Meet the Mayor
Education: Graduate of West Point; U.S. Army veteran; Law degree from Harvard Law School
Favorite pastimes: traveling, reading, spending time with family and friends, playing and watching sports
Currently reading: Masters of Doom
Favorite football teams: LSU Tigers and New Orleans Saints
Focused and determined.
“Even at age 11, he always had a good balance of focus and fun,” said Josh Williams, childhood friend of Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins.
“He was always focused and determined and very competitive with his brothers,” said Johnny Jones, Perkins’s mother.
“He was talking about being a politician at 11 or 12. I watched him his whole life stay on that path. I don’t know anyone else who at 12 years old knew what they wanted to be. A lot of people say what they want to be but actually sticking to it? It’s crazy,” said Jeff Oliver, Perkins’s oldest brother.
Making eye contact with every introduction, newly elected Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins is more focused and determined than ever — his goal? To see Shreveport succeed.
At age 33, Perkins is one of the youngest mayors in Shreveport’s history, but don’t let his youth fool you. In 2004, Perkins was the first African-American to be elected class president at West Point where he graduated with a degree in economics. He went on to complete tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and achieved the rank of captain and company commander.
Following his service in the Army, he attended Harvard Law School where he also was elected as student body president — until early 2018 when he made the decision to come back home.
Perkins said friends called him and suggested he return to Shreveport to serve. He made the decision to do an exploratory period in order to assess the community’s desire for new leadership. During that time, he visited with small business owners, members of the clergy and other Shreveport citizens.
“Talking to people during that exploratory period was like the defining moment, when I was able to talk to people and I realized there was such an appetite for change,” he said.
Perkins grew up in the Cedar Grove neighborhood in Shreveport and was raised by a single mom, Johnny Jones. The youngest of three, Perkins idolized his two older brothers — Archie Oliver, who is seven years his senior, and Jeff Oliver, nine years his senior. Jeff Oliver joined the Army at age 18 and while he was stationed in El Paso, Perkins would stay with him during the summer. Oliver recalls coming home from work one day to discover Perkins, at age 11, had joined a youth basketball league in El Paso. Oliver was shocked since Perkins didn’t know anyone in the area but he said that’s just an example of Perkins’s outgoing personality.
Pages in the 2003 Captain Shreve High School yearbook give further examples of Perkins’s outgoing personality — he was a track star, president of his senior class, a member of the Key Club and a member of the debate team. According to Williams, even though Perkins was a good student, he always managed to have fun in school.
“We had an algebra class together in 10th grade and like I said, he can focus and have fun. We would be laughing and joking in class and he would be doing his work but I would just be having fun,” Williams said. “I think he got a B in the class and I had to go to summer school. After that I didn’t take any more classes with him.”
Perkins describes growing up in Cedar Grove as being a great experience overall. His family didn’t have the most resources but he had a loving, hardworking mom and two older brothers that looked out for him.
“There were a lot of positive things in my life but there were some bad things as well that I think also crafted the person that I am,” he said. “Sometimes at night, I would sleep under my bed when I heard gunfire. There was a lot of drive by shootings. Crime in Shreveport was really high. There was a national wave of crime. A lot of those drive by shootings would sometimes send me under the bed and I never forgot that. Those types of moments stuck with me my entire life, so I know what it’s like in some of our neighborhoods today where children hear gunfire at night.”
“I think he’s going to keep Shreveport at the top of everything he does.”
A junior in high school at the time, Perkins was in his biology 2 class when the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place. It was that morning he decided to join the military. Perkins received numerous scholarship opportunities to attend different universities but it was his nomination to U.S. Military Academy West Point that really grabbed his attention.
“I didn’t know a lot about West Point when he told me about that. I did some research on West Point and read how strict it was. I was worried about him because I had never seen him make his bed up. I had never seen him iron. I said, ‘hey man you have to do all this stuff and go to class?’ And he said he would be fine,” Williams said in between laughter.
Perkins said other than growing up in Shreveport, his time at West Point shaped him the most. Following graduation, he went to officer basic course in Fort Sill, OK and then to the 3rd Infantry Division in Fort Stewart, GA. In 2009, he was deployed to Iraq as a platoon leader. Perkins saw combat early and many of his missions involved policing operations. “We went outside the wire every day and engaged the citizens in a combat zone,” he said.
After two more deployments (this time to Afghanistan), he returned to the U.S. in July 2015 and just one month later, he began classes at Harvard Law School where he studied corporate law. But in his second year at law school, his heart was pulling him back to his hometown. He ultimately turned down a job offer from Sidley Austin Law Firm, one of the largest law firms in the world, and made his way back to Shreveport. “I was realizing it wasn’t the community that I necessarily grew up in and it was going down the wrong path, like a bad path. So, I decided to come back home and try to help.”
Jones knew he always had the intention of returning to Shreveport, and when Perkins sets his mind on something, he sees it through. “I think he’s going to keep Shreveport at the top of everything he does,” she adds.
Williams said Perkins’s ability to dream big sets him apart from previous Shreveport mayors. “I think the thing the other mayors had that kind of held them back is they were realistic. They want to be realistic about everything,” he said. “Adrian is going to go for it. He’s not going to think, ‘oh we can’t do this because we’re in Shreveport.’ If it’s something that can be done and it’s a huge undertaking, he’s not going to let that stop him.”