Panel Discussion

The Struggle Continues: The Right to Vote in Louisiana

Saturday, June 3, 2023, 2 p.m.
Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street

Free admission with RSVP required


The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy. Through their determination, New Orleans women advanced our nation’s democratic ideals and inspired future generations of political activists. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition “Yet She Is Advancing”: New Orleans Women and the Right to Vote, 1878–1970, this program picks up where the exhibit ends. Curator Libby Neidenbach and a panel of experts will explore hurdles that continue to keep people from the polls in Louisiana and discuss solutions to improve voting accessibility and safety.

People in line for voter registration in Louisiana

People in line for voter registration in Louisiana, 1965. Photo by P.H. Guarisco (THNOC, 2019.0021.6)

Featured Panelists

Dr. Pearson CrossRosalind Cook is the President of the League of Women Voters New Orleans (LWVNO), a political grassroots network that believes the freedom to vote is a nonpartisan issue. For more than a century, LWVNO has worked to empower voters and defend democracy. Rosalind is a communication and media-relations expert who activated aa communications plan for the post-Katrina restructuring of public transportation for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority. Rosalind worked in communications during the mayoral administration of Marc Morial and C. Ray Nagin. She is currently a professor of political science at Tulane University.

Dr. Brian KlopotekAshley K. Shelton is the Founder, President, and CEO of the Power Coalition, a Louisiana 501(c)(3) that uses a broad-based strategy to combine community organizing, issue advocacy, and civic action all while increasing the capacity of community organizations throughout the state to sustain their work. The Power Coalition’s integrated voter engagement approach has changed policy at the municipal and state level as well as moved infrequent voters of color to vote at the same levels as habitual voters in the communities where we run a full get-out-the-vote program. Shelton is the former Vice President of Programs at the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation (LDRF), now the Foundation for Louisiana. In her role at the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, Shelton managed a system of integrated, value-added programs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In her role at LDRF, she designed, initiated, and coordinated a comprehensive policy strategy that led to a systemic, multi-pronged approach to equitable policy development on a local, state, and national level. She used a participatory model that engaged local, state, and national partnerships to develop and nurture civic engagement throughout the state. 

John BarbrySherri Wharton Hadskey is the Commissioner of Elections under Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. Prior to her appointment as Commissioner in January 2018, she served the Elections Division in many capacities under Jerry M. Fowler, Suzanne Haik Terrell, Fox McKeithen, Al Ater, Jay Dardenne, and Tom Schedler.  She has successfully conducted over 300 elections in the State of Louisiana and since 1991 has implemented four different Early Voting and Election Day voting systems. She coordinated and conducted the first Orleans Municipal Election post-Hurricane Katrina and has since worked closely with parish officials to coordinate elections through many disasters, including Hurricanes Rita and Gustav, Laura, Delta, Zeta, Ida and the disastrous flood of 2016. She currently administers and is involved in elections on a statewide basis, overseeing storage and drayage of voting machines, ballot preparation, electronic ballot programming, and testing of all systems, training and support of all elections staff members on the state and local level and maintenance of a statewide voter registration database.

About the Exhibition

“Yet She Is Advancing”: New Orleans Women and the Right to Vote, 1887–1970 is on view on the second level of THNOC’s Tricentennial Wing at 520 Royal Street through November 5, 2023, and is a companion exhibition to American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, on view June 17 through October 8, 2023, on the first and third levels of the Tricentennial Wing. Admission to the exhibitions is free.

Yet She Is Advancing is sponsored by WDSU-TV and presented in collaboration with the Tate, Etienne & Prevost (TEP) Interpretive Center and the League of Women Voters New Orleans.