Louisiana lost one of its most well-known public servants last month when Alphonse Jackson Jr. died.
I served with Alphonse in the Legislature from the mid-1970s and until his departure from the House of Representatives in 1992. During that time, the Legislature heard a number of fine public speakers. The greatest in my mind was John Connally, former governor of Texas. Close behind him were Louisiana governors Edwin Edwards and Buddy Roemer and longtime state Sen. B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn, of Bogalusa.
In that category of gifted speakers was Alphonse Jackson. He spoke for those who had no voice in politics: the poor and the working class. He had a knack for simplifying complicated subjects and motivating audiences to see things his way.
At one time, Alphonse was arguably the most prominent African-American political leader in north Louisiana. Along with A.Z. Young, of Bogalusa, and former New Orleans Mayor Dutch Morial, he was in the top three of black leaders in the state. He used his influence to advance civil rights, public education, the interests of schoolteachers and school workers and the people of Northwest Louisiana.
I will always be indebted to Alphonse for helping me to pass the Bossier Educational Excellence Fund.
We worked with Gov. Edwards to devote a portion of the tax proceeds from Louisiana Downs and local casinos to Bossier Parish Public Schools, and now the BEEF fund is worth $38 million. We later used BEEF as a model for similar endowment funds benefitting Caddo schools and elementary and secondary schools statewide.
Alphonse Jackson, of Shreveport, devoted his life to others. He will be remembered.
Louisiana Public Service commissioner