Though she has made her name and home in Washington D.C. for the past three decades, distinguished LSU alumna, veteran political strategist and commentator, author, and Democratic Party official Donna Brazile makes no secret of her pride in being a native of Louisiana and an LSU graduate. Now an important piece of Brazile’s personal history has returned to her home state with the recent donation of her papers to the LSU Libraries Special Collections.
Photographs, correspondence, speeches and other writings, memoranda, reports and analyses, campaign management and research files, and memorabilia comprise the collection. Together the 32 boxes of materials document Brazile’s involvement in Democratic politics and the Democratic National Committee; her interest in and efforts to mobilize African American voters, elect women to office, and advocate for voting rights; her public speaking and teaching; her work with the Louisiana Recovery Authority; and her participation in every presidential campaign between 1976 and 2000, including as manager of the Gore-Lieberman bid for the White House. She was the first African American to lead a major presidential campaign.
“LSU was an indispensable part of my education, as a person and as a political operative,” said Brazile, “from taking classes with life-changing professors to writing opinion pieces in the Daily Reveille to weekly Friday discussions on campus about the social justice issues of the day, LSU engrained in me a lifelong love of learning and shaped me as a political organizer. Because LSU gave me so much, I am humbled to give LSU Libraries Special Collections my papers and grateful to share my life’s work to encourage and inspire the next generation of political activists to take their seats at the table.”
A native of Kenner, Brazile graduated from LSU in 1981, and the university awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2005. In the early years of her career she was involved in grassroots efforts to establish a holiday celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., and she organized the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington. She then worked as chief of staff and press secretary to Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congressional Delegate for the District of Columbia.She went on to be an advisor to the Clinton-Gore presidential campaigns and, as noted above, to manage Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid.
A significant figure in Democratic politics, Brazile currently serves as Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee, and formerly chaired the Democratic National Committee (interim) and its Voting Rights Institute. An adjunct professor in the Women’s Studies Program at Georgetown University, she has also taught at the University of Maryland and been a resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. Brazile is also a nationally syndicated columnist, a political commentator for CNN and ABC News, and a contributing writer to Ms. Magazine and O, The Oprah Magazine. In 2004 she published Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics (Simon and Schuster), a memoir of her life and her 30 years in politics. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco tapped Brazile to serve on the Louisiana Recovery Board. Brazile is also the founder and managing director of Brazile and Associates, a political consulting and grassroots-advocacy firm based in Washington, D.C.
“On behalf of the LSU family, we enthusiastically accept Donna’s papers with the utmost gratitude in doing so,” stated LSU Provost Stuart Bell, “A pioneer for many, future generations will cherish the rich history that abounds in these treasured documents; those that detail her journey and someone with Louisiana beginnings who has achieved such great impact. We are extremely proud of Donna Brazile, her many contributions to society and are humbled that she is sending her papers home to her LSU alma mater.”
“Donna Brazile’s longtime involvement in presidential politics and policy making, her status as a trailblazer for women and African Americans, her close and ongoing identification with Louisiana and LSU, and the profile she has built in the public arena through her writings, television commentary, and service to the DNC all combine to make her papers a welcome and important addition to our political collections,” said Curator of Manuscripts Tara Laver.
Brazile’s papers are part of the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections in the LSU Libraries Special Collections, located in Hill Memorial Library. The largest accumulation of materials on the state and region in existence, the LLMVC includes a comprehensive collection of books, maps, newspapers on microfilm, historical manuscripts and photographs
“This collection is significant in many ways,” added Head of Special Collections, Jessica Lacher-Feldman. “We are so pleased that Donna Brazile’s papers have come to LSU Libraries Special Collections, which already holds many major political related collections from the 19th and 20th centuries. Her papers are an excellent bridge to documenting the culture and political climate of both the latter part of the 20th century, and into the 21st century.”
For additional information, contact Curator of Manuscripts Tara Laver at email@example.com.