December 13, 1927 — December 8, 2013
When Glenda McKinley called me with news of her father’s death, I was immediately engulfed in a pall of sadness. I had lost a confidant, a mentor, role model, but most importantly, a friend. When Glenda asked me to speak, there was no hesitation. I wanted to…I had to…
Larry McKinley was a man for all seasons. A renaissance man, a pioneer. He moved here from Chicago and laid the groundwork for the political and economic change that was about to come to his adopted hometown.
Before there was a Black mayor or congressman, there was Larry McKinley on New Orleans’ radio airwaves telling it like it is. When Dutch Morial decided to run for mayor, one of the first whose support and counsel he sought was Larry’s. The rest is history.
From that victory back in 1978 on, all those who sought public office wanted his support. The only thing that grew faster than his popularity and respect was his humility. Larry was selfless. He was aware of his stature in the community; but he used it wisely, supporting causes he deemed progressive.
As the old cliche goes…Larry walked with kings and never lost the common touch. He was as much at home with the powerful as with the pedestrian. He was as much at ease with the privileged as he was with the poor. He understood that the fight for justice and equality was a double-edged sword. Larry appreciated the value of money and success. For him, the importance of money was in what it prevented others from doing to you. His acumen and achievements as a business man allowed him to remain fiercely independent.
Larry understood there was no “I” in team, but there was an “I” in win. He knew they were not mutually exclusive. He had the foresight and insight to merge them into a productive agenda. If you brought him a plausible idea, he never asked “Why?” He asked “Why not?” If he saw someone in need, he never considered what would happen to him if he helped, but only what would happen to the imperiled if he did nothing. If you needed support, he never asked “how much,” but “how soon”.
All of us here today knew him and loved him. He never chose the road most traveled or the easy way out. And we are very privileged to have traveled this path of life with him. His vision was never myopic. He always looked to the horizon with a firm gaze, focused on a brighter tomorrow for all the people.
He was a guiding light, our north star … leading us, nudging always to a better future.
Dr. Dwight McKenna
Dillard University, December 16, 2013