Library: Activists Call On Board Members To Resign
LAFAYETTE--Larry Angelle is now the provisional director of the Lafayette Public Library.
The library's board of control appointed Angelle to serve until the February 15th meeting. At that time, the board will select an interim director. The board will take applications for the interim director position from current library employees through Monday.
The board initially proposed making Angelle the interim director. When offered the interim position, Angelle told the board other library employees are interested in the job—even if it’s only temporary. He also showed trepidation.
"Look at the news," Angelle told the board. "Why would I want to be in the spotlight of something like this?”
Local activists and community members attended last night’s meeting, filling the available seats in the meeting room with others watching on a monitor in the library’s lobby.
Their message to the board was clear.
“I have grievances," Corey Levier told the board. "Many of the people that know me (and) live around me in Lafayette have grievances with this board.”
Supporters of the voting rights history program aired those grievances to the Lafayette Public Library Board of Control Wednesday night.
Among those supporters: Lafayette NAACP president Marja Broussard.
‘The decision was just one more way of continuing racist practices in Lafayette,” Broussard said.
Jamal Taylor, a former library board member himself, questioned the motives of his successors.
“What we have is a set of people on this board pandering to a group of politicians and a group of political inflammatory situations for cheap political gain,” Taylor said.
Some called on the five board members who voted against the grant to fund the program to step down.
“I’m asking all of you, even though you might be good people, I am asking you to resign," Levier told the board.
“I don’t care how you put it, how you sugar coat it. It’s a form of systematic racism," said Keith "Pops" Faulk. "And what are we going to do about it? Ask these board members to resign.”
Board president Doug Palumbo defended himself and the board’s actions. He told KPEL that resigning would be an admission he or the board did something wrong. Palumbo says that's not the case. Rather, Palumbo says he and the board did nothing wrong because there was no ill will and because their intent was to keep the library neutral. Palumbo added that his and the board’s priority is the survival of the library.
"I don’t want to alienate anyone in this community," Palumbo said. "Whether left or right, nobody should be alienated. And the perception: I don’t want to give anyone the perception that the library is sponsoring anything to the left or anything to the right.”
Palumbo also defended the board against accusations it made the topic of voting rights political.
“They’re saying we’re trying to make the history of African American voting rights a political issue," Palumbo said. "Nobody ever, ever said that it was a political issue. That’s history. That happened. Nobody’s opposed to anybody coming to this library and speaking about it. But in that same package, that’s the part in reality, there are current political topics in the grant that are going to be covered. Those are very hot political issues.”
The issues Palumbo is referring to include voter identification laws and voting rights for convicted felons.
“Trying to say that that’s not a political issue is completely disingenuous to me. It’s not being intellectually honest.”