In spite of the grim news about Nagin’s conviction, Morial is excited to be in town for the NBA All-Star Game. On Saturday afternoon, he and his organization, the National Urban League, will join Arnie Fielkow and the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) in a free event in the lower ninth ward. Morial and Fielkow’s friendship goes back to the time when Fielkow worked for The Saints, and in the last two years, the Urban League and NBRPA have been cooperating on various sports and leadership development projects. Bringing together NBRPA’s retired players and basketball experience and the Urban League’s leadership development and academic enrichment curriculum, Fielkow and Morial hope to convey the message that success comes from a healthy body and a healthy mind.
During the hangout, Sabludowsky also brought up the upcoming Louisiana senator race and the governor race that is coming up in a year and a half. Speaking as an individual, not in an Urban League capacity, Morial said that Senator Mary Landrieu is doing a great job. Landrieu was just appointed chairperson of the the Senate Committee of Energy, and Morial emphasized the importance of having members in these positions of power for Louisiana, a state with a small delegation in the Congress. Morial said that Landrieu “has done an outstanding body of work on behalf of the people of Louisiana.” In terms of the 2015 gubernatorial election in Louisiana, Sabludowsky mentioned that a lot of people are concerned that there is no strong Democratic candidate to run against Republican senator David Vitter. Morial thinks and hopes that there will be a wide range of candidates ready to run. He also expressed his disappointment in Jindal. He disagrees with Jindal on many issues, but more than any others, it’s the Jindal administration’s higher education policy that bothers him. Morial pointed out that one way for Louisiana to lift itself is through investing in institutions of higher education. When the state cuts its assistance to higher education, it forces students and/or parents to pay a higher tuition, and in turn making the universities less competitive. Morial has visited several universities in Louisiana, particularly in the Southeast, and he is concerned about the great need for improvements in scholarship and infrastructure. High-quality higher education is a key to economic development, and Morial said, “we need a governor who puts that first.”
Sabludowsky and Morial concluded the hangout by discussing the Urban League.The greatest challenges that the Urban League are working with are those relating to jobs: unemployment, underemployment, and the increasing income divide in the country. According to Morial, the two issues that city and town leaders are mostly concerned with are the economy and jobs, and schools and education. Morial emphasized the importance of involvement at all levels - the business community, the federal government, the state government, and the city halls - in “job creation, small business enhancements, infrastructure investment, and educational attainment.”