Stories from the Oaks

Jay H. Banks ’82: Love for His Community

In continuing our “History Made, History in the Making” Black History Month series, we are continuing our coverage of Dillard alumnus Jay H. Banks ‘82, New Orleans Councilmember, District B for #weDUthis Wednesday. He continued to grant the Office of Communications and Marketing access to both his life as a public and community servant. The photos we taken by Sabree Hill, Dillard’s university photographer.

Councilmember Jay Banks enjoys interacting with the community. He says that the ability to help people is what makes him proud to be an elected official. But being a servant leader undoubtedly has its ups and downs. “There is true joy when you know that you have made a difference in someone’s life, but the downside is that no good deed goes on punished,” he says. Still, Councilmember Banks enthusiastically greets everyday to serve his constituents. Here, he participates in a clean-up in his district on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.   

At the clean-up, Councilmember Banks gives his team marching orders for the next phase of his MLK Day clean-up.

For Councilmember Banks, being an elected official is also about using his social capital to serve the community. “From legislation that benefits the city as a whole to being able to pick up the phone to call someone important and have them take my calls so I can recommend a person for a job, being elected gives me the tools to make a difference in individuals’ lives.” Keeping a busy schedule, the District B leader helped hand out face coverings and sanitizer on January 27th.

Councilmember Banks found out that he was next in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. On February 11th, he went to New Orleans East Hospital to receive his first injection. 

Councilmember Banks takes a moment to show off his bandage from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine with (l. to r.) City Councilmember-At-Large Helena Moreno, Mayor Latoya Cantrell and City Councilmember (District E) Cyndi Nguyen.

Dillard remains in Councilmember Banks’ heart. Of being a Dillard alumnus, Banks says, “We were a family…we are all one. That feeling of warmth, unity and nurturing is something I will never forget.” Here, he takes a moment with fellow Bleu Devil Ronnie Burns ’73 who is also a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.  

Councilmember Banks is truly a part of his community as a member of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. A lifetime resident of the 13th Ward, Zulu has always been in Banks’ blood, so much so that he ran for king three times and lost he told mardigras.com. The fourth time was a charm when was elected King Zulu in 2016. Here, he shows off bags of some of the hottest Mardi Gras throws–the Zulu coconuts. 

New Orleans has had a tough year with COVID-19 and that has been reflected in Zulu’s struggles. The organization lost about 20 members to the disease throughout 2020. Wanting to protect his community, Banks has used his platform as a former Zulu king and as the current chairman of the board to encourage members and others throughout New Orleans to mask up. While it was a much different Mardi Gras than any of us have seen in our lifetimes, Banks still celebrated with a house float while doing his part to keep his community safe.