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Discussion continues over library board's rejection of LEH grant

UL professor, state senator speak out on controversy
Posted at 7:47 AM, Feb 03, 2021

A UL Lafayette Professor is now planning to give his talk at another location after the Lafayette Parish Library Control board rejected a grant that would have allowed him to speak on the history of voting rights.

Professor Theodore Foster is now planning to give his talk and make it available for the public at UL Lafayette.

Lafayette is the only parish among ten that rejected a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities which would have created a program to educate community members on the history of voting rights in the United States.

The grant would fund books, two guest speakers and discussion groups on the topic.

The board cited "partisan concerns" as the reason for rejecting the grant. Read their full statement, here.

Following that rejection, several groups have spoken out against the actions including the NAACP, ACLU of Louisiana, League of Women Voters and other local and state activist groups. Those groups say it's more than just a fight for neutrality.

"What should be a public dialogue, people can disagree with but we should be able to read books that we disagree with and bring principle facts to that discussion which was what the facilitation was supposed to be about," said Dr. Theodore Foster a professor of Black History at UL Lafayette.

Dr. Foster says the rejection of the LEH grant did not come as a surprise. Since the controversy, the board president Douglas Palombo reached out to the professor about still hosting the discussion.

"They still extended an invitation for me to come but only under the pretext that there be an informational debate in which a scholar of opposing views would be given space to debate and in many ways that feels inappropriate," said Dr. Foster.

Dr. foster says he has turned the invitation down.

"The other side of the story is Jim Crow laws and the KKK you can't run and hide from that," said State Senator Gerald Boudreaux on the controversy.

Senator Boudreaux says he was disappointed about the board's decision.

Boudreaux believes it isn't necessary to bring politics into a topic that concerns educating the community about a historical event.

"This library is respected as one of the top in the state and for us to refuse or to reject to have a conversation and for us to start talking about left and right, there is no left and right when we're talking about people in 2021," said Boudreaux.

KATC reached out to all the of board members who rejected the grant to ask why and who they would suggest be invited as well. We have yet to hear back back.

Dr. Foster says he hopes to have details on his voting rights talk at UL Lafayette confirmed by next week.

since the grant was rejected, longtime library Director Teresa Elberson retired.

The Lafayette Public Library Board of Control will hold a special meeting Wednesday, February 3 to appoint an interim library director.

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