Former shoe shine man who became a powerful community leader

Alfred Blakes was the first Black candidate for mayor of Monroe in 1976, though unsuccessfully. (George Hamlet was appointed mayor in 1874 but never ran for the post).

A former shoe shine man, Blakes became a powerful political leader in the Black community in 1972 with the election of Edwin Edwards as governor. In a short while he was appointed the Board of election supervisors and a variety of other posts. At the time of his death he was president of the 5th District Black Caucus.

He was born February 2, 1923 in Waterproof, La. In 1946 he moved to the Monroe community and joined the Bethel Baptist Church where he began a distinguished career as a churchman and community leader. Although legally blind, he traveled extensively and participated in many leadership meetings on the behalf of the poor. He was a shoe shine man by profession but because of detailed political involvements rose to become a powerful political personality.

At his death in 1991 he served as president of the 5th District Black Caucas, an organization of Black Leaders from across the 5th District. His funeral service was attended by the rich and powerful from across the community and state.

The focus of his life’s work was “helping the poor.” He used his considerable influence to gain favors and assistance for the common people. He spent considerable time helping people get shelter, food and clothing.
While he easily juggled complex issues and concerns such as reapportionment or school desegregation, he often called upon the rich and powerful to help a homeless person or a mother struggling to keep lights and water at her home.

He died December 28, 1991.