L. D. Knox

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Luther Devine Knox, Sr., known as L. D. "None of the Above" Knox​

(Colorful Louisiana perennial politician who worked for "None of the Above" designation on ballots)


Born March 9, 1929​
Jigger, Franklin Parish
Louisiana, US​A
Died May 27, 2009 (aged 80)
Winnsboro, Franklin Parish​

Resting place:
Shady Grove Cemetery in Jigger[1]

Political Party Democrat-turned-Independent
Spouse Divorced three times; spouses not listed in obituary​

Children:
Sandra, Janice, Sherry, Peggy, Reggie, Darryl, Doyle, L. D. Jr, Gary, Jeffrey, Gregory, Angel, and Corey Knox​
Parents:
Grady Perry and Leatrice Addis Rogers Knox​

Luther Devine Knox, Sr. (March 9, 1929 – May 27, 2009), known as L. D. Knox, "None of the Above" Knox, or Nota Knox, was a colorful politician from Winnsboro in Franklin Parish in northeastern Louisiana, who attracted national media attention in 1979 when he legally changed his name to "None of the Above" Knox to protest the lack of candidate choices.

Knox claimed that the absence of choices led to the selection of the "lesser of two evils." He hence proposed that voters be given the "None of the Above" option if they reject the declared candidates for office.[2]​ ​

Background

​ Knox was born in rural Jigger in south Franklin Parish to Grady Perry Knox (1900–1985) and the former Leatrice Addis "Lee" Rogers (1903-1994). During World War II, he was an instructor to military service personnel in the area of combat and enemy resistance.[2] A farmer and timberman,[3] Knox owned some 1,400 acres on Bayou Macon, which he hand cleared and cultivated in what he considered to have been an aberrant but advanced style of agriculture.[2]

Running for office

​ Knox claimed to have run for more offices than nearly any other American citizen, having sought the Louisiana governorship, the 5th congressional district post, a seat in the state legislature, and even the office of U.S. President. In 1978, Knox and then Louisiana Secretary of State James H. "Jim" Brown of Ferriday in Concordia Parish, running as Democrats, unsuccessfully challenged the reelection of freshman Democratic U.S. Representative Thomas Jerald "Jerry" Huckaby. In 1979, Knox began the process of adding "None of the Above" to his name when he was a minor candidate in the gubernatorial election. He was unable to procure the name change until after the election was held. U.S. Representative David C. Treen became the first Republican governor since Reconstruction, and Knox finished seventh, with 6,327 votes, in the gubernatorial nonpartisan blanket primary.[4]​ ​ Knox frequently challenged Representative Huckaby, having run as a Democrat in 1980 and as an Independent in 1982, 1990, and 1992. In 1998, he even ran for the United States Senate seat held by the popular Democrat John Breaux of Crowley in Acadia Parish. Republican Jim Donelon, currently the Louisiana state insurance commissioner, also ran for the Senate that year.[5]

Knox had planned to run for the state Senate in 1975 against incumbent Jim Brown but did not file after Brown promised to work in the Senate for "None of the Above" designation on state ballots. At the age of seventy, Knox was a candidate for sheriff of Franklin Parish.[3] Knox's obituary says that he believed that "people as a whole were simply fed up with the two-party system of government, and he gave the people every opportunity to voice their sentiment."[2]​ ​ Ironically, the only position that Knox nearly won was his first race, when in the 1963–1964 election cycle which led to the election of John J. McKeithen as governor, Knox contested the Franklin Parish seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives. He lost to incumbent Lantz Womack, a Winnsboro businessman and banker, in the Democratic primary by only 18 votes, 3,544 to 3,526.[4] Womack held the seat until 1976, having relinquished it in an unsuccessful bid for state agriculture commissioner.​

In 1995, Knox ran for sheriff of Franklin Parish. He finished last in a four-candidate field. Voters instead chose Steve Pylant, the first Republican ever elected as sheriff in Franklin Parish.[6]​ Pylant subsequently served two terms in the state legislature. ​

Death, family, and legacy

​ According to son Gary Devon Knox (born ca. 1952) of Crowville in Franklin Parish, Knox died of Alzheimer's disease at a Winnsboro nursing home.[4] The family submitted the middle name to the newspaper as "Divine," but most news sources used "Devine" in the articles written after Knox's death. The tombstone does not disclose the "D" initial in his name. In addition to Gary Knox, he was the father of twelve other children: Sandra, Janice, Sherry, Peggy, Reggie, Darryl D., Doyle, L. D. Jr, Jeffrey, Gregory, Angel, and Corey Knox. The obituary in The Monroe News Sta, the daily newspaper in Monroe, Louisiana, mentions no wife or wives but instead "a friend of thirty-five years" named Mrs. Mary Smith.[2] Smith said that Knox had been divorced three times when she met him.[7] Knox also had two surviving brothers, Grady Perry "G. P." Knox, Jr., and Asa Knox, and two sisters, Gussie Collins, and Portia Perot. Services were held on June 2, 2009, at the chapel of Riser Funeral Home in Columbia, with Brother Kenneth Collinsworth officiating. Interment was at the Shady Grove Cemetery at Jigger.[2]

Pallbearers included Judge Rudy McIntyre, former State Representative Lelon Kenney, Mayor Jack M. Hammons (1937–2010) of Winnsboro, Roger Beall, Gary Rider, and Allen George. Knox listed then imprisoned Governor Edwin Edwards as an honorary pallbearer.[2]​ Mayor Hammons described Knox, accordingly: "He was always very interested in politics, and he had the best interest of Franklin Parish and the state of Louisiana at heart. He just couldn't quite pull it off."[3] Hammons suggested too that Knox may have "talked a little above most people's heads."[7] Knox’s own political thinking was liberal, but he, according to Hammons, "didn't believe in party politics ... [and] thought people had a right to vote how they chose, and didn't necessarily need to follow a party line."[7]

Like most states, Louisiana still does not have a "None of the Above" ballot line.

References

  1. Luther Devine "None of the Above" Knox. findagrave.com. Retrieved on October 29, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Obituary of L.D. Knox. The Monroe News Star (June 1, 2009). Retrieved on June 6, 2009; no longer on-line.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Johnny Gunter (May 28, 2009). L. D. 'None of the Above' Knox Dies". The Monroe News Star. Retrieved on October 29, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 L.D. Knox, Who Tried to Give Voters a Choice, Dies at 80. The New York Times (May 28, 2009). Retrieved on October 29, 2019; under pay wall.
  5. Index to Politicians: Knox. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved on October 29, 2019.
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 21, 1995.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 L.D. 'None of the Above' Knox dies, age 80. Katc.com. Retrieved on June 6, 2009; no longer on-line.

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