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    Meet the candidates vying for votes in Tangipahoa’s November 6 election

     

    Secretary of State

    (One to be elected)

    R. Kyle Ardoin, Baton Rouge, Republican, White Male

    Heather Cloud, Turkey Creek,Republican, White Female

    ‘Gwen’ Collins-Greenup, Clinton, Democrat, Black Female

    A.G. Crowe, Pearl River, Republican, White Male

    ‘Rick’ Edmonds, Baton Rouge, Republican, White Male

    Renee Fontenot Free, Baton Rouge, Democrat, White Female

    Thomas J. Kennedy III, Metairie, Republican, White Male

    Matthew Paul ‘Matt’ Moreau, Zachary, No Party, White Male

    Julie Stokes, Metairie, Republican,  White Female

     

    U. S. Representative 1st Congressional District

    (One to be elected)

    Lee Ann Dugas, Kenner, Democrat, White Female

    ‘Jim’ Francis, Covington, Democrat, White Male

    Frederick ‘Ferd’ Jones, Ponchatoula, Independent, White Male

    Howard Kearney, Mandeville, Libertarian, White Male

    Tammy M. Savoie, New Orleans, Democrat, White Female

    Steve Scalise,Jefferson, Republican, White Male

     

    U. S. Representative 5th Congressional District

    Ralph Abraham Archibald, Republican, White Male

    Billy Burkette, Pride, Independent,  American Indian Male

    Jessee Carlton Fleenor, Loranger, Democrat, White Male

    Kyle Randol, Monroe, Libertarian, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District A

    (One to be elected)

    Walter Daniels, Amite, Democrat, Black Male

    Jonathan Foster, Amite, Democrat, Black Male

    Janice Fultz Richards, Fluker, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Member of School Board – District B

    (One to be elected)

    Rodney Lee, Loranger, Independent, White Male

    ‘Tom’ Tolar, Kentwood, Republican, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District C

    (One to be elected)

    Robin Abrams, Independence, Republican, White Female

    Janice Reid Holland, Independence, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Member of School Board – District D

    (One to be elected)

    Terran Perry, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Phillip David Ridder Jr., Tickfaw, Republican, White Male

    Glenn Westmoreland, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District F

    (One to be elected)

    ‘Randy’ Bush, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

    Christina ‘Chris’ Cohea, Hammond, No Party, White Female

    E. Rene Soule, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    ‘Mike’ Whitlow, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District G

    (One to be elected)

    Alvon Brumfield, Hammond, No Party, White Male

    Jerry Moore, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Betty C. Robinson, Hammond, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Member of School Board – District I

    (One to be elected)

    Rose Quave Dominguez, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Female

    Arden Wells, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

    John H. Wright Jr., Ponchatoula, Democrat, Black Male

     

    Mayor City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Oscar ‘Omar’ Dantzler, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Jim ‘J.’ Kelly Jr., Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Peter Michael Panepinto, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Mayor Town of Kentwood

    (One to be elected)

    Rochell Bates, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Irma Thompson Gordon, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    Michael ‘Mike’ Hall, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Herbert Montgomery, Kentwood, No Party, Black Male

     

    Chief of Police – Town of Kentwood

    (One to be elected)

    Gregory ‘Big’ Burton, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Michael Kazeroni, Kentwood, Republican, Black Male

     

    Council Member District  1, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Kiplyn ‘Kip’ Andrews, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Carl R. Duplessis, Hammond, No Party, White Male

    ‘Chris’ McGee Sr.,Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

     

    Council Member District  2, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Carlee White Gonzales, Hammond, Republican, White Female

    Craig Inman, Hammond, Republican,White Male

    ‘Josh’ Taylor, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Council Member District  3, City of Hammond

    Janice Carter, Hammond, Democrat, Black Female

    Devon Wells, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    ‘Brad’ Wilson, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Council Member District  4, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Sam Divittorio, Hammond, Republican, White Male

    Justin Thornhill, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Council Member District  5, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Louise Bostic, Hammond, No Party, White Female

    Steven Leon, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Council Member(s) Town of Kentwood

    (Five to be elected)

    Gary Callihan, Kentwood, Democrat, White Male

    Irma Clines, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    Tre’von D. Cooper, Kentwood, Independent, Black Male

    Xavier D. Diamond, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Antoinette Harrell, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    Terrell ‘Teddy’ Hookfin, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Shannon R. Kazerooni, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    William Lawson, Kentwood, Republican, White Male

    James Robbins, Kentwood, No Party, Black Male

    Michael L. Sims, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Steven J. Smith, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Paul Stewart, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Tonja Thompson, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    John Williams, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Audrey T. Winters, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Council Member(s) Village of Tickfaw

    (Three to be elected)

    ‘Mike’ Fedele, Tickfaw, Other, White Male

    ‘Steve’ Galofaro, Tickfaw, Other, White Male

    Guy J. Ribando, Tickfaw, Democrat, White Male

    Jimmy Sparacello, Tickfaw, No Party, White Male

     

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  • La. based social network expects to bring $26 billion back into urban communities

    BELLE CHASSE, La.–Building Economic Advancement Network (BEAN) is aligning strategic investments, incentivized business transactions and cutting-edge technology to increase economic power in urban communities.

    The company is scheduled to launch the intuitive BEAN app this fall.

    According to BlackNews.com, this launch sets a precedent as the first social network dedicated to the economic advancement of urban communities by leveraging commerce and blockchain technology.

    “The platform allows users to easily connect with businesses and professionals from all over the world that are committed to making a positive economic impact in urban communities. BEAN’s intuitive app leverages the latest breakthroughs in blockchain technology, enabling users to monitor their daily economic impact, while earning BEAN coins for their transactions,” states a corporate press release.

    BEAN is founded by Darren Walker, 33, of Belle Chasse, a real estate investor who oversees a multi-million dollar portfolio. He recently starred in the DIY Network’s show, ‘Louisiana Flip N Move,’ where he and his wife, Lucy, demonstrated their real estate and renovation prowess throughout Louisiana.

    His partner Derek Fitzpatrick is a designer, technology expert and application developer who has led multiple, award-winning studios as a creative director. His deep understanding of design and technology is at the forefront of BEAN’s platform.

    Fitzpatrick’s expertise in branding, 3D/2D, animation, motion graphics, visualization, architecture and industrial design has been instrumental in producing creative, animated and branding assets for major corporations, new products, business services and start-ups.

    BEAN partner Michael Long is a corporate attorney who specializes in corporate and securities law, venture capital, joint ventures, real estate development, debt, mergers and acquisitions, and various areas of corporate law.

    Walker said, “BEAN is at the forefront of an economic shift. We are leveraging resources, partnerships and investors from diverse backgrounds and demographics to drive economic advancement in urban communities. African Americans have the 16th largest buying power in the world and are major contributors to the United States GDP, yet so much of that economic power is not realized where it matters most – in African American neighborhoods. BEAN’s social network will counter that trend by connecting consumers and businesses in a manner that positively impacts urban communities.”

    BEAN expects to facilitate $26 billion back into urban communities by using its platform to redirect a minimum of 2% of African American spending.

    BEAN has set aside 16% of its shares for private investment. Now through December 31, 2018, individuals and investors can purchase BEAN shares with equity in accordance with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission’s (SEC) rules under the Jobs ACT, Title III, Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg. CF).

    BEAN is offering shares for a minimum investment of $250 and maximum investment of $107,000. Facilitating BEAN’s Reg. CF offering is truCrowd, a U.S. crowdfunding portal authorized by the SEC. For every investment during the initial Reg. CF offering, investors will also receive BEAN Coin tokens, which will be used as cryptocurrency on BEAN’s social network.

     

    ONLINE:www.trucrowd.com.

    ONLINE:iambean.us.

     

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    Letter to the Editor: Mr. President and the art of the deal

    The U.S, President claims to be such a great deal maker. He even has an autobiography titled The Art of the Deal. Does anyone other American citizen wonder why any time Trump meets with a foreign dictator, there are no note takers, and consequently, no official record? Is there any concern by any other American citizen that Trump has secret calls with Putin, and the only way we find out about these secret calls in the United States is through Russian media?

    Is there any concern by any other American citizen that man who said that he would declare China a currency manipulator in November of 2015, is now so concerned about Chinese jobs being lost that he is willing to ease restrictions on the notorious Chinese phone company, ZTE? By the way, ZTE is considered by United States intelligence to be a security risk, so much so that the company is not allowed to sell goods on United States military bases. Why are all of his deals with foreign dictators done in secrecy?

    From the information that is subsequently released after one of these secret meetings or phone calls where there is no note taker, it seems that Trump’s greatest art is genuflection. That is why he left the summit in Singapore with nothing but empty commitments. North Korea left with a promise to halt joint military exercises, and according to North Korea run media, an ease in sanctions. That is why after a secret phone call with Putin, Trump wants Russia back in the G-7, although Russia was ejected for their annexation of Crimea. That is why Trump is concerned with the loss of Chinese jobs and wants to ease restrictions on ZTE in spite of the security concerns of United States intelligence.

    There was a time in America when we demanded candor from our elected officials. Under Trump, a mendacious liar, that has changed. Trump insults our nation’s traditional allies such Justin Trudeau of Canada, Emmanuel Macron of France, and Angela Merkel of Germany. He genuflects to foreign strong men like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Xi Jinping. Trump’s next book should be entitled “The Art of the Kneel”.

    By Darryl Robertson
    Baton Rouge

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    Local campers visit Baton Rouge City Hall, Mayor Broome

    2018 Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. participants visiting Baton Rouge City Hall and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.  Standing on bottom row from left to right: Kayleigh Tran and Heaven Adams; Second row left to right:  McKenzie Milton and Madison Lathers; Third row left to right:  Aarionna Barg, Tyra Porter, and Haven Franklin (Teen Volunteer);  Fourth row left to right:  Brooke Butler, Nyrielle Davis, and Adelay Smith.

    2018 Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. participants visiting Baton Rouge City Hall and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome. Standing on bottom row from left to right: Kayleigh Tran and Heaven Adams; Second row left to right: McKenzie Milton and Madison Lathers; Third row left to right: Aarionna Barg, Tyra Porter, and Haven Franklin (Teen Volunteer); Fourth row left to right: Brooke Butler, Nyrielle Davis, and Adelay Smith.

    Several local campers spend a summertime of learning and fun by participating in a local program called, Camp U.N.I.T.E.D. over the past few weeks. Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. (Uplifted, Nurtured, and Inspired Together Each Day), they had the opportunity to participate in daily workshops that focused on leadership development, healthy nutrition and body image, time management skills, communication skills, internet safety, and community/public service.  The girls’ primary focus was on the three paths to empowerment as they start their journey into middle school.  Their unique journeys began with discovering their individual personal power or the power within.  Then, they moved to the power of team or the power of reaching across to work with others.  The final path was the power of community/public service or the power of reaching out.  The highlights of their camp were a 90 minute SKYPE session with girls their age in Migosi, Kenya, Africa and a field trip to City Hall to meet with Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, and Councilman Chandler Loupe.  Each girl received a certificate of commendation signed by Mayor Broome and was also given the opportunity to visit the new Metro-Council chambers where they were allowed to participate in a mock Metro-Council meeting.  These girls have experienced a unique summer filled with awesome opportunities.

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    New business comes to the Village of Tangipahoa

    Village of Tangipahoa Mayor Trashica Robinson along with the board of aldermen and special guests gathered July 17 to break ground on a Big Boss Travel Plaza and Bella Rose Estates, a combination convenience store and restaurant to be located off Highway 440.

    “We’ve worked hard for the past two years to bring new business to the Village of Tangipahoa,” said Robin son.

    “It’s been more than 20 years since a new business came to the Village. New business means more sales tax,” said Robinson. “In the process (the businesses)create some local jobs.”

    She said, “This is a good location, travelers can leave the interstate get a quick breakfast, gas up, and continue to work.”

    “When this project is completed it will bring economic benefit to the town, she said. ℜ

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  • Nominate Baton Rouge area volunteer activists by August 10

     

    Nominations are now open for the 47th annual Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activist awards. Nominations can be completed online at www.emergela.org/events and are due by August 10. Nominations should include details of individual’s volunteer activities, which organizations they have volunteered for, and how their service has impacted the community.

    Hosted by The Emerge Center, the awards luncheon honors those who give of their time and talents to organizations across our community, above and beyond typical volunteer requirements. These individuals possess a sense of service and community that impacts the Greater Baton Rouge area in a positive and meaningful way.   This year’s event will honor a special Emerging Activist. This award will recognize a young individual who has independently made considerable contributions to the Baton Rouge community. The Emerging Activist may be an advocate for a cause, have recently created a new community initiative, or participates in substantial volunteer activities. Individuals must be 18 years of age or younger to be considered as an honoree.

    The 2018 event will be held on Friday, November 16, at the Renaissance Hotel located at 7000 Bluebonnet Boulevard in Baton Rouge.

    The Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activists luncheon benefits The Emerge Center for Communication, Behavior, and Development – a 59 year old non-profit organization that empowers children with autism and individuals with communication challenges to achieve independence through innovative and family-centered therapies.

    For more information on nominations or the event, please contact Brandi Monjure at bmonjure@emergela.org or 225-343-4232 ext. 1897.

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    Local businesswoman to be featured in Avon campaign

    Baton Rouge-local and Avon Representative Starsky Clark will be starring in iconic beauty brand Avon’s upcoming campaign. From top-sellers to accomplished leaders, Avon’s Campaign 19 will feature all real-life Avon Representatives as models in their newest catalog, launching August 21.  A former Marine, Clark works as a full-time pharmacist.

    Starsky’s tips for success:

    1.  Be passionate about your business by using the products yourself, and share your authentic, personal anecdotes with others to build personal relationships and special connections with your customers.
    2. Always give samples – customers love to touch and feel before purchasing, and it makes them feel special to be able to try new products before they buy. 
    3. Invest your earnings back into your business by supporting, motivating, and mentoring your team! 

     

     

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    NAACP honors Stewart with Cobb Award

    On July 16, Louisiana Center for Health Equity President Alma C. Stewart received the NAACP Dr. William Montague Cobb Award “For her outstanding efforts to advance health policy, health advocacy, and social justice in the State of Louisiana.” The award was presented at the NAACP Annual Convention in San Antonio. This award is given annually in recognition of the legacy of Dr. William Montague Cobb, who served as the President of the NAACP from 1976 to 1983, to honor individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact in the field of health.

    Stewart has served as the state health committee chair for the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP since 2014. She also organized the statewide, multi-year Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone Louisiana in 2013. The goal of this campaign was to advocate for statewide policy change and build grassroots momentum to implement Medicaid expansion by 2016.

    In an effort to address Louisiana’s high rate of uninsured adults, keeping the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and HCEL partner organizations engaged, over the course of three years Stewart organized public testimony at legislative hearings, rallies, press conferences and prayer vigils under the mantra of “Dying for Coverage” as part of a movement to bring attention to this issue on a state and national level. HCEL was successful in shaping public opinion about Medicaid expansion which polls favorably in Louisiana despite cascading contributions from well-financed conservative out-of-state organizations that have opposed it. She coordinated the hosting and production of a gubernatorial candidate forum on healthcare that was televised and livestreamed across the state in 2015. Alma has personally penned numerous articles and delivered countless speeches and presentations.

    On January 12, 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards signed an executive order expanding Medicaid in Louisiana on his first day in office making Louisiana the first state in the Deep South to expand Medicaid. Not only was this a win for Stewart and her organization, the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and others, but also for the hundreds of thousands of people who gained health insurance when this law went into effect on July 1, 2016. “Many of the more than 470,180 Louisiana citizens who now have health insurance coverage, in rural and urban areas, under the Medicaid expansion are doing so for the first time, and are receiving preventive care, early diagnosis and treatment for cancer, diabetes, mental health conditions, and addictions. Early diagnosis and access to care both help reduce costs to the state and the healthcare system,” said Stewart.

    The infusion of federal dollars for Medicaid expansion created and supported 19,200 jobs that have brought in state and local tax receipts of $103 million and $74.6 million, respectively, according to a March 2018 report by the Louisiana State University’s Public Administration Institute. Medicaid expansion saved the state $199 million in fiscal year 2017, according to a 2017 report from the Louisiana Department of Health. The reasons include the state spending match is lower under Medicaid expansion than it was before, both for most Medicaid populations and for supplemental payments to hospitals. The decrease in the uninsured population has also reduced “disproportionate share payments” to hospitals for people without coverage who receive treatment.

    “Medicaid expansion has benefitted Louisiana in several ways and there is growing evidence to support the fact that it is working. Moreover, it is saving lives. That’s why the NAACP Dr. William Montague Cobb Award means so much to me,” said Stewart.

    About Louisiana Center for Health Equity

    Louisiana Center for Health Equity which is a statewide 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization, dedicated to the mission of addressing health and healthcare disparities, and fostering health equity in Louisiana. Founded in January 2010, the organization has partnered with over forty other Louisiana organizations on a state, local and national level to eliminate health disparities caused by poverty, lack of access to quality health care, and unhealthy environmental conditions.

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    Plenty of Time!

    New Venture Theatre continues its 11th season with the impactful play, Plenty of Time! In 1968, a spoiled, southern debutante and a Black Panther fall in love, though forbidden by class and principle. Corey and Christina meet in Oak Bluffs-a black section of Martha’s Vineyard. Christina is 17 years old and from an upper-class family. Corey is 22 and a member of the Black Panther Party. Despite their obvious differences, they are sexually attracted and share a passionate night together. The next morning, however, they begin to talk and their conflicting worlds unfold. Once a year for the next 43 years they return to the small private beach house to meet, and bring with them their personal growth and experiences. Their time-elapsed relationship reveals how each is affected by the changing world around them.
    WHERE:
    LSU Studio Theatre
    Louisiana State University
    105 Music and Dramatic Building
    Baton Rouge, LA 70803

    CAST:
    COREY: Obatiye Dent
    CHRISTINE:  Taylor Randall
    PERFORMANCES:
    Friday, August 24 at 7:30 pm
    Saturday, August 25 at 7:30 pm
    Sunday, August 26 at 3:00 pm
    BOX OFFICE:
    225-588-7576 or NVTARTS.ORG

     

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    Inaugural Black Out Loud Conference releases full schedule

     Black Out Loud Conference, LLC in conjunction with the Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge has released the full schedule of events for the inaugural Black Out Loud Conference, to be held in Baton Rouge, Aug. 10-12. Led by local poet, activist and teaching artist Donney Rose, the three-day event is designed to celebrate Black visibility in the realm of the arts, media and activism. Online conference registration has ended, but patrons may pay for weekend or single day packages during any conference day. Details are available at BlackOutLoudBR.com.

    The conference will kick off on Aug. 10 at the Healthcare Gallery & Wellness Spa, 3488 Brentwood Drive, Suites 102 & 103, with performances by comedian Howard Hall, a video presentation on the power of voice/advocacy, and a networking cocktail hour. On Aug. 11, attendees will convene at the McKinley Alumni Center, 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Drive, for workshops and panel discussions featuring subject matter experts in the fields of arts, media and activism sharing best practices on controlling their narratives and ensuring theirs struggle are not dismissed. The keynote address will be given by Van Lathan of TMZ. The conference will end on Aug. 12 at the McKinley Alumni Center with a brunch featuring a moderated talk on media and activism by Maxine Crump of Dialogue on Race.

    Other confirmed speakers and panelists include Michael “Quess” Moore – co-founder of Take Em Down NOLA; Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton – Poet-Laureate of Houston; Rodneyna Hart – Exhibitions Manager, Louisiana Arts & Science Museum/Curator and Art Manager, The Healthcare Gallery; Janene Tate – director of communications, Southern University and A&M College System; Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa – 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam champion; Abraham Felix – award-winning independent film director; and Ada Goodly – movement lawyer/creator of the INPOWER “Know Your Rights Initiative”. A full list of speakers, panelist, and performers can be found at BlackOutLoudBR.com.

    The Black Out Loud Conference is sponsored by The Healthcare Gallery & Wellness Spa; Love Alive Church; DivaStating PR; Class Act Entertainment Group; The Bluest Ink, LLC; Solid Ground Innovations, LLC; RENEE MARIE; EKD Ministries; WTAA Engineers; Design Baton Rouge; East Baton Rouge Parish Library Central Library; Southern University and A&M College; beBatonRouge; The Rouge Collection; DEVAink; Parker’s Pharmacy; Maturity Productions; Councilwoman Erika L. Green; and Louisiana Healthcare Services.

     

    SCHEDULE 

     

    Friday, August 10 (Healthcare Gallery and Wellness Spa)

    7 p.m.  Doors open to conference kick off
    7:30 p.m.  Welcome/Greeting

    7:35 p.m.  Howard Hall comedy set #1

    7:50 p.m.  Video presentation (related to the power of voice/advocacy)

    8 p.m.  Howard Hall comedy set #2

    8:15 p.m.  Mixer w/DJ Automatik

    9:30 p.m. Closing remarks/announcements

     

    Saturday, August 11 (McKinley Alumni Center)

    10 a.m.  Doors open for conference
    10:15 a.m.  Welcome/Overview of Day

    10:20 a.m.  Transition to break out workshops/Children’s Zone

    10:30 a.m. Workshop session #1 (Arts workshop, Activism workshop)

    11:10 a.m.  Transition

    11:15 a.m.  Workshop session #2 (Arts workshop, Media workshop, Activism workshop)

    Noon  Welcome from Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome

    12:10 p.m.  Lunch/Marketplace/Networking

    1:10 p.m.  Performances (Toi Sibley, KP Soul, Truth Universal)

    2 p.m.  Arts, Media & Activism Panel discussion

    3 p.m.  Keynote Address by Van Lathan

    3:45 p.m. Closing remarks/announcements

     

    Sunday, August 12 (McKinley Alumni Center)

    11 a.m.  Doors open for brunch

    11:10 a.m. Welcome

    11:15 a.m.  Brunch served/Written Reflections

    Noon  Media Talk With Maxine Crump

    12:45 p.m. Closing remarks/dismissal

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    Baton Rouge native participates in world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise

    PEARL HARBOR – A 2017 Scotlandville Magnet High School graduate and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

    Seaman Apprentice Crystal Paul is a culinary specialist aboard USS Dewey, currently operating out of San Diego, California.

    A Navy culinary specialist is responsible for cooking for the entire crew.

    Paul said she applies the lessons she learned from Baton Rouge to her work in the Navy.

    “I learned how to deal with different people and not to overreact to everything which helps me in the Navy every day,” said Paul.

    As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

    The theme of RIMPAC 2018 is Capable, Adaptive, Partners. The participating nations and forces exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

    “I’m looking forward to meeting new people during this exercise,” said Paul.

    This is the first time Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC. Additional firsts include New Zealand serving as sea combat commander and Chile serving as combined force maritime component commander. This is the first time a non-founding RIMPAC nation (Chile) will hold a component commander leadership position.

    Twenty-six nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise. This year’s exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

    As a member of the U.S. Navy, Paul and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

    “I never saw myself as a risk taker, but being here showed me that I am,” said Paul.

    Additional information about RIMPAC is available at http://www.cpf.navy.mil

    By Electa Berassa
    Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
    Navy Office of Community Outreach
    Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Theodore Quintana

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    Commissioner Kim Hunter Reed to deliver LSU Fall Commencement keynote address, Aug. 3

    LSU alumna and Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed will deliver the keynote address at LSU’s summer commencement ceremony on Friday, Aug. 3, in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

    Reed, who received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the university, was named the Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education in April. Prior to being named commissioner, Reed served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. She also served in President Barack Obama’s administration as deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education.

    “We are proud to welcome alumna Kim Hunter Reed back to campus to speak at commencement, and back to Louisiana to serve as the Commissioner of Higher Education at the Board of Regents,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “Kim has a deep love for and commitment to higher education, and we have no doubt that she will both inspire and motivate our graduates with her message.”

    A Lake Charles native, Reed chaired Louisiana’s higher education transition team in 2015 and served as the state’s policy director. Reed also served as chief of staff and deputy commissioner for public affairs for the Louisiana Board of Regents and executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System.

    Reed received a doctorate in public policy from Southern University, a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from LSU. She has received numerous honors, including LSU Alumna of the Year, Public Administration Institute; and Mom of the Year, Jack and Jill of America, Baton Rouge Chapter. She has been featured in Daughters of Men, a national publication highlighting outstanding African American women and their fathers.

    “I am honored to celebrate the accomplishments of these new LSU graduates at my alma mater, a place that was so integral to my success,” Reed said. “There is nothing more rewarding than joining families and faculty at commencement as we applaud our students hard work and focus on increased talent development in Louisiana.”

    Commencement will begin with the procession at 8:45 a.m., with the graduation ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. There will be no separate diploma ceremonies for August commencement.

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    Henry Turner Jr. to receive Slim Harpo Music Award

    Blues, soul and funk musician Henry Turner Jr. has used his musical platform to celebrate philanthropists and musicians in the Baton Rouge area. The city is awarding him with the 2018 Slim Harpo Blues Award, Thursday, November 15 at 6 p.m. at Time Out in Baton Rouge.

    Turner was named an “Ambassador” for his efforts to represent and share his enthusiasm for blues with music enthusiasts. It is an incredible honor that he shares with other 2018 recipients, Shannon Williford (“Legend”) and Mamie & Smokehouse Porter (“Pioneers”). Previous recipients of the Slim Harpo Music Award include Van Morrison, Keith Richards, Alvin Batiste, Buddy Guy and many others.

    Henry Turner, Jr. and his band, & Flavor, have released nine CDs and seventeen singles. Henry Turner & Flavor have toured the United States, Canada and Japan. In 2014, he opened Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room and Heritage Museum in Baton Rouge to celebrate and support touring musicians.

    Read more at OffBeeat Magazine

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    EVENT: Library schedules August activities for all ages

    The following FREE East Baton Rouge Parish Library programs will be held for all ages throughout August. The asterisks indicate which programs require pre-registration.

    Children’s End of Summer Reading Party

    It’s time to par-tay! Kids ages 3-11 are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 1, to celebrate the end of summer with games, spacewalk, a funny clown, prizes and delicious refreshments for everyone! The party will last about one hour. Registration is required for groups. For more information and to register, call the Main Library Children’s Room at (225) 231-3760.

    Teen Summer Film Camp Premiere

    New Orleans Video Access Center in Baton Rouge (NOVACBR) partnered with your Library during a FREE filmmaking summer camps for teens in grades 6-12! During the camp, students learned the basics of video production including design, storyboarding, production, post-production, effects and more, through the hands-on process of creating a music video under the guidance of an experienced local filmmaker. Final projects from each camp will premiere at the Main Library at Goodwood in the Large Meeting Room at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 2. Family and friends are invited to attend!

     

    Teen End of Summer Reading Parties

    Come enjoy games, prizes, snacks and more when you celebrate the end of summer with other teens at the Library! For more information and to register, call the Library location directly. Check out the remaining schedule below.

    • Noon Wednesday, August 1, Main Library at Goodwood
    • 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 1, River Center Branch
    • 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 7, Zachary Branch

     

    Decluttering is Mind Over Matter with Sarah Cooper

    Local designer and personal organizer Sarah Cooper will be at the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11, to offer a FREE seminar for adults on decluttering any space! She’ll share her insights for living a clutter-free life in a uniquely informative presentation that will cover topics like why people clutter their space, and an understanding of the obstacles that hinder getting organized. With robust experience founded in design, Cooper has worked to help people downsize, up-size or simply remodel and repurpose any space. If you’re looking for real tools to help you better organize your home or work spaces don’t miss this interesting and engaging workshop!

     

    Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., (225) 763-2250

    A Porcupine Named Fluffy Story/Craft

    Join other kids ages 3-6 at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, August 4, for a reading of A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester. After the story, we’ll make a paper plate porcupine craft.

     

    Welcome to Teens!

    Hey teens in grades 6-12! Come to the Teen Room at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 22, and 2 p.m. Saturday, August 25, to see what the Library has just for you. Parents of teens also are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

     

    Epic Graphics Book Club

    Do you like to read comic books or graphic novels, and dislike reading chunky books without pictures? If you said yes, you’ll want to come hang out with other adults ages 18 and older at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 28, for an Epic Graphics Book Club meeting! During our first gathering, we’ll discuss favorite comic book titles, scavenge the Library’s bookshelves and Digital Library for fun graphic novels to read, and then announce a comic book for everyone to read and discuss as a group at the next meeting.

     

    Carver Branch Library, 720 Terrace St., (225) 389-7450

    *Two ACT Practice Exam Sessions for Teens

    Gearing up for college entry? Start strong by completing a FREE simulated practice exam for the American College Test (ACT®) through the Library’s Learning Express resource. Teens are invited to the Carver Branch at 10 a.m. Tuesday, August 7, to experience this full-length practice test and find out what you can expect when you take the official exam. A second session will begin at 1:30 p.m. the same day. The practice covers each of the four categories that appear on the official exam including English, math, reading and science, as well as the same question types, format and time-allotted. Registration is required and limited to eight participants per session.

     

    Home & Personal Safety Informational Session

    Adults and teens ages 16 and up can come to the Carver Branch at 2 p.m. Thursday, August 9, for a FREE home and personal safety informational session led by deputies of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. Come learn how to keep our communities safer!

     

    Fairwood Branch Library, 12910 Old Hammond Hwy., (225) 924-9385

    *Back to School Time Story/Activity

    Children ages 3-7 can get ready for school at the Fairwood Branch! Come to the Library at 4 p.m. Thursday, August 2, to hear readings of What George Forgot by Kathy Wolff and Kindergarten is Cool by Linda E. Marshall. After the story, we’ll take turns completing four activities including fun with shapes, puzzles and more! All children must be accompanied by an adult.

     

    Summertime: The ‘Write’ Time!

    Calling all writers! Join other adults at the Fairwood Branch at 1 p.m. Saturday, August 25, to link up with other writers in the area, get inspired and learn how to craft the perfect page turner.

     

    Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch Library, 11300 Greenwell Springs Rd., (225) 274-4450

    *Crumb Snatchers with Author Brandi Worley

    Adults, teens and lovers of a good story about the underdog will want to head over to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 18, for a FREE book talk and podcast with Brandi Worley, author of the Crumb Snatchers series. The LIVE podcast will be hosted by the Blerd-ish podcast duo Keith Cooper and Mark Wallace. Audience silence will be required during the live podcast recording. A question-and-answer period will follow. For more information about author Brandi Worley or the Crumb Snatchers series, visit the website at http://crumbsnatchersbooks.com/.

     

    *Multicultural Flag Drawing

    Have you ever wanted to learn about the world’s flags? Here’s your chance! Come to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 25, to hang out with other kids ages 4-6 and hear facts and history about other places in the world from Flags of the World by Sylvie Bednar. We’ll also take a look at the wordless book Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi, and try to draw some flags of our own.

     

    Jones Creek Regional Branch Library, 6222 Jones Creek Rd., (225) 756-1150

    *Eggplant, Eggplant, Where Are You?

    Adults can join us at the Jones Creek Regional Branch at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11, for a FREE cooking demonstration featuring a variety of eggplant dishes with author and former cooking show host Loretta Duplantis. Attendees also will have the chance to enjoy samples. Door prizes will be awarded!

     

    Kaleidoscope of Quilts: Public Participation Day

    The Sassi Strippers Quilt Guild will be at the Jones Creek Regional Branch from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, August 18, for the Kaleidoscope of Quilts public participation day for all ages! There will be quilting demonstrations, children’s activities, stuffing teddy bears for the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and balloting for favorite quilts. The Guild also will have their quilts on display throughout the branch during August.

     

    Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., (225) 231-3750

    *How to Play Magic: The Gathering

    Lovers of make-believe and method gaming can join other adults and teens ages 14 and up at the Main Library at Goodwood at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 11, for a beginner’s introduction to Magic: The Gathering, a card game that combines strategy and fantasy. We will review the basic rules and play practice hands to help players familiarize themselves with the types of cards and gameplay. This event is geared towards those who are new to the game or need a refresher, and participants will receive a starter deck to learn with, instructions and a box to store decks in.

     

    Tales from the Archives

    Archivist Melissa Eastin will present three stories from Baton Rouge’s past at the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 15. The presentation for adults will cover Baton Rouge’s first and only female sheriff, the touching story of “Sonny Boy”, a care taker who became part of an elderly couple’s family when they needed him most, plus a look into the life of petty criminal Dewey Key, who could never seem to get his life on the right track!

     

    *Job Search Letters 

    You know how to write a résumé, but what about all the other letters involved in a job search? What kind of cover letter will get hiring managers’ attention? What needs to be contained in a thank-you letter after an interview? How can you reach out to a friend and ask for help with your job search? These questions and more will be answered in a FREE seminar for adults in Room 102 at the Main Library at Goodwood at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, August 22. Certified Professional Résumé Writer Lynnette Lee of the Career Center will lead the presentation. Registration is required. To register, visit https://www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

     

    *Dependable Strengths: How to Find & Grow the Best within You 

    If you are ready to take your job, career or life in a new and more fulfilling direction, we want to help! Adults are invited to Room 102 at the Main Library at Goodwood from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, August 25, for a FREE workshop that will aim to help you identify your own unique potential for excellence. Certified facilitator Mike Cragin will teach you ways to discover your strengths and offer help with making a plan to develop them. Registration is required. For more information, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733. To register, go online to www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

     

    Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy., (225) 354-7550

    Teen Film Club: Marvel Movie Day

    Get ready to take a trip to the African kingdom of Wakanda when you watch this year’s highest-grossing film from Marvel! Teens are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 6, to see this exciting story unfold. After T’Challa, the king of Wakanda rises to the throne, his claim is soon challenged by a ruthless stranger. Enjoy thematic activities while and refeshments while you watch! Refreshments will be served.

     

    After School Anime

    Anime lovers unite! Come to the Scotlandville Branch at 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 20, to vote for and watch your favorite anime shows on the Library’s Crunchyroll account. Snacks will be served!

     

    Zachary Branch Library, 1900 Church St., (225) 658-1850

    *The Kissing Hand Story/Craft

    Children ages 4-6 are invited to the Zachary Branch at 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 8, to hear a reading of The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. Later, each child will cut out their handprints and decorate them with hearts and other craft items. All supplies will be provided.

     

    *Read to Nola: Therapy Dog Reading Buddy

    Handler Tina Morgan and therapy dog Nola will be at the Zachary Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, August 18, to listen to children read. Dogs are great listeners, don’t interrupt and are fun to be around! Register to meet and read to Nola by calling the Children’s Room at (225) 658-1860.

     


    For more information about or to register for all the programs listed, call the branch where the event is scheduled directly or visit www.ebrpl.com. Can’t visit any of our 14 locations, which are open seven days a week? The Library is open 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com.
     For general information about the Library, call (225) 231-3750

     

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    Airport commission chair nominated for two Catalyst awards

    Chairman Cleve Dunn has been nominated for two Catalyst awards by the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC). The AMAC Catalyst awards honor persons who have made outstanding contributions to furthering the goals of AMAC. 

    Dunn’s nominations include:
    AMAC Advocate of the Year Award:This award recognizes an individual within the industry who has been an outstanding spokesperson, educator, innovator, advocate, and strategic partner with AMAC for diversity inclusion in the field of aviation, aerospace (Aeronautical influences such as pilots, airlines, aerospace, educators in the field), or corporate leaders that contribute and encourage minority opportunities and growth in these areas.   

    AMAC Inclusive Leader Award: This award honors an organization that has demonstrated diversity inclusion within its corporate structure of procurement and employment. Nominees are viewed within the industry as a leader for supplier diversity, best practices and fostering business capacity with its diverse partners. Nominees should demonstrate support of AMAC’s goals and mission. 

    “I am honored to receive the Catalyst Award nominations from such a prestigious organization as AMAC. I want to thank the AMAC Catalyst Award nominating committee for valuing and recognizing the work that many of us do around the country to promote minority-owned businesses, and increase contracting opportunities and professional advancement for minorities in the aviation and aerospace industries,” said Dunn. “I do not accept these award nominations alone. I also accept them on the behalf of all the current and former Baton Rouge Metro Airport Board of Commissioners that have advocated for minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses while serving on our commission. Finally, I’d like to thank the Baton Rouge Metro Airport Administration and numerous staff members who have been committed to inclusion and increasing the participation of minority-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises.” 

    Award winners will be announced at the 2018 AMAC Airport Diversity Conference in Seattle the third week of August.

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Virginia College Back to School Event, August 2

    Virginia College in Baton Rouge will host a Back to School Event for the community Thursday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the campus located at 9501 Cortana Place. The event is free and open to the public and will feature refreshments and candy for kids, a spelling bee, photobooth, campus tours, a scavenger hunt, backpack and school supply giveaways while supplies last and more. Additionally, attendees 18 and older can enter to win gift cards and other prizes.

    The event will also allow attendees to explore programs offered through Virginia College, including: Business Administration, Culinary Arts, Medical Assistant, Medical Office Specialist, Network Support Technician, Network and System Administration, Electrical Technician, HVAC-R Technician, Pastry Arts, Pharmacy Technician and Surgical Technology.

    WHAT: Virginia College Back to School Event
    WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    WHERE: Virginia College in Baton Rouge – 9501 Cortana Place, Baton Rouge, LA 70815
    PHONE: (225) 236-3900

    “With the start of a new school year comes a great deal of excitement and anticipation, promise and possibility,” says Campus President Joe Dalto. “No matter your age or stage of life, we want to celebrate education and the aspirations of all members of our community. We invite everyone to come by our Back to School Event and say hello, and for those interested in pursuing a new career, talk with a member of our staff about the fast and focused career training we offer at our campus.”

    The event is part of Virginia College parent company Education Corporation of America’s national Back to School Events being held at 62 other Virginia College, Brightwood Career Institute and Brightwood College locations throughout 17 states.

    ONLINE: vc.edu/batonrouge.

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    Black clergy shackled, jailed for prayer protest at the Supreme Court

    Faith and prayer have been the backbone of the African American community since we came upon these shores. We have counted on our faith leaders (the roll call would include Revs. Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, James Walker Hood, Martin Luther King, Jr., Wyatt Tee Walker, Jesse L. Jackson, William Barber, Vashti McKenzie, Barbara Williams Skinner and many others) to articulate the justness of our cause and to mobilize us to work for the justice that is called for in the New Testament, especially in Matthew 25: 35-45.

    Our ministers are revered leaders who often stand in the face of injustice. We are not surprised, and indeed, encouraged, when their firm stands in the face of oppression lead to collisions with the law. Still, when faith leaders are treated harshly, it forces us to examine the injustice in our system. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” in 1963, he chided White ministers who made a public statement about his methods, suggesting that segregation should be fought in the courts, not in the streets. His letter moved the White faith community to confront some of the injustices of segregation and to form alliances with the Civil Rights movement.

    King spent eleven days in the Birmingham jail in extremely harsh conditions. However, the oppressor does not learn from its excesses. On June 12, nine faith leaders were shackled and held for 27 hours after being arrested for praying at the Supreme Court.

    The multicultural group of men and women are part of Rev. William Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign ( A National Call for Moral Revival). Their effort is to bring attention to the amazing inequality and moral bankruptcy of our nation. Their prayers at the Supreme Court were extremely timely given the court’s recent actions to make it more difficult for people to vote in Ohio, and given the injustices, this court continues to perpetuate.

    Like Dr. King, the nine who were arrested—Poor People’s Campaign co-chair the Rev. Liz Theoharis, D.C. clergy the Revs. Jimmie Hawkins, Graylan Hagler and William Lamar IV, and the Revs. Rob and Hershey Stephens from the Fort Washington Collegiate Church in New York City)—were subjected to extremely harsh conditions. No threat to anyone, they were shackled, placed in handcuffs and leg irons, confined to roach-infested cells with nothing to rest their heads on, but a metal slab. This is the 21st century, but you wouldn’t know it by the way these clergies were treated. Yet, their actions and those of the Poor People’s Campaign are writing the contemporary letter from the Birmingham jail. Their brief incarceration, in the name of justice, is part of a larger movement to bring attention to increasing poverty and injustice, even in the face of economic expansion. Like Dr. King’s Poor People’s campaign, this 21st century Poor People’s Campaign, launched fifty years later, is an attack on poverty, racism, and militarism, and also ecological devastation and our nation’s “moral devastation.”

    At the 2018 Rainbow PUSH International convention on June 15, Rev. Barber railed against interlocking injustices that did not begin with our 45th President, but have been exacerbated by the depravity he represents. In a rousing address that wove humor, statistics, public analysis and a scathing attack on our nation’s immorality, Barber argued that “the rejected,” which may comprise more than half of our nation, will lead to the revival of our nation.

    Who would have thought that nine faith leaders would be among the rejected? Who would have thought that Dr. King would have been? But Dr. King eagerly embraced the status of “rejected.” He once preached, “I choose to identify with the underprivileged. I choose to identify with the poor. I choose to give my life for the hungry. I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity.” Rev. Liz Theoharis told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that the conditions she and fellow clergy experienced, while uncomfortable, were the same conditions poor inmates experienced. That’s the power, in some ways, of the Poor People’s Campaign. Clergy and others are forcing the issue, lifting their voices, making connections, claiming the discomfort and pain of the rejected, embracing the fact that they, too, are among the rejected.

    To shackle clergy simply for praying is to exhibit a peculiar form of cruelty and inhumanity. Shackling is reminiscent of enslavement; shackling is a method of humiliation; shackling is an attempt to use the harsh lash of unjust law on the backs of those who pray for just law. Rev. William Lamar IV, who has been arrested on three consecutive Mondays for protest action said that the June 12 arrests and treatment were the harshest, he has yet experienced. In Washington, D.C., people who are arrested for protesting are usually given a ticket that requires a court appearance and a likely fine. What did the shackling say about the hallowed sacredness of the “Supreme” Court?

    Shackling clergy for praying is like condemning the Sun for shining. Unjust law enforcement can shackle arms and legs, but not movements. Harsh treatment of leaders in the Poor People’s Champaign only strengthens resistance against injustice, racism, poverty, and ecological devastation. 

    By Julianne Malveaux
    NNPA columnist
    @drjlastword

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    Slave cemetery video released

    As the River Road African American Museum approaches twenty five years of preserving the history of the formerly enslaved and their descendants in Louisiana’s sugarcane plantation country, one of the greatest accomplishments this year is a successful collaboration with SHELL Convent to protect the African burial grounds found near the Tezcuco refinery.

    Watch the video here.

    Submitted news

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    COMMUNITY EVENTS: Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair, August 4

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair is scheduled for Saturday, August 4, 8am – 1pm at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church located at 8742 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    There will be a Faith Walk to begin the event at 8am.

    The Health Fair will promote preventive health care services, to bring about awareness to the services that are available and to assist people in making improved health decisions for their family. The fair will also provide healthful information and practices to the Scotlandville Community.

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair will include on site examinations, educational information, blood pressure checks; cancer awareness; cardiovascular-heart healthy tips; immunizations, mental health counseling; diabetes tests and consultation; cholesterol-glucose screening; foot examinations (podiatry); hearing screenings; nutrition consultations; oral health; prescription medication management; vision; and tobacco use dangers. There will be drawings for gift cards and door prizes.

    The Baton Rouge Community is invited to attend.

    Submitted by Mada McDonald

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    COMMENTARY: Medicare steps up its fight against diabetes

    Diabetes affects as many as one in four older adults with Medicare. It costs hundreds of billions of dollars to treat and results in the loss of tens of thousands of lives every year.

    If we could better control diabetes, we’d be taking a huge leap toward creating a healthier America.

    Diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t respond to the insulin it does make. Insulin is what your body uses to process sugar and turn it into energy.

    When too much sugar stays in your blood, it can lead to serious complications and even life-threatening problems, including heart disease, strokes and kidney damage.
    Medicare is committed to fighting the diabetes epidemic.

    If you’re on Medicare and at risk for diabetes, you’re covered for two blood sugar screenings each year at no out-of-pocket cost to you. Risk factors include high blood pressure, a history of abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, obesity or a history of high blood sugar.

    If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, Medicare will help pay for blood sugar self-testing equipment and supplies, as well as insulin and other anti-diabetic drugs. In the event of diabetic foot disease, it will also help pay for therapeutic shoes or inserts as long as your podiatrist prescribes them.

    Because living with diabetes can pose day-to-day challenges, Medicare covers a program to teach you how to manage the disease. With a written order from your physician, you can sign up for training that includes tips for monitoring blood sugar, taking medication and eating healthy.

    If you’d like to learn more about how to control diabetes, visit Medicare’s website at www.medicare.gov or call Medicare’s 24/7 help line at 1-800-633-4227 and visit with a counselor.

    In addition to the 30 million Americans with diabetes, another 86 million live with a condition known as pre-diabetes, where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.

    Pre-diabetes is treatable. But only one in 10 people with the condition will even know they have it. Left untreated, one in three will develop the full-blown disease within several years.

    Confronted with those statistics, Medicare is ramping up its efforts to prevent diabetes among the millions of Medicare beneficiaries who are at a heightened risk of developing it.

    Several years ago, Medicare partnered with YMCAs nationwide to launch an initiative for patients with pre-diabetes. The pilot project showed that older people could lose weight through lifestyle counseling and regular meetings that stressed healthy eating habits and exercise.

    About half of the participants shed an average of 5 percent of their weight, which health authorities say is enough to substantially reduce the risk of full-blown diabetes. Through adopting a healthier lifestyle, people diagnosed with pre-diabetes can delay the onset of the disease.

    Based on the trial program’s encouraging results, Medicare is now expanding its coverage for diabetes prevention. Using the pilot project as a model, it will help pay for a counseling program aimed at improving beneficiaries’ nutrition, increasing their physical activity and reducing stress.

    If you have Medicare’s Part B medical insurance and are pre-diabetic, you’ll be able to enroll in a series of coaching sessions lasting one to two years and conducted by health care providers as well as community organizations like local senior centers. There will be no out-of-pocket cost.

    Medicare is currently recruiting partners to offer the program so that it will be widely available to beneficiaries.

    Diabetes can be a terribly debilitating disease. It can mean a lifetime of tests, injections and health challenges. Every five minutes in this country, 14 more adults are diagnosed with it. And in the same five minutes, two more people will die from diabetes-related causes.

    If we can prevent more diabetes cases before they even start, we can help people live longer and fuller lives, as well as save money across our health care system. 

    By Bob Moos
    Southwest public affairs officer
    U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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    Trading Black Histories: Louisiana, California middle schoolers meet by chance while competing in national research contest

    SILVER SPRINGS, MD—In life, there are many times when things happen and very few words can convey what’s occurred. That’s exactly what happened when two studentsfrom opposite ends of the United States happened to cross paths while competing in the 2018 National History Day contest held at the University of Maryland, College Park.

    The young researchers had an interesting experience that will likely be etched in their memory for the rest of their lives when Condoleezza Semien, of Louisiana, and Thiana Aklikokou, of California,  met.

    Both women share a fervent love for Black history and research which led to them winning National History Day contests at their school, district, and state levels in order to advance to the semi-finals in Maryland.

    More than 3,000 students from across the nation and countries like Guam, Korea, and China advanced to the final competition, which was held June 10-14 to culminate a year-long academic program focused on historical research, interpretation and creative expression for 6th to 12th grade students. Of those students was Semien, a seventh grader, and Aklikokou, an eighth grader.

    In April, Semien placed first in the state NHD junior presentation division with the oral presentation, “But You Claim that I’m Violent: A Lesson on Influence and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense of 1966.”

    “I wanted to relay the truth about the Black Panther Party and how their actions turned into programs and policies for our nation,” Semien told national judges. “We’re not taught these things in school. When a group came to Baton Rouge to protest the Alton Sterling shooting, I wanted to know why they were trying to connect themselves to the Panthers when their messages where drastically different.”

    Founded in California during the racially-charged 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense galvanized as a response to police brutality in California. While the Black Panther Party maintained a focus on armed self-defense, the organization did not uphold resorting to violence to resolve issues, Semien explained.

    “Historical texts do not record this truth,” Semien said before explaining that the Black Panther Party’s relentless efforts ultimately impacted federal food and health policies.

    “They developed more than 30 social programs over the span of 10 years and are actually responsible for many of the federal food, head start, and sickle cell anemia programs still being utilized today,” she said.

    The Black Panthers thrived, expanding to more than 63 U.S. chapters that provided free clothing, grocery, and breakfast programs, community protection patrol to combat violence and police brutality, free health clinics, political education classes, ambulatory services, and screening people for sickle cell disease, free libraries that primarily housed works by Black authors, legal assistance and early education programs.

    “But you claim that they’re violent!” Semien said ending her presentation during the semi-finals. One judge responded, “You really did a great job dispelling myths surrounding the Black Panthers!”

    The 12-year-old was later told she’d earned National Honorable Mention and placed second in her class of competitors—just shy of reaching the final rounds, said Adam Foreman, NHD state representative and student programs specialist at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

    On the same day, Aklikokou, 14, presented a historical paper on the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott–Semien’s hometown.

    While touring the United States Capitol as guests of Congressman Garret Graves, Aklikokou and Semien met.

    “My grandmother remembered seeing (Thiana) on television talking about her research, and she introduced us to each other. She was excited, telling Thiana about my research and telling me about Thiana’s,” Semien said.

    There, the girls shared their amazement that so few people knew the history that they had researched about each other’s states. In 2015, Semien danced in the Manship Theatre’s production of “The Fading Line: A Commemoration of the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott.”

    “I wasn’t surprised that people in California didn’t know, but I came to Baton Rouge and people still had no clue what I was talking about; it was a little surprising,” said Aklikokou.

    Most history books only detail the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott which has often been regarded as the first large-scale United States demonstration against segregation. However, it actually wasn’t the first of its kind.

    In 1953, Blacks in Baton Rouge and the Reverend T. J. Jemison organized the first large-scale boycott of a southern city’s segregated bus system. Two and a half years later, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. conferred with Jemison about tactics used in Baton Rouge, and King applied those lessons when planning the bus boycott that ultimately defeated segregation.

    “I found it interesting that nobody talked about it at all. It was always the Montgomery (bus) boycott. But no one ever talked about what Baton Rouge did which was set it up for Montgomery,” she said.

    Earlier this month, Aklikokou traveled through Louisiana and Mississippi for more in-depth research on her topic of choice just before heading to Maryland.

    Aklikokou and Semien’s chance encounter in the nation’s capitol proves that spontaneous moments in life are often much sweeter than the ones strategically planned.

    By Meaghan Ellis
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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    Edwards announced his appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions.

    St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District
    The Board of Commissioners of the St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District Board has complete jurisdiction to regulate all domestic, coastwise, and intercoastal commerce and traffic of the district, and all commerce and traffic within the district where such is conducted by or a facility wholly owned by the district.

    William T. “Bill” Bergeron, of Arabi, was appointed to the St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District. Bergeron is a managing member of Bergeron Resources, LLC. As required by statute, he was nominated by a majority of the St. Bernard Parish legislative delegation.

    Patient’s Compensation Fund Oversight Board
    The purpose of the Patient’s Compensation Fund Oversight Board is to guarantee that affordable medical malpractice coverage is available to all Louisiana private healthcare providers and to provide a certain, stable source of compensation for legitimate injured parties of medical malpractice.

    Corey J. Hebert, M.D., of New Orleans, was appointed to the Patient’s Compensation Fund Oversight Board. Hebert is a physician and the president and Chief Executive Officer of Hebert Medical Consulting, Inc.

    Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board
    The Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board serves to defend the public health, safety and welfare by protecting the people of the State of Louisiana against unnecessary deaths and morbidity due to trauma and time-sensitive illness.

    Gerald A. Cvitanovich, M.D., of Metairie, was reappointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board. Cvitanovich is a physician and the Chief Medical Officer of MHM Urgent Care. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Louisiana State Coroner’s Association.

    William W. Lunn, M.D., of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board. Lunn is a physician and the Chief Executive Officer of the Tulane Health System. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Tulane Health System.

    Paul B. Gladden, M.D., of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana Emergency Response Network Board. Gladden is a physician and Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery at Tulane University. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of the Louisiana State Medical Society.

    Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners
    The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME) protects the health, welfare, and safety of Louisiana citizens against the unprofessional, improper, and unauthorized practice of medicine by ensuring that those who practice medicine and other allied health professions under its jurisdiction are qualified and competent to do so.   In addition, the Board serves in an advisory capacity to the public and the state with respect to the practice of medicine.

    Christy L. Valentine, M.D., of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. Valentine is a physician and Medical Director with Anthem, Inc. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Medical Association.

    Roderick V. Clark, M.D., of Lafayette, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. Clark is a physician with Acadiana Renal Physicians. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana State Medical Society.

    J. Kerry Howell, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. Howell is a physician in private practice and a veteran of the United States Air Force. As required by statute, he was nominated by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

    Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists
    The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is responsible for licensure and regulation of psychologists within the state.

    Gregory K. Gormanous, Ph.D., of Alexandria, was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Gormanous is a licensed psychologist and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Louisiana State University – Alexandria. He is also a veteran of the United States Army. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

    Louisiana Board of Pharmacy
    The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy serves to protect the public health, safety and welfare by the effective control and regulation of the practice of pharmacy; the licensure of pharmacists; and the licensure, permitting, certification, registration, control and regulation of all persons and sites, in or out of this state, that sell drugs or devices to consumers and/or patients, or assist in the practice of pharmacy, within the state. The board also serves as the controlled substance authority for the state, issuing controlled dangerous substance licenses to all qualified applicants desiring to manufacture, distribute, prescribe or dispense controlled dangerous substances within the state. Further, the board monitors its clients for compliance with the laws and rules relative to their activities with controlled dangerous substances.

    J. Robert Cloud, PharmD, of Chatham, was appointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. Cloud is a pharmacist and the Director of Pharmacy at the Glenwood Regional Medical Center. He will serve as a representative of the 5th Pharmacy Board District.

    Kevin LaGrange, of Lafayette, was appointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. LaGrange is a pharmacist at Professional Arts Pharmacy. He will serve as a representative of the 7thPharmacy Board District.

    Robert C. “Rock” LeBas, of Opelousas, was appointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. LeBas is a pharmacist and the owner of Glenn’s Family Pharmacy. He will serve as a representative of the 8th Pharmacy Board District.

    Rhonny K. Valentine, of Natchitoches, was reappointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. Valentine is a pharmacist who provides relief work for retail pharmacies. He will serve as a representative of the 4th Pharmacy Board District.

    Blake P. Pitre, of Houma, was reappointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. Pitre is a pharmacist and the owner of B&J Pitre Pharmacy. He will serve as a representative of the 3rdPharmacy Board District.

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    COMMENTARY: Death in a EBR parish prison–too common

    Death in a local jail is pretty rare unless you are housed in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. The disturbing part of that sentence is the unfiltered sad, truth that 25 people died in this prison between 2012 and 2016. And these deaths were known and not investigated by any independent entity. What should be the safest, most secure place in the parish is instead by all involved, an unacceptable, destabilized, broken system that doesn’t offer either public safety for the general public or those employed in or those exposed to this system. More than 25 individuals whose lives had meaning to God, their families and their friends deserve this situation to be addressed. Many claim it is too hard but nothing could be further from the truth.

    For those families able to muster the resources to get legal representation they can sue but what remains most frightening is the false narrative that continues to live that everyone housed in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison is a hardened felon who has been convicted of a violent crime. The truth is that 89% of all individuals held in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison have not been adjudicated. That is a fancy way of saying they haven’t been convicted of anything. Many people are incarcerated because of minor non-violent offenses and a very large percentage of those who cannot afford to make bail will plea not because they are guilty but because that is the only way for them to be released. We do indeed have an active and thriving debtors prison system.

    Some of the deaths were caused be purposeful cruelty such as inadequate basic protections such as socks and blankets. Some of the deaths were caused by policy and procedures that disrespected the most basic protocols for treating healthcare (including mental illness). Almost all the deaths to some degree were caused by the care and feeding of a mass incarceration industry that specifically requires bodies in the building to make payroll and profit. And none of these deaths should have occurred.

    On Thursday, July 19th family and friends gathered at the levee in downtown Baton Rouge for a vigil to call for action and recognition. These individuals deserved each of their deaths to have an independent investigation as a standard practice of law and policy. Each person who loses their freedom under the authority of the state still retains their right to be treated with dignity. And none of the individuals who died had been sentenced to the death penalty EXCEPT they did receive the death penalty. To learn more about changing the narrative please check out the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition.

    Rev. Alexis Anderson
    PREACH
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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  • Southern University Baton Rouge maintains accreditation

    During its June meeting, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges removed a warning sanction from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge. The University satisfied all issues raised by the accreditation agency during its last review in June 2017.

    “This is great news for not only the institution and students, but for our alumni and other supporters,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president-chancellor. “Our team of dedicated faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that we demonstrated compliance with the principles of accreditation so that we are able to continue fulfilling our mission of providing a high-quality educational experience.”

    The SACSCOC peer reviewers evaluated the university’s Fifth-Year Interim Report in 2016, and identified four areas for improvement: faculty adequacy, institutional effectiveness, student complaints, and student achievement. To address these areas, University leaders developed strategic solutions that has ultimately laid a solid foundation for continuous improvement. The University anticipates its accreditation to be reaffirmed for the next 10 years.

    “We are delighted that we have met this challenge,” said James H. Ammons, Ph.D., executive vice president/executive vice chancellor. “Our team has worked really hard and we will continue to make making progress in demonstrating compliance in all areas.”

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  • Restore La. task force meets July 13 in Baton Rouge

    Task force to consider resolution to expand homeowner reimbursement award
    The Restore Louisiana Task Force will meet Friday, July 13 at 9:30 a.m. in House Committee Room 5 at the State Capitol. Members will consider a resolution proposed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to expand the Restore Homeowner Assistance Program tiered reimbursement award to 100 percent for all eligible homeowners. It’s currently set at 50 percent. View the Governor’s press release here. The Office of Community Development will provide updates on the Restore Homeowner Assistance, Rental Housing, Economic Development and Infrastructure Programs. Additionally, the Task Force will receive a presentation on the Louisiana Watershed-Based Floodplain Management Program by the Council on Watershed Management. The Council was established by Gov. Edwards earlier this year to look at ways to implement a statewide floodplain management program to mitigate future risks to communities impacted by frequent flooding and severe weather events.

    The meeting will be livestreamed on the Louisiana Legislature’s website at www.legis.la.gov which will be shared on restore.la.gov and the Restore Louisiana Facebook page. All Task Force documents are available at Restore Louisiana Task Force Resources.

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    Public Notice of Meeting of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District, July 12

    The regular meeting of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District will be held at the LSU Health Baton Rouge North Clinic Urgent Care located at 5439 Airline Hwy, Baton Rouge, LA 70805. The date of the meeting is July 12,2018

    The meeting will begin at 6pm in the community meeting room located at the front entry of the main building.

    Any questions contact Rinaldi Jacobs Sr (225)771-4359 or  email rjacobs@brnedd.com.

     

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    Southern University alumni ‘come home’ for biennial conference, July 19-22

    The Southern University Alumni Federation will host its biennial conference July 19-22 in Baton Rouge. The Federation, which includes thousands of members across the nation and aboard, is hosting several events that celebrate tradition, innovation and achievement.

    “This year’s conference is packed with substantive and timely speakers and panel discussions related to Southern University and the surrounding community,” said Preston Castille, Federation president. “We will focus greatly on the University’s new Imagine 20,000 initiative to grow student enrollment, improve our infrastructure, and expand Southern’s footprint in Baton Rouge. We also look forward to showcasing some of the capital city’s fantastic attractions.”

    Activities include campus tours, professional development workshops, the inaugural “40 Under 40” awards ceremony, and the “Circle of Achievement” gala featuring national media personality Roland Martin. Among speakers and facilitators for the three-day conference are Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana Board of Regents commissioner.

    ONLINE: www.sualumni.org

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    Harris, first Black to walk in space, visits Baton Rouge

    On June 26, Dr. Bernard Harris, CEO of the National Math + Science Initiative (NMSI), visited Baton Rouge to kick off NMSI’s Laying the Foundation Teacher training at Woodlawn High School.  With ongoing support from ExxonMobil, the popular training program was recently expanded to an additional 400 teachers across the state, doubling the number of teachers from last year.  In addition to his role at NMSI, Dr. Harris is the founder of The Harris Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports math and science education programs for America’s youth.  Harris worked at NASA for 10 years, where he conducted research in musculoskeletal physiology and disuse osteoporosis.  During his career at NASA, Harris became the first Black person to walk in space.  A veteran astronaut for more than 18 years, he has logged more than 438 hours and traveled more than 7.2 million miles in space.

    Dr. Bernard Harris talks with Summer STEM Lab campers .

    Dr. Bernard Harris talks with Summer STEM Lab campers .

    Dr. Bernard Harris autographs a space mural in North Baton Rouge at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop.

    Dr. Bernard Harris autographs a space mural in North Baton Rouge at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop.

    While in town, Dr. Harris joined ExxonMobil for a tour of the local community.  He interacted with North Baton Rouge students at Summer STEM Lab, a BREC summer camp designed to curb effects of summer learning loss and to increase interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics topics and careers.  Campers were inspired by Harris to realize their potential through problem solving skills learned in STEM courses.

    Dr. Bernard Harris New Orleans artist, Lionel Milton, at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop stand in front of a space-themed mural in North Baton Rouge.

    Dr. Bernard Harris New Orleans artist, Lionel Milton, at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop stand in front of a space-themed mural in North Baton Rouge.

    Following the camp visit, he autographed a space-themed wall mural painted by New Orleans artist, Lionel Milton, at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop.  He wrapped up his tour of Baton Rouge at Knock Knock Children’s Museum where he participated in space related pop-up activities with museum guests.

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    Southern University System Board approves student fee increases across campuses

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors has approved an increase in student fees. The average increase of 4.95 percent affects Southern University Baton Rouge, Southern University New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport and the Southern University Law Center.

    “The Southern University System’s core mission is to provide an accessible, affordable and dynamic educational experience to all students,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president on July 5. “While we recently celebrated the Legislature’s passage of a standstill budget — not to be confused with full funding —  for higher education, this budget does not take into account mandated costs and the formula put forth by the state Board of Regents. Without an increase, which is our last resort, the System’s ability to advance its scope and mission would be severely compromised.”

    Belton cited the more than $40 million decline in state funding the Southern University System has experienced over the past 10 years. The per-semester fee increases for full-time students result from House Bill 113 (Act 293) of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session. Each campus will allocate not less than 5 percent of the revenues realized from these fees to need-based financial assistance to students of eligible to receive a Pell Grant. Fees at the flagship Baton Rouge campus will increase by $217 for undergraduate students and $250 for graduate students; at New Orleans $169 for undergraduate students and $209 for graduate students; at Shreveport $100; and $393 at the Law Center. 

    The additional funds generated from this increase will be used to assist with situations such as offsetting the cost of unfunded mandates, operational costs and the 2018-2019 budget reduction resulting from formula implementation. The System encourages those in need of financial assistance to examine and apply for scholarships and grants through the Southern University System Foundation.

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    Documentary explores controversial death of Victor White III while in New Iberia police custody

    Discovery Communication’s Investigation Discovery is exploring the controversial death of a New Iberia man who police say shot himself while handcuffed in the backseat of a patrol car.

    The show, “Sugar Town” will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Victor White III, who was 22, on March 2, 2014,

    Called the “Houdini Handcuff Case” by some in the state, White’s killing has brought simmering racial tensions to a boil in the small town known for its sugar cane production.

    New Iberia residents are separated by railroad tracks—residents to the north of the tracks are predominantly white, while largely Black neighborhoods lie to the south.

    Kimberly Nordyke reported in The Hollywood Reporter, “The tracks created a strong history of racial divide predating the American Civil War in New Iberia, and many residents would argue that a Jim Crow south is still very much alive.”

    “Sugar Town” will focus on the central mystery of what might have happened to White and chronicles the family’s search for justice for their son’s suspicious death while in police custody.

    The investigation also reveals “a larger story of power, corruption and racial injustice nestled within a divided southern town, with Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal — a man shrouded in controversy — at the center,” according to the network.

    “Victor White III was a father, a son, a brother — and sadly, I fear, a victim of injustices rooted in New Iberia,” said Henry Schleiff, group president for Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “Tragedies like these unfortunately catapult people into becoming activists, and we are humbled to share the White family’s crusade for answers in Sugar Town. We are reminded that corruption and racism exist in our society, today, and we hope that ID’s airing of this documentary will help spark informed dialogue about larger social injustices to ensure that White’s death was not in vain.”

    White’s family members, including his father, the Reverend Victor White; mother, Vanessa; and two of his eight siblings, sister Lakeisha and brother L.C. are featured in the documentary along with local radio journalist Tony Brown, The Daily Iberian journalist Dwayne Fatheree, and activist Donald Broussard. Anthony Daye, who said he experienced  brutality at the hands of New Iberia’s law enforcement, civil rights attorney Clayton Burgess, and the White family’s attorney, Carol Powell Lexing are interviewed in the documentary.

    The two-hour program premieres at 7pm CST on Monday, Aug. 6.

    ONLINE: Investigationdiscovery.com

     

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    Jordan joins Urban Congress on African American Males

    The Urban Congress on African American Males welcomes James “Jay” Jordan who is currently interning with the organization. He is a second-year student pursuing his doctorate in LSU’s Sociology Department. His research interests include: African-American self-government, food security education, and community supported agriculture. Before moving to Baton Rouge, James led an organic gardening program at an elementary school in San Francisco. After falling in love with this work, he moved to Baton Rouge to create child-centered gardening programs and to study the benefits that they offer to people living in food deserts. Given his passion for teaching young children lessons associated with their health and happiness, James will be supporting Urban Congress Goal #3: Expand the number of African American boys entering kindergarten who are ready to learn and who are able to advance annually at or above their grade level. Jordan said he’s very grateful to have the opportunity to work with the Urban Congress because it enables him to join forces with people who are committed to empowering the marginalized citizens of Baton Rouge.

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    Businesses can access new Vendor Self Service Portal for Baton Rouge procurement opportunities

    East Baton Rouge Mayor’s office has launch of the Vendor Self Service portal, a new website that streamlines the processes used by vendors to register and do business with the City-Parish. 

    Vendors can access the VSS portal at http://brla.gov/vss. Those who have not done business with City-Parish previously can register as a new vendor. Existing City-Parish vendors will be mailed the information needed for them to create an account in VSS. After registering for an account in VSS, vendors will have the ability to electronically update their contact information, upload tax forms, set communication preferences, and select the goods and/or services they provide. In addition, vendors will now be able to access a variety of purchase order and payment activities that will allow the vendor to find out if a purchase order has been issued, an invoice has been received, or a check has been written. All of this can be done through the VSS portal without having to contact City-Parish via phone or email.

    “We have heard from numerous businesses about the obstacles they face when searching bids and competing for City-Parish contracts. Based on feedback from these companies, we began listing upcoming procurement opportunities on the City-Parish website,” said Broome. “Our next step is this launch which makes the process more streamlined and efficient for vendors who do business, or wish to do business, with the City-Parish. This new functionality is a result of the City-Parish’s deployment of a modern enterprise resource planning system which replaced a 20-year-old financial and procurement system.”

    For more information on becoming a vendor with the City-Parish, visit http://brla.gov/vendors.  To access the City-Parish’s listing of upcoming procurement opportunities, visit http://city.brla.gov/dept/purchase/purfops.asp.

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    Son shares father’s legacy of Cook’s Theatre

    The North Baton Rouge Blue Ribbon Commission hosted “Meet and Greet with Dr. James Cook Jr., son of Cook’s Theatre founder, the late James Cook Sr.​, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Scotlandville, June 10.
    Dr. Cook, a cardiologist in Medford, Oregon, discussed the history of his family, local community, and the theatre business. According to Councilwoman Chauna Banks, the event “brought back great memories of Cook’s Theatre and the legendary entrepreneurial spirit that was alive and well in the Scotlandville community.”
    Submitted by Rachel Emmanuel Ph.D.
    Feature photograph is of Myrtly Ricard, Lyle Mouton, Natalie Ricard, and Dr. James Cook
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  • Passenger volume up in May at Baton Rouge Metro Airport

    Passenger enplanements, or departing passengers, were up 3.2% at Baton Rouge Metro Airport in May over the same month in 2017. Deplanements, or arriving passengers, were up 5.3%. Total passenger volume for May was 72,578, the second highest among Louisiana airports.

    2018 year-to-date BTR passenger volume is up 4.9%. Passenger volume for 2017 was up 4%. American Airlines had the top BTR passenger share in May at 38%, followed by Delta at 35% and United at 25%.

    “With the increase in airline seating capacity at BTR, and the new, nonstop VIA Air flights to Orlando and Austin beginning in September, we look forward to continued passenger growth,” said Jim Caldwell, BTR’s marketing, public relations and air service development manager.

    Interim director of aviation Mike Edwards said, “The critical piece going forward is making sure we fill these additional seats and flights. If they are successful with above-average load factors, it dramatically increases our prospects for more service.”

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  • Black Restaurant Week celebrates African, Caribbean-inspired cuisine in New Orleans

    New Orleans Black Restaurant Week (NOLABRW) will take place  July 1 – 8, in New Orleans, LA celebrating the flavors of African-American, African, and Caribbean cuisines. Black Restaurant Week, created in Houston, TX, is introducing its culinary series of taste-filled festivities to New Orleans. For 10 days, foodies and local influencers will satisfy their culinary cravings with signature events and restaurant menu specials.

    Due to the huge success of the annual culinary series in other cities, BRW has decided to expand to New Orleans. Diners can enjoy casual dining options for $15 – $25 per person, and fine dining options from $35 to $45 per person.
    Foodies will be able to enjoy options for brunch, lunch and dinner from the following list of participating black-owned restaurants:

    • Willie Mae’s Scotch House
    • The Praline Connection 
    • Neyow’s Creole Cafe
    • Louisiana Bayou Bistro
    • Beaucoup Eats 
    • Tasty Treat Food Truck and Restaurant 
    • Heard Dat Kitchen 
    • We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp
    • Sassafras Creole Kitchen
    In addition to its staple showcase of new and well-known restaurants, BRW is known for its exciting lineup of hot-ticket events including:
    Nosh: Culinary Showcase | Thursday, July 5, 2018
    An evening of culinary excitement and live demonstrations featuring an All-Star lineup of local Executive Chefs. Nosh presents tastings and competitions featuring New Orleans top Caterers and Executive Chefs, presented by Verizon, and in partnership with New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.
     
    Power of The Palate: Bartender Competition | Thursday, July 5, 2018
    New Orleans top Black Bartenders create craft cocktails with the freshest ingredients, while attendees indulge in their delicious creations. Presented at the exciting Nosh event, this popular competition sponsored by Martell provides guests an even tastier and thirst-quenching experience.
    As an extension to NOLABRW’s commitment to the agricultural community, NOLABRW has partnered with F.A.R.M.S. (Family. Agriculture. Resource. Management. Services.), a national nonprofit organization supporting family farmers through education and retail market expansion, while relieving hunger in the farmers’ community.

    Restaurants, caterers, and bartenders interested in participating in NOLABRW can find more information here.

    Featured photo of Caribbean Jerk Salmon Topped with Shrimp from Star Fusion Restaurant.
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    Embattled School Board Member Mike Whitlow will not seek a second term

    Mike Whitlow came under fire a few months ago from the Tangipahoa Black community after he posted a story on his Facebook page that included a screen shot of a hangman’s noose.

    Whitlow posted this on Facebook,”It has been a pleasure serving the citizens of District F on the Tangipahoa Parish School Board. I want thank my constituents for the confidence placed in me to help improve our school system to ensure our children’s future. I will serve out my current term which ends on Dec. 31 of this year and will not seek reelection on Nov. 6. My plan is to fully retire to spend more quality time with my wife, family and friends.”

    Fellow School Board Member Tom Tolar posted,”I want to thank Mike Whitlow for his service on the Tangipahoa Parish School Board. He has endured more than his share of hatred, but he has never stopped working to improve our schools..This is a hard job, and it takes a toll on you. As the only board member north of Amite, I feel the pressure to advocate for our local schools. I will continue to fight with all my might to represent our local schools and I look forward to seeing what is in store for us under our new superintendents leadership. We work for you!!”

    School Board Vice-President Sandra Simmons posted, “It is sad to see you leave but l understand you wanting to spend more time with your loved ones. You have served faithfully, wisely and sincerely.”

    The election for all 9 school board members is set for November 6. Candidates will qualify in a few weeks on July 18-20.

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    Changes coming for 5 Hammond, Independence schools

    A revised student assignment plan is expected to go into effect for students in the Hammond and Independence schools, just in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

    The Tangipahoa Parish School Board on Wednesday filed a joint motion with plaintiff’s counsel, at the recommendation of Court Compliance Officer Donald Massey, in the longstanding Joyce Marie Moore federal desegregation lawsuit to modify the student assignment plan which went into effect with the start of the 2016-17 school year. Although the federal court document system does not indicate any judicial action has been recorded beyond the filing of the motion, the school system appears to be preparing a “Plan A” and “Plan B” for the five schools that will be impacted by these changes, which will start this August.

    Proposed to “address and resolve certain issues in the Hammond attendance zone,” the newly-modified student assignment plan will also “combine” the current Independence Magnet and Independence Leadership Academy school zones into a single attendance zone, reinstating the traditional grade configurations at those schools. Independence Leadership Academy would house pre-K through 4th grade students while Independence Magnet will enroll students in grades 5-8. The modified plan would allow Independence Magnet to remain a communications magnet school.

    If the newest version of the modified plan is approved by Judge Ivan Lemelle, there would be significantly more changes in store for three Hammond schools (Woodland Park Magnet, Greenville Park Leadership Academy, and Hammond Eastside Magnet) starting this upcoming 2018-19 school year:

    *New principals would be assigned at the Greenville Park and Woodland Park schools. By federal court order, those principals would likely be laterally-transferred from other TPSS schools or from the Central Office itself, and the individuals selected would be required to hold proper administration certificates, have previous experience as school principals, and “have a proven record of effectiveness in all areas of school administration.” The new appointees will be compensated according to the district salary schedule but granted a $10,000 annual stipend above and beyond their compensation package to be paid “semi-annually for as long as the principal remains at GPLA or WPM.”

    *Woodland Park and Greenville Park will change their grade configurations. For the 2018-19 school year, Greenville Park will remain a pre-K to 8th grade campus, but Woodland Park will serve students in grades pre-K to 6 only. 7th and 8th grade students who were previously assigned to the Woodland Park zone will automatically transfer to Hammond Eastside for the upcoming school year.

    *School choice transfers will be offered for Woodland Park 7th and 8th graders who do not want to go to Hammond Eastside. Woodland Park parents who do not want to send their 7th or 8th grader to Hammond Eastside will be able to utilize a “school choice transfer” to send their students to Greenville Park, but they must file a transfer application before July 19, 2018, to make that happen. Any Woodland Park 7th or 8th grade student who does not have a school option transfer application on file by July 19 will be sent to Hammond Eastside for the 2018-19 school year.

    *Reconstituted faculties: In 2018-19, the new leadership teams at Woodland Park and Greenville Park will “be given the opportunity to select their administrative teams and will be allowed first pick in filling any uncertified positions with certified teachers who wish to transfer from other schools or from the list of newly certified teacher applicants.” The faculty and leadership teams at these two schools will receive a $3,000 stipend on top of their compensation package, and that stipend will remain in effect, paid semi-annually, for as long as those teachers remain at the schools.

    *Woodland Park and Greenville Park will remain magnet schools, but the schools will receive additional funding for student activities. Woodland Park continues as a communications magnet school and Greenville Park will remain a STEM school. Greenville Park will continue to implement Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) with the current payout formula remaining in place.The district will offer additional instructional resources for both schools, including an extra $25,000 added to their school activity funds for this year and an additional $15,000 for school activity funds in future years.

    *Other enhancements for 2018-19 school year:
    -Greenville Park and Woodland Park will also begin offering Spanish effective this upcoming school year and will continue to do so moving forward.
    -Greenville Park will also receive support from the district’s science resource teacher at least once a week to work with science teachers and their STEM specialist to improve the school’s implementation of STEM.
    -Starting in October, 2018, Central Office staff will begin meeting monthly with the leadership of Woodland Park and Greenville Park to discuss progress at their schools, address additional resources that may be necessary, and to tweak any potential modifications to the student assignment plan that may be included for the 2019-2020 school year.

    *Priority admissions: With regard to early childhood education, African American students from the Woodland Park attendance zone and specifically students in the Magazine Street, M.C. Moore Street, and Martin Luther King Street areas of Hammond will also be given priority admission for up to one-third of the total early childhood program enrollment in Hammond Eastside’s pre-K program. The court order specifies “pre-K classes at Hammond Eastside Magnet School shall be racially diverse.”

    Moving into 2019-2020, the plan calls for even greater improvements in the Hammond school district:
    *Reconstituted schools: In 2019-20, Woodland Park and Greenville Park students will be assigned to the same school zone. Students in grades pre-K to 3 will attend Woodland Park while students in grades 4-8 will attend Greenville Park. Woodland Park 7th students who transferred to Hammond Eastside for 2018-19 will have the option to remain at Hammond Eastside for their 8th grade year or transfer to Greenville Park.

    In addition to these changes at the five elementary schools, the modified plan calls for enhanced professional development for all teachers, and that training will offer emphasis on cultural diversity and equity. The first phase of professional development will be completed before May 1, 2019, with follow-up and ongoing professional development offered to all system employees. Phase two will include all teachers and support staff, with a goal of completing that training no later than December of 2019. At that point, cultural diversity training and equity training will be offered annually to all TPSS employees.

    Action 17 News

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  • SU System Board meets June 22

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors will hold its regular meeting Friday, June 22 at 9 a.m., in the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work Auditorium on the campus of Southern University New Orleans (6400 Press Dr.).

    The agenda and other documents can be found at:http://www.sus.edu/page/su-board-current-month-packet.

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    Congressional Black Caucus speaks out on immigration bills, family separation

    The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) – led by CBC Chair Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02) and the CBC Immigration Task Force Chair Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09) – released the following statement on two immigration bills that House Republicans are trying to pass this week, the Securing America’s Future Act and the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act.

    “Make no mistake about it, both of these bills – the Securing America’s Future Act and the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act – are extreme measures that seek to allow Republicans to avoid responsibility in an election year for a crisis that they themselves created, rather than actually bringing justice to the more than 1.5 million DREAMers who have been waiting for years for Congress to act.

    “Both bills would allocate billions of dollars to an unnecessary and ineffective border wall, rather than opening our borders and hearts to immigrants.

    “Both bills are an attack on immigrant families that would limit, if not completely eliminate, key family reunification policies, including sponsorships for married family members. In addition, children would still be able to be separated from their parents, or else forcibly detained with them for an indefinite period as many of them were over Father’s Day weekend. Uniting families strengthens communities, which is something the party of family values should support.

    “In addition, by threatening to end the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a program whose recipients are typically from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, both bills seek to keep black and brown immigrants out of this country, even though recipients are required to have a high school diploma and pass a thorough background check.

    “Finally, both bills don’t have any Democratic support because Republicans chose to ditch the bipartisan approach to immigration that the House was taking until last week.

    “The most famous line from the poem mounted on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ It is in that spirit that the Congressional Black Caucus will continue to do all that we can to prevent these inhumane and unjust bills from becoming law.”

    —-
    The Congressional Black Caucus was established in 1971 and has a historic 48 members for the 115th Congress, including one Republican member and two senators. Congressman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02) is the chairman of the caucus.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Celebrating Juneteenth

    A Message from the Louisiana Democratic Party

    On this day, we celebrate a major step in the freedom of African Americans in the United States. Juneteenth is a commemoration of the day Union soldiers traveled to Galveston, Texas to announce that the Civil War was over and that slave owners had to free the enslaved. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

    What followed was years of terrorism on Black communities as people fought for voting rights, desegregation and equality. We still have a long way to go in the fight against oppression and racism. We are dedicated to working on several key issues that promote justice and equity, including access to polls, prison reform, equal pay for equal work, a living wage, the right to unionize, quality education for all, and access to affordable healthcare.

    We are committed to resisting the current administration, recruiting better candidates, and training them to replace the ones that have contributed to the broken system that perpetuates cycles of poverty and inequality.

    We hope that you will join us as we continue the fight.

    Best,
    Karen Carter Peterson, Chair

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    DrumCall: Our history is not something can just be cast aside.

    Black history, our history, matters. Yet the College Board, the massive non-profit that administers Advanced Placement (AP) classes, is in the process of removing Black and Brown history from their AP World History course – a course taken by millions of students every year.1

    Under new changes announced by the College Board, the AP World History course will no longer cover material prior to 1450—approximately the beginning of European colonialism. This alteration effectively erases the pre-colonial history of people of color from Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East. Instead of being one of the few opportunities for students across the country to learn about diverse histories and perspectives, the course will now reinforce the false centrality of white European colonialism in history.

    Our history is not something can just be cast aside. But because of mounting pressure from students and teachers across the country to challenge the College Board’s decision we have a chance to make sure that it is not. The College Board has stated they are willing to reexamine their decision, but have not committed to any concrete changes, so we need to push for a full reinstatement of this content and a commitment to promote Black and Brown histories throughout their AP courses.

    Save Black history. Tell the College Board to keep Black history in their courses.

    These changes to the AP World History course matter. We live in a country where the people in power tell Black and Brown students every day that their history and their lives don’t matter.2 A just history curriculum may be the only place where these students are exposed to histories beyond that of white Europeans.

    In the past couple of years we’ve seen sustained efforts to erase Black and Brown histories from school curriculum. In Texas, the state school board pushed to downplay slavery as a cause of the Civil War and minimize the racial segregation of the Jim Crow era. Textbook publisher McGraw-Hill got caught calling African slaves “immigrants” and “workers.”3 Earlier this year, it was revealed that a far-right Koch Brothers backed group is offering free curriculum to budget strapped teachers, offering a revisionist version of slavery that paints it as a necessary evil to further freedom and democracy.4 And just this week, Michigan announced a proposed curriculum change that would eliminate references to the NAACP, scale down the importance of the civil rights movement and eliminate mentions of gay rights, Roe v. Wade, and climate change.5

    Our history is under constant attack, but because the College Board’s AP World History course is taught in thousands of schools to millions of students every year, the College Board plays a powerful role in setting de facto curriculum standards for all high school students. With this power, the College Board has the responsibility to ensure that students everywhere are exposed to histories beyond that of colonial Europeans and understand that the histories of Black and Brown people did not start when European colonists arrived in their lands.

    Demand the College Board keep Black and Brown histories in their AP World History course.

    What’s particularly cruel about the College Board’s decision to cut Black and Brown history from their AP course curriculum is that they are using it as an opportunity to push teachers to pay for their new and expensive “pre-AP courses” by offering to put the Black and Brown histories they removed into that course instead. But unlike the free curriculum for AP courses, pre-AP courses cost schools thousands of dollars a year effectively putting this content out of reach for most students.6

    All too often, the rich pre-colonial history of Africa, Asia, Americas and the Middle East is either erased or merely left as a footnote. For students of color, who rarely see themselves represented in high school courses, this erasure tells them that they do not matter. The College Board says that they are “dedicated to equity in education.” If they are dedicated to equitable education, then they must not play a role in erasing Black and Brown histories.

    Save Black history. Tell the College Board to keep Black history in their courses.

    Until justice is real, 

    –Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Jade, Evan, Johnny, Future, Corina, Chad, Mary, Saréya, Eesha, Angela, Sam and the rest of the Color Of Change team

     References:

    “AP World History gets a makeover, and high school teachers rebel,” Politico, 11 June 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59248?t=9&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Donald Trump Says ‘Our Ancestors Tamed a Continent’ and ‘We Are Not Going to Apologize for America’,” Newsweek, 25 May 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/59249?t=11&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Texas textbook calling slaves ‘immigrants’ to be changed, after mom’s complaint,” LA Times, 5 October 2015 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/59250?t=13&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Millions of Students Are Quietly Being Taught the Koch Brothers’ Whitewashed Version of Black History,” The Root, 14 March 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59251?t=15&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Proposed Michigan social studies standards erase references to gay rights, Roe v. Wade, and KKK ,” DetroitMetro Times, 12 June 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59252?t=17&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Teachers Fight To Keep Pre-Colonial World History In AP Course,” Colorlines, 12 June 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59253?t=19&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2

    Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

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  • ,

    Baton Rouge flights head nonstop to Austin, Orlando for $99

    Travelers from the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport gain nonstop options to favorite destinations in Texas and Florida starting this fall thanks to a new agreement with Via Airlines.

    The airline has announced it will launch new nonstop service between Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR) and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) in Central Florida and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) in Central Texas on September 13th. The new nonstop flights will operate three times each week to/from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and two times each week to/from Orlando Sanford International Airport with 50-seat Embraer ERJ- 145 jets.
    The BTR – Austin-Bergstrom flights will operate on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays with 1:38 p.m. departures. The BTR – Orlando Sanford International flights will operate on Mondays and Thursdays and depart at 1:48 p.m.

    “Baton Rouge is an amazing city and we’re excited about the opportunity to serve both its business and leisure travelers alike with nonstop jet service to/from both Orlando Sanford International Airport in Central Florida and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Central Texas as we bring the convenience of nonstop flights to these markets as part of our 2018 expansion,” said Matthew Macri, Via Airlines’ Vice President of Operations. “Via Airlines takes pride in being the airline of the hospitality industry. Our jet service to Orlando and Austin will move travelers to and from Baton Rouge far faster and more economical than existing options or traveling by car. When flying with us you are truly our guest, not just a passenger,” said Macri.

    “We are elated that Via Airlines has chosen to partner with Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) as their newest destination for nonstop service,” said Mike Edwards, Interim Director of Aviation at Baton Rouge Metro Airport. “The addition of Via Airlines is yet another positive growth factor for BTR, and is an exciting response to local demand for additional air service options.” “Austin and Orlando are major destinations for both business and leisure travel, and the Greater Baton Rouge community will greatly benefit from these new non-stop routes.”

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said, “Thank you Via Airlines for having the confidence in Baton Rouge to add two new nonstop destinations in Austin and Orlando. Area residents will enjoy visiting the many attractions they have to offer, but the nonstop flights will also be a significant time saver for business travelers whether they are flying from Baton Rouge or into Baton Rouge.”

    “This is a big win for Baton Rouge, and we look forward to a long relationship between our area and Via Airlines,” said Cleve Dunn Jr Airport Commission Chairman.”Attracting low cost carriers has been the mission of our board and staff so that we may give our business and leisure travelers more options to choose from…We are excited to have Via Airlines call Baton Rouge Metro Airport home. It is our hope that this announcement is one of many more to come. This historic announcement will provide direct flights to Austin, Texas for the first time ever and reestablish direct flights to Orlando, Florida for the first time in over 5 years. By securing these new markets with a low cost carrier like Via Airlines, it will help us to increase our enplanements, increase our connectivity and decrease our leakage. The Via Airlines proposed rates of (less than $100) per one-way flight will help us to be more competitive with the New Orleans International Airport in these markets.”

    Jim Caldwell, BTR Marketing & Air Service Development Manager, noted the importance of community support for the new service. “Via Airlines is an established, quality airline that is giving us a great opportunity for new service that is not easy for smaller airports to secure in today’s airline environment. We encourage travelers to support the flights for both vacation and business travel to ensure their success, which can potentially lead to more flights.”

    Limited, introductory discounted fares are available by visiting flyviaair.com or calling 800-565-5042. Via Airlines also participates in the GDS (Global Distribution Systems), allowing bookings through local travel agencies, online travel agencies (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.), and corporate reservations booking tools.

    Baton Rouge (BTR) to/from Orlando Sanford (SFB):
    Days of Operation: Mondays and Thursdays
    Time of Operation: Depart BTR @ 1:48 pm Arrive SFB @ 4:30 pm
    Depart SFB @ 11:45 am Arrive BTR @ 12:45 pm
    Baton Rouge (BTR) to/from Austin (AUS):
    Days of Operation: Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays
    Time of Operation: Depart BTR @ 1:38 pm Arrive AUS @ 3:08 pm
    Depart AUS @ 11:45 am Arrive BTR @ 1:03 pm

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  • ,,,

    Who to Watch: Dawn C. Collins

    Dawn C. Collins is an East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member and community advocate. The Lee High School graduate and Baton Rouge native, is a governor’s appointee to the East Baton Rouge Parish Board of Elections Supervisors. She began her professional career at Louisiana Department of Health where she was responsible for program-related data management. A grassroots organizer, Collins, who is 42, gives data-driven strategic consultation to campaigns and handles government affairs and training programs for non-profit organizations.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017:    Was elected to public service on the East Baton Rouge School Board, District 4, on March 6,2016.

    What to expect in 2018 from you: I will be fighting for teacher and support staff pay raises in order to retain and attract the best educators for our children. Several community-wide events are on the horizon that will not only galvanize support for schools but help develop a sense of togetherness on this side of North Baton Rouge.  We have tremendous community assets, and we should celebrate them.

    Personal resolution:  Seize the Day.

    Life/business motto: Integrity. PERIOD.

    Business resolution: Uplift community.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Getting re-elected to School Board so that I can keep fighting for progress in our schools.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Breathe

    Role Models: My humble mother, Yolanda Castle Chanet; State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith; and political guru, Ben Jeffers

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward?  A very bad experience when my children were in elementary school compelled me to be an education advocate.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? “Best of Me” by Anthony Hamilton and “Really Love” by De’Angelo

    What are you reading? “The Originals” by Adam Grant

    What’s entertaining you? “Queen Sugar” – The depth of each character is amazing, plus I absolutely love Violet and Hollywood›s relationship. Also, Netflix’s “Black Mirror” – It’s so on point in so many ways.

    Website: DawnChanetCollins.com

    Social media: facebook.com/littleorganizerthatcould

    @DDCollins76 on both Twitter and Instagram ℜ

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  • ,,

    Historic independent police monitor bill heads to Governor’s desk

    The Louisiana House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that recognizes the potential value for local law enforcement agencies of an independent police monitor.

    House Concurrent Resolution 98, sponsored by State Representative Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, received final passage and heads to Gov. John bel Edwards’ desk for signature.

    The legislation provides responsibilities of an independent police monitor, recognizes the potential value for local law enforcement agencies of an independent police monitor, and encourages parish and municipal governing authorities to consider the advantages of such a position for its respective sheriff’s office or police department.

    Hunter presented the resolution on the house floor stating, “effective policing requires effective community support; policing is not done in a vacuum; if civilians are to be as safe as possible, they must work collaboratively with law enforcement officers and agencies, but if citizens come to perceive law enforcement officers to be as much of a threat to their safety as are criminals, the health of the community deteriorates rapidly.”

    Additionally, the resolution states, though citizens and local elected officials desire to hold sheriff’s deputies and municipal police officers to very high standards of integrity and service, many aspects of a law enforcement agency are unique to the law enforcement field. Special expertise is required to evaluate and improve internal practices, procedures, and culture. General management experts and local officials may not be in the best position to determine whether a particular department is fulfilling its duties in a way that meets such high standards; and an independent police monitor can fill that gap by combining law enforcement expertise with an outside-the-department perspective. Thereby playing a role that neither a member of the department nor a traditional government executive or inspector general can play.

    COMPLETE HCR 98

    This bill provides advisement and benefit of developing local police monitoring agencies to build trust and collaboration between law enforcement agencies and citizens. Cultivating agencies that strive for superior community service in every facet of life, including hiring and promotion, training, discipline, interagency cooperation and community outreach.

    By On Notice 4 Justice

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  • Dillon honored by Washington Parish sheriff

    Washington Parish Corrections Deputy Katie Dillon has been honored by Sheriff Randy Seal as the Corrections Deputy of the Quarter ending March 2018. Seal made the selection based on the recommendation of Chief of Corrections Jim Miller and the administrative staff of the jail.

    “Katie Dillon is tremendous asset to Chief Miller and the entire operation of the jail. She is a true professional who expertly manages the inmate population in a no-nonsense manner. All at the Sheriff’s Office are pleased to have Katie as a valuable member of our staff,” said Seal.

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  • Public comment period for ITEP proposed changes ends June 22

    Late last year, Governor Edwards directed Louisiana Economic Development (LED) to research and identify process improvements to the Industrial Tax Exemption Program following two 2016 Executive Orders that altered key components of the economic development program.

    Rules have been in place at the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry for nearly a year, reflecting the principles expressed in the governor’s Executive Orders.

    Taking a thorough and comprehensive approach, LED conducted an extensive program review, including dialogue with several key stakeholders such as Louisiana governmental entities, trade associations and non-governmental organizations. LED gathered input on how the ITEP program could retain the enhanced features of accountability and local voice while also moving in a direction of improved certainty and a more streamlined approval process.

    Based upon that research, analysis and dialogue, ITEP process improvements were introduced at the April 25, 2018 meeting of the Board of Commerce and Industry.

    >> Click here to review the proposed rule changes.  The public comment period ends June 22, 2018.

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  • Grow Baton Rouge Farmers & Makers Market opens June 9

    On Saturday June 9, 2018, GrowBatonRouge.com will bring a special Farmers & Makers Market to North Baton Rouge. There will be local food, produce, vendors, cooking demonstrations and much more. GrowBatonRouge.com is committed to helping heal communities through healthy food and living. If you are an advocate of healthy eating, fresh produce, and getting rid of food deserts throughout the city of Baton Rouge, then we would like your help in spreading the word about this upcoming Farmers Market. We look forward to seeing you Saturday June 9th!

    ONLINE: www.GROWBATONROUGE.com

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  • ,,,

    Judge Piper Griffin named Louisiana Judicial Council Chairperson

    Louisiana boasts the largest number of Black  judges per capita and the Louisiana Judicial Council/National Bar Association prides itself on being the voice of its membership.  The Council recently installed as the organization’s 10th chairperson was Judge Piper D. Griffin during its 20th annual meeting in Baton Rouge last month.

    Griffin has served as the organization’s secretary for many years and most recently as its Chair Elect. Judge Griffin currently serves on the Orleans Parish Civil District Court since her election in 2001. She also serves as Chair of the 4th and 5th Circuit Judges Association, Secretary of the Louisiana Judicial Council Foundation/NBA, Treasurer of the Louisiana District Judges Association, President of the St. Katharine Drexel Prep Board of Directors (formerly Xavier Prep) and President of the Crescent City Chapter of the Links, Inc.

    Other judges installed to new board included Judge June B. Darensburg as chair-elect, Judge Regina B. Woods as treasurer, Judge Rachael Johnson as secretary, Judge Angelique Reed and Judge Adrian Adams as district representatives, and Judge Madeline Jasmine, past chair.

    With a theme of “Advancing Judicial Competence,” organizers said the meeting saw meaningful continuing legal education and dialogue amongst the bench and bar. The Conference began with a community service activity and frank conversation with civil rights activist and attorney, 99-year-old Johnny Jones. A reception honoring retired Baton Family Court Judge Luke A. LaVergne took place at the home of former Congressman and State Senator Cleo and Debra Fields. The meeting was chaired by Judge Wilson Fields of the 19th Judicial District Court. Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson swore in the newly elected officers.

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  • ,,,,,

    Southern University wins in NIS national oral and poster competitions

    Southern University and A&M College was well represented by 30 undergraduate and 5 graduate students who participated in the 75th Joint Annual Meeting of the National Institute of Science and Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honors Society, in Washington, DC.   This scientific conference, hosted by the University of the District of Columbia, aimed to provide young scientists the opportunity to disseminate their research findings and to network with students and peers of like minds.   This Diamond Anniversary Year represents the 75th one for the joint annual meetings of Beta Kappa Chi (BKX) and the National Institute of Science (NIS). Southern University students won several awards at the conference.

    Oral Presentations

    Irene Lewis   1st Place Agricultural Sciences undergraduate

    Kirstin Brooks 2nd Place Psychology undergraduate

    Gagandeep Kaur 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Poster Presentations

    Prathusha Bagam 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Demario Vallier 2nd Place Poster Biology graduate

    Students and faculty were elected to national offices as well.  Deadra James Mackie was elected as national executive secretary for the 18th year, student officer, Joenique Woods, was unanimously chosen as the Southcentral Regional Vice President for Beta Kappa Chi and secretary for the National Institute of Science.  Honors student, Ikea McKay, was elected president of the National Institute of Science and Darrell Harry was chosen as student secretary for Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society and Treasure for the National Institute of Sciences.  As expected, the Jaguar nation made an indelible mark on the conference.

    Beta Kappa Chi Honor Society was founded in Lincoln, Pennsylvania in 1921, and chartered in 1923.  BKX is a member of the certifying body, the National Association of College Honor Societies (www.achsnatl.org).

    Travel to this endeavor would not have been possible were it not for the financial support of the Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes Honors College and the Timbuktu Academy, both led by Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D., the Southern University Foundation, through the Office of Robert Easley, the College of Sciences and Engineering dean Patrick Carriere,Ph.D., and the Department of Biological Sciences.  Collective contributions from these units allowed the students to have scholarly and professional experiences. The students’ advisors were Eric Pugh, Deidra Atkins-Ball, Phyllis Okwan, and Deadra James Mackie. Bagayoko said “the Jaguar Nation is very proud of them for their intellectual and leadership accomplishments.”

     

    Pictured: (first row) Deadra J. Mackie, Dr. Deidra Atkins-Ball, Paige Mitchell, Wes Washington, Joenique Woods, Ashley Lewis, Irene Lewis, Eric Pugh, Chloe Washington, Tiara Johnson, Dr. Phyllis Okwan and Brandon Parker; (Second row) Terani Dillahunty, Kirstin Brooks, Kelvin Wells, Jacara Glover, Jonathan Sumbler, Ikea McKay Naila McCraney, Darrell Harry, Demario Vallier and Edgar Perez

     

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  • ,

    AT&T Louisiana donation supports future coders in Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced that AT&T Louisiana has contributed $40,000 to the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program as part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s philanthropic initiative which drives innovation in education to promote student success in school and beyond.

    The contribution supports a four-week coding and web development course conducted by The Future’s Fund as a part of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The program will employ 250 young people and 50 of those students will participate in entrepreneurship, technology, and software development courses. This project-based learning environment promotes innovation and creativity to foster skills to meet the needs of the future workforce.

    “I’m grateful for AT&T’s continued dedication to improving access to educational opportunities through this generous contribution,” said Broome. “These STEM-based courses will give students a boost in learning more about the potential career opportunities ahead of them.”

    Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, said, “Supporting education and workforce development efforts through contributions like this one to the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program and the coding course conducted through the Future’s Fund is another important way that AT&T Louisiana puts a high priority on growing the economy of the future for the people of Louisiana.”

    AT&T invests in education and job training to create a skilled and diverse workforce that powers our company – and our country – for the future. Through the AT&T Aspire initiative, AT&T helps provide access to education and training people need to get and keep good jobs. Since 2008, AT&T has committed $400 million to programs to help millions of students in all 50 states and around the world. AT&T Aspire brings together the power of our network – our employees, our technology and organizations – to connect people to opportunities through education and job training.

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  • ,,

    Interview with Donney Rose on Black Out Loud

    The Black Out Loud Conference, to be held in Baton Rouge Aug. 10-12, is a three-day event designed to celebrate Black visibility in the realm of the arts, media and activism and to assist participants with tools and resources to better push their narratives from outside the margins to center. Spearheaded by poet, teaching artist, and activist, Donney Rose – Black Out Loud draws its name from Rose’s Feb. 2017 book of the same name that celebrated Black American culture.

    Q: What inspired the concept of the Black Out Loud Conference?
    A: Last year I was writing a bunch of Facebook posts in celebration of Black culture during Black History Month (Feb. 2017). Those posts shaped into a book of prose at the request and support of my online community. Because the posts were in tribute to celebrating the often ignored/misrepresented identities within Black American culture, I began to think about what would a whole gathering of people looked like if it was centered around the idea of spotlighting the stories of marginalized people.

    Q: Why is this conference important for Baton Rouge?
    A: Baton Rouge is my hometown and the place that fostered all of my perspective around race/race relations, for better or worse. It is a city that is home to many progressive, liberation-minded individuals, but also steeped in cultural norms of bigotry, racism and exclusion. It is not enough for a select few ‘exceptional’ Black people to have their voices amplified, but for a larger swath of the Black population to feel emboldened to tell and live their truths, void of those truths being misinterpreted or co-opted for someone else’s benefit. Because Baton Rouge is home to two large universities and a city that has an influx of revolving residents, many of whom are young people of color, it is important for those people to be able to see this city be a place that is not just tolerant of them, but one that validates their existence and their stories.

    Q: Who are some of the key people involved in Black Out Loud?
    A: We have a core team of people planning the conference who bring various levels of expertise to the table in the realms of funding development, public relations, talent management and volunteerism. The main conference day, Aug. 11, will feature a keynote address by Van Lathan of TMZ, who had one of the biggest moments in Black America in 2018 when he argued with Kanye West about his views on slavery. In addition, we are bringing in workshop facilitators and panelists who are experts in the fields of art, media and activism to talk about and share best practices with participants about controlling their narrative/making sure their struggle is not dismissed.

    Q: What is the role of non-Black people who seek to be involved in the conference?

    A: You do not have to be an African American, but you should be aware that the center piece of this conference is the Black narrative. Meaning that if a non-Black participant is engaging with Black Out Loud, their plan should be to learn and engage, but not to seek to center themselves. We have had non-Black people sign up to volunteer and the idea with volunteerism from non-Black people (specifically white volunteers) is one in which their volunteerism is truly from a place of supportive service and not from a place of taking up visibility or centering themselves.

    Q: Where can people go to find more information?
    A: The central information hub is the Black Out Loud Conference 2018 Facebook page. We also have a Twitter and Instagram account (@blackoutloudbr). Questions can be sent to blackoutloudbr@gmail.com. A website is forthcoming, but all information including registration, volunteerism, sponsorship etc. can be accessed from the FB page

    Donney Rose is a poet, teaching artist, and community activist from Baton Rouge. He is the marketing director for the arts-based non-profit, Forward Arts, Inc., where he also works as a teaching artist facilitating creative writing workshops in various Greater Baton Rouge Area schools. Donney holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge. He is the co-host of Drawl, a Southern spoken word podcast. In April 2018, Donney became a 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. 

When not facilitating workshops, Donney hones his own craft of writing and performing poetry. He is the author of The Crying Buck, an acclaimed chapbook of poetry that delves into Black masculinity and vulnerability through a critical lens, and Black Out Loud, a collection of prose-style poetic interpretations of Black History Month 2017. His work as a performance poet/writer has been featured in a variety of publications, including Atlanta Black Star, Blavity, Button Poetry, All Def Digital, Slam Find, [225], Drunk In A Midnight Choir, and Nicholls State University’s Gris-Gris literary journal. Donney also contributed two scholarly articles to the St. James Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Culture, 1st Edition (St. James Press, February 2018) 

While Donney has always used his voice to entertain, uplift, and inspire — a true community activist emerged in the summer of 2016. Baton Rouge had become the familiar scene that so many American cities have experienced, with the shooting death of a black man by a Baton Rouge Police officer. Donney not only acted immediately, but he has remained a pivotal community voice through the turmoil, sharing his thoughts to bring light to to his city on local, national, and international platforms, including BBC, HuffPost, The New York Times, PBS’ Democracy Now, and The Advocate. In the week’s following the widely publicized incident, protests and militarized policing took over Baton Rouge, followed by the killings of several Baton Rouge law enforcement officers, and finally by a thousand-year flood encompassing much of Louisiana. Donney gave his voice to these causes, most notably contributing to the Fight the Flood album, a project by various artists to benefit the Capital Area United Way’s flood relief projects. And while all of this was occurring, Donney was experiencing a very personal loss with the passing of a beloved and promising student, for whom he has worked to honor through dedicated community work.  

He is a member of the 2017 Greater Baton Rouge Business Report Forty under 40 class, the recipient of the Ink Festival’s inaugural Making a Mark award (2017, Tupelo, Miss.), and New Venture Theatre’s 2016 Humanitarian of the Year award. Donney lives in his hometown of Baton Rouge with his wife and fellow writer, Leslie, and their twin cats, Jalen and Derrick. 

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  • SU Board to meet Friday, May 25

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors will hold its regular meeting Friday, May 25 at 9 a.m., in the Board Meeting Room, 2nd Floor, J. S. Clark Administration Building, on the Southern University campus in Baton Rouge.

    The agenda and other documents can be found at: http://www.sus.edu/page/su-board-current-month-packet.

    The meeting will be live streamed at: https://youtu.be/KhjEbdub3uY.

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  • ,,

    SU Commencement speaker wants graduates to ‘be the change’

    “Will your degree serve you or will you use your degree to serve others.”

    Angela Rye, political commentator and social activist, was the keynote speaker for the Spring 2018 Commencement Exercises at Southern University, Friday, May 11, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. More than 650 candidates earned degrees.

    “My responsibility to you today is Truth,” said Rye, who can be seen regularly on several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC, and TV One. “My responsibility to you today is ensuring you are adequately equipped to survive in a 2018 America. And in the America we create together for the future.”
    web KaylaClancy13
    The political strategist went on to convey that she had a message for the graduates. Her message was to “wake them up” before they become bogged down by society’s obstacles.

    “We cannot keep talking about the problems, and not playing our respective parts to change them.”

    “Be the change. Be courageous. Be bold, like your lives, our lives, depend on it because they do.”

    “Create the community you know we can be. Create the country you deserve to see. Create the world in which you want to live.”

    With smiling faces and teary eyes, the candidates soaked up their final moments. As names were called, family and friends burst into excitement with screams, laughter, and sentiments. 

    _5118024

    The ceremony was presided by Ray L. Belton, president-chancellor of the Southern University System, and James Ammons, executive vice president/executive vice chancellor.

    The spring 2018 chief student marshal was Chicago native, Kayla Clancy. She graduated with a degree in psychology and a cumulative grade point average. 

    Through her strong support system, she has been pushed outside of her comfort zone in order to accomplish great things, especially being chosen chief student marshal for the commencement. The top grad plans onattending Louisiana State University to work towards a master of education in clinical mental health counseling.

    The SUBR spring graduating class included 419 undergraduate candidates and 198 graduate candidates. The class had 137 honor graduates, (one summa cum laude, eight magna cum laude, 27 cum laude, and 101 honorable mention).

    Along with the class, the university commissioned three Army and three Navy officers.

    The Golden Class of 1968 was celebrated and donned gold robes. More than 30 members represented the class and were ecstatic to be included in this momentous occasion. 

    Southern also awarded a doctor of humane letters to civil rights attorney Johnnie A. Jones Sr.

    Encouraging support system leads to Chicago native to become SU top grad

    “Hard-working” and “high-achieving” are adjectives that are not new to Kayla Clancy. Through her strong support system, she has been pushed outside of her comfort zone in order to accomplish great things, especially being chosen chief student marshal for the 2018 Southern University Spring Commencement.

    “Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without my support system. My mother has been my backbone through it all,” says the psychology major who will lead more than 700 grads during spring commencement, May 11, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. “Since losing my father at the age of nine, my mother was all that I had and she has truly been everything to me and more.”

    Clancy’s support team not only included her family, but mentors that made sure that she was headed for greatness. When choosing her next steps, Grambling State University was top on her list until a mentor, Frances Thibodeaux-Fox, told her to keep her options open and continue to research Southern University. Through constant communications with SU admissions representatives and being awarded a scholarship through the SU Alumni Federation Chicago Chapter, she chose to continue her next steps at Southern University in the fall of 2014.

    After coming to Baton Rouge, Clancy made herself at home and found support within friends and professors, such Reginald Rackley, a Southern University psychology professor, and Mark Gaines, a personal friend. They pushed her “outside of [her] comfort zones showing [her] that being uncomfortable promotes true growth.”

    This advice proved true for the top grad as she devoted herself to her studies and involving herself in extracurricular activities. She held various offices within Psi Chi: International Honor Society in Psychology, Collegiate 100 Black Women of Southern University, and the Beta Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. To prepare her for her future career, she participated as a research assistant in a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded research internship at University of Chicago during the summer of 2017.

    Looking back on her college journey, she is proud of the woman she has become. Being chosen as the chief student marshal was an accomplishment that was unexpected.

    “More than anything, I am truly honored. I didn’t think that I would be granted this opportunity, but I’m blessed to say that I am here,” she said. “I owe this to God because without him I am nothing and would not be here. I tell my little sisters all the time that everything I do is for them because I want them to see that the sky is the limit. So, for me, this large achievement is, also, for my little sisters,” says Clancy.

    As she prepares for her final exit, she feels her future is full of bright possibilities. In the fall, Clancy will be attending Louisiana State University to work towards a master of education in clinical mental health counseling. Also, to honor her father’s memory and assist students with having higher education resources, she has decided to start a scholarship in his name at his alma mater in Chicago.

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

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    Developmental Disabilities Council seeks public comment by June 11

    Public Comment Sought on Council’s 

    FFY 2019 Action Plan

    During its April meeting, the DD Council approved its  Action Plan for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2019 (October 2018 – September 2019).  Highlights of the Council’s Action Plan includes activities to support advocacy and self-advocate leaders; advocacy for adequate funding to ensure quality services are accessible statewide to people with unmet needs; advocacy for support structures for developing and implementing Individual Education Plans; training for people with developmental disabilities and their family members on sexuality, sexual abuse and exploitation; training and technical assistance to build the capacity of child care providers with including children with disabilities; and multiple initiatives designed to build capacity in both supported employment and customized employment, including mentoring in certification of Employment Support Professionals in Customized Employment.
    Comments on the Action Plan should be sent to Derek White at Derek.White@la.gov by June 11, 2018.
    Read more »
  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: Bishop Curry’s message could’ve blended Malcolm X’s message that love equals self defense’

    Yesterday’s pomp-filled royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was indeed a captivating, majestic, “heaven on earth” event. Despite the fact that it was held at the St. George church in Windsor, a vibrant American soul-stirring sermon on love stole the spotlight from the stars of the show. As millions of Americans witnessed history, the Most Reverend Bishop Michael Curry delivered a sermon that intertwined the power of love and the prophetic tradition.

    The first African-American Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church skillfully linked dynamic quotes of “The old slaves in the antebellum south who explained the dynamic power of love…,” “When love is the way , poverty will become history,” and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s quote, “We must discover the power of love , the redemptive power of love , and when we do that we will make of this old world a new world. For love is the only way.” The mentioning of Dr. King is what led me to write this opinion piece.

    Yesterday was also El Hajj Malik Shabazz’s birthday. Better known as Malcolm X, Shabazz was an African-American Muslim Minister who was an American icon who also preached the good news of love. He was a man who loved his people so much that he delivered a speech on Valentine ’s Day in 1965 at the Ford Auditorium in Detroit, Michigan after his house was firebombed the same day. America must begin to love the many contributions Malcolm X deposited into the spirit of the American narrative. After returning from his trip to Mecca, in this speech, he said, “And when I got back into this American society, I’m not in a society that practices brotherhood.” He also said, “Black people are victims of organized violence perpetuated upon us by the Klan, the Citizens Council and many other forms, we should defend ourselves.” His heart poured out much love when he mentions his observation of a Black woman in Selma, Alabama who was knocked down and dragged down the street while Black men just stood there.El Hajj Malik Shabazz Valentine

    He articulated love in another form: self-defense. His message was not of violence but of love or self-defense during a time of lynchings and brutal forces of discrimination terrorizing African-American communities. Even though he was an independent voter, if alive today he would probably join the ranks of those who staunchly support the second amendment of the United States constitution.

    Embarrassingly, in the year 2018, it is still considered by many Americans as a sign of heresy to openly quote the words of Malcolm X and this misguiding violent narrative of him must be revisited by all Americans. I’m pretty sure Bishop Curry thought of using a few quotes from perhaps another speech delivered by Malcolm X in honor of his birthday, but Curry probably knew he would have had to endure harsh consequences in the long run. I close by adjusting the closing words of Bishop Curry, “But if humanity ever captures the energy to love {Malcom X}, it will be a second time in history that we have discovered fire.”

    By Billy Washington
    Guest Columnist

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    High schoolers meet Chief Justice for Law Day

    Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson hosted students from L.B. Landry-O.P. Walker College and Career Preparatory High School, and McDonogh 35 Senior High School at the Louisiana Supreme Court building in observance of Law Day, a national day set aside annually to celebrate the rule of law. Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom, was the theme for the 60th observance of Law Day.

    Established in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower who was motivated to highlight the American governmental system, the Constitution and the inherent freedoms it subscribes to, Law Day is celebrated annually on May 1.

    Nearly 70 students sat in on oral arguments before the Supreme Court on May 1. Immediately after, law clerks fielded questions from the teens regarding the case. They also toured the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum and Law Library of Louisiana, which featured new displays on the three branches of government, and some had an audience with the Chief Justice.

    Chef Johnson“The theme of the day is very timely,” said Johnson. “Citizens of the United States are more in tune with what is happening in America with regard to government, policy and law-making than any other time in history. The Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom encapsulates the U.S. government model that compartmentalizes the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Each branch has distinct responsibilities to maintain a balance of power, and underscores the mantra– no one is above the law,” said Johnson.

    The American Bar Association declares the Law Day theme annually. Law Day activities are planned to encourage Americans to reacquaint themselves with the Constitution, to encourage careers in the legal profession and government buildings are encouraged to raise the American flag.

    Read more »
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    Retiring? You have a choice to make on Medicare

    When you retire and qualify for Medicare at 65, you’ll need to decide how you’d like to receive your health care benefits.

    Because you’ll be new to Medicare, you may not realize you have two options.

    One is to join the government’s fee-for-service program that’s existed for 53 years. The other is to buy a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurer.

    The choice may seem bewildering at first, so let’s go over each option.

    With traditional fee-for-service coverage, you may go to any doctor, hospital or other provider that accepts Medicare. Medicare pays the provider a fee for the service you receive. Once you meet your annual deductible, Medicare typically covers 80 percent of the cost for your care.

    You have a few choices for covering the other 20 percent:

    • You may use your retiree health plan from your former employer, if you’re retired and have such a policy. Some retiree plans may cost less or provide more benefits than other supplemental coverage.
    • You may qualify for Medicaid, if you have limited income and savings. Besides helping with your out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-insurance, Medicaid may pay for your monthly Medicare premiums.
    • If neither of those applies, you may buy a “Medigap” policy from a private insurer to cover what Medicare does not. There are 10 kinds of Medigap plans, with different benefits, so you’ll need to decide which is best for you.

    If you choose the traditional fee-for-service program, you’ll probably also want to buy a prescription drug plan to go with your other coverage.

    Traditional Medicare remains the favorite among people wanting the broadest possible access to doctors, hospitals and other providers. When coupled with a supplemental plan, it also makes your health care costs relatively predictable.

    Still, 33 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries – including 33 percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare — now prefer to get their health care benefits through a private insurer. The number of people buying private Medicare Advantage plans has more than doubled over the last 10 years.

    With Medicare Advantage, insurance companies contract with the government to provide care. Every private plan must cover all the benefits that traditional Medicare covers. In some cases, Medicare Advantage plans may offer extra benefits, like routine hearing or vision care.

    Many plans charge a premium on top of the amount you’ll pay each month for Medicare’s Part B medical insurance, but there’s no need to buy a supplemental Medigap policy. Likewise, most Medicare Advantage plans include drug coverage with their other benefits.

    The premiums, deductibles and co-payments will vary from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. But all plans, by law, must have annual limits on their overall out-of-pocket costs.

    Unlike the traditional fee-for-service program, most Medicare Advantage plans require you to go to doctors and hospitals within their network of providers or pay more for getting care outside the network.

    Still, the private health plans have been especially popular among people with low to moderate incomes. They provide relatively affordable supplemental coverage, with lower premiums than those for Medigap policies.

    So, which is better — the traditional fee-for-service coverage or a private Medicare Advantage plan? That depends on your own circumstances and preferences. What’s best for one person may not work as well for someone else.

    To find out more about your options, you can visit www.medicare.gov and browse through the “Medicare and You” handbook. The website will also give you detailed information about the Medigap and Medicare Advantage policies available in your area.

    Becoming informed will help you select the health care option that best fits your needs. It will also help you avoid mistakes that may cost you money.

    By Bob Moos/Southwest regional public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

     

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    New Orleans poet wins world title, uses platform to promote social change

    Kenyan-born New Orleans poet and activist, Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa, has made her voice her life’s work. She has been a writer and performer since middle school, with her activism-based poetry amassing almost two million online views, including an official TED talk titled “Black Life at the Intersection of Birth and Death” in 2017. She has received recognition as an activist in the Movement for Black Lives and in the Reproductive Justice field through her work as a founding co-chair of the New Orleans chapter of BYP100, and her work with Women With A Vision, Inc. Now as Poetry Slam, Inc.’s 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS) champion, FreeQuency intends to use her new platform to do even more.

    Most immediately, FreeQuency will travel to speak and perform at the Breaking down Borders African Youth Summit in Gauteng, South Africa, May 14-18. This performance and speaking engagement is perfectly aligned with her mission, as the summit’s theme is a call to action to African youth to start and continue taking steps and making strides in creating an Africa they imagine for themselves that can also be bequeathed to future generations. That visit will be followed by an intense summer working trip to Nairobi, Kenya, where she will continue co-creating a women’s activist poetry scene called Paza Sauti: Women of the Word. (Paza Sauti is Swahili for ‘Raise Your Voice’). The two upcoming visits to the African continent are not FreeQuency’s first travels abroad to elicit change, her activism track record consists of previous trips to South Africa, Kenya, and Brazil to connect, build and perform alongside local activists and artists, as well as her time working as a featured artist, workshop leader, and festival planning assistant for the 2017 Paza Sauti: Dar es Salaam Youth Poetry Festival, for which she is now partnering for her summer initiative.

    “I really want to use my WOWPS title to allow me to bring activist poetry into spaces that would not normally invite those kinds of poets,” FreeQuency said. “Similar to Darfur-born poet and activist Emi Mahmoud – who used her 2016 WOWPS title and platform to speak at the United Nations as a Somalian refugee and start a peace walking campaign – I view the title as less of an accolade and more as another piece of a platform. I plan to expand this platform for the antiracist, LGBTQ+ advocacy and decolonization work I do. It means something to be a Kenyan-born person winning this award too, and I hope it allows me to speak to more people back home as well.”

    FreeQuency often speaks to creating the world she wants to live in as she calls out this theme in her work, using what now seems to be the catchphrase: “Words Create Worlds.” Examples of such include the poetry she used to land her WOWPS title. Among these works are poems that address issues such as how Disney movies socialize girls into oppressive ways to exist, ways toxic masculinity shows itself on men with a happy resolution, black motherhood in the era of Black Lives Matter, ways religion has been used as a tool for colonization on the African continent, ways in which white supremacy manifests, and the lack of attention the deaths of black women murdered by the state receives.

    Through her poetry, activism and role as a youth worker, FreeQuency said she also hopes to inspire the young people that she works with from east Africa to New Orleans to use their voices as tools for social change. She is the coordinator of the New Orleans Youth Poetry Festival and a founding member of the New Orleans Youth Open Mic, and hopes to help cultivate this space into one focused on pushing community and societal change through writing, similar to the ways she was brought up in the tradition of poetry as protest. While she has been a change agent for much of her life, the 26-year-old finds that holding the highly-sought after poetry slam title will enable her to further her mission of utilizing her voice and words to promote social change. She will use her title to continue shedding light on various issues across the world.

    Read more »
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    Fifth Annual Family Fit Day is Saturday, May 19

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Healthy BR, BREC, Humana, Ochsner Health System, and Our Lady of the Lake invite residents to attend the Fifth Annual Baton Rouge Family Fit Day on Saturday, May 19 from 8:30am to 12pm at BREC’s City-Brooks Community Park.

    “Family Fit Day is our chance to showcase the abundance of healthy lifestyle resources our parish has to offer,” said Mayor Broome. “Each year, we look forward to bringing community partners from across the parish together to promote holistic, healthy habits for adults and children in our community.”

    Activities include runs, walks (for people and pets), and bike rides. Organizations will offer fitness classes such as Zumba, yoga, and karate, healthy cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, bike safety classes, and much more. All activities are free and open the public.

    Family Fit Day 2018 will also feature two new events. “Bike with the Mayor” offers participants the opportunity to bike alongside Mayor Broome, EMS paramedics, and representatives from Bike Baton Rouge and Front Yard Bikes around the City Park Golf Course. Riders should bring their own bicycles in order to participate.

    This year’s event will also debut the Inaugural Family Fit Day 4k in partnership with Sports BR. Registration for the run will benefit the following local charities:

    · Abounding Love Ministries
    · Adult Literacy Advocates
    · Anna’s Grace Foundation
    · Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
    · Deaf Focus
    · Fathers On A Mission
    · Forum 35
    · Maison des Amies of Louisiana
    · March of Dimes Baton Rouge
    · SportsBR Foundation
    · STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response)

    For more information or to register for the run, visit:

    https://secure.getmeregistered.com/register.php?event_id=129750&c=60654_659984.

    Healthy BR will provide restrooms, drinking water, giveaways, and more. Participants will receive a free fitness tracker that tracks time, steps walked, distance, and calories burned. Any participant who walks more than 2,000 steps or visits 15 tents on the day of the event will receive a Family Fit Day t-shirt.

    For additional details on Family Fit Day, visit:

    http://www.healthybr.com/events/family-fit-day

    Read more »
  • East Baton Rouge Parish library to launch small business services

    Starting one’s own business may soon become the most viable path to achieving the American dream. It is projected that by 2020 half of all workers will be independent freelancers, responsible for their own fortunes and well-being. Knowing this, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is partnering with 11 other public library systems from across the U.S. and Canada to explore ways libraries can reach and engage entrepreneurs in their communities — particularly people of color, women, immigrants and veterans. This effort is being led by the Urban Libraries Council, a membership organization of North America’s leading public library systems, as an extension of ULC’s collaboration with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to strengthen libraries’ capacity to support entrepreneurship.

    “The library plays an important role in building businesses and our economy,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “This experience will shape current thinking about how libraries can support entrepreneurship and create new opportunities for all community members.”

    Participating in this initiative, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library (EBRPL) will develop a program to connect its new business librarian to established and new entrepreneurs, to provide them with customized Library resources that will meet their specific needs. Andrew Tadman, Coordinator of Reference Services, and Natalie Denby, Business Librarian, will take the lead on the Small Business Services project.

    “We are excited about the opportunity to connect budding entrepreneurs with the Library’s excellent resources, whether they are brainstorming or ready to develop a business plan,” said Tadman.

    Entrepreneurs play an increasingly important role in growing local economies as technology continues to transform the labor market. However, barriers to resources and information prevent many individuals from pursuing or achieving entrepreneurial success. Public libraries are uniquely equipped to reach populations who are underrepresented in today’s entrepreneurial economy and most in need of guidance.

    Coordinating efforts with EBRPL, 11 additional public library systems will pursue projects to explore new approaches to reaching and engaging entrepreneurs in their communities.

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s mission as a community service organization is to connect our citizens with information, resources, materials, technology, and experiences in order to make a positive difference in their lives.

    To that end, the Library offers a variety of FREE tools for business with its Small Business Services. Established organizations can receive help for finding new customers, and budding entrepreneurs can get assistance for transforming and idea into a solid business plan. We also offer FREE consultations with a business librarian who will guide entrepreneurs through the Library’s resources. Staff can come out and meet with business owners and entrepreneurs to customize what we have to match their unique needs.

    Visit the Small Business Services InfoGuide at http://ebrpl.libguides.com/smallbusiness. For more information or to set up a consultation, send an email to smallbusiness@ebrpl.com or call (225) 231-3750. To learn more, contact Andrew Tadman at atadman@ebrpl.com or call (225) 231-3735.

    Information about the Library and any of its other programs, events and resources can be found online at www.ebrpl.com.

    Read more »
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    First Black Female CEO of the NBA Honored at State Capitol

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — While residing in the Easter Hill Village public-housing project in Richmond, Calif., during her younger days, Cynthia Marshall’s mother put two books in her hands — a publication of mathematics and the Bible to guide her through her life’s journey to success.

    For a young person living less than 18 miles east of San Francisco, those two books became the important focal point of Marshall’s life and career in telecommunications. They lifted her out of despair and a constant element of crime.

    Now that she is the Chief Executive Officer of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, the professional sports team is discovering how the books still play an integral role in the task she has acquired. Marshall is an effective problem solver and has a strong Christian faith.

    “She put those two books in my hands at an early age and said, ‘If you keep your head in these books they will get you out of poverty,’” Marshall said of the advice given by her mother. “That’s what I did. When people ask me what is the secret to your success, I tell them it’s those two books. I kept my head and eyes in both of them because that is what I was told to do.”

    Today, Marshall, who retired from AT&T as its senior vice president of Human Resources and chief Diversity Officer, is not only the first Black female CEO of an NBA franchise, she is the first woman ever to hold the position.

    At a time when the “Me Too” movement has rapidly picked up the pace, Marshall was specifically brought in to address and subdue an alleged culture of sexual violations against women within the Mavericks’ organization.

    The Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban, announced that there would be in-house investigations, and then introduced Marshall as the interim CEO who would lead the independent review as well as provide solutions to ensure women work in a respectful environment. “The CEO interim tag has since been removed,” Marshall said.

    Cuban’s decision to introduce Marshall into the corporate world of sports also brings hope to other African Americans and women who would like to follow her path.

    “I think for our community it means that we have opportunities, it means somebody like Mark Cuban saw the value and didn’t care if I was a man, woman, Black, White, or Asian. He didn’t care,” Marshall said. “He wanted somebody equipped to do a job and it just so happens he called upon a Black woman to do it. He made the call. It says a lot about our society. Hopefully, we’ll have more people like him that will follow suit and get beyond gender and race.”

    Thanks to her mother providing her a math book and Bible, Marshall’s climb to leadership roles has been one of determination. She earned every position she attained since graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the first Black cheerleader on the campus and earned degrees in Business Administration and Human Resources Management.

    Marshall started at AT&T in 1981, holding positions in operations, human resources, networking, engineering, planning, and regulatory and external affairs. She was named senior vice president of Human Resources in 2012, and then was appointed Chief Diversity Officer as a dual role in 2015. Black Enterprise listed Marshall as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in corporate America the same year. She retired from AT&T in 2017 to start her own consulting firm.

    Marshall was honored on the California Senate and Assembly floors at the State Capitol on April 19, 2018 in Sacramento, a place where she spent time advocating “good public policy” for AT&T, she said.

    Loretta Walker, who worked alongside Marshall at AT&T before retiring as vice president of Employment Engagement Communication, said the Mavericks’ hiring of Marshall “makes sense.”

    “From the standpoint of looking at an established institution in AT&T that has gotten a lot of recognition for diversity, they (the Mavericks) have gained a lot by allowing her to bring in her expertise,” Walker said. “I know I’ve been blessed. I know I’ve never experienced anything like (sexual harassment) in my lifetime working for a company like At&T.”

    By Antonio R. Harvey
    California Black Media

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    Wells Fargo makes $60 billion pledge to Black homebuyers

    Wells Fargo’s $60 billion pledge to African American homebuyers is a major part of the company’s dedication to a community that’s grown accustomed to being shut out from having a slice of the American Dream. In addition to the $60 billion in lending for home purchases, the company committed to increasing the diversity of its sales team and providing $15 million toward initiatives focused on homebuyer education and counseling.

    “Homeownership is vitally important, because homes are the building blocks of the American Dream and a proven, sustainable vehicle for building individual and family wealth that can be passed down from generation to generation,” said Cerita Battles, the senior vice president and head of retail diverse segments for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

    Battles continued: “Homes make up our neighborhoods and our communities and are a stabilizing force for families, making homeownership a key driver of our nation’s economic and cultural well-being.”

    With that understanding, bank officials know that their commitment and helpful information to those interested in becoming homeowners must be communicated to the African American community.
    To that end, sharing news through the Black Press is also important for Wells Fargo, Battles said.

    “Being present in the communities we serve is one of our key strategies for reaching our goals and African American newspapers are a trusted vehicle for news and information in those communities,” Battles said. “So, having information about being a homeowner and sustaining homeownership is critical to reaching the goals of the commitment and helping more African American families become homeowners.”

    Housing experts have said that it’s important for aspiring homeowners to have as much knowledge as possible about the homeownership process; that information helps to dispel myths that many African Americans have about homeownership.

    “There are many myths that cause a lot of potential African American homebuyers to assume that getting a home mortgage is something beyond their reach. But many times, this is completely untrue, and that message needs to get out,” Battles said. “African Americans need to have the confidence and knowledge to recognize that they can be homeowners, and that a lender, like Wells Fargo, truly wants to help them meet their home-financing needs. The Black Press, and other media for that matter, helps us share these messages to those who desire to obtain and sustain homeownership.”

    Battles noted that it’s also important to remember that Wells Fargo’s African American homeownership commitment is not a separate loan program, but an effort by the company to increase homeowners in the community. Any of the programs, products, and services that Wells Fargo offers are available to all customers who qualify.

    She said it’s not really about what the bank is doing differently for African Americans, but more about how Wells Fargo is showing up for them.
    “It’s more about getting the messages to them, meeting them where, when, and how they want to interact with us so that we can leverage all that we have to offer. It’s about education, counseling, and being present in their communities,” Battles said.

    Wells Fargo’s commitment to the African American community extends beyond the homeownership commitment. In 2016, the company committed to offering $75 million in grants and lending to help diverse-owned small businesses access capital and technical assistance by the end of 2020.

    “In fact, by the end of 2016, the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital program had distributed $38 million in grants and lending capital to 30 Community Development Financial Institutions serving diverse, small businesses, placing us more than halfway to our goal,” Battles said.

    Battles said that even though the goals of the homeownership commitment are challenging, Wells Fargo is committed to doing what it takes to help increase African American homeowners.

    “This commitment is not a sprint, but a long journey that will require the focus of our team and collaboration with industry influencers, nonprofits and other organizations,” Battles said. “If this were just a public relations campaign, we would not have made the goals so lofty.”

    “Making this commitment holds us accountable to ourselves, our customers, our communities, and the organizations that joined us in this effort; by pushing ourselves, stretching ourselves, and then delivering on our commitments in a responsible manner, we are ensuring true meaningful progress for African-American homeownership across America.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    The Washington Informer

    This article was originally published in The Washington Informer, a member publication of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

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    IWE Festival returns to Baton Rouge with May 26th Kickoff 

    Councilwoman Erika L. Green, in partnership with Southern University and A&M College and beBATONROUGE, will host the 2nd Annual IWE Festival which will be held on Saturday, June 9, 2018 from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM on the bluff of Southern University and A&M College.

    The festival is a community-wide intergenerational cultural initiative–called IWE FESTIVAL. IWE (Yoruba for book) FESTIVAL presents opportunity to enjoy a vibrant array of literary works through creativity, art, and culture.

    The free-to-the-public, family friendly festival will feature national, regional and local talent including:
    Derrick Barnes, author of “CROWN: An Ode to The Fresh Cut” and the chapter book series “Ruby and the Booker Boys” & Winner of the 2018 Jack Keats Award
    Sanderia Faye , author of “Mourner’s Bench” winner of the Hurston/Wright LegacyAward in debut fiction
    Music by Shaun Ward Xperience and Sweet Southern Heat
    Sole Lab – Event Disc Jockey

    IWE Festival aims to engage the entire region in positive literary expressions, cultural celebrations and engaging conversation related to key issues of courage, heroism, race integration and cultural equality—all issues that are of key concern to our leaders and community stakeholders today.

    “My vision was to bring people together around a theme that inspires and intrigues
    people of all ages, genders and interest. Literacy does everything from educate to entertain
    and that is what IWE FESTIVAL is about, “ says founder, Councilwoman Erika L. Green -
    District 5. IWE Festival is an initiative of Green’s foundation Imagination Leads. Imagination Leads mission is to promote culturally diverse experiences in literacy and the arts; and to provide leadership development programs for young Black Women.

    Leading up to IWE FESTIVAL, Green and partners will host a variety of activities including 2 pop-up book giveaways : May 20th at Interdenominational Faith Assembly and June 3rd at Oasis Christian Center. The signature kick-off event “RENDEZVOUS”, hosted by partner beBATONROUGE, will be held on Saturday, May 26th at the EBR Library Main Library -Plaza 7711 Goodwood Blvd. from 6pm-8pm. We welcome interested sponsors, authors, artists and culture influencers to attend the Kick Off Event commence the countdown to the inaugural festival event.

    ONLINE: www.iwefestival.com

    Read more »
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    PERSPECTIVE: Local laws should reflect local values; Baton Rouge needs civil rights commission

    As the capital and second largest city in Louisiana, Baton Rouge has great cultural, historical and economic significance. But is it a city of true opportunity? A lack of protections from discrimination would  indicate that Baton Rouge is not. This is because our municipal code does not currently declare civil rights for any of its citizens. More than 230 U.S. cities have some form of non-discrimination laws.

    Many of these cities established commissions before the passage of the Civil Rights Act to protect their citizens that were not granted protections at the state and federal level. Many of these cities (such as Shreveport, Birmingham, and Jackson) have created  Civil Rights Commission which is a governing body that accepts complaints based upon discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations for protected classes.  

    The structure and activities of a Civil Rights Commission in each city varies based on the language of the city’s municipal code and the needs of citizens, but generally they have acted as mediators between its citizenry and businesses. As time went on, these cities later amended their laws to include more groups of people to protect.  But it’s important to note that state and federal protections are lacking coverage for certain classes.

    The citizens of Baton Rouge have always longed for corporations to see our city as a viable option for setting up offices.  Amazon was previously scouting cities to place its new HQ2 corporate offices.  Without something in place such as an ordinance and commission, Baton Rouge was quickly removed from any list of prospects. Charlotte, North Carolina, lost major attractions like the NCAA’s Final Four games to Louisiana’s own New Orleans because of lack of inclusive laws. Large corporations want to make sure that the customers and clients they bring to a city are welcomed wherever they go. In addition, each year, The Human Rights Campaign evaluates 509 cities including Baton Rouge.  The Human Rights Campaign is a well recognized, credible non-profit organization that advocates for civil rights across the nation. As of 2017, The Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index scored Baton Rouge 36 out of 100 points, which puts the city after New Orleans, Shreveport and Alexandria. If Baton Rouge were to adopt a civil rights ordinance and establish a commission it’s estimated the HRC score would almost double.

    In 2017, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued an executive order to expand efforts to increase the enterprise participation of small businesses in city-parish contracts, including those owned by minorities, women and veterans. This effort was part of her goal to make Baton Rouge “a progressive, inclusive and just community.” A civil rights ordinance and having a civil rights commission is would be a step forward for Baton Rouge.  Since there is a lack of protections within the city-parish, cases of discrimination are currently deferred to state and federal policies that are not suited to the people of Baton Rouge.  Our local laws should reflect our local values and send the message to potential employers and employees that we are a welcoming city with a infamous Louisiana spirit.  

    By Christine Assaf
    Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge

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  • ,,

    Fair housing rule may soon be restored by suing Sect. Ben Carson

    Civil rights organizations are suing Secretary Ben Carson and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) over his suspension of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. This suit challenges the Trump Administration’s rollback of efforts to encourage localities to work toward meeting the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s statutory requirements. Although the act is 50 years old, communities still have a long way to go to achieve its goals of ensuring that people have access to the housing of their choice regardless of race, national origin, religion, presence of children, sex, or disability status.

    This is the second suit against Secretary Carson for suspending the implementation of HUD policy. A suit settled earlier this year led HUD to reinstate the requirement that local public housing agencies in metro areas where vouchers are disproportionately concentrated in low-income neighborhoods align their voucher subsidies more closely to local rental costs. This policy, known as Small Area Fair Market Rents, makes more units in higher-opportunity areas available to voucher holders.

    In formulating the AFFH rule, the Obama Administration recognized that HUD’s prior enforcement mechanism hadn’t ensured that localities use federal funds to take meaningful steps to address racial segregation and other fair housing problems that have long plagued their communities, as the Fair Housing Act requires. The rule requires localities to analyze data with local and regional partners to identify systemic barriers to fair housing and propose actionable solutions. If implemented effectively, the rule could make great strides toward helping more voucher holders with children move to better neighborhoods, increasing their chances of health and success over the long term.

    The Trump Administration abruptly abandoned its implementation in January 2018, delaying it for four additional years. The lawsuit challenges Secretary Carson’s arbitrary decision to suspend the rule, which was adopted after years of public input — and nearly 50 years of federal inaction. Moving forward with the rule is vital to ensuring that all families have a real choice about where to live and that agencies receiving federal funds for housing assistance or community development dismantle policies that maintain isolation and segregation.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Payday lenders fail to win Louisiana’s representatives approval for expansion

    The House Commerce Committee on Wednesday, May 9, rejected a push by the national payday lending industry to expand its Louisiana operations and make the debt trap deeper and longer for vulnerable borrowers. Witnesses testified to the harms payday lending already inflicts on Louisiana families, as well as the availability of much cheaper and less harmful alternatives.

    6 Carmen Green JS journalist“We applaud the nine committee members who voted against Senate Bill 365 for standing with the people of Louisiana and against predatory lenders who trap hardworking people in debt they can’t afford,” said Carmen Green, state policy fellow of the Louisiana Budget Project. “Payday lending is not the short-term cushion that their lobbyists make it out to be; it is set up to milk people for the cash they need to keep their families going.”

    The bill was opposed by a broad array of organizations including the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, the credit union industry and even local payday lenders. Fourteen groups signed an open letter to Louisiana legislators urging their opposition to the bill, including the Louisiana NAACP, faith groups, and advocates for low-income families.

    “Payday lenders will try to tell you our communities need these loans. We don’t. We need safe, responsible resources for people who are struggling to make it, not debt traps disguised as short-term relief, but that actually confiscate big chunks of their customers’ wages over weeks, months and even years,” said Byron Sharper, President of the Baton Rouge chapter of the Louisiana NAACP. “Payday lenders are known to target communities of color in particular, so the NAACP has long opposed this predatory business model.”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Using faith-based training, Team Family resolves conflicts, creates peaceful, productive environment

    Genia Coleman-Lee and Sandra Dee Olison met while serving in ministry together. Their love for people and professional backgrounds led them to want to improve the way people function in the workplace, with family, and in church.

    That desire birthed their company, Team Family, which provides faith-based training and professional development. Their goal is to create a “team family” atmosphere by changing the way leaders lead and how people interact with each other.

    “We started this company because we noticed a lack of customized training and development for specific groups or organizations such as nonprofits, churches and small businesses. Leadership is very popular; however, we want to provide support or direction to the entire unit, not just the leaders,” said Olison, who is a technology consultant and real estate agent. “Addressing and resolving internal issues while providing an obtainable solution to benefit the entire family or team is our goal.”

    Genia Coleman-Lee

    Genia Coleman-Lee

    “We noticed that this failure to effectively communicate was at the core of most issues of life, such as in the workplace, church and home. Who is responsible for making certain that the family remains a team and the team remains a family? The leader,” said Coleman-Lee, a Southern University Law Center graduate and community advocate. “The leader is not the one who holds the title, but the one who takes on the responsibility because he or she cares.”

    Coleman-Lee and Olison work to create peaceful and productive workers and work environments. They want to establish forums where all people can be heard and equip leaders with the tools they need to resolve issues. They also are gearing up to travel across the country hosting “Let’s Talk About It” sessions for companies, families, and congregations.

    “Creating a team family atmosphere helps to foster and create a common vision or goal that benefits the entire group or organization. Sometimes we do not view a team like family nor envision a family as a team, which can lead to a disconnect and lack of concern for the entire unit,” Olison said.

    Sandra Dee Olison

    Sandra Dee Olison

    “We are all familiar with team building, which focuses on the project. Team Family focuses on the people who are working the project. When leaders strengthen and build the people rather than the project, the entire team will benefit from the growth of the participant,” said Coleman-Lee who is also an attorney in Lake Charles.

    To transform the mindset of leaders, the duo said they use pre-assessment data, research, and Biblical principles to create client specific training materials, workshops, or seminars that meet the needs of the individuals they serve.

    “Building trust and concern among team or family members can be difficult. We are here to help start the foundation of building those relationships,” Olison said.

    ONLINE: myteamfamily.com

    Read more »
  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: Push for new constitution is suspicious

    A small group of apparently well-funded interest groups are pushing for a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution for the state of Louisiana. Lobbyists have been hired to promote the idea and rumors are circulating that big money will be spent on advertising and electing delegates to the convention. That’s enough to raise suspicions but there are more reasons to be concerned about a convention; primarily that the proponents, whether in the legislature or out, won’t say what the new constitution should contain. How better to sell an idea? Simply make it a vote for a blank slate and claim it’s the panacea for solving state budget problems without explaining how.

    The complaints about the current constitution made by the proponents of HB 500 (the legislative instrument needed to convene a convention) include that it is too long (because of amendments voted on by the people) and that it “locks up” too much state spending. Of course much of the spending that is locked up has nothing to do with the constitution. Mandated federal spending, contractual obligations, consent decrees, election costs and the like add up to billions. Moreover, the constitutionally dedicated fund that contains the real money is the K-12 education fund (the “MFP”) and most of the others are simply trust funds not dependent on yearly appropriations (Coastal Restoration, Rainy Day, various tobacco litigation funds) or have a dedicated funding source (D.O.T.D. funded by the gas tax) or are simply too small to matter. I haven’t heard any of my constituents screaming about the overfunding of public education or that our infrastructure is in great shape and thus we need to take money away from the Transportation Trust Fund. The proponents of HB 500 haven’t said such things either because if that’s what they’re after, it wouldn’t pass the legislature. So what do they want? Our homestead exemption? Our education funding? the prohibition against donations of public property? To eliminate the 2/3 vote required to raise taxes? Some suspect an effort to shift the tax burden to the middle class and simultaneously preserve tax breaks for special interests. We need some answers as to what these proponents of a new constitution actually want. Until we get some truthful answers the public should demand a no vote on HB 500.

    Sincerely,

    Jay Morris
    State Representative / District 14
    Monroe, La

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Kedric Taylor announced as interim director of Southern University ‘Human Jukebox’ Band

    Southern University President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton today announced Kedric Taylor, associate director of bands, as interim director of bands. Lawrence Jackson, a former director of bands, will serve as a consultant to the band department and University administration on matters regarding band operations.

    Taylor, a Southern alumnus, participated in the Southern University Marching Band (“Human Jukebox”) for four years while he was a student. He has worked with the band department since 2014.

    A native of Mobile, Alabama, Taylor previously served as head director of the Baker High School band and as a teacher in Jackson, Louisiana. In his role as associate director of bands at Southern, Taylor has been responsible for music arrangement, band rehearsals, as well as directing the saxophone and wind ensembles.

    Taylor also has served as an adjudicator for numerous “battle of the bands” competitions and as a guest clinician for districts in the southern region. In addition, he is director of bands for the Louisiana Leadership Institute, which consists of high school students from around the state.

    Taylor, who is an instructor in the College of Arts, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies at Southern, holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern and a master’s degree from North Central University. He has also studied at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago.

    Southern’s administration is currently in the process of launching a formal search for a permanent director of bands.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Mayor Broome launches Buy Baton Rouge program

    In celebration of Small Business Week, Mayor Broome kicked off Buy Baton Rouge, a new program aimed at encouraging purchases of goods and services from local businesses throughout the city and parish. Buy Baton Rouge is in partnership with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and two local apps, sLocal and SellSwipe, that both focus on bolstering local businesses.

    “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy – they play a critical role in the vitality of our community and aid in uplifting the areas surrounding them,” said Mayor Broome. “We want to encourage residents to buy local whenever possible, and utilize these two home-grown apps to find great deals and discover local products.”

    sLocal is an educational initiative that builds community by supporting education, promoting local businesses, and generating consumer savings. sLocal has created a dynamic mobile platform for local businesses to creatively market their products and services and currently has over 175 participating Baton Rouge businesses.

    “sLocal is thankful for the tremendous support from Mayor Broome and shares her deep commitment to education and local business,” said J.P. Kelly, co-founder of sLocal. “As an incentive, the sLocal Team is offering two months of free membership, and a monthly subscription rate of $25/month for EBR-based businesses after that. Over the next month, we will double the amount that will be given back to the schools in our community.”

    sLocal’s promotional code is “MayorBroomeSBI” which stands for Mayor Broome Small Business Initiative.

    Buy Baton Rouge is also partnering with SellSwipe, a hyperlocal social network centered around product discovery from local businesses. Their goal is to personalize the entire shopper’s journey through advanced analytics, connecting consumers to businesses within their community, while also connecting consumers with each other.

    “By using our innovative technologies to embed ourselves within the community, SellSwipe will allow the next generation to form real relationships with local businesses – businesses who provide goods & services that locals might otherwise look elsewhere for,” said David Facey, Founder of SellSwipe. “Our mission is to contribute to a healthy local commerce ecosystem, and make the term “shop local” fun, engaging, and effective.”

    “Small businesses are major drivers of entrepreneurialism, account for nearly all net job growth, and make up the majority of all businesses, both here in Baton Rouge and nationally,” said Ric Kearny, chairman of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber board of directors. “BRAC is proud to partner with the city on the Buy Baton Rouge program, and encourages both small businesses and the local community to engage with it.”

    sLocal is available on the App Store or Google Play and SellSwipe is available on Google Play. Businesses that want to join SellSwipe’s social network can email contact@sellswipe.com to set up their profile and start uploading items they have for sale. Shoppers will be able to go to www.SellSwipe.com to register for access to the beta iOS application at the beginning of June.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Project Power Summer Camp opens registration for youth

    Applications are being accepted for the free American Diabetes Association’s Project Power Summer Camp at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. The camp will be from June 11–15, 2018, and is free of charge for children (ages of 7 to 12) who are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

    For more information about the camp or to register a potential camper, please contact the American Diabetes Association office at 504-889-0278, extension 6078, or go online at www.diabetes.org/camppowerupbatonrouge. You can also contact Pennington Biomedical for more information at 225-763-2923.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Tell State Rep. Carmody that Louisiana’s Black communities aren’t for sale!

    Earlier this week, the Louisiana Senate narrowly passed SB 365, a bill that would allow predatory payday and car title loan companies to financially exploit Black communities with “installment loans” that carry interest rates of over 167%. Trapping them in a cycle of toxic debt.

    Payday lenders and car title lenders already drain more than $240 million in fees each year from low-income Louisiana residents. Louisiana should be reining in these devastating practices, not expanding them. Similar bills have been blocked in 14 out of 16 states where they were introduced and we’re fighting to block this one in Louisiana.

    We have a real chance to shut down this exploitative bill in the House, but we need to act fast. The legislative session is winding down, and the only way for this bill to move forward is if Chair of the House Commerce Committee, Rep. Thomas Carmody, listens to payday lobbyists and extends the session. A flood of calls from Louisianans is just the pressure we need to stop this exploitative bill.

    Call Rep. Thomas Carmody and tell him to kill SB 365

    Black people are twice as likely to become trapped in long term cycles of debt from predatory loans and that is deliberate. Even when income is the same, payday lenders set up shop in 2x as many Black and Latinx communities than white ones.1 By targeting Black and Latinx communities, this industry is doing everything it can to keep people of color in financial servitude and widen the racial wealth gap. In Louisiana, 79% of payday loans are lent to borrowers on the same day they paid back their previous loan, while 87% of loans went to borrowers who re-borrow within two weeks of paying back their old loan.2

    Fourteen organizations, including Color of Change and the Louisiana NAACP, have signed an open letter asking the Louisiana legislature to block this bill because of the harm it would cause low-income families and Black communities, in particular.3 Under SB 365, payday loan company would still have direct access to your bank account, removing their exorbitant fees from your account before you even get to pay your regular bills or buy groceries. Louisiana needs responsible lenders, like HOPE Credit Union, who offer installment loans that help borrowers build savings and improve their credit score. Support for this payday lender giveaway is waning, and if we put pressure Rep. Carmody we can shut it down for good.

    Tell Rep. Carmody: stop selling out our communities

    Until justice is real, 

    –Evan, Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Jade, Johnny, Future, Corina, Chad, Mary, Angela, Saréya, Eesha, and the rest of the Color Of Change team

     References:

    “Predatory Profiling: The Role of Race and Ethnicity in the Location of Payday Lenders in California”, Center for Responsible Lending, 26 March 2009 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/24924?t=8&akid=11118%2E2802358%2EWLLCwy
    “Analysis: SB 365 expands the predatory debt trap”, LA Budget Project, 9 April 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/42366?t=10&akid=11118%2E2802358%2EWLLCwy
    Letter to House and Senate Commerce Committee Members, LA Budget Project, April 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/46305?t=12&akid=11118%2E2802358%2EWLLCwy

    Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

    If you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to hear from Color Of Change again, click here to unsubscribe.
    This email from Color of change urges Louisiana residents to speak against a bill in the legislature designed to enhance predatory lending throughout the state.

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  • ,,

    14 groups and BR NAACP petition legislators to stop bill that expands predatory lending

    Legislation backed by the national payday lending industry that would expand their operations in the state narrowly passed the Louisiana Senate by a vote of 20-17 on Tuesday, May 1. Predatory payday already lending drains more than $240 million each year from Louisiana workers by saddling vulnerable borrowers with high-interest loans that they often cannot afford. But instead of working to address this problem, the Senate has voted to make it worse.

    Senate Bill 365 would expand predatory lending in Louisiana by allowing payday and car title lenders to issue “installment loans” with annual interest rates of up to 167 percent. The bill is being pushed by national predatory loan corporations as a way to evade new federal consumer protection regulations. Similar bills have already been rejected in several other states (Florida being the lone exception).

    “We see too many people taken down the path of financial ruin by payday lenders in Louisiana already,” said Carmen Green, State Policy Fellow of the Louisiana Budget Project.”This bill should not even be on the table. We ask our lawmakers to stand with the hardworking people of our state and not the payday lending industry.”

    Fourteen groups signed an open letter to Louisiana legislators urging their opposition to the bill, including the Louisiana NAACP, faith groups, and advocates for low-income families.

    “Payday lenders will try to tell you our communities need these loans. We don’t. We need safe, responsible resources for people who are struggling to make it, not debt traps disguised as short-term relief, but actually confiscate big chunks of their customers’ wages over weeks, months and even years,” said Bryon Sharper, President of the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Louisiana NAACP. “SB 365 adds a new triple-digit interest cash-stripping mechanism to what we’ve already got in this state. It is absurd and will hit low-income people hard. Payday lenders are known to target communities of color in particular, so the NAACP has long opposed this predatory business model.”

    The Louisiana Legislature should be looking to expand consumer protection rather greenlight an expansion of the predatory lending industry.

    For more information about Senate Bill 365, click here.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Perkins has been appointed as library’s PR director

    Kayla D. Perkins has been appointed as the new East Baton Rouge Public Library Public Relations Director. Perkins has been employed by the Library for five years. She will be responsible for coordinating marketing and promotion of all library programs, services and resources and direct responsibility for ads, news releases, media appearances and The Source, the library’s monthly newsletter. Perkins is a native of Baton Rouge, LA and a graduate of Southern University.

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  • ,,,

    Floyd Anthony Johns Jr. takes ‘Black Panther’ stunt role into ‘Avengers’

    Former Baton Rouge Community College student, Floyd Anthony Johns Jr., will appear in the upcoming film, “Avengers: Infinity War,” in a reprisal of his stunt role as a member of the Jabari Tribe from the Marvel Studios film, “Black Panther”. The Jabari Tribe served as members of Black Panther character, M’Baku’s (Winston Duke) army and were featured in the prominent fight scene that took place during the downfall of the film’s villain, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Details on how the Jabari Tribe will be featured in Avengers: Infinity War are not available.

    Johns appeared in his first major motion picture while he was a student at BRCC, with a stunt role in The Butler (2012). Since then, he has 48 film and television credits to his name, including the films Get Out as a stunt double for lead actor, Daniel Kaluuya, and Spiderman: Homecoming as a stunt double for both Bokeem Woodbine and Herman Schultz. In television, Johns has credits in two episodes of the popular ABC drama, Scandal, three episodes of the FOX musical drama, Empire, and two episodes of CBS’ action-adventure series, MacGyver, among many other roles that include individual stunts, stunt doubling, and driving.

    Floyd Anthony Johns Jr. as a stuntman on the set of Black Panther

    Floyd Anthony Johns Jr. as a stuntman on the set of Black Panther

    While at BRCC, Johns studied Criminal Justice. He also showed a high interest in writing and was a member of the I, Too, Am America club, as well as the film production club. Johns’ essay “Born in America: But, Jamaican by Blood” was featured in the BRCC student-produced journal, “America, The Beautiful In Spite of It All”.  He was later invited to present the essay at the 2014 National Association of African American Studies Conference. Johns credits his time and experiences at BRCC for preparing him for life after college.

    “BRCC really prepared me for the real world by getting me organized and giving me the ability to communicate with different people from different backgrounds,” Johns said. “It helped me become very efficient in networking, which is a key tool for the real world.”

    Johns said he gives back to BRCC every chance he gets. He was on campus this February donating his talents in film production to the I, Too Am America club for their annual Black History Month Celebration. He presented a series of videos that reflected the importance of earning a college education, along with those who inspire him from Black History. He also told the students how being casted in Black Panther impacted his life, and how appreciate he is of the many experiences he had as a BRCC student.  

    Johns is now filming a stunt role for the 2019 reboot of Shaft, titled Son of Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson. An additional Avengers film, set for a 2019 release, will feature Johns in a stunt role.  

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  • Williams of New Venture honored

    New Venture Theatre’s artistic director Greg Williams Jr. is the recipient of the 2018 Man-Up Theatre of Arts Award from Patterson Enterprises who presents the 2018 Voice Awards, May 13, in New Roads. For 11 years, Williams has led New Venture’s productions in Baton Rouge.
    Greg Williams, Jr. is in his eleventh season as Artistic Director at New Venture Theatre. Before beginning his role at New Venture, he served as a co-founder of the King Little Theatre and also the Creative Production Company.

    His professional theatre background includes working with Don Holder (Tony Award Winning Lighting Designer for Disney’s THE LION KING), The Negro Ensemble Theatre Company (NYC), Black Theatre Network (New York), The Little Black Box Theatre Company (New Jersey), Northwestern State University (Louisiana) and American Family Theatre (Philadelphia.) He conceived the highly acclaimed musicals SHOUT! and SWEET GEORGIA BROWN, which both played to sold out audiences.

    As Artistic Director for New Venture, Mr Williams’ directing credits include over 35 productions such as August Wilson’s FENCES, the regional premiere of THE COLOR PURPLE, AIDA, DREAMGIRLS, FAT PIG and LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILl.

    Mr Williams is a graduate of Northwestern State University (Bachelor of Arts), Ellis College of New York (Masters in Business) and the International Association of Assembly Management Performing Arts School (Graduate Certificate.) He has earned many distinctions including a State of Louisiana Commendation for his contributions to the performing arts in the African American community, iHope Award for his dedication to the arts, MLK Leadership Award for leadership in the arts community, The Baton Rouge Links Louisiana Role Model Award for contributions to the performing arts community, and was nominated for the Fichandler Award under the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation. Under his leadership, New Venture has also earned distinction for productions of artistic excellence and highly praised theatrical diversity.

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  • La Capitale Chapter of The Links, Incorporated presents Wigs, Martinis and Bow Ties

    Wigs, Martinis and Bow Ties presented by the La Capitale Chapter of The Links, Incorporated is Friday, April 27, 2018. The event kicks off at 7 pm at the Renaissance Hotel, 7000 Bluebonnet Boulevard. Tickets are $75 per person, and include dinner, dancing, live entertainment, and a cash bar with the event’s signature martini, the Linktini. Proceeds from the event benefit Cancer Services, Incorporated and La Capitale’s community service programs. Guests are asked to bring an unused wig to the affair for donation to Cancer Services, Incorporated’s Wig Salon.

    The event will also feature the awarding of the La Capitale Trailblazer Award where three honorees will be named for their significant contributions toward cancer research and support.
    Tickets may be purchased online at lacapitalelinksinc.org or through any member of the La Capitale Chapter.

    The Links, Incorporated is an international, nonprofit corporation established in 1946. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women. The La Capitale was chartered as a chapter of The Links, Incorporated in April, 1986. The Chapter celebrates 32 years of service to the East and West Baton Rouge communities under the leadership of its current president, Paula H. Clayton.

    Nationally, Links members contribute more than 950,000 documented hours of community service annually – strengthening their communities and enhancing the nation through its five programmatic facets of National Trends and Services, Services to Youth, Health, The Arts, and International Trends and Services. La Capitale Chapter members have provided more than 2,500 hours of service this program year.
    ONLINE www.linksinc.org

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    Kina Kimble appointed commissioner of 19th judicial court

    Judges of the 19th Judicial District Court recently appointed Kina Kimble as one of two court commissioners after the resignation of Quintillis Lawrence. Commissioners are quasi-judges who make recommendations to judges. As a commissioner, Kimble can set bail for newly arrested prisoners, and also sign search warrants, arrest warrants, subpoenas, and seizure orders for foreclosures. She can also take indictment returns from grand juries. Kimble is a 2005 Southern University Law Center graduate who had been an assistant public defender since 2013. She was an adjunct professor of criminal and juvenile law in the Southern Law Center Clinical Educational Department from 2010 to 2015. As a commissioner, Kimble handles numerous prisoner lawsuits filed annually against the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections, applications for post-conviction relief, and uncontested applications to expunge certain criminal records. The court’s other commissioner is Nicole Robinson

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Not sure what’s on the April 28th ballot for East Baton Rouge Parish school tax renewal

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 1 of 3 – 0.51% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)
    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in funding repairs and renovations, enhancing technology and construction of new classrooms and schools in the public school system in East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of fifty-one hundredths of one percent (0.51%) (the “Tax”) (an estimated $43,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District, (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.46% and July 1, 2020 for 0.05%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 2 of 3 – 0.08% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in improving the educational environment in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System by improving discipline, providing alternative education and reducing truancy in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of eight hundredths of one percent (0.08%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $6,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.07% and July 1, 2020 for 0.01%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 3 of 3 – 0.41% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in increasing compensation of teachers and other school system employees in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of forty-one hundredths of one percent (0.41%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $35,300,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective date of April 1, 2019, with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Capitol High School EBR Tax Opposition

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  • ,

    State epidemiologist receives The Reverend Connie Thomas Award

    Erica J. Washington, an epidemiologist for the State of Louisiana, will be presented with The Reverend Connie Thomas Award in honor and appreciation of her years of service and dedication to Luke’s House, the community and her robust work in the field of healthcare. Washington, a native of Baton Rouge, LA, moved to New Orleans in 2007 to pursue a master’s degree in public health from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She began working with Luke’s House as the organization’s first public health intern, and recruited others to volunteer from Tulane SPHTM. In 2013, Washington was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Prevention and Public Health. She was a 2016-2017 Informatics-Training in Place Program Fellow through Project S.H.I.N.E. – a collaborative between Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and National Association of City and County Health Officials that seeks to increase the informatics capacity of health departments nationwide.

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  • ,

    SU, BRCC sign articulation agreement for STEM students

    Officials from Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University and A&M College signed a Memorandum of Understanding signifying the agreement between the schools to facilitate the articulation of coursework and to provide a seamless transfer of BRCC Associate of Science students into the SUBR College of Sciences and Engineering to earn a Bachelor of Science.

    The agreement, which is effective immediately, was signed by Dr. Ray Belton, President/Chancellor SU System; Dr. Larissa Littleton-Steib, Chancellor BRCC; Dr. James Ammons, Executive Vice President/Executive Vice Chancellor, SUBR; Dr. Toni Manogin, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, BRCC; Dr. Patrick Carriere, Dean of College of Sciences and Engineering, SUBR; and Ms. Laura Younger. Dean of STEM Division, BRCC.

    “We are excited to build upon our current partnership with Southern University to continuously enrich our students’ transfer and workforce opportunities,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib. “This agreement will not only allow a seamless transfer for our students pursuing bachelor degrees in STEM-related fields, but it will also encourage future students to consider the endless opportunities available to them by starting their college careers at Baton Rouge Community College. We are grateful to the Southern University System for this partnership.”

    “This agreement between two of the leading institutions of higher learning in the state is another step in expanding our offerings in STEM,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge. “This new program will allow a greater number of students to seamlessly matriculate and obtain their bachelor’s degrees right here in Baton Rouge. We look forward to their success and another great partnership with BRCC.”

    Under the agreement, BRCC students who receive the Associate of Science degree in Computer Science or General Science following the prescribed coursework and declaration of intent to pursue the Bachelor of Science in the College of Sciences and Engineering at SUBR, will be admitted to SUBR as a junior upon successful completion of the BRCC AS degree with an overall GPA of 2.0 on all work attempted. 

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  • ,,

    Angela Rye to speak at Southern University Spring Commencement

    Political commentator and social activist Angela Rye will be the speaker for Southern University’s spring commencement. The ceremony will be held in the F.G. Clark Activity Center on May 11 at 10 a.m.

    A prominent strategist, Rye can be seen regularly on several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC and TV One. She has also been featured in publications such as Marie Claire, Ebony and the Washington Post. Her dialogue from political campaigns to legislation and administration policies that have long-term implications nationally and internationally.

    Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Rye says she learned the importance of advocacy through her family’s political and community activism. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law.

    Rye is principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. Her past appointments include serving as the executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress. In this role, Rye was tasked with developing the overall legislative and political strategy for the Caucus. Prior to working for the CBC, she served as senior adviser and counsel to the House Committee on Homeland Security under the leadership of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson. Upon moving to Washington, Rye co-founded IMPACT, a nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement.

    Rye serves on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (CBCPAC), the Seattle University School of Law Alumni, Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network, Inclusv, and Wilberforce University. She is a member of The Links Inc., National Bar Association, American Bar Association, and the Washington Government Relations Group.

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  • Community responds to AG’s decision, firing of Salamoni in Sterling case

    Community responds to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s decision and the Baton Rouge Police Department’s firing of Blane Salamoni in Alton Sterling case.

    Senator Regina Barrow
    Louisiana Legislature

    I’m disappointed with the decision from Attorney General Landry regarding Alton Sterling’s death. I’m upset that he took this long to do what I believe was already determined months ago. And, while I support law enforcement, I believe we must be a community of accountability. I hope we can have the kind of law enforcement we can all be proud of. I remain committed to seeing our communities become the best they can be for all of us. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome
    East Baton Rouge Parish

    Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul concluded his administrative investigation and has made a decision in the Alton Sterling case. I have placed my trust in Chief Paul and fully support his decision. I am grateful for his leadership and his swift, decisive, and fair action on this matter. Although the investigations into this case have concluded, the dialogue does not end today. I pledge to continue to lead and facilitate respectful conversations between the community and law enforcement in an effort to build trust and understanding on both sides. The backdrop of this Holy Weekend serves as an opportunity for our community to move toward collective healing. While support and prayers for the Sterling family are encouraged, we know that these alone will not heal their family or our community. It is vital that lessons are learned from this tragedy and that we apply our knowledge to prevent future incidents and implement policies that make this community safer and more unified.

    Rev. Lee T. Wesley

    Rev. Lee Wesley

    Rev. Lee Wesley

    Together Baton Rouge 

    Baton Rouge Police Department Chief Murphy J. Paul did two things that showed leadership and wisdom.  He said “unreasonable fear within an officer is dangerous.” Those words are echoing across the country right now. Second, he challenged us to work toward police reform and higher pay for officers as two things that need to go together, not competing visions. That’s exactly the right vision we need to work towards as a community. We thank our Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Chief Paul for their leadership.

    State Representative Randal L. Gaines

    Randal Gaines

    Randal Gaines

    Chairman, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus 

    We, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus members, would like to express our disappointment in the apparent lack of justice that was demonstrated by the recent decision in the Alton Sterling police shooting. This lack of judicial action is consistent with an unfortunate pattern of “failure to prosecute” in cases that raise the question of excessive use of deadly force against Black male victims.

    It is vitally important that our law enforcement authorities continue to strengthen standards, enhance training, and enforce departmental policies that enable our police departments to recruit and retain high quality law enforcement officers, as well as maintain reasonable policies that present a threat to the safety and personal well-being of our citizens.

    It is also critically, important that we instill public confidence in our justice system by ensuring that any individual whose deliberate unlaw actions result in injury or loss of life of another are prosecuted under applicable provisions of law.

    Donovan Hudson
    Attorney

    A meaningful, powerful response is needed. One that will resonate powerfully to galvanize us all to the realization that such actions, (the killing of Mr. Sterling as well as the institutional responses) by those cloaked in authority, are intolerable and perpetuate institutional injustice in our criminal justice systems, as well as those systems (social and economic) that serve as underlying reasons for these tragedies. I suggest such actions MUST be much more than the brief eruption of street marches and protests, but must start with personal commitments by those opposed to this type of matter and response, to stop going along with unjust systems for the sake of expedient comfort. The apparently small wrongs that are not met with opposition form the base for explosive and more dramatic wrongs, but the ultimate corrosive results are the same in both instances: the destructive de-valuation of lives.

    Ernest Johnson JD
    Former President, Louisiana NAACP  State Conference

    Firing is not Enough. We demand a Grand Jury! We demand AG Landry convene a grand jury and Open the Grand Jury to the public/press!

    This can still happen legally!

    What We Need!

    1. Our Elected Officials to apply consistent pressure for this case to be heard by a Grand Jury.

    2. Consistent Community Members congregating on his steps until he agrees to let the case be heard by a Grand Jury.

    3. Jam their phone lines and email boxes until he agrees to let this be heard by a Grand Jury.

    4. This state needs all 24 Black Caucus votes to pass a state budget. We need our elected officials to not vote on Approving this budget without the AG sending this case to a Grand Jury.

    After watching the video showing the murder of Alton Sterling, we all should be willing to fight HARDER!  AG Landry can still reconsider and have this matter heard by a Grand Jury, and this should be our ask!  Some may think this is extreme, but I watched a video surrounded by extreme circumstances. AG Landry has clearly abused his power, and we need our elected officials to take on this fight!

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Assistant Director, ACLU of Louisiana

    On March 27, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that his office would not bring criminal charges against the two police officers who shot and killed Alton Sterling as he lay pinned by them to the ground in front of a convenience store in Baton Rouge.

    Attorney General Landry’s decision is two contradictory things: It is shocking, and it is unsurprising. The decision sends a clear message about policing in America today, and highlights the continuing crisis of accountability when it comes to unlawful use of excessive and deadly force by police.

    The failure to hold police accountable for the killings of Black men and boys is standard practice at both the local and federal level. Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the nation’s so-called “top cop,” and his Department of Justice concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring federal civil rights charges against the officers involved in Sterling’s death. And, while the Baton Rouge Police Chief said disciplinary hearings would be held for the officers this week, the officers who killed Sterling, and whose killing of Sterling was caught on video, both remain employed by the Baton Rouge Police Department.

    Sterling was one of 233 Black people shot and killed by the police in 2016. And while the national media spotlight on police violence has faded, the death toll has remained steady. The Washington Post Police Shooting Database records show 2,934 people shot and killed by police between 2015 and 2017. That’s nearly 1000 deaths per year. Earlier this month, police officers in Sacramento fired 20 rounds at Stephon Clark, who was unarmed and standing in his own backyard. He died of the wounds inflicted on him by law enforcement. As did Danny Ray Thomas, another unarmed Black man, a man in mental distress, who was killed by police in Harris County, Texas, just days ago.

    Sterling’s death is a glaring reminder that police officers too often use aggressive tactics and excessive force, informed by implicit bias rather than community protection. Upon first arriving at the scene, one of the officers reportedly put a gun to Sterling’s head and said “I’ll kill you, bitch.” The AG’s report describes the officer as giving Sterling a “stern” warning: “Don’t fucking move or I’ll shoot you in your fucking head.”

    A death threat is not an acceptable warning. And, coming from police and directed at Black and brown people, it is too often a promise. The ACLU of Louisiana and partner organizations are working to reform police practices to combat these killings.

    Some reforms are already under way. In November 2016, the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police, and the City of Baton Rouge committed to use only the level of force objectively reasonable to bring an incident under control, and use deescalation techniques when dealing with protesters. Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, who took office in January 2017, has successfully pushed for implicit bias training, a stronger use-of-force policy, and expanded the use of body cameras to the entire police force.

    That the officers who killed Sterling have not been charged is by no means the end of this fight. There are questions that must be answered about Sterling’s death, and we demand that all body camera and surveillance footage of the incident be released. We demand accountability, equal justice, and an end to racialized policing.

    Alton Sterling didn’t have to die on the pavement that night. The Baton Rouge police officers chose aggression. They chose to shoot Sterling six times. We must address and dismantle the conditions that led the officers to use deadly force when it was not needed or legal. We must end the epidemic of police violence once and for all—and bring accountability to this broken system.

    > Read: No charges filed against officers in Alton Sterling shooting; Family files civil lawsuit
    > Read:COMMENTARY: Dr. King, Alton Sterling, and the Difficult Days Ahead

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  • A noose hangs over Tangipahoa schools not just on Whitlow’s post

    A few people in the African American community have expressed their surprise by our position concerning the social media post by Tangipahoa School Board representative Mike Whitlow. (Whitlow posted a photo of a hanging noose with the sentence, “If we want to make America great again we will have to make evil people fear punishment again.”)

    To be clear, there is a real noose. It has been in existence for a very long time. The huge noose that exists around the neck of the Black community of Tangi is evident in a system’s persistent efforts to keep strong-minded and talented Black educators from leading the system and bringing out the best in our children. The noose was evident when a system zoned piles of Black kids who struggle academically together in Greenville Park and Woodland Park. How does a school drop over 30 points in a single year? Something is wrong with this. What happens to uneducated Black children?

    As we have said before, images like these are hurtful to many, but they do not even come close to comparing to the aforementioned. From the sidelines, many of us have watched a system successfully lynch our kids by robbing them of an adequate education. Do we not see that the demographics of just about every school’s in-school suspension room mirror the demographics of our own parish jail? The NAACP’s concern far surpasses an image. We never aim to ruin a person’s life as a result of something like this. It is not the right thing to do. Has the Board Member voted in favor of decisions that are in our kids’ best interests? This is what we look at.

    Here is what I have come to understand and respect: The Plaintiffs Attorney has been single handedly fighting for all of us behind the scenes for years. He has been doing this by himself. Why? He has been a true hero in all of this. His support for us is documented and is still being documented in court records. It is real. He has been the one who speaks up for us in court when our system deals blows that are not in the very best interests of our children. This is the real untold story.

    So, it is time for us to finally do our part to stand with him in standing for our kids. I see good coming from all of this. For years, I have been here at almost every board meeting speaking out against injustices because I could not stand to see him carry this cross alone. Now, I am so glad to see so many African Americans united at school board meetings to help him along the way. I really want us to use this energy to join him in focusing on something meaningful– the future of our children. Let’s focus on holding our system accountable for making decisions that are good for our kids. We surely don’t want Black people in leadership roles just because they are Black. And we don’t want White people in leadership roles who do not know how to educate Black children. We want people who we know have our kids’ best interests at heart. We want the best for them. This is where I believe our focus should be.

    By Patricia Morris
    President, Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

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  • ,,

    Halfmann delivers courageous account of a slave teacher’s legacy

    Steal away, children.
    Hide, sneak, and risk your life to learn to read under the dark cloak of midnight.
    This was a dangerous feat for a courageous people and an unrelenting teacher. It is the story many people have heard passed from grandparent to grandchild for generations. Thanks to Janet Halfmann, London Ladd, and Lee & Low Books, there is at least one narration that has been validated in the pages of “Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School.” This historical, beautifully illustrate children’s book on Lilly Ann Granderson’s life gives a wide-eyed account of the effort, fears, and successes slaves underwent to be educated. Granderson’s passion to teach takes the reader through an abandoned cabin at midnight to the fearful moment where she is caught teaching by the slave patrol. She and her students face a charge of severe whippings or death. Halfmann pens the perfect record of Granderson’s phenomenal legacy from educating slaves to graduating students at the Natchez Seminary (now Jackson State University) and influencing generations, especially her own family’s who were the first to graduate from Spelman Seminary (now Spelman College). “Midnight Teacher” is a gift with clear storytelling of a heroic educator. #JSBookandBrew

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  • ‘You’ and elected officials did the hard work to keep Zoo

    North Baton Rouge Now Blue Ribbon Commission is pleased with the decision of the BREC commissioners to keep and invest in the Baton Rouge zoo at its current location. This has been a long and arduous fight, however, the voice of the elected leadership and, most of all, the people have finally be heard. Collectively we were able to come together and stand for what we believe in and for what’s best for our community!

    With excitement, I watched the community speak up and share concern and the desire to revitalize this community jewel.

    Charles Perrouloux spoke up on the need to help bring ALL communities together. Kristy Donnellan pointed out her and so many other’s concern of the economic impact to the north Baton Rouge community, especially our children. Stephany Anthony (photographed) and Sarah Sanders boldly told the commissioners how concerned the parish is about the lack of animals and the overall well being of the animals at the zoo.

    They are a few examples of the many reason why this decision was the BEST decision. Most importantly, is the fact that without these and so many other very active, engaged voices speaking loudly and frequently, we could have had a different outcome. We didn’t, and the zoo remains in North Baton Rouge because of a collective community voice.

    It was also an honor to see the commitment and support from our elected officials! It is important to be as vigilant with acknowledgements as we are with calling out our officials for poor decisions or lack of involvement.

    Some of the most notable officials stood in support of what was best for their constituents and this entire parish! Councilwoman Chauna Banks (Dist. 2) valiantly lead the charge with her display of exceptional leadership and fortitude on this initiative! She was the galvanizing force that attracted the support and action of many of her colleagues, community partners, and members.

    Baton Rouge Mayor-President Broome, Baker Mayor Darnell Waites, Central Mayor Junior Shelton, and Zachary Mayor David Amrhein demonstrated their support and resolve to keep the zoo at Greenwood. They also committed to be a part of the investment strategy that will revitalize this asset. State Representative Barbara Carpenter and Senator Regina Barrow are boldly creating legislature to support the zoo now and into the future.
    Baton Rouge Metrocouncil leaders Lamont Cole (Dist. 7), Erika Green (Dist. 5), and Donna Collins-Lewis (Dist. 6) committed to put their efforts and resources to gather additional support to the revitalization of the zoo.

    BUT, WE ARE NOT DONE! This victory, though sweet and extremely important is only the beginning. We must remain engaged and see this through! We encourage the community to continue to be vocal and active in the process. It was our collective voice that initiated and carried the momentum of this initiative, and it will take our voice and deliberate action to see this through. You’ve made this happen now continue to support it! Here’s how.

    IMMEDIATE NEXT STEPS:
    Support the zoo by making it a part of your immediate recreational plans. Encourage your church groups, social organizations, schools, and families to plan trips and events at the Baton Rouge Zoo and Greenwood Park. You can host birthday parties, family reunions, summer camp field trips, and lunch dates within the zoo and in the theatre. This is the easiest and most collective method to illustrate your interest, support, and investment of the zoo.

    COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
    Attend and engage in public meetings. Bring with you your ideas, feedback, and contributions/commitments.

    ACCOUNTABILITY
    It’s time for a changing of the guard. BREC’s administration has not been a good steward of our existing assets or public trust. We should start fresh with management in order to improve the success of this initiative. In addition to this, oversight is necessary to ensure that moving forward all activities are transparent, clear, and equitable.

    CORPORATE SUPPORT
    We can each use our circles of influences to encourage corporate events and sponsorships (including revitalization efforts).

    We will all remain excited, proactive, and vocal in continuing this work to revitalize our zoo to its fullest potential.

    By Sateria Tate
    NBRNOW Blue Ribbon Commission

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  • ,,,

    COMMENTARY: Dr. King, Alton Sterling, and the Difficult Days Ahead

    Fifty years ago today Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was there on behalf of Memphis sanitation workers marching for higher wages and better working conditions. Their cause was central to King’s Poor People’s Campaign, the final phase of his movement for civil and human rights.  The King of 1968 had evolved considerably from the early years of the movement.  In a May 1967 report to the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King wrote:

    We have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights, an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We have been in a reform movement…But after Selma and the voting rights bill, we moved into a new era, which must be the era of revolution. We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.

    King’s assassination cut short his pursuit of this more radical vision.  In many ways it also marked the beginning of a new chapter in America’s sordid problem of the color line.

    chi-mlk26loot-20080228Amid the riots that followed King’s assassination, President Johnson signed the long delayed Fair Housing Act of 1968.  The Act promised to interrupt the processes of Black ghettoization and white suburban flight that were well underway by the end of the 1960s.  After decades of weak enforcement, however, cities today remain racially segregated. Moreover, the nation’s legacy of racist housing policy has led to an ever-widening racial wealth gap that has emerged as a defining feature of the much larger issue of growing economic inequality.  As an affordable housing crisis grips most American cities, the public is increasingly in tune with concerns over gentrification and the need for equitable redevelopment.  Said differently, there is a growing recognition that we must aggressively pursue the hard work of correcting for the failed urban policies that have long had as their chief objective the exclusion and marginalization of Black communities.

    As the urban redevelopment consensus grows, so too does our appreciation of the depths of the problem.  The determination to ensure Black social and economic subordination shaped twentieth century urban policy.  Consequently policing and incarceration emerged as the dominant policy responses to the government-mandated racial segregation that destabilized Black communities in the first place.  Decades of redlining, wage theft, dilapidated infrastructure, and the many other deliberate assaults on Black humanity were casually forgotten.  Black “culture” was deemed solely responsible for the condition of poor Black neighborhoods and marked them for the most draconian, inhumane, and extra judicial treatment.  The resulting tide of mass incarceration further destabilized those neighborhoods while taking a devastating toll on Black families and individual lives.

    These nationalized trends manifested themselves in a variety of locally-specific ways.  In Baton Rouge the record-setting 47-year fight over school integration effectively reshaped one city into two. It gave birth to “North Baton Rouge,” a local shorthand for the geography of Black poverty and social exclusion.  For those who have internalized the logic of racial stratification, having a geographically adjacent zone of racialized mass disinvestment was a small price to pay for the satisfaction of punishing the Black communities they were convinced deserved such contempt.

    Alton_Sterling_just_before_being_shotRacial tensions exploded in the summer of 2016 when cell phone video captured the killing of Alton Sterling while two Baton Rouge police officers pinned him against the pavement.  Last week the Baton Rouge Police Department finally released the body camera video from the fateful encounter. The video shows Officer Blane Salamoni –abandoning any semblance of police protocol or basic human decency– rush a confused Sterling, hurl expletives in an enraged tirade, threaten Sterling’s life before needlessly taking it, then cursing his dying corpse while callously rifling through his pockets for an alibi. It’s shocking and horrific. The tragedy follows a seemingly unending succession of similar tragedies around the nation and a growing consensus that decisive action is necessary.  In spite of all of this, neither the Department of Justice nor the Louisiana Attorney General could find probable cause to impanel a grand jury for a possible criminal indictment.

    The chorus of bigotry and hatred from those who populate the online comments sections of the city’s papers or those who have voiced their unyielding support of Salamoni – even in the face of the new video – is drowned out only by the silence of many, many more.  Part of the trauma many of us experience watching the Sterling videos and others like them is tied to the indifference of those who refuse to accept that something pathological, intentional and historically driven is at play.  It’s likely only a matter of time before we receive the next hashtag about a Black body racked with bullets after making some armed, trained officer fear for his life.

    This is America 50 years after King’s assassination.  The relative progress made in civil rights since April 4, 1968 is rife with tragic contradiction and complexity.  King likely did not dream that after climbing to the “mountaintop” our first words would not be “free at last” but rather “Black lives matter.”

    In his last speech King prophesied that we had some difficult days ahead.  That is as true in 2018 as it was in 1968.

    By Christopher Tyson
    Guest Columnist
    Christopher TysonChristopher J. Tyson is the Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Associate Professor of Law at LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, where he teaches property and local government law. He is also the son of former U.S. Chief District Court Judge Ralph Tyson. Follow him at @chrisjtyson.

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  • ,

    An open letter to the citizens of Baton Rouge

    During the early morning hours of July 5, 2016, we were placed on a journey to determine how we would understand and respond to the tragic death of Mr. Alton Sterling. There have been moments along the way where we have been confronted by the truth of this journey and reminded it’s not just going to go away. The decision by state and local authorities to look to the United States Department of Justice, the announcement of findings by the DOJ, the passing of the issue to the State Attorney General, the announcement of his decision, the press conference by Police Chief Murphy Paul to share his decision, and then the release of the video footage from that senseless and horrible moment, have all served to remind us that we must all decide how we understand and respond to what happened in the parking lot of a convenience store in North Baton Rouge.

    I believe that any understanding and response must begin with Mr. Sterling’s family. They have endured loss and pain beyond imagination. And they have had to do so under the glaring lights of news cameras and public scrutiny. This family deserves our respect and compassion. We cannot just “co-opt” their loved one to suit our agenda, whatever it is. Alton Sterling is not a hashtag or a character in a horrific video. He was a member of our community with family and friends who cared about him greatly. Any effort to process all of this that does not begin with this reality if fatally flawed in my opinion.

    We must then be willing to be honest with each other about the perceptions and experiences of Black men in Baton Rouge wrapped up in the most difficult 90 seconds I have ever seen. In the last moments of Mr. Sterling’s life we are brought face to face with some harsh realities about our city. There are some people in Baton Rouge who must create ways to make money to live and provide for their families. Opportunity is not readily accessible for all. Those who are sworn to protect and serve are not always professional and respectful of every citizen. Black men are thought to be angry and violent and as a result must be treated differently. For 20 months I have said healing requires the acknowledgement of a wound. As a community we must speak the truth about these perceptions and experiences or all of this pain and strife will be for nothing. Until we do, any effort to understand and respond will be doomed to failure.

    My final belief is that we must move beyond responding to moments and begin to build movements. Moments last through the news cycle or until the next moment happens. Movements challenge what we think and demand that we do something. Movements bring about change, moments don’t. Political science professor Ron Walters, Ph.D, is quoted as saying the difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice. This is certainly true in our situation. The only way Baton Rouge will learn, grow and change is if there are enough people who are willing to sacrifice and work to make it happen. We can all do something and we don’t all have to do the same thing. Find a place where you can connect with people who are serious about making this city better and get busy doing so. Don’t be distracted by the negative voices screaming for attention. That’s all they know and all they will ever speak. But we are better than their hatred and small minds.

    Most of my life has been lived in Baton Rouge. I have seen and experienced the good, the bad and the ugly in these years. It is my sincere desire to be a part of leaving a better Baton Rouge to the next generation. A Baton Rouge where Black men are seen as assets and vital members of our community. A Baton Rouge where we are all productive, connected, healthy and safe. A Baton Rouge where my neighborhood and zip code don’t determine my access to opportunity and resources. This is the movement I am determined to be a part of building. In April of 2016, I, along with a number of partners, convened the Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge for the first time. We did so because we could no longer ignore the realities associated with being a Black male in the community we love. Since that time we have continued to build a movement that matters. A movement that makes a difference. Today, I am more committed to the work of the Urban Congress than ever. And you are welcome to join us in this work. But if not the Congress, find something that allows you to get busy doing something that changes Baton Rouge for the better. My prayer is that these painful moments will motivate people us beyond the place of emotions and to a place of ongoing action. This city needs it.

    Sincerely,

    Raymond A. Jetson
    Chief Executive Catalyst
    MetroMorphosis

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  • ,

    Temple honored by Boys and Girls Club

    Candace Temple was honored by the Boys and Girls Club at its Great Futures Gala that was held on March 3, 2018. Temple serves as a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control, East Baton Rouge Parish Complete Streets Advisory Committee, GBRA Realtors Government Relations Committee and Forum 35. She is also serves as co-chair of Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s Transition Team’s Housing and Land Use Subcommittee and a volunteer for the Bethany Church Kids Ministry. Temple is a full-time real estate agent with EXIT Realty Group. She is the mother of two daughters.

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  • High schoolers win at national court competition in DC

    On March 23-25, 2018, four East Baton Rouge Parish high school students competed in the Marshall-Brennan National High School Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C. The competition was hosted by American University Washington College of Law. The East Baton Rouge Parish students, Constance Springer and Jaidyn Bryant juniors at McKinley High School, Maya Jones a senior at Southern University Laboratory High School, an​d Ariel Simmons a senior at Glen Oaks Magnet High School, competed against more than 70 high school students from across the United States. They argued a case involving issues relating to the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and expression, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. Jaidyn Bryant earned second place in the petitioner category, and Constance Springer placed among the top ten in the respondent category.​ Bryant also received an award as a top four competitor.

    Ariel Simmons, Maya Jones, Constance Springer, and Jaidyn Bryant

    Ariel Simmons, Maya Jones, Constance Springer, and Jaidyn Bryant

     

    Jaidyn Bryant receives her award as a top four competitor

    Jaidyn Bryant receives her award as a top four competitor

     

    The students were the winners of the Southern University Law Center Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project Regional Moot Court Competition. The Southern University Law Center Marshall-Brennan Project is sponsored by the Louisiana Bar Foundation, Southern University Law Center, Wilson Fields, judge 19th Judicial District Court; Luke Thibodeaux, attorney in the law firm of Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys; and Alejandro Perkins, partner in the law firm of Hammonds, Sills, Adkins and Guice.

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    COMMENTARY: 3 ways stress takes a toll on your body

    April is Stress Awareness Month

    Did the latest challenge at work bring on a tightening in your stomach? Does constant worry about a loved one’s health make you physically ill yourself?

    Everyone at some point feels the effects of stress. Not everyone deals with stress in the best way, though.

    “Often stressed-out people seek relief through alcohol, tobacco or drugs, but that just makes matters worse,” said Richard Purvis, a health and wellness practitioner and author of Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age.

    “Instead of relieving stress, those toxic substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state, causing even more physical problems.”

    April is Stress Awareness Month, a good time to reflect on how the demands and anxieties of daily life put a strain not just on our minds, but on our bodies as well.

    Stress, of course, is not always a bad thing. It does serve a positive purpose.

    “It can keep us alert and prepares us to avoid danger,” Purvis said. “But stress becomes a negative factor when a person faces continuous challenges without any time mixed in for relief or relaxation.”

    As a result, he said, people become overworked, and stress-related anxiety and illness can occur. The strain leads them to suffer from such ailments as headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and problems sleeping.

    Purvis says a few examples of how stress can play havoc on our bodies include:

    • Musculoskeletal system. When we experience stress, it’s natural for our muscles to tense up. “It’s the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain,” Purvis said. Usually, the muscles relax once the stressful event passes. But chronic stress keeps the muscles in a constant state of guardedness. “When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time other reactions in the body are triggered,” he said. Chronic muscle tension in the shoulders, neck and head can lead to tension-type headaches and migraines.
    • Respiratory system. Stress causes people to breathe harder. “That’s not a problem for most people,” Purvis said. “But if you suffer from asthma or a lung disease such as emphysema, getting essential oxygen can be difficult.” He says some studies show that acute stress events – such as the death of a loved one – can trigger asthma attacks in which the airway between the nose and the lungs constrict. Also, rapid breathing associated with stress – or hyperventilation – can result in a panic attack in some people.
    • Gastrointestinal system. Sometimes people who are stressed will eat much more than usual. Sometimes they will eat much less. Neither is healthy. “You can get heartburn or acid reflux if you eat more food or different types of food, or if you increase how much alcohol you drink or tobacco you use,” Purvis said. When you’re stressed, the brain sends alert sensations to the stomach. Your stomach can react with “butterflies,” nausea or pain. “Severe stress can cause vomiting, diarrhea or constipation,” he says. “If your stress becomes chronic, you might develop ulcers or severe stomach pain.”

    So what’s to be done? Purvis pointed out that stress is a natural occurrence in life and happens to everyone.

    “Since you can’t avoid your job, bills, or other life experiences, the best thing to do is learn to manage stress,” he said. “You won’t avoid stress entirely, but it is possible to minimize the effects by eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and taking care of yourself in general.”

     

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  • ,,,

    ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival takes over Baton Rouge April 18-21; April 27-28

    Following its huge 2017 victory at the 20th Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival (BNV), Baton Rouge based arts nonprofit Forward Arts, Inc. is gearing up to select its 2018 All Star Team, by way of its 12th annual ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival, April 18-21; 27-28, downtown Baton Rouge. This year’s theme, “Defining Brilliance”, gives a nod to Baton Rouge’s youth poets who are setting a standard for what literary excellence is in their generation. All events, outside of opening ceremonies, are open to the public. A full schedule is available at Forwardarts.org.
    ALL CITY serves as both a community event, as well as an opportunity for area youth, ages 13-19, to experience performance poetry on a large scale, including a chance for six lucky young poets to represent Baton Rouge at the 21st Annual BNV to be held this year in Houston. The festival also includes workshops, panel discussions and specialty open mic events. At Grand Slam Finals, to be held April 28 at the Manship Theatre, the top ranked team of poets of the competition will be named ALL CITY champions and the six top ranked poets will become the 2018 Forward Arts All Star Team and represent the city at this year’s BNV this July. The 2017 Forward Arts All Star Team won BNV to become the top ranked youth poetry slam team in the world and the first team from the south to win the two decades old competition.
     Web ALL TEEN Poetry Slam
    More than just a competition, ALL CITY has been a springboard for many youth in Baton Rouge to take a career in the literary arts into serious consideration. Five of the festival’s former participants were accepted into the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave spoken word cohort – the only program of its kind in the nation. Of the students who already graduated, more than half have pursued careers as educators in the field of English. The festival also adequately prepares youth participants for larger competitions like Brave New Voices.
    “ALL CITY allowed me to perform my poetry in front of a huge audience,” said 2017 BNV champion and Forward Arts youth, Imani Sundiata. “Having ALL CITY also gave me a deadline to work towards and help with my time management, because if I wanted to get on the BNV team, I would have to work hard and push myself to finish poems and practice performing them. That training and opportunity gave me the stage experience I needed to feel confident in my poems and writing ability. Altogether, ALL CITY gave me the tools to make me a better performer.”
    A poetry slam is an Olympic-style spoken word poetry competition in which poets perform original writing within a three minute time limit. Originality, physicality and vulnerability are some the hallmarks of successful slam poems. The youth of Forward Arts are under the tutelage of internationally-acclaimed slam poets – executive director Chancelier ‘xero’ Skidmore, Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, 2013; program director Desireé Dallagiacomo, a multi-time international poetry slam finalist and viral video sensation; and Donney Rose, a 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. The staff of Forward Arts collectively has more than 15 years of experience as teaching artists and administrators of youth spoken word poetry.
     Anyone interested in volunteering at the festival may contact volunteer coordinator, Roe Lewis, at Roneshialewis@mybrcc.edu.
    The ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival began in 2007 and is the only festival of its kind in the region. It has hosted hundreds of youth poets in the Baton Rouge and surrounding areas.FA_SlamFlyer-Back_2018-edited
     Forward Arts, Inc. fosters personal and social transformation by providing arts instruction, literary education, and youth development in Southeastern Louisiana.
    Festival Schedule
    Wednesday, April 18thCYPHER NIGHT (competing participants only)

    5:30-8:30PM
    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, 427 Laurel St.
    Thursday, April 19th & Friday, April 20th
    PRELIMINARY BOUTS #1-6
    5:30-9:30PM
    Mid City Ballroom, 136 S. Acadian Thruway
    Saturday, April 21st
    POETRY + LIVE MUSIC Concert
    7:00-10:00PM
    Mid City Ballroom, 136 S. Acadian Thruway

    Friday, April 27th

    ReVision
    7-10PM
    The Parlor, 705 St. Joseph St.
    Saturday, April 28th
    GRAND SLAM FINALS hosted by Ebony Stewart
    6-9pm
    Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.
    *Tickets available at manshiptheatre.org*

     

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  • ,

    Discover world of space with Renee Horton

    Outer space and astronaut travel enthusiasts of all ages are welcome to join the celebration of the One Book One Community selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly during a FREE talk by led by Renee Horton, Ph.D., at the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., at 2pm, Sat., April 7.

     Horton is a space launch system lead metallic/weld engineer at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and the author of children’s book Dr. H Explores the Universe. Her presentation will cover an in-depth discussion on space and astronaut travel, as well as details about the projects and initiatives of NASA from the unique perspective of a Black woman working in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics-centered career field. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.

    There are various other events, programs, movie nights, book talks, crafts and more related to the book and OBOC that will be scheduled throughout the community all spring long. All the events are FREE.

    ONLINE: www.reneehortonphd.com and www.ReadOneBook.org

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  • ,,,

    COMMUNITY EVENT: Celebrate National Minority Health Month

    Submitted news

    UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana will celebrate National Minority Health Month in April 2018. This year’s theme released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health  is “Partnering for Health Equity.” Join us for a time of Community Awareness and free events.

    According to OMH director Dr. Mathew Lin, “Partnerships at the national, state, tribal, and local levels are vital to the work of reducing health disparities.”  UnitedHealthcare will host a series of events that will partner with local government, private, and public community stakeholders.

    The Kick-Off event will be a Lunch and Learn held at the Exxon Mobil YMCA, 7717 Howell Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA. From 12:00 noon until 2:00 pm. This event will feature a key-note speaker, Robert L. Newton, Jr., PhD, Director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Laboratory Director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Laboratory and allow community partners in health equity to share available services that can benefit the community.

    UnitedHealthcare has a host of partners including EBRP District 2 Metropolitan Councilwoman Chauna Banks, the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Southeast Community Health Systems, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and the Exxon Mobil YMCA, Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center Pediatric Residency Program, Southern University School of Nursing and Allied Health, Southern University AgCenter, and Smiles on the Go to name a few.

    These community partners and more will host a series of events throughout the month of April.

     

    Diabetes & Hypertension Awareness Fair – Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Southeast Community Health Systems, 6351 Main St. Zachary, LA at 4:00 pm -6:00pm

    Health Equity Community Summit and Panel Discussion – Thursday, April 19, 2018

    Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road, Baton Rouge, LA. Doors opening at 4:00 pm for vendor fair and panel discussion at 6:00 pm.

    Preparing Healthy Meals with Community Grocery Stores – Saturday, April 21, 2018

    Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, 12200 Plank Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70811 at 10:00 am until 2:00 pm

     

    Each event is free, opened to the public, and will provide, food, presentations, valuable health information, and more. Come out and learn what an important role partnerships play in health equity for our community!

    For more information, please contact Deborah Jones with United Healthcare Community Plan at 225-413-2198 or email deborah_w_jones@uhc.com.

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  • ,,

    No charges filed against officers in Alton Sterling shooting; Family files civil lawsuit

    Baton Rouge Police Chief plans to release footage, complete officers’ hearing by Friday

    Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Tuesday following a 10-month investigation that his office will not pursue criminal charges against the officers involved in the Alton Sterling shooting.

    Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man, was shot six times by a white Baton Rouge Police officer on July 5, 2016, in front of a Triple S convenience store. The officers, Howie Lake II and Blaine Salamoni were responding to a call about a man with a gun who was assaulting someone. Sterling had been selling CDs in front of the store with permission from the owner.

    Officials said Salamoni shot Sterling while his partner Howard Lake looked on.

    “After careful thought and review of the evidence, the Louisiana Department of Justice will not proceed with prosecution of Officers Lake or Salamoni,” Landry said. “This decision was not taken lightly.”

    Landry said his office thoroughly investigated the case, even re-interviewing witnesses in the case.  He said the evidence just didn’t warrant pursuing criminal charges.

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    “We must analyze the evidence and draw a conclusion, but we’re always mindful of the family,” Landry said. “I know the Sterling family is hurting.”

    The Attorney General’s office received the case in May 2017. This after the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana determined during its own investigation that there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges or civil rights violations.

    Family members, community leaders, and the Sterling family’s attorneys say they weren’t surprised by the latest findings.

    “We didn’t get any justice,’ said Quinyetta McMilon, the mother of Alton Sterling’s son, Cameron.  “The system failed us. We’re all out of tears. We all knew what it was going to be. We may not get justice down on this earth, but when God comes…As a family, we just got to stay strong.”

    “It was total B.S.,” said community activist Gary Chambers.

    “To put Blane Salamoni back on the street, you’re putting a murderer back on the street,” said Sterling’s Aunt Sandra Sterling who has had two strokes since the incident.  “Shame on you Blane Salamoni. You took an oath to protect and serve not protect and kill.”

    Sterling’s attorneys are filing a civil suit and have called for the firing of both officers who have remained on paid leave since the incident. Together, the officers have been paid more than $130,000 in salary while on leave.

    Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt, who has suffered two strokes speaks to reporters. Photo by Michele McCalope

    Sandra Sterling, Alton’s aunt, who has suffered two strokes speaks to reporters. Photo by Michele McCalope

    “We’re putting the City of Baton Rouge, the Mayor and the Metro Council on notice,” said attorney Michael Adams.  “We’re disappointed, but this fight is not over. We have filed a civil suit and justice will be served. The officers will have to talk to us and explain their actions. Baton Rouge will have to hear the truth about what happened. We plan to put it all out there in the light of day.”

    Meanwhile, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said a disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for the officers this week so police can determine if any policies or procedures were violated.

    The officers will have a chance to tell their side of the story to the chief and his three deputies. The hearing will not be open to the public.

    “We’re asking the community for a little more patience and to keep our community in your prayers so we can begin the healing process,” Paul said.

    Once the hearing is completed, Paul said the department will announce what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against the officers. Paul also said all videos, audio, and 911 calls regarding the incident will be released at that time.

    Broome, who has already said publicly that she wants the officers fired, said she still feels that way.

    “Our focus for our community, city and parish is to have justice and equity not just for some, but for everyone,” Broome said.

    By Michele McCalope
    The Drum contributing reporter

    Read more:

    Gov. Edwards, ACLU, 100 Black Men, community leaders release statements on Alton Sterling decision

    Attorney General to give update on Alton Sterling case

    ‘I am that next legacy’

    Department of Justice statement on the Alton Sterling investigation

    ‘Voices from the Bayou’ pulls powerful, emotional writing from BRCC students

    Dialogue necessary to move beyond fear

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU Land-Grant Campus to host ‘One Health Symposium’

    The Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus will host a symposium themed, ‘One Health Symposium: Promoting Sustainable Communities.’ The event will be held April 12-13 at the Southern University Law Center.

    The ‘One Health’ concept is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment.

    This symposium, which is free and open to the public, will bring the various disciplines of the One Health community – medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, social sciences, nutrition, food science, engineering, agricultural and environmental sciences – together to improve the health of people, animals and the planet.

    Participants will have an opportunity to come together and share strategies as well as learn about the latest educational tools and resources which could facilitate the improvement of their health, the health of their animals – both pets and livestock – and the overall health of the environment.

    Sessions during the symposium will include:

    • Bacterial Diseases and Zoonosis
    • Community and Economic Development
    • Designing Health Communities
    • Developing a healthy and vibrant food system in Louisiana
    • Diversity in the Health Care Field
    • Economics and Health Disparities
    • Environmental Health
    • Exercise, weight loss and well-being. Is weight loss imperative to obtain wellness?
    • Health Equity: “Health Care for all”
    • Healthy Child Development
    • Human Animal Bond
    • Human Disease Prevention and Intervention
    • Louisiana Opioid Epidemic
    • Mental Health Issues
    • Pet Equity
    • The Effects of Nutrition Policy on Population Health
    • The Science of Human “Sense of Taste and Health Diet”
    • True Care Health and Wellness “Healing with Herbs”

    This is the ideal event for new and beginning farmers, agricultural business owners, community leaders, non-profit and community based organizations, pet owners, students, faculty, staff and anyone eager to learn!

    The symposium is also designed to increase the marketability of the students in the SU College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences, while exposing them to individuals in their respective professions.

    Students will participate in FASpitch (elevator pitch), oral, and poster competitions. The students will also be able to participate in student ‘HUDDLEs’ where they will meet with agency representatives, academicians, and practitioners one-on-one to share their experiences and learn about job and scholarship opportunities.

    A highlight of this symposium will be a ribbon cutting for the SU Land-Grant Campus’ three institutes – the Southern Institute for One Health One Medicine, the Southern Institute for Medicinal Plants, and the Southern Institute for Food Science, Nutrition and Wellness.

    ONLINE: www.suagcenter.com/symposium.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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  • ,,

    SU law student asks, ‘Can Alexa Testify Against You?’

    We live in an age when increasing numbers of people rely on devices to turn off their lights, make a phone call, or set the morning alarm. This may explain why since its launch in 2015, Alexa—or what Amazon calls a “virtual assistant” —has become a virtual extension of the lives of its estimated eight-million-plus owners.

    This codependency however comes with its own set of risks, according to a research paper published in the Southern University Law Review. (Read the paper here.)

    The paper “Alexa, Pick An Amendment”: A Comparison of Fourth and First Amendment Protections of Echo Device Data,” asks whether Alexa owners are protected under the First and Fourth Amendments when their privacy rights are infringed upon. The paper was written by by Tara Melancon, a third-year law student at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge.

    Tara Melancon

    Tara Melancon

    Melancon writes that American society has been preoccupied with privacy rights since at least the late 19th century, when The Right to Privacy, a law review article from 1890, broached the perennially relevant subject of the need for “privacy laws to keep up with technological progress.”

    The issue has become increasingly relevant.

    The reason, as Melancon explains, is not only because Alexa might be used to collect evidence against owners entangled in the criminal justice system; but because recent technological advances, notably our smart phones—which track our every move and purchase—have made us vulnerable and possible targets for investigation.

    Read more at The Crime Report by Julia Pagnamenta.

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  • ,,,

    Nurses focus on ‘community medicine’ to restore healthcare desert

    There is a new healthcare provider in north Baton Rouge. That news alone should spark hope in many residents from Zachary, through Baker and Scotlandville, and on to Mid-City. But most residents do not know that the Champion Medical Center on Howell Blvd. now houses the Louisiana Healthcare Services and its three providers. Open every day, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the new clinic provides medical care for the entire family, a Medicaid application center, family planning services, as well as onsite lab services.

    Most importantly, Louisiana Healthcare Services provides these services in the middle of a healthcare desert in East Baton Rouge Parish. “We are a drop of water in this desert,” said registered nurse Nicole Thomas.  She and Leah Cullins, FNP, own Louisiana Healthcare Services which opened at 7855 Howell Blvd. in June 2017.

    exterior_460w-300x300

    Thomas said when she and Cullins began planning the clinic, they looked for an area with the greatest need. “The first thing both of us said was north Baton Rouge,” Thomas said. “Knowing that there were a lot of things that were going to fight against us. Lack of resources are in this area, and not just health resources but food resources; resources period are just scarce,” she said knew that those would be a battle for us, we decided to push through them.”

    In 2013, Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital was closed then later demolished in 2015 and replaced with the LSU Health Baton Rouge North Clinic with 15 treatment chairs. An ER was opened in 2017 as an 8,800-square foot addition built adjacent to the existing clinic. The facility includes an infusion clinic and services for primary care and oncology. It sits on Airline Hwy, 3 miles away from Louisiana Health Services. The Jewel Newman Community Center still houses the Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative Health Center at 2013 Central Road—nearly 5 miles north. And the Margaret Dumas Mental Health Center is open a mile away on 3843 Harding Blvd for mental health and substance abuse treatment. None of these facilities are designed for patients to regularly see the same health care provider in order to manage their health. Similarly, there are no other doctor offices or primary care facilities within the five surrounding zip codes.

    “There have been so many barriers to care for so long in the community,” said Thomas who grew up in the same community. As a student at Glen Oaks Medical Magnet High School, she was introduced to healthcare through the school’s medical training classes. She graduated from Southern University School of Nursing and worked as a nurse at what she called “the best hospital ever,” Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital, then to home health, and managed care with United Healthcare. It opened her eyes to the business of healthcare although she still had a “yearning for the clinical aspect.”

    IMG-4407

    She said she began asking herself what more she could do to have an impact. “What legacy am I going to leave behind?” she asked. “For me coming back to open a clinic here was purposeful. I realized that every single step of my journey that I went through, every job, every up, and every down was to get me to prepare me to be here,” said Thomas.

    “Here” for both she and Cullins is in north Baton Rouge providing what they called “community medicine.”

    DSC_8414

    “This (at LHS) is where you come to establish a relationship with your doctor,” said Collins. “This is where you come for the personalized care.” As a child, Cullins watched this community medicine being practiced by Black doctors in South Baton Rouge. “I saw how these doctors cared for patients. Taking whatever they could afford to pay at the time. Sometimes it was some type of commodity or produce; most times patients paid in cash.”

    Thomas said she saw the same community medicine being practiced while she was a high schooler completing clinical rotations with nurses at Earl K. Long Hospital emergency room. “This nurse gave it literally her all. Seeing how she was able to truly provide care for the patient and make an impact,” she said. “You change the entire course of their lives.”

    As a result, Louisiana Healthcare Services allows patients to pay a minimal fee of $65 for visits without insurance and providers make house calls to care for established patients.

    “This is the type of care people deserve,” Cullins said. As a nurse practitioner, she is the primary care physician for hundreds of patients.

    Along with family care, the clinic offers wellness screenings, immunizations, HIV and chronic disease management, illness treatment, and family planning services. The extended hours of 8am to 8pm allow LHS to accept walk-ins. There are three providers—one bilingual—and an onsite lab. Medicaid application assistance are available. Cullins said they partner with specialists across the city who provide obstetrics, cardiac, dermatology, and pharmaceutical services for LHS patients. In the near future, LHS will house specialists “so that our patients won’t have to travel out of their communities — miles from their homes—to be cared for,” Cullins said.

    “We’ve hit many brick walls,” said Thomas. “We are writing our own blueprint as we go. We are doing what matters in order to impact this community the most.”

    For instance, in January, a team from LHS joined volunteers with LaMOM at the Baton Rouge Free Health Clinic and provided dental, medical, and vision care to more than 1,400 residents over three days. “This service was so needed, and with all the providers and medical staff there, we couldn’t assist everyone. There were so many,” said Thomas.

    IMG-4228

    “People stood out in the freezing cold as early as 4am, lined up waiting for the doors to open,” said Cullins. Many of them had not been seen by doctors for years. Cullins remembered siting with one patient who need to received dental care but their blood pressure was too high. “They were hypertensive and had no medicine and no doctor,” she said. After sitting with them and explaining the severity of their health and its impact on their teeth, Cullins said she was surprised when the patient said, “You’re the first doctor to sit next to me and touch my hand.” After some time, Cullins said, they were able to lower the patient’s blood pressure so that the dentist could repair her teeth.

    IMG-4577“We’ve got to start seeing doctors who care about us,” said Cullins. One of their goals is to build on their partnerships with providers and specialists who will care for patients on site. “We (LHS) are needed,” she said.

    The surmounting HIV and AIDS cases in Baton Rouge is also a major concern for Collins and Thomas. The city is number one in the nation for new HIV cases. In 2015, more than 3,700 residents reported having the disease and the number is growing quickly. “We can prevent this and we can help our patients live longer with the disease,” said Cullins who specializes in HIV/AIDS management.

    “This is a vulnerable community, from hypertension, diabetes, HIV, and other conditions” said Thomas. “Their care starts with a primary care physician not in urgent care or the emergency room.”

    “We both know how it feels to be disadvantaged and being told no for services…This is a legacy we’re building here,” Cullins said.

     

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Photos by Hodge Media Group

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