With LaToya Cantrell, black female Democrats will lead Louisiana's 3 larges

 LaToya Cantrell raises her right hand today to take the oath of office, she will make history, becoming the first female mayor in New Orleans' 300-year existence. Her installation also means that Louisiana's three largest cities - New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport - all have black female Democrats as their leaders.

Deep South Louisiana also will have two black women leading cities that rank in the top 100 by population, joining four other such cities nationwide: Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte and the District of Columbia.

Some here say the rare feat has occurred in an otherwise politically red state because of its staunchly Democratic blue oases, much like quirky Austin in conservative Texas or liberal Louisville in Kentucky coal country. Louisiana overwhelmingly supported GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in 2016, while Democrat Hillary Clinton carried all three of the state's largest cities, where minority voters make up a bigger share of the electorate.

Some experts and voters point to Louisiana's deep challenges, which disproportionately affect minority communities, as being a driving force for change. Income, unemployment and life expectancy here lag behind most of the country, issues that have motivated the three mayors. Each said the idea of serving the public - especially the ability to improve the lives of those in their communities - has been a driving factor in their public lives.

Adrian Long

Adrian Long

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