SPOTLIGHT: Louisiana Black History Makers
Melvin "Kip" Holden
East Baton Rouge Parish
Melvin Lee "Kip" Holden served as the Mayor-President of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, from 2005 to 2016. He was the first African American to hold this position and was known for his dedication to the community and his ability to unite people from different backgrounds.
Holden was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on August 12, 1952. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1974, followed by a Master of Arts in Journalism from Southern University in Baton Rouge in 1982, and a Juris Doctor from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge in 1985.
Before his political career, Holden had a diverse background that included working as a journalist, attorney, clerk in the Workers' Compensation Office, public information officer at Baton Rouge City Police, and public relations specialist at the United States Census Bureau. He also worked at various radio and television stations, including WXOK Radio in Port Allen, WWL Radio in New Orleans, and WBRZ Channel 2 in Baton Rouge. Since 1991, he has been an adjunct law professor at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge.
Holden's political career began in 1984 when he was elected as a Member of the Baton Rouge Metro Council from District 2. He then served as Louisiana State Representative from District 63 from 1988 until 2002 and as Louisiana State Senator from District 15 from 2002 until 2004. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor-president of Baton Rouge in 1996 and 2000, but was elected in 2004, unseating the Republican incumbent, Bobby Simpson of Baker. His election as the first African-American Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish was a historic moment and was fostered through the support of his urban black base but also with substantial support from suburban whites, many being Republicans.
During his first term, Holden retained Walter Monsour, a Republican lawyer originally from Shreveport, as the chief administrative officer, and in 2008, he was elected with 71% of the vote. He was also a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by Mayors Michael Bloomberg of New York City and Thomas Menino of Boston, Massachusetts. In 2008, Holden was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.
Holden's tenure as Mayor-President was marked by his dedication to the community and his ability to unite people from different backgrounds. He focused on improving the quality of life for Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish residents. He was committed to creating jobs and economic opportunities for the people of the area. He also worked to improve public safety, education, and infrastructure.
Although Holden was unsuccessful in his bid for lieutenant governor in 2015, he left a lasting impact on Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish. His leadership, dedication, and commitment to the community will always be remembered, and his legacy will continue to inspire future leaders.