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Henry ‘Hank’ Braden IV, former legislator, dies

22nd July 2013   ·   0 Comments

Henry E. Braden IV, an attorney, civil rights activist and former state legislator, died Monday at Interim LSU Public Hospital of congestive heart failure at the age of 68.

Braden, a former state senator, also served as a lobbyist, an executive director of Total Community Action and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans and as director of the Office of Manpower and Economic Development under former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu.

As a member of the Moon Landrieu administration, Henry Braden paved the way for a generation of Black professionals and politicians to take on various roles in city government.

Braden, a St. Augustine High School alum, earned a bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York and a law degree from Loyola University.

He had been a practicing attorney since 1975 and served on the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee from 1976 to 1984.

Braden was also a founding member and board member of the Community Organization for Urban Politics (COUP) and served in the Louisiana Senate from 1978 to 1984.

Through his work with the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, Braden helped to increase opportunities for Blacks in labor unions and used his post at City Hall to identify, recruit and develop a generation of Black economic and political leaders.

“The members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus are deeply saddened by the loss of Mr. Henry E. Braden IV,” LLBC chairwoman Rep. Katrina Jackson said in a statement Monday. “When we as members of the Caucus were informed of his death, our hearts were deeply saddened. Mr. Henry E. Braden IV was indeed a pioneer and trailblazer in Louisiana’s civil rights and political leadership. We will keep his family and friends in our prayers.”

Friends, former classmates and colleagues remember Braden as someone who opened doors for other people of color at City Hall and increased Black participation in the local economy and politics.

“I worked with Hank Braden and Lambert Boissiere when they were director and assistant director of the Urban League’s New Orleans Plan, respectively,” fellow St. Aug alum, political consultant and community leader Dalton Savwoir told The Louisiana Weekly. “During the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans had to prove that they were equal to other Americans. In order to gain entrance to the labor unions of that time, they set up tests based on subjects like mathematics and physics to qualify for admission to unions in trades like elevator installation, electricians and even plumbers. I was in graduate school at the time and Judge Kern Reese and I were the tutors for the program. I can remember a 90 percent passing rate of our applicants.”

“He was involved in just about every election in most of his adult life,” fellow St. Aug grad and former New Orleans Mayor Sidney Barthelemy told nola.com. “He was someone who supported candidates in every election.”

“He had always been political, always,” Paul Beaulieu, a childhood friend and WBOK general manager, told nola.com. “He was always interested in government. Part of his philosophy was that government was important, but it all started with government.”

Former New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, told nola.com that Braden served as a mentor for “countless politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers and community activists.”

Dalton Savwoir said Thursday that Braden’s passing underscores the Black leadership vacuum in New Orleans and the need for principled people to step forward with courage and vision. “It’s important to know that the game has not changed,” Savwoir told The Louisiana Weekly. “African Americans are still the last hired and the first fired. We still need people like Hank Braden to push the doors open. Even though the threshold may be high, we, as African Americans, will have to persevere. We owe this to our ancestors and our children.”

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also reflected on the passing of a bonafide political and economic trailblazer.

“Today we lost a civic giant who worked tirelessly on behalf of our community,” Landrieu said in a statement Monday. “Hank Braden served our city, our state and our country with distinction for decades. From his work with the Urban League and Total Community Action, to his service in the legislature, he truly personified what it means to be a public servant. He will be dearly missed, but his legacy will certainly live on.”

Henry Braden IV is survived by his wife, Michele Braden; two daughters, Heidi and Remi Braden; two sons, Hal and Nicholas Braden; a grandson, Jack Cooper; and a host of loved ones and friends.

Additional reporting by Louisiana Weekly editor Edmund W. Lewis.

This article originally published in the July 22, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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