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How Significant Is Sen. Greg Taylor's Election As First Black Leader Of Indiana Caucus?

Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News

It took until 2020 for a Black lawmaker to become the leader of an Indiana state legislative caucus. The Indiana Senate Democrats last week elected Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) as minority leader.

Political scientist and African American studies professor Nadia Brown said the significance of that can be diminished slightly because Democrats have little power in the Senate. But Taylor’s ascension still comes with what she calls “symbolic significance.”

“The agenda will be set by Republicans … but in this case, Black, women, other marginalized groups can then respond to the agenda in ways that symbolically represent their constituencies,” Brown said.

Brown said Taylor can also help shift the narrative, opening people’s eyes to perspectives they’ve never heard.

She said it’s also fair to wonder why it took so long for a Black lawmaker to lead a caucus.

“It doesn’t matter what America might look like," Brown said. "That doesn’t in and of itself change government; it doesn’t in and of itself change who holds power and how they exercise it.”

Brown said many governments still fail to reflect their constituents when it comes to race, gender and ethnicity.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.