor in the state when she was appointed to fill an unexpired term in the Village of South Mansfield. Prior to becoming Mayor she was involved in politics and community activism decades earlier. Patterson was one of the pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement in the local area. She joined federal officials in the 1950s and 1960s to encourage Blacks to vote since elections in South Mansfield even were hampered by the lack of registered voters.
Patterson was murdered  Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Born July 6, 1919, the 88-year-old community servant was brutally stabbed to death by suspected killer, Bobby Harris for $200 in $1 bills. “The small amount of money he took makes it even more senseless and tragic,” family said to reporters at the time. Her term was set to expire in December 2008. Patterson was described as a sweet-spirited person who gave her life for this community and worked tirelessly in her role as mayor.
“The story of how she got into office and what has happen to her since provides a classic illustration of trials and tribulation suffered by African Americans in some parts of the country when they aspire to be an elected officials,” wrote her grandson, Kerwan Reed, in a tribute. “As we look forward to our future we must not loose sight of those who paved the way for us.” Because of Patterson, the state now has seventeen, Black female mayors serving in large cities, villages, and towns. The mayors are: Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Lori Ann Bell of the Town of Clinton, Irma Gordon of the Town of Kentwood, Erana Mayes of Melville, Trashier Keysha Robinson of the Village of Tangipahoa, Ollie Tyler of Shreveport, Shaterral Johnson of Grand Coteau, Demi Vorise of Maringouin, Jennifer Vidrine of Ville Platte, Johnnie Taylor of Powhatan, Josephine Taylor-Washington of Clayton, Rose Humphrey of Natchez, Alma Moore of the Town of Boyce, April Foulard of Jeanerette, Donna Lewis Lancelin of Baldwin, Dorothy Satcher of Saline, and Wanda McCoy of Roseland.
“This class of Black women mayors represents the single largest group to serve the state simultaneously,” said Vernon  “Step” Martin, president of the Louisiana Municipal Black Caucus Association who, along with The Network Coalition, honored the mayors. They gathered at Star Hill Baptist Church, Feb. 23, 2017m for a special Black History Month salute.
Meet some of the current Black, female mayors of Louisiana.

East Baton Rouge Parish/City of Baton Rouge

broome-sharon
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome

Sharon Weston Broome

 “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” Sharon Weston Broome’s journey as a public servant has spanned for over two decades. She recently ended her role as the Louisiana State Senator for District 15, January 11, 2016. This transition didn’t end her commitment to serve her community. The journey continues. She became the first elected female Mayor-President East Baton Rouge Parish. While in the legislature, Broome became the first female to hold the leadership position of Pro Tempore in the House and Senate. She also served as one of the six co-chairs for Governor John Bel Edwards transition team. Sharon was cited by the Baton Rouge Business Report as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential Women – Leading the Way in the Capital City.” She also serves as the President Emeritus of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women. Broome is the recipient of Morehouse College’s esteemed Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award for her work on children and family issues. With a bachelor of arts degree. in mass communication from University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and a master of arts degree in communications from Regent University, Broome has served as an adjunct instructor at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University and Baton Rouge Community College. She continues to serve as adjunct instructor in the mass communication department at Southern University and A&M College. She served for five years as a reporter for WBRZ-TV (ABC affiliate, Baton Rouge). She is married to Marvin Broome and has three children and three grandchildren.

Town of Clinton

Lori Ann Bell
bell-ann-lori

Mayor Lori Ann Bell

Mayor Bell is the daughter of Lue Bertha Matthews Bell and the late John Brooks Bell Sr.. From 2009 – 2012, Bell served as alderwoman for the Town of Clinton where she chaired finance committee. A former office manager and tax instructor for H&R Block with more than 30 years tax experience, she serves as a board member of the East Feliciana Teachers Federal Credit Union and East Feliciana Economic Development, a director on the Louisiana Municipal Gas Authority Board, and a member on the East Feliciana Tourist Commission. The youngest of four siblings, Bell graduated from Clinton High School in 1978 and was crowned Miss CHS Class of 78. She graduated from Barbizon School of Modeling in 1979 and attended Southern University studying mass communications and Capital Area Technical College studying early childhood development. Bell also successfully completed the Competing for Federal Grants course. She is a member of the New Covenant Christian Center. She is the mother of Chakedra, Jeremy, Terrence Bell, and great nephew Maleek Chriss who she reared, and grandmother of Madisyn, Brooklyn, Terriyn and Terrence Bell Jr. Bell is serving her first term as mayor of the Town of Clinton.

Melville

Erana “Rana” Mayes
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Mayor Erana Mayes

Mayor Mayes, who defeated two-term Mayor Willie “Butch” Haynes III, became mayor of the 1,000 populated city of Melville in January 2015.  She earned a bachelor of science degree in home economics and interior design from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and master degrees in business and psychology from the University of Pheonix. She is the co-founder of five businesses: the Melville Girls Club, Crescent City Catering, On Giant Shoulders Inc., Creative Interior Designs, and Forgotten Angels. She has served a s board member for Substance Abuse Service Alliance and leader for the Food Pantry and homeless Ministry at Faithful Community Church in New Orleans. She has been the grant writer and manager for the New Orleans Juvenile Courts. Following a relocation to Melville as a result of Hurricane Katrina, Mayes said her goal as mayor has been to serve the citizens and for Melville to become a destination location.

Grand Coteau

Shaterral Johnson
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Mayor Shaterral Johnson

Mayor Johnson, formerly mayor pro tem for the City of Grand Coteau, served two terms as alderwoman before being appointed interim mayor. She is the oldest of four girls and a graduate of Sunset High School. She attended Dillard University and Louisiana State University—Eunice. Having worked nearly nine years for the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, Johnson also worked 11 years for CVS Pharmacy and five years for Combined Insurance Company. She serves on the Senior Companion Board of Directors. She is a former Crime Stoppers Board Member who served on the St. Charles Church Parish Council. This is her first term as an elected mayor. In 2015, she won the election after serving as an interim.

Shreveport

Ollie Mae Spearman Tyler
Mayor Ollie Tyler

Mayor Ollie Mae Taylor

Mayor Tyler earned a master of education degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and completed 42 graduate hours through Southern University Shreveport, Louisiana State University Shreveport, and Northwestern State University. In 1994, the Caddo Parish School Board named her director of middle schools. She was later promoted to deputy superintendent. In 2000, she became deputy superintendent/chief academic officer for the New Orleans Public Schools where she served for three years. In 2003, she returned to Caddo Parish where the school board appointed her as superintendent. She served on Governor Kathleen Blanco’s 2004 education transition team and in 2007, she was named “Louisiana Superintendent of the Year.” She is a former interim Louisiana State Education Superintendent, serving from May 2011 to January 2012 between the offices of Paul Pastorek and John White.  A member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Tyler has served as mayor since December 2014.

Maringouin

Demi Vorise
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Mayor Demi Vorise

A private practice attorney in Port Allen, Mayor Vorise is the first African American female mayor elected in Iberville Parish. She was the salutatorian of her graduating class-North Iberville High School class of 2000.  She earned a juris doctorate from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, where she holds the Southern University Law Center Clinical Excellence Award for 2007. She also holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Jacksonville University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2003. She is the daughter of an American born father, George Vorise Jr., and a Jamaican born mother, Cislyn.  She is the sister of one sister, Cynthia, and four brothers, Marlon, Steven, Jerome, and Shelton.

By Candace J. Semien

Jozef Syndicate reporter

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Comments
4 Responses to “Madam Mayor: Meet the Black female mayors of Louisiana”
  1. I would love to photograph these beautiful women…Very interesting article….

  2. Lisa says:

    Mayor Dorothy Satcher of Saline.

  3. Latasha Collins says:

    Dorothy Satcher- Current Mayor of Saline Louisiana

  4. Damien R. Bellard says:

    Great article. It’s important to highlight accomplishments and recognize the African-American female mayors of this state. However, I noticed that one female Mayor has been left out. The Mayor of my hometown is an African-American female, The Honorable Mayor Jennifer Vidrine of the City of Ville Platte, LA. Please email me and I can provide you with her background information and a Photograph.

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