November 12, 2020

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

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) is the first Black leader of an Indiana legislative caucus. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) is the first Black leader of an Indiana legislative 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.

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