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  • Trump’s budget ‘hurts’ Black community; CBC chair offers alternative

    The Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA-02), released the following statement in response to President Trump’s first budget proposal:

    We’ve heard all of this talk from President Trump about African Americans not having anything to lose under his Administration. The truth is that we have a lot to lose and his budget proposal is proof of that.

    Although President Trump promised a ‘New Deal for Black America,’ his budget slashes the federal workforce and cripples domestic programs (e.g. federal student services TRIO programs, LIHEAP, grants for after school programs, Community Development Block Grants, and Community Services Block Grants), and we’re likely to see even more cuts in these areas if he gives tax breaks to the wealthy, as expected. All of this hurts the African-American community. In addition, despite his promise to support and strengthen HBCUs, President Trump proposes to give these schools the same amount of funding they received last year. This budget proposal is not a new deal for African Americans. It’s a raw deal that robs the poor and the middle-class to pay the richest of the rich.

    If President Trump is serious about moving the African-American community forward, he should look to the Congressional Black Caucus’ alternative budget. Our budget invests in pathways out of poverty, as well as policy and programs that help Americans reach and remain in the middle-class. Our budget also reduces the deficit by nearly $2.9 trillion over 10 years.

    In the face of racism and discrimination in the private sector, African Americans have historically relied on the public sector for upward mobility. Even today, nearly 20 percent of the federal workforce is African American.

    President Trump’s proposal will hurt these federal families and others, the federal departments and agencies that they work for, and the Americans that depend on the services that these federal departments and agencies provide.

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    Broome invites public to city-wide dialogue on education, March 21

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome is inviting education stakeholders to attend the City Parish’s Inaugural Education Roundtable: City-Wide Dialogue to help close the education gap in our community.

    As part of the roundtable which will be held on March 21, East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Members, Metro Council Members, and other educators will come together to share common goals, express challenges, and develop solutions to enhance the educational experiences of our children. Representatives from Southern University, LSU, and Baton Rouge Community College will also participate in the event.

    “While education doesn’t fall directly into my realm of responsibility, it is a very important part of helping to move our City Parish forward,” Broome said.  “My vision for this forum is to help support local systems and boards so all of our students have an opportunity to succeed.”

    The education roundtable will take place at the Raising Cane’s River Center in rooms 9 and 10 from 3:30pm to 7pm. It will include two sessions:

    ·        3:30pm. to 5:15pm, Information sessions will feature speakers discussing various topics including early childhood expansion, higher education connections, and future workforce demands.
    ·        5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., a dialogue between Metro Council and School board members about proactive measures that can be taken to enhance the experiences of our children.

    Members of the audience will also have an opportunity to ask questions or make comments.  Participants should enter the River Center on the St. Louis Street side near the theater.

    Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP here: Attend Education Roundtable
     

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    Ponchatoula native brings ‘Something Miraculous’ to Baton Rouge stage, March 26

    It was a matter of fate that Lady Toussaint Duchess ended up bringing her highly-anticipated stage play to Baton Rouge.

    She had recently returned to visit her family after an extended stay in Africa for seven months and was watching the news the night Baton Rouge elected its first black female mayor, Sharon Weston Broome. She heard Broome speak about her plans to build a new, more inclusive and prosperous city and wanted to be part of that.

    “I listened to her and believed that TDE (Toussaint Duchess Entertainment) could be a small piece of the fabric that could help build a new Baton Rouge,” said Duchess, who added that she also wanted to give back to her home state as a whole through her ministry.

    Then Duchess met her cousin Michael Toussaint Sr. shortly thereafter, and the rest was history. The two talked about their professions and passions and decided that they wanted to bring something grand to the area that residents would appreciate. Duchess told Toussaint about her company’s stage plays and how she has worked with the likes of Tyler Perry and T.D. Jakes and would like to bring her national connections to Baton Rouge. They eventually decided to debut Duchess’ theatrical soap opera “Something Miraculous” at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church’s Family Life Center.

    “’Something Miraculous’ is truly a life-changing theatrical experience that you do not want to miss,” Duchess said. “We’re asking everyone to come out and enjoy this Broadway-style dinner theatre that we’re bringing to Baton Rouge. It will be a night of great food, fellowship—and of course drama.” image

    Episode One of “Something Miraculous” premieres March 26 at 3pm and 7:30pm. VIP tickets have sold out for both shows, but General Admission tickets are still available for $35 on Eventbrite.com or by calling (225) 771-8527.

    Duchess will be starring as Mrs. Lucy, the no-nonsense grandmother who speaks her mind and will “shade” a person at any given moment. The show will also feature Trisha Mann-Grant, who is widely-known for her role in “The Man in 3B,” the movie based on the Carl Weber bestseller of the same title.

    “Something Miraculous” is dedicated to Michael Toussaint Sr.’s son, Michael Toussaint Jr., 32, who was killed in a car accident in 2015. The co-owner of Toussaint Customs in Port Allen, he was affectionately referred to as “Mustang Mike.”

    The elder Toussaint owns Michael T. Enterprises and serves as president of River City Records. He has produced two tailgate songs for the New Orleans Saints, which were released courtesy of Mardi Gras Records. He will also be making an appearance in the show.

    Duchess has lived and worked all over the country, collaborating with Babyface, Fantasia Barrino, Fred Hammond, and Robin Givens on various projects. After surviving a painful divorce and going on sabbatical in Africa for healing, she said that her relationship with God sustained her along the way. She said she lives by the Romans 12:6 scripture, “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.”

    It has been a decade since Duchess last performed in Baton Rouge in her play “Dream With Your Eyes Open.” Eventually she plans on moving back to Florida and having dual citizenship in the U.S. and Tanzania. However, she said Baton Rouge is home for now and feels that she is right where she needs to be.

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    Southern University to observe its 137th Founders’ Day, March 9

    On Thursday, March 9, 2017, Southern University will host its 137th Founders’ Day with activities commemorating its history, honoring employees celebrating 10, 20, 30, and 40 years of service, and recognizing Southern University alumni who are elected officials throughout the state of Louisiana.

     

    This year’s observance of the annual recognition is themed, “Southern University:  Positively Impacting the Community, the State, the Nation, and the World.”

    The public SUBR Founders’ Day celebration will begin with a SU Laboratory School Commemoration at 8:30 a.m. The Community Prayer Brunch/Founders’ Day Convocation begins at 10 a.m. in the F. G. Clark Activity Center, a voter registration drive will be held at the Clark Activity Center service entrance during the convocation, and a SU Founders’ Day Birthday Party at noon in Jaguar Square in front of the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union.

    In keeping with the celebration of Baton Rouge’s Bicentennial, the 2017 Southern University Founders’ Day observance is scheduled as one of the University’s events to commemorate the founding of Baton Rouge. The city in January celebrated 200 years since its incorporation.

     

    To highlight the special SUBR observance, Sharon Weston Broome, the first female elected mayor-president of Baton Rouge-East Baton Rouge Parish, will serve as the keynote speaker for a mid-morning combination Community Prayer Brunch and Founders’ Day Convocation in the Felton G. Clark Activity Center.

     

    Prior to becoming mayor, Broome served as a Louisiana State Representative (District 29) and a Louisiana State Senator (District 15). While in the legislature, Broome became the first female to hold the leadership position of pro tempore in the House and Senate.

    Over the years, Broome has been recognized for her service and leadership by a number of organizations including the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana Health Freedom Coalition, the American Heart Association, Every Child Matters, Morehouse College – just to name a few.


    “This Founders’ Day commemoration is especially meaningful as we honor the hope and perseverance of early public servants whose brave and historic efforts chartered what was established 137 years ago in the city of New Orleans — Southern University. Their legacy is remembered as we recognize the continuing contributions of many our officeholders whose education was made possible by our Founders,” said Ray L. Belton, SU System president-chancellor.

     

    About the SU System Commemorative History
     

    Delegates P.B.S. Pinchback, T.T. Allain, T.B. Stamps, and Henry Demas sponsored the movement in Louisiana for an equal opportunity institution of higher learning in the 1879 Louisiana State Constitutional Convention. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of this institution for the education of persons of color in New Orleans. Southern University, chartered by Legislative Act 87 in April 1880, had a 12-member Board of Trustees. The act provided for the establishment of a faculty of “arts and letters’ competent in “every branch of liberal education.” The charter sought to open doors of state higher education to all “persons competent and deserving.” Southern opened with 12 students and a $10,000 appropriation. With the passage of the 1890 Morril Act, the University was reorganized to receive land-grant funds.

    In 1912, Legislative Act 118 authorizes the closing of Southern University in New Orleans, the sale of its property, and the reestablishment of the University on a new site. In 1914, the “new” Southern University opened in Scotlandville, Louisiana, receiving a portion of a $50,000 national land-grant appropriation Southern University in New Orleans and Southern University Shreveport were authorized by Legislative Acts 28 and 42 in 1956 and 1964 respectively. The Southern University Board of Supervisors, a management board authorized by the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, was created to govern the Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport campuses. In 1985, the A.A. Lenoir Law School was designated the Southern University Law School.  Dedicated in January 2002, the new Ashford O. Williams Hall is home to the fifth SU System campus, the Agricultural Research and Extension Center, which also is located in Baton Rouge.  

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    The Diabetic Kitchen to host 1st International 5K Walk/Run for a Cure of Diabetes, Alzheimer’s

    Members of The Diabetic Kitchen and the Village Members have teamed up to host a 5K Walk/Run to promote a greater awareness of Diabetes health and wellness, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Coteau, La. The Run will begin and end at 7913 Champa Avenue, in the Lanexang Village.

    “Both groups realized that we’re facing an alarming increase in Diabetes and Diabetic-related illnesses by far too many family members and friends. This collaboration resulted in the opening of a door to a partnership. As a result, we formed an Information, Education, and Hope-Filled Outreach Pocket of Help for our communities and this 5K Walk/Run is an attempt to keep more and better interest in health and health care issues,” said Nathaniel Mitchell Sr., founder/CEO of The Diabetic Kitchen.

    The Event will begin with:
    Registration…………………………………7:00 am
    Prayer and Warm-up…………………….8:15 am
    Walk Begin………………………………….8:30 am

    Cost:
    Adults 18 and Over………………………$15.00
    Youth 12 – 18 Years Old………………..$10.00
    Teams of Five……………………………..$40.00
    Free for Youth 11 Years and Younger
    Booth Space………………………………..$20.00

    Contact: The Diabetic Kitchen, 337-519-3010

    ONLINE: www.thediabetickitchen.org
    The Diabetic Kitchen on Facebook

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    COMMENTARY: Take ‘alternative facts’ in small doses, avoid anxiety

    In a survey released earlier this month by the American Psychological Association, 57 percent of Americans say they are feeling more stress due to the current political climate, while 66 percent were stressed about the future of our nation and 49 percent were stressed about the outcome of the presidential election. In fact, 52 percent of Americans said the Presidential election was a very, or somewhat signi cant source of stress.

    Suffice it is to say that those who voted, and their candidate of choice won, are rejoicing that they participated in the process. On the other hand, those whose candidate did not win, are nonetheless pleased that they participated in the process.

    But the rhetoric has only just begun. Every news station that covers the political climate contributes to the dis-ease of rendering the “good, the bad and the ugly” as they see it. The problem is that the public is left to sift through what is true, not so true, or what is false, and then quell their emotions in the process, so as not to walk out of the door on their way to work, church, shopping or wherever shaking their heads or feeling “some kind of way.”

    So what is the public to do? This is what the therapist says: First, understand in your conscious self that the news must be taken in-the-moment with a recognition of the slant of the person who is delivering the information–or alternative facts. Whatever your opinion, there’s an argument for it.

    This counselor suggests that you take the information in small doses, avoiding an overdose that might cause anxiety, anger, and sleepless nights. Avoid indulging in deep political conversations on the job because it can potentially become devisive. Additionally, keep political conversations light at lunch. Remember, you do have to return to work.

    One of the things that has “made America great” is our ability to express our opinions. Lately, however, it is advised that we should know, more than ever, the company we keep. Less the “company we keep” might become the company that discards and shuts down the ability to express opinions. Opinions are like tires, someone said: at some point in time, EVERYBODY HAS ONE. Stress and anxiety are frequent invaders of our calm and even temperaments. It seems that we find ourselves doing more and more to avoid “flying off the handle” or stepping on someone else’s toes. While there are several causes to which we connect our stress levels, have you noticed that one of the prominent stressors, lately, is the current political climate?

    Here’s what the Counselor suggests:
    • Remember that however we think or feel, there’s a television or radio station that agrees with our slant. You might just want to listen to that station only.
    • Consider limiting your intake of caffeine so you won’t become edgy when someone says something that may cause disagreement or offense.
    • Take deep breaths and think about what you are going to say BEFORE you say it. After you say it is too late.
    • Get enough sleep so you won’t be cranky on the job. Turn in earlier and avoid letting the news or a disturbing movie be the last show you watch.
    • Remember that “opinions are like at tires; everybody has one.” Keep your cool and remind yourself that your opinion is the best one to YOU!

    By barbara w. green

    Certified counselor and minister in Baton Rouge. She is the author of The Parent Anointing and The Great One. Follow her on Facebook or at www. barbaragreenministries.org

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    Ponchatoula officials take water seriously

    Long known for its good water, Ponchatoula took it seriously last year when reports of isolated incidents of discoloration reached City Hall, ordering tests as well as reviewing the entire system’s history.

    To update the public on what is being done, Superintendent of Ponchatoula Sewerage and Water, Dave Opdenhoff, recently gave a behind-the-scenes tour of the department’s operation and history since his hiring in 1988.

    His career Navy background brought years of study and experience concerning water. One area of his work onboard ships was that of converting sea water to drinking water.

    He continued adding to his certifications in this field when, upon retiring from the Navy, he and his wife, the former Barbara McMurray, settled in Ponchatoula, her home town.

    The State of Louisiana certifies in five categories: water production, water distribution, water treatment, wastewater collection and wastewater treatment.

    Ponchatoula does not require a water treatment certification because it uses ground water only. Based on population, Ponchatoula requires Class Three certifications. Opdenhoff went beyond in his studies, earning Class Four certifications which qualify him to work in larger cities such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

    At the time of his employment, there were two water towers – one on Tower Road and one at Athletic Park. Water in the system flowed from east to west with that from Athletic Park mingling with water from Tower Road.

    There were no government requirements to disinfect water and later, with the Federal Clean Water Act, came the stipulation cities could maintain their systems without disinfecting if testing showed no negative results.

    There had never been any negative results in Ponchatoula’s water but “seeing the handwriting on the wall” and learning it was just a matter of time before disinfecting would be required, the City starting injecting chlorine some twenty years ago.

    The water was occasionally discolored but it was never a matter of publicity because every municipality had (and has) discoloration at times. Back then, the remedy was a simple matter of opening a fire hydrant and flushing.

    After Katrina’s population explosion, Mayor Bob Zabbia made the decision to add an additional water well for storage.

    Katrina brought a lot of unexpected things to light, one such, not enough emergency generators. With lessons learned from the magnitude of the storm, the town’s planning included applying for and receiving grants to equip about 90% sewerage pumping stations with emergency back-up generators.

    The next step at this point, Zabbia and the City Council began the search for a site for the new well to help meet the needs of the growing population.

    After negotiating with Melvin Allen, DDS, whose dental office was on a tract of land on Highway 51 North, the city procured a parcel of this land to drill the new well and construct a tower at the same location.

    After construction began, when it was determined the parcel of land was not large enough to accommodate the tower, no additional land there could be purchased; thus, the city then bought land from Ed Hoover across 51 North with sufficient room to construct the new water tower. With its being built about the time of Walmart’s arrival, many residents mistakenly thought Walmart built or paid for the tower but it was all funded and paid for by the City with State Capital Outlay funds.

    New Well Causes Challenges

    With the new tower came a couple of problems: 1. Its water flowed from west to east and this “stirring” caused occasional complaints of discolored water. 2. In 2014, the state changed chlorine requirements because of brain-eating amoeba. This increased the levels from “trace” amounts of chlorine to “0.5 parts per million” at the end of the system. Opdenhoff added he believes Louisiana has the highest mandated residual chlorine amounts in the nation.

    This was the beginning of the severe discoloration problem and the old habits of flushing fire hydrants in selected areas no longer worked.

    One of the biggest puzzles was (and is) why the water of side-by-side neighbors differs. Neighbor A has discolored water and next-door Neighbor B has perfectly clear water.

    Trying to figure this out was running officials “crazy” and they called in a reputable expert, knowledgeable in the field of water who works with the state and numerous municipalities, Bill Travis of Thornton, Musso, and Bellemin, Inc., based in Zachary, La.

    After studies and testing, Travis reached the conclusion that the towers at Athletic Park and Tower Road showed “no measurable amounts of manganese” but the new well on Veteran’s (U.S. 51) did.

    Also, numerous brown-water samples from residents were tested and showed “measurable amounts of manganese”.

    This new tower had been on-line about a year so now the entire distribution had manganese. At that time, the Athletic Park tower was out of service for rehabilitation so the majority of the water was being produced at the Hwy 51 well with the flow going from west to east, stirring the water more.

    The question became, “How to treat manganese?” This was not just a Ponchatoula problem but a parish and state problem.

    Problem Solving Begins

    The prescribed treatment was the use of a “sequestering” agent that is injected into the water.

    Manganese bonds with water molecules and cannot be seen or tasted. But, add chlorine, and the molecules come out of suspension and present as discoloration.

    Thus the city started with the sequestering agent and phosphate.

    Why phosphate?

    Our water is naturally super soft. When visitors or new residents come from the North, they are usually shocked when doing laundry with their usual amounts of detergent, they are overrun with suds. Or, when bathing, they can’t seem to rinse well from so much soap. The problem with “soft water” — it can be corrosive to pipes.  The water technicians ran “coupons” – steel/copper based on 30, 60, and 90 days, determining City water could be corrosive to pipes.

    Their recommendation was that in addition to chlorine, the remaining two wells have phosphate added. This is currently being done.

    Coupon testing continues to see if treatment is having an effect or if it needs to be increased or decreased.

    In addition to having water chemically analyzed and performing corrective actions, Ponchatoula has hired a firm to do a “modeling” of the water system based on information provided: pipe size, storage elevations, pumping, etc.

    This firm is creating a computer model which the city will be able to use to confirm pressure and flow at any location.

    Modeling will show things such as these: 1. If an area does not have the desired flow, it could mean a valve is closed or broken or the original map of piping is flawed. This will allow the City to pin-point the area and take corrective action. 2. It will enhance the fire department’s ability to fight fires plus help homeowners in another way as state insurance will use this in determining the fire department’s rating.

    An Electronic Help is Added

    Further aiding the City, Ponchatoula is one of a few municipalities in the area to have a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System.

    This computerized system monitors the sewer system every two hours and the water system every two minutes. Instead of the prior countless trips made to twenty-plus locations day and night, now a large screen in Opdenhoff’s office shows each location complete with what each well is doing: how much water is being produced, volume in a tank, pressure, how much chlorine, etc. In addition, it gives the ability for his cell phone to turn a well on or off from wherever he is.

    Example: Recently SCADA showed a problem with a chlorine injection system, one that was unable to be done at the tank. Opdenhoff took that well out of service and it was out the entire time of the freeze. The two remaining wells kept volume and pressure exactly where they were supposed to be.

    While the well was down for repair to the injector, the City moved ahead with inspection of the tank. That was due this summer but with winter being the lowest use of water, a crew drained and inspected this tank on Tower Road that usually stores 300,000 gallons of water. This was the first time since its construction in 1982. Now it is recommended every five years.

    Workers were pleased and surprised at what was found in the tank: There was some accumulation of sand in the bottom, stains on walls, and rust in the roof, less than expected.

    While the well is down and tank drained, a hired company will come in to pressure wash, super-chlorinate, and identify what needs to be done for rehabilitation to that tower. (Rehab is scheduled for 2018 so that is from July 2017 forward. The evaluation will be sent to an engineering firm to design the scope and solicit bids for rehabilitation.)

    In the meantime, after cleaning, super chlorination and refilling the tank, it will sit for forty-eight hours before water samples will be taken and delivered to the Health Department in Amite for testing. Twenty-four hours later, a second sample will be taken and turned in. If no problems are found and the results come in early enough, the tank will be put back into service.

    The SCADA system does calculations and monthly reports on water usage and can compare rainwater and how much is getting into the sewer system. It has taken a year to get this far and only one site is left to be on-line.

    Occurrences Minimized

    The recent winter freeze came at a time of year when the normal use of water is at a low of 850,000 gallons a day; but customers dripping faucets to prevent broken pipes used over two-million gallons each day of the freezing temperatures. With all this use, the city did not flush any lines and the few reports of discolored water were not unusual in any municipalities after dripping faucets. Next item the City is addressing is a “soft” flush of all fire hydrants to clear the stems of each before the major flushing of the system. This “soft” flush already has begun in the southwest section and will continue across the City by section. The major flushing will be conducted after the modeling maps are completed so the system can isolate areas and flush without disturbing the entire system.

    Further learned, no water provider can ever guarantee no discolored water. Such things as a house fire, a broken pipe, filling of water tanks from fire hydrants by commercial businesses (without asking) can stir water systems enough to cause discolored water. With the work that has been accomplished over the past couple of years and the final system-flushing, incidents of discolored water should be few and far between.

    Meanwhile, Opdenhoff explained the rehabilitation work done on the Athletic Park Tower. From the ground below, the average person can see only the nice shiny paint job, but much more was done. Rusted-out areas of the catwalks were removed and replaced. Ladders inside and out were removed and replaced to meet current safety codes. Workers replaced the rusted-out top vent and enlarged the overflow pipe along with rewelding the fill pipe outside the tank, replaced all threaded fasteners, removed all finishes inside and out to bare metal to ensure no remnants of lead paint remained before priming and painting.

    In addition to the tank rehabilitation, the electrical system was upgraded from the 1963 equipment to the most up-to-date electronic equipment.

    With normal inspections of the tank at five-year intervals, any minor issues can be addressed and this rehab should keep the tank in service for at least the next twenty years.

    The City requests that any citizen with a water problem contact Ponchatoula City Hall at 386-6484.

    By Kathryn Martin
    Special to The Drum

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    Lawmakers attack Obama’s education law

    Educators nationwide are voicing concern following a push by Republicans in Congress to overturn accountability regulations for ESSA which could have far-reaching consequences for how the law works in states.

    Groups supporting the move argue that it would free schools from unnecessary burdens, while opponents contend that overturning the rules could hurt vulnerable students and create turmoil in states and districts trying to finalize their transition to ESSA.

    ESSA, which also reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015. The regulations are administered by the U.S. Department of Education and ESSA goes into full effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

    Under the 2015 law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, each state will adhere to more flexible federal regulations that provide for improved elementary and secondary education in the nation’s public schools.

    “The ESSA law was established to help increase the effectiveness of public education in every state,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “Our task is to inform, inspire, and encourage parents, students, teachers, and administrators to fulfill the intent and objectives of ESSA with special focus on those students and communities that have been marginalized and underserved by the education system across the nation.”

    Last week, the House of Representatives approved a joint resolution that would overturn ESSA accountability rules issued by the Obama administration.

    Those rules, which became final in November, are intended to detail for states the timeline for addressing underperforming schools, how schools must be rated, the ways English-language learners must be considered in state accountability plans, and other policy issues.

     

    “One of the things that should be included in any modification of ESSA is the fifth criteria for schools which is about school climate,” said Helen Levy-Myers, founder and CEO of Athena’s Workshop, Inc., a texting application for educators. School attendance is often dependent on other factors, like the friendliness of the staff, school leadership, safety of the school and neighborhood, health of the community, and the level of engagement between students and teachers, she said.

    A white paper presented by Levy-Myers noted that the “cold, hard truth is that chronically absent children end up leading harder lives.”

    Students who miss just two or three days each month in kindergarten and first grade never catch up. They become chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year.

    While many Republican lawmakers have moved to strike down the implementation of ESSA, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told state school officers around the country that despite a delay, several regulations will be reviewed and changed by March 21.

    DeVos told the officers that state ESSA plans will still be accepted either in April or in September.

    In a memo to state school heads DeVos wrote: “Due to the regulatory delay and review, and the potential repeal of recent regulations by Congress, the Department is currently reviewing the regulatory requirements of consolidated State plans, as reflected in the current template, to ensure that they require only descriptions, information, assurances, and other materials that are absolutely necessary for consideration of a consolidated State plan.”

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    Top summer internship programs announced for 2017

    Many companies and organizations are already announcing that they are accepting applications for their upcoming internship programs.

    Nationwide — Many companies and organizations are already announcing that they are accepting applications for their upcoming internship programs. Here’s a list of the top 2017 summer internship programs for African Americans:

    #1 – The NBA Internship Program offers college students an exciting opportunity to use their skills and classroom learning within a national sports environment. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/nba-internship-program.html

    #2 – The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is a 10-week, full-time, paid summer work opportunity for deserving students with an interest in the NASCAR industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/nascar-diversity-internship-program.html

    #3 – Black Enterprise Internships are designed to provide real-life work experiences for college students interested in a career in the media industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/black-enterprise-internships.html

    #4 – The NCAA Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship offers an opportunity for a minority, female college student to be chosen for a unique two-year internship program. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/ncaa-ethnic-minority-and-womens.html

    #5 – The Minority Access Internship Program offers spring, summer and fall internships for college sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduates and professionals. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/05/minority-access-internship-program.html

    #6 – Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internships are available for college students pursuing undergraduate associates or bachelors degrees. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/congressional-black-caucus-foundation.html

    #7 – Explore Microsoft Internship Program is for current college undergraduate minority students pursuing a degree in computer science or software engineering. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/Explore-Microsoft-Internship-Program.html

    #8 – BET Networks Internships provides paid internships for both undergraduate and graduate college students at five different locations.
    Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/bet-networks-internships.html

    #9 – The UNCF/NAACP Gateway to Leadership Internship Program is a 10-week paid summer internship for undergraduate students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/uncf-naacp-gateway-to-leadership-internship-program.html

    #10 – Google Internships is rated No. 1 by Forbes as the best internship opportunity for college students interested in a career in software engineering. Google offers an open culture and rich learning experience as well as good pay. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/02/google-internships_15.html

    #11 – The TV One Internship Program is open to full-time or part-time students attending an accredited college or university with an interest in a career in the media industry. TV One, one of the largest African American cable networks. Internships are offered to undergraduate college students in the Fall, Spring and Summer. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/tv-one-internship-program_12.html

    #12 – Oracle offers a 8-week, paid internship for students who attend one of the 39-member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The internships help students to gain knowledge and experience in the field of technology. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2014/01/oracle-diversity-internships_95.html

    #13 – The National Urban League Summer Internship Program offers internships to students who are interested in a career in the non-profit industry. The program provides an 8-week paid internship for college students in either New York City or Washington, D.C. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/national-urban-league-summer-internship_8.html

    #14 – The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) offers internships to minority students interested in pursuing a future career in journalism. Applicants selected for a 10-week internship will be offered positions in print, broadcast or online disciplines at selected news organizations across the country. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2016/11/nabj-internships.html

    #15 – The Essence Communications Internship is a 9-week, paid internship is open to both undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in a career in the media industry. Candidates must have a strong interest in issues among African American women.
    Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/essence-communications-internship_73.html

    #16 – The Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) offers a full-time summer work experience for college students pursuing a career in advertising. Eligible students must be Asian/Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Multiracial or Multi-ethnic. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/05/multicultural-advertising-intern-program_5.html

    #17 – Merck offers 9-11 week internships are available to college students in the areas of research & development, sales & marketing, information technology, human resources, communications, finance and legal, as well as internships in biology and chemistry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/merck-internships_1.html

    #18 – General Motors offers internships in the areas of communications, finance, information technology, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, health and safety. The internships offer a paid opportunity for students to receive a challenging work experience in the automotive industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/general-motors-internships_33.html

    #19 – DELL Computers offers 10-12 week internships during the summer for undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of marketing and sales, finance and accounting, IT and more. Internships provide real-world experience for college students while they are still in school. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2014/01/dell-internships_9.html

    #20 – PricewaterhouseCoopers offers more than 700 internships each year across 29 countries for college students majoring in accounting and finance. Students will work with highly skilled professionals and receive a realistic insight into the accounting and finance profession. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/pricewaterhousecoopers-internships_67.html

    To view more 2017 minority summer internships, visit:
    www.findinternships.com/search/label/Minorities

    To search hundreds of other 2017 summer internships, visit:
    www.FindInternships.com

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  • ,,,

    Madam Mayor: Meet Louisiana’s Black Female Mayors

    Village of Mansfield mayor Dessie Lee Patterson was known across Louisiana as a lone ranger in her fight for universal civil rights. On March 14, 1971, she became the first Black female to serve as mayor in the state when she was appointed to fill an unexpired term in the Village of South Mansfield. Prior to becoming Mayor she was involved in politics and community activism decades earlier. Patterson was one of the pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement in the local area. She joined federal officials in the 1950s and 1960s to encourage Blacks to vote since elections in South Mansfield  were hampered by the lack of registered voters.

    Louisiana's first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    Louisiana’s first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    Patterson was murdered Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Born July 6, 1919, the 88-year-old community servant was brutally stabbed to death by suspected killer, Bobby Harris for $200 in $1 bills. “The small amount of money he took makes it even more senseless and tragic,” family said to reporters at the time. Her term was set to expire in December 2008. Patterson was described as a sweet-spirited person who gave her life for this community and worked tirelessly in her role as mayor.

    “The story of how she got into office and what has happen to her since provides a classic illustration of trials and tribulation suffered by African Americans in some parts of the country when they aspire to be an elected officials,” wrote her grandson, Kerwan Reed, in a tribute. “As we look forward to our future we must not loose sight of those who paved the way for us.” Because of Patterson, the state now has 17, Black female mayors serving in large cities, villages, and towns.

    The mayors are: Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Lori Ann Bell of the Town of Clinton, Irma Gordon of the Town of Kentwood, Erana Mayes of Melville, Trashier Keysha Robinson of the Village of Tangipahoa, Ollie Tyler of Shreveport, Shaterral Johnson of Grand Coteau, Demi Vorise of Maringouin, Jennifer Vidrine of Ville Platte, Johnnie Taylor of Powhatan, Josephine Taylor-Washington of Clayton, Rose Humphrey of Natchez, Alma Moore of the Town of Boyce, April Foulard of Jeanerette, Donna Lewis Lancelin of Baldwin, Dorothy Satcher of Saline, and Wanda McCoy of Rosalind.

    “This class of Black women mayors represents the single largest group to serve the state simultaneously,” said Vernon “Step” Martin, president of the Louisiana Municipal Black Caucus Association who, along with The Network Coalition, honored the mayors. They gathered at Star Hill Baptist Church, Feb. 23, for a special Black History Month salute.

    Meet some of the current Black, female mayors of Louisiana.

    Photo: Mayors Irma Gordon, Lori Bell, Shaterral Johnson, Sharon Weston Broome, Erana Mayes, and Trashier Keysha Robinson are among the 17 Black, female mayors of Louisiana, the largest group in the state’s history. Photo by Sailor Jackson.

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    Small farmers gather for annual conference on innovations, resilience

     Small farmers from throughout the state will gather at the Southern University Ag Center March 16-18 to attend the 7th annual Louisiana Small Farmer Conference.

    The three-day conference, themed “Innovations and Resilience for Louisiana Small Family Farms,” is designed to educate, provide expanded awareness of educational opportunities, USDA programs and services and other resources to help small farmers stay in business.

     Registration for the conference is complimentary for anyone who submits their registration form by Friday, March 3. On-site registration will begin at 8am.

     Conference speakers will include Jay Grymes, chief meteorologist at WAFB News Channel 9; Brandon Davis, agriculture labor attorney at Phelps Dunbar, LLC.; Leonard Jordan, associate chief for conservation at the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and Brennan Washington, minority farmer/ outreach specialist at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE).

    Session during the conference will include:

    • Drone Demonstrations
    • Grant Writing
    • Soil Health
    • Farm Labor
    • Marketing

    This event is the ideal venue for new and beginning farmers, small and urban farmers, agricultural business owners, community leaders, backyard gardeners and community based organizations.

    Other events occurring during the conference will include the Louisiana Living Legends Banquet, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and the graduation ceremony for the 2016 Class of the Louisiana Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    To register, visit http://www.suagcenter.com/small-farmers or contact Kelli Hollins at 225-771-2242 or e-mail kelli_hollins@suagcenter.com.

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  • ,,

    Meet the Players; Louisiana’s longest known married couple

    Since January 27, 1935, Lawrence and Varrie Player, of Benton, La., have been together, making them Louisiana’s longest-known married couple. They have been married 82 years. Last year they were honored by the Louisiana Family Forum during a reception at their home.. The second-longest married couple is Will Henry and Virgina Teasley, of Bryceland, who have been married for 80 years.

    State Rep. Mike Johnson presents Lawrence and Varrie Player with an award as the Louisiana Family Forum's longest married couple during a special reception in their honor on Feb 12, 2016. Mike Johnson photo.

    State Rep. Mike Johnson presents Lawrence and Varrie Player with an award as the Louisiana Family Forum’s longest married couple during a special reception in their honor on Feb 12, 2016. Mike Johnson photo.

    “It is a true delight to honor these two great couples for their examples and their commitment,” State Rep. Mike Johnson said.  “In a day when the stability of so many marriages and families is in jeopardy, these folks stand out as exceptional models for all of us.”

    The longest-known married couples are honored by Louisiana Family Forum to encourage individual marriages, build a stronger marriage culture and to remind those in the state that lifelong marriages benefit everyone. Each couple was presented an official statement of special recognition from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. Their names also are entered into Louisiana Family Forum’s Marriage Hall of Fame.

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    Southern calls Town Hall to discuss medical marijuana venture

    The Southern University land-grant campus–consisting of the SU Ag Center and College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences–will host a Medical Marijuana Town Hall on Feb. 23, at 2pm in the Southern University Ag Center, A. O. Williams Hall, 181 B. A. Little Drive in Baton Rouge.

    The meeting will provide an overview of the land-grant campus’ medical marijuana venture.

    Potential vendors and the public are invited to attend. Individuals must pre-register to attend the meeting by visiting www.suagcenter.com/townhall.

    The land-grant campus is requesting that all questions from vendors regarding the Medical Marijuana Program be emailed in advance to Janana Snowden, Ph.D., at janana_snowden@suagcenter.com. The deadline to submit questions is at noon on February 21. All questions received will be addressed during the Town Hall.

     

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    New Venture Theatre brings visceral drama with ‘Dot’

    Venture Theatre keeps this season’s momentum going with Colman Domingo’s “Dot” at the LSU Studio Theatre March 15-19.

    Domingo’s “Dot” is a play unafraid to delve into aspects of life that can be both side-splittingly funny and shake the audience to the core. Dotty and her three adult children come together for the holidays as they do every year, but this time, the Shealey house will be grappling with more than exchanging gifts. The aging matriarch struggles with her fading memory, and her children seek to juggle taking care of their mother and caring for themselves. New Venture Theatre will bring to life this poignant comedic drama that tackles aging parents and midlife crises-all while showing the power of familial love.

    Performances are scheduled for Wednesday, March 15, through Saturday, March 18, at 7:30pm., and then Sunday, March 19, at 3pm. All performances will be held in the LSU Studio Theatre on the Louisiana State University campus.

    INFO

    WHERE: LSU Studio Theatre Louisiana State University 105 Music and Dramatic Building Baton Rouge, LA 70803

    DATES: Wednesday, March 15 at 7:30pm Thursday, March 16 at 7:30 pm Friday, March 17 at 7:30 pm Saturday, March 18 at 7:30pm Sunday, March 19 at 3pm

    SHOW RATING: Contains: Some adult content/themes. Recommended for ages 13 and up. No one under the age of four will be allowed in the theatre and all children ages 4-13 must be accompanied by an adult.

    HOW TO GET TICKETS: Call the box office at 225-588-7576, or visit nvtarts.org

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    BRCC ultrasound students seek volunteers for free exams

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound) program at Baton Rouge Community College is seeking volunteers for ultrasound exams. The exams will be conducted by students enrolled in the ultrasound program under the direct supervision of course instructors who are Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS).

    All volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, with pregnant volunteers being especially desirable. Exams must be scheduled by appointment. To schedule an appointment, or to ask questions, call Mike Beauford at (225) 216- 8046 or Richard Goldsmith at (225) 216-8498. If there is no answer, leave a voicemail with your first and last name, phone number and state your exam of interest.

    General exams offered include the Abdominal Ultrasound for those who experience pain on the right side after eating. Individuals interested in participating must fast – no food for six hours prior to exam. Obstetric Ultrasounds are available for women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant. Volunteers may bring a flash drive to save ultrasound photos. The Carotid Artery Ultrasound is available for those who want to screen for risk of stroke.

    Exams available for interested volunteers who are age 50 and older include the Ultrasound of Arm and/or Leg Arteries to check circulation for PAD -Peripheral Arterial Disease; Ultrasound of Arm and Leg Veins to check veins for leg swelling or varicose veins; and Ultrasound of the Thyroid, the gland in the neck that regulates metabolism.

    For Carotid Artery and Thyroid scans, volunteers should wear shirts with loose collars; for leg scans, volunteers should wear shorts that can be pulled up thigh high; and for arm scans, volunteers should wear T-shirts.

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, located at BRCC’s Frazier site, 555 Julia St., Baton Rouge, always seeks volunteers for students to practice exams. Anyone not immediately interested may contact the department for further information.

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  • AKA hosted 300 for MLK Unity Breakfast

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter and L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge partnered to host the Second Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 16, in the L’Auberge Event Center. The breakfast was attended by elected officials, community and business leaders, local law enforcement officers, community members, L’Auberge staff, high school and college students, and members of the Panhellenic Council which encompasses nine historically Black Greek- lettered organizations.

    More than 300 attendees were welcomed by Gwendolyn Thomas, Gamma Eta Omega chapter president, and Mickey Parenton, L’Auberge senior vice president of operations and general manager. Greetings were extended by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® South Central Regional Director Katina Semien, Esq., and State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith was guest speaker. Attendees enjoyed a full course breakfast then united in prayers by Reverend Linda Joseph, assistant pastor Neely United Methodist Church and the Reverend Glorious Wright, assistant pastor Saint Mark United Methodist Church. Presentation of colors was performed by Southern University Army ROTC. The John Gray Band provided entertainment along with National Anthem sang by Mavis Henderson-Lewis. LaChondria Holder and Pamela Honoré served as committee chair.

    Following the breakfast, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter members participated in two community service projects: Hope Ministries and The Walls Project.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® (AKA) is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC in 1908. It is the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American, college-educated women. Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of more than 290,000 members in approximately 993 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the United States, Liberia, the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands, Germany, South Korea, Bermuda, Japan, Canada, South Africa and the Middle East. Led by International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, L.H.D., Alpha Kappa Alpha is often hailed as “America’s premier Greek-lettered organization for African-American women.”

    ONLINE: www.aka1908.com

    Submitted by LaChondria Holder

     

    Pictured are (l to r): Pamela Honoré, committee chairman; Gwendolyn Thomas, president, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter; Mickey Parenton, senior vice president of operations and general manager, L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge; Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, (Dist. 61); Katina Semien, Esq., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, South Central Regional Director; and LaChondria Holder, committee chair

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    FEMA releases Louisiana recovery numbers

    About $4.7 billion in federal disaster assistance has flowed to Louisiana after the August flood.

    • The National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $2.3 billion in claims
    • SBA loans have been approved for more than $1.2 billion to help businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.
    • FEMA has obligated $756 million to individuals and households and $294 million to public assistance.
    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved $133 million in food benefits to flood survivors.

    Individuals and Housing Program (IHP)

    • $755 million has been approved for individual and housing assistance.
    • Other Needs Assistance (ONA)
    • 42,227 households have been approved for $161 million in other needs assistance.

    Rental Assistance

    • $134 million cumulative total for approved rental assistance.
    • 66,805 households are eligible.

    Home Repair Assistance

    • 34,757 households are eligible for $456 million.

    Public Assistance (PA)

    • 301 project worksheets have been obligated for $294 million.
    • $60 million of that amount pays for temporary facilities for schools and to clean and remove flood debris.

    Transitional Sheltering Assistance

    • 4,332 cumulative survivors have been checked in for TSA.
    • 968 households are checked into 175 hotels in three states.

    Department of Agriculture

    • USDA approved $133 million in food benefits to flood survivors.

    National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

    • More than $2.3 billion in claims has been paid.
    • More than 28,000 claims have been closed.

    Small Business Administration (SBA)

    • 17,223 SBA loans have been approved for more than $1.2 billion to help businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.

    Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs)

    • 4,060 households licensed-into 4,192 manufactured housing units.

    Total projection for MHU installation is 4,502.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Museum presents ‘The Thibodaux Massacre’ Book Tour, Feb. 18

    For the first time ever, a limited number of people will experience live, the on-site telling of a key story hidden from people of Louisiana. Join us for this unique tour with the author who recently verified and chronicled the story in his book, The Thibodaux Massacre. The Feb. 18 tour will begin at 10 am from the Road African American Museum, 406 Charles Street, Donaldsonville, and continue down Bayou Lafourche to Thibodaux, returning to Donaldsonville at 3 pm.

    As part of its “When History Hurts” program, the River Road African American Museum (RRAAM) is sponsoring a day-long bus tour of Louisiana’s sugar cane country, which will include the site where striking Black laborers were buried after a mass murder that ended an 1887 tri-parish strike. The incident has since become known as the Thibodaux Massacre. John DeSantis, author of ‘The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike,” will share vivid details of this history and other events from a chartered bus making stops at locations relevant to the story. The tour includes a stop in Thibodaux where victims of the massacre are believed buried, where plans are afoot for archeological exploration by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

    Critically acclaimed for its thorough research, the book is interwoven with the story of Jack Conrad, a former Lafourche Parish slave who joined the U.S. Army during the Civil War. After fighting for his freedom with other Black soldiers, he is wounded in the massacre 22 years later while watching vigilantes kill his son and others participating in the strike.

    “Much of this hurtful history until now has been unknown,” said DeSantis. “This is a story of empowerment, because 25 years after emancipation these courageous people dared standing up to an oppressive culture of white supremacy.”

    The tour is limited to 55 people and the tour price is $75 which includes:
    * A signed copy of the book, The Thibodaux Massacre
    * Lunch 
    * A tour of the River Road African American Museum
    * A private bus tour narrated by the author

    The museum’s director, Kathe Hambrick, said this special tour is meant to be “a healing tour” in the memory of those resilient sugar workers who lost their lives fighting for fare wages and equality. The history is painful, but we cannot move forward with reconciliation until there is acknowledgement of the injustices that happened right here in our own communities.

    For more information, call 225-206-1225.

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    ‘Bloodline’ earns Kenny Neal Grammy nomination

    Louisiana’s swamp blues master and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Neal’s latest album “Bloodline” has clinched a 2017 Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues album.

    Born in 1957 in New Orleans and raised in Baton Rouge, Neal began playing music at a very young age, learning the basics from his father, singer and blues harmonica player, Raful Neal. Family friends like Lazy Lester, Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo contributed to Kenny’s early musical education. At 13, he joined his father’s band and, four years later, he was recruited and toured extensively as Buddy Guy’s bass player.

    image

    Kenny Neal horizontal by James Terry III.jpg

    A member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and a multi-award winning talent, Neal has shared the stage or worked with a who’s-who list of blues and R&B greats, including B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters, Aaron Neville, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker. Since signing with Alligator Records in 1988, Neal has released a series of consistently lauded albums featuring his laid-back, Baton Rouge blues, with a modern spin on the Louisiana sound he grew up with.

    “One of a mere handful of truly inventive young contemporary guitarists, Neal has something fresh to say and the chops with which to say it,” wrote The Chicago Tribune.

    Blues Revue agreed, calling Kenny “one of the brightest young stars on the blues horizon, and a gifted artist.”

    According to Cleopatra Records, Neal has never sounded better than he does on ‘Bloodline,’ offering some of the most moving songwriting and electric performances of his incredible career. Eight members of the Neal clan lend their musical talents to the album, making it a true family affair and proving beyond doubt that the blues is most definitely in Neal’s Bloodline.

    ONLINE: http://kennyneal.net

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    Police ‘use of force’ changes, new policies recommended to take effect immediately

    To fulfill her commitment to close the gap between law enforcement and the community, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome has been meeting with law enforcement officials and community leaders over the past several weeks.

    As a result of this collaborative effort, the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection is recommending policy changes occur within the Baton Rouge Police Department that align with national best practices surrounding use of force.

    “We believe that the implementation of these policy changes will enhance existing BRPD policies and compliment academy and in-service training,” Broome said.

    The following are the agreed upon policy changes. These changes in policy will take place immediately.

    · Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent circumstances.
    · Officers are required to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.  De-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.
    · Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.
    · Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle pose an immediate deadly threat to others.
    · Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer.

    The Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection include:  Fr. Rick Andrus, Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, Broderick Bagert, Attorney Alfreda Tillman Bester, Constable Reginald Brown, Renee’ Brown, Gary Chambers, Councilman Lamont Cole,  Kelvin A. Cryer, Chief Carl Dabadie, Mark Dumaine,  Cleve Dunn Jr., Col. Mike Edmonson, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Casey Hicks, Pastor Donald Hunter, Josh Howard, Mary Jane Marcantel,  E.J. Milton, Michael A.V. Mitchell, Tonja Myles, Rev. Reginald Pitcher, Joyce Plummer, Arthur Reed,  Dereck Rovaris PhD, Michael W. Victorian, Pastor Charles Wallace, Pastor Lee T. Wesley, and Katara Williams Ph.D.

                                                                                                        

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    COMMENTARY: Congress should strengthen safety net

    Our new president and Congress have vowed to stand up and defend the interests of ordinary Americans who feel left behind by deepening economic inequality. But actions speak louder than words.

    More than 43 million Americans still live below the poverty line in this country, and that number would actually be twice as high if not for federal anti-poverty policies. So it’s truly puzzling that some members of Congress are preparing to attack key pillars of our safety net programs; programs their constituents depend on to survive, like SNAP (formerly food stamps) and Medicaid.

    Now more than ever, we need to focus on helping hardworking people across the country make ends meet, not put up roadblocks in their way. We must stand up against schemes to “block grant” health and anti-poverty programs and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I hope we can count on our elected officials to reject any proposals that undo what we know works.

    By Rachid Ouedraogo

     

     

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    South Baton Rouge history captured in new book

    The history of South Baton Rouge from antebellum America until the historic 2016 visit by President Barack Obama is the focus of a new book by LSU professor Lori Latrice Martin, PhD, and the Reverend Raymond A. Jetson.

    South Baton Rouge, sometimes referred to as Old South Baton Rouge, was one of the first places Blacks could earn a high school education in Louisiana. The three-mile community around historic McKinley High School was the site of the nation’s first successful bus boycott. When laws restricted where Blacks could live, work, learn, and play, South Baton Rouge was a refuge.

    Black-owned restaurants, theaters, gas stations, and other businesses populated the community, and change-makers–including Black lawyers, judges, clergy, educators, and nurses–helped to sustain the community and other portions of the southern half of Baton Rouge through the end of legal segregation and beyond.

    The book, Images of America: South Baton Rouge includes over a hundred images of free people of color, historic businesses, faith-based institutions, political figures, the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, and the dedication of the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road at McKinley High School Alumni Center.
    image

    “As the city celebrates the 200th anniversary of its incorporation, we want to make sure that the history and contributions of Black communities, such as South Baton Rouge, are not forgotten,” said Martin.

    She is associate professor of African and African American Studies and sociology at Louisiana State University, and Jetson, is pastor of Star Hill Church and CEO of MetroMorphosis in Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Same Crime, Different Punishment; Together Baton Rouge to report on BRPD enforcement disparities

    Tomorrow at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Together Baton Rouge will release an analysis of neighborhood disparities in the Baton Rouge Police Department’s enforcement of drug possession laws between January 2011 and January 2017.

    According to the Reverend Lee T. Wesley, the goal of the study is to improve the quality and depth of the police reform discussion in Baton Rouge.

    “We figured we could either sit around and wait for the Department of Justice to make some contribution, or we could start to act for ourselves at the local level,” said Wesley, who is an executive committee member of Together Baton Rouge. “Our first step has been to take a close look at this very important aspect of policing in our community and how it can be improved.”

    The report examines drug enforcement disparities by calculating BRPD enforcement rates for drug possession on a per capita basis at the zip code level and assesses the proportionality of those enforcement rates by comparing them to the prevalence of illegal drug use in that zip code.

    It also examines the extent to which drug enforcement disparities correlate with neighborhood demographics, including the racial composition of a neighborhood, its poverty level, median income, home values, education level and crime rates.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Local Links chapters to announce partnership to support SU

    Two local chapters of The Links, Incorporated will come together to officially announce a partnership with Southern University through the national organization’s Historically Black Colleges And Universities (HBCU) Initiative.

    Officers of the Baton Rouge and La Capitale Chapters of The Links, Incorporated will make a formal announcement of a collaboration that will support the University in increasing graduation rates, providing scholarships, and promoting STEM programs, Tuesday, January 31, 9 am, in the Donald C. Wade House on the Baton Rouge campus.

    “Institutions of higher education have a vested interest in building strong relationships with organizations that serve to build a better community. Southern University welcomes the opportunity to partner with The Links in furthering our mutual goals to strengthen HBCUs,” said Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. president-chancellor, Southern University and A&M College.

    The Links, Incorporated’s HBCU Initiative focuses on addressing the critical needs of the community through transformational programming to increase high school and college graduation rates, awarding college scholarships and endowments, and promoting and supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

    The program features hosting HBCU college fairs and other events in each geographic region, promoting and encouraging connections with an HBCU and its STEM programs, mentoring and recruiting students to attend and complete HBCUs, identifying opportunities to support faculty research and/or professional development, and contributing to the sustainability of HBCU institutions.

    “As an organization committed to community service, The Links of the Baton Rouge area are excited to come together in support of one of the nation’s premier historically black universities,” said Yolanda Dixon and Paula Clayton, presidents of the Baton Rouge and La Capitale Chapters of The Links, Incorporated, respectively.

    Read more »
  • Overlooked program available to assist crime victims

    Victims of violence and their families often must deal with the emotional, physical, and financial aftermath of violent crime. But few know that Louisiana’s Crime Victim Assistance Formula Grant Program was authorized under the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to provide financial assistance for direct services to  victims of crime.

    Within the program, the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Fund helps pay for the financial cost of crime when victims have no other means of paying. Private, nonprofit agencies and local units of government are awarded grants to help victims of spousal abuse, sexual assault, and child abuse. Grants also help previously underserved victims. The program requires agencies to encourage reporting the crime to law enforcement and to provide cash or in-kind match to assist victims with filing for compensation through the Crime Victims Reparations Program at local sheriffs’ offices.

     Funds are administered by the Crime Victims Reparations Board under the jurisdiction of the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement.

    Victims of crime seeking assistance, should call 1-888-6-VICTIM (1-888-684-2846) or visit http://www.lcle.state.la.us/programs/cvr.asp

    Read more »
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    N.O. Mother pens book hoping to help others whose sons were killed by police

    When Delzorah Barnett first learned that her son had been shot and was in the hospital clinging to his life, she nearly had a panic attack. When she later learned that he was shot multiple times by officers with the Atlanta Police Department and that he more than likely wouldn’t make it, it took everything in her to not die in the hospital with her first-born child.

    “When I arrived (to the hospital) and began to get the details from my nephew, who was shot by the guys who caused the confusion that lead to officers showing up and killing my son, I was broken internally. I continued to pray,” said Barnett, a New Orleans native. “I did not know how to feel, so I began to get information from each witness individually and then I realized that the officers just ran up and opened fire and did not stop until my son was on the ground, and then one of them shot him again.”

    Her family gathered at the hospital every day to pray for her son, 30-year-old E. Zaus Barnett, and he started to get a little better. He eventually was able to tell her what happened. Most importantly, he said he never raised a gun to the officers.

    image

    E. Zaus Barnett,


    Unfortunately, her son never got well enough to leave the hospital and eventually died several weeks after the shooting. The two officers who shot him were never charged.

    “That was so, so painful to the point that I really did not think I would live, but I did. I put all my hope and faith in my Father God, and he guided my path to be strong for my other children, family and friends, to stand for justice in a peaceful manner and to encourage and empower others,” Barnett said.

    That tragic incident propelled Barnett, who goes by Mz. WORTHit, to turn her pain and anger into action. She now inspires women to know that they are WORTH (Women of Righteousness, Truth and Honor) it and started a nonprofit organization, Justice from A 2 Zaus. The organization stands against gun violence, excessive force and police brutality while promoting male mentorship and hosting positive response summits for young males in New Orleans, Atlanta and Fayetteville, N.C. She also wrote a book, The Darkness of the Aftermath Transformed to Light, that help restore her after the death of her son and that she is hoping will help heal the nation.

    “My book was written to heal the hearts of those who have lost loved ones and (to help them) understand that revenge or retaliation is not the answer, but forgiveness, trusting God—who is the final judge—and helping others to bring about change is the answer for any of us,” Barnett said.  “My book shows that life does bring pain, but we must become more connected to God, and then we can know how to fight, have peace and continue to love.”

    Barnett recognizes the destruction of the relationships between law enforcement and communities across the country with the international spotlight being on the deaths of people of color at the hands of police, but says it’s not too late to change the narrative.

    “I believe that we must get to the root of the problem, and that is that the justice system must be reassessed. We must make sure that justice is served across the board, regardless of status, race, title or position of a person,” she said. “We must become a society that desires life over death and holds every person accountable who does not consider saving lives. All law enforcement officers are not shooting to kill, therefore we must face the truth that there is a group of officers who apparently have a serious issue with males of color, and they use the ‘I felt my life was in danger’ (justification) when that is really not the case.”

    Barnett said she believes that healing begins with forgiveness and then taking the necessary steps to bring about change. She said

    even though she is pushing for peace, she is also pushing for communities to fight for what is right.

    “We cannot stop marching peacefully; we cannot stop being involved with organizations that are dealing with the real problems and bringing it to the right people. We must vote, show up at city council meetings, keep teaching our children to do right, get an education and become politicians, law enforcement officers and hold positions where we can be the change.”

    Her son’s untimely death thrust her into philanthropy. Justice from A 2 Zaus and her women’s group have helped countless people across the country. Her podcast “Positive Male Response and Inspirational Conversation with Mz. WORTHit” has inspired numerous young people. However, Barnett is just getting started.

    She is gearing up to do even more to help the nation heal. She urges parents who have lost children due to gun violence or police brutality to never give up.

    “You must call on God and heal and then fight from a place of victory that will impact and encourage others that love and peace will always overpower evil. I know they will, because I walk from a place of victory with peace, love and faith, and God has changed the lives of many through me,” she said. “He has lifted the hearts and minds of many through me, and He is changing situations through me, so if he can do it for me, he will do it for you!”

    Barnett has given copies of her book to parents who have lost their children in similar ways. 

    ONLINE: mzworthit.com
    ONLINE: a2zaus.com 

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    Mayor Broome announces six cabinet positions

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced several key staff positions in her new administration.

    Rowdy Gaudet will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer.  Gaudet currently works as the chief of staff for the Disaster Recovery Unit for the state of Louisiana and will join the administration in February. Gaudet has experience in government relations, business and economic development, infrastructure management, and strategic communications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from McNeese State University and earned an MBA from Louisiana State University.

    James Gilmore, Ph.D., will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer. He formerly worked as the director of the Louisiana Children’s Cabinet in the office of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Gilmore has experience in human resources, training, and managing various workforce development and educational programs for a variety of organizations. Gilmore earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern University. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in human resource education and workforce development from Louisiana State University.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer. Wade formerly worked as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Learning Expert and Integration Manager. She facilitated the management of national partnering entities and provided administrative oversight to the development and implementation of federal programs.  Her experience is in research, policy, and academia.  Wade earned a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in public policy and urban affairs from Southern University.

    Brian Bernard will serve as human esources Director. Bernard has worked as the Interim Human Resources Director for the City of Baton Rouge since 2012.  He has been employed with the city for 22 years.  He has  bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern University.

    Carey Chauvin will continue to serve as development director, a position he’s held since 2015.  He has been employed with the City of Baton Rouge for 23 years. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University.

    Eric Romero will serve as the director of information services. Romero has served as interim director of information services for the past four years.  He has been employed with the City of Baton Rouge for 22 years. He is a graduate of Nicholls State University.

    “I’m excited to work with these highly-qualified individuals who will be a part of my new cabinet,” Broome said. “I’m confident that I have chosen the right people to help move this city forward.”

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    Elementary schools, Kids Orchestra create harmony

    15 Kids Orchestra Trumpets

    Baton Rouge’s Kids Orchestra is the largest elementary-age after school music program in the country. Last month, elementary students from Brownfields Magnet, Ryan Elementary, and J.K. Haynes Charter ensembles of wind and percussion instruments during their combined Neighborhood Concert.

    Now in its fifth year, Kids’ Orchestra provides opportunities for 800 kindergarten through fifth graders to study instrument and perform in an orchestra or sing in a choir. Students are given instruments on loan for the school year after paying a modest tuition.

    In group settings, kindergarten and first graders are introduced to musical concepts in the Foundations class. Second through fifth graders choose and study instruments in brass, percussion, strings and woodwinds. Vocal education and theory are essential in the K-6 choir program.
    15 Kids Orchestra main photo

    Kids’Orchestra offers mentorship, tutoring and homework help, and a healthy snack at each session to ensure each child is prepared for success regardless if they pursue music once graduating from our program.

    Each student has the opportunity to perform in Neighborhood Concert Series, while honors level students perform during Kids’ Orchestra three orchestras, two choirs, and special community performances.

    Kids’ Orchestra’s mission is to bring children of all cultures and backgrounds together using music education as a vehicle to foster teamwork, develop understanding and emphasize excellence.

    The program is modeled after the principles of El Sistema: fostering teamwork and understanding, crossing economic barriers, emphasizing excellence, and learning instrumental skills and brotherhood within the orchestral system.

    15 Kids Orchestra FlutesRecent research has shown that quality music instruction impacts academic achievement. Kids’ Orchestra offers high quality, standards-based music education designed to improve lifelong learning.

    Photos by Yusef Davis

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    Time2Testify Conference comes to Baton Rouge, Feb 23-25

    Bishop Dwight Pate will host the first Time2Testify Conference at the Baton Rouge Radisson Hotel, February 23-25. Registration is free.

    Since 1995, Pate has prayed over olive oil and sent more than 16 million bottles free of charge around the world. People have experienced the miraculous and are coming to Baton Rouge to celebrate the testimonies of GOD. “Now more than ever, people need to be encouraged that the GOD of the Bible is real and more than a two-hour church service on Sunday.”

    For more information call 800-266-5111 or go online to bishopdwightpate.com

    This news item was submitted online.

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    Divas, Daiquiris, Deals Networking Mixer opens to local female entrepreneurs

    This event is created to have an effective business networking mixer where female entrepreneurs can link together as individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another. While building these relationships, participants also get to enjoy dancing, daiquiris and entertainment. Admission is free. Vendor Spotlight tables are available at bit.ly/dddnetwork2017.

    Please invite your girlfriends out!

    This news item was submitted online.

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    School rep from flooded district meets with principals, partners to ‘move forward’

    EBR school board representative Dawn Chanet Collins hosted a New Year’s reception for the principals in East Baton Rouge Parish School System, District 4, with more than 50 residents and community stakeholders present on Jan. 18.

    Collins said participation in this Moving District 4 Forward event was “better than anticipated…The purpose of the event was to begin building a strong relationship between the schools in the area and the community – the village – because that is the only way the schools will truly prosper,” she said.

    “I promise to bring this type of event to the district at least once a year.  It’s so important.  Many parents in this area would like to see these schools enhanced so that some of the best programs the district has to offer are right here in their own back yards.  Right now, many parents feel compelled to send their kids to options on the other side of town,” Collins said.  “I’m excited about moving forward, and I believe this is something Superintendent Drake is eager to do as well.”

    Some highlights from the meeting included attendees being made aware that though both North Louisiana and South Louisiana experienced cataclysmic flooding in 2016, the Louisiana Department of Education has not made any provisions to accommodate students who have not been able to prepare for the state’s first mandatory computer-based testing this Spring. Drake has already reached out to the state for a waiver, and State Senator Regina Ashford-Barrow committed to working with her colleagues to address the issue.

    Some attendees committed to assisting District 4  schools by donating books and revisiting a partnership with Belair High to bring back the DECA Club.  “I know other partnerships will soon follow,” Collins said.

    image

    Dawn Collins, EBRP School Board Rep


    The district includes Belair High School, Brookstown Middle Magnet, Greenbrier Elementary, Howell Park Elementary, La Belle Aire Elementary, Northdale Superintendent’s Academy, Park Forest Elementary, Park Forest Middle, and Villa Del Rey Elementary. Six of them were damaged by the August 2016 flood.

    City Councilpersons Donna Collins-Lewis, Erika Green, and LaMont Cole; business owners Jason Gardner of Vivid Images, Jeremy Jackson of State Farm Insurance, and Denise Harris of REMAX Preferred Choice; public education advocates Rev. Reginald Pitcher and Anthony Troy Dennis; Johnny Anderson, deputy chief of staff for Governor John Bel Edwards; and Darlene Fields, Congressman Cedric Richmond’s representative for the Baton Rouge area attended the event at Baby Dolls Café on Greenwell Springs Road.

    Collins said she is planning to host meetings specifically for parents and caregivers who reside in or send their children to schools in District 4.

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  • Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana competition scheduled for Feb. 19

    Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana is an empowering event that honors women for their accomplishments and advocacy and redefines the concept of a pageant. The competition is designed to select a successful and articulate spokeswoman for people with disabilities. During her one-year reign, the pageant winner is expected to promote awareness of the need to eliminate architectural and attitudinal barriers, to educate Louisianans on disability issues and to inform the public of the achievements of people with disabilities across our great state. Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana also represents the state of Louisiana at the annual Ms. Wheelchair America pageant.

    To be eligible to compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana, one must meet the following criteria: be at least 21 years of age, utilize a wheelchair for 100% of their daily mobility, be a U.S. citizen and reside in Louisiana at least six months prior to the pageant. Marital status is not a factor.

    Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana Competition is scheduled for Sunday, February 19.

    MWLA was established in 2012 by Anita Gray, who was recently elected to serve as an executive board member of the Ms. Wheelchair America board of directors. If you are or you know someone interested in participating in the 2017 MWLA Competition, please contact Anita Gray at mswheelchairlouisiana@gmail.com.

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    Conference focused on special education starts Jan 30

    The Louisiana Council for Exceptional Children (LaCEC) will host its annual Super Conference on January 30-31, 2017, at the Cajundome Convention Center located at 444 Cajundome Blvd. in Lafayette, LA. The title of this year’s Super Conference is “To the Classroom and Beyond!” The program will include outstanding speakers for general and special educators, families, students, administrators, related service providers, paraprofessionals and postsecondary educators.

    First Lady Donna Edwards and Bambi Polotzola, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs, will present the LaCEC awards during the Super Conference.

    Click here for more information about Super Conference and to register.

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    Meet Renee Horton–another hidden figure

    Renee Horton, PhD, remembers spending many nights gazing at the stars as a child growing up in Baton Rouge, wondering if there was anything beyond our universe. Her interest in space was stimulated during family trips to Biloxi, Mississippi, to visit her uncle, who was in the Air Force. The family would stop at the rest area outside of the John Stennis Space Center — where a replica of the moon lander was located. “I played around it, pretending I was exploring space. One day, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut,” Horton wrote  in an online feature at NASA.gov.

    She joined the Air Force ROTC program and, during her physical, learned that she had significant hearing loss. Later, Horton was diagnosed with a hearing impairment which prevented her from applying to be an astronaut. But, she learned she could still play an important role in sending crews to space.

    The Space Launch System is the first flight program Horton worked on at NASA.  Many SLS parts — including the SLS core stage — are made of metal, including the largest rocket fuel tank ever built, and metallic materials and welding are my areas of expertise. As an engineer at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, she is helping build metal rocket parts that can withstand the extreme forces of launch and space travel, and will send astronauts farther away from Earth than they’ve ever traveled before. “Our team at Michoud is making history every day as we build this extraordinary new rocket. We’re moving one step closer to launching the most powerful rocket in the world, and it’s exciting to watch all of it come together,”  she wrote.

    At her father’s influence, Horton earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana State University. She loved math, and he thought engineering would be the best way for her to use her talents. She said she later switched to being a scientist because of her desire to learn and investigate. “Physics is my passion,” she wrote.  “I’m the first African American — and first in my family — to earn a doctorate in material science, with a concentration in physics, from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.”

    Horton enjoys photography, mentoring outside of work, writing poetry, and reading.

     

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  • IN MEMORIUM: Former mayor Julian Dufreche

    The former mayor for the City of Ponchatoula, Julian Dufreche, passed away on Monday, January 9, 2017, at the age of 66. A life-long resident of Ponchatoula, Dufreche had a great love for his community and a passion for service. He served as Tangipahoa Parish Clerk of Court (2004-2017), Mayor of Ponchatoula (1988-2004), Ponchatoula City Councilman (1976-1988), Ponchatoula Councilman-at-Large, President of the Louisiana Municipal Association (1998-1999), Past President of the Tangipahoa Municipal Association, Past President of the Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation, Citizen of the Year- Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, Representative for the Governor’s Advisory Commission on the Tangipahoa River.

    During his administration as Mayor of Ponchatoula, he was involved in the formation of The Ponchatoula Industrial Park and was instrumental in Ponchatoula becoming “America’s Antique City.” But, perhaps Julian will be most remembered as Founder and First Chairman of The Ponchatoula Area Recreation District.

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    Celebrating Down Syndrome State Conference scheduled Jan. 21

    Blessed by Downs will host the first Celebrating Down Syndrome State Conference and Celebration on January 21, 2017. This conference was created to serve as a day of education, awareness and advocacy for individuals with Down Syndrome.

    This event will be held at 400 East 1st Street in Thibodaux, LA. The conference will take place from 8 a. m. to 3 p.m., and the celebration will take place from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. This event will feature guest speakers Sara Hart Weir and Dr. Brian Skotko.

    To register please email: Blessedbydowns@yahoo.com. 

    Photo from http://imgarcade.com/1/black-kids-with-down-syndrome/

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    AT&T holds hiring event, Jan 21

     

    AT&T* is holding an open house hiring event in Baton Rouge on Saturday, January 21 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  The call center positions are a result of AT&T’s continued investment in Louisiana to support customers across the state.  The open house will take place at 4455 American Way.
    “AT AT&T, we want to make sure we are providing our customers with a high-level of service they have come to expect,” said Berry Balfour, AT&T Louisiana External Affairs.   “We’re investing in our networks and people as part of that commitment. We’re glad to welcome more than 40 Louisiana residents to the AT&T family.”

    AT&T people are leading the way for everything the company does. That’s why it’s committed to giving team members the benefits, tools and resources they need to reach their fullest potential – both professionally and personally. Call center team members earn an average of $13.35 and $15.57 per hour.

    More than 4,500 in Louisiana work for AT&T and the company is constantly hiring new talent. AT&T is committed to diversity and veteran recruiting.   AT&T offers a full benefits package including medical, dental, vision, 401 (k), tuition reimbursement, paid vacation, and work/life resources.

    To be considered right away for the Baton Rouge call center positions, applicants can complete the application and assessment process at https://connect.att.jobs/job/baton-rouge/call-center-advanced-technical-support-representative/117/3538877

    Visit www.att.com/jobs for more information on other job openings.
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  • Film Review: I Am Not Your Negro

    James Baldwin, the intellectual, civil rights activist and renowned author, left behind some biting and enlightening words about racism and the status of the Black community that are just as relevant today in this age of the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924. He moved to Paris around 1950, eventually taking up residence in the south of France. At some point in his self-imposed exile, he came to the conclusion that he had to turn his attention back to his home country. “I could no longer sit around Paris discussing America. I had to come and pay my dues,” said Baldwin.

    In 1979, Baldwin started working on his book, Remember This House. The manuscript focused on the lives, views and assassinations of his three friends and colleagues: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, at the time of his death he had only completed 30 pages.

    Director Raoul Peck (“Lumumba”) took those few, initial pieces of Baldwin’s non-fiction tome and developed them into a searing documentary that examines the struggles of the 1950s and 1960s in a way that makes his thoughts on race incredibly poignant given today’s sociopolitical landscape in the United States.

    Peck assembles archival footage, photographs and contentious TV clips (particularly the fledgling “The Dick Cavett Show” where discussions of the state of the “Negro” got heated). He adds in modern day camera feeds of demonstrators angry over police shootings. The results are a blistering indictment of race relations both old and new.

    Voiceovers by Samuel L. Jackson verbalize passages from Baldwin notes. You hear the author chide oppressors, confront Hollywood and challenge the American government. His words recount the intimate relationships and mutual respect he had with the iconic civil rights legends Medgar, Malcolm and Martin, effectively humanizing these political/social deities. He candidly explores their differences and similarities. He reveals the absolute despair he felt each time he heard that one of them had been killed. His ruminations glow with a truth that is timeless.

    Raoul Peck and editor Alexandra Strauss have masterfully fulfilled the arduous and artful task of pulling all the pieces of Baldwin’s contemplations together and forming a fiery narrative that makes audiences recalibrate their feelings about race in America. The musical score by Aleksey Aygi adds a piqued sense of urgency and gravitas.

    Medgar Evers was killed on June 12, 1963. Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered on April 4, 1968. James Baldwin died of stomach cancer on December 1, 1987. Together, collectively, they left behind a tremendous sociopolitical legacy that finds its due respect in this very powerful and enlightening documentary.

    In 93 thought-provoking minutes, “I Am Not Your Negro” poignantly connects the past to the present with no apologies.

    By Dwight Brown
    NNPA film critic and travel writer.

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    Officers installed on SU System Board

    The Southern University and A&M College System Board of Supervisors installed officers for 2017 and held a swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed members during its regular monthly meeting, Jan 6.

    Chairwoman Ann A. Smith and vice chairman Rev. Donald R. Henry, who were elected during the annual officers’ election in November 2016, were installed as the new officers for the governing board for the only historically black college and university system in America.

    Smith is a retired school educator and administrator in Tangipahoa Parish, member of the Louisiana School Board Association, and former member of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board.

    Henry represents the 2nd Congressional District. He is a planning and scheduling professional at Noranda Alumina, LLC; and co-owner of DRH Consulting Group, LLC in Gramercy.

    Taking the oath of office for the SU Board were two newly appointed members and three reappointed members named by Governor Edwards, December 30, 2016.

    “I salute the long-standing members of the Board for their great and unselfish service to the Southern University System and congratulate those members who have been reappointed who will continue in service. I genuinely look forward to working with you as we advance the mission of the Southern University System,” said SU System President Ray L. Belton.

    Sworn in on the 16-member board that serves to manage and supervise the SU System were:

    Leroy Davis, of Baker, is a retired professor and dean of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. Additionally, Davis is a former mayor and councilman of the City of Baker. He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a master of science degree from the University of Illinois, and a doctoral degree from the University of Illinois. He will serve as a representative of the 2nd Congressional District.

    Richard T. Hilliard, of Shreveport, is a senior engineer and business consultant at the Maintowoc Company, Incorporated. Hilliard received a bachelor of science degree from Georgia Technological University and a master of science degree from Walsh College. He will serve as a representative of the 4th Congressional District.

    Domoine D. Rutledge, of Baton Rouge, is an attorney and general counsel of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. He is a former national president of the Southern University Alumni Federation and the current president and chairman of the Southern University System Foundation Board of Directors. Rutledge received a bachelor of arts degree and a juris doctorate from the Southern University Law Center. He will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    Smith, of Kentwood, received a bachelor of science degree and a master of science in education from Southern University. She will serve as a representative of the 5th Congressional District.

    Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., of Lake Charles, is the pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Bishop College and a master of divinity from Payne Theological Seminary. He has also received an honorary doctorate of divinity from Union Baptist College and Theological Seminary and Christian Bible College and an honorary doctorate degree from Temple Bible College. Rev. Tolbert will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    The Board of Supervisors of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College is vested with the responsibility for the management and supervision of the institutions of higher education, statewide agricultural programs, and other programs which comprise the Southern University System. Members serve six-year terms appointed by the governor.

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    Celebrating 60 years of marriage

    Charles Clinton and Dolores Ada Poole Moore celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

    They are natives of Mandeville, Louisiana and members Newell United Methodist Church in Mandeville, Louisiana. They contribute their faith in  God and family values as to why God bless them to stay together. They currently attend Winan United Methodist Church where their daughter is the Pastor Darlene A. Moore.

    They had Breakfast Gathering at Picadilly’s in Covington, Saturday, Jan. 7 and spent their honeymoon get-a-way at a Mandeville Bed and Breakfast provided as an anniversary gift from a special family friend. Most weeks they enjoy going to the Washington Parish Council on Aging Center or taking in movies and country drives with daughter. They also help to rear two grandsons Walter Donahue Jr and Joshua James II.

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    Historians rank President Obama’s legacy highly

    Supporters and critics alike may eventually come to view President Barack Obama’s two-term White House tenure the same way.

    His determination for change never appeared to cause him to stumble on his goals, be it Obamacare or commuting the sentences of so many who were imprisoned for so long — primarily because of antiquated laws that punished mostly low-level minority drug offenders.

    Even as Obama is set to leave office, he took unprecedented steps to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Obama labeled Russia’s action as significant, malicious and cyber-enabled and sanctioned six Russian individuals and five Russian entities while ordering dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country.

    The president also gave them and their families just three days to pack up and leave.

    “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said in the statement released by the White House.

    It’s the kind of action that some said will make them miss the progress of the past eight years and critics will come to realize that Obama’s place in history will be a lofty one.

    “The biggest tragedy of the Obama presidency was the relentless and often irrational unwillingness of Republican lawmakers to work with him to achieve meaningful objectives,” said Mario Almonte, a public relations specialist who also blogs about politics and social issues. “Even so, many years from now, when the history of his presidency comes into better focus, our society will come to recognize the enormous impact Barack Obama had on American culture and possibly world culture as the first Black president of the United States.”

    And, as Kevin Drum a writer for Mother Jones wrote, Obama has moved forward on eight substantial executive actions over the past month – aside from the Russian sanctions – including enacting a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard; he’s refused to veto a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank; designated two new national monuments totaling more than 1.6 million acres – Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada; and he’s instructed the Department of Homeland Security to formally end the long-discussed NSEERs database.

    Obama has also instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to deny final permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline where it crosses the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and he’s issued a final rule that bans the practice among some red states of withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that provide abortions.

    Also, the outgoing president completed rules to determine whether schools were succeeding or failing under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    “He was most effective as a normal president, and he helped put the presidency back on a human scale,” said Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “He was a devoted and involved father, a loving husband, a man with acknowledged – albeit – vices, and someone who made it clear that he did not regard himself as omniscient.”

    “As president, he showed that effective governing requires careful deliberation, discipline, and the willingness to make hard and imperfect decisions, and he let us all watch him do just that.” Walt said future historians will give President Obama “full marks” for never acting impulsively or cavalier.

    Daniel Rodgers, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, emeritus and historian of American ideas and culture who taught at Princeton University, wrote that what buoyed Obama’s aspirations was not a program, but a dream that in his person, the people might come together and shape politics to their will and common aspirations.

    “That was what the ‘we’ in the brilliant ‘Yes We Can’ slogan in the 2008 campaign was essentially about,” Rodgers said. “He has not called the nation to new feats of courage — ala Kennedy — to make war on poverty — as Johnson did — even to dream more freely than ever before — as stated by Reagan. What Obama’s words have called for is for Americans to be the people they already are.”

    The single, biggest impact on Obama’s presidency has been the shattering of psychological obstacles in the American psyche toward electing a non-White president, Almonte said.

    “When Hillary Clinton first ran for president, her gender was a major issue among voters. The second time around, it was not,” Almonte said. “With this psychological barrier removed, in future elections, we will see candidates from all walks of life, genders, nationalities, and possibly even lifestyles pursue the presidency with greater ease than they could have before.”

    Even as Donald Trump and other Republicans promise to do all they can to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obama’s signature piece of legislation, historians wrote in New York magazine that it has been the president’s greatest accomplishment.

    They noted that presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton failed to accomplish a passable affordable health care law.

    “Obamacare is easily the signal accomplishment of this president, assuming current efforts to unravel it will be defeated,” said Thomas Holt, the James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African-American History at the University of Chicago.

    “It’s an achievement that will put Obama in the ranks of [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt] with social security and Lyndon B. Johnson with Medicare because of its enduring impact on the average American’s well-being,” Holt said. “He won’t need bridges and airports named after him since opponents already did him the favor of naming it ‘Obamacare.’”

    The Affordable Care Act’s progressivism stands out as the embodiment of Obama’s best intentions, said Nell Painter, an American historian notable for her works on southern history of the nineteenth century and a retired professor at Princeton University.

    “Some three million poor people have gained access to health care, thanks to the extension of Medicaid. But those people will not be in deep-southern states where poor people are numerous, but Republicans rule,” Painter said. “I see this convergence as a consequence of watermelon politics, as unsavory a legacy of Obama’s time as Obamacare is fine.”

    Finally, one historic trend-break that occurred during Obama’s presidency that has major significance for the well-being of African-Americans has been the beginnings of a decline in the national prison population, after decades of expansion, said Gavin Wright, professor of American Economic History at Stanford University.

    “The Obama Administration deserves a fair share of credit,” Wright said. “In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, reducing prison time for convictions involving crack cocaine.”

    Wright said, “Under Attorney General Eric Holder, sentencing guidelines were made retroactive, leading to the release of thousands. To date, the reductions have been small compared to the total incarcerated population, but the reversal is historic, and its disproportionate significance for African-Americans is evident.”

     

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA News Wire Contributor

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    Community dialogue features ‘Cultural Bridges in a Time of Troubled Water,’ Jan. 14

    The 821 Project will host a special interactive dialogue, Voices: Cultural Bridges In A Time of Troubled Waters, Saturday, Jan. 14, This event will be held at TJ Jemison Baptist Student Center, 722 Harding Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA. Event, which includes a keynote presentation and lunch, is free and open to the public.

    The 821 Project provides intercultural and social justice education programs to the southeast Louisiana community through workshops, speaker’s panels, dialogues, and other appropriate programming.

    Preregistration via website encouraged, but not required. For more information contact Jahi Mackey, Program Director at jmackey@the821project.com.

    Read more »
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    SULC hooding ceremony set for January 6

    Fall 2016 graduates of the Southern University Law Center (SULC) will be recognized in a Hooding Ceremony at 6 p.m., Friday, January 6, 2017, in the Cotillion Ballroom of the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    Dennis Blunt, ’91, litigation partner at Phelps Dunbar will be the featured speaker at the ceremony.
    Blunt practices in the area of commercial litigation, with a focus on business disputes including business torts and insurance company solvency and regulation.
    He is chairman of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Board of Directors, a board member of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, a Fellow of the American and Louisiana Bar foundations, and secretary of the Baton Rouge Bar Association. Blunt was honored as a 2010 SULC Distinguished Alumnus.
    This special Hooding Ceremony does not take the place of Commencement. All graduates will continue to have their degrees conferred at Spring Commencement.
    The 32 candidates for the Juris Doctor Degree are:

    Carroll D. Atkins
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Melody W. Allen
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Charletta E. Anderson
    Atlanta, Georgia

    CaShonda R. Bankston
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Rebecca A. Borel
    Loreauville, Louisiana

    Danielle S. Broussard
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Blake T. Couvillion
    Carencro, Louisiana

    Andrew Davis
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Lee C. Durio
    Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

    Leon D. Dyer
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    William C. Eades
    Shreveport, Louisiana

    Michael R. Ellington
    Winnsboro, Louisiana

    GeFranya M. Graham
    Conway, South Carolina

    Curtis L. Guillory
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Jeremy J. Guillory
    Church Point, Louisiana

    Kristina C. Harrison
    Vacherie, Louisiana

    Lonna S. Heggelund
    Mediapolis, Iowa

    Tammeral J. Hills
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Joshua G. Hollins
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Kemyatta D. Howard
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Lauren M. Hue
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Jacob F. Kraft
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Janet D. Madison
    Vidalia, Louisiana

    Latau S. Martin
    Dallas, Texas

    Georgeann McNicholas
    San Antonio, Texas

    Robert A. McKnight
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Venise M.C. Morgan
    San Jose, California

    Jamar Myers-Montgomery
    Fontana, California

    Candace N. Newell
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Nigel A. Quiroz
    Brooklyn, New York

    Anthony B. Stewart
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Jennifer E. Thonn
    Slidell, Louisiana

    Read more »
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    Families Helping Families of Jefferson offers free online webinars

    Families Helping Families of Jefferson, through its statewide program Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center, invites you to register and attend their free webinars full of rich content. A webinar event is viewed right from your computer, where you can watch, listen and have the option to post questions and get live responses. Webinars are offered on various days and at various times.

    Some of the webinar topics in January are Extended School Year (ESY) Services, Legal Status and Capacity – What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter, EEOC Basic Overview of the Laws, Understanding the Important Difference Between Accommodations & Modifications, Seizure Recognition and First Aid for Families, IDEA: What You Need to Know, Expanded SSI Application Window for Foster Kids, Be Your Own Self-Advocate, Understanding 504, and Individualized Education Program (IEP): A Blueprint for Student Success (for Children and Youth Ages 3-21).

    For a full listing of webinars, visit fhfjefferson.org

    and then click on “What‘s Going On” to choose a topic and register.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baton Rouge charter pushes to remain open

    When Jonathan Hage traveled to Baton Rouge following the August flood, the Charter School USA director’s first concerns were his teachers’ and students’ well-being. Along with his wife and other executives, Hage brought hope and money—each teacher received $500. “It’s not money. It’s love,” Sherry Hage told the teachers. “We want you to know that you’re loved and cared for.”

    The gesture was especially generous for the teachers who had lost property and possessions. Their support came as a result of their employment at the Baton Rouge Charter Academy at Mid-City. “These are our teachers; these are our kids,” Jonathan Hage said. “This is honestly the best part about what we do.”

    But now, the mid-city charter and its teachers face a formidable challenge to save the school.

    After three years with performance scores less than 40, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education denied the charter renewal request and will close the school under its state charter in May 2017. Even amid strong support for the school, BESE voted against allowing BRCA an additional year to show improvement. BESE members Jada Lewis and Kathey Edmonston formally objected to the closure. School officials have said performance scores will raise with more time, dedicated resources, and its new principal, Tale’ Lockett.

    “They (parents and administrators) are all on board to make sure we have enough time to continue our success,” said Lockett in a Dec. 6 video. “We’re going to make that mark with continued support.” In order to do so, charter administrators have to convince the local school board to allow the school to re-open, or transfer, as a Title 2 charter under the governance of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. It’s sister school, South Baton Rouge Charter Academy, is already an EBRP charter.

    BRCA has 80 teachers and more than 650 students who would relocate if the transfer isn’t successful. Then, students and their parents would choose to return to their previous public school or select another charter to attend. Middle school students in the attendance zone of Baton Rouge Charter Academy would have four EBR middle schools to attend: Capitol, Park Forest, JK Haynes, and Scotlandville Pre-Engineering. They would also have a choice between Celerity Lanier and Celerity Crestworth or tuition-based private schools. (School performance scores are available at http://www.louisianabelieves.com/data/reportcards/2016 )

    “Statistically, many of these students attempt to return to the public system,” said former BESE representative Carolyn Hill. “There will be an aggressive push to move these students into other state-governed charters and other management groups…it’s about the money. But, this management group has the most resources to help the students.”

    “It is a good thing that this charter management group is trying to unify with EBR,” Hill said. “A collaboration between this charter—which was once a state charter— and East Baton Rouge Parish Schools would set a precedence statewide and even nationally that says, ‘we are willing to step in and work in partnership to ensure that these children get what they need to succeed’.”

    “I believe in local schools controlled by local communities,” Edmundson told the Baton Rouge Business Report earlier this year. “If the locals want a charter and the local board has responsibility, that makes me feel a lot more comfortable.”

    That comfort comes from the local district’s ability to provide additional resources to students including special education services like speech pathology, free lunch programs, shared transportation, and more teacher stability.

    “It’s not about a charter movement. Merging together will be a success story, nationwide,” Hill said. “These parents should keep fighting for their children. I would tell each of them, ‘Let the growth in your child be the determining factor‎’.”

    Read more »
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    Gov. Edwards announces Board of Regents appointments 

    Governor John Bel Edwards announced his appointments to the Board of Regents.

    “Our institutions of higher education continue to face financial challenges that make the work of the Board of Regents more critical than ever as we continue our efforts to stabilize the budget and provide more predictable funding for our colleges and universities,” said Gov. Edwards. “The appointees I have named to the board bring an array of professional and educational expertise from higher education institutions across Louisiana. I am looking forward to working with them to build a brighter future for Louisiana’s students.”

    The following appointments will be effective on January 1, 2017:

    Board of Regents
    The Board of Regents is responsible for planning, coordinating, and budgeting for all public higher education in the state.The Board administers the Louisiana Education Quality Support Fund and formulates a master plan for higher education, including a formula for the equitable distribution of funds.

    Blake R. David, of Lafayette, is an attorney and founding partner of the Lafayette firm of Broussard & David, L.L.C. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College and a juris doctorate from the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. David will serve as a representative of the 3rd Congressional District.

    Darren G. Mire, of New Orleans, is the director of valuation for the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office. Mire is a certified Louisiana Deputy Assessor and is a licensed real estate agent. He received a bachelor of science degree and a master of professional studies degree from Tulane. Mire will serve as a representative of the 2nd Congressional District.

    W. Clinton “Bubba” Rasberry, of Shreveport, is the managing partner for Crestview Woods, LP, Rasberry Commercial Properties, LP, and Rasberry Mineral Lands, LLC. Rasberry received a bachelor of arts degree from Vanderbilt University and post-graduate studies and Louisiana State University Forestry School. He will serve as a representative of the 4th Congressional District.

    Jacqueline Vines Wyatt, of Prairieville, is the former senior vice president and regional manager for Cox Communications’ Southeast Region. Wyatt will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    T. Jay Seale III, of Hammond, is an attorney and founding partner of Seale & Ross, APLC. Seale received a bachelor of arts degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Juris doctorate from the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. Seale will serve as a representative of the 1st Congressional District.

    Charles R. McDonald, Ed.D., of Sterlington, is the president and owner of CMAC & Associates and the co-owner of Freedom Mobility, LLC, and a former member of the Louisiana State House of Representatives. While a state representative, he authored the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship bill and served on the Education Committee. He received his bachelor of science degree from Northeast Louisiana College, a master of education degree from Northeast Louisiana University, and doctor of education degree from the University of Louisiana Monroe. McDonald will serve as a representative of the 5th Congressional District.

    Read more »
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    Tax tips often-overlooked by Blacks

    3 TIPS FOR 2017 TAX SEASON

    Sadly, many African Americans don’t think about taxes until the days and weeks leading up to April 15. However, there are many things you can do now to help our results then be more appealing.

    1. Make Wise Business Purchases
    If you are business owner, think about purchases that you can make between now and year end. If possible, try making purchases that you were planning to make in January in December. Consider pre-paying your cell phone or internet bill. But careful, though, about large purchases such as heavy equipment, as these may need to be depreciated rather than capitalized, greatly minimizing the tax impact you might be expecting from such a large purchase.

    2. Maximize Your Heath Savings Accounts (HSA)
    With the political climate and uncertainly on the continuation of Obamacare, Health Savings Accounts (HSA), along with High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP), may see increased popularity. If you already have a HSA and have not yet maximized your contribution for the year, now would be a great time to do so. Contributions and interest earned are tax free and the maximum contribution amount for 2016 is $3,350 for individuals and $6,750 for families. If you are over 55 years of age, you get an additional $1,000 in catch up contributions which will be tax free as well.

    3. Manage Tax Withholdings/Exemptions
    Employees that changed jobs or started a new job this year should review their tax withholdings/exemptions claimed on their new hire paperwork (Form W-4). Claiming too many exemptions could result in an unexpected or large tax liability at tax time. Claiming too few exemptions could result in giving the government more money than necessary, which could result in a cash flow problem for you during the year. Ask you HR or payroll department to review your withholdings and ask your accountant or tax adviser to review them for you so that if adjustments are needed, you can catch them at the beginning of the new year to avoid potential problems during next year’s tax season.

    In addition to tax adjustments, some basic financial planning can go a long way in setting the stage for you (and your money) as you enter the new year.

    By Randy Hughes
    Counting Pennies, LLC

    Read more »
  • ,

    Broome invites girls to ‘Hidden Figures’ Event

    East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Elect Sharon Weston Broome is inviting young girls to participate in a special outreach event for the release of the feature film, “Hidden Figures.”

    100 young girls will be selected to attend a viewing of “Hidden Figures” followed by a “Chew and Chat” to discuss their purpose, plan, and path as they consider how STEM can impact their future. Women ‘who lead in STEM’ and the community will share in the experience. This initiative is open to girls in 5th – 9th grade from all East Baton Rouge parish zip codes.

    Applicants should submit a paragraph explaining their interest in STEM to: info@BRTransition.com by Thursday, December 29. Selections will be announced on January 4th and details regarding the event will be released thereafter.

     

    Read more »
  • SU unveils impressive 2017 football schedule

    Southern University football will make their third appearance in the MEAC/SWAC challenge before facing two Football Bowl Subdivision opponents during the Jaguars 2017 schedule, officials announced Friday.

    Southern welcomes South Carolina State – and a nationally televised audience – to Baton Rouge and A.W. Mumford Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 3. in the 11th installment of the ESPN Events sponsored game. The Jaguars hold the distinction of being the only SWAC school to win in the 10-year history of the challenge, claiming wins over Florida A&M in 2007 in Birmingham, Ala. and Delaware State in 2010 in Orlando.

    The MEAC/SWAC Challenge features teams from two prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities on the opening weekend of the college football season and is aired on an ESPN network. Prior to the 2016 game, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge originated as a neutral site game at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. before relocating to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

    SU head coach Dawson Odums and former Alcorn State head coach Jay Hobson reunite on the gridiron when the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, 2016 New Orleans Bowl champions, host the Jaguars on September 9 in Hattiesburg, Miss.

    Following their first-ever meeting with Southern Miss, Southern heads to the Alamodome for the inaugural meeting against UT-San Antonio led by former LSU assistant coach and current Roadrunners’ head coach Frank Wilson. In his first season, Wilson guided the Roadrunners to a Gildan New Mexico Bowl berth before losing to New Mexico 23-20 on Dec. 17.

    Southern returns to the state of Mississippi to open the SWAC’s new 7-game format against 3-time SWAC eastern division champ Alcorn State before NCAA Division II member Fort Valley State closes the Jaguars’ nonconference schedule at Mumford Stadium on Sept. 30. 

    The league office elected to implement a 4-2-1 schedule format which requires conference teams to play four opponents within their division, two permanent cross-divisional foes and one team rotating yearly as a part of the conference slate.

    The Jaguars, who finished 8-3 – 8-1 in SWAC play – last season and reeled off eight straight wins, host Alabama A&M for homecoming on Oct. 7, then observe their first bye week off the season on Oct. 14.

    Arch rival Jackson State awaits SU following the off week on Oct. 21 in Jackson, Miss. before the Jaguars tangle with Arkansas-Pine Bluff on the road Oct. 28.

    The month of November opens with a pair of Texas schools when Southern salutes their 2017 senior class in the home finale against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 4. After the Texas Southern game on Nov. 11 in Houston, Southern entertains one final bye week before looking to snap a two-game losing skid to Grambling State in the 44th annual Bayou Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Nov. 25.

    Teams on Southern’s 11-game schedule compiled a 59-68 record in 2016.

    For more information on Southern University Athletics log on to Gojagsports.com for the latest news, scores, and updates. Fans can also access the latest information on SU Athletics through social media by following @SoutherUsports on Twitter and Instagram or liking the SU Athletics Facebook page at Facebook.com/Southern Jaguars.

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    COMMENTARY: Tangipahoa school deseg case should not be downplayed

    Dear Editor:
    Needless to say, the importance of this particular desegregation case definitely should not be downplayed as arguments from every side are well understood. However, there are things that must take precedence as this process continues. Things like the assurance that every single one of our public schools has equitable resources and programs needed to be competitive, for instance, should be a priority. Planning strategically for each school by fairly balancing the clientele it needs to thrive and invigorate the community it services is of equal importance.  Likewise, the life of every single one of the 307 children from the Magazine Street area is even more important.  And, doing what is best for these children (all children for that matter) has to be top priority.
    When considering the latest court report, it is pretty apparent that reflection must take place in all who are involved in the future of our schools and communities. Somewhere and somehow, we seem to have lost sight of what is really important.  Of course, storms can impair vision. Therefore, leaders must strive to ensure all of our children and families are equipped to “weather” the remainder of this storm by practicing sound leadership in the midst. True leaders always acknowledge and stand for what is right. They always stand for what is honorable and just. They always advocate for the underdog. They always fight for those who do not know exactly how to fight for themselves.  And they always love everyone.
    With these same thoughts in mind, at some point we must sincerely question our own motives and leader actions.  By no means am I saying that the actions cited in the most recent court document were intentional. However, I am saying that more consideration regarding the  long term success of all schools, families, and children probably should have been given when engaging in the planning process. This is especially important when considering kids who are already placed at a statistical disadvantage due to various risk factors. Providing children with an opportunity to break family poverty cycles through education is a responsibility that should not and cannot be taken lightly. Think about it.  If the same educational practices and planning that may have very well guided many of these families into poverty for generations in the first place are continued, then it can almost be guaranteed that these same families will continue to remain in poverty for generations to come.  With the dedicated people we have throughout this parish, there is absolutely no excuse for this to continue to be.
    Let’s move forward by planning properly and responsibly for all of our children, schools, and families.
    Patricia Morris
    President
    Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP
    Read more »
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    La. legislators appointed to national caucus

    State Senator Regina Ashford Barrow, of Baton Rouge, has been elected secretary of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. State Senator Wesley Bishop, of new Orleans, and State Representative Pat Smith, of Baton Rouge, has been appointed member-at-large of the NBSL executive board. Baton Rouge Representative Ted James has been named regional co-chair.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Perkins named ULSystem chair

    Alejandro Raeshod Perkins has been elected to chairman of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. The ULSystem is the largest higher education system in the state with more than 90,000 students and nine universities: Louisiana Tech, Grambling, University of Louisiana at Monroe, University of  Louisiana Lafayette, McNeese University, Nicholls State University, University of New Orleans, Northwestern State University and Southeastern Louisiana University. Jim Henderson, Ph.D., was elected System President.

    Perkins is a law partner at Hammonds, Sills, Adkins, and Guice, LLC. He was recently appointed by the National Bar Association as Deputy General Counsel. He is a Louisiana Arts and Science Museum Board Member, National Annual Fund Chair for Xavier University, and Vice President of the Xavier University Alumni Association-Baton Rouge Chapter.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Diana Ross, Mary J Blige to headline Essence Fest

    Essence announced the initial lineup for the 2017 Essence Festival Concert Series in New Orleans, including headlines Diana Ross and Mary J. Blige.

    “This year’s Festival lineup puts women at the forefront of an incredible weekend of entertainment featuring more than 40 of the world’s most gifted artists and performers,” said Essence president Michelle Ebanks.

    The festival, which is the 23rd annual event, will take place June 30-July 2, 2017

    in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 16. More than 40 acts will take place over the 3-day festival, with five stages booked for the many performances.

    The confirmed performers include the following: Diana Ross, Mary J Blige, Chaka Khan, Doug E Fresh, Erykah Badu, India.Arie, Jazmine Sullivan, John Legend, June’s Diary, Lalah Hathaway, Lizzo, Master P, Michel’le, Moses Sumney, Ro James, Shaggy, Sir the Baptist, Solange, Teyana Taylor, The Jones Girls Feat. Shirley Jones, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Tweet and Yuna.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    New Orleans native Adam Rodney ranked #1 Epee Fencer in the US

    NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans native Adam Rodney will represent the United States and his hometown of New Orleans, La. at the World Fencing Cup in Heidenhiem, Germany.  According to a recent announcement by the United States Fencing Association, Rodney is the #1 ranked Epee Fencer in the United States following his accomplishments at the December North America Cup in Richmond, Virginia this past weekend.

    After earning a bye in the first two rounds, 

    Rodney recorded three victories in the third round of pool play action and in the table of 64 he upset the No. 3 seed Yeisser Ramirez in a tightly contested 14-13 bout. He then cruised past his next two opponents to advance to the quarterfinals to set up a showdown with Zeyad Elashry. 

    In a back-and-forth bout on the strip, Rodney won the final touch to take a 15-14 triumph and moved to the semifinals. Next up, he defeated Lewis Weiss, 14-9, to advance to the championship, before falling to Jacob Hoyle in the finals to take home a silver medal.

    Rodney is a member of The Peter Westbrook Foundation in New York, a not-for-profit organization that uses the sport of fencing to enrich the lives of young people from underserved communities in the New York metropolitan area. Founded in 1991 by legendary sabre fencer and Olympic bronze medalist Peter Westbrook, the foundation is committed to empowering participants with essential life skills. The St. John’s alum competes as a member of the New York Fencer’s Club.

    Rodney, who was a close call to make the 2016 Olympic Team, has since represented the United States in the World Cup in Bern, Switzerland.   Rodney also roared to a Silver Medal finish in the North American Cup Championship in Detroit Michigan in November.  He is a graduate of the famed St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, and St. John’s University. Many of his matches are featured on you tube and fencing promotions. 

    Rodney, who always identifies himself as a New Orleanian, but fences with the Olympian Peter Westbrook in New York and as a member of the New York Fencer’s Club, was a close call for the 2016 Olympic Team. He has been selected to represent the United States in the World Cup in Bern, Switzerland later this month.  He is also scheduled to visit Cuba in an exhibition.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Broome announces transition committees, community input teams

    Mayor-President Elect Sharon Weston Broome and her transition co-chairs, Christopher Tyson and Donna Fraiche, announced that the transition will occur under operational review committees and community input transition teams. The operational review committees will evaluate and report on the inner-workings of City government. Each committee will be responsible for conducting an in-depth assessment of departmental functions and performance, including issues such as organization structure, personnel, budget and overall effectives.

    The Community Input Transition Teams have been established to anchor a wide-ranging public engagement effort Mayor-Elect Broome deems critical for the transition effort.

    The committees and co-chairs are as follows:

    1. Finance –  Jacqui Vines-Wyatt, Dr. Jim Llorens
    2. Public Works (Building & Grounds, Environmental Services, Transportation and Drainage, City Garage, Dev., Maintenance) – Co-Chairs: Justin Haydell, Matthew Butler
    3. Public Safety (Fire, Police, DPW Subteams) – Rep. Ted James, Don Cazayoux
    4. Office of Community Development – Darryl Gissel, Brian Lafleur
    5. Human Development and Services – Johnny Anderson, Pat LeDuff
    6. Homeland Security – General Russel Honore, Paul Rainwater
    7. Information Services – Curtis Heromann, Sonia Perez, Padma Vatsavai
    8. Purchasing – Monique Spalding, Ronald L. Smith
    9. Internal Organization – Christel Slaughter, Dennis Blunt
    10. Arts, Culture and Leisure – Fairleigh Jackson, Walter “Geno” McLaughlin
    11. Flood Recovery – Perry Franklin, Bryan Jones
    12. Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility – Scott Kirkpatrick, Ann Trappey
    13. Economic Development & Enterprise – Rolfe McCollister, Donald Andrews
    14. North Baton Rouge Revitalization – Cleve Dunn, Jr.; Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas
    15. Healthcare, Social Services and Mental Health – Alma Stewart, Dr. Stephen Kelley
    16. Housing and Land Use – Candace Parker, Keith Cunningham
    17. Metropolitan Organization – Mary Olive Pierson, Domoine Rutledge
    18. The Millennial Agenda – Courtney Scott, Matt Adams
    19. Women’s Issues – Rachel Hebert, Tawahna Harris
    20. Race Relations – Dr. Albert Samuel
    21. Education – Sherry Brock, Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D.

    Co-chair information, as well as, future updates on committee member assignments on the official transition website, BRtranistion.com.

    Read more »
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    Smith, Simmons honored for deeds

    John Frederick Smith and Joseph Gottlieb Simmons were recently recognized as the 2016 Brotherhood Sisterhood Honorees for their decades of dedication to equity, serving the community, leading and inspiring others, and breaking personal barriers.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Richard promoted to peace officer

    Slidell police officer Christopher Richard has been promoted to administrative corrections peace officer in the Slidell Police Department’s Corrections Division. He is a 10-year veteran and has been a field training officer, training new jailors at the Slidell police department. He was the Corrections Officer of the Year in 2011, was awarded a Letter of Commendation in 2012, and was awarded a unit Citation in 2015.  He had 11 years of experience with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office as a corporal prior to joining the Slidell department. 

    Read more »
  • ,

    Dr. Byron Jasper welcomes Jobs for America’s Graduates

    Open Health Care Clinic hosted students of the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Louisiana program in the classroom of Open Health. The program featured a presentation by physician Dr. Byron Jasper a Louisiana native who recently returned to his home state to provide care to underserved patients.

    Jobs for America’s Graduates Louisiana program is a dropout prevention and recovery program that delivers a unique set of services for at-risk students to help them earn a high school diploma. The Jobs for America’s graduates program has been assisting students since 1980. JAG teaches students career development, job attainment, job survival, communication skills, work place skills, and life survival skills.

    Dr. Jasper and pediatrician, Dr. Dionna Matthews, spoke to the Franklin Junior High School JAG students, on Dec. 5, about the challenges they faced and overcame growing up in similar backgrounds. The presentation informed the students on what it takes to become a healthcare professional and through conversation, encourage and motivate the students to work hard in pursuit of their dreams despite the hardships they may encounter._IGP9824

    Dr. Jasper is a family medicine physician at Open Health where he also specializes in caring for patients with HIV and Hepatitis C. Additionally, he is the executive director of the Comprehensive Medical Mentoring Program, a mentoring organization he founded to provide minority students with experiences that foster successful matriculation into medical school and increase overall diversity in the healthcare field. He has continued to volunteer as a community preceptor, teaching local medical students and residents in the Baton Rouge area while also helping undergraduates, medical students, and resident physicians create and improve their application materials.

    As a true community-wide caregiver, Open Health envision a brighter future for the patients it serves. This means providing more educational opportunities, more comprehensive services and more access to quality care. From pediatrics, to dental, to endocrinology, Open Health Care Clinic will provide advanced medical services for every phase of a person’s life regardless of their financial or insurance status. Extended hours, weekend appointments and walk-ins are welcome.

    ONLINE:www.ohcc.org.

    Read more »
  • COMMUNITY CALENDAR: December events

    10: Gus Young Christmas Parade. The parade begins at the intersection of Acadian Thruway and Winbourne Avenue. 1pm.

    10: Cortana Kiwanis Christmas Parade. Downtown Baton Rouge. 5:30pm. Baton Rouge’s Traditional Christmas Parade, rolling on the streets of Downtown annually since 1949. WAFB Channel 9’s Jay Grymes WAFB and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital’s Melissa Lewis Anderson will emcee. State Senator Regina Barrow, football legend Early Doucet, and Princess Ellie will be parade marshalls.

    11-12: The Nutcracker. 220 E. Thomas St., Hammond. 7pm. 985-543-4366. www.columbiatheatre.org

    12: Kentwood Christmas Parade. Downtown Kentwood. 6pm. 985-229-3451. www.discoverkentwood.com

    13: Amite Christmas Parade. Amite City Hall. 6pm. 985-748-8761. www.townofamitecity.com

    13: Writers Rendezvous. Fairwood Branch Library, 12910 Old Hammond Hwy. 7pm. The “Writers Rendezvous” is an informal writers group where people can meet, share ideas, and get feedback on current projects.

    15: Roseland Christmas Parade. Downtown Roseland. 5pm. 985-748-9063.

    16-17: Christmas Lights – Down on the Farm (Drive – Thru). Liuzza Land, 56188 Holden Cir., Amite. 6pm – 9pm. Contact Hollie Henederson 985-981-5788. www.liuzzaland.com.

    17-18: One Night in Bethlehem (Outdoor Live Nativity Production). 47096 Randall Rd., Hammond. 5:30pm – 8:30pm. Contact: Dana Sartin 985-345-0366. www.onenightinbethlehem.net

    19: NAACP Baton Rouge Branch meeting. McKinley Alumni Center, 2nd Floor, 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Dr. 6pm. Michael McClanahan is president. http://www.naacpbr.org/

    21: Ponchatoula Senior Community Center Book Club Meeting. Ponchatoula Branch Library, 380 North Fifth Street, 10:30am. The seniors from the community center have a book club each month. They read, discuss the book, and check out the next month’s selection.

    26 – January 1, 2017: Kwanzaa. A week-long festival celebrating and reconnecting with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and common humanist principles. The seven days of celebration features candle-lighting, pouring of libations, gift giving, and culminating in a feast.

    28: An Evening with Kwame Alexander. Hammond Branch Library, 314 E Thomas St. 7pm. Alexander is a poet, educator, New York Times bestselling author of 21 books, and recipient of the 2015 Newbery Medal for his novel, The Crossover.

     

    Submit your events to our community calendar by emailing news@thedrumnewspaper.info.

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    Toldson named ‘most influential’

    Ivory Toldson, Ph.D., has been named one of the 30 Most Influential Forensic Psychologists by Emergency Management Degree Program Guide. He completed a doctorate in counseling psychology from Temple University and later became a forensic psychologist at the United States Penitentiary. His dissertation focused on black men in the criminal justice system. His ongoing work includes research regarding misled media statistics and the link between Black males to crime and their ability to learn. The Baton Rouge native is executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is also editor of the Journal of Negro Education.

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    The Genius of Ted Ellis

    New Orleans native deserves exhibit in national museum

    There needs to be something shared worldwide about the works of Ted Ellis, New Orleans-born visual artist. He uses the stroke of his brush on canvas to present again the scenes, emotions, and story of the lives of the most beautiful Americans. From a scene of Baptist children wading in murky waters, donning white robes, scarfs, headscarfs and struggling under the grip of an elderly man’s hand as they head to the minister whose hand is raised clutching a white handkerchief to a canvas donning the sideview of a tiny girl bowing a violin with her eyes half opened and her spirit wrapped into her own sound.

    Ellis captivates art critics who have called his work “genius.”

    “Ellis creates much more than images.  He creates a mood…an atmosphere…and an awareness that one is actually on the scene…in the scene,” write curators at The Sylvan Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina.

    He memorizes the novice who stands enthralled at his Houston studio full of emotions of connectedness to the eyes of an elderly man with African features but whose face is full of blues, greens, purples, and crimson. “He’s the Colored Man,” Ellis said. That’s understood by all the colors beaming from the 3-foot-by-6-foot canvas, but it is also understood by his eyes. So much like the great grandfather on the porch or the old man sweeping away dirt outside the Alabama country store. Ellis’ hand, his eye, his imagination grabs it all and delivers it in his work—work that he says he was born to do. His work—his life’s work is apparent: to create the artistic account of history.

    16 civilfight ted ellis feature photo“I was put here to record history—all aspects of American culture and heritage. My sole purpose has always been to educate through my art,” he said. With each piece, he makes it a point to leverage the importance of visual literacy and preservation of culture and history.

    Ellis said one goal was—and is—for him to to be a cultural, artistic historian. And he has done so for 30 years. His work has been commissioned by Walt Disney Studios, United Negro College Fund, Avon, the City of Selma, Alabama, Arts Council of New Orleans, and United Way.

    Ted Ellis

    Ted Ellis

    Although it doesn’t hang there now, a following of curators and supporters are petitioning the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to establish a Ted Ellis collection within the museum. His work has hung in the Congress Heights Arts and Culture Center, the Russell Rotunda of the Richard Russell U.S. Senate Building, and appears in the movie “Almost Christmas.”

    “I paint subjects that are representative of the many faces of American life as I know it,” Ellis said.

    A self-taught artist, Ellis has published a limited edition collection of his work, Pride, Dignity and Courage: A Survey of Art of Ted Ellis, and a collective calendar. His blend of realism and  impressionism  captures glory of a rich American heritage. His business, T. Ellis Art, has sold more than 10 million prints and posters from his Houston, Texas studio.

    “This is a culture business and my culture is priceless.”

    Ellis, who is a former chemist, said his work is designed to “build you up consciously and subconsciously of yourself by speaking to your importance everyday.” And he has done so repeatedly and remarkably.

    Since he began in 1996, Ellis has since become, by many accounts, an artistic historian. In 2005 he captured the Deltas 100th year commemoration, the Obamas in 2008, and the Juneteenth 150th year commemoration in 2015. These are the pieces, he said, would be some of the first offered to the museum as they archive the most critical bends in Black life of this century.

    Ellis has amassed an impressive body of work, remarkably over the years. He has also established a platform and mechanism for other artist that will give them value.

    “I am giving medicine—a dose of cultural nutrition,” he said.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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  • Youth to Watch: Myles Victor Patin

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.” Meet Myles Victor Patin, 15.

    Myles Victor Patin, 15

    Leadership: President, Omicron Beta Sigma, Sigma Beta Club

    School: Madison Preparatory Academy

    Parents: Dawn Mellion-Patin and Marlon L. Patin

    College and career choice: Secondary Education (Biology); undecided about institution

    Biggest accomplishments:  Being elected president of the Sigma Beta Club; transitioning from BREC to high school football; and staying sane after losing almost everything in the flood of 2016.

    Why was this “big” for you? Being the president of the Sigma Beta Club gives me both a voice and a platform. It allows me to be a peer mentor in a formal setting. I get to share my experiences with boys younger than I am and hopefully help guide them through the pre-teen and early teen years. Most of the times a young Black male is in the newspaper  or on the news, it’s for something bad and negative but being a peer mentor is a good thing. I want to be someone that 1 Myles coveryounger boys can look up to and want to be like.

    Life aspirations: I want to be a high school biology teacher and a football coach. I believe that coaches play a big role in a young man’s life. Many kids don’t have dads and the coach often fills that role. I want to be for young men who don’t have dads what my dad, Marlon Patin, has been for me. I believe that as a teacher and coach, I can give back and help other young men and young ladies  and change lives.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote? “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

    Mentors: Atty. Arthur Thomas, (President, National Sigma Beta Club Foundation and a member of the Omicron Beta Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity), along with the other members of the fraternity, take their time exposing Sigma Beta Club members to a lot of places and experience that we would not have otherwise. So far I’ve gone to Philadelphia and Little Rock to the national Sigma conference and to places closer to home where I  learned about the marshlands and coastal erosion in Louisiana.

    Goals for 2017: To become better each day than I was the day before in all aspects of my life.

    What are you reading? “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison

    What music are you listening to? J. Cole & Boys to Men

    Hobbies: What do you do for fun? Play football, video games.

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    Youth to Watch: Jason Holliday Jr.

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”

    Meet: Jason Holliday Jr., 17

    Brusly High School

    Parents: Jason Holliday Sr. and Ledidra Carter

    College and career choice: I am currently undecided about what college I want to attend. I want to become a professional football player or professional basketball player.

    Biggest accomplishments: Being selected as 1st Team All District Basketball, 1st Team All District Football, and All-State Athlete for 2016-2017.

    I was named WAFB’s player of the week last month! I was selected to represent Louisiana in the EPS Texas vs. Louisiana Bowl being played at the AT&T stadium in Dallas, Texas, as well as selected by Louisiana High School Athletic Association to play in the Red Stick Bowl in Baton Rouge. I have been playing sports since the age of four and I attend the AAU Junior Olympics in track and field on the 4×1 relay team for Eagles Wing Track Club  in 2009.

    I also attended the ESPN World Wide of Sports AAU basketball national championship in Orlando, Florida with the AAU team Tarheels Select. We won the championship in 2012. I returned to the national championship in Las Vegas with another AAU team, Elfrid Payton Elite Basketball team 2013.

    10 Jason HollidayWhy was this “big” for you? Because I worked extremely hard to be recognized as one of the best athletes in my district and in the state of Louisiana.

    Life aspirations:  I want to be a professional athlete.  I want to give back to the people who helped me and kids who look up to me, be a positive role model.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote?  My motto is, “Go hard or go home!”  I believe that there is always someone out there as hungry for success as I am and willing to work as hard as I do, so that makes me work even harder.

    Mentors? My mentors are my mother and  Coach Marc Brown, they both push me to be the best I can be in whatever I do and never let anyone tell me that I CAN’T do something!

    Goals for 2017:  To graduate from high school and sign a full scholarship to the school of my choice.

    What are you reading? “The Mind of Champions” by Jim Afremow

    What music are you listening to? Rap,  Hip Hop, and R & B.

    Hobbies: Play basketball and football and video games.

    Read more »
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    Youth to Watch in 2017

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”

    Meet:

     

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    Youth to Watch: Alexandria ‘Chef Alex’ Bellanger

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”

    Meet Alexandria “Chef Alex” Bellanger, 9
    School: Central Intermediate
    Parents: Al and Dorsey Bellanger

    College and career choice: I want to be top in my class like my grandmother. My ultimate dream is to become a doctor who also cooks. So I want to own my own hospitals, yes hospitals and I would like to own a bakery.

    Biggest accomplishments: Oh goodness! Where do I start? I have several. Some of my biggest accomplishments are cooking for and serving the homeless for Thanksgiving, donating my hair to the “Locks of Love” foundation, being live on air with Graham Ulkins on WAFB, cooking live in my home on NBC 33, and achieving A B Honor Roll.

    Why was this “big” for you? I would have to say that cooking and serving the homeless for Thanksgiving made me really happy. It felt good to show others that people do care. I love putting a smile on others’  faces and I loved to hear them talk about my cooking and how good it was. Donating my hair to the Locks of Love foundation was BIG for me, because I knew it would make someone smile again and that brings me joy knowing that little me could do that for someone. Being on WAFB & NBC 33 was really big… I mean what average 8 year old at the time can say that they had camera crews setup in their home while they cook. It was an awesome experience. Achieving A B Honor Roll was a big deal to me because it means that all of my hard work is paying off.

    Chef Alex

    Chef Alex

    Life aspirations: I want to be known as the little girl with a big heart. I want to become a doctor and help people all over the world, as well as being known as a famous chef.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote? Everyone that knows me knows my motto is “The magic always starts in the kitchen”. For my helping this is where it all begins, family time and good eating.

    Mentors: My parents are my biggest mentors. They both tell me that I can be whatever I want to be and if possible help me to achieve it. My dad has helped me build my grilling skills, along with whipping up a scrumptious bowl of grits. My mom mentors me by not only sharing her love for cooking by teaching me cooking skills but teaching me to love the unique young lady God has created me to be.

    Goals for 2017: My number one goal of 2017 is to release my debut cookbook Spring 2017 and have a Spring and Summer book tour.

    What are you reading? “No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic,” “Beforever,” and “American Girl”. I am really enjoying this book. It covers the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

    What music are you listening to? Since Christmas is my favorite holiday. I listen to Christmas music year round. There’s something about it that just makes me happy. Right now Mariah Carey’s holiday channel on Pandora is on repeat.

    Hobbies: What do you do for fun? I love cooking and working on new recipes, attending the theatre, traveling, swimming, dancing, reading, antique shopping and arts and crafts.

    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge Crusaders to host Winter Classic Semi Pro basketball game, Dec. 17

     

    Let the winter games begin. The Baton Rouge Crusaders are excited to announce their first Winter Classic Semi Pro Basketball Game Saturday, Dec. 17, at Baton Rouge Community College Gym.

    “The Baton Rouge Crusaders are fairly new to the community, so this will be somewhat of an introduction. We would like the parish to attend and continue supporting these men on their professional journey, as we strive to bring about larger opportunities for them. Some are already known for their athletic and professional skills,” said Isaiah Marshall, the CEO of the BR Crusader’s parent company, Capitol City Crusaders.

    Capitol City Crusaders is a sports organization that houses youth basketball programs for students in second through 12th grade, a post graduation basketball program at Capitol City Prep Academy, and the new military developmental league team called Baton Rouge Crusaders. Their mission is to professionally develop local talent who may need more attention and practice before the big leagues. National Director of Men’s and Women’s Basketball, AAU, P.K. Martin and Demetric Hunter, who is the director of military all sports development league, brought the program to Louisiana, earlier this year and partnered with Marshall.

    Before the Dec. 17 game, the team will host a free youth basketball camp for youth ages 9-15, followed by a free community basketball game. “We think it is important for the players to mentor and work with the youth as much as possible, because it helps not only the youth to grow, but the players themselves, and hopefully we are creating a culture of giving back as well,” Marshall said.

    Sable International, a business management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, is also sponsoring tickets for five single mothers and their children to attend the Winter Classic. Email info@batonrougecrusaders.com to be a Good Neighbor sponsor and assist more families with admission.

     

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    Museum presents ‘The Strange Origins of Jim Crow’

    Join the West Baton Rouge Museum in welcoming  Aaron Sheehan-Dean on Wednesday, December 7 at noon for a Lunch Time Lecture. He will explore the origins of Jim Crow, an era with roots in Louisiana from the Plessy vs. Ferguson railroad segregation case and living with Jim Crow.

    The museum is located at 845 N. Jefferson Avenue, Port Allen, LA 70767 .

    This program is offered in conjunction with the traveling exhibit, “For All the World to See,” organized by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. This exhibit examines the role that visual culture played in the civil rights movement. Through a compelling assortment of photographs, television clips, art posters, and other historic artifacts, For All the World to See traces how images and media disseminated to the American public transformed the modern civil rights movement and jolted Americans, both Black and white, out of a state of denial or complacency.

    Sheehan-Dean is the Fred C. Frey Professor of Southern Studies at Louisiana State University. He is also author of Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia, The Concise Historical Atlas of the U. S. Civil War and the editor of several books. He teaches several courses on nineteenth century U.S. History, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Southern History.

    This lunch time lecture program is free and open to the public. Participants are welcome to bring a bag lunch. 

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    Punch TV Studios becomes the only Black-owned media company to sell stock

    Media company Punch TV Studios, known for providing a unique selection of original and creative television programming, recently announced its qualification of its stock offering from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under Regulation A, the Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act which was signed into law by President Obama. Based on this law Punch TV Studios is now authorized to sell stock in the company.

    “By signing the JOBS Act into law President Obama made it easier for startup companies such as Punch TV Studios to go public and to raise capital privately. That was no minor feat. It was a major stand for a sitting President to take and a historical change in the way America does business. Although there is always more to be done, let us not forget that Punch TV Studios is the media legacy that President Obama leaves behind,” said Punch TV Studios CEO Joseph Collins.

    “We look forward to the day that President Obama is able to do more. In fact, we welcome President Obama to begin his post White House initiatives with Punch TV Studios. We know that whether he’s in the streets of Chicago, Ferguson, Charlotte, Flint, Baltimore, Milwaukee or any town USA; whether he’s exploring the issues of police brutality, economic disparity or gang violence Punch TV Studios is the only publicly traded media company that can provide the true, real, unaltered, unedited, unfiltered voice of the people!”

    As one of the few African American CEOs of a publicly traded company, Collins has an unmatched understanding of what the urban community is looking for and a keen eye on the pulse of the people. Punch TV Studios is currently developing new, original TV content for the urban community and is the first to develop a digital broadcast & Internet streaming network specifically designed to meet their unique entertainment needs.

    Punch TV Studios launched its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on June 19, 2016. According to its business model Punch TV Studios is projected to generate more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue by year three post IPO. With an opening price of only $1 per share, Punch TV Studios’ primary focus was to make their stock available and affordable to the average American. Early investors, Punch TV Studios supporters and television aficionados are able to get in on the ground floor and purchase stock directly from the company.

    ONLINE: PunchTVStudios.com

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    Master P to host flood benefit concert

    Master P is on a mission to help the victims of the recent deadly Louisiana floods.

    During the annual NBA All Star Weekend celebration on February 18, 2017, which will take place in his hometown of New Orleans, the music mogul is hosting a benefit concert and fundraiser in the city to help displaced families in Baton Rouge get back into their homes.

    “Together we will entertain and give fans a great show but the real mission is to help get families back into their homes,” Master P wrote on the event’s website. “In Baton Rouge, there is still a lot of pollution in the air, water damages and mildew.”

    Since Aug. 12, more than 112,000 Baton Rouge residents have been affected by flooding, which also destroyed approximately 40,000 homes, and left 13 people dead ― making it America’s worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, according to the Red Cross.

    “I want all the athletes to come out, we are going to have all the top celebrities there from Usher to Lil Wayne,” he told Vibe on the event’s mission.

    “When people look at the floods and a lot of victims, they are not back in their homes yet in Baton Rouge, and I feel like for All Star Weekend, even though this will be a fun event, It will be a way for everyone to do their part, so this concert will be great for our people and Baton Rouge.”

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    Legislators say they will closely monitor Joe McKnight killing

    Louisiana Senators Troy Carter and JP Morrell, along with State Rep. Rodney Lyons, who all represent Jefferson Parish, released this statement on killing of Joe McKnight during a road rage incident earlier thi

    s week.

    In this divisive, racially-charged environment, which is in no way unique to our community, we fully appreciate and share in the public’s concern over the killing of Joe McKnight.

    We are monitoring the investigation closely to see that it is thorough and transparent, and ultimately, that justice is done in accordance with the law. We are working closely with local law enforcement, state law enforcement, and oversight agencies.

    We will continue to advocate for all of the people of Jefferson Parish who we represent. Our prayers are with the family of Joe McKnight, because violence is never the answer. The laws of the land shall prevail and the Jefferson Parish Delegation of the Louisiana Legislature will be monitoring this matter closely.

    State Senator JP Morrell, District 3
    State Senator Troy Carter, District 7
    State Representative Rodney Lyons, District 87

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    Rep. Richmond Elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 115th Congress

    Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have elected Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) to lead them over the next two years as chair. When the next Congress convenes January 3, 2017, Richmond will lead the largest CBC in history, as victories in the last election have grown the caucus to 49 members.

    “I’m honored and humbled by the confidence my colleagues have placed in me to serve as the chair of this revered Caucus, the conscience and intellect of the Congress,” said Richmond. “As we move into a new Congress and the onset of a new Administration, our Caucus will remain committed to the values that have made the CBC among the most influential institutions in the nation.”

    Also elected were: Andre’ Carson (IN-07), 1st vice chair; Karen Bass (CA-37), 2nd vice chair; Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Secretary; and Gwen Moore (WI-04), Whip.

    “As we face the challenges before us ─ from economic justice and upward mobility, to voting rights, policing, and criminal justice reform ─ we will approach each of them with vigilance. We will strive to harness the energy of our constituencies to enact policies that will have the greatest positive impact,” Richmond said. “I look forward to working with our membership, as we embark on an ambitious agenda. I stand on the shoulders of a choir of brave African-American women and men whose struggles made way for our progress. I will work every day to make them proud.”

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    National 100 Black Women charters Baton Rouge chapter, installs officers

    The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. proudly chartered the 100 Black Women of Metropolitan Baton Rouge on November 6, 2016 at the Bell of Baton Rouge with more than 200 guests to witness organization’s official formation.

    Chartering officers elected during the ceremony were: Dr. Leah Cullins, president;  Tamiara Wade Ph.D., 1st vice president of membership; Raushanah Hunter, Esq., 2nd vice president of programs;  Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D., 3rd vice president of finance and fund development; Sonya Murray, treasurer; DeShone Smith, financial secretary; Nicole Grimes, recording Secretary; Alsie Dunbar, corresponding secretary; Cheria Lane, Ph.D., parlimentarian; and Rokeya Morris, Esq., historian.

    The 100 Black Women is an organization that advocates an enhanced quality of life for individuals and families of color by facilitating programs that address their needs and unites the public and private sector of Baton Rouge to ensure progress of Black women.

    While establishing a sisterly bond, these programs foster leadership, educational opportunities, economic partnerships, women’s health issues and political strength.

    The mission of the coalition is to advocate on behalf of Black women and girls in order to promote leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment

    The 100 Black Women believe in gender equity, inclusion, respect, racial and social justice, integrity and accountability, economic empowerment, and collaboration.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., Michele McNiel-Emery,  Dr. Leah Cullins, and Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., Michele McNiel-Emery, Dr. Leah Cullins, and Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D.

    The organization’s agenda includes health, education, economic empowerment, strategic alliances, and civic engagement. According to the website, the 100 Black Women’s purpose is to:

    • Foster principles of equal rights and opportunities;
    • Promote the awareness of Black culture;
    • Develop the potential of the membership for effective leadership and participation in civic affairs;
    • Take action on specific issues of national and international importance, and
    • Cooperate with other persons and organizations to achieve mutual goals.

    “We are looking to select an eclectic group of women that are “movers and shakers” in the greater Baton Rouge area with a desire to meet the mission of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Membership is open to individuals who possess demonstrated leadership experience with evidence of participation in local community, government, service, business or political affairs,” organizers said.

    The organization meets monthly and can be followed on Twitter @100BlackWomenBR, Facebook at /100BlackWomenBatonRouge, and on Instagram: @100BlackWomenBR

    ONLINE: www.100blackwomenbr.com/

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  • Flood debris removal progresses into 70811, final pick ups continue

    City-Parish officials announced this morning that final flood debris collection pass efforts have now moved into 70811. Listed below are the ZIP codes where final collection pass efforts are either in progress or complete.

    ·         Final flood debris collection pass in progress: 70791, 70811, 70814, 70815, 70819
    ·         Final flood debris collection pass complete: 70714, 70739, 70816, 70817

    In the coming days and weeks, debris removal crews will continue to move into impacted areas as final pass efforts progress throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. The following is the order in which final pass debris removal crews are moving into additional ZIP codes: 70722, 70770, 70802, 70812, and 70805. Additionally, crews will be active in 70808, 70810, and 70820 to collect flood debris on an as-needed basis.

    City-Parish officials are urging residents who live in these ZIP codes to move flood debris curbside as soon as possible in order for crews to collect it during their final pass along flood-impacted areas and streets. This schedule and progression will continue until all streets in all flood-impacted service areas have received a final debris collection pass. Once flood debris has been placed curbside, residents should immediately report the location of this debris by going online to http://gis.brla.gov/reportdebris or by calling the EBR debris removal hotline at 1-888-721-4372.

    As a reminder, construction and reconstruction waste materials are not eligible for FEMA reimbursement and thus will not be collected by City-Parish debris removal crews. The disposal of any such materials is the responsibility of the homeowner and/or contractor. Residents who are initiating new construction or reconstruction efforts should use licensed contractors to perform this work and secure in writing how the contractor plans to dispose of any construction or reconstruction materials. To locate a licensed contractor, residents can go online to the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) website, www.lslbc.louisiana.gov, and click the “Contractor Search” button.

    To track the progress of this final debris collection pass, visit http://gis.brla.gov/debris. ZIP codes are considered active when the collection crew is currently picking up debris in that area, inactive if the crew has not yet reached that area, and complete once the crew has finished its final pass.
     

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    BR journalists remember Gwen Ifill

    On behalf of the Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family of veteran, award winning journalists Gwen Ifill.

    Ifill was a true example of professional journalism and was an inspiration to women of color.

    Ifill handled her career in journalism with style and grace, never compromising herself.

    Cheryl J. Stroy
    president
    Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists

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  • Children’s book brings Bayou Classic tradition into every home

    ‘Twas the Night Before Bayou Classic is a beautifully illustrated children’s book that will resonate with Bayou Classic revelers will be released for limited distribution just in time for this year’s game next week.

    Lafayette author, educator, and school librarian, Andrea A. Brew is a second generation graduate of Southern  University, where her parents met. Inspired by her childhood experiences at the game coupled with countless pastimes as a college student, Brew has crafted a story many times experienced, but never told, until now.

    Read ‘Twas the Night Before Bayou Classic and find out what happens on the eve of the Bayou Classic, when a family of Southern University fans, filled with anticipation and blue-and-gold spirit, gets an unexpected visitor at their door.

    With more than 250,000 revelers converging on the Crescent City and nearly $55 million generated annually, the Bayou Classic is not only a tourist event. It has become a nationally touted tradition appealing to a cross generational demographic, celebrities in all facets of mainstream media and pop culture, as well as major corporations, which also includes NBC’s continued simulcast in support of the big game.
    For more than four decades famed HBCUs, Southern University and A&M College and Grambling State University have ushered in the holiday season with their annual weekend of events and festivities.

    Starting Thanksgiving Day with a parade in Downtown New Orleans, the festivities include a greek show, awards ceremonies, job fair, empowerment seminars, the Battle of the Bands and the grand finale of Louisiana Black college football—The Bayou Classic. For those who have attended the universities, this game bookmarks a rich and storied cultural experience that current and past students continue to celebrate with friends and family from generation to generation

    With Twas the Night Before Bayou Classic, Brew extends homage to the tradition in literary form.
    “The tradition of Bayou Classic for Grambling, Southern and Louisiana is a storied one–one that inspired me to write,” Brew said.

    In Baton Rouge, the book is available at Top Choice Products, 1492 Harding Blvd, (225) 775-5247.

    Online: www.andreabrew.com

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  • Shooting at SU did not involve students

    Campus secure, University expecting large crowd for gameday and high school event

    The Southern University Police Department and the Baton Rouge Police Department continue to investigate a shooting incident that occurred on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus Thursday evening Nov. 17. The campus is secure and the University is committed to providing a safe living and learning environment for its faculty, staff, students, and visitors. SUPD is asking the SU community to remain alert and cautious and to report any suspicious activity or any information that may be related to the shooting.

    SUPD confirmed that a 19-year-old male victim critically injured during the shooting incident was treated on the scene by emergency personnel and was transported to a local hospital where he remains. SUPD detectives and the SU Police Department arrested Larry McCray, 20, of Reserve, Louisiana, as a suspect in connection with the shooting. SUPD reports neither the victim nor the suspect is a Southern University student.

    The University is looking forward to hosting, this Saturday close to 2000 prospective students for our annual Jaguar Preview High School Day. The SU Jaguars will salute senior student-athletes in the last home game for the season in A.W. Mumford Stadium, kick off at 4 p.m.

    A team of staff and volunteers are ready to assist visitors, guests, and fans arriving and leaving the campus for events. As always, gameday on the Bluff will be safe and secure with law enforcement officers assisting with traffic and parking and security.

    The University held a press conference today in the A.W. Mumford Fieldhouse to provide an update from SUPD and the Baton Rouge Police Department, and campus leaders

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    Michael Foster, ‘Red Beans & Rice Mondays’ return Nov. 21

     

    The Belle of Baton Rouge is pleased to announce that starting on November 21, Michael Foster Presents: Red Beans & Rice Mondays will be held in Beauregards at 6pm. Continuing its history of mixing southern tradition with entertainment, the Belle provides a perfect location for event-goers to delight in food and live music. Attendees will enjoy guest performances by The Michael Foster Project featuring Roger Lewis of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, along with free red beans and rice by the Belle of Baton Rouge’s resident Chef, Dwight Sherman.

    Michael Foster Presents: Red Beans & Rice Mondays will also be utilizing this kickoff event to celebrate its 2nd year anniversary. As a part of the celebration, Keys to Life will be on site presenting a keyboard to Howell Park Elementary School. To date, Keys to Life has presented four keyboards to various schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish area.

    This free event will take place every Monday from 6pm to 9pm, and highlight different musicians that will provide entertainment, and professional chefs who will provide the signature dish of the event’s namesake.

    Read more »
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    COMMENTARY: Has the Electoral College outlived its usefulness?

    “No!”  The Electoral College was one of many foresighted policies that the Founding Fathers established though the U.S. Constitution..  How to choose a president through a delicate balance of the individual states and the federal government and between the Executive and Legislative branches of government was the challenge.  The Founding Fathers answer was the Electoral College (Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution).

    The winner take all approach encourages voter apathy, if that citizen is not supporting the “popular” candidate.  The feeling that their vote will not count leads to a diminished interest in participating in the election process.

    The problem is not with Electoral College, but with the implementation at the individual state level. Forty-eight states have adopted a winner take all approach for the awarding of the Electoral Votes.  This is an individual state legislative decision.  Only Maine and Nebraska have developed other plans which can allow for a split Electoral Vote.

    This author suggests that the electoral delegates/votes be assigned by Proportional Representation of the popular vote within each state.  Louisiana has eight Electoral votes. Under a Proportional Representation of the popular vote system for Louisiana’s electoral vote, the votes would be divided by percentage of vote, unless the candidate is represented by less than 10 percent of the popular vote. This would also allow for a meaningful representation of the popular vote.

    In the November 2016 Presidential unofficial election results, Trump had 58.10 percent of the popular vote; Clinton had 38.44 percent; collectively all other candidates had 3.46 percent.

    Trump would be awarded 60 percent of the electoral votes (4.8 of 8 = 5): 5 Electoral Votes and Clinton would be awarded 40 percent (3.2 of 8 = 3) : 3 Electoral Votes.

    Using the Proportional Representation method allows for the voices of the citizens to be heard in a meaningful way in the choosing of our President.  This is within the reach of all citizens, if they are willing to contact their State Legislators and ask that the law be changed on how Electoral Votes are awarded to Proportional Representation of the People.

    The choice is up to US!

    By Jean B. Armstrong, CPC, CED
    Baton Rouge

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    TOPS funding cut to less than half for Spring

    According to the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, due to the historic budget shortfalls, students in Louisiana will only be eligible for 41.8 percent of the total Taylor Opportunity Program for Students award for the spring semester. Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement, Nov. 15, on this shortfall in funding. 

    When we leave our kids with more student debt than necessary, we’ve failed them. Going forward, it is my hope that we can restore funding to TOPS because too many students across the state are dependent upon the assistance it offers. In fact, despite the budget shortfalls we’re currently facing, we will not be making further cuts to this program. Today, we risk having an influx of students drop out of college or leave with burdensome debt. We can and must do better.

    As I said in June, the gimmick of ‘front loading’ TOPS gave students and parents false hope for the future. Today, as I said this summer, Louisiana’s budget problems are having a real impact on students and their families. The upcoming regular session in 2017 will give us another opportunity to stabilize Louisiana’s budget and invest in our children’s futures, and I’m asking the legislature to work with me, so that Louisiana’s students are not left to shoulder the burden of our state’s financial problems.

    This year, despite the financial challenges facing the state, students in higher education faced the smallest increase in tuition in a decade.

    Information regarding TOPS funding for the spring semester is available in this FAQ from LOSFA by clicking here.

    On June 24, at the close of the second special session, Edwards criticized the plan to ‘front load’ TOPS and the refusal of certain members of the legislature to work in a bipartisan way to avoid the shortfall.

    In the same press conference, Edwards reminded the public of the potential shortfall for the fiscal year that ended on June 30 and how it would necessarily require action this fall.

    In June, Edwards also called the budget gimmicks from certain members of the legislature regarding TOPS “disingenuous.”

    Read more »
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    Broome urges White to participate in upcoming public forums

    From now until the run-off election on December 10, several organizations are hosting forums and debates between East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President candidates Sharon Weston Broome and Bodi White. Weston Broome and her campaign are concerned with the number of public opportunities White has agreed to attend and participate in.

    “The Broome campaign is pleased to learn that Bodi White has agreed to discuss the issues facing East Baton Rouge parish. Unfortunately, he has only agreed to three public discussions and none will occur before November 21st,” said Michael Beychok, spokesperson for the Weston Broome Campaign. “After agreeing and then backing out of two forums this week, and launching an attack ad from his Super PAC, it is clear that Bodi is not interested in having meaningful and timely discussions about the future of this parish with voters. Rather, and this is no surprise given his leadership style of dividing our parish, Bodi has chosen to use attack ads and limited discussion to speak with voters.

    White has two opportunities to speak publicly with voters this week.

    “Voters deserve to know where Bodi stands so we urge him to accept the Forum 35 invitation tonight and to accept the invitation of the Leaders with Vision invitation later this week so voters can listen to the candidates discuss together how to move Baton Rouge forward,” said Beychok

    The run-off election is Saturday, Dec. 10.

    Read more »
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    System Broken: Can effective criminal justice reform come to La?

    In Louisiana, nearly 4 in 10 inmates released from prison are back behind bars within three years, and the state is spending more than $700 million annually on this broken system.  Organizers of a Criminal Justice Reform Summit said legislators, thought leaders, and others can lead Louisiana to adopt a more just and effective criminal justice system. During the summit, the public and these leaders will learn more about how reforms around the country can be effective within Louisiana’s criminal justice system to lower costs while increasing public safety.

    The summit will be Nov. 17 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge.  Topics on the agenda include:

    • Justice Reinvestment: What it is and Why it’s Critical
    • Cost Saving and Reducing Crime: Proven Successes and Testimonials
    • Linking Workforce Needs and Re-Entry: Unique Employer Challenges and Realistic Solutions

    Panelists include:

    • Jay Neal, interim executive director, GA Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
    • Stephanie Riegel, editor, Baton Rouge Business Report
    • Representative Greg Snowden, MS Speaker Pro Tempore
    • Ian D. Scott, vice president – communications and networks, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
    • Senator Danny Martiny, LA State Senate
    • Terrence Williams, Kia technician, Premier Automotive
    • Stephen Waguespack, president & CEO, LABI
    • Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc, LA Department of Public Safety & Corrections
    • Sheriff Beauregard “Bud” Torres III, Point Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office
    • Judge William J. “Rusty” Knight, 22nd Judicial District Court
    • John Hightower, vice president, East Region, Premier Automotive / Premier Collision Centers
    • Dennis Schrantz, director, Center for Justice Innovation, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations
    • Bryan Kelley, executive relations manager, TX Prison Entrepreneurship Program
    • James M. Lapeyre Jr., president, Laitram LLC
    Read more »
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    Crisis counseling can help families cope with recent flood

    Recovery efforts in Louisiana continue following the historic August floods, and many survivors are still coping with the immediate effects of the disaster. While obvious problems such as home repair preoccupy some Louisianans, there is a quieter, more ominous issue that may threaten flood survivors.

    Disaster-related distress is a silent, serious threat to any individual affected by a major disaster. It can manifest in the form of depression, anxiety or even post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the National Center for PTSD, more than 50 percent of those affected by major disasters develop some kind of clinically significant stress disorder.

    Disaster-related distress is particularly treacherous because it is virtually unpredictable. While individuals with preexisting stress disorders or addictions are more likely to suffer from disaster-related distress, it can attack anyone at any time. Even individuals who show no signs of stress-related disorders immediately after a disaster may develop a condition years later.

    Disaster-related distress, like any other illness, is most easily recognized by its symptoms. While symptoms vary by case and may be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, disaster-related stress disorders usually produce a combination of the following warning signs:

    • Headaches
    • Chest or muscle tightening
    • Fatigue
    • Inability to sleep
    • Overall restlessness
    • Uncontrollable anger, sadness or fear
    • Lack of appetite
    • Substance abuse
    • Social withdrawal
    • Suicidal thoughts

    Individuals exhibiting many or all of these symptoms should seek treatment from a licensed therapist immediately. If left untreated, disaster-related distress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and/or suicidal tendencies.

    While the diagnosis and treatment of disaster-related distress may seem like a daunting process, it is not one that flood survivors and their loved ones need to go through alone. All survivors of the August flooding can take advantage of free disaster crisis counseling available through FEMA and the state of Louisiana.

    The Crisis Counseling Program is funded by FEMA and implemented by the state. The purpose of the program is to provide survivors with free, local counseling services that promote resilience, empowerment and recovery.

    The crisis counselors available through the Crisis Counseling Program are local people, many of whom have also been affected by flooding. These counselors are not therapists; they come from all careers and walks of life. However, they have all been trained to educate, support and inform survivors. If necessary, the crisis counselors can refer survivors to therapists for diagnosis and treatment.

    Crisis counselors are available at all FEMA disaster recovery centers. To find a center near you, call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or text DRC and your ZIP code to 43362. You can also find a center near you by downloading the FEMA mobile app or going online to fema.gov/drc.

    For more information regarding the Crisis Counseling Program or to set up an appointment for counseling, call the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health at 866-310-7977 or the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-985-5990.

    Read more »
  • LETTER: Students need American Courage

    “Well, we better get ready to hop on the ship cause we’re about to be shipped to Africa.”

    “I’m moving to Mexico.”

    “It’s the end of America.”

    These are just some of the ridiculous remarks I overheard throughout the hallways and within the classrooms at my school, directly from the mouths of our intelligent students. These remarks were expressed due to the recent announcement of Donald J. Trump becoming our new President-elect. As a concerned teacher, I allowed students to vent and express themselves concerning the recent election, but majority of the discussion revolved around the negative possibilities of being under President-elect Trump’s leadership. It was also alarming to hear students respond with statements that lacked the fundamental motifs of the American narrative: freedom, hope, and most importantly courage. After being overwhelmed with the various ramblings of hopelessness from the students, our scholars and future professionals, I became frustrated at the lack of courage their remarks possessed. There’s no reason for students to be afraid of being shipped out of the country or have terrifying visions of the apocalypse all because President-elect Trump will serve as our next president. This is a democracy, not a monarchy. The days of the divine rights of the king are over, at least for American citizens. The next generation, and perhaps those from previous generations must revisit the foundational enshrined documents of this great nation which all echo equality, liberty, and the right to be free. However, students, the future defenders of the constitution, are in need of fully understanding and applying the established principals of democracy to continue spreading justice for all. If courage isn’t redefined for our students, maybe the election of Trump is the last chapter of the great American narrative.

    By Billy Gene
    Educator
    Baton Rouge

    Read more »
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    Navy destroyer to be named after first Black aviator

    CHERRY POINT, N.C.—-

    In a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, DDG 121, will be named Frank E. Petersen  Jr., in honor of the Marine Corps Lieutenant General who was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general officer.

    In 1950, two years after President Harry S. Truman desegregated the armed forces, Petersen enlisted in the Navy.

    In 1952, Petersen was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He would go on to fly 350 combat missions during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He also went on to become the first African-American in the Marine Corps to command a fighter squadron, an air group and a major base.

    Petersen retired from the Marine Corps in 1988 after 38 years of service. At the time of his retirement he was, by date of designation, the senior-ranking aviator in the Marine Corps and the United States Navy.

    Petersen died last year at his home in Stevensville, Md., near Annapolis, at the age of 83.

    This is the first ship to be named for Frank E. Petersen Jr.

    Read more »
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    Fall garden workshop scheduled for Nov. 22

    The Southern University Ag Center will host its Fall Garden Workshop themed, “Recovering Your Soil: Gardens, Farms, and Spirit.” The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 9am-2pm on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. Registration will begin at 8:30am.

    The workshop will focus on the topics of:

    • Soil Health
    • Soil Sampling
    • Fall and Spring Planting
    • Flood Resistant Trees

    Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities that include:

    • Propagating Fig Trees
    • Wreath and Bow Making
    • Healthy Eating for the Season

    This workshop is ideal for school and community garden coordinators, large and small farmers, backyard gardeners, college students, and anyone interested in learning something new about agriculture.

    The Southern University Ag Center, its Wisteria Alliance Program and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program are co-sponsoring this event.

    For additional information or to RSVP, contact Mila Berhane, Stephanie Elwood, Dawn Mellion-Patin Ph.D., Zanetti Augustine, or Emily King at (225) 771-2242.

    Read more »
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    Tina, Solange, Kelly, Beyoncé to ‘Love on Louisiana’ Nov 20 in Baton Rouge

    Holiday event aims to raise $1 million for Louisiana flood relief


    The state of Louisiana is set to receive much needed relief following August’s devastating flood.  Tina Knowles-Lawson, Solange Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé  will partner with Essence to raise $1 million for those affected by the flood in Baton Rouge.

    On Sunday, November 20, they will host Love on Louisiana: An Essence Hometown Heroes Tribute celebrating the resilience of the Baton Rouge community.

    “Louisiana is a special place in my family’s history and we are committed as a family to never forget the city and the people of Baton Rouge,” said Tina Knowles-Lawson. “It breaks my heart to see the unimaginable disaster and destruction caused by the flooding, and we will stand and support every effort in place to help the people most affected.”

    The holiday dinner and awards ceremony, set at Raising Cane’s River Center, will honor standout students and teachers for their commitment to serving and rebuilding their communities. With support from the City of Baton Rouge and the State of Louisiana, the event will serve as a call to action to raise $1 million to help families recover in the wake of this summer’s catastrophic flooding, which produced seven trillion gallons of water—three times the rainfall total of Hurricane Katrina.

    In addition to the award recognition, gift baskets containing donated goods will be distributed to students, teachers and families who are still largely affected by the severe flooding. The event will also galvanize citizens from around the world to support Louisiana by donating here to fund new homes for local families via Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge.

    “I extend my deepest appreciation to Ms. Tina Lawson, Essence and Time Inc. for their commitment to helping the people of Louisiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The Essence family has a long and rich history with our state and the ‘Love on Louisiana Tribute,’ which celebrates the strength of our families and students, is especially meaningful. This is the time of year when families, friends and communities come together. Our people have endured many setbacks over the last several months, but they are resilient and determined to come back stronger. But we cannot do it alone and that is why it is so gratifying to know that you support us and that your hearts are with Louisiana.”

    “Baton Rouge is especially proud to host this event that not only recognizes students and teachers who have contributed to rebuilding our community, but will also raise much needed funds to help families recover,” said Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden. “The power that these amazing sponsors bring to this event means it will be a tremendous success, and they have our deepest appreciation.”

    Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #LoveOnLouisiana and by directing supporters to donate here. Follow Essence on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more.

    Read more »
  • Flournoy named Senior Sailor of the Year

    U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Flournoy, a native of Alexandria, Louisiana, was selected as the Senior Sailor of the Year by Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) in Norfolk, Virginia. Flournoy is a 2002 Alexandria Senior High School graduate and has served in the Navy for 14 years.

    “It’s a tremendous honor to be selected as Sailor of the Year,” said Flournoy. “It’s great to be recognized for your hard work and it’s also a great example to your junior Sailors to help them stay focused and keep pushing because anything you want to achieve is achievable through determination and hard work. I’m incredibly humbled and ready to help others reach their goals.”

    The Senior Sailor of the Year (SSOY) award is part of a program established in the interest of recognizing superior performance of enlisted personnel with emphasis on outstanding achievements, exemplary personal conduct and military bearing, and demonstrated initiative in the performance of duty.

    The SSOY award, in addition to recognizing outstanding performance, motivates personnel to strive for improvement in their assigned duties, military behavior, appearance, and leadership.

    Flournoy serves as the Food Service Leading Petty Officer. He is responsible for receiving, stowage, and issuing of galley supplies, and ordering management and delivery of materials to nine regional galleys as well as support of two northern galleys. He manages an inventory valued at $1.5 million for nine shore galleys that guarantees seamless and uninterrupted high quality meals to Sailors and Marines.

    Flournoy also serves as an assistant command fitness leader, command assessment team member, regional watch officer watchbill coordinator, and First Class Petty Officers Association president. Furthermore, he volunteers with the Newport News, Virginia, Crisis Management Center and Little Creek, Virginia, Elementary School.

    “The Navy definitely develops disciplined and well-rounded individuals,” said Flournoy..” I joined when I was 18, on my own, and with no real sense of being and in no time I was functioning as if I had been living on my own for a long time. The responsibility and sense of pride and ownership that is instilled in you, stays with you and it shows in your job accomplishments, taking care of friends and family, and completing goals.”

    “Congratulations to Petty Officer Flournoy for his selection as Senior Sailor of the Year,” said Rear Adm. Jack Scorby, Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. “With his history of sustained superior performance, command impact, mission contribution, dedication to self-improvement, and outstanding professionalism, Petty Officer Flournoy continues to represent the many highly dedicated professionals who ensure the success of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.”

    CNRMA is regional coordinator for all shore-based naval personnel and shore activities in the mid-Atlantic region, encompassing 20 states, 14 installations, 50 naval operational support centers, and 168 special areas.

    As the naval shore installation management headquarters for the mid-Atlantic region, CNRMA provides coordination of base operating support functions for operating forces throughout the region in support of the Fleet, Fighter, and Family.

    “I thank my family for being very supportive over the years and creating the foundation that I was able to build upon when I entered the Navy; to my daughter for being brave and supporting me, and her patience and understanding through all the deployments – I’m incredibly grateful and I love you; and, to my fiancé for pushing me when I needed to be pushed and motivating me to exceed expectations,” said Flournoy. “I thank my Navy leadership and chain of command for having faith in me, guiding and mentoring me, and chewing me out when I needed to be kept in line. Finally, I thank my junior Sailors for their followership and support. I am a product of those I lead and it’s been a great pleasure to serve with some incredible Sailors here.”

    Read more »
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    Financial recovery empowerment seminar

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation in partnership with Red River Bank will host a series of FREE Financial Recovery Seminars, starting on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 from 9:30-11:30am at Delmont Gardens Branch Library; Tuesday, Nov.15, 2016 from 5:30-7:30pm at Scotlandville Branch Library; and Thursday, November 17, 5:30-7:30pm at Redemption Life Fellowship. For more information, email info@urecbr.com or call (225) 356-8871. Register online.

    Read more »
  • Spurlock inducted as Louisiana’s only AAN fellow

    Southern University Baton Rouge School of Nursing professor Wanda Spurlock was recently inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. The only inductee from Louisiana, Spurlock was one of 162 fellow elected from across the world who are recognized for their extraordinary contributions to nursing, healthcare, and society.

    Read more »
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    New Venture to present ‘Black Nativity’

    For more than five decades, “Black Nativity” performances have swept International theaters. The play is a is a powerful retelling of the Nativity story from a Black perspective. In Baton Rouge, the New Venture Theatre will present this soul-stirring rendition of the Christmas Story that fills the theatre with thrilling voices, exciting dance and glorious gospel music.

    Directed by Greg Williams Jr. of New Venture, the two-hour show will be performed at the LSU Shaver Theatre. The show runs Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, Dec. 18 at 3pm. The show is G-rated and appropriate for all ages. Tickets are $27 before December 1.

    The original Black Nativity was written in 1961 by poet Langston Hughes. The cultural viewpoint and gospel music make Black Nativity a unique performance piece. Often adapted, this version of the production will take the audience from a traditional black church to an Africanized Jerusalem through dance, powerful spirituals and anthems, and toe-tapping gospel numbers.

    The play tells the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey through song and dance, culminating in a rousing finale surrounding the birth of Christ. According to New Venture, the importance of the play is that, though an expression of Christian belief via the African-American perspective, the show appeals to all walks of life.

    Read more »
  • COMMENTARY: Don’t increase drug co-payments for the most vulnerable

    In our nation, African Americans die about five years earlier than their white counterparts.

    Unfortunately, this gap could soon widen. Federal officials are considering changes to a Medicare program that would make it tougher for low-income African-American patients to afford their medicines. Without those drugs, they may get sicker and incur higher healthcare costs.

    Specifically, officials are targeting the Medicare Part D Extra Help program, which helps low-income seniors and people living with disabilities pay for prescription drugs. To qualify for the program, beneficiaries must make less than $17,820 per year and have few assets. Extra Help guarantees that enrollees will not have to pay more than $2.95 for generic medicines or $7.40 for brand-name ones.

    To cut Medicare costs, officials want to force Extra Help beneficiaries to switch from brand-name drugs to cheaper generic ones. So they have proposed doubling the co-payments on brand-name drugs and lowering them for generic ones.

    African-American patients would feel the sting of these changes the most. Seventy percent of African-American Medicare Part D beneficiaries are enrolled in Extra Help, compared to 54 percent of Hispanic beneficiaries and 40 percent of all beneficiaries.

    Disrupting African Americans’ doctor-approved treatment plans is particularly cruel, since African Americans suffer higher rates of chronic diseases. They are 40 percent more likely than whites to have high blood pressure. The rate of diabetes among African Americans is 77 percent higher than among whites.

    If co-pays for brand-name drugs double, many patients will find them unaffordable.

    Patients would respond to the higher costs in one of two ways–and both are disastrous.

    Many patients might stop taking their medicines or take them less frequently, to make the supply last longer. Studies show that small co-pay increases in Medicaid reduced cancer patients’ adherence to their prescription regimens. They predictably got sicker, requiring more emergency room visits that resulted in higher healthcare costs.

    Or patients might switch to generic prescriptions, as officials hope. Generics are usually a great option for patients.

    But sometimes, patients experience negative side effects when they switch from a brand-name drug to a generic. That is because even though generics have the same active ingredients as brand-name drugs, they can have different inactive ingredients that affect how patients’ bodies react.

    For example, patients who substituted the brand name version of an antidepressant for the generic version experienced “intense side-effects not seen when using the brand name drug.” They felt jittery and nauseous and no longer “clear.” That is because the generic version released the active ingredients faster than the brand-name drug.

    Such negative reactions, which are harmful in and of themselves, spell double trouble if they cause patients to stop taking their medicines entirely. A study of nearly 500,000 Medicare Part D beneficiaries with diabetes found that those who did not adhere to their medicines had higher rates of hospitalization, ER visits, and death compared to those who adhered.

    Increased visits to the hospital raise healthcare costs for patients and the healthcare system as a whole.

    Health care providers do not prescribe brand-name prescriptions on a whim. They have good reasons for choosing those versions over generics.

    Disregarding the health care providers’ expert opinions and depriving low-income seniors of these drugs will harm their health and likely increase costs. Access to the appropriate medicines is a life or death matter, especially for low-income, African Americans.

    Millicent Gorham is executive director of the National Black Nurses Association.

    Read more »
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    The Drum readers show solidarity with #WhatADoctorLooksLike

    Black doctor asks to help Delta passenger, denied by flight attendant

    On October 9, Dr. Tamika Cross was more than a Delta Air Lines passenger heading to Minneapolis. Cross, a physician from Houston, was a sympathetic medical professional who “jumped into doctor mode” to aid an unresponsive passenger. But, her effort to assist was shunned by a flight attendant because she did not look like a doctor.

    In a detailed Facebook post, Cross wrote, “the attendant said, ‘Oh no sweetie put your hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you’. ”

    Cross, a resident OBGYN physician at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said when a second call was made for a physician on board to “press your button” to assist, she did. While the man was still in need of help, the same flight attendant then asked to see her credentials and bombarded her with question such as, “What type of doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?,” Cross said.

    Then, when a “seasoned white male approached the row and said he is a physician,” the flight attendant told her “thanks for your help, but he can help us, and he has his credentials.” 10 Cover doctors

    In her post, Cross explained that the flight attendant shunned her because of her race and was confident in the abilities of the white male doctor who also did not present credentials.

    Cross said that about 10 minutes later, when the ill passenger’s health began to improve, the flight attendant actually asked her advice about what to do next. Cross complied with the request and said vitals were needed and a glucometer to test blood sugar levels. The flight attendant eventually apologized several times to her, even offering her SkyMiles.

    “I kindly refused,” Cross wrote. “This is going higher than her. I don’t want SkyMiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right.”

    In a written statement, Delta Airlines said it reached out to the doctor and is investigating the incident. “We are committed to treating all passengers with kindness and respect,” it stated.

    Diversity magazine wrote, “Many Black doctors have had similar experiences when their abilities have been questioned due to appearance.”

    Cross’s post went viral with more than 88,000 likes and 42,000 shares. Black female doctors stood in solidarity with Cross and began posting pictures of themselves using the hashtag: #WhatADoctorLooksLike.

    The Drum readers proudly shared photos and names of South Louisiana doctors, giving local awareness to the tag.

    Read more »
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    Young scientists explore propulsion, alternative energy in Baker

    New Orleans scientist Calvin Mackie, PhD, brought the STEM NOLA team of engineers and scientists to Park Ridge Middle Magnet School and challenged more than 150 students attending the first Saturday STEM Baker event on Oct 29. For four hours, scientists as young as three years old conducted experiments in alternative energy, flight, chemistry, mechanical engineering, and paleontology, buoyancy, 3-D construction, flight, and propulsion.

    Read more »
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    God intervenes during stillness, writes Bogalusa native

    According to author Leslie P. Norris, Jr., God is a creator and sustainer of all that was, is, and is to be. AS such, there are times when God decides to intervene in human life.  In Norris’s new book, God’s Early Morning Intervention, he unveils personal experiences with God that lead to the writing of the 112-page book.

    “My book came to life in six years, as God awoke me many early mornings and wrote on the radar screen of my mind, “Be still and know that I am  God” (Ps. 46:10, KJV),” said Norris who is a native of Bogalusa, Louisiana, and son of the late Reverend LHP Norris Sr. and Adele Washington Norris.

    He is a graduate of Southern University Laboratory High School, Southern University, Nicholls State University, and Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta.

    God’s Early Morning Intervention focuses on God, on who He is and on His presence and work in human life.  God reveals and God conceals.  He said, “whether God manifests Himself or hides Himself is not man’s prerogative.  It is Almighty God’s prerogative.”

    Norris said he believes this book relates to concerns about family, religious beliefs and economical conditions that many face today. He said although God has omnipotence, preeminence and ultimate leadership in this world, God is not coercive.  “God may periodically intervene in people’s lives and circumstances but He does so without forcing them to obey and follow His lead. When they follow God’s lead, they are following the lead of the one who knows the way and is the way,” Norris said.

    He goal is to impart to readers the knowledge and understanding that God is always present in their lives. Published by Xllibris, God’s Early Morning Intervention is available at Barnes and Noble.

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  • Louisiana Sheriff approved, watched beatings

    Iberia Parish sheriff Louis Ackal  regularly encouraged detectives to enforce their own version of the law through violence and intimidation of Black residents, according to the testimony ex-narcotics detectives.

    Ackal faces civil rights charges stemming from an investigation of abuse of power and countless cover-ups. He is accused of creating a culture of abuse where officers rarely feared discipline. Several former narcotics detectives poured into a Shreveport courtroom to testify against their former boss. Many of them admitted that abuse and excessive use of force were encouraged. In fact they were regular parts of their job.

    According to The Advocate, testimony by former narcotics team member James Comeaux bolstered the prosecution’s key claim that not only did Ackal direct and/or approve the physical violence, but he was also physically present for the beatings at times.

    Comeaux was one of several witnesses/participants put on the stand. The former detective testified to roaming Iberia Parish following a shooting and roughing up anyone they saw on the streets. He said some drunken off-duty narcotics agents had unnecessarily beaten up two Black men — which they called n–gger knockin’ — and were barely punished for it.

     Comeaux said the narcotics team’s views Black residents as “animals…And they needed to be treated like animals…They knew if they got out there, they were going to get stopped and get dealt with,” Comeaux said.

    He said the sheriff stood by and watched as he and two other deputies abused an inmate following a contraband sweep at the jail in 2011. The inmate was beaten in the jail’s chapel where there were no security cameras. When Comeaux told Ackal about an attempted cover-up, he reportedly responded, “F— that n—–. He got in a fight.”

    Alkal’s case has shed light on the Iberia parish’s racial tensions where Black residents said they’ve long suffered violence at the hands of police officers.

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  • Baranco, LaVergne honored as LSU Legends

    11 DrumRoll Luke LavergneJuanita Powell Baranco, of Atlanta, Georgia, and retired Judge Luke A. LaVergne, of Baton Rouge, were recently honored by the LSU Alumni Association A. P. Tureaud Sr. Black Alumni Chapter as 2016 LSU Legends. LaVergne, retired from the East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court bench, is chair of the Louisiana Judicial Council and executive director of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. Baranco, a 1973 graduate of LSU and a 1977 graduate of the LSU Law School, is executive vice president, chief operating officer, and co-owner of the Baranco Company LLC, consisting of Mercedes Benz of Buckhead and smart Center Buckhead in Atlanta.

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  • FailureFest event embraces the power of failure

    What would you do if you could not fail?

    It’s a clichéd phrase repeated endlessly on coffee mugs and magnets, but Orhan McMillan, co-founder of FailureFest is seeking to direct that question to business owners and the community as a whole. As founder and managing partner of dezinsINTERACTIVE, McMillan understands the power of making mistakes. “I have failed many times, in fact, more than I am even comfortable talking about. But had I not had the opportunity of failure, would I have less opportunity to learn the best qualities of leadership and growth?”

    It was not until after a life-altering accident that Orhan recognized how changing his relationship to failure was the only pathway towards long-term success. “I realized that the paralyzing fear of failure was actually holding me back, causing me to repeat actions that blocked from knowing the truth and therefore achieving true success. Once I accepted that failure did not define me and I released it, the stigma dissipated and the possibility of success was achievable,” said McMillan.

    It’s time for all of us to change the stigma and embrace failure, that’s what FailureFest is all about. On Wednesday, Nov. 16, community and business leaders will discuss the power of failure. The event, which starts at 1pm, is part of the Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week in the Baton Rouge Community College Magnolia Theatre.

    “As business owners, we are familiar with the process of goal setting, short-term and long-term planning, and financial forecasting. But what could we achieve if we began to plan for our next big fail, what if we integrated that into our company culture? What super successes could future entrepreneurs achieve if the conversation of failing was an accepted part of their early educational process?”

    McMillan said he works with several non-profits whose common mission is to bring success and equality to the communities they serve, many of which are deemed failing. “Taking the shame out of a natural part of any journey is key, so I began to ask questions and redefine how I looked at failure, and if possible, figure out how others could benefit,” said McMillan. “I couldn’t help but question how we were defining what failure means, so that by simply changing the conversation from being about not succeeding to continuing down the path you believe in even when it’s hard, we can change the outcome.”

    He said this question is a core principle of FailureFest.

    According to organizers, FailureFest approaches failing as an unveiling of awareness of our underlying strength and adaptability, to learn to embrace adversities and harness their capacity to lead to greater well-being and resilience. “Failure hurts, it’s scary and painful, and no one can escape life’s curveballs,” he said.  “The key is to stay positive in the face of all challenges we may face in life, because there will always be challenges.”

    ONLINE:visitwww.failurefest.net.

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  • Metro council candidate, SU student pens letter against tuition amendment

    Dear Editor,

    This is not a time to vote yes on all amendments and acts. There is a proposed act on the ballot for the November 8th election that everyone needs to vote down and send back. This act is Act 680 – SB 80, also known as the second act on the ballot. This will remove the state legislature’s hold on authorizing the tuition rates at universities, and put the responsibility solely on the boards of the universities. Written by Senator Dan Morrish, a republican of course, SB 80 will provide university board members free will to increase tuition costs as they deem fit. This act can create a huge financial mess for universities and threaten affordability for students.

    Currently, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, from 2008-2016 the state funding per student has decreased by 39.1%. Therefore, if the legislators are the ones cutting funding, they should not push the responsibility of setting tuition on the board members of universities. This takes responsibility off of our legislators making it look like they do not want to take the heat for college tuition. Also, this could create confusion amongst the university board members because they themselves cannot determine how much comes from the state. Thus, creating more work in setting tuition costs and possibly leading to financial havoc.

    VOTE NOFinally, according to a study performed by Dr. Johnson-Cunningham, a political science professor at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, examining the voting behavior of public, state-funded university board members, board members consider the fiscal impact on the university before casting their vote. Therefore, if a university has a shortfall, then the first decision to be made will most likely be an increase in tuition. Universities are run like businesses. Costs are formulated with little or no consideration of the consumer, in this case the student. Thus, this act, if passed, can threaten the accessibility and affordability of a higher education for anyone seeking to further their education.

    In conclusion, vote no this election day for the second amendment on the ballot. For the future of this state, the sake of college students, and the university systems, send this proposal right back to Senator Morrish. Let him know that the citizens of Louisiana will not let legislators back out of this responsibility. This is an instance where they have no choice but to do their jobs. Once again, SB 80 cannot pass this election. Vote NO.

    Sincerely,
    Abigail Winget
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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