When I worked for Mitch Landrieu in his 2010 campaign for mayor of New Orleans, I was frequently reminded of the legacy of his father. Moon Landrieu was dedicated to fairness, a credo he passed to his children and a principle that guided his time in office. As mayor, he desegregated public facilities and public employment and pushed businesses to hire Black people for good-paying jobs that provided a path to the middle class.

On the campaign, I heard from people nearly every day whose families were able to set a new course because they were given a fair chance to access meaningful employment.

Today, millions of Americans, disproportionately Black and Brown, are still locked out of those opportunities. In his new position overseeing infrastructure spending, Mitch Landrieu has the chance to help them, and build on his family legacy.

Millions of Americans have a criminal record with communities of color disproportionately suffering from generations of over-policing and mass incarceration. People with records face tremendous obstacles in the job market, leaving them with an unemployment rate of more than 27%.

This limits the possibilities for their children, holds back their communities, and acts as a drag on the American economy.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is an opportunity to break down these barriers and open up employment to millions of Americans.

Advocates from all political backgrounds urged the Biden administration to adopt policies that foster real inclusion, from publicizing the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, to creating incentives to hire individuals with criminal records, and ensuring that projects comply with federal nondiscrimination laws. People living with records just need a fair chance to compete for a job. As the president's senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator, Mitch Landrieu can ensure that people get that chance.

The desegregation of New Orleans took more than a policy change; it took strong leadership from a man committed to fundamental fairness. Now Mitch Landrieu can take his family legacy nationwide, stand up for individuals and communities who have been locked out and left behind, and create a new economy in which everyone gets a fair chance.


Justice Action Network

Washington, D.C.