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Black Community Leaders Ask Attorney General To Weigh-In On UofL Appointments

in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken | Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting
Eleanor Hasken
in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken | Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

Members of the Justice Resource Center and the West Louisville Ministers Coalition want Attorney General Jack Conway to weigh in on whether Gov. Steve Beshear broke state law when he did not appoint a single African-American to the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees. The groups sent a letter to Conway Tuesday.

Beshear recently appointed a Cuban-American to replace the board’s only black member, Dr. Kevin  Cosby.

Reverend Clay Calloway with the Ministers Coalition and Pastor Milton Seymour with the Justice Resource Center want Conway to issue a legal opinion on whether appointing a Latino in lieu of other racial minorities satisfies state law.

According to Kentucky statute 164.821(5),
The Governor shall make his at-large appointments so as to divide the citizen representation upon the board to reflect proportional representation of the two (2) leading political parties in the Commonwealth based on the state's voter registration and shall reflect no less than proportional representation of the minority racial composition of the Commonwealth.
Calloway said he thinks Beshear is in the wrong, mainly because Latinos are an ethnic minority—not a racial minority.

“Well, Latino does not satisfy the intent of racial minority,” he said. “That’s one thing. But let’s say he does represent a racial minority—you are still short by two.”

Calloway said, by law, he believes there should be at least two African-Americans--and preferably three--on the university’s 20-member board. He called the recent appointments “a giant leap back” for the black community in Louisville.

“We are people and it matters,” Seymour said. “It matters a whole lot when we look at that board and it doesn’t have a reflection of all of the students and all of the athletes that play for UofL and all of the contributing factors that is involved there.”

In a statement, Conway’s office said, “this morning our office received a formal written opinion request on this issue.  We will follow our standard procedure and render an opinion after a thoughtful and diligent review involving stakeholders.”

In the end, it is still up to Beshear to change his decision. Calloway said  he’s “concerned this is not a priority” for the governor, though.

“It seems to be that African Americans are not in vogue these days,” he said. “Everybody has been chosen to focus on other specific groups by name.”

Calloway echoed Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cunningham’s view that leading Democrats in the state are taking the African-American vote “for granted.”

You can read the letter sent to Conway here: