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    Ammons appointed as Southern University at New Orleans chancellor

    The Southern University Board of Supervisors approved the appointment of James H. Ammons Jr. as the permanent chancellor of Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO). The appointment comes at the recommendation of System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton, who outlined the search process that included members of the SUNO community as an advisory committee — faculty, staff, students and alumni. The committee was chaired by Retired Lt. General Russel Honore‘.

    “It was evident that the committee felt that Dr. Ammons could ‘hit the ground running,’” said Belton during the Board’s January meeting. “He is aware of the challenges the University must navigate as well as opportunities that must be taken.”

    Ammons has been serving as interim chancellor of SUNO since November 2019. He served as executive vice president/executive vice chancellor for the Southern University System and Southern University Baton Rouge. Ammons has also previously served as president of North Carolina Central University and Florida A&M University (FAMU), respectively.

    Belton added, “I am confident in knowing that Dr. Ammons will bring able leadership that will guide the University in advancing its goals.”

    A native of Winter Haven, Florida, Ammons earned a B.S. degree in political science from FAMU, a masters in public administration, and a doctorate in government from Florida State University. In 2008, he completed the Corporate Governance: Effectiveness and Accountability in the Boardroom Executive Program at the Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

    Ammons began his teaching career in public policy and administration in 1977 as an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida.  In 1983, he became an associate professor of political science at FAMU and quickly moved up the ranks becoming vice president for Academic Affairs in 1995.  From 2001-2007, Ammons served as the ninth chancellor of North Carolina Central University. In 2007, Ammons was elected the 10th president of FAMU — a position he held until 2012.

    Ammons has served on 14 SACS accreditation committees and chaired the committees for North Carolina Central University, Norfolk State University, South Carolina State University and Clemson University.


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  • Minority-owned companies waited months for loans

    According to the Associated Press, thousands of minority-owned small businesses were at the end of the line in the government’s coronavirus relief program as many struggled to find banks that would accept their applications or were disadvantaged by the terms of the program.

    Data from the Paycheck Protection Program released Dec. 1 and analyzed by AP show that many minority owners desperate for a relief loan didn’t receive one until the PPP’s last few weeks while many more white business owners were able to get loans earlier in the program .

    The program, which began April 3 and ended Aug. 8 and handed out 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion, helped many businesses stay on their feet during a period when government measures to control the coronavirus forced many to shut down or operate at a diminished capacity. But it struggled to meet its promise of aiding communities that historically haven’t gotten the help they needed.

    Congress has approved a third, $284 billion round of PPP loans. While companies that did not get loans previously have another chance at help, according to a draft of the legislation, businesses hard-hit by the virus outbreak will be eligible for a second loan.

    The first round of the program saw overwhelming demand and the Small Business Administration approved $349 billion in loans in just two weeks. But many minority-owned firms applied to multiple banks early in the program and were rejected, while others couldn’t get banks to respond to their applications and inquiries.

    “Many of our businesses were being turned down in the first and second round of funding. That caused application fatigue and frustration,” says Ron Busby, president of the U.S. Black Chambers, a nationwide chamber of commerce.

    Read more at the Associated Press.

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    Renters looking for homes can find help with Housing Heroes initiative

    In light of the dire need for quality, safe, affordable, and accessible housing, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said the city has joined the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Louisiana Housing Corporation in activating Louisiana’s Housing Heroes Initiative.

    Housing Heroes is a statewide initiative that works to identify apartments and other rental housing that are move-in ready or have upcoming availability. A significant affordable housing shortage currently plagues Louisiana. Housing Heroes promotes an inclusive strategy to identify and assess readiness critical to the state’s ongoing recovery.

    The initiative aims to provide affordable housing opportunities for approximately 2,000 households — 579 to individuals and families transitioning from non-congregate shelters and 1,549 for renters and homeowners impacted by Hurricanes Delta and Laura.

    Housing Heroes appeal to single and multifamily landlords with available affordable rental units. These units may include apartments, single-family homes, and mobile homes. To post or update any available vacancies, landlords and property owners can visit www.LAHousingSearch.org or dial 1-877-428-8844 (toll-free).

    Assistance may also be available for some property owners who participate in the initiative. The Multifamily Lease and Repair Program (MLRP) allows FEMA to enter into an agreement to cover the cost of repairs and improvements to existing multifamily rental properties for the purpose of providing temporary housing for households displaced due to Hurricane Laura.

    Read more »
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    How to replace lost or damaged documents in Louisiana

    Recent hurricanes may have resulted in the loss of important documents, but there are ways to replace them.

    Birth and Death Certificates: Visit https://ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/649, call 504-593-5100 or email dhh-vitelweb@la.gov.

    Louisiana Driver Licenses: Visit https://www.expresslane.org/Pages/default.aspx.

    Marriage and Divorce Documents: Visit the Louisiana Registrar and Vital Records office online at https://ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/2687.

    Green Cards: Visit https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/after-we-grant-your-green-card/replace-your-green-card or call 800-375-5283.

    Social Security Cards: Visit https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount or call 800-772-1213.

    Identity Theft Resource Center: Visit https://www.idtheftcenter.org/, call 888-400-5530 or email info@fightidentitytheft.com.

    Medicare Cards: Visit https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/or call 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday – Friday.

    Tax Return Documents and Filing Deadlines: The IRS announced that survivors of Hurricane Laura have until Dec. 31, 2020, to file individual and business tax returns and make tax payments; Hurricane Delta survivors have until Feb. 16, 2021. For more information, visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations or call 800-829-1040 (TTY 800-822-4059).

    U.S. Department of Agriculture Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool for Farmers: Visit https://www.farmers.gov/recover/disaster-tool#step-1.

    Military Service Records: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records-0.

    Insurance Documents: Contact the Louisiana Department of Insurance online at http://www.ldi.la.gov/ or call 800-259-5300 or 225-342-5900.

    National Archives Records: https://www.archives.gov/preservation/records-emergency or call 866-272-6272. Learn how to preserve family archives, such as papers and photographs, at https://www.archives.gov/preservation/family-archives.

    Legal Resources: To request legal help visit https://www.disasterlegalaid.org/legalhelp/ or call 800-310-7029.

    For the latest information on Hurricane Laura, visit fema.gov/disaster/4559. For the latest information on Hurricane Delta, visit fema.gov/disaster/4570. Or, follow the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion6.

    Read more »
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    Distance Learning, COVID-19 pose challenges to educators, administrators, parents

    In Southeast Los Angeles’s most under-resourced and predominately diverse neighborhoods of Compton, Lynwood, and Bellflower, David Anderson has served as an educator in the expanding learning and youth development space for more than 15 years.

    The General Manager of Think Together’s Southeast Los Angeles region, Anderson leads a team of role models helping students through enrichment curriculum in the area.

    Anderson has passionately advocated for the education equity needed in the public school system, noting that it’s a requirement to have successful college and post-education careers.

    This year, Anderson and his team have served more than 17,000 students in both a distance learning and in-person support capacity, with students of color comprising nearly 84 percent.

    Anderson told Black Press USA that students, parents, teachers, and administrators of color all face various levels of challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.

    “The biggest challenge with many of the students of color we serve is engagement. Students are faced with inefficient resources, little excitement to learn, and are born without being surrounded by role models and motivations which lead a child to dream, work hard and be successful,” Anderson noted.

    He said the students his team serves are primarily students of color, born without choices and not enlightened to dream.

    “Parents of the students of color are often challenged to provide for their children without the resources and support they need for themselves,” Anderson relayed.

    “These parents have a lack of resources, a lack of time for mental and physical health, and limited time for communication and social-emotional support of their children. That yields an unhealthy and fatigued environment that takes the energy and will to continue to work hard and make it with only hope alone. It is next to impossible for a parent to progress and be their child’s support and motivation while exhausted and without the belief that continuing to work even harder can improve the lives of themselves and their family.”

    Schools provide students with a haven for learning.

    At the same time, teachers and administrators work together to find innovative ways in-person and virtually to make learning fun and help students support students’ academic trajectory and provide enrichment opportunities that students of color are not exposed to and cannot afford, Anderson offered further.

    “Our students are not paying $3,000 to $15,000 to learn teamwork and confidence building through activities such as E-sports, coding, sailing, and photography. Nor are these students of color able to afford a sports trainer for the student to develop mastery in a sport to be competitive at a young age truly,” Anderson said.

    “Without school, these students are not often exposed to financial literacy nor the growing unlimited STEM and tech careers that a child may choose to pursue if their parents or family worked in these industries,” he added.

    Anderson said:

    “It is at school where students of color learn civic engagement, leadership, entrepreneurship, and how to create generational change. Through adversity, teachers and administrators of color especially have the mantle of leadership to build a system of support for current students to rise, have successful careers and lives, and those students as adults may lay a framework for the next generation of students to be born into a life with choices.

    “The next generation of students are to be born exposed to role models at home, enlightened to subjects and careers they may become passionate about, have goals, the will, and belief in themselves to work hard and make their dreams a reality.”

    The educator also stated that students of color and educators still face another barrier: balance.

    “Regardless of your work and school environment, everyone is facing challenges. If you are fortunate to have a job still, you may be working and teaching from home. If you are a parent, or caregiver, working from home is accompanied by the challenge of balancing home and work responsibilities,” Anderson stated.

    He said: “There are heroes in this work deemed essential. These essential persons have the responsibility of being extra cautious because whether or not they have dependents, their health supports others’ well-being. Beyond balancing home, work, and responsibilities are the balance and performing at high levels versus simply accomplishing tasks.

    “Folks currently have the will; however, they often do not have the time nor the energy to be the daily highest performer and greatest achiever had they not had to balance.

    “For sustainability, mental and physical health, it is vital to balance achieving at the highest level with ensuring impact and success and simply being our best in a given moment. Your best is enough.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

    Read more »
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    Southern University receives nearly $500K for preservation of iconic building dating back to 1840

    The National Park Service recently announced a grant of nearly $500,000 to Southern University and A&M College for the preservation of a historic structure on the Baton Rouge campus. The grant, one of 18 awarded to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is for the preservation of the Southern’s oldest building, the Archives Building. The structure is part of the Southern University National Historic District on the bluff of the Mississippi River.

    “These grants help us to honor the legacy of HBCUs in serving our nation’s higher education needs,” said David Vela, former deputy director of the National Park Service. “Funding awarded this year will help preserve 18 historic properties on HBCU campuses in 12 states, many of which are listed in the National Register.”

    Grant funding will be used to rehabilitate the building at Southern that dates back to 1840. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The grant award of $499,938 will serve to also stabilize the grounds and provide students hands-on learning opportunities in historical preservation.

    “The Archives Building represents the humble beginnings of Southern University and we appreciate the support from the National Parks Service in recognizing the significance of preserving this property,” said Ray L. Belton, president-chancellor of the Southern University System. “More importantly, this effort is an opportunity for us to continue to honor our founders and ensure that future generations know the history of the University.”

    The Archives Building, affectionately known as “The Little White House,” is a landmark of the campus. As the only habitable building on the campus when Southern University relocated from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1914, the Archives Building was used in the early years as the university president’s home, administration building, women’s residence, dining hall, infirmary, and a social center.

    “After rehabilitation of the building is complete, it will once again house relevant historic artifacts and data about the University, and will also be available to not only faculty, staff, and students, but also to the Scotlandville community and visitors as an interpretive center,” said Robyn Merrick, Southern University System vice president for external affairs

    Funding for this grant program is made possible through Congressional appropriations to the Historic Preservation Fund. The fund uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, providing assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars.

    Southern’s Office of Facility Services will oversee the project and estimates the rehabilitation will be complete by mid-2021.

    Read more »
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    Community partners host CARES Act Stimulus Funds Education event for people impacted by incarceration

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition (EBRPPRC) is partnering with the Capital Area United Way (CAUW) and their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to offer free information and tax guidance to family members of incarcerated people on Monday, November 9th at the River Center Library in downtown Baton Rouge from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m..   The VITA tax preparation services will be by appointment only.  Those wanting to sign up to meet with the tax volunteers should call (225) 800- 2092.  A host of community partners will be offering everything from healthcare information to asset building programs to voter engagement at informational booths outside in the library courtyard insuring social distancing.  This event is open to the public.

    The VITA tax preparation services will be by appointment only and inside the library in a Pandemic approved environment.  Those wanting to sign up to meet with the tax volunteers should call (225) 800- 2092.  Appointments will be first come, first serve. The special EIP return is only for people who have not filed a 2019 return, have no 2019 filing requirement, and have not received the stimulus. For EIP, all they need is ss cards for everybody on the return (no ITINs), photo ID, address, phone #, dob, occupation, IPPIN, if any, and bank routing and account #s.  For regular returns, they need all the above, plus income and deductions/credits documents.

    There is metered parking, lot parking and the super rare free parking in downtown Baton Rouge.  The library is located at the corner of North Blvd and St. Louis Street, directly across from the 19th JDC and around the corner from the Baton Rouge City Court.

    Partners include the Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana, the Promise of Justice Initiative, EBRPPRC, the EBRPP, Capital Area United Way, United healthcare, Equipping Black Men, The Bail Project, La Bella La Femme, Southeast Legal Services, PREACH, the Power Coalition and more.

    On September 24, a federal judge ruled in favor of an injunction against the IRS requiring them to stop withholding stimulus funds from incarcerated people. As a result, the filing deadline has been extended several times. As of today, the IRS will accept online filings on or by November 21.

    The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections has already issued guidance to allow the tax forms into their facilities.  The Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana reached out to area Sheriffs to ask that local jails also provide forms or access to the IRS website.

    Lieff Cabraser, the law firm representing the incarcerated class of people, has the most updated information available on their website (https://www.lieffcabraser.com/caresact-relief/). If there is another extension for filing, that website is like to contain that information


    The East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition advances solutions and works collaboratively with criminal justice coalitions to reduce mass incarceration and to uphold the basic human rights of those incarcerated at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and their families through education, advocacy, transparency and accountability.

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  • Life Source Hospice celebrates their chaplains


    Life Source Hospice recognized and celebrated their Pastoral Care/Bereavement Department, in honor of Spiritual Care Week/Pastoral Care Week 2020, with an Oct. 27 luncheon.

    This year’s theme is “Collaborative Healthcare: Chaplains Complete the Picture.”

    Life Source Hospice is thankful for the spiritual support to patients, families, and caregivers, and grief support that begins at the time of admission and continues as long as needed. “It is a pleasure to work with our awesome chaplains. They all provide great care and nurturing to our patients and families. “For all you do in Jesus’ name…May you be blessed today, in every way,” Numbers 6:24-26. We recognize and appreciate our team,” said Shedonna Martin, community relations/volunteer services.

    “It is a pleasure to have such caring individuals, even during CoVid-19, who find ways to genuinely provide the comfort, spiritual care needed to our patients, families, and staff. It is a huge blessing to be able to recognize our Chaplains,” said Sunday Jumonville, regional director.

    Life Source Hospice has been providing hospice care and grief/bereavement support to the Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes for 15 years. Life Source Hospice provides hospice care to those individuals who are facing a life-limiting illness, while providing support to their families and caregivers.

    It is the mission of Life Source Hospice to educate all about hospice services. Hospice services are covered by Medicare Part A and most private insurances. In most instances, there is no out-of-pocket expense to the patient.

    For more information about hospice services, support groups, grief support, or how you can volunteer with Life Source Hospice,  contact Martin at (225) 291-9421 or email SMason@asimgt.com.

    Life Source Hospice is licensed to provide hospice services in Louisiana within a 50-mile radius from our main office in Baton Rouge. We care for patients in the following parishes: Ascension Parish, Assumption Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Iberville Parish, Livingston Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, St. Helena Parish, St. James Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, and West Feliciana Parish.

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  • Boo! With the Krewe parade, festival to take over Scotlandville Oct 31

    Phi Gamma Sigma Youth, Inc. Sorority along with Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks and Scotland Saturdays invites everyone to kick off Boo! With the Krewe! Parade and Festival on Saturday, October 31, 2020, 12noon-6p.m.

    The parade, will begin at noon on the corner of Scenic Hwy. and Rosenwald Road, right on Elm Grove Garden Drive, right on Fairchild Road, ending at Scenic Highway.

    Spectators will enjoy community partners dressed in extraordinary costumes and incredible make up ride, drive or float their way through ScotlandvilleBR, throwing bagged candy and other goodies as they pass by!

    The festival, starting at 3p.m. will be located in the Scotlandville Plaza between Scotland Avenue and Scenic Highway with vendors, food and drinks, DJ entertainment, pony ride, caricature artist, balloon twister, face-painting, games and more.

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    Ambassador Chad Barnes Jr. raises funds for OLOL Children’s Hospital, patients

    Every year, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals chose a champion to serve as the ambassador for their local hospital.

    For Baton Rouge, that champion is Chad Barnes Jr, the 2020-2021 CMN Ambassador for Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

    He is the spokesperson for the children’s hospital and helps host events and raise money for kids who live with illnesses.

    The seventh grader appears on OLOL commercials, posters, and websites. He has participated in the hospital’s media-thons, events, fundraisers, and the grand opening for the new children’s hospital on Essen Lane.

    Chad Barnes Jr appears on donation posters in Walmart and Costco to benefit Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital.

    Chad Barnes Jr appears on donation posters in Walmart and Costco to benefit Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

    “I think my favorite part in what I do is letting kids know that they aren’t alone,” Barnes said.

    In June 2017, he began experiencing stomach pains and bloody stools. His health worsened, activating symptoms and leading to medication, hospitalization, anxiety, and more pain. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a condition that causes inflammation in the intestines.

    It is an invisible illness and rarely does Barnes look as bad as he may feel. At times, this could make it difficult for his parents, Donna and Chad Sr., to care for him.

    “I was experiencing appetite loss, nausea, stomach aches, and pain. Ultimately it was traumatic. I was admitted into the hospital for about two weeks which was horrible not being able to do the things I’ve done before. I was originally put on 10 plus medications in the beginning,” he said.

    Even while living with this disease, the gifted and talented student enjoys playing the trumpet, bullet journaling, writing calligraphy, and drawing. He says he wants to attend Stanford University and become a lawyer or social justice activist. He manages an Instagram page–@IBD.Teens–that helps inspire other kids with similar digestive diseases. The page helps young patients stay safe, find comfort, have fun, be positive, and help find natural remedies to help soothe inflammation.

    Earlier this October, the Dance Marathon at LSU hosted its annual Miles for Miracles Walk featuring Barnes and his fascination with the Tesla Company. The 5k walk was dubbed “Charging with Chad,” and he was granted a ride through Baton Rouge in a tesla.

    Even before becoming an amabssador, Barnes has been friendly and supportive of others. He invites teens and children to tour the new kid-friendly facility. “It’s a better place now that we have our own hospital designed just for us,” he said. ℜ

    ONLINE: @IBD.Teens

    By Yulani Semien
    The Drum Youth reporter

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  • Read your ballot, Louisiana

    Intense get-out-the-vote momentum is growing for November third, the day we Americans will cast our votes and “claim” who we want to serve as our 46th president.

    For first time voters, the day has more significance than many media are reporting since many states have multiple races on their ballots. In Louisiana, each vote will critically impact city councils, judgeships, and the state constitution.

    First time voters will make a difference. But, do they understand that? And will they read the ballot?

    Since Louisiana elections are plurality vote elections where majority rules (51% or more), then, every vote of ours will select mayors, city council leaders, district attorneys, and judges in November. Each and every vote will also impact the changes to seven state Constitutional amendments and millage renewals in certain areas.

    Organizations like the Baker-Zachary Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and PAR Louisiana have released voter info and are hosting forums to help voters understand amendments.

    Here’s an experiment: Pick a number between 1 and 7

    As an experiment, members of our team picked a number between one and seven for a corresponding Constitutional amendment.

    We pulled the sample ballot along with the Secretary of State’s explanation. We read each amendment aloud, researched any term that was unclear, and decided how each of our households would be impacted.

    The “abortion rights” amendment and the amendment to change income requirements for homestead exemption were easy decisions. The other amendments required more research. Frustration with the language on the ballot increased. “It seems deceitful,” one argued. They researched more and increasingly became frustrated with verbiage and the process of digging and clarifying the law/policy in order to decide on a yes or no vote.

    Nonetheless, the point had been made: How we vote is critical–immediately– and it is far more than just a vote for any old candidate.

    If consistent voters felt this frustrated and defensive on parts of the amendments, what would first time voters feel? Do they even know these amendments are on the ballot? Where are the commercials about these?  Who’ll read all this before they vote? What if they decide to skip the amendments and just cast their one vote for the president?

    If they do, majority will still win. And that majority may not think in our best interest. That majority may not be an ally.

    Truth is, voters have to get to the polls, allies have to get in the booth and choose to vote for OR against the clear and present dangers that we face. They and we have to vote for the absolute benefit of us now and for generations to come. The impact of every vote this election is long term and intense. What we choose is frightfully a matter of life or death: biologically and financially.

    Louisiana voters, go study your ballot.ºℜ

    Read more »
  • Centenary College athletic director Marcus Manning chosen as executive director of Durham Sports Commission

    Marcus Manning, director of athletics and recreation at Centenary College since August 2018, has been selected as the new executive director for the Durham Sports Commission in Durham, North Carolina. Manning begins his new position on October 19.

    “Marcus Manning has been an outstanding leader for Centenary, both for the Athletics division and the campus as a whole,” said Centenary president Christopher L. Holoman, Ph.D.. “He has grown our athletic program and set a course for more success in the future. He has also been an invaluable contributor to advancing our strategic plan and a powerful voice for diversity and inclusion. We are excited to see what he will accomplish in his new role and wish him all the best.”

    Manning, a St. Louis native, came to Centenary from Maryville University in St. Louis where he was the athletic director for six years. He served as interim athletic director from August 2018 until his permanent appointment in February 2019.

    In his short time at Centenary, Manning oversaw 20 varsity sports and spearheaded the addition of two varsity sports – esports and STUNT, beginning fall 2021 – and one club sport – men’s competitive club volleyball, in the spring of 2020. Centenary made history as it became one of the first in the state of Louisiana to offer these sports under the direction of the athletic department.

    The athletic department previously announced the additions of men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s track and field and competitive cheer and dance in 2019. In the spring of 2019, the Centenary athletic department launched the Centenary College Athlete Network, a branded and customized technology platform to organize, promote, and track the programs and services offered to all current and former student-athletes. Centenary became the first Division III program to adopt this groundbreaking technology.

    Manning was also instrumental in the installation of a new playing surface at Mayo Field, home of Centenary’s men’s and women’s soccer teams and men’s lacrosse team. The new surface was installed prior to the 2019 soccer season, and was officially dedicated on Sept. 27, 2019.

    In the summer of 2020, Manning was named the recipient of the College’s David Womack Award, giving to a Centenary faculty or staff member who gives attention to working across divisional and departmental lines, to building bridges, and to being intentionally inclusive of all members of the Centenary campus community.

    “I can’t thank Dr. Holoman enough for his leadership and the opportunity to serve our coaches, staff, student-athletes, and entire campus community,” said Manning. “During my time at Centenary I’ve been able to witness academic success, community engagement, great individual performances, All-American performances, championship level team performances, coach of the year awards, and a NCAA Tournament appearance. The Centenary community welcomed me, provided learning opportunities, and great memories. And for that, I will forever be grateful and thankful.”

    David Orr, Centenary’s assistant athletic director for recreation and facilities, will serve as interim athletic director following Manning’s departure.

    Read more »
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    Southern University receives $139,000 Board of Regents’ grant

    Southern University’s Department of Agricultural Sciences has received a grant to establish the JAG’s DEN, a virtual reality laboratory that will assist within the department.

    “The JAG’s DEN will allow the department to enhance the global competitiveness of our graduates by creating more diverse learning opportunities while they are in the program,” said Harold Mellieon Jr. PhD., chair of the Department of Agricultural Sciences. “The JAG’s DEN will be used as a reinforcement space to enhance the content in course lectures and labs by supplementing with virtual reality.”It will also be a recruitment tool for the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences (CAFCS).

    The lab was funded by the Louisiana Board of Regents’ Journeys in Agricultural Science Developing Educational Networks grant for $139,500.

    Mellieon is the principal investigator for the grant  along with Dr. Renita Marshall, vice chancellor for academic and student services/ associate dean of the Southern University CAFCS, Nastassia Jones, PhD, associate professor, and Francesca Mellieon-William with the SU Science and Math Education Department (SMED).

    For additional information about the JAG’s DEN virtual reality laboratory, contact Dr. Harold Mellieon, Jr. at harold_mellieon@subr.edu.

    Read more »
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    Did you receive HUD rental assistance before Hurricane Laura? You may be eligible for FEMA help

    If you were directly impacted by Hurricane Laura and live in one of the 21 parishes designated for FEMA Individual Assistance and were receiving rental assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prior to the hurricane, you should register with FEMA.

    You can apply for FEMA help if you were displaced from your HUD-assisted housing because of Laura. This includes those who were:

    • Living in HUD-assisted public housing.
    • Living in a privately owned apartment that provides rental assistance from HUD.
    • Living in a private home using a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher from a housing authority.

    Some of the assistance you may be eligible for:

    Temporary assistance to pay for a place for you and your family to live.
    Grants to replace essential contents — such as clothing and essential household items — and medical, dental and burial expenses.
    Those who have HUD rental assistance may receive FEMA help to pay for a place to live until:

    • You relocate back to public housing.
    • You relocate back to the private housing that provides HUD assistance.
    • You sign a lease with a private property owner using a Section 8 voucher.

    Federal law prevents FEMA from duplicating benefits provided by another agency. When a HUD-assisted resident’s home becomes unlivable, HUD stops paying rental assistance for that residence. The survivor may then apply for FEMA Individual Assistance. There is no duplication of benefits because HUD is not paying rental assistance.

    When the survivor moves back into a HUD-assisted residence or signs a new lease for rental housing under the Section 8 program, HUD assistance resumes. At that point, the survivor may no longer receive FEMA assistance.

    The first step to be considered for FEMA help is to apply. There are three ways:

    • Log onto DisasterAssistance.gov.
    • Download the FEMA app. You can also use the app to check the status of your application.
    • If you cannot access the website or FEMA app, call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that service.
    • Visit DisasterAssistance.gov and enter your address to find out if your parish is declared for Individual Assistance.

    For the latest information on Hurricane Laura, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4559 or follow the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion6.

    Read more »
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    Zetas honor breast cancer survivors with yearly celebration and wig collection

    The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Omicron Sigma Zeta chapter in Baton Rouge has scheduled its Blutiful In Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Program for Thursday, October 29 at 6 p.m. Due to the pandemic, it will take place virtually via Zoom.

    “Over the past five years, we have been able to impact the lives of hundreds of warriors and survivors of this illness,” said Christina Carter, chair of the Zetas Helping Other People Excel (Z-HOPE) committee. “The more we can educate ourselves on prevention and early detection as well as take better care of ourselves the more we can change the statistics impacting our communities.”

    The purpose of this program is to bring about awareness to breast cancer as well as to inform and discuss prevention and healthy lifestyles. As part of this program each year, the chapter collects new wigs for the Cancer Center of Baton Rouge. The community will have two opportunities to drop-off wigs: Friday, October 16 from 3pm-5pm. at Sherwood Middle Magnet and Saturday, October 24 from 10 a.m.-noon at Independence Park.

    The Blutiful In Pink program is free and open to the public; however, registration is required. Participants can register at http://bit.ly/blutifulinpink.

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  • ,,

    Dr. Michelle Dennis becomes BRCC dean of nursing, allied health

    Baton Rouge Community College has named Michelle D. Dennis, Ph.D. the new dean of nursing and allied health.

    In this role, Dennis will oversee degrees and certificates in the nursing, practical nursing, medical assistant, diagnostic medical sonography, emergency medical technician, pharmacy technician, surgical technology, and veterinary technology.

    “We are excited to welcome Dr. Dennis to the BRCC team,” said BRCC Chancellor Willie E. Smith PhD. “Dr. Dennis has extensive experience in the nursing field and she will be a great asset to our Nursing and Allied Health Division. I am confident that her passion for our faculty, staff and students will serve BRCC well.”

    Dennis earned a bachelor of science in chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana, a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Alabama, a master of public administration- healthcare concentration, and doctorate of philosophy in healthcare public policy  from Southern University and A&M College Baton Rouge.

    Dennis is the director of nursing within the Medical-Surgical Division with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. In this role, she serves in various capacities not limited to managing the daily operations of the nursing units, operating within the outlined staffing matrix as well as meeting daily, monthly, quarterly, and yearly budget goals, the development and retention of personnel including both the nursing and ancillary staff. She collaborates with the Clinical Education Team to outline the placement of Nursing Students for clinical rotations while serving as the Chair of the Organization of Nurse Leaders Committee, Chair of the Charge Nurse/Nurse Supervisor Committee, as well as Chair of the OLOL Liturgical Committee. She was also selected to the Louisiana Nurse Leadership Class of 2020.

    Throughout her 20-year career in nursing, the first 12 years were spent working at the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham, Al. During this time, she worked in numerous areas, which included critical care primarily surgical intensive care, surgical nursing as both a circulating nurse and scrub nurse, perioperative and post-operative nursing, medical-surgical nursing, case management nursing, and also as a kidney and liver transplant nurse coordinator. Working in these various areas allowed for a vast opportunity of growth and knowledge into the diversity and depth that lies within the world of nursing. In these roles, she has been able to consistently work in a manner allowing her to become exceptional not only in her skills but has also constantly presented the opportunity for her to provide instruction to others as a preceptor and clinical education instructor.  Dennis maintains a passion for Nursing centered around giving patients, family, and staff the best care experience, and this is achieved through embodying staff with all of the necessary tools to be the absolute best Nurse possible. Furthermore, this enables them to provide their patients with highest and most effective level of care.

    Dennis is an active volunteer with Move Baton Rouge, which is a physical fitness program dedicated to improving the health of citizens of Baton Rouge. She also serves as volunteer and tutoring instructor for the Louisiana Leadership Institute. She is an active member of the Southern University Alumni Home Chapter and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She enjoys Zumba, cycling, running and spending time with her three nephews Isaiah, Renard (RJ), and Ryan.

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  • LSU president urges students to test monthly for COVID

    In a letter to all LSU Students, interim president Tom Galligan wrote:

    I write to you today with a very specific request: I’m asking each of you to get tested for COVID-19 at least once a month at one of our testing sites across campus.

    Why am I asking this? Testing for COVID-19 remains an integral part of our plans to keep the LSU community safe and healthy. As Dr. Birx, head of the White House coronavirus task force, mentioned in her recent visit to LSU, widespread testing allows for a better understanding of the presence of COVID-19 on our campus, which is the only way for us to make informed decisions. If the virus is contained or limited in its presence, we may be able to loosen current restrictions. On the other hand, if tests show a heightened presence, we can better protect you from exposure. In short, it’s a win-win.

    I fully understand the reluctance to get tested out of concern for having to isolate if the result is a positive, but studies indicate the majority of young adults infected with COVID-19 show no symptoms at all, meaning unless you get tested regularly you could unknowingly be spreading the virus among your family and friends. Regular testing is especially important if you’ve attended any gatherings where others weren’t taking precautions, such as wearing a mask. The risk may seem low to you, but keep in mind that COVID-19 spreads easily and affects different people in very different ways.

    Community is at the heart of who we are as a university. We care for each other, especially when it seems difficult. So, if you’re still questioning whether to get tested, I encourage you to think of your friends, your family, your professors, and your colleagues. They’re depending on you. We depend on one another. Together, we will be successful in the fight against COVID-19.

    More information about how and where to get tested can be found at lsu.edu/roadmap/health/testing.php.



    Tom Galligan
    LSU Interim President and Professor of Law

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  • Southern University Ag Center launches medical cannabis product line for autism

     The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, with Ilera Holistic Healthcare today announced the statewide launch of the HOPE™ line of medical cannabis tinctures based on groundbreaking scientific research on using cannabis to treat the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in both children and adults.

    Grown, cultivated, processed and packaged in Louisiana, HOPE™ products are available exclusively through state-licensed medical marijuana pharmacies and available to all Louisiana patients and families through a doctor’s prescription.

    “After seeing the success of HOPE™ in Pennsylvania, we were determined to bring it to patients of Louisiana, a state where we exceed the national percentage of autism diagnoses–while at-risk and under-served patients still struggle to receive safe and effective healthcare,” said Ilera Holistic CEO Chanda Macias. “Louisiana families deserve full access to all the benefits that cannabis medicine can provide, and we are thrilled to have HOPE™ in this market and available to everyone.”

    Scientific research shows cannabis to be safe and effective on patients (including children) to treat ASD, and patients who use it have reported significant improvement in their quality of life, mood, and sleep–and less reliance on other medications.

    HOPE™ is the brainchild of Erica Daniels, founder of Hope Grows for Autism, a nonprofit aimed at improving the lives of families affected by autism through research, education and advocacy of medical marijuana.

    “The autism community in Louisiana is blessed to have a partner in Ilera Holistic Healthcare to bring HOPE™ to families affected by ASD,” said Daniels. “Now more than ever, patients are struggling with the symptoms associated with autism. I am so thrilled that Ilera Holistic Healthcare is bringing HOPE™ to so many Louisiana patients who need it!”

    “HOPE™ is another product with which we are proud to be associated,” said Janana Snowden, Ph.D., director of the Southern Institute for Medicinal Plants at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. “The work we do aims to not only provide valuable research but to also provide potentially beneficial and accessible treatments for symptoms due to conditions that thousands of people live with daily, like autism.

    HOPE™ was formulated by Zelira Therapeutics a leading global therapeutic medical cannabis company with access to the world’s largest and fastest growing cannabis markets. The company’s focus is on developing branded cannabis products for the treatment of a variety of medical conditions including insomnia, autism and chronic non-cancer pain.

    HOPE™ is gluten, dairy, soy and nut-free; scientifically formulated, lab tested, and pesticide free; and only available in the state of Louisiana at licensed cannabis pharmacies. HOPE™ will be available in two formulations: “HOPE1,” a 1:1 THC:CBD tincture, and “HOPE2″, a 5:1 THC:CBD tincture.

    View the list of Louisiana Licensed Dispensaries.



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    Tangipahoa high school students return to campus 4 days per week starting Oct. 12

    Tangipahoa Parish School Superintendent Melissa Stilley announced today that the district is completing bus counts now with the intention of bringing all high school students back on campus four days per week starting Monday, Oct. 12.

    “I’m proud to say that we have our plans ready to go, and we are looking forward to offering on-campus instruction to all of our traditional students from pre-K all the way up to 12th grade starting Oct. 12,” Stilley said.

    This shift will allow students in grades 9-12 to have classroom instruction on the school’s campus everyday except Wednesdays for the remainder of the fall semester. Wednesdays will be full virtual days for all high school students in Tangipahoa through the end of December.

    Stilley said high school seniors will be required to take the ACT on their high school campus on Tuesday, Oct. 6. As a result, Group A students in grades 9-11 will not attend school on campus next Tuesday. Group A students will work virtually from home to allow capacity for all seniors to attend school that day and complete their ACT. Only students in Group A will be impacted by this scheduling change, and students in Group B will attend class as normal on Thursday, Oct. 8, and Friday, Oct. 9.

    Stilley said there may be a need for bus routes to be slightly adjusted to allow for the return of all students in Grades pre-K to 12. Any changes will be announced the week of Oct. 5, and families will be notified accordingly.

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  • Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins calls on Louisianans to come together, denounce white supremacy

    Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins released the following statement calling for unity in condemning white supremacy and hate groups:

    “White supremacy has a heinous chapter in our history that no Louisianan wants to resurrect. When David Duke ran for Governor in Louisiana, Republicans and Democrats came together behind the leadership of President George H.W. Bush to reject his candidacy. Today, we must once again reject calls for white supremacists to mobilize. We must look past our differences and reaffirm the shared values that make us Americans.

    Those shared values are why I stepped forward after September 11th to defend our nation and why I am stepping forward again today. I urge Senator Cassidy and every Louisianan to step forward together in denouncing white supremacy and declare in a united voice that we unequivocally condemn last night’s call for hate groups to “stand by.”

    We as a state and as a people have battled and defeated the scourge of white supremacy before and we shall do it again.”

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  • ,

    Brandon Common named LSU associate vice president for student affairs, dean of students

    LSU has named Brandon Common as the university’s new associate vice president for student affairs & dean of students. Common, who currently serves as assistant vice president of student affairs for campus life at Illinois Wesleyan University, will serve as LSU’s principle student advocate and provide strategic leadership for programs, services, events and experiences that enhance the LSU student experience.

    “During his candidacy, Dr. Common distinguished himself as a roll-up-his-sleeves, creative problem-solver who is focused on what we can do to improve the lives and experiences of students,” said Jeremiah Shinn, LSU vice president of student affairs. Throughout his career, he has consistently earned the confidence of students, staff, and faculty alike. I believe LSU will benefit mightily from his leadership.”

    Common’s wealth of experience will enable him to fulfill key responsibilities including  developing a comprehensive framework for the LSU co-curricular experience, serving as Deputy Title IX Coordinator, and providing leadership and support for Campus Life, Greek Life, the William A. Brookshire Military and Veterans Student Center, Student Advocacy and Accountability, and Student Government.

    “I am truly thankful for the opportunity to join an institution that is committed to innovation and to providing a world-class education to the individuals of this community, state, and country,” Common said. “I look forward to working alongside gifted and dedicated professionals in helping LSU students thrive throughout the entirety of their time while on campus.”

    Common earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Missouri-Columbia, a master’s degree from Ohio University, and a Ph.D. in educational organization and leadership – higher education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is expected to begin as LSU associate vice president & dean of students on Dec. 7, pending approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.


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    Grambling names Kenyatta Randall director of talent acquisition and recruitment

    Grambling State University alumna Kenyatta Randall has joined the University as Director of Talent Acquisition and Recruitment.

    “We are excited to welcome Kenyatta Randall back to Grambling State University,” said Lori Williams, Grambling State’s associate vice president for operations and chief human resources officer.

    Randall earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Grambling State University. She is a real estate agent and notary in the State of Florida. She recently earned a master of business administration with an emphasis in human resource management from the University of the People. She brings 14 years of Human Resources experience to the role. She served four seasons with the Miami Heat and The American Airlines Arena as senior recruiter and human resources information systems administrator.

    Her responsibilities included all HR strategic areas and overseeing executive and front office staff recruiting for all sporting events, awards shows, concerts as well as the 2006 NBA Finals. Randall also implemented the internship program by recruiting academically talented students from various colleges and universities.

    Randall later moved to Tampa Bay and was recruited by the Champs Sports corporation as HR Manager where she managed HR policies and streamlined HR procedures for the corporate office. She later became the recruitment and employment manager for the University of South Florida and most recently as human resource administrator for USF Health and the College of Nursing.

    “In her new role as the director of talent acquisition and recruitment,  Ms. Randall will  transform how we identify, recruit, and acquire talent,” Williams said. “She brings institutional knowledge and a wealth of experiences from the private and public sectors. We look forward to the diversity of thought and expertise she will contribute to the Human Resources team.”

    “My goal as the Director of Talent Acquisition and Recruitment is to identify and acquire the best talent, the brightest talent, and the right talent to serve at Grambling State University. Hiring is and will always be the most important key to growth and to supporting the mission and vision of the college,” Randall said.

    Randall was deeply involved within the south Florida community as a member of Leadership Miami, volunteered for South Florida & Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl Host Committees, National Association of Black Sports Professionals, National Society for Human Resource Management, Tampa Bay Society for Human Resources Management, Hospitality Human Resources Association, and is a Vice Chair of the Palmetto Youth Center board of directors located in Palmetto, Florida.


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  • Federal disaster assistance available for Hurricane Laura survivors

    State and federal officials are encouraging Louisiana residents affected by Hurricane Laura to register for disaster assistance with FEMA as soon as possible.

    Disaster assistance has been made available to the state of Louisiana to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vernon parishes affected by the hurricane from Aug. 22 to Aug. 27.

    In order to your process application for disaster assistance and avoid denial notifications, survivors can apply by following these steps:

    The first step is to contact your insurance company to file your storm-damage insurance claims.

    The second step is to register. To do so:

    • Call 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- and hearing-impaired. If you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone lines operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT, seven days a week.
    • Go to www.disasterassistance.gov or via web-enabled phone or tablet at m.fema.gov.

    If you have already applied for FEMA assistance and been denied, additional information might have been needed to fully process your application. You will need to have the following readily available:

    • A current phone number where you can be contacted;
    • Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying;
    • Your Social Security number, if available;
    • A general list of damages and losses; and
    • If insured, the insurance policy number, or the agent and company name.

    Disaster assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

    Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are available to homeowners, renters and businesses. Call the SBA at 1-800-659-2955 or visit www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.

    Federal funding is also available to the state, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal in those same parishes. Funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance for Public Assistance, and for hazard mitigation measures in all parishes of the state.

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    COVID-19 is third-leading cause of death for Black Americans

    New data suggests the novel coronavirus is the third leading cause of death for Black Americans.

    A report from the Brookings Institution examined how Black families were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and found it has become a leading cause of death. Only cancer and heart disease are deadlier. Black people are twice as likely to die from the virus when compared against white and Asian people.

    “In 2020 more Black Americans will die of COVID-19 than will succumb to diabetes, strokes, accidents, or pneumonia,” the report stated.

    The pandemic is the latest example of health disparities that affect Black Americans because of institutional racism, the report authors suggest.

    “If I told you on Jan. 1 that a new virus that we did not even know about would, in August, be the third-leading cause of death for Black Americans our hair should have been set on fire and we would have an extensive public policy response to this unprecedented pandemic,” report co-author Trevon Logan, an economics professor at The Ohio State University, told WTOP.

    The study also looked at the economic ramifications of COVID-19 for the Black community.

    Bradley Hardy, another member of the research team, told WTOP 50 percent of Black people live in households that have lost income since the pandemic started. Additionally, 20 percent of Black families experience some form of food insecurity.

    “There’s not just well-documented income gaps, but there’s also really yawning wealth gaps,” Hardy said. “[Black] households don’t necessarily have that resource or that cushion to lean on.”

    The study recommended “reliable fiscal policy responses” to help families cope.

    “Inadequate additional federal economic relief — such as legislation that does not provide enough unemployment assistance and supplements to the safety net — potentially threatens the economic security of Black families,” the authors warned.

    The Brookings study comes days after a report backed by the National Urban League found Black people are becoming infected at rates three times higher than those for white people. The report, titled “State of Black America Unmasked,” cited findings from American Public Media Research that showed Black people are twice as likely to die from COVID-19. Black people, along with Latinos, are four times more likely to be hospitalized compared to white patients. Part of the report’s findings is based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

    The researchers also highlighted problems with access to coronavirus tests and racial bias.

    “Black people with COVID-19 symptoms in February and March were less likely to get tested or treated than white patients,” National Urban League CEO Marc Morial wrote in a blog post.

    “Studies showed that doctors downplayed Black patients’ complaints of pain, prescribed weaker pain medication and withheld cardiac treatments from Black patients who needed them.”

    By The Atlanta Black Star

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  • Get counted; Louisiana Census Day is Aug 26

    Louisiana Census Day is August 26, and you can help shape Louisiana’s future. Currently Louisiana has a 57.3% self-response rate, but with your help we can get well over 70%.  Every person not counted in the census costs their state approximately $1,800 per year in lost federal funding, according to Census Bureau estimates. Complete the Census online at my2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020.

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  • COMMENTARY: What is THIS all about, Alfie?”

    These times have caused many of us to be all over the page in trying to figure “what is this all about, Alfie?”  (You remember the song. I know the grandparents do.)

    What is this pandemic all about, anyway?

    I believe the answer is attention. That’s right. ATTENTION.

    In the field of counseling, one dynamic strategy, or technique, or practice has resurfaced. It is called “Mindfulness.” Without going into a lecture, I will just say that when one is “mindful,” one is intentionally focused upon one’s priorities—the main thing, indeed, being the main thing.

    With mindfulness, one is effective in being purposefully driven to finish what one is mindful of “finishing“. In the scriptures, when God said something is finished, it was completed. It is “finishing” a thing that enables one to rest,  “after the finish”. And when one is mindful of a thing, he or she sticks to or with it until “finish” is the result.

    On a spiritual level, the enemy is trying to conduct a “mind shift” from spiritual victory to spiritual defeat. But if we believe Romans 8:28 in that all things are working together for our greater good, then we need to finish being captivated by fear and what ifs and think about what greater good can come and will come from this pandemic. Immediately, I think of “intentionality” in the maintenance of health. From the scripture (Philippians 4:8) which counsels us to think on these things: true things, honest things, just things, pure things. things which are lovely and of a good report, and if there be any praise, think on these things. In other words, THINK about what you are thinking about. Intentionality is the key; Mindfulness is the way.

    How many times have we allowed the “immediate” stuff to get our attention immediately? Old Toothless tempts us to major in the minor and minor in the major. Consequently, the important stuff, such as family connections, thoughtful considerations of our loved ones get shifted from “I’ll see them this weekend” to “maybe  I’ll get to it next weekend” until next weekend never arrives.

    Now you may be asking what, if anything, has this pandemic got to do with what I have just brought to your Mind? Simple: Ask yourself, what is this COVID virus kept me (away) from, FINISHING?

    Let me explain.

    We all know that our days to finish our occupation on this planet are numbered. Right? Even though you may not have been mindful of that fact, this pandemic has succeeded in causing us to think about how our completion(finishing) on this earth maybe interrupted by an early exiting. COVID’s completion, once it enters the body, cannot be predicted, like a malignancy sometimes can. A lot of time is spent fighting the virus and not RESTING in a predicable outcome of overcoming. While some of the virus’ victims become victors in overcoming the illness, and others “fight to the finish” without surviving this life. Victory is assured when the fight is yielded to the proper outcome of the FINISH.

    I believe, on the positive side, that this pandemic comes that we might be mindful of living. Living and dying have become underrated because very few of us are mindful of INTENTIONAL living.  It is in Intentional Living that death has to give up its sting. Selah.

    These are some of the obvious things to do as this COVID-19 pandemic tries to distract you and grab your attention.

    1. Live DELIBERATELY, till you finish living. If you want dying to not be so fearful, live life to its fullest in glorifying God.
    2. Appreciate your children and their children. Share (not waste or kill) time with them. Impart yourself into them. Plant your best self into them.
    3. Be intentional in your purpose for living.
    4. Forgive yourself.
    5. Give your family, friends, and colleagues something positive to connect to you and you alone. (What positive thing are you doing that no one else is doing?)
    6. Exhibit that you care
    7. Love, talk, laugh, and share intentionally. God will increase the value of what you planted and watered in this earth.
    8. Give your attention to the main things.
    9. Keep the main thing, the MAIN thing. Distractions distract us from completion.

    ‎”What’s it all about, Alfie?” It’s all about your intention on placing your attention on finishing.

     By barbara w. green
    Guest columnist

    From her Inner Reflections’ office in Baton Rouge, barbara w. green counsels individuals, families, and groups in person and virtually. She is a certified counselor and author of The Parent Anointing, The Great One, and a charge to keep is available in her office and through independent book stores, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
    ONLINE: www.barbarawgreenministries.com

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    Free COVID19 testing August 28 in Baker

    The City of Baker has again partnered with Southeast Community Health Systems to provide free COVID19 testing. Testing will be administered on Friday, August 28 from 9am until noon at the Miracle Place parking lot, 2080 Main Street in Baker. Registration packets are available for pickup at Baker City Hall and need to be completed and returned to City Hall by August 25 at noon. Onsite registration will be available until 11am; however pre-registration is highly encouraged.

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    BRCC classes start Aug. 17 with aggressive safety measures, a variety of teaching formats

    Fall 2020 classes at Baton Rouge Community College begin on Monday, Aug. 17 with a variety of teaching formats in place, including online, in-person, and hybrid classes that will allow students to receive the necessary instruction in all available ways possible for their fields of study. This update comes after several months of planning course schedules and implementing aggressive safety measures, including masks/face covers and social distancing mandates, as well as smaller class sizes and access to professional-grade cleaning supplies and proper PPE disposal.

    “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome our students back for the fall semester. We are prepared and ready to assist all of our students with various offerings in different teaching formats. Remaining completely online just isn’t an option when you are educating the state’s next healthcare professionals, welders, and more,” said BRCC Chancellor Willie E. Smith, Ph.D. “Some classes must be taught in a hands-on format, while others like general education courses can properly function as online offerings. We also recognize some courses can be offered as a hybrid model that allows classroom instruction to take place virtually with labs happening in-person. Due to the variety of offerings and deliverance of them, our team has spent months crafting plans and opportunities for immeasurable growth to provide our students with the best accessibility possible during this very uncertain time.”
    Students are invited to review BRCC’s back to campus plan at www.mybrcc.edu, and also view the Academic Calendar which highlights important dates for Fall 2020, including the various entry points for fall classes. Baton Rouge Community College offers a 15-week, 12-week, and two 7-week course options each semester. It’s not too late to register for any of the upcoming sessions. A variety of institutional aid packages may be available to those eligible registrants.
    Baton Rouge Community College has eight educational sites located throughout the Capital Region and enrolls approximately 8,000 students and has over 500 employees.
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  • Kamala Harris’ Louisiana campaign chairs celebrate VP selection

    Kamala Harris Louisiana Campaign Chairs Councilmember Helena Moreno and State Representative Ted James Release Statements on the Historic Selection for VPOTUS, Aug. 12.
    “This is the right choice for the Biden team. Kamala Harris has the ability to energize and bring people together. She’s also battle-tested and has the tenacity to be a strong running mate. This is major for the people of Louisiana and the city I represent, New Orleans. She’s visited several times and will be a tremendous ally. I know that she is deeply concerned about the constant struggles faced by Americans today, but she and Joe Biden will get us out of this crisis. I’m excited and prepared to help in any way to get them both elected,” said New Orleans City Councilmember Helena Moreno.

    “This is a historic pick for a Vice-Presidential running mate, but most importantly this is the best pick to unite and excite our party. Kamala is a fighter, a fighter for the people of America. She is not scared to take on Trump or his administration and has been combating their destructive policies. I am incredibly proud to have been an early supporter and been part of her campaign. Now it’s time for all of us to get to work to ensure that the Biden/Harris team makes it all the way to the White House,” said State Representative Ted James of Baton Rouge.

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  • SU Ag Center set to host virtual training sessions on the dangers of tobacco use

     The Southern University Ag Center’s Communities of Color Network will host a ‘Conversation with Communities of Color Network…Tobacco and You,’ a Facebook Live Series.  The series will be broadcasted on the Southern University Ag Center’s Facebook page at 11 a.m. on the following dates:

    • August 13 – Did You Know…Your Smoke Can Make Me Sick?
    • August 18 – What Do You Know About Tobacco?
    • August 20 – Someone is talking about You: Real Quotes from Tobacco Executives, Part 2
    • August 25 – What’s The Yellow Stain on Your Wall?
    • August 27 – Smoking Breaks Your Heart!
    • COC FB Live Schedule 8.11.20 2

    “It is imperative that the Communities of Color Network continues to move forward in our efforts to educate and provide resources to the constituents of Louisiana especially during these unprecedented times,” said Linda Early Brown, Director of the Communities of Color Network.  “We will continue to bridge the gap, virtually as we fight to eradicate and/or reduce tobacco consumption within our communities,” added Brown.

    The Communities of Color Network provides support and technical assistance to African-American communities to ensure they are well-informed about the dangers of tobacco, and understand how to protect themselves from unhealthy exposure.

    Its mission is to eliminate health inequalities caused by or related to tobacco use among Louisiana communities of color by building coalitions, increasing awareness of the dangers of tobacco, and reducing tobacco consumption and secondhand smoke exposure.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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    Bar association honors Angela White-Bazile with a Hidden Figures Award

    Angela White-Bazile received the Hidden Figure Award from the National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division. She is executive counsel for Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson. The award recognizes a woman lawyer who’s made significant contributions to the legal profession that are not widely known.

    White-Bazile is the first Black woman to hold the position of executive counsel at the Louisiana Supreme Court and has been in the role since March 2014. She has worked to champion diversity and inclusion and foster the advancement of women in the legal profession over the past 24 years, while highlighting the importance of community service and mentoring.

    Nominees for the award have broken barriers or new ground; showed resilience to change the projections of her success, or the success of others; removed obstacles to aid in pursuing career goals or the goals of others; or used her privilege or power to empower another lawyer.

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    Parenting during this pandemic requires an ‘anointing,’ says Baton Rouge counselor

    With today’s coronavirus pandemic, parents and grandparents are facing a crisis never before seen. From dealing with health fears, sharp shifts to virtual learning, job losses, and political protests, parenting youth today–in a world that’s vastly changing–has become more challenging and overwhelming.

    Nearly half of parents of children under age 18 said their stress levels related to the coronavirus pandemic are high, according to a new survey by the American Psychological Association.

    “For many parents, it can feel overwhelming to face competing demands at home and work along with possible financial challenges during this unprecedented crisis,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “Children are keen observers and often notice and react to stress or anxiety in their parents, caregivers, peers, and community. Parents should prioritize their self-care and try their best to model healthy ways of coping with stress and anxiety.”

    barbara w green

    Louisiana-based family counselor barbara w green said one way to deal with the crisis is to recognize God’s gift to parents.

    “A crisis comes for the purpose of reflection, re-turning, and restoring,” said Green. “It takes the Anointing to recognize what to do in a crisis. This anointing is a parent anointing. It is the special, God-given ability to parent that many people already have,” she said.

    In 2013, Green published the second edition of The Parent Anointing which clarifies the unique position God establishes to help adults parent and rear children. Green offers this advice for those seeking solutions and strategies through this pandemic. “The parent who moves in the anointing follows God, the Heavenly Father,” she said.

    Within the pages of The Parent Anointing and during private sessions,  Green urges parents to reflect on God as the ultimate parent and become that reflection.

    “The parent anointing is the ‘reflection’ of love of the Father God upon His children. When a parent operates in the anointing (calling and instruction) of the Heavenly Father, the child sees the goodness of God reflected in the love which the parent has for the child,” she said.

    She used John 17:22-23 to explain. It states, “And the glory which You gave me, I have given them, that they may be one, just as we are one. {Unity} I in them, and You in me .{Reflection} and that the world may know that You sent me {Representation} and have loved them as You have loved me {reflective mirroring}.”

    The Parent Anointing by barbara w green

    The parent anointing is not reserved for biological parents only, Green said. A parent is also a nonbiological adult who cares for and guides a child or teen. For all parents, the anointing is reflective from God through the parent to the child and it is present in three significant ways: faith, purpose, and significance.

    The way to survive any crisis is to resist the temptation to become selfish, Green said “If a family is to get through a crisis it is through unified effort in looking out for one another. Not survival of the fittest, but fitting all to survive.  And, if the family is to survive, it must be done through one accord, not discord. The family that strives together, remains together, in purpose. And (when) the purpose is to glorify God, the family has achieved added value on earth, and in Heaven, to survive the crisis.”

    Green also tells parents to hold on to faith. “It is the one, sure way to please God. More than 2,000 years ago, the Glory that was given to family was oneness in faith. It is the major supplier of anointing.”

    She reminds parents that God watched over His son to “perfect the things that concerned Him and, in turn, the Son never did anything without consulting His Father, first. ‘I do the will of the Father who sent Me,’ Christ said.”

    The anointing gives parents the power to be like Christ and consult the Father in every decision and do God’s will, especially through this pandemic,  she said.

    For families to endure, grow, and defeat stagnation during this time of crisis, these three things are needed:

    1. Purpose Singularity where one person may have the same purpose as another but remains singular in how they achieve their purpose.
    2. Unity in the agreement of the importance of strengthening the family structure.
    3. Glory and credit for overcoming obstacles the family members may face during these trying times.

    Circling back to John 17, Green said, “It is then, that the child will say, ‘the lessons my parents gave me I have given my children that they may be one just as God and I are one. And I have loved them in the same manner as my parents and God loved me’.”

    From her Inner Reflections’ office in Baton Rouge, Green counsels individuals, families, and groups in person and virtually. The Parent Anointing is available in her office and through independent book stores, AmazonBarnes and Noble. She is also the author of a children’s book on generational prayers ( The Great One) and a collection of life-affirming short stories (a charge to keep)

    ONLINE: barbara green books

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    Read more »
  • ,,

    Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the impact, severity of COVID-19 disparities in Blacks

    During a 30-minute interview with BlackPressUSA that was streamed live over Facebook, YouTube, and www.BlackPressUSA.com, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke of the importance of convincing African Americans to participate in clinical trials. He also said that school re-openings should depend mainly upon the location and the infection rate in a given area.

    Fauci also said a viable coronavirus vaccine is likely only a few months away.

    “The fundamental principle is that we should try as best as we possibly can to get children back to school because we know the psychological aspect of that and the unintended consequences for mothers and fathers who may need to stop working, so we should try to get back to school,” Dr. Fauci said when asked about the impact of the pandemic on the upcoming school year.

    “However, paramount needs to be the safety, health, and welfare of children, teachers, and families,” Fauci said.

    “We live in a big country. Some places have low incidents and can open schools while some are high. Some areas rate of infection is so high where it’s not prudent to open schools. You don’t want to endanger their health.”

    A member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Fauci has at times found himself at odds with President Donald Trump. For example, earlier this year, the president announced that he would withdraw U.S. funding and support for the World Health Organization (WHO). However, Fauci told BlackPressUSA that he still maintains a close relationship with the organization.

    “I still work closely with the World Health Organization,” said Fauci. “I’m on a weekly phone call with them, and I signed a memorandum of understanding. We’re all in with the WHO.”

    During the interview, which included National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Fauci also demonstrated the proper way to wear a facemask.

    “Early on, there was a shortage of masks because we didn’t want to take masks away from health providers who needed them,” Dr. Fauci said. “It’s easy to get a cloth mask now.”

    Dr. Fauci explained further that, “when there are droplets when someone sneezes or coughs, you [are protected]. You can take it and wash it with soap and water or stick it in the washing machine.”

    Addressing the disparities surrounding COVID-19 and other illnesses, Dr. Fauci pointed to many African Americans, Latinx, and Native Americans occupying essential jobs that provide employees with little — or no — protection.

    “On the one hand, there’s a greater opportunity and risk of getting infected, but even as important is that once you get infected, you have prevalence and incidence of co-morbidities that make it more likely you’ll get a severe outcome from the infection,” Fauci said.

    “Those co-morbidities are like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and lung disease. It’s very clear that African Americans have a higher incidence, and the reality is that you suffer more.”

    The hospitalization rates per 100,000 people are stunning when comparing African Americans and Caucasians, said Fauci.

    “In many respects, it’s unacceptable that it should be that way,” he said, noting that the hospitalization rate per 100,000 African Americans stands at 247, compared to 53 per 100,000 whites.

    “In other words, that’s almost five times the chance of getting hospitalized even though African Americans comprise just 13 percent of the [U.S.] population,”  Fauci said.

    “That’s more than something we need to deal with.”

    Dr. Fauci added that there are five fundamental things everyone could do to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

    “Wear a mask, avoid crowds of more than 10, keep a distance of at least six feet, locations should seriously consider closing bars and getting people who go to bars to stop or do it outside, and wash hands frequently either with soap and water or alcohol Purell.”

    Clinical trials are vital, Dr. Fauci said.

    “We hope that we will have an effective vaccine by the end of the year, which means that as we get into 2021, we want to distribute it for those who could benefit,” he added.

    “We need to spend extra effort to protect African Americans, and the way you find out if the vaccine is effective is the enrollment in a vaccine trial. It would be a terrible shame if African Americans stayed away from clinical trials, and they didn’t provide for themselves the vaccine that could protect them.”

    Dr. Fauci suggested that he wears a mask everywhere goes and demanded that doing so shouldn’t be about politics.

    “This is about protecting each other. We’re all in this together,” Dr. Fauci said.

    “I’m pleased to see that we now have the president talking about wearing a mask where he didn’t before, and the vice president wears a mask everywhere he goes. We’ve got to pull together.”

    Whether reinfection of the coronavirus can occur remains somewhat of a mystery, Dr. Fauci explained.

    “When you get infected with any virus, generally, when you recover, your body has made a good immune response to recover,” Dr. Fauci noted.

    “We know that happens in people who had COVID-19. We don’t know what the duration of that is. There are varying levels of antibodies in people who recover, and what we’re following is how long they last. Some people find that it doesn’t last very long.”

    He continued:

    “There are other types of immunity that go beyond, and they’re called T-cells or cellular immunity, which may also play a role in protecting people from being infected. Likely a degree of protection is pretty good for a finite period.

    “There are no well-documented cases of people actually being re-infected. There have been some anecdotally stories of people recovering who seemed to have gotten infected, but we don’t know. There’s no real hard evidence that’s happening.”

    By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

    Read more »
  • Black workers more likely to face retaliation for raising coronavirus concerns

    As more corporations jump into the fray, offering statements of support for African Americans in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, a new study reveals that many companies’ actual policies and practices contradict their public statements.

    With just a small amount of research, short-term marketing, and public relations positioning using words proclaiming empathy, understanding, and support of Black causes can too often be found to be in direct contrast of long-term human resources dictates.

    A survey by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) about working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic confirms that corporate America has treated Black workers categorically worse than White workers during the pandemic.

    African Americans were twice as likely to answer “Yes,” or “Maybe,” when asked if they or anyone at their company had been punished for raising COVID-19 safety concerns. The survey found that Black workers were roughly twice as likely to have been retaliated against by their employers for speaking up about health concerns and requesting time off work.

    For instance, Amazon fired Black and brown workers who have organized to demand more substantial health and safety protections. Thousands of Instacart workers, many of whom are women of color, are reportedly waiting for face masks and hand sanitizer promised months ago.

    Three out of four Black workers who took the survey said they showed up to work during the pandemic even though they believed they might have been seriously risking their health or the health of family members. Less than half of White workers said they had done the same.

    “Our results suggest that virus transmission in the workplace may be exacerbated by employer repression and that the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities may be related to greater exposure of Black workers to repressive workplace environments,” the study’s authors wrote.

    “While Black workers at any given worksite tend to be treated worse than their white counterparts, the study’s authors suggest that Black workers, as a whole, tend to work in more repressive environments than White workers,” noted vice.com.

    The higher likelihood of retaliation that Black workers face means fewer of them feel safe reporting concerns or have had their concerns addressed.

    The survey found that Black workers were more than twice as likely to have unresolved concerns about coronavirus at their workplace than their White counterparts.

    Thirty-nine percent of workers surveyed reported that they had either raised concerns to their employer and did not receive a satisfactory response or did not out of fear of retaliation.

    Meanwhile, only 18 percent of White workers found themselves in the same position.

    “This is saddening to hear and somewhat unsurprising. I can’t believe the world we live in. Still, as I have lived in it for a great number of years, I am actually thankful that such practices are coming to light now,” Andrew Taylor, the director of the Net Lawman. This firm provides legal document templates and law-related services to individuals and businesses who are looking for an alternative to using a traditional firm of lawyers.

    “My thoughts on this study pushed me to ask about the segregation of employment and where these people are working. Obviously, we must focus on the roles Black workers are in to make changes from here.”

    Amit Raj said he was working part-time as a pharmacist earlier this year when he raised concerns.

    “As we were working within an office within a warehouse where there were almost no changes to working practice despite the pandemic. Since we were deemed an ‘essential service,’ we were also not allowed to work from home,” Raj stated in an email.

    “Despite bringing this up on many occasions and management being aware, I was first just ignored. And was soon demoted from an assistant manager position,” he said.

    “However, the reason given for the demotion was that my part-time hours were not allowing me to manage effectively. I have now decided to place my focus on my digital marketing business.”

    Raj has since founded Amit Digital Marketing.

    Talia Fox, the CEO of KUSI Training, a global transformational leadership development firm, said in an email that the study concerns her mostly because of her two sons who have to work in the current environment.

    “I have two sons and wear three hats, mother, Black woman, leadership strategist. If I am honest, I am afraid, afraid of the challenges my two young Black men will face in the world,” Fox stated via email.

    “When my fear settles, it turns to anger, and I wonder why people are not doing anything. I want to blame someone, anyone for the injustices in the world,” Fox noted.

    “Then, my anger leads me to look in the mirror. What do I have to give? What is my role in this? I am a leadership strategist and an educator. I have seen knowledge, understanding, and strategy, and implementation transform businesses and inspire people to drive and lead change, which anchors my hope that a better future is possible for my two Black men.”

    By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

    Read more »
  • Back to school giveaway with SU Athletics, Care South hosted this Say

    CareSouth, SU Athletics hosting Back-to-School Supplies Giveaway and COVID-19 Drive-thru Community Testing in Baton Rouge,  also raffling off tablet computers and a $100 gift card, Saturday Aug. 8 


    CareSouth Medical and Dental along with  Southern University Athletics is hosting a Back-to-School Supplies Giveaway and COVID-19 Drive-thru Community Testing event on Saturday, Aug. 8 at the Southern University Minidome.


    The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  CareSouth will be distributing more than 800 backpacks filled with school supplies, masks and earbuds. We will also be raffling off tablet computers and a $100 Walmart gift card.


    Our community partners include Louisiana Healthcare Connections, Walmart, State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle and Attorney Gordon McKernan. Supplies will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. It is free and open to the public.


    You do not have to be tested in order to get the supplies.


    If you want to be tested, you are strongly encouraged to pre-register at caresouth.org.


    Anyone 12 years and older can take the test. No doctor’s order required. There is no out-of-pocket expense. If you have insurance, your insurance will be billed. If you don’t have insurance, CareSouth will cover the cost.  Please bring your picture ID and insurance card, if you have one.


    “We’re looking forward to giving back to the Baton Rouge area through our back to school drive and providing much-needed support to the community during these unprecedented times,” said Matthew Valliere, CareSouth CEO.  “We believe in providing support to our community during its time of need.”


    For more information, call (225) 650-2000 or go to caresouth.org.

    Read more »
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    Mobile hotspots, laptops available to EBR students

     The East Baton Rouge Parish School System  has launched an online resource for families to sign up for mobile hotspots and devices to accommodate students for its all-virtual model.

    As of now, students will learn virtually starting Aug. 10  through Labor Day. Families in need of internet connectivity or devices should fill out a TechReady form by clicking here.

    Officials say schools will continue to hold device distributions to equip each child with the tools they need. Families are encouraged to reach out to their child’s school for assistance or by clicking here for additional resources. The EBRPSS I.T. department will launch a new helpdesk to help families, students, and staff on Aug. 3. The new helpdesk will be available by clicking here.


    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Total Teen Takeover 2020 to feature Dee-1

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Healthy Blue, in collaboration with The Safety Place and the Big Buddy Program, are hosting Total Teen Takeover 2020 next week. Baton Rouge youth agencies and business partners are collaborating to provide a myriad of experiences designed to help attendees live a healthy and safe life. The online community event for teenagers will be held Saturday, August 8, 2020, from noon to 3:30 p.m.

    One highly anticipated addition to TTT is a performance by national Hip Hop artist Dee-1, who will also have a one-on-one conversation with Mayor Broome regarding issues facing teens in 2020.

    “COVID-19 has caused us to reimagine how we engage and empower our youth in the absence of in-person programs,” said Mayor Broome. “Our youth programming partners continue to demonstrate their commitment to designing a robust digital experience that not only engages high school students but also creates a foundation of skills to prepare them for their future and beyond.”

    TTT will focus on the mental health of our youth in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Partners will provide information about resources youth can access to help them achieve healthy, safe, and productive lives.

    “Healthy Blue is proud to partner with local area agencies and businesses to ensure the youth of our community remain connected during these uncertain times,” said Aaron Lambert, plan president, Healthy Blue. “We continue to provide our community with resources that promote health and wellness, and enable emotional and social support. These efforts are part of Healthy Blue’s coordinated response to COVID-19 for members, local community organizations, healthcare workers and frontline responders.”

    The first 100 registrants will receive a special “Quaranteen” kit, a pre-mailed box of event essentials, snacks and various TTT items.

    Due to COVID-19, the program will utilize a virtual platform to deliver programming to the community. Interested youth and parents should register for this FREE event a twww.totalteentakeover.org

    Read more »
  • City of Baker announces condemnations, demolitions

    The following properties located in Baker, Louisiana were approved for demolition at the Baker City Council meeting by the Baker City Council on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 in accordance with Baker Municipal Code Article VIII Condemnation and Demolition of Buildings and Structures.

    • 1950 Hovey Avenue Baker Louisiana 70714
    • 1849 Alabama Street Baker Louisiana 70714
    • 1920 Florida Avenue Baker Louisiana 70714
    • 1928 Florida Avenue Baker Louisiana 70714

    Should the owner, occupant, agent or other representative of the owner wish to appeal the decision of the city council they may do so in accordance with Section 5-574 of Article VIII Condemnation and Demolition of Buildings and Structures of the Baker Municipal Code.

    Read more »
  • Mitchell to direct women and children’s services at North Oaks Medical

    Tamara Mitchell, MHA, BSN, RN, RNC-NIC, CCRN-K, has been promoted to director of women and children’s services for North Oaks Medical Center.

    For the past two years, Mitchell has served as the hospital’s clinical nurse manager for children’s services. She brings nearly 10 years of leadership experience to her new position.

    Before joining the North Oaks team, she served as the transport manager/nurse educator for the neonatal intensive care units of University Health and Louisiana State University Health in Shreveport for a combined total of five years. Before entering management, she worked for 18 years in direct patient care as a neonatal intensive care unit staff registered nurse with LSU Health.

    “Exceptional patient experiences begin and end with an engaged health care team and strong, vibrant leaders like Tamara,” said North Oaks Health System’s Chief Nursing Officer Kirsten Riney, MSN, MHA, BSN. “I look forward to working with her and our talented and dedicated staff to advance the delivery of women & children’s services and our mission of improving lives every time and with every touch.”

    Mitchell earned a master’s degree in health administration through Louisiana State University in Shreveport. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Nursing at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. She is certified in neonatal intensive care by the National Certification Corporation. Additionally, she holds certification in the care of acutely and critically ill neonatal patients through the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

    Professionally, Mitchell belongs to the Academy of Neonatal Nursing, American College of Healthcare Executives, and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nurses.

    “I am excited to have the opportunity to expand my leadership skills as women and children’s services director,” asserts Mitchell. “We have an outstanding team, and I look forward to collaborating with them to take our services to the next level.”

    ONLINE www.northoaks.org

    Read more »
  • Michael R.D. Adams takes helm of 100 Black Men

    The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge has elected Baton Rouge attorney, Michael R.D. Adams, as its new chairman of the Board and president. Adams was a part of the original group of men who formed the Baton Rouge chapter of 100 Black Men in 1993.

    “I wasn’t there on day one, but I was there on day two ready to work,” Adams said of his initial involvement. “The perspective I’ve gained after 27 years of being a part of this organization and watching it grow uniquely positions me to build upon the successes of the past. 2020 has shown us that we still have work to do…our job is to create new ways of delivery while being relevant and impactful,” said Adams.

    100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge is a corps of member volunteers actively influencing and transforming the lives of underrepresented and disenfranchised youth, with a focus on Blacks.  The 100 addresses systemic issues and bridges opportunity gaps for Black youth.

    Michael R.D. Adams is sown in as president of the 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge

    Michael R.D. Adams is sown in as president of the 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge on July 29, 2020. Photo provided.

    A longtime resident of Baton Rouge, Adams is a partner at Decuir, Clark, and Adams LLP. After a decorated undergraduate career at Southern University, where he served as Student Government President, Adams went on to graduate from Southern University Law Center in 1988, and practices in the area of complex commercial litigation.

    Throughout his tenure as a member and board member of The 100, Adams has championed the cause of mentoring youth in order to provide a direct impact on the Baton Rouge community.  He assisted in the formation of 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge’s Back to School Expo which, in its five years, aided over 10,000 students and families with the tools and information necessary to return to school.  Adams’ goals are to shepherd his new leadership team to continue to embrace the fundamentals of mentoring with an emphasis on Health and Wellness and Social Justice.

    “It is with mixed emotions that I pass the gavel to Michael Adams,” said outgoing president Fred Sibley, “I will miss leading this exceptional group of men and I am proud of all we have accomplished.  I know that The 100 is in outstanding hands under the leadership of President Adams.  The organization will benefit from the combination of his experience in the 100, his knowledge of the Baton Rouge community, and his vision for the future.”

    Executive director Brace Trey Godfrey said, “A change in leadership is a significant moment in the history of any organization, and this change is no different.  I remain deeply grateful to past president Fred Sibley for welcoming me in as executive director and leading The 100 into a new era of leadership and service.  I am equally enthusiastic about the leadership of President Adams and look forward to working with him and the Board as we push for real, dynamic change that transforms lives and reinforces our collective commitment to our communities.”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Elected Unopposed!

    More than 225 residents in East Baton Rouge and Tangipahoa parishes have qualified as candidates for city council, judge, U.S. Congress, justice of the peace, and constable in the Nov. 3. election. Many boast community activism and previous work in government or business as reasons to their run. Of those who qualified, 25 candidates in EBR and 23 in Tangipahoa were elected without opposition, including both parishes’ district attorneys Hillar Moore and Scott Perilloux. Others elected without opposition are:

    In East Baton Rouge Parish

    • Court of Appeal 1st Circuit Judge John Michael Guidry
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Don Johnson
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Trudy White
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Wilson E. Fields
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Tarvald A. Smith
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Ronald Johnson
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Beau Higginbotham
    • 19th Judicial District Judge William A. Morvant
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Div. H Fred Crifasi
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Div. I Kelly Balfour
    • District Attorney Hillar Moore
    • Juvenile Court Judge Adam Haney
    • Juvenile Court Judge Gail Grover
    • Family Court Judge Lisa Woodruff-White
    • Family Court Judge Charlene Charlet Day
    • Family Court Judge Pamela Baker
    • Councilman Dist 3 Rowdy Gaudet
    • Baker City Court Judge Kirk A Williams
    • Justice of the Peace Lynda Austin
    • Justice of the Peace Brooke Peay
    • Justice of Peace Tracy Batieste-Woodard
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Lee M. Russell
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Darin David
    • Constable Justice of the Peace David Wade

    In Tangipahoa Parish

    • 21st District A Judge Jeff Johnson
    • 21st District B Judge Charlotte Foster
    • 21st District C Judge Erika Sledge
    • 21st District D Judge Brian Abels
    • 21st District E Judge Brenda Ricks
    • 21st District I Judge Blair Edwards
    • 21st District J Judge Jeffry Cashe
    • 21st District K Judge Jeffery Oglesbee
    • District Attorney 21st Judicial District Scott M. Perrilloux
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 1 Irma Robertson
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 2 Vicki Y. Blades
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 3 Tonya Mabry
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 4 Angela Ballard
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 5 Deborah Brunett
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 6 Terry Crosby
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 8 Cynthia Jenkins
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 1 Lemmie Chapman III
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 2 Dickie R. Blades
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 3 Anthony “Butch” Robinson
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 4 Teresa Crowe Grace Holden
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 5 Louis “Buddy” Easley
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 6 Phillip David Ridder Jr.
    • Council Member District 2, Town of Amite City Jonathon Foster
    Read more »
  • Edna Scott promoted to director of patient services

    Edna Scott, MSN, RN, has been promoted to director of patient services for North Oaks Medical Center .

    Scott is a 29-year veteran North Oaks employee. She brings 15 years of supervisory experience to her new role helping to oversee the clinical care provided to patients across the health care continuum.

    In making the announcement, North Oaks Chief Nursing Officer Kirsten Riney said, “Edna brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the nursing leadership team, and I look forward to working with her to engage our staff in the provision of high-quality, safe health care for our community.”

    Since 2017, Scott has served as nursing operations manager for North Oaks Medical Center. Additional management experience includes fulfilling the roles of nursing support supervisor in 2016 and medicine unit coordinator for 10 years. She also worked in direct patient care as a charge nurse on the telemetry unit. While in nursing school, she gained experience as a nursing assistant, also on the hospital’s telemetry unit.

    Consistent dedication to the health system’s mission of improving lives has earned Scott multiple accolades. The North Oaks team honored her as a North Oaks Nurse Excellence award recipient in 2000 and 2010 and Leader of the Month in 2018.

    Scott completed a master’s degree in nursing through the University of Phoenix-based in Arizona. She earned bachelor’s degrees in nursing and business management from Southeastern Louisiana University.

    Professionally, Scott belongs to the American Nurses Association and the Tangipahoa District Nurses Association, which honored her as a “Top Nurse” in 2017.

    Scott, who upholds “listening with a humble heart” as a personal tenet of effective leadership, shares that she is looking forward to working closely with her colleagues and team to fulfill the North Oaks mission of improving lives.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Lake Charles native’s gentrification initiative looks to help longtime residents in Houston

    WeBuyBlack reported that Christopher Senegal recently acquired two blocks in Houston’s historic Fifth Ward, which is known for its African-American roots and dubbed Houston’s “Black Wall Street.”

    Senegal, a Southern University graduate, started a new initiative called “Buy The Block” to help residents invest in their properties so they can stay in the neighborhood for the long term.

    Senegal’s journey started back in 2013 when he purchased a block no one wanted due to issues with drugs and crime. He was turned down by 23 lenders before eventually receiving funding.

    The young entrepreneur used crowdfunding so people could invest as little as $250 to own a piece of his company’s real estate portfolio.

    The first project consists of 14 town-home developments worth $3.9 million focused on bringing Black professionals back to the neighborhood. Another development consists of 18 homes and two commercial buildings worth $1.3 million.

    The Lake Charles native has managed to amass $700,000 through crowdfunding to protect his long-term, fixed-income residents from displacement.

    Senegal said he hopes the new initiative will encourage others to invest in their communities rather than move out when they reach a higher income bracket.

    By The Louisiana Weekly

    ONLINE: www.ChristopherSenegal.com

    Read more »
  • N.O’s Pontchartrain Park neighborhood is designated as a ‘historic place’

    More than six decades after it opened as one of the country’s trailblazing communities for middle-class Black Americans, Pontchartrain Park has received official designation on the National Register of Historic Places.

    The honor was announced late last month, just about 65 years after Pontchartrain Park opened. Constructed for $15 million, the self-contained neighborhood on the lakeside of Gentilly featured 1,000 modern homes, a massive public park and golf course spread across roughly 400 acres.

    Pontchartrain Park’s placement on the NRHP was long-sought, hard-earned, and heartily welcomed by the people who’d fought for the official recognition for their beloved home community.

    “It’s an honor and a privilege to represent such a remarkable neighborhood filled with so much history,” said Gretchen Bradford, president of the Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association. “The acknowledgment of Pontchartrain Park on the National Registry is significant because it is an additional contribution to African-American history.

    “This moment for the residents of Pontchartrain Park is powerful because our history is finally being recognized,” she added. “I am honored to have lived my entire life in such a great community.”

    Carrie Mingo Douglas, chairwoman of the PPNA’s Historic District Committee, said the national honor symbolizes the lives, stories, challenges, and accomplishments of the residents, past and present, of a proud, influential neighborhood.

    “This honor is a tribute to those first residents, the pioneers, who took a space and made it into a desirable community to raise their families, to educate their children, and live the American dream,” Mingo Douglas said. “Just knowing that I was a part of Pontchartrain Park getting national recognition makes me feel very proud.”

    By Ryan Whirty
    Louisiana Weekly Contributing Writer

    Read more at The Louisiana Weekly Press

    Read more »
  • ,

    Louisiana to send 61 democrats to national convention

    The Louisiana Democratic Party announced Louisiana’s full delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Based on the results of the July 11 Presidential Primary, all Louisiana delegates are awarded to Vice President Biden.

    The list of members in Louisiana’s delegation can be found here.

    “This delegate election showcased the best of our party, and we’re so inspired by all of the candidates who stepped up to run. I’m incredibly proud to work with these convention delegates as we build our party’s platform and nominate Joe Biden as the next President of the United States,” Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, Chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party said. “These leaders reflect the rich diversity of our state and party, and I know they’ll represent Louisiana well at this historic convention.”

    Louisiana has a total of 61 delegates and 4 alternates, including 35 district level delegates, seven party leaders and elected officials delegates, 12 at-large delegates, and four alternates. Louisiana Democrats met or exceeded the vast majority of diversity goals and will send its most diverse delegation to a national convention ever.

    The Democratic National Convention will take place virtually on August 17-20, where delegates will elect a Democratic nominee for president and outline the party’s platform for the next four years.

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    COMMENTARY: Before you decide to return to schools, walk the journey of a student, teacher to see COVID obstacles

    In south Louisiana, one of the tasks we are accustomed to doing is preparing for emergency situations.  We prepare for hurricanes, other major storms, and catastrophes all the time, listening to the information provided by the experts, creating plans based upon their expertise and our experience, and should the catastrophic event occur, executing our plan. We have learned in the midst of the turmoil that we take care of our family and continue to obtain transparent and helpful information/direction from leadership and experts until we are back to normal.  One would believe we would have the same course of action as we prepare for schools to reopen with our children, teachers, and staff in the middle of a once in a lifetime pandemic.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.

    Currently, the U.S. Department of Education as well as various school systems seem hesitant whether to follow the guidelines of the experts, the Center for Disease Control.  If that fact alone does not give an intelligent person “a cause to pause” with following this leadership’s direction, these agencies, as well as school superintendents, have failed to provide specific details on how and what changes will be implemented to protect all people, most importantly the children, who are being told to return to in-person schooling.  Currently, not one Department of Education, School Board, or superintendent in the state of Louisiana has produced a detailed plan created for educating children in the middle of a pandemic for all of the encounters throughout the school day.  Case in point, one aspect of their school day— transportation.  It is less than a month for most school systems’ first day of school, and no plan for just transporting the children has been produced.

    According to the CDC, school children must be seated on the buses, one child to a seat in every other seat.  This requirement alone means school systems will need more bus drivers and/or need to extend the transport time.  However, let’s take a closer look at the issue of transporting the children in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, as an example.  EBRPSS utilizes a transfer spot as a key component of its transportation schedule, whereby one bus picks up children from their neighborhood then takes them to a location where all other buses meet, and the children change to another bus that will transport the students to school.  In light of the issue of social distancing requirements, this mechanism for transporting students will certainly have to cease.

    In fact, EBRPSS more than likely will need to create an entirely new routing system, since few bus routes are designed to travel from pick up locations and conclude at the school or vice versa.  In addition to new bus routes and more frequent traveling between pick up and school to account for fewer children on the bus, NOW, the bus drivers will need to sanitize the buses between each transport to prevent exposure of contamination from one bus trip to another.  Hence, the transportation time is extended even longer and requires the school system to properly train each bus driver to complete this task.  To add to this laundry list of necessary changes, the buses must be timed properly at arriving at schools for drop off and pick up at staggering times, in order to adhere to the social distancing requirements.  One would tend to believe that buses would no longer be able to line up stacked together in front of schools and clusters of children congregate to exit and enter.

    More importantly, these plans must be created for two different sets of children for A and B days of travel, since the schools must alternate the days the children attend due to social distancing requirements which prohibits the classrooms filled with previous numbers of  30-40 students per class.  And, after considering all these changes, there still must be contingency plans for children that are missed at the bus stop, taken to the wrong school or traveled on the wrong day.  And, let’s remember all of these changes must be created for high, middle, and elementary children at public, charter, and Catholic schools by next month.  And, considering all things being new, there needs to be time for bus drivers to be trained and routes timed to determine how to complete all these tasks and have the children at school timely.  Quite frankly, there has not been one explanation regarding just the issue of transportation.  So, how can parents as well as school systems’ faculty and staff trust there are proper plans in place in other aspects of the school day, when the one task of transportation has not been addressed?

    Before any superintendent asks parents, faculty, or staff to attend school this year, that superintendent should walk the journey of an actual school day of a student, teacher, and a staff member, see all the COVID-19 obstacles involved at each area of the day and do his/her best to create preventative solutions to address those problems.  Once that information is obtained, provide those instructions and explanations to everyone involved.  At that point, most people will be able to make better decisions regarding what is best for their family.  However, without this type or some similar type of information, most people will not feel safe with the most precious of our world, our children, returning to the unsafe school environment.

    Headshot Anna Jackson JD

    Anna Jackson JD

    Anna M. Jackson, JD
    Community activist and concerned citizen
    Zachary, Louisiana

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  • Antione Mitchell uses fan art, alchemy to honor George Floyd

    Art-Alchemy is the technique of using traditional art methods to transform an individual into another figure. When a digital painting depicts someone as a known superhero, the art becomes fan-art. All together, art alchemy is one part of the multifaceted artistry of Antione GHOST Mitchell. He has alchemized dozens of clients and featured females in his SuperHERo collection that includes former First Lady Michelle Obama.

    From his studio in Baton Rouge, La., Mitchell masters art alchemy and fan art somewhere between working a fulltime job, completing art commissions, and creating the second issue of an ongoing Afro-fantasy series titled Sankofa’s Eymbrace.

    Artist Antione Mitchell

    Artist Antione Mitchell

    He is also the illustrator of three children’s books: My Name is Queen, The Great One, and Summer Saves Summer. He recently launched a Black Geek Point of View YouTube series on his PoeARTry Media channel.

    Following the murder of George Floyd, Mitchell sought an outlet to express an array of emotions triggered by the continuous murders and injustices that prevail in American society.

    He took to his art and alchemized George Floyd as Superman. We caught up with Mitchell to discuss his most recent rendering.

    On May 25, a Minnesota police kneeled on Floyd’s neck during a non-violent arrest, killing him. Floyd’s death erupted international outcry against police violence and for the protection of Black lives across the world. How did you choose Superman as the portal instead of another “hero”?

    MITCHELL: One of the family members during the televised funeral said, “I thank God for giving me my own personal Superman.”  I wanted to eventually create a work of art dedicated to him (and others) but I didn’t want to do anything too intense.  Comic book art is something that has always made me feel happy and less stressed. When I kept seeing that quote from the family of George Floyd the idea of manifesting him as Superman was cultivated.


    Did drawing this help you process the death and protest?
    MITCHELL: YES. If this horrible incident of what happened with George Floyd had occurred about ten or more years ago I would have been really fired up and ready to create some very intense art.  I would have probably been in some of the local protests as well. …And I would have become exhausted.  I learned a while ago that I really have to be careful how I use my art because if I’m exhausted then so will my art..and I LOVE ART.

    I have the most fun creating comic book and fantasy art so taking that same approach with such a serious and heartbreaking incident actually made it much easier to manifest. The intense art DOES touch folks and can create interesting and phenomenal teaching moments, but at the expense of my own sanity.  However, when I create art of the same situation but with a different and less intense approach, I’ve found that it touches the heart instead of rage in people.  Rage is important, but I want to be on the healing side of justice via art.

    This helped me in dealing with the pain of what happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many recent others.  I was very upset but tried hard to keep my anger away from social media.  But it was when watching “trump” live in Washington DC when he unleashed the police upon peaceful protestors who were NOT violating curfew, just so he could have a photo op in front of the nearby church. That’s when I lost it.  All the anger and sadness came to a head and I found myself crying in my wife-queen’s arms. (Mitchell and wife, Erica, are creative partners.)

    You’ve said that you want to share the power of art and present aspects of life as it is lived. What does this art give in that way?
    MITCHELL:  Well, in the case of the fan art of George Floyd as Superman, it’s a dynamic metaphor to pay homage to how his loved ones viewed him. I actually slightly battled even creating it because I didn’t want to give the wrong idea. Superman is known as being indestructible, bulletproof, super fast, and can fly. I think ANY Black person facing racist police would love to have these abilities. What if George Floyd had those abilities to escape the clutches of death by folks who are supposed to act accordingly to the oath of protect and serve? But then I thought, Superman CAN be killed, however, his spirit of hope will always live on through others. Superman’s very existence—and him being the first superhero—is something that has transcended all mediums of entertainment and beyond. So it was perfect to manifest George Floyd as Superman.

    What would you like to say to the Floyd family?
    MITCHELL: I would, like anyone, express my condolences to them.  I would want to hug and embrace them. I would most definitely give them a framed 18 x 24 inch print of the digital painting of George Floyd as Superman. I’m not making any prints to sell to anyone. I don’t want to profit off this image. The only print I want to make of it is the one I would give to the family of George Floyd.

    Mitchell is a graduate of College of Fine Arts at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge and the Art Institute of Houston.  PoeARTry Creative Movement, LLC is his official brand. Follow his work at @antoineghostmitchell and @sankofaseymbrace. Facebook.com/AntoineGHOST. Youtube: PoeArtry Media www.sankofaseymbrace.com.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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    Apple teams up with HBCUs to bring coding and creativity opportunities to communities

    Apple announced it is deepening its existing partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, adding 10 more HBCU regional coding centers that will serve as technology hubs for their campuses and broader communities. This effort is part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative, designed to bring coding, creativity, and workforce development opportunities to learners of all ages.
    Last month, Apple launched a new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative focused on challenging systemic barriers to opportunity for communities of color by advancing education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform efforts.
    ”Apple is committed to working alongside communities of color to advance educational equity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives. “We see this expansion of our Community Education Initiative and partnership with HBCUs as another step toward helping Black students realize their dreams and solve the problems of tomorrow.”
    Launched last year, Apple’s Community Education Initiative now extends to 24 locations across the US — 12 of which are HBCUs and 21 of which predominately serve majority Black and Brown students. Across the country, these partnerships have already introduced thousands of students and adult learners to coding and app design, using Apple’s Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create curricula.
    Apple has been working with Tennessee State University for the past two years to launch and expand the school’s HBCU C2 initiative, which brings coding and creativity experiences to all 100-plus HBCUs. Tennessee State University now serves as a national hub for training educators and supporting its peer institutions as HBCUs expand coding and creativity opportunities to their own communities. A recent virtual HBCU C2  summit brought together nearly 300 educators from across the HBCU community to share best practices and hear from colleagues about workforce development, connecting with their communities, and bringing coding to students of all ages.
    Robbie Melton, PhD., is Tennessee State University’s associate vice president of the SMART Global Technology Innovation Center and dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. She is also a champion of the HBCU C2 initiative. She is proud of what the program has already accomplished, and sees unlimited potential for the future.
    “In two years, I want all HBCUs to be coding and creating,” said Melton. “In two years, you’re going to see many more people of color entering the STEM workforce — and in two years we’re going to double the number of Black women in technology through this program.”
    Dr. Robbie Melton claps her hands. Melton has been an advocate for bringing coding opportunities to HBCUs.
    Tennessee State University’s Dr. Robbie Melton has been working alongside Apple for the past two years to bring coding and creativity to HBCU peer institutions, with goals to reach every HBCU.
    Ten HBCUs, which have been working alongside Apple and Tennessee State University for the past year, will now become hubs to promote coding in their broader communities: Arkansas Baptist College, Central State University, Claflin University, Dillard University, Fisk University, Lawson State Community College, Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University at Shreveport, and Tougaloo College.
    Apple expects to double the number of HBCU partners by the end of this summer, expanding the network of schools offering coding, creativity, and career pathway opportunities.
    Each hub is designed to create a multiplier effect, building capacity at the HBCUs that extends beyond the campus through partnerships with local K-12 schools, community partners, local governments, and other community stakeholders. Melton views the added regional hubs as a key element of the program’s holistic approach.
    “A hub is a core of empowerment that goes beyond the campus,” said Melton. “It’s about going into the community, into the home, into businesses so that when people code, it becomes part of their lives and it’s helping them solve big problems. This initiative is going to help those who have been broken through COVID-19, broken through racism — and it’s going to empower them through knowledge and skills.”
    A US map shows the location of each HBCU partner participating in Apple’s Community Education Initiative.
    HBCUs will serve as hubs for coding and creativity, bringing together students, faculty and staff, local businesses, and community leaders to promote coding in their communities.
    Over the past year, Southern University at Shreveport in Louisiana has started to gradually introduce Apple coding and creativity curricula to students, faculty, staff, and community members. Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Institutional Priorities  Sharron Herron-Williams, Ph.D., has seen the effect it has had. “Our students are blossoming,” she said. “We invited community business leaders to our coding academy and they saw the work we were doing — one food truck owner asked the students to design him an app to help track his trucks. This fall, our team is going to start working with him to make that app a reality.”
    Herron-Williams graduated from Stillman College in Alabama and sees the Apple expansion as a game changer for education within the HBCU community.
    “This is causing a resurgence at HBCUs — a renewed interest in technology as something that can help design the future,” she said. “Because so many HBCUs have been faced with financial challenges, they have been more focused on ‘how do we keep the doors open’ rather than ‘how do we continue to grow and expand more programs to make HBCUs remain attractive to everyone.’ So this Apple initiative is helping give HBCUs their energy back.”
    Later this month, educators from the 10 HBCUs will be part of a group of nearly 500 teachers and community leaders taking part in a virtual Community Education Initiative Coding Academy that Apple is hosting for all initiative partners. Educators will learn the building blocks of coding with Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn coding language. Participants will work in teams to design app prototypes to address real community challenges. After completing the coding academy, educators will begin to integrate the coding and creativity curricula into their communities by launching coding clubs and courses at their schools, hosting community coding events, and creating workforce development opportunities for adult learners.
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  • SU Ag Center to discuss emergency preparedness for older adults

    SU Ag Center set to discuss Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults

    Baton Rouge, La. – The Southern University Ag Center will host the third session of its Facebook Live Series on Emergency Preparedness in the Wake of COVID-19 at 12 p.m. on July 17.


    The live stream will focus on the topic of “Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults.”


    “Older adults are often the forgotten demographic in instances of preparation and decision making,” said Krystle Allen, SU Ag Center Extension Associate and Facebook Live Series host.  “We aim to equip older adults with the knowledge and resources available to prepare them for unavoidable disasters. The importance is paramount; we recognize our ability to help older adults mitigate losses, but also recognize this is a public health issue,” added Krystle.


    Dr. Wanda Spurlock, a professor in the College of Nursing and Allied Health at Southern University and A&M College, will be our guest during the session.


    Dr. Spurlock is an expert in the care of older adults, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  She has also been recognized for her expertise in emergency/disaster preparedness and has served as Co-Chair of a National Policy Expert Roundtable on Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults. The outcome of this partnership between the American Red Cross, Scientific Advisory Council and the American Academy of Nursing, was a widely disseminated white paper titled, “Closing the Gaps: Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery for Older Adults.”


    In addition to being a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, where she served as the immediate past Chair of the Expert Panel on Aging, Dr. Spurlock is also a Fellow of the National Gerontological Nursing Association and the National League for Nursing’s Academy of Nursing Education.


    She is recognized as a Distinguished Gerontological Nurse Educator by the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence, she is also certified as an Academic Nurse Educator and holds board certifications in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing and Gerontological Nursing Practice. As a member of the Louisiana Dementia Partnership, Dr. Spurlock has played a key role in the reduction in the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications in nursing home residents with dementia. She is also recognized by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America as a Dementia Care Specialist.


    Dr. Spurlock has been a registered nurse for over four decades. She earned a diploma in Nursing from Our Lady of the Lake School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Southeastern Louisiana University, a Master’s in Nursing from Louisiana State University Medical Center, and a Doctor of Nursing Science from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. She has received numerous local, state and national awards for her contributions to healthcare and the nursing profession.


    The Emergency Preparedness Facebook Lives will be aired on the Southern University Ag Center’s Facebook page.





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    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

    Contributing writer


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  • ,,

    NAACP selects Alaina Boothe to lead social justice

    Attorney Alaina Boothe has been selected as new social justice chair for the NAACP Baton Rouge Branch. She serves as a first felony assistant public defender and the director of students at the Baton Rouge Office of Public Defender. She is also the latest recipient of the Gideon’s Promise 2020 Public Defender Ambassador Award for her work with helping the chapter raise funds from to bail out 10 women for Christmas. A native of New Orleans, Boothe earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Southern University and a juris doctorate from the Southern University Law Center. She is a former first grade teacher and graduate of the Gideon Promise’s Class of 2017.

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  • ,,

    Cleve Dunn Jr announces candidacy for EBR metrocouncil

    After playing a significant role in managing several political campaigns and actively being a voice for the community, Baton Rouge airport commissioner Cleve Dunn Jr. has announced his candidacy for metro council District 6.

    For many in the community, he is known as a strategic thinker and leader. He said these assets aid him in being the most impactful candidate for Metro and he will use these skills to bring “a fresh perspective in order to address the current challenges in the East Baton Rouge Parish.”

    After serving the district for 12 years, Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis terms out in December. Dunn said this was one of the key factors in choosing to run. “I’ve been approached in the past and asked to run for the District 6 Metro Council seat. I dismissed that ideal mainly because Donna Collins Lewis was in place as councilwoman and because the timing was not right for me.”

    Now is the time, he said.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic will have negative effects on city-parish budgets like never before seen. These are some major challenges that we have ahead of us and it’s important that we have people in office who have experience, influence, and a track record of getting things done. I feel I am that candidate who can get things done for district 6 residents and I humbly ask them for their support.” He said.

    A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge and business owner, Dunn said he is determined to bring components that have been missing in the district like industrial distribution, healthcare facilities, and a community center. He plans to focus on economic development strategies which include increasing contracting opportunities for local and disadvantaged business enterprises.

    “During these difficult times, we are faced with many challenges. As a parish we need to produce a comprehensive plan to address flooding and drainage, our DPW city employees deserve a long-overdue pay raise and district 6, and all of North Baton Rouge is in dire need for public-private partnerships to reduce blight and increase development in the area with more high paying jobs and contracting opportunities for local small businesses,” he said.

    Dunn is a chairman of the Baton Rouge Airport Board of Commissioners and a member of The North Baton Rouge Now Blue-Ribbon Commission, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Police Reform, and Community Engagement Committee, the Baton Rouge City-Parish Body Camera Committee, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome Police Policy Reform Advisory Committee.

    He co-chairs Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome North Baton Rouge Revitalization Transition Team. He is president of the Capitol High Alumni Association and serves on the board of the Angel’s Empowerment Organization and The Butterfly Society.

    He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Stacey Posey Dunn, for 22 years and they have two daughters. The election is scheduled for November 3.

    ONLINE: ElectCleveDunnJr.com


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    CareSouth, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church host COVID-19 drive-thru community testing, supplies giveaway, Saturday, July 11

    CareSouth Medical and Dental and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church are hosting a COVID-19 Drive-thru Community Testing and Supplies Giveaway on Saturday, July 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shiloh, 185 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, in Baton Rouge.

    CareSouth staff will be conducting the testing for up to 250 peopleYou must be tested first in order to receive the supplies. You must pre-register to get the test. Residents will stay in their cars for the testing and the supplies. No walkups are allowed. No more than four people per car for testing.

    The testing is open to anyone ages 12 and up with or without symptoms and with and without insurance. No doctor’s order required. There are no out-of-pocket expenses. If you have insurance, your insurance will be billed. If you don’t have insurance, CareSouth will cover the cost.

    “We’re excited to partner with Shiloh to help make COVID-19 testing more accessible to everyone in our community, especially those who are most at risk,” said Matthew Valliere, CareSouth CEO.  “Getting tested is the only way to help stop the spread.”

    “This is a great opportunity to bring the testing to our members, their families and the community at large,” said Rev. Fred Jeff Smith, Pastor of Shiloh.  “We’re very grateful to CareSouth for providing this service.”

    To pre-register, go to caresouth.org and fill out the registration form or call (225) 650-2000. The testing will be done on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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  • ,,

    Baton Rouge has new Poet Laureate: Brittany Marshall

    Brittany Marshall, the 2020-2021 Baton Rouge Poet Laureate! The North Baton Rouge native is an LSU alumna and high school English and literature teacher. As the next BR Poet Laureate, Brittany said: “This year I am looking forward to the life I will continue to live and sharing poems with the people of Baton Rouge!” She is Baton Rouge’s second Poet Laureate, following Christian “Cubs the Poet” Davenport whose term concludes this year. Poets are nominated and selected by the Baton Rouge Poet Laureate Selection Committee, a diverse group of poets, scholars, and literary experts. Mayor Sharon Weston Broom and a representative from the Baton Rouge Arts Council co-chair the committee. Hear her interview on AC23 with Chancelier “Zero” Skimore

    ONLINE: brats.org

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  • ,

    LYFE Line Teen Summit begins July 22

    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity (LCHE), BREC, and Big Buddy Program of Baton Rouge announce the Second Annual LYFE Line Teen Summit, July 22-24, at the BREC Milton J. Womack Recreational Center, at 6201 Florida Blvd. in Baton Rouge.

    This  3-day camp designed to engage youth ages 12-17 in informative, interactive sessions and discussions. There will be a wide range of topics covered which include, but are not limited to, community safety and violence prevention, financial literacy, sexual risk avoidance, college and vocational readiness, and making healthy lifestyle choices. Doors open daily at 8:00 A.M. for “early bird” drop off with the summit beginning at 9:00 A.M. “It is our aspiration that each teen will leave the summit empowered to go out into their communities more aware of their voice and power and how to respond to everyday situations in positive ways,” said Alma C. Stewart, LCHE president. During the camp, youth will have an opportunity to learn about advocacy on topics youth care about and participate in a mock Town Hall meeting. “Young people have a lot on their minds and a lot to say. This is a safe space for them to be heard and focus their energy on achieving their goals and dreams,” says Stewart. In addition, the youth will have the opportunity to participate in games and other activities provided by BREC.

    Due to the current COVID 19 pandemic, precautionary measures will be taken during the summit, including requiring everyone to wear a mask.

    Registration for the summit is free and open to the public. Parental consent is required to attend. Space is limited, so anyone interested in participating is encouraged to act fast. For further information and online registration, please visit youthpeaceolympics.org.

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  • Geaux Get Tested

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced the opening of several testing sites in East Baton Rouge Parish beginning Tuesday, July 7 through the “Geaux Get Tested” initiative

    The Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness  and Healthy BR will work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services​, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Louisiana National Guard and the Louisiana Department of Health to test up to 5,000 people each day across all sites.

    The “Geaux Get Tested” sites are part of the HHS’s effort to support communities that have been identified as COVID-19 hotspots, or communities where there has been a recent and intense level of new cases and hospitalizations related to the ongoing outbreak.

    “This rapid increase in testing is one of the most important things we can do right now to protect public health and our local economy. Knowing if you have COVID-19 and what to do to prevent further spreading the virus will save lives and lessen the economic impact in our community,” said Broome. “I implore our residents to take advantage of these testing sites, especially if they have symptoms or were exposed to COVID-19.”

    These sites are being stood up to help stamp out community spread. Currently, there are dramatic increases of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. The largest increases in cases continue to be in the 18 to 29 age group. There are also upticks in young people under 18 and in people aged 30 to 39.

    These increases are tied to increased movement as more businesses resume operations with inconsistent adherence by the public to recommended precautions like social distancing and masking. According to LDH, there have been 19 outbreaks associated with bars across the state.

    The hours and dates of operation for all sites are 8am – 4pm, seven days a week. Test sites will open for 12 days, from Tuesday, July 7 to Saturday, July 18 (unless otherwise noted).

    The sites are located at:

    • LSU – Alex Box Stadium parking lot (Gourrier Ave, Baton Rouge, La 70820)
    • Southern University– FG Clark parking lot (801 Harding Blvd, Baton Rouge, La 70807)
    • Cortana Mall (9701 Cortana Pl, Baton Rouge, La 70815)
    • Mobile Testing Site: Healing Place Church (19202 Highland Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70810)
    • The Healing Place Church site will operate Wednesday, July 8 – Saturday, July 18, with the exception of Sunday, July 12
      • ·                      Lamar Dixon Expo Center (9039 S St Landry Ave, Gonzales, LA 70737)
      • This site is supported by LDH, GOHSEP, and HHS.

    *eTrueNorth will process the tests. Results should take 3-5 days. More details are below.

    It is not required to pre-register for a test but encouraged at: www.DoINeedaCOVID19test.com. On-site registration will be accommodated, but it will take longer than arriving with your pre-registration complete and your QR Code either on your phone or printed from the registration site. Those who arrive pre-registered will be escorted to the express line.

    In order to be tested at a HHS test site, people must provide:

    • Telephone number
    • Email address
    • An ID is NOT required
    • Scan this QR code to access the eTrueNorth portal (where you can find your test results)

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    These HHS sites are using the laboratory eTrueNorth to process the test. According to eTrueNorth, it should take between 3 and 5 days for someone who is tested to get their results.

    •          Test results will be provided by email notification (required to log back into website to view).

    •          If someone tests positive, they will also be contacted by phone.

    •          Test results will also be posted in the eTrueNorth patient portal.

    There is not a phone number to call for results. Results will only be provided by email and in the portal.

    If you test positive for COVID-19, or if you were in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by contact tracers calling from (877) 766-2130—save this number in your phone. During that call, you can be connected to resources that are available to help you safely quarantine.

    LDH strongly urges you to self-quarantine while you wait for your test result. Testing does not replace quarantining. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should self-quarantine at your home and away from others, including your family if possible, for 14 days since the date of exposure. Even if your test comes back negative prior to end of the quarantine period, you still need to remain quarantined for the full 14 days. This is because the incubation period for the virus can be up to 14 days and unless you were tested on the 14th day from your exposure, a negative test earlier in the quarantine period does not mean you are not infected.

    Who should be tested?

    •          Tests are available to people who have COVID-19 symptoms such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.

    •          Individuals who do not have symptoms but who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 can also be tested. However, such a person should wait a few days to be tested from when they were exposed. This is because the time between when a person was exposed and when the test would be positive can vary from 4-14 days.

    •          Testing is open to everyone. In addition, anyone who is worried about possibly having the virus can be tested. You do not need to be a resident of East Baton Rouge.

    Test site details

    •          The sites are open seven days per week. The schedule starting July 7 will be daily from 8 a.m. to approximately 4 p.m.

    •          Testing is for open for any Louisiana resident 5 years of age and older. Anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by their guardian.

    •          The testing site will be conducted as a drive-thru test site. Once on-site, those being tested will need to wear a mask and stay in their cars. There will be separate lines for those who have pre-registered and for those who must register on-site.

    •          The site will use a self-administered nasal swab test that will allow those being tested to swab their own nose on-site while in their vehicles, observed by a trained medical volunteer to ensure the sample is taken correctly, and drop the sealed sample into a container on their way out of the drive-thru site.




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    Pryor appointed to chief counsel for LSU Health Shreveport

    Carranza Pryor, of Shreveport,  has been appointed chief counsel for LSU Health Science Center Shreveport, where he provides counsel on a broad range of issues related to an academic research healthcare setting.  Pryor has practiced law for 25 years specializing in complex commercial litigation, civil rights, and criminal defense.  He is a graduate and former valedictorian of Captain Shrev High School. He earned degrees from Harvard University and Yale Law School.

    He most recently led The Pryor Firm, LLC in Atlanta and represented companies, individuals, and municipalities related to civil rights and criminal defense. His prior legal experience included serving as counsel for clients with labor, employment, and commercial litigation issues, as well as public corruption and white-collar crimes. Additionally, Mr. Pryor brings extensive experience working with records management, financial services, arbitration, real estate, insurance, internal investigations, policy and procedures, and securities fraud.

    Mr. Pryor has been very active in the communities in which he has lived, serving on the board of directors of the Urban League of Central Carolinas and Urban League of Birmingham, chair of the Davidson Community Players, Charlotte Chamber Music, Butler Street YMCA, United Way of Central Alabama, along with many other organizations. The Birmingham Business Journal named him among the “Top 40 Under 40” in 2002, and he served as the co-chair of administration and personnel committee of Davidson College Presbyterian Church and as a church elder.

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    EBR schools announces reopening plan

    The superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School system, Warren Drake, has released an updated about the school system’s reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year.

    On Friday a message was sent out to parents although some reported not receiving the message.

    It stated:


    Dear EBRPSS Families,

    As we near the midpoint of our summer break, I want to reach out to all of you with a district update. First and foremost, I’d like to welcome Ms. Leslie Brown who will replace me on August 1, 2020, as Superintendent of Schools. I hope that all of you will welcome her just as you did with me five years ago. I have shared with her how fortunate we are as a district to have such a diverse, dedicated, and talented team serving our students. Ms. Brown and I have been in regular communication over the past few weeks. We share an unwavering commitment to a smooth transition to ensure the best teaching and learning environments for August 2020 and beyond. As you know, the decisions before us cannot be made lightly. None of us can predict the
    future. In the here and now, we must factor in local, state, and federal regulations and guidance as we make the best determinations to guide our entry into the upcoming school year. We share all of your concerns about the return to schools, and we recognize that there is not a perfect, one-size-fits-all solution. District staff is monitoring the COVID-19 data and related guidance from within our city, our state, and across the country. Locally, our numbers continue to increase, and it is predicted by some that a spike in positive cases will occur after the July 4th holiday. Regardless, we must find a way to move forward to meet the needs of our students, our employees, and the community we serve. I know many of you are anxious for a comprehensive and inclusive
    plan for August, but in my opinion, it is too early to commit to a definite scenario today. Given the information currently available and if we remain under Phase II on August 6th, here is a snapshot of the two most likely models presently in development:

    Option 1 – Students will begin school on August 6th in a 100% virtual learning environment. If governmental phases allow for it, on Wednesday, September 9, families will have a choice between continuing to learn virtually OR returning to school through a hybrid model permitting local and state guidance.

    Option 2 – If governmental phases allow for it, students will begin school on August 6th under a hybrid model. Within this model, students will attend school two days a week according to predetermined daily schedules. During the remaining three days of the week, students will learn virtually under the supervision of their classroom teachers. This model will afford us the ability to have 50% capacity or under on our campuses and buses at one time. This model will also allow time for cleaning and sanitation. Within this model, all students will have the option to select a 100% virtual learning experience if it is preferred.
    In each of these models and throughout our decision-making process, the health and safety of our students, staff, and their families remain our top priority. Physical distancing, group size, and personal protective equipment will be addressed in each and every decision. In order to do this, additional data is needed to finalize the remaining details of the operational plan. To help us with this, please take the time to complete our latest survey, so that we may have the most accurate data as possible when we release a detailed plan next week.


    In closing, I wish each of you a happy, safe, and restful month of July. Each of you, your families, and our students are ever-present in my thoughts and prayers. The past five years prove that the East Baton Rouge Parish School System is a resilient team, one that I will forever be proud to have served. I know your strength, positivity, and determination will continue to shine in the future. We look forward to a great school year ahead.


    Warren Drake

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    Pride and protest during the pandemic

    The month of June has been a time of visible pain across the world. From the swelling numbers of coronavirus cases and racial disparity in deaths to the protests against the consistent murders of unarmed Blacks by police officers, these are the times that people will be talking about for centuries to come.

    Like the rest of the world’s citizens, frustration and unrest increased for many in Louisiana as protesters took to the streets in Baton Rouge, Donaldsonville, Zachary, Port Allen, Shreveport, Lafayette, Lake Charles, and New Orleans in the wake of Minneapolis police killing George Floyd on May 25.

    In Baton Rouge, young activists, ministers, and families peacefully rallied at the state capitol, stopped traffic on Siegen Lane and Airline Highway, and marched to the home of District Attorney Hillar Moore, and spoke before the Louisiana legislature. Across the state, protesters have lined streets, removed Confederate monuments, and staged kneel-ins where they kneeled on one knee or laid on the ground symbolizing Floyd’s death.

    They have galvanized to end policies and systems that harm —even kill— Black people while calling for a redoubling of unity and support of Black businesses and the protection of Black lives.  Photographer Yusef Davis captured rallies and Juneteenth events that demonstrate the people’s pride and protests that are ongoing.   @ydphotoandart

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    Thirteen awarded the Nu Gamma Omega Chapter Debutante Award

    The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated – Nu Gamma Omega Chapter proudly presented awards to the 2020 Coterie of Debutantes at the Louisiana Old State Capitol. The theme for the event was, “A Renaissance of Beauty and Elegance”. Reigning as Queen is Miss Sydney Alexandra LaFleur, daughter of Vanessa Caston LaFleur.

    Debutante Mykara Arie Taylor was recognized as Miss Amity.  Reigning as princesses were First Princess Courtney Danielle Scott,  daughter of Chakesha Webb Scott, Second Princess Ralyn Wynne Ricks,   Third Princess Shamari’ Tramease Wilson, daughter of Andrea Wilson,  Fourth Princess Ney-Chelle Avette Thomas, Fifth Princess Kaeyln Cachay Lipscomb, and Sixth Princess Whitney Lenis James. In addition, reigning as Maid Bailey Simone Lewis, First Pearl Bria Coleman, Second Pearl Jaysia Unique Thomas, Third Pearl Mykara Arie Taylor, Fourth Pearl Pashunti Lashae Hall, and Fifth Pearl A’niya Arlyse Lagarde.

    Danielle Staten served as general debutante chairman, while Carla Harmon,  Cynthia Reed, and  Joyce Trusclair served as co-chairs. Other program participants included Contessia Brooks,  Kynedi Grier,  Vanessa LaFleur, Breanna Lawrence, Mary Sutherland Toaston,  Cassandra Washington, Shondra White, Roena Wilford, and Andrea Wilson.

    The Debutante program enriches the lives of young ladies through educational workshops, community service projects, Teas, cultural activities, and dance rehearsals. Nu Gamma Omega Chapter will awards scholarships to Coterie of Debutantes to support their higher educational pursuits.  Jacqueline Nash Grant serves as Chapter President.


    Photos provided by CWash Photography

    Presented by the Nu Gamma Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha are, (left row front to back) Pashunti Hall, Mykara Taylor, Kaelyn Lipscomb and Shamari’ Wilson; center row, Sydney LaFleur, Bailey Lewis, Jaysia Thomas, and Ralyn Ricks; and, right row, A’niya Lagarde, Courtney Scott, Ney-Chelle Thomas and Whitney James.


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    Port Allen’s Derrick Jones named Coach of the Year

    Port Allen head basketball coach Derrick Jones has been named the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches’ Coach of the Year in Class 2A. Jones has also earned coach of the year honors at the district level and by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. He led the Pelicans through a historical season with 29 wins and beat Rayville to claim the first state championship in school history.  The West Baton Rouge native has been in college coaching for more than a decade and was an outstanding player at Catholic High of Baton Rouge.


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    SALUTE OUR SAILORS: Airman Octavish Morris

    MEDITERRANEAN SEA — Airman Octavish Morris, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sews medical-grade cloth face masks in the aviation paraloft aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2020. The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is conducting operations in U.S. 6th Fleet to support maritime security operations in international waters, alongside our allies and partners. Truman has spent at least one day underway for 30 of the last 34 months, in direct support of global security around the world.

    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kelsey Trinh

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    ‘No Mask, No Service’ policy in effect in East Baton Rouge Parish

    Baton Rouge  Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome signed an executive order Wednesday to require all commercial and nonprofit entities in the East Baton Rouge Parish providing goods or services directly to the public to implement a “No Mask, No Service” policy.

    As of July 1, 2020, East Baton Rouge Parish has experienced 5,350 confirmed cases of COVID-19  and 271 confirmed deaths by the Louisiana Department of Health as a result of the disease.

    “This is an effort to protect the health and well-being of residents and visitors — and to assist in the safe reopening of the parish economy without the need for the stricter economic mitigation efforts put in place earlier this year,” said Mayor Broome. “The “No Mask, No Service” policy will help ensure our businesses can remain open and safely serve customers. My message to our community is simple: save a life, save our economy, and wear a face covering.”

    The executive order requires, at minimum, that all employees and visitors wear face coverings when in an area or while performing an activity that will involve close contact or proximity with the public. The “No Mask – No Service” Policy must be posted near all entrances and in clear view of any employees or members of the public entering the business.

    During his press conference earlier today, Governor John Bel Edwards stated support for Broome’s mandate as well as others around the state.

    “I want you to know that I appreciate the decision on her part, I also support similar mask mandates that have been put in place in Orleans Parish and in Jefferson Parish by LaToya Cantrell and Parish President Lee Shang,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

    The business community reached out to Mayor Broome for extra time to comply with the executive order, and to further support the effort. The executive order will be effective July 3, 2020, at noon through August 3, 2020 and will be re-evaluated before August 3, 2020.

    The Baton Rouge Fire Department and the Baton Rouge Police Department will be authorized to enforce the order.

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    Southern University launches THC line of medical cannabis products

    The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, part of the Southern University System, together with Ilera Holistic Healthcare (Ilera Holistic), became the nation’s first historically Black university to launch its own THC medical cannabis products. The university and Ilera share one of two cannabis licenses in the state of Louisiana. The launch of this historic brand, called AYO, comes on the heels of Louisiana’s unprecedented extension in June of its own medical marijuana program.

    SU Ag Center chancellor Orlando McMeans PhD

    SU Ag Center chancellor Orlando McMeans PhD

    “This is yet another great and historic day for the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center,” said Orlando McMeans, chancellor of the Ag Center, during a press conference July 1. “The goal of this program is to provide quality medicine for the citizens of the state of Louisiana through education, research and outreach, all of which are included in the mission of the Ag Center. The release of AYO, along with our CBD products, will enable us to help patients better manage their medical issues and improve their quality of life.”

    The AYO line joins the ALAFIA product brand, a hemp-derived tincture developed by Southern and Ilera.  ALAFIA launched on January 25 in the Louisiana market, making Southern University the first HBCU producer in both cannabis and hemp.  ALAFIA will be available online nationwide later this summer.

    “With the launch of both CBD and THC medical marijuana products, Southern continues to set precedents in innovation,” said Ray L. Belton,PhD. president of the Southern University System. “In addition to providing healthcare options for Louisiana residents, our valued partner, Ilera, is able to hire local talent. All of this impacts our state’s economy directly while expanding the Southern University brand.”

    Southern’s medical marijuana program is part of the Ag Center’s Southern Institute for Medicinal Plants led by Janana Snowden,PhD, the institute’s director and an assistant professor of agriculture at Southern University Baton Rouge. The institute and Ag Center have long researched plants such as hibiscus in addition to cannabis.

    “The very important research we conduct on medicinal plants helps us to address health problems that affect communities,” Snowden said. “Our products derived from medicinal plants offer patients another way to alleviate symptoms. We are proud that we can be part of many potential solutions.”

    AYO has been launched at a time that Louisiana has expanded laws to potentially allow more patients to choose medical marijuana for treatment. On June 11, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law ACT No 286, allowing any state-licensed physician to recommend medical marijuana to any of their patients to find relief for any condition.

    Chanda Macias

    Chanda Macias

    “ACT No 286 makes clear that Louisiana residents want full access to medical cannabis and the right to discuss alternative healthcare options with their doctors,” said Chanda Macias, chief executive officer for Ilera Holistic Healthcare. “We are grateful to the entire state legislature in welcoming our input throughout the long history of this bill and listening to the voices of our patients, advocates, doctors and industry colleagues. We had one common goal, which was to bring greater access to medicine for all patients in our great state.”

    AYO is scientifically formulated, lab-tested, pesticide-free, and only available in the state of Louisiana. To learn more about AYO and cannabis medicine, please visit www.ileraholistichealthcare.com.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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    Jackson to lead CDL program development

    The Center for Development and Learning has hired  DeJunne’ Clark Jackson as the vice president of program development. Jackson, who is a mother of a “double-deficit, comorbid, bright, insightful, and kind-hearted dyslexic child,” has an in-depth knowledge of the necessary school-based solutions for students with attention and learning challenges, particularly struggling readers and students with ADHD. Jackson earned a master of arts in teaching in early childhood education and a master of education in dyslexia therapy, among many other degrees and certifications. Jackson also serves on the Louisiana Early Literacy Commission.

    She is an alumna of Louisiana Tech University and William Carey University. She is a native of the greater New Orleans area and has lived in north Louisiana for a bit, but she currently calls Baton Rouge home with her husband and two sons. “From early childhood development to college matriculation, DeJunne’ has been able to serve a host of students – helping them to become successful in their educational pursuits. In addition to her service with the district attorney’s child advocacy center, she has served in the capacities of a college disabilities coordinator, classroom teacher, school counselor/student services coordinator, and reading interventionist.”

    Center for Development and Learning is a nonprofit organization that specializes in the development and dissemination of leading-edge research, knowledge, and best practices that improve teaching and increase learning. mission is to improve the life chances of all children, especially those at high risk, by increasing school success.

    ONLINE: http://www.cdl.org



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    Life Source Hospice gives thanks, feeds Frontline workers

    Life Source Hospice held an event, ‘Feeding the Frontlines’, to say thank you, and to show appreciation to all Frontline Workers, on Thursday, June 25, 2020, 3pm – 6pm at 11605 Southfork Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA.

    “Every day, we say thanks to Frontline workers, especially our own staff, who have not wavered in caring for our patients, especially during CoVid19,” said Shedonna Martin, community relations/volunteer services.

    Life Source Hospice provided a drive-thru, curbside pickup experience which included hamburger/hotdog plate, chips, water, and plenty of goodies. The event was also sponsored by Coca Cola, Drago’s, Flannery Oaks, Greenoaks Funeral Home, Heritage Manor, Landmark Baton Rouge, Landmark Hammond, Landmark South, Life Source Home Health, Mele Printing, and Red River Bank.

    Life Source Hospice is a licensed hospice service provider, serving Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. James, Tangipahoa, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana parishes.


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    BRAC to assess impact of coronavirus on Black-owned businesses

    The Baton Rouge Area Chamber launched a survey this afternoon to assess the economic impact of the novel coronavirus on Black-owned businesses in the Capital Region and to identify barriers to recovery.

    Currently, data of COVID-19’s economic impact on Black-owned businesses does not exist at a regional or national level, BRAC said. It has been widely reported that the virus has had devastating impacts on Black communities throughout the country.

    The survey, modeled after the U.S. Census Bureau’s weekly Small Business Pulse Survey, will allow BRAC and its partners to compare the regional data to a national small business “norm.” With the results, the agency aims to address the barriers to recovery for Black-owned businesses and to uncover disparate impacts of the stay-at-home orders and restrictions.

    “We know, for example, that minority-owned businesses have not applied for federal relief funding at rates equivalent to white-owned businesses,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC. “We need to know what the specific challenges are, so that we can recommend and implement specific solutions. Meaningful progress around economic inclusion and recovery relies a good deal on meaningful data.”

    Click here for the survey, or visit brac.org/recovery for more information.

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  • BRCC to eliminate fees, offer aid for fall semester

    As the state continues to deal with the growing COVID-19 threat and the uncertainty regarding future timelines, Baton Rouge Community College is introducing special changes that will allow the college to continue offering the same great educational and support opportunities for students during the Fall 2020 semester.  BRCC is eliminating non-resident fees and suspending online fees for students this fall. A bevy of institutional aid awards are also available, and there is no application fee for new students to enroll. The elimination of non-resident fees will save full-time students more than $2000 and full-time online non-resident students approximately $2,500. This means out-of-state students will be charged approximately half of the cost over last year.

    “We are aware that many members of our community will need BRCC more than ever after dealing with the repercussions from COVID-19,” said BRCC Chancellor Willie E. Smith, PhD. “We hope that by eliminating some of the financial burden, we can be a key partner in assisting people with getting the necessary training and credentials to begin their careers or continue their studies. As an accredited institution of higher learning, this incredible offer allows students to take courses here at BRCC that are transferrable to their home institution.”

    BRCC is also introducing special changes that will allow the college to continue offering the same great educational and support opportunities for students. BRCC will offer general education courses through online synchronous (live instruction) and asynchronous (attend on your schedule) classes, while Technical Education and Nursing and Allied Health classes, along with some labs, will be offered through a hybrid design, where students will complete some coursework online and attend some face-to-face classes on campus in a sanitized environment, while practicing social distancing and wearing masks. The college will continue to offer support for students with technology needs, and student services will remain online through the Virtual Student Center.

    There will also be changes to placement testing as new students who were previously required to take the Accuplacer exam will now be given a self-directed placement option upon enrolling to Baton Rouge Community College. Details will be shared with these students after they apply for admission.

    All registration and enrollment processes for the fall semester will be handled online. Students can visit www.mybrcc.edu or call 1-866-217-9823 for questions and information.

     The Fall 2020 semester also offers the following institutional aid initiatives:

    • Enroll in 15 hours and earn a $600 institutional award
    • Enroll in 12 hours in a hands-on technical program and earn a $600 institutional award
    • Enter the Work Ready U Program at BRCC and concurrently enroll in 6 credit hours to earn a $500 institutional award
    • Complete the HISET with BRCC and earn a $500 institutional award towards enrollment in the next semester

    Fall classes start August 17. There are four fall sessions available: The 15-Week Semester (Aug. 17 to Dec. 5), The 1st 7-Week Semester (Aug. 17 to Oct. 7), The 12-Week Semester (Sept. 8 to Dec. 5), and the 2nd 7-Week (Oct. 12 to Dec. 5). Registration is available at MyBRCC.edu.


    Fall 2020 At a Glance

    • Classes will be taught through online instruction both synchronously (live instruction) and asynchronously (attend at your leisure)—these will include general education courses as well as other program courses that do not require hands-on training.
    • Technical Education and Nursing and Allied Health courses will be taught in a hybrid model of online and in-person courses. Social distancing and mask wearing will be observed.
    • Technology support will still be offered.
    • Student Services will remain online and available via the Virtual Student Center.
    • New students who were previously required to take the Accuplacer exam will now be given a self-directed placement option upon enrolling for placement in Mathematics and English.
    • Several institutional awards are available for students who enroll for Fall 2020 courses. (More information is available: https://www.mybrcc.edu/news/iai.php)
    • Non-resident fees will be eliminated.
    • Online registration fees will be suspended.
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    Lucius J. Barker, political scientist who broke racial barriers, has died at 92

    Lucius J. Barker,Ph.D,  a political scientist who broke through racial barriers to become a leader in constitutional law, civil liberties, and African-American politics, died in his Northern California home on June 21 of complications due to Alzheimer’s disease. He was 92.

    Barker, who was the William Bennett Munro Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, at Stanford, served as president of the American Political Science Association in 1992-93. He was the second Black leader to hold that position.

    Judith Goldstein, chair of Stanford’s Department of Political Science and the Janet M. Peck Professor of International Communication, said Barker committed his career to understanding how the American political system can represent the interests of all citizens.

    Paula McClain, current president of the APSA, Duke University professor of political science and public policy, dean of the graduate school and vice provost for graduate education, called Barker “a giant in the field of political science.”

    She said, “Yet, despite his eminence, Lucius was a generous and selfless human being who mentored numerous young scholars of all races, providing them opportunities to achieve their scholarly potential. The discipline and the academy, in general, need more Lucius Barkers.”

    Barker also served as president of the Midwest Political Science Association and was the founding editor of the National Political Science Review, a publication of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, an organization for which he also served as president.

    The fifth of six children, Barker was born on June 11, 1928, in Franklinton, Louisiana, to college-educated parents who taught in – but were undeterred by – the segregated school system. After graduating high school, Barker attended Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, where he pledged the Beta Sigma chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1949. He then attended the University of Illinois for graduate studies in constitutional law and civil liberties. His mentor was Jack Peltason, who later became president of the University of California system. Barker earned his PhD from Illinois in 1954, and began his teaching career there as a fellow.

    Barker returned to Southern University to teach for several years before moving to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He spent the 1964-65 academic year as a Liberal Arts Fellow of Law and Political Science at the Harvard Law School. In 1967, Peltason, then chancellor, recruited Barker to the University of Illinois to serve as assistant chancellor. In 1969, Washington University in St. Louis recruited him to teach and chair the political science department as the Edna Fischel Gellhorn Professor. He remained there until 1990, when he joined Stanford.

    At Stanford, he twice served as chair of the Department of Political Science and joined Sigma Pi Phi fraternity (known as the Boulé). As a Stanford faculty member, he was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Read more from Stanford University

    Photo by Jim Vanides

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    April Dunn Act signed furthering her legacy, work with disability affairs

    The Louisiana Legislature has renamed the Act 833 of 2014 as the April Dunn Act following the unexpected death the 33-year-old advocate for people with disabilities. Dunn was a dedicated staff member of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs. Because of Dunn, countless students with disabilities in Louisiana now have a pathway to earn a high school diploma. She was a tremendous asset to our team and to the state of Louisiana. Her enthusiasm and passion for life made a difference in everyone she came in contact with, and her work improved the lives of all Louisianans, including those with disabilities. She died March 28, 2020, of complications from COVID-19. With the Governor’s signature, the April Dunn Act became Act 1 of 2020, which further cements her legacy.

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    Congress moves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act measure forward

    The House Judiciary Committee has introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the law enforcement culture, empower communities, and build trust between law enforcement and minority communities by addressing systemic racism and bias.

    In a conference call with the Black Press of America just before voting on the measure, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)said the bill should help save lives.

    “This is a real historic day here in the capital as last week we introduced the Justice in Policing Act, and today we amend the bill,” CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said during the conference call.

    “We call it the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I call it historic because this is the first time in many years that Congress has taken up a bill dealing with policing and I’m sure it is the first time that Congress has introduced such a bold transformative piece of legislation,” Bass said.

    The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would establish a national standard for the operation of police departments and mandate data collection on police encounters.

    If it becomes law, the bill would reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs and streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.

    It would also eliminate no-knock warrants and ban chokeholds.

    “The idea that a chokehold is legal in one city and not the other, the idea that no-knock warrants are okay in one jurisdiction and not in another is very important. That must end,” Bass said.

    A bill crafted by Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and an executive order issued by President Donald Trump, ask only for studies to be done on matters like no-knock warrants and chokehold bans, and have little bite, Bass and her CBC colleagues noted.

    “In essence, their bills take the teeth out of this bill. This is not the time for superficial action,” Bass warned. “This is the time for us to demonstrate our ability to address the people who are peacefully in the street every day with comprehensive legislation.”

    The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:

    • Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
    • Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
    • Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. saves lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
    • Bans chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds.
    • Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level.
    • Requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first.
    • Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.”
    • Condition grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.
    • Limits military equipment on American streets, requires body cameras.
    • Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
    • Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
    • Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.
    • Hold police accountable in court.
    • Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard.
    • Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.
    • Investigate police misconduct.
    • Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
    • Empower our communities to re-imagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
    • This bill reinvests in our communities by supporting critical community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to re-imagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
    • It establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just, and equitable public safety approaches. These local commissions would operate similar to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
    • Change the culture of law enforcement with training to build integrity and trust.
    • Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
    • Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
    • Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
    • Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
    • Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
    • Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state, and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
    • Improve transparency by collecting data on police misconduct and use-of-force.
    • Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
    • Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use-of-force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
    • Makes lynching a federal crime.
    • Makes it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.

    By Stacy M. Brown
    Contributing Writer

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    Bill by Rep. Frederick Jones to make probation less costly

    The Louisiana Senate passed several bills to improve Louisiana’s criminal justice system, including a bill to make probation less costly for both the state and offenders.

    Other bills would adjust the juvenile probation procedure and provide released prisoners letters verifying where they had served their time.

    The measures had already been approved by the House and now go to the governor for his approval.

    House Bill 643, sponsored by Monroe Democratic Rep. Frederick Jones, allows the parole board to reduce the level of supervision at which a parolee is monitored, potentially reducing the cost of probation for the state and reducing the number of fees that have to be paid by the parolee.

    Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, spoke in support of the legislation, which does not decrease anyone’s parole time. HB643 helps “lighten the level of supervision after so much time and also lighten the cost of supervision after so much time, which helps both the state and the offenders with the cost,” she said.

    Under HB643, the parole board can reconsider a nonviolent offender’s terms of probation after three years of parole. For violent offenders, the time frame is seven years. After the offender has completed the required time, the board can reduce the number of meetings that the offender is required to have with his or her probation officer per month.

    Jackson said district attorneys have voiced support for the bill. It passed with 35 yeas and 2 nays.

    The Senate also swiftly voted 33-0 in favor of House Bill 453, which ensures a minimum of three days’ notice before a court can make a change to a juvenile’s probation. Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, said the bill gives prosecutors time to look over any changes.

    By Kathleen Peppo
    LSU Manship School News Service

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    MOVEBR program on track to exceed local small business participation target

    Mayor expects more than $57 million in preconstruction spending with small businesses

    Hoping to achieve at least 20% in small business participation in the MOVEBR program, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced the program is on track to exceed that number with current spending committed for preconstruction services at 40% for small businesses and a forecast of at least 33% over the life of the program, excluding program management services.

    Mayor Broome said increased participation by local small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses is a result of the requirements she made that the program management team conduct outreach to educate local small businesses on the program’s contracting opportunities and how to access the City-Parish procurement and selection processes.

    “More than ever, this investment in local small businesses is directly supporting our local economy,” Broome said. “This is the largest infrastructure program in the history of East Baton Rouge Parish, and it should not only be an investment in better traffic flow and safer streets; it should also be an investment in the people and small businesses that are the backbone of our community. In today’s current economic environment, the impact of MOVEBR is even more beneficial.”

    The MOVEBR program has currently committed approximately $46 million for preconstruction activities, excluding cost of property and utility relocations, with small businesses contracted to provide 40% of those services. By the completion of the program, the amount of local small business spending on preconstruction activities is forecast to exceed $57 million.

    The total preconstruction services spending on MOVEBR projects that are currently active amounts to over $30 million on capacity projects and over $16 million on corridor enhancement projects.

    Since kicking off the MOVEBR program, the City-Parish has worked with the program management team to hold workshops, converted to webinars when in-person meetings were cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, to inform local small businesses on opportunities to participate. These workshops provided information about the professional services needed on MOVEBR projects, how to access and apply to be a City-Parish vendor, and networking opportunities for large and small businesses interested in teaming to pursue work together.

    The City-Parish and MOVEBR program management team also worked together to provide small contracting opportunities along with the larger projects that offered openings for small businesses to provide services.

    “My commitment was that MOVEBR would be the industry standard of excellence for delivering transportation with a diverse network of small businesses that shared in the work,” Broome said. “By exceeding the target we set for ourselves, the MOVEBR program is helping to keep East Baton Rouge Parish strong.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    Our children, colleagues, friends are worth fighting for

    Black people in Baton Rouge have been on the racial battlefield for a long time. They resisted and revolted on sugar plantations. They fought in segregated military units. They joined forces to integrate everything from pools to schools to buses. More recently, Black people in Baton Rouge mobilized others to tackle the tough challenge that is the disproportionate use of excessive force against Black bodies after the July 2016 killing of Alton Sterling and live without the constant great of anti-Black violence in all forms.

    Four years later, Black people in Baton Rouge have answered the call for solidarity with the family of beloved, father, brother, uncle, and friend, Mr. George Floyd, and with individuals and organizations that have finally come to the realization that enough is enough.

    Enough is enough of blaming individuals for their own deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers or ordinary white citizens. It wasn’t what they were wearing or whether complied with commands in the long and growing lists of unnatural Black deaths and Black suffering. As was the case in the past and is still the case today, their greatest offense was being born in or moving to a nation that has historically and in contemporary times refused to see their humanity.

    As horrifying and traumatic as it is to watch the killing of George Floyd and witness the paralysis of the bystanders who likely felt too powerless to intervene, what Black Baton Rouge saw was not beyond their comprehension. Black deaths and Black suffering have a long history in the city, parish, state, and nation. While Louisiana ranks at the bottom of many indicators of overall well being relative to other states and the District of Columbia, the situation is often far worse for Black people. It is not surprising that Black people are over-represented among Covid-19 related deaths. It is imperative that fight includes justice for George Floyd and others and relief from the daily Black misery that accompanies persistent racial inequities.

    It is both great so many non-Black people are joining the most recent public struggle for racial justice in America but it is also sad because their presence often reflects an unwillingness to believe the testimony and lived experiences of Black people based on their own merits. As a society, we must believe Black people.

    It is frustrating for many Black people who have been trying for years to draw attention to America’s racialized social structure and its impacts on Black and white people alike to finally see more of a focus placed on race. It is also hard to come to the realization that most changes will be largely symbolic and short-lived.

    There will be time for asking all the tough questions like Why now? We have been trying to tell you. Why wouldn’t you listen? How could you do what you have done? Why should we trust you now?

    What we can do is what Black people in Baton Rouge and the nation have always done. We never given up or given in. We make something out of nothing. We embrace the participation from other groups understanding that their involvement and attention to Black life matters might not belong.

    We continue to live at a time when perceived gains for Black people are framed as losses for white people. The task before us is to move the arc a bit more toward justice. Our charge is to continue to disrupt systems until such a time that we can dismantle them.

    Engagement in social justice issues takes many forms. It is hard work and comes with many risks but our children, neighbors, family members, colleagues, and friends are worth fighting for.

    Lori Martin Ph.D.

    Lori Martin Ph.D.


    By Lori Latrice Martin, PhD
    Professor of Sociology and African and African American Studies
    Louisiana State University. She has three forthcoming books: The Religion of White Rage (Edinburgh University Press), Introduction to Africana Demography (Brill), and America in Denial (SUNY Press).
    Listen to her on Root Chaos on Podbean
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    Free COVID-19 testing continues in Baker

    On June 23, 2020, Southeast Community Health Systems conducted another round of COVID19 testing for free in Baker. This was the second time volunteers from their organization have provided this service to the community and we are very appreciative.

    Many may ask, why get tested? If you do not feel ill, that is understandable; however, if you do have any symptoms it is recommended that you do pursue testing, said officials with the City of Baker.

    Symptoms are:

    Photo by Willie Williams

    Photo by Willie Williams

    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
      Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
      Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

    As cases continue to increase we must increase testing because large-scale testing allows health services to quickly identify who has the disease and arrange for them to receive the care needed.

    This allows healthcare professionals and the person infected to isolate when it becomes known they have contracted COVID19 and that prevents them from coming into contact with others which slows the spread of the disease.

    The more tests performed on persons who have any symptoms will let the scientific and professional healthcare community understand how widespread the disease is and how it is evolving.

    By being tested we can find out where the disease is or is not increasing and that helps community leaders make evidence-based decisions to try to slow the spread of the disease.

    Where you can get tested if you do not have a primary care doctor:

    Southeast Community Health will offer another round of testing in July for the community. Notice will be provided on how to sign up for testing.

    Quest Diagnostics offers free testing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning in the Walmart parking lot at 14507 Plank Rd between 7am & 9am. You must sign up on the Quest Diagnostic website for an appointment.

    CVS Pharmacy 1214 Main St. You must register on CVS.com for an appointment.


    Photo Credit: Willie Williams

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  • ,,

    Senate education committee to discuss La’s return to K-12 schools

    The Louisiana Senate Committee on Education, chaired by Senator Cleo Fields, is holding a hearing on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 6pm in the John J. Hainkel, Jr. room of the Louisiana State Capitol to discuss plans for reopening Louisiana’s K-12 schools.

    The hearing will feature presentations by Cade Brumley PhD, Superintendent of Education, and Courtney Phillips, PhD, Secretary of the Department of Health. It will also include a question and answer session. All concerned individuals are encouraged to submit questions for possible consideration during the meeting.

    “As we look forward to the fall and the reopening of our school systems, we must send a consistent message to our constituents with regard to the plans and guidelines for the students of Louisiana,” said Fields. “Getting our students and teachers back into the classroom in the safest, most efficient manner is our top priority.”

    Individuals wishing to submit questions, may do so by emailing their name, address and question to selfs@legis.la.gov. Only questions received by email prior to 8 a.m. on June 24, 2020 will be considered for inclusion in the meeting.

    Read more »
  • ,

    13-year-old Troy Murphy wins national gaming competition

    13-year-old Troy Murphy, a student at Southern University Laboratory School, recently won the High School Esports League‘s national competition. Murphy competed in the NBA 2k20 division championship on June 6 and earned $1,000 in scholarships for his victory. The High School Esports League is the premier and largest national esports league that provides high school students the chance to participate in competitive esports. Earlier this year, he finished third in the HSEL Winter Open Playoffs. Each winner earned $500 in scholarship prizes. Murphy placed third in the tournament after winning the third-place-best-of-five (3-1). He brought home a trophy for his school and is currently ranked the 3rd best player in the nation. Murphy’s teacher, Christopher Turner, said “I never thought I would have the number one player in the country… To see Troy working hard all year and to be able to pull this off is a blessing.” Murphy has a perfect 8-0 regular-season record and a 4.0 academic grade point average.




    By Nilloc Labs

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    June 30 is last day SBA can approve PPP loan apps; $128 billion still available

    The deadline for small businesses to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan is Tuesday, June 30.  To speed the application process, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has reconfigured its Lender Match online portal to quickly connect borrowers with PPP lenders.

    “The SBA has streamlined its lending processes and added more flexibility for borrowers that make these forgivable loans even more appealing,” said regional administrator Justin Crossie, South Central Region. “I’m urging small business and eligible organizations to apply now to access the more than $128 billion still available.”

     Once a business owner submits their information on the Lender Match platform, within two days they receive emails from lenders willing to accept their PPP application. A PPP application can be started directly from these emails.

    PPP loans can fund employee paychecks and other small business expenses. If spent according to the more flexible guidelines, the loan is eligible for forgiveness and paid by the federal government.

    Most PPP loans are going to smaller firms. The average loan size is $110,000; and, two-thirds of PPP loans are for $50,000 and under.

    The SBA has also placed special focus on reaching underserved small businesses. More than one million loans have been disbursed by lenders who specialize in helping underserved communities; and, 45% of PPP loans have been made in low-income counties.

    With the enactment of the PPP Flexibility Act, it extends the covered period for loan forgiveness from eight weeks after the date of disbursement to 24 weeks, providing substantially greater flexibility for borrowers to qualify for loan forgiveness.

    It also adjusts the minimum amount of loan proceeds borrowers use for payroll costs to qualify for forgiveness from 75% down to 60%.

    A PPP loan is meant to keep employees on payroll and help businesses return to the way they were before February 15, 2020.  However, the Flexibility Act provides a safe harbor for firms having difficulty rehiring employees or finding new qualified employees through December 31, 2020.

    Additionally, the SBA launched a dedicated online tool for small businesses and non-profits to be matched with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), Farm Credit System lenders, Microlenders, as well as traditional smaller asset size lenders in the PPP.

    As of June 20, the SBA has approved more than 4.6 million PPP loans valued at nearly $515 billion. The following is a summary of approved PPP loans in the South Central Region:

      Loan Numbers Loan Volume
    Louisiana 70,573 $7,269,488,528
    Arkansas 41,449 $3,288,704,224
    Texas 372,077 $40,535,431,650
    Oklahoma 62,805 $5,410,350,463
    New Mexico 21,201 2,218,565,298
    National 4.6 million Nearly $515 billion

    PPP information and forms are translated into 17 languages including Spanish, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese), French, German, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

    More information about the PPP – including how to find a PPP lender, application forms, and the new simplified forgiveness and easy forgiveness applications – is available at www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection.

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    What about school after COVID?

    The East Baton Rouge Parish School System is currently developing plans for the 2020-2021 school year. In order for officials to design the safest and most practical back-to-school options, they are asking families to complete a survey. Answers will provide valuable input to meet the needs of all EBR students. The questions in this survey are designed to understand parent’s baseline preferences.

    As of June 22, no plan for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year has been approved by the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board.

    Complete the Survey.

    Read more »
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    CareSouth offers gift cards, Uber coupons to residents who get tested on National HIV Testing Day, June 27

    CareSouth Medical and Dental is offering $25 gift cards and $25 Uber Coupons to encourage residents to get tested as part of National HIV Testing Day on Saturday, June 27, 2020.

    The Baton Rouge clinic will be offering free HIV testing at 3140 Florida Boulevard. The testing will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. The first 25 people to get tested will receive the gift card and Uber coupon.  No appointment needed.  Walk ups are welcome.

    Nationally, Louisiana has the fifth highest rate of AIDS cases. African Americans, especially Black women, are most at risk, accounting for the majority of newly diagnosed HIV and AIDS cases.

    “Testing is the only way to know your status so we want to encourage everyone to take control of their health to help make our community better,” said CareSouth CEO Matthew Valliere.

    The testing will include a confidential finger prick blood test and pre-counseling and post counseling. Results are available immediately.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV and 14 percent don’t know they have it. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care. People at higher risk should get tested more often.



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    COVID restrictions may require you to vote by mail or early. Here’s how.

    >NOTE: The April 4, 2020 and May 9, 2020 elections have been rescheduled for July 11, 2020 and August 15, 2020. If you received an absentee by mail ballot for the April 4, 2020 election, you do not need to request another absentee by mail ballot for the July 11, 2020 election. You may cast your vote on the ballot you have already received. If you have already returned your April 4, 2020 ballot to your registrar of voters, you have voted and it is not necessary for you to either request or submit another ballot for the July 11, 2020 election.

    In Louisiana, you must have a reason to be eligible to vote by mail, unless you are a military or overseas voter. There are specific reasons listed below that qualify you to vote by mail. You can submit an application requesting a mail ballot through our online system or you may print and mail an application directly to your registrar of voters.

    Please be aware of standard mail delivery times and the return ballot deadline when applying for a mail ballot to ensure your voted ballot is received by the registrar of voters before the deadline. It is recommended that if you are going to request a mail ballot that you apply as soon as possible as there is no start date to apply.
    Disabled voters, military voters, and overseas voters may be eligible to receive their mail ballot electronically. You may use the application forms below. If you need assistance in voting or additional information, contact your registrar of voters.
    Online Application: You may request an absentee by mail ballot by logging in to the Louisiana Voter Portal and following these steps:
    1. Click the “Search By Voter” button.
    2. Type in your First Name, Last Name and Zip Code or Birth Month and Year and then click the “Submit” button;
    3. Click the “Request Absentee Ballot” link found under the Quick Links heading; and
    4. Complete requested information and submit.
    Note: You must be logged in to the Voter Portal as the voter for whom the request is intended to electronically submit a request for an absentee ballot.
    Print and Mail Application: You may also print an application to request an absentee by mail ballot which you can complete and deliver to your parish registrar of voters. Delivery may be by U.S. Postal Service, commercial carrier, hand delivery or fax. If hand delivered or faxed, the application can only be for you or your immediate family member. Select the application that applies to you:
    View upcoming election dates. You will need to list the election dates on your application.
    Senior Citizen: If you are 65 years of age or older you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail. You may request a ballot for one (1) election only or you may choose to automatically receive a ballot by mail for all upcoming elections unless you cancel your request in writing to the registrar of voters or a ballot is returned as undeliverable.
    Temporarily Absent: If you are temporarily outside of Louisiana or your parish during the early voting period and on election day, or expect to be, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail. Any person who requests an absentee by mail ballot be mailed to an address within the parish must indicate on the application the dates that they will be outside the territorial limits of the state or absent from the parish.
    Offshore: If you work or expect to be offshore working during the early voting period and on election day, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Nursing Home: If you reside in a nursing home, veterans’ home or a hospital for an extended stay for a physical disability and are unable to vote in person during early voting or at the polls on election day, you may apply through a General Application and enroll in the nursing home early voting program. Once accepted by the registrar of voters, the registrar or a deputy registrar will go to your home facility during a period of a week prior to the beginning of early voting through the last day of early voting. The registrar of voters will bring either a paper ballot or a portable voting machine and guide you through the process of casting your vote.
    Higher Education: If you are a student, instructor or professor located and living outside of your parish of registration, or the spouse/dependent thereof, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Clergy: If you are minister, priest, rabbi, or other member of the clergy assigned outside of your parish of registration, or a spouse/dependent, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Moved Out of Parish: If you moved more than 100 miles from the parish seat of your former residence after the voter registration books closed (30 days prior to an election), you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Involuntary Confinement: If you are involuntarily confined in an institution for mental treatment outside your parish of registration and you are not interdicted and not judicially declared incompetent, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Hospitalized: If you expect to be hospitalized on election day and did not have knowledge of the hospitalization until after the time for early voting had expired; or you were hospitalized during the time for early voting and you expect to be hospitalized on election day; or you were either hospitalized or restricted to bed by your physician during early voting and on election day, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Incarcerated: If you are incarcerated or expect to be incarcerated in an institution inside or outside of your parish of registration and you are not under an order of imprisonment for conviction of a felony, you may apply through a General Applicationand once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.
    Address Confidentiality Program: If you are a program participant in the secretary of state’s Address Confidentiality Program, you may apply through a General Application and once accepted by the registrar of voters, vote by mail.


    Physical Disability: If you are physically disabled, you may apply through the Disabled Application and if not enrolled, enroll in the disability program. Once accepted by the registrar of voters, you may request a ballot for one (1) election only or you may choose to automatically receive a ballot by mail for all upcoming elections unless you cancel your request or a ballot is returned as undeliverable. You may also choose to receive your ballot electronically (by email). If you have not previously provided proof of disability to your parish registrar of voters, one of the following must be submitted along with your application:

    • a copy of a mobility-impaired identification card issued by the Office of Motor Vehicles;
    • a copy of social security disability benefits, veteran’s disability benefits, paratransit services, benefits from the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities or benefits from Louisiana Rehabilitation Services; or
    • a physician’s letter certifying your disability.
    In addition to any disability documentation listed above, any voter enrolling in the disability program must also enclose a copy of a photo ID (Louisiana driver’s license, Louisiana special ID card or other photo ID with name and signature) or aletter of oath where you have listed the names and addresses of two persons residing in your precinct who could make oath, if required, to the fact that you are physically disabled.
    Homebound: If you are homebound and cannot vote without assistance, you may apply through the Disabled Application and if not enrolled, enroll in the disability program. If you are disabled and homebound and are voting for the first time, your proof of disability must be a physician’s letter certifying that you are homebound to exempt you from law that requires that you either register or vote for the first time in person. If you have previously voted, you may provide proof of disability through any of the documents listed above.
    General and Disabled Applications: Applicants must request a ballot by 4:30 p.m. CST on the 4th day before election day.
    Military, Overseas or Hospitalized Applications: Military personnel and/or their dependents; U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S.; or voters that are hospitalized must request their ballot by 4:30 p.m. CST on the day before election day.
    • By Mail (includes commercial carrier).
    • By Fax: Upon request submitted to the registrar of voter.
    • By Hand Delivery: A voter or immediate family member of the voter may deliver the ballot to the registrar of voters (a signed statement must be completed upon delivery by anyone other that the voter, certifying their relationship to the voter).
    • Emergency Provisions: There are emergency provisions in place for Military, Overseas and hospitalized voters. Please contact the registrar of voters for additional information.
    General and Disabled Voters: Voted ballots must be received by your parish registrar of voters by 4:30 p.m. CST on the day before election day.
    Military, Overseas or Hospitalized Voters: Voted ballots by military personnel and/or their dependents, U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S., or voters that are hospitalized must be received by your parish registrar of voters by 8 p.m. CST on election day.
    If you feel that you will not be able to return your ballot timely, you may contact your registrar of voters for alternate methods to return your ballot. Alternatively, you may contact your registrar of voters and may be eligible to request that an immediate family member be allowed to pick up the necessary election materials from the Registrar of Voters Office.
    You can track the status of your absentee by mail ballot. See La R.S. 18:1303 and La R.S. 18:1307 for more information.
    If you spoil your ballot, you may request a replacement ballot from your registrar of voters prior to submitting a voted ballot.
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  • EBR Schools to change Lee High name, seeks suggestions

    “The East Baton Rouge Parish School System is dedicated to ensuring every child receives a high-quality education in an inclusive, equitable, and enriching learning environment. Guided by our organization’s core mission, we stand by our families and our students in this fight to eradicate oppression and racism. At the regularly scheduled school board meeting on Thursday, June 18, 2020, the East Baton Rouge School Board unanimously approved aresolution to change the name of Lee High School. This is a pivotal time in our nation; one that will undoubtedly be taught in history classes for generations to come.”

    The public survey is now open and can be accessed here. The renaming committee will convene a public forum at 6 p.m. on July 13, 2020, at 1022 S. Foster Dr. 

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Baker, BR commemorate 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott on Juneteenth

    The 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, the first boycott of the segregated southern bus system which inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott was commemorated on Juneteenth by Baker Mayor Darnell Waites and Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome at the CATS facility in Baton Rouge.


    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome

    The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott was a defining moment in the Civil Rights movement and proved to be a catalyst of great influence; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his book Stride Toward Freedom, that a detailed “description of the Baton Rouge experience was invaluable” in the early stages of the Montgomery boycott. Rosa Parks’ biographer and Signpost scholar Douglas Brinkley says Mrs. Parks and other NAACP activists throughout the South monitored the developments in the Baton Rouge boycott very closely at the time.

    According to internationally known civil rights historian and Signpost advisor Adam Fairclough, “the Baton Rouge protest pioneered many of the techniques that became standard practice in the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s: mass non-violent protest, the leadership of Baptist ministers and the foundation of alternative transportation systems.”

    Submitted by the City of Baker

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    Black student leaders push, LSU Board of Supervisors approves removal of Middleton name from library

    During the June 19 meeting of the LSU Board of Supervisors, the board approved the recommendation to remove the name Troy H. Middleton from the main library at LSU.

    Prior to the academic committee meeting, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards spoke in support of removing the name from the library.

    “Obviously the Black student leaders at LSU are among the important voices that we need to listen to … In fact, LSU students of all races and backgrounds are telling us it is time for their library to represent someone that everybody, every student can be proud of, and I support them,” Edwards said. “It is time for the name of the library to be changed. Simply put, and this gets to the heart of the matter: in 2020 and going forward, LSU students shouldn’t be asked to study in a library named for someone who didn’t want them to be LSU students. We can do better. We can be better.”

    UnknownIn accordance with the board policy on naming of university facilities and Permanent Memorandum 2, LSU’s Naming Committee took up the matter of removing the name of Troy H. Middleton from the main LSU library. The matter was approved unanimously and endorsed by the appropriate university officials before being presented to the Board of Supervisors.

    LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Mary Werner said that part of the job of an institution of higher learning is to examine the questions that society has and to learn from those who have come before us. She added, it is important to bring forward proposals that help move LSU forward such as the renaming of the library and to recognize not only a painful past but to reconcile it so that all students have equal opportunities.

    “History will not be erased. It is well-documented. But today we can change the mission that is LSU by welcoming every student, young and old, black and white, any nationality, that they are welcomed, their comments, their studies, their work here is valued and respected,” Werner said.

    Middleton, an infantry officer during multiple engagements in both World Wars, served as LSU president from 1952 to 1961. In spite of his many accomplishments, documents have been made public showing Middleton’s role in advocating for and continuing segregationist policies and practices despite a Supreme Court ruling allowing full access and participation of Blacks in University life.

    The University Naming Committee considered all of the factors pertaining to Middleton and acknowledged his stellar military career and service to LSU. However, the committee voted to remove the name of Middleton from the library based on his efforts to deny Black American citizens from enjoying the equal rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Interim President Tom Galligan said that it is significant and moving that today’s board actions are taking place on Juneteenth, or Freedom Day. He asked that it be a day of reflection for the LSU community.

    “Juneteenth commemorates the freedom of the last enslaved Blacks in America, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation,” Galligan said. “While it’s cause for celebration, let this also be a day of reflection for LSU and our country as we work towards true equality and freedom for all.”

    During her chair’s report, Werner shared that diversity training will be established across all departments at LSU and in August, the board will establish a new standing committee, pending board approval, the Committee on Social, Equity, Justice and Inclusion.

    “Let us continue the work we have begun,” Werner said. “We must continue the hard conversations.”

    Separately, Galligan outlined the steps LSU is taking to reopen for the fall semester and his optimism for bringing students back to campus for instruction in August.

    “First and foremost, safety will continue to be our guidepost – safety for our students, safety for our faculty, safety for our staff and visitors,” Galligan said. “And the plans are subject to change based on the evolving COVID situation.”

    Chancellors from the other LSU campuses around the state also shared similar plans for reopening their campuses to students.

    Some highlights of the return to campus plans included following guidelines for face masks, physical distancing, handwashing and enhanced cleaning. Regarding classes, classroom occupancy will be kept to 50 percent capacity, and some classes will be in person and some will be a hybrid of in-person instruction and online portions. The university will also implement testing protocols and contract tracing methods.


    Photo from LSU Reveille

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    Residents in need invited to Drive-thru food distribution, June 20

    A drive-thru food distribution will be held  Saturday, June 20, at Glen Oaks High School, 6650 Cedar Grove Drive, Baton Rouge, beginning at 9 a.m. Boxes of nutritious food will be provided for up to 1,000 families from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Residents in need of a food box for their household are encouraged to arrive early.

    The event is intended to support residents who face food insecurity because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is joined by State Senator Regina Barrow, State Representative Edmond Jordan, Metro Councilwoman Erika Green, and East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Representative Dadrius Lanus to  co-sponsor the event.

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    Inaugural Unified Juneteenth Caravan kicks off at 11am, June 19 in Baton Rouge

    The Baton Rouge African American Museum, Community Against Drugs and Violence, and State Representative C Denise Marcelle celebrate Juneteenth together in solidarity on June 20th.  In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, for the first time in Baton Rouge the three entities that host annual Juneteenth celebrations are unifying in one common effort:  The Inaugural Unified Juneteenth Caravan 2020.

    The caravan will allow the community to recognize this dynamic national holiday, observe social distancing and fulfill our mission to bring all Americans together to celebrate our common bond of freedom through the recognition, observance, education and historic preservation of Juneteenth in America.

    Standing together in this citywide initiative, The Baton Rouge African American Museum, CADAV, and State Representative C Denise Marcelle are supporting legislation for the formation of Juneteenth as a state holiday, unity and appreciation for diversity in our society, police reform and social justice, voting rights, and economic growth in underserved communities.

    The Baton Rouge African American Museum is the only cultural and historical museum in the capital city that highlights African American Achievers.  Its mission is to educate the public about the contributions African Americans have made to the growth and development of this country.  The museum was founded by the late Sadie Roberts-Joseph who was also the State Juneteenth Director.  Her motto was “Culture is the glue that binds a people together.  Step back in time and leap into your future.”

    CADAV’s president Pat LeDuff said this is an opportunity to unite the three major Juneteenth festivals into one celebration. She looks forward to this collaboration being the first step towards a week-long celebration that will reflect progress in food and mental health access, better education and wages, better streets, economic development, and less police brutality.

    State Representative C. Denise Marcelle said she is “excited about the opportunity to collaborate with the Baton Rouge African American Museum in the first year following the tragic murder of Civil Rights Activist and museum founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph.  In the current climate of the pandemic and civil unrest, our unified efforts are of particular importance in supporting peace and civil rights.”

    The Juneteenth Caravan will line up at 10:30 AM on Saturday June 20th at Memorial Stadium where registered participants will remain with their vehicles for a brief Juneteenth presentation by Judge John Michael Guidry. It will travel throughout the city from 22nd, to North Street, to Gus Young, North Foster, Evangeline, Plank Road, and 72nd Avenue ending at Scenic Hwy.


    To join the inaugural Unified Juneteenth Caravan 2020, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inaugural-social-distance-juneteenth-caravan-tickets-108907665760?aff=ebdssbeac.  Registration fees begin at $25 for the general public and $100 for elected officials and political candidates.  Proceeds will be donated to the Baton Rouge African American Museum.

    Donations can be made at https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8gAKdRNCJt


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    Members of the community ask EBR School Board to condemn Bernard’s comments on Robert E. Lee

    Dear Editor,

    The East Baton Rouge School System is one that serves over 81% African-American students. From the time of the inception of this nation, African-American children and their families were barred from the American education system. Now, 13 years after the closing of the longest desegregation order in the United States, and four years after the removal of “Robert E.” from Lee High’s name, Baton Rouge children are still subjected to the bigotry that called for segregation to exist in the first place.

    School Board Member Connie Bernard recently repeated some false, revisionist history during an interview concerning a name change for Lee High. As a representative of a board dedicated to educating over 45,000 children, she is complicit in the oppression of black children in this parish and the spreading of historically inaccurate information to those who look to understand American History.

    According to Sean Kane, writer for the American Civil War Museum, Robert E. Lee inherited and owned 189 enslaved people, whom he worked tirelessly to fulfill a debt, instead of fulfilling his father-in-law’s wish to have those enslaved people freed in five years as the will suggested; he instead petitioned the court to keep them further in bondage. He also petitioned the court to extend their period of enslavement, and according to the narratives of those enslaved, inflicted cruel punishments to those who attempted to escape their life of bondage.

    The members of our organizations are concerned by School Board Member Bernard’s words and actions. Her interview demonstrates that she values Robert E. Lee and the systemic racism that he represents far more than the students and families that she has committed to serve as a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. Mrs. Bernard’s vote to merely remove Lee’s first name from the school name was a betrayal four years ago and her recent comments show that she has no desire to acknowledge the traumas that Black students and their families have suffered at the hands of oppressors like Robert E. Lee. She’d rather glorify a myth, than work to remove symbols doing real harm to the children in our district.

    We call upon the East Baton Rouge School Board, to act in the best interest of all children in our district and rename Lee High in honor of someone who worked in the collective interest of all children. We also condemn the words of Board Member Connie Bernard and suggest her resignation from the board effective immediately.

    One of the pillars of the East Baton Rouge School System is building trust within the community, and trust cannot be built if board members are actively spreading false history and voting to keep racist symbols in place.


    South Louisiana Coalition for Education
    Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge

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    Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith awarded AAP fellowship

    The Academy of American Poets has awarded Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith a  prestigious Laureate Fellowship, given to honor poets of literary merit serving in civic positions around the country.

    Smith, who was named to the Poet Laureate position in 2019 by Governor John Bel Edwards, received $50,000 as part of the award to produce meaningful, impactful and innovative projects in Louisiana. In partnership with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and local schools, Smith will conduct youth poetry workshops in four under-resourced parishes in northeast Louisiana’s Delta parishes.

    “As we face the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage. We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward,” said Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets.

    Smith joins 23 other poets around the country who received a Laureate Fellowship. He earned a master of fine arts at the University of New Orleans and is the author of four published collections of poetry.

    A Cave Canem fellow, Smith has directed Education’s Next Horizon and teaches English at Southern University in Baton Rouge.

    Smith’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals across the country, including Ploughshares, Callaloo, North American Review and Missouri Review, and he is the winner of the 2019 Linda Hodge Bromberg Poetry Award. Much of his poetry draws upon African American history and his personal experiences of growing up and living in the South.

    The Academy of American Poets has awarded 23 individuals with Laureate Fellowships to lead civic poetry programs in their respective communities in the year ahead. They will each receive $50,000 for a combined total of $1.1 million. The Academy also awarded the LEH a $9,000 matching gift in support of Louisiana Poet Laureate programming.

    The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    ONLINE: www.leh.org

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  • EBR Library; ‘There’s something for everyone with the online summer reading program’

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s 2020 Summer Reading Program, Imagine Your Story!, began Monday, June 1, and runs through Saturday, August 15. But it’s Summer Reading, Re-Imagined as the library transitions to a new online program! The traditional summer reading program, which relied on paper logs, regular visits to the Library, and attendance at Library programs, was impacted by the ongoing disruption due to COVID-19, and we’ve pivoted to offer something that could work from a distance.

    Powered by Beanstack, the library’s new program hosting software, there are seven Summer Reading Challenges for all ages, and four major components that make up this year’s program including Beanstack, Page Turner Adventures, Red Stick @Home Challenge, and Summer Camp @Home.

    Beanstack Summer Reading Challenges

    It’s easy! Just read and complete activities to earn badges. Each challenge (except Red Stick @Home) has both a reading/logging element, as well as an activity factor. The rules, requirements, badges and incentives vary based on the age group. Sign up at your local Library location, or online at https://ebrpl.beanstack.org. There’s even an app!

    There are three fun-filled programs for children based on their ages and reading levels: Dragon Cubs, for ages 0-5; Heroes in Training, for ages 5-8; and Storybook Adventurers, for ages 8-11. For Dragon Cubs, children can log up to 30 books to earn reading badges and complete up to 24 activity badges. Both Heroes in Training and Storybook Adventurers can earn up to 75 reading badges by completing timed reading sessions and collect up to 60 activity badges! All three Children’s Challenges can earn up to five entries into weekly drawings. Completion packets will include a choice of two free book bags, a free book, and coupons from area vendors, while supplies last.

    Teen Challenge, designed for ages 11-18, allows readers to earn up to 105 reading badges by completing timed reading sessions and complete seven quests (combined activities) to earn activity badges! Challenge yourself to collect all 112 badges this summer! Earn up to 22 entries into the weekly drawings for each of the milestone badges! Teen completion packets will include a free backpack with a surprise inside.

    Adults, we would never leave you out! The Adult Challenge, for ages 18 and up, still requires reading a minimum of three books to earn completion, but you can also keep reading and logging as in the past “paper” years. There are 24 activity badges designed to have you explore the ebrpl website, databases, and your own personal account online. Adults will receive a canvas tote for their completion incentive.

    If you’re looking for something less complicated, you’ll enjoy the library’s All Abilities Challenge for all ages and all skill levels. These can be completed as an individual or with a helper. Each participant can read and log up to 20 books at whichever level of reading they desire and earn up to 16 activity badges, with assistance or without. Once you’ve read all your books, stop by the Children’s Room at your local branch for a completion certificate!

    At the end of the summer, grand prize winners will receive prizes donated by area merchants and the Patrons of the Public Library. Start by registering yourself or a member(s) of your family. You’ll be able to sign up either through the link on the website, the FREE mobile app, or by speaking with a staff member. Stay tuned for more updates as we prepare to go digital this summer!

    Page Turner Adventures

    Adventure awaits you! The Library invites you to enjoy fun content from the Emmy Award-winning production company Page Turner Adventures. We’ll post special links to five new virtual programs each week that are created and produced by Page Turner Adventures. Get access to shows, crafts, games, and activities for kids by checking the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com for drop dates for each, and visit the Children’s Facebook group page EBRP Library Kids Programming for special links to each program. Links also will be available from inside your Summer Reading Beanstack account.

    Red Stick @Home Challenge

    This special Beanstack challenge is for the whole family, and includes 33 activity badges designed to have patrons explore the community, including its cultural assets, attractions, and the work of local organizations.

    Summer Camp @Home

    Each week, now through Friday, July 31, the Children’s Room will have Summer Camp @Home packets filled with fun crafts, activities, and weekly schedules for virtual programming. Stop by your local branch to pick up the base packet including the instructions, a Monday-Friday schedule, and a content packet. Pick and choose your family’s schedule from the content choices and make the schedule that’s right for your family’s interests. Every weekend, we will have the next week’s content pack ready to go! For more information, call the Children’s Room at your local Library location. All printable activities will be available from the Kids Page on the website at www.ebrpl.com.

    To sign up for the Summer Reading Program, visit your local library location, or go online tohttps://ebrpl.beanstack.org. For more information about the Summer Reading Program, call the Main Library Children’s Room at (225) 231-3760. More information about the Library and any of its free resources, call (225) 231-3750, or visit us online at www.ebrpl.com.

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    La. college students schedules Rally for Change on Juneteenth

    On June 19, 2020 (Juneteenth), the Louisiana Council of Collegiate Leadership (LCCL) plans to hold a rally on the State Capitol grounds. Organizers say the purpose of this event is to inform the Baton Rouge community on issues the Black community faces throughout the city and what can be done to change them.
    “Our main focus will be LSU and other colleges, opening up the floor to have a conversation with the leaders of the institutions. Not only will these leaders speak, but it will be an event for them to listen to the individuals that they serve (i.e. the students) and the challenges they face in regard to campus police.
    It will be an event addressing continual police brutality, how it has reached the campuses in various forms, how campuses’ climates have changed in response to the racial conflicts, and what can be done to better address said issues. Being that many members of the Louisiana legislative body will be present, the event’s platform will be used to promote a new piece of legislation that changes the way police are reprimanded when they neglect the duties of their badges.
    We will be honoring those who have died at the hands of police officers and reflecting upon their lives as citizens of this country. The problems students face on their college campuses can be fixed with simple guidance and it is the LCCL’s mission to provide said guidance.
    We will be bridging the gap between BRPD, LSUPD, and the students they serve. We will also be discussing the upcoming political elections, and how the students can participate, what it means to the state of Louisiana, and how LSU’s environment during election time has no room for BRPD/LSUPD to make mistakes or be neglectful of their positions.”
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    Floyd’s death is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back; All systems are broken for Blacks

    All my life I have heard the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”.  Well, I finally understand what that means.  My mother would say it when she was ready to give me a whipping after she had caution me to stop.  The killing of George Floyd on national television was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  We have had so many young Black men killed by law enforcement over my lifetime and it took this one to get our attention.  This one is special because we all got to see a man die at the hands of a White police officer.  Before this the last killing, I saw on television was when Lee Oswald shot Jack Ruby.  That was in 1963.

    I called both of my brothers and we talked about how we wished we could be involved.  However, we are the children of the sixties and we have been tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, had horses chase us, and waterhoses shot on us.  We are with the protestors; we just can no longer run. (And, of course, there is that virus which is keeping us at home.)

    So yes, I am glad for the young people. I hope they know that law enforcement is broken, but it is not the only system broken in America. The education system for Blacks is broken; the employment system for Blacks is broken; the housing system for Blacks is broken, and many of the other systems for Blacks are broken.

    Is the religious system broken? It must be when you have a president in front of a church without a member of the clergy holding up a bible that he never opened and did not read one passage from it as he stood with all gray-headed White men and one female.  What was the message?  I guess the message was simply, I can order the troops to scatter a peaceful group of people so I might cross the street and hold up a bible.

    There is much talk about the economy in America and that people must go back to work.  Well, if you are Black and unemployed or underemployed there may not be a place for you to go.  So, what can America do now.  Well, first we should bring back all the overseas customer service people and hire locally, does it frustrate you when you call for customer service and you spend a good deal of time trying to explain your problem. I do understand the employee cost in India or other countries is nothing compared to what it would cost in America.  However, America could subsidize these companies to put our citizens to work. We know the automobile industry can make masks, gowns, ventilators, and other required items. Wouldn’t it be good if we made enough to squeeze out China and to have all the other countries coming to us and to our workers?  Can’t we make all the parts and equipment for automobiles here in America?  I know we can but yes, it would cost because to live in America is expensive compared to other countries.

    Just think if the Presidents and CEOs of major corporations would look at their compensation packages and just say, “I will find two working families who are the working poor and provide each of them an additional $500 per week out of my millions so that they are no longer the working poor but maybe the working middle class,” would not America then be great?  It is scriptural that you will always have the poor with you, that does not mean that you should not help them.

    Linda Johnson
    Plaquemine, La

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  • BR youth invited to experience aviation at home

    The Baton Rouge Youth Aviation Experience invites Baton Rouge area youth to participate in virtual aviation programs throughout the country. Due to COVID-19 the experience will not include trips to Atlanta or Denver. However, through partnerships with the Los Angeles Airport in California,  area middle school and high school students can participate in the Aviation Careers Education Academy virtually.

    The LAX Aviation Careers Education (ACE) Academy is a unique educational experience where students experience aviation and aerospace facilities through a virtual aviation experience and learn from career professionals.

    This weeklong educational program, hosted by LAX Community Relations, ‪starts June 22 at 11am CST‬ daily via WebEx.  Apply now. The program ends Friday, June 26.‬

    APPLICATION DEADLINE: ‪Monday, June 18, 2020‬ 
    TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS: Internet, microphone/headset, and webcam. Mobile devices/smartphones are also sufficient.

    Applicants will receive an attendance confirmation, schedule, and instructions on how to join. Students may choose to join specific sessions of their choice. Click here to register.

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    Letter: Urban League of Louisiana supports Rep. Ted James’ justice bill HR13

    To address systemic racism within law enforcement, we have to be willing to acknowledge its existence

    The Urban League of Louisiana wholeheartedly supports House Resolution 13 presented by Representative Ted James earlier today that “establishes a study group to study law enforcement systems and policing.” This is a tremendous step forward for Louisiana in the continuing struggle to eradicate systemic racism within law enforcement.

    “We were disappointed, however, to learn that some legislators demanded that the resolution be stripped of what they considered to be “racist” language, including the mention of Mr. George Floyd‘s name. Disagreement was also had on the mention of race throughout the resolution, including the phrase “the deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers in recent years raised a number of questions about the treatment of racial minorities within the criminal justice system.”

    According to multiple media reports, some white lawmakers were deeply offended by this language and demanded that it be removed from the resolution before they would consider acting on it.

    We understand that words matter. We understand that tone matters. But we also know that in order for an issue to be solved, it has to be faced.

    The act of demanding the removal of Mr. George Floyd’s name because it makes some lawmakers uncomfortable reveals the need for this conversation to continue among those in positions of power and influence. In order to create sustainable change for racial equity, policy decision makers cannot ignore the racial disparities in law enforcement or the nation’s long history of racism.

    In order for these efforts to be successful, we must face our past and look deeply into the systems that have long divided us, even if it makes us uncomfortable. This is the work that we must do together as a nation.

    In the immortal words of author and activist James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

    Yours in the Movement,
    Judy Reese Morse
    President and CEO

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  • Virtual Discussion of “The Hate U Give” film

    Kickoff your Juneteenth celebration with a virtual discussion of the film “The Hate U Give,” facilitated by LetreceG. The Zoom session will take place Friday, June 19th at 7:00 pm. For more details, visit www.LetreceG.com.
    *The film will NOT be shown during the discussion. Participants are asked to view the movie before joining the virtual discussion.

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    ‘We must do better protecting our Black Women’ says LSU organization following Kinnedy Smith’s murder

    Baton Rouge Police arrested the man accused of fatally stabbing Kinnedy Smith, a 21-year-old Shreveport native over the weekend. According to police, 27-year-old Connor Regan, stabbed Smith to death during a domestic dispute and has been charged with second-degree murder.

    Smith graduated from Louisiana State University in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish. Her friends described her as a selfless, bright soul to everyone she came in contact with. She also participated in community service and advocacy work in Ecuador and Columbia. She was working as an intake specialist at Dudley DeBosier law firm in Baton Rouge.

    The LSU Black Women’s Empowerment Initiative penned this letter about Smith’s passing calling for justice and better protection of Black women.

    Kinnedy Smith letter

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    EBR Council on Aging offers free COVID testing for seniors, June 8-19

    The East Baton Rouge Council On Aging will have free COVID-19 testing at the Capital City Event Center, 6995 Florida Blvd, June 8-19, 11am-3pm. All testing will be provided by CareSouth and there will be no cost for Medicare patients. Pick up a registration packet at a Senior center closest to you. Testing is offered to all seniors across EBR Parish.

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  • Farewell to those lives we’ve lost to COVID-19

    A shortlist of the Louisianans who’ve died due to the coronavirus.

    Raymond E “Chicago” Barnett, 67, passed away on April 17, 2020, in Mt Vernon, IL, from complications of COVID-19. Born April 24,1952, in Chicago, IL. Raymond attended Richard T Crane High School and graduated from Southern University. A United States Marine Corps Veteran, he leaves to cherish his memories children, Raymond Jr., Whitney, and Jalae, sister Lorraine. He was laid to rest at the Louisiana National Cemetery, in Zachary.

    Rev. Harry Blake, 85, Shreveport pastor and civil rights activist, passed away on April 8, 2020, after a brief illness due to COVID-19. Born  October 21, 1934, he was raised on Ashley plantation. In the 1960s, he survived an assassin’s bullet,  police beatings, and unjust arrests in Shreveport as he fought for equal rights. He worked with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his staff for four years and worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 2018, Blake stepped down as pastor of Mt. Canaan Baptist Church, where he led the congregation for 52 years. He recently returned to the pulpit and before his illness, served as interim pastor at St. Rest Baptist Church in Shreveport.

    Edward Brooks Sr., 73, East Feliciana Parish Police Juror, passed away on April 20, 2020, due to COVID-19. He was on the first year of his eighth term as juror of District 2. Having served 25 years, he was the parish’s longest serving police juror. He was married to Queenola Brooks for 50 years and his son, Edward Brooks Jr., is a school board representative in the parish.

    Arthur J. Boyd, 87, of New Orleans passed away on April 8, 2020,  after struggling with COVID-19,. He was preceded in death by his parents, John Sr. and Getrude W. Boyd. He leaves to cherish his memory his beloved companion of 60 years, Catherine Ricard, and eight children.

    Freddie “Bilbo” Clark, 73, passed away on May 5, 2020, due to COVID-19. A native of Clinton and a resident of Baton Rouge, he graduated McKinley Senior High in 1965. He attended Grambling University and the University of Wisconsin. He worked and raised a family for 42 years in Madison, WI, before returning home in 2008. He was active in the community and church, including service as president of McKinley Class of 65, McKinley Alumni  Athletic Association, St. Vincent de Paul, Together Baton Rouge and Chairman of The Deacons Board and Trustee Board Member at Greater St. Luke Baptist Church

    Kendall Pierre Sr., 45, passed away on May 2, 2020, due to complications of the coronavirus. Born on May 9, 1974, he was a lifelong resident of Ama, La., and the master barber and operator of Pierre’s Barber and Beauty Salon. In 2009, he was installed as the senior pastor of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church and led the church through significant growth. He was also the  head coach of the Southeast Louisiana Warriors Elite Mentoring Program. He leaves behind a wife of 24 years, Sabrina, and three children to cherish his life.

    Noleta “Lady” Populars, 43,passed away on April 22, 2020, of the coronavirus after being recently diagnosed with kidney disease. spent her life in St. Gabriel and graduated from East Iberville High School. She worked as a substitute teacher and in the health insurance sector. She was among the first confirmed cases in the rural St. Gabriel area and one of the state’s youngest to die of COVID-19.

    Shenetta White-Ballard, 44, nurse at Legacy Nursing and Rehabilitation, Port Allen resident passed away on May 1, 2020. At the time of her death at least 15 residents at the nursing home had died from COVID-19, 26 had been diagnosed with the disease, and 14 staff members had been infected


    To share the memory of your family member, email thedrumnewspaper@gmail.com with the subject FAREWELL. Feel free to include a photo. You may also complete the form on the submit news page here.

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    ‘Reach Your Fullest Potential’

    Masked up and practicing physical distancing, McKinley Senior High School senior Micah Jones tells East Baton Rouge Parish 2020 graduates to “do all you can do to reach your fullest potential.” Read Jones’ speech along with former President Barack Obama’s speech to 2020 graduates. Applauding our grads with unique celebrations. Mobile COVID testing comes to needed neighborhoods. DrumRolls! Farewell to the lives taken by the coronavirus.

    Review the Graduation issue here.



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  • March through Port Allen planned in response to the killing of George Floyd

    The Justice for Fatrell Organization will host a peaceful march through Port Allen tomorrow afternoon, organization leaders said.

    The march will begin at the West Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse at 3 p.m. and end at Centennial Park across from Port Allen City Hall.

    The march is being called in the name of peace, love, and accountability organization leaders Tara Snearl, Clerice Lacy, and Kevin Lawrence said. They ask the public to wear a mask and practice social distancing while marching.  Read more from the Westside Journal


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    Mayor Broome declares Day of Mourning and Fasting

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome joins mayors across the country in recognizing Monday, June 1, as a National Day of Mourning and Lament to mark the death of 100,000 people in the U.S. from COVID-19.
    She will host a dial-in Prayer Vigil at 8am on Monday, June 1. Participants can join at 1-408-418-9388, access code: 966 112 656.
    Broome and The Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge invite the public to join in acknowledging the suffering, praying together for the healing of the nation, and recommitting to the difficult work ahead.
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