Nagin – unifier or divider

I’ve watched with curiosity the reactions in the white community to having Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, speak in Pensacola at the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce’s City to City Economic Exchange Conference.

Reginald Dogan, in his column in today’s daily newspaper (Nagin will bring a message of community and recovery to Pensacola ), writes that the event chairman “believes that Nagin is the right man at the right time to help unite Pensacola and help rebuild New Orleans.”

The reaction that I’m getting from many white business and community leaders is lukewarm at best. Several see Nagin as divisive, and they do have a valid point.

While the former Cox Communications v.p. won his first election with 85% of the white vote and only 40% of the black vote, his second term was won thanks to civil rights activists busing into the New Orleans former residents to vote. Nagin used the metaphor “Chocolate City” to describe New Orleans and solicit votes from the African-American community.

Nagin beat Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu – 52%to 48%. He received the support of about 80% of black voters and 20% of white voters.

On the other hand, this also shows how smart a politician Nagin is. He did what he needed to do to get re-elected and it worked. Is it any different than the GOP ignoring the black vote in 2004 and focusing on the conservative religious right?

The true judgment of Nagin should be based on his city’s recovery from Katrina. On that, there are few good reports and plenty of blame to go around.

I did run across this Gambit Weekly article on Ray Nagin – History and Ray Nagin
Check it out.

We’re trying to get an interview with Nagin for IN Your Head Radio. I will let you know if we get it.