Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Jecorey Arthur was sworn in on Jan. 4, 2020. He was sworn in Jan. 4, 2021. The error has been corrected. We regret the error.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, Louisville Metro Council swore in the youngest member in its history, 28-year-old Jecorey Arthur.
The council member that now represents Louisville’s fourth district said he was motivated to run for the position because of seeing people suffer, struggle, and impoverished.
Let's get to work ⚜️ pic.twitter.com/wulhLaZM5p— Jecorey Arthur 🇺🇲 (@jecoreyarthur) January 5, 2021
“And knowing that without government, we will never overcome all of the disparities that we live, and, really, it’s in part because government created those disparities,” the Democrat said, listing slavery and Jim Crow laws as some of the root causes of those disparities.
“So instead of lobbying, which I originally planned to do, I decided to become government and try and work with colleagues here to change some of those outcomes, to change some of the realities that some of us face,” Arthur told Spectrum News 1.
Arthur’s district, which he’ll represent for a four-year term, covers in part downtown, where Louisville’s protests have centered, and bordering neighborhoods that deal with several issues.
“Whether you think about crime, you think about homelessness, you think about COVID-19 having an impact on our downtown and surrounding areas, this is the heart of Louisville, and without your heartbeat, you can’t survive. So I feel overwhelmed with that in mind, but I feel determined more than ever to have some of the tough conversations I don’t think people are willing to have, and there’s people within government and outside of government,” he explained.
Part of how he wants to affect change within Louisville Metro Council is through social media so Louisville Metro Council can better communicate with its constituents and vice versa. The number one issue he wants to address immediately is poverty.
“We can’t really have a conversation about addressing housing until you address poverty. We really can’t have a conversation about safety until you address poverty. We can’t have a conversation about health, social, physical, environmental health, unless we address poverty, and when it comes to inclusion, poverty is very much so the basis of exclusion that we have experienced,” he told Spectrum News 1.
Arthur said he will focus on poverty at the local level with legislation to raise wages and make sure wages are equal.
“Which is something that I’m surprised isn’t talked about more. Black Louisvillians are out earned by their white counterparts in every single career, and this is coming from the city. The city acknowledges this. That’s discriminatory in nature, and it needs to be addressed. We need to be holding businesses, both public and private, accountable for making sure they’re paying equal wages,” he said.
Arthur said poverty is the center of his political world, with figuring out how to end and lessen it.
“How do we make sure that families are taken out of poverty? And in some cases, families like the ones who descend from slavery, the ones who are ADOS [American Descendants of Slavery], they are locked into poverty. They are locked into a bottom caste, not a bottom class,” Arthur said. He also said he will organize at the state level and across the country because he said Louisville can’t close the wealth gap unless the wealth gap in the United States’ is closed.
Besides council member, Arthur is also a music professor, musician, and father to a three-year-old. All have provided him with the experience that led him to lead today.
“Growing up, watching it , and observing music to making [and] producing music, to teaching music, to organizing around music and arts, to now just organizing, and I think to a certain extent that’s what the council people are. We are glorified community organizers," he said.