Kirt Bennett

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Kirt Bruce Bennett

(Founder of the Young Leaders Academy in Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, for the education of
African-American boys)

Second photo of Kirt Bennett.png

Born December 15, 1967
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died May 3, 2010 (aged 42)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
Political Party Democrat-turned-Republican
Spouse Zanetta Denise Taylor-Bennett (uses middle name Denise)

John Denham Bennett
Christiana Marie Bennett
Benjamin Taylor Bennett
Elden Denham Bennett
Nova Carlota Bennett
Alma mater:
Eleanor McMain Magnet Senior High School (New Orleans)
Louisiana State University
Southern University (Baton Rouge)

Religion United Methodist

Kirt Bruce Bennett (December 15, 1967 – May 3, 2010) was an African-American Republican political activist, businessman, and educational leader in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


Though born in Brooklyn, New York, he graduated from Eleanor McMain Magnet Senior High School in New Orleans, Louisiana.[1] He then attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge on an athletic scholarship. He lettered in track and field: the shot-put, discus, and the hammer.[2] He was elected president of the LSU Student Government Association, the second African American in that position. In 1991, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. In the early 21st century, he was invited to speak at the LSU commencement exercises. He also studied public administration at Southern University, an historically black institution in Baton Rouge.[1]

In 1993, Bennett founded the Young Leaders Academy of Baton Rouge, an institution for the education of African-American boys.[3] Youngsters from the school appeared twice on the syndicated Oprah Winfrey program and won Winfrey's "Use Your Life" award.[4]<ref=obit/> In 1998, the school was presented the "Points of Light" award by former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush.[3] Other citations include three U.S. President Service awards from former President Bill Clinton and an FBI Community Service designation in 2006.[2]

Political campaigns

In March 1993, while still in his twenties, Bennett ran as a Democrat in a special election for the District 67 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives. He finished in third place with 11 percent of the vote.[5]

In 2003, Bennett, Clyde Holloway, a former U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 8th congressional district seat and later a member of the state Public Service Commission, and Melinda Schwegmann were three major Republican candidates for lieutenant governor. Bennett stressed improving the state's business climate in his campaign.[1] The position instead went to the lone Democrat in the race, Mitch Landrieu, later the mayor of New Orleans.[2] Bennett ran fourth in the nonpartisan blanket primary, with 108,293 votes (8.5 percent).[6]

In 2004, Bennett ran unsuccessfully again, this time for a seat on the 144-member Republican State Central Committee from House District 61, but he lost to Dan Richey, a former member of both houses of the state legislature, having represented the area about Concordia Parish. Richey defeated Bennett, 102-65, in a low-turnout closed primary.[7]

Bennett was a representative of the Northwest Mutual Financial Network. At the time of his death, he was also serving as the treasurer of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge board of commissioners, under appointment from Republican then Governor Bobby Jindal. Port headquarters are located in Port Allen in West Baton Rouge Parish.[8]


Kirt Bennett died on May 3, 2010 at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge after suffering a stroke the previous week. He was forty-two.[2]

The Young Leaders' Academy issued the following statement on Bennett's death: "Mr. Bennett laid a solid foundation that continues to direct our path today. He was a visionary leader who offered himself in service to countless people in this community. We will never find the words to express the depth of his impression on the young men that he inspired, molded, and mentored."[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Willmarine B. Hurst, "A New Breed with New Vision and New Leadership for a New Louisiana," May 30, 2003, at; no longer on-line.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Kirt Bruce Bennett obituary. The Baton Rouge Advocate (May 7, 2010). Retrieved on November 11, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Young Leaders Academy mourns loss of former director and friend. Retrieved on May 7, 2010; no longer on-line.
  4. Young Leaders Academy of Baton Rouge. Retrieved on May 8, 2010; no longer on-line.
  5. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, March 6, 1993.
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 4, 2003.
  7. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returs, March 9, 2004.
  8. Port commissioners. Retrieved on May 7, 2010; no longer on-line.