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    Technology firm to bring 200 jobs

    LAFAYETTE– Perficient, a St. Louis-based information technology and management consulting firm, will open a center in Lafayette that hopes to create 245 full-time jobs within six years and spawn 248 indirect jobs, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Perficient President and CEO Jeff Davis announced Sept. 4. The company will open in November and begin hiring. Operations will begin in late 2014 and the company hopes to reach 50 employees by the end of 2015, Davis said. The direct jobs will average $60,000 a year in pay, plus benefits. The company is expected to provide jobs for computer science graduates from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College, which initiated a two-year software application program this semester.

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    Ministers partner to help combat chronic illnesses

    Imagine your next fellowship with a wider selection of fresh fruits and healthy vegetables. That’s the prescription from Baton Rouge’s “Hip Hop Doc,” Dr. Rani Whitfield. It’s also a game plan that nearly 30 Baton Rouge area pastors agreed would work as a starting point for their churches with the end goal of improving the fitness of their congregations.

    That group of pastors gathered at Pennington Biomedical Research Center on August 28 for the East Baton Rouge Area Ministers Day, a time for them to learn more about healthy choices and to join in the fight against chronic diseases affecting our community.

    “More times than not, chronic health problems stem from obesity,” explained Dr. William T. Cefalu, executive director of Pennington Biomedical. “What we do here is try to eliminate chronic disease, and we believe a healthy community starts with you.”

    Diabetes and obesity are the top two chronic illnesses in our country, and the cost to Louisiana is approximately $1.37 billion annually. In many parts of Louisiana, the prevalence of diabetes is 50 percent higher than the national average.

    According to Cefalu, up to 30 percent of people with diabetes don’t know they have it, despite its debilitating effects. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and one of the leading causes of amputations—two very compelling reasons why ministers at the event are partnering with Pennington Biomedical. They want to ensure their members are healthy throughout their lives.

    “The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” said Rev. Donald Sterling, East Baton Rouge Parish Minister’s Conference President, who plans to take the message of healthy living back to his congregation. “The information that we’ve learned today—it’s going to go a long way in helping our people lead healthy lives. We as preachers can’t preach about health unless we take care of ourselves, so we need to be at the forefront, letting our people know they can lead productive lives if they’re healthy.” Rev. Sterling is Pastor of Israelite Missionary Baptist Church of South Baton Rouge and Pastor of Greater St. John Baptist Church.

    Sterling and his fellow pastor, Rev. Conway L. Knighton of St. Mary Baptist Church, were so moved by the statistics on diabetes that they agreed to also help Pennington Biomedical recruit for clinical trials, such as ARTIIS, which examines the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar in Black men.

    “I want to get some of the people from Pennington [Biomedical] to do an orientation, to share the word with people I know about what good health can do for you,” said Knighton.wpid-wp-1410314926550.jpeg

    Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden praised Pennington Biomedical for its in-depth research of chronic issues like diabetes that largely effect the Black population, including his brother, who was a double amputee before he passed away.

    “What we’re doing is trying to pass the message [that] you’ve got to eat right, you’ve got to exercise, you’ve got to watch your weight, because all of these things together can make a difference in the quality of life you have,” said Holden. “Because Pennington [Biomedical] is out there administering all these studies, they’re out there trying to ensure that you live a long and happy life.”

    Pennington Biomedical is also recruiting diabetics for several other studies, including GRADE and D2D, and participants may be paid for their time and in some cases may receive free medicines. To see if you are eligible to participate, call 225-763-3000 or go to www.pbrc.edu/healthierLA.

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  • Tolbert now national Baptist president

    The Reverend SAM TOLBERT of Lake Charles has been named president-elect of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc. Tolbert is pastor of Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church and also serves as vice president of the North American Baptist Fellowship

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  • Collins performs with 300 thespians

    Zachary High School theater student TONY COLLINS was one of 300 student thespians around the country to be accepted into the Summer Conservatory at AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in New York City. The program is an intense two-week course to strengthen acting, vocal, and dance ability and provide students the chance to work with Broadway professionals.

     

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  • EBR home to 500 high-powered rifles, more

    ICYMI: Kiran Chawla WAFB reports several military tools, like high-powered rifles and Humvees, are showing up in cities across the country and many are ending up in police departments, including the Baton Rouge area, without the public’s knowledge.

    Chawla reported, “The New York Times published a study showing the districts where some surplus military-style equipment is going and East Baton Rouge Parish tops the list in Louisiana for assault rifles received. The law enforcement agencies in the parish have received 558 assault rifles through the program.”

    Read the entire story at WAFB.com

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    Caught You! JK Haynes

    CAUGHT YOU: J.K. Haynes Charter School math teachers challenge participants during the school’s showcase and back to school supply giveaway, July 27. The new middle school is located at the old Banks Elementary, 2401 72nd Ave., in Scotlandville. See more photos on The Drum facebook page.

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  • Artistic protest

    Baton Rouge artist and illustrator Antoine Mitchell creates breathtaking image inspired by the Ferguson, MO, protests of the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen, by a police officer. More of Mitchell’s work can be seen at www.poeARTry.net.

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  • Study: Blacks exposure to pollution greater than whites

    By New American Media

    Communities of color across the United States are exposed to disproportionately high rates of pollution, according to engineering and environmental researchers at the University of Minnesota.

    Researchers looked at the variations in pollution exposure across race, income, education attainment and other categories, and found race to be the dominant determining factor.

    The study, titled National patterns in environmental injustice and inequality: Outdoor NO2 air pollution in the United States, found that Black people and other minorities breathe in air with 38 percent more noxious nitrogen dioxide than whites because of their close proximity to power plants and the inhalation of vehicle exhaust.

    Lower-income Americans and those with lower education attainment also were exposed at higher rates than their richer and more educated counterparts, respectively.

    While other studies have examined disparities in exposures to environmental risks, including air pollution, at a city, state and regional level, the Minnesota researchers say their study is the first to use satellite observations, measurements by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and maps of land uses to explore disparities in exposure to air pollution nationwide.

    Nitrogen dioxide is one of the toxic pollutants monitored and regulated by EPA and causes respiratory ailments. Thus, the health implications of the disparities in exposure found in the UM study could be substantial, researchers claimed. For example, the study estimates that if non-whites breathed the lower nitrogen dioxide levels experienced by whites, it would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease alone among minorities each year.

    Researchers believe the study could be a resource for monitoring and evaluating other areas of environmental disparity.

    “National patterns in environmental injustice and inequality” was published in the April 15 issue of PLOS ONE, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.

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  • Broussard receives book award

    JINX BROUSSARD’s African American Foreign Correspondents: A History, received the History Division Book Award from the Association For Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Broussard teaches media history and public relations in the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU. The Vacherie native is the William B. Dickinson Professorship in Journalism at LSU. Broussard traces the history of Black participation in international newsgathering, starting in the mid-1800s with Frederick Douglass and Mary Ann Shadd Cary – the first Black woman to edit a North American newspaper. Broussard’s work provides insight into how and why African Americans reported the experiences of Blacks worldwide.

    According to African American Foreign Correspondents: A History, Black correspondents upheld a tradition of filing objective stories on world events, yet some Black journalists in the mainstream media, like their predecessors in the Black press, had a different mission and perspective. They adhered primarily to a civil rights agenda, grounded in advocacy, protest and pride. Accordingly, some of these correspondents – not all of them professional journalists – worked to spur social reform in the United States and force policy changes that would eliminate oppression globally.

    By examining how and why Blacks reported information and perspectives from abroad, African American Foreign Correspondents: A History contributes to a broader conversation about navigating racial, societal, and global problems, many of which we continue to contend with today. Broussard conducts research on the black press and is the author of Giving a Voice to the Voiceless: Four Pioneering Black Women Journalists.

     

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    Blacks experience more bullying

    By Jazelle Hunt
    NNPA Correspondent

    WASHINGTON–Blacks, who are already more likely than other racial groups to be involved in situations that involve bullying, both as a victim and as a perpetrator, are subjected to additional bullying because of other complicating factors, including poverty, according to scholars and experts on the subject.

    “African Americans have higher rates of bullying. When I looked at the factors, they were all overlapping with health and social disparity,” said Maha Mohammad Albdour, who is examining bullying as part of her doctoral studies in Community Health Nursing at Wayne State University. Her re­search findings were published this month in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing.

    “There is a lot of interest in bullying, but…. [t]his population has a lot going on related to social and health disparities, so maybe the experience is different from other populations,” Albdour said.

    According to her research, Black children are more likely to be involved in bullying (as aggressor, victim, or bystander) than other groups. Additionally, Stop­bullying.gov, a federal resource, found that Black and Hispanic children who are bullied are more likely to do poorly in school than their white counterparts.

    They are also more likely to possess characteristics that make them a target for bullying. According to some studies, children who are perceived as “different” – through sexuality or gender identity, lower socio-economic status than their peers, or pronounced weight differences (over or under), are more likely to be bullied.

    As of 2010, 51 percent of Black children ages two to 19 had been told by a doctor that they were overweight, according to the Office of Minority Health. But such factors and the effects they bring can be mitigated by a trusted adult’s presence.

    “For African-American children, family was a strong predicting factor,” Albdour said. “[Family] can even act as a buffer for community violence. If there is communication, cohesion, and the parents are involved in the child’s school life, it has a huge preventative effect.”

    Albdour’s research mirrors a newly released report, “Peer Victimization in Fifth Grade and Health in Tenth Grade.”

    The report, which appears in the March issue of Pediatrics, tracked more than 4,000 students’ experiences over time, surveying them in fifth grade (when the prevalence of bullying peaks), in seventh grade, and in 10th grade.

    While the study did nog specifically examine race, the researchers found that kids who are bullied, especially for prolonged periods, are more likely to experience poor mental and physical health in adolescence and beyond.

    As fifth-graders, almost a third of students questioned who reported being victims of bullying exhibited poor psychological health, compared to the 4.3 percent who were not bullied.

    By seventh grade, those who reported being bullied in the past were better off—the percentage of students exhibiting signs of a poor quality of life as fifth-graders was cut in half if the bullying had stopped by seventh grade.

    However, the rate of emotional trouble was highest among 10th-graders who reported being bullied both in t he past and present, with nearly 45 percent showing signs of serious distress. This group of chronically bullied 10th-graders had the highest rates of low self-worth, depression, and poor quality of life (and the second-highest rates of poor physical health, after those who were being bullied in the present only).

    “Any victimization is bad, but it has stronger effects depending on whether it continues or not,” said Laura Bogart, the author of the study. “If the bullying experience happens in fifth grade, you can still see effects in 10th grade.”

    Those effects manifest in myriad detrimental ways for children involved in bullying—but the repercussions differ depending on how the child is involved.

    Stopbullying.gov says that kids who bully others are more likely to be violent, vandalize property, drop out of school, and have sex early. As adults, they are more likely to have criminal convictions and traffic citations, and abuse romantic partners. Warning signs include aggression, difficulty accepting responsibility for one’s own actions, and a competitive spirit that is concerned with reputation or popularity.

    The site advises that kids who are bullied “are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.”

    “There are subtle signs,” Bogart says. “If a child doesn’t want to go to school all of a sudden, or if they’re in their room a lot. If they’re sad or angry, or if they’re not talking about other kids and friends from school [for example].”

    The kids who experience the most far-reaching consequences are bully-victims—kids who are victims in one area of their lives, and victimize others in another.

    “Bully-victims are the most afflicted. They have more substance abuse, more social problems…and this is true across ethnicities,” Albdour explains. “You can expect bully-victims to internalize problems, then act out. It results in them being an aggressive person as an adult.”

    Parents can play a vital role.

    “One argument is that there should be immediate and early intervention, and parents should be aware of what’s going on in their child’s life through good communication with their child,” Bogart said.

    In the case of Black children, anti-discrimination/civil rights laws can be applied if harassment is race-based. As StopBullying.gov explains, “There is no federal law that specifically applies to bullying. In some cases, when bullying is based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion, bullying overlaps with harassment and schools are legally obligated to address it.”

    States seem to be showing more sensitivity in addressing bullying.

    “In almost every state there is a law that schools have to have anti-bullying policy, and it usually involves parents,” Bogart said. “Now, there’s a lot less talk of ‘kids just do that’ or ‘boys will be boys.’ We are evolving as a nation.”

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  • Grambling grad creates band to guard against germs

    ID Me Bands 2

    It all started with a mother’s outrage at her child contracting strepthroat while playing sports, when a light bulb went off in Nicole Reeder’s head.

    Reeder, whose son took sick after drinking behind another player, created ID Me Bands, the first functional bottles marker for athletic environments.

    Nicole Reeder ID Bands

    Nicole Reeder ID Bands

    As bands, these markers help athletes uniquely identify their bottles and can also be worn around wrists and ankles. ID Me Bands help combat the epidemic of individuals spreading germs and illnesses to their teammates.

    “You have entire teams getting (mononucleosis) because they’re sharing bottles,” said Reeder, who graduated from Grambling State University in 2004 with a degree in chemistry.

    Read the entire story by Anastasia Semien.

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  • High schoolers win nationally with local 100 Black Men

    The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, Ltd., had winning entries in three areas of competition at the annual convention of 100 Black Men of America this summer in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The Financial Literacy Team, including SUNDAE-MARIE BRUMFIELD of Capitol High School and GODIS JACKSON and LOVEIS JACKSON of Baton Rouge Magnet High School won top prize in the State Farm sponsored Dollars & $ense Competition, scoring 99.7 out of a possible 100 points. Baton Rouge Magnet High School students Justin Jackson and Daniel Joseph represented won second place  of the African American History Challenge. JALEN LEWIS (pictured) of  Glen Oaks High School, was selected as the 2014-15 International Mentee of the Year.

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  • Who’s in charge?

    There are eight elected member of the state board of elementary and secondary education.  They are elected in what has been redistricted from the old original eight congressional districts.  These people represent a very large group of constituents.  Their base is larger than any of our elected state senators or representatives.
    In order to hire a new state superintendent it takes eight votes, a super majority.  What is amazing is that the governor spent a lot of effort making sure this board was the one he wanted.  Therefore it baffles me that when the leadership sends two proposals over to him, he rejects both.  It baffles me that the leadership and the board seem to abdicate their elected role by totally deferring to the governor.
    Who should the governor be meeting with to iron out the issues?  I believe it is the leadership of the board along with the hired staff (Superintendent White).  Well what looks like happened is the governor met with the hired staff, did not reach an agreement, then the hired staff brought the message back to his employer, the board.  The issues today are critical.  It just seems as if the meetings should be with the employer rather than the employee.  Now understand the governor may be meeting with his appointees, at least one because of the way the votes have been going.
    Then we have this tit for tat going on, Jindal and his Chief administrator make a statement, then White makes a statement to counter their statement, then the administration makes a new statement and then White answers.
    Some days it feels like little children arguing over gets to play first, then some days it feels like no one is minding the store.
    However in all the adult infighting, I am at a lost as to who is caring about the children, I am at a lost as to who really is concerned about what the teachers will teach in three weeks and then I worry about what will be assessed.  Again, the big question is who is really in charge?
    By Linda Johnson
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  • Rising star:Shalyric Self

    18-year-old Shalyric Self is working to brand herself as a multifaceted singer, songwriter, dancer and actress.

    SINGER.

    Self began singing at age four in local youth choirs and her church mass choir. Since then her talents have taken her to the third round of NBC’s “The Voice”. And now she is working on her first album, to be released this fall.

    SONGWRITER.

    Using an iphone, headphones and isolation, Self said she finds inspiration in listening to different variations of music. She said she will be the primary writer of her project produced by Ross Pirelli and her production team at 4th Floor.

    DANCER.

    Stunned by her performance at Scotlandville High as a member of the dance team, Cleo Fields offered the opportunity to dance for the Louisiana Leadership Institute- Dazzling Starlettes.  As a result, Self will be heading to Los Angeles this summer to work with Debbie Allen. During this trip, Shalyric said she hopes that her craft will be perfected.

    ACTRESS.

    Appearing in the film “Mama I Want to Sing” in 2007 alongside recording artists Ciara and Patti LaBelle, Self played the role of Amara.

    DESTINY…

    Never give up,” Self said. “This business is really tough and at one point I used to feel that every time I took one step forward I took three steps but I remember what my grandmother used to tell me [not to] sit down on my gifts.”

    Self has completed what some would deem as impossible. She sacrificed many extracurricular activities and events to be able to move forward with a career that few succeed in. Following the summer, Self will be attending Southern University majoring in biomedical engineering. And with so much already accomplished, Self intends to continue her balancing act en route to her multi-faceted dreams.

    “In school I had to think about my future and how being a good student,” Self said. “In the studio and on stage, I had to think about the simple fact that whatever I put in it is what I get out of it as Mrs. Debbie Allen would say.”

    By Yolanda Brown 

    Contributing Writer 

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  • Danse Noir commemorates fifth season with themed recital

    When Malaysia and Aniya Dunn’s dance program relocated, their father, businessman Cleve Dunn Jr. sought the opportunity to fill the void by opening Danse Noir.

    And while having no prior dance knowledge, Dunn, who opened his studio in 2009, finds a witty comparison to get people to understand his stance. “You don’t have to be a chef to open a restaurant,” he said.

    “In creating Danse Noir we have been able to lay a foundation in North Baton Rouge for students, instructors and other aspiring dancers can work on their craft,” he continued. “Because of the foundation we have laid we’ve been able to contribute to Baton Rouge’s arts community and also be a catalyst for its growth”

    As CEO of Dunn Enterprises – a company that provides logistics for various area companies – he successfully recruited a staff of highly trained dancers to teach ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop classes to more than 125 aspiring dancers annually. DNS 2014 Recital 21st Century Child 166-2 copy

    Of those staffers is 16-year veteran Connor McGrew. McGrew, a Southern University Dancing Doll, said she feels very valued as an employee of Danse Noir.

    “When it comes to the studio’s day-to-day, Mr. Dunn is very involved,” McGrew said. “But he gives us the creative control when it comes to instruction.”

    Since its inception, Danse Noir has given students – ages three to eighteen – access to equipment such as ballet bars, a spring floor and wall-to-wall mirrors.

    A parent observation room is also available, showcasing highly skilled instructors who not only instill an appreciation of dance in young people, but have earned Danse Noir its loyalty from many parents.

    “My daughter has been dancing [there] since the studio opened and they have a very positive impact on the person I’m raising her to become,” said Tara Washington, a Danse Noir parent. “I have watched her grow as a person in the areas of discipline, creativity and communication.”

    mom copy

    To celebrate five years of growth for the studio and its students, Danse Noir held hosted its annual spring recital titled “21st Century Child”.

    Dunn said the studio chose the theme to highlight the issues that this generation is facing and showcase how children of this century are overcoming.

    “Working with the theme was a fun creative process,” McGrew said. “As instructors we spend a lot of time getting to know the students. Performing a recital that deals with some of the issues they face shows them that we listen and we care about them.”

    Dance mom Washington said she is always pleased with the recitals.

    “I feel like the studio values me as parent and my child as student,” Washington said. “Ranging from making sure costumes are age appropriate for all the dancers, to the selection of the venue – they even make sure that shows start promptly.”

    Danse Noir is located at 3330 Woodcrest Drive – the sixth season will begin late August.

     

    By Cameron James 

    City News Manager 

     

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  • Local youth poetry group competes in Philadelphia

    For youth ages 13 to19, a safe space exists where they are taught the craft of poetry writing from two of Baton Rouge’s most seasoned spoken word poets, eight-time National Poetry Slam team member Donney Rose and the 2013 Individual World Poetry Slam (IWPS) champion Chancelier “xero” Skidmore.

    Skidmore and Rose work through an arts-based nonprofit called Forward Arts, Inc. Its flagship project, WordPlay is the agency in which the two teach poetry writing and performance workshops. Originally founded in 2005 by Anna West – a Baton Rouge native, then newly returned home from building a nonprofit in Chicago – WordPlay Teen Writing Project began as part of the teen programming service unit at the Big Buddy Program.

    In 2011 Skidmore and Rose packed up WordPlay and so it became the first program of Forward Arts.

    Attempting to continue burning the torch that began with West, the two men worked for nearly three years providing the same in-school residencies, after-school writing workshops and annual teen poetry festival ALL CITY. But unlike financially secured veteran nonprofit agencies, Forward Arts did the work all through contracts and donations while awaiting 501c3 approval from the IRS.

    A 501c3 organization is the most common type of nonprofit. This IRS category provides federal income tax exemptions to approved agencies that fulfill purposes such as charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, public safety testing, amateur sports competition, child or animal cruelty prevention.

    On the day of their summer camp’s showcase, Rose, who hosted the event announced that Forward Arts had received its IRS approval and could officially begin the search for lasting grants and accept its own donations. Following that joy, Rose and Skidmore will of course, continue the program’s mission of providing workshops, performance spaces and professional development for young people and adults and fostering social transformation through critical engagement and creative practice – all of which happens on a semester basis.

    But before the beginning of fall programming, the two veteran poets traveled with five youth poets to Philadelphia for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival (BNV) with Rose acting as mentor and Skidmore as the official coach.

    BNV was created by Youth Speaks, Inc. in 1998 after the inaugural Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam in San Francisco – the first poetry slam dedicated to youth in the world. Since that time, BNV has grown to represent youth from all across the United States and several cities and countries from around the world. In fact, this year’s BNV included a team from Cape Town, South Africa.

    The five Forward Arts youth, Amber Torrence, age 16 and Jennifer Deschner, age 17 – McKinley High; Antonio Dupre, age 17 and Brittany Marshall, age 17 – Baton Rouge Magnet High; and Antone Leblanc, age 18 – Scotlandville Magnet High, were the 2014 highest scoring individual poets at the ALL CITY Teen Poetry Festival which earned them their spots on the Forward Arts All Star Slam team.

    A poetry slam is an Olympic style competition where poets are scored zero to ten using a decimal point by five randomly selected judges. The high and the low scores are thrown out leaving the poet with a possible total of 30. At BNV each team competes at two quarter final bouts with their own original material within a time limit of three minutes, thirty seconds.

    The Forward Arts youth began preparation for the big competition in mid May, nearly two weeks after ALL CITY and just less than months before BNV. Committing to a semi-rigorous rehearsal schedule, the young poets were taught the art of revision, crafting of group poems and performance techniques.

    “We did inventory of specific types of poems and we were lacking on group poems,” Deschner said. “We got writing prompts to pour ourselves on the page. And then there’s an editor – I really struggled with editing until xero explained to me that it’s not four poems trying to become one voice – it’s four voices trying to become one poem.”

    While Deschner admits to struggling as a group poem editor, the young author said she has been writing since before she can remember.

    You once asked me why I kept so many secrets,

    made the habits of hiding my dark side and shutting you out like

    birds’ shrill singing on the wrong side of the bed mornings.

    I’ve tried to give you honesty,

    but I still have to force myself not to turn too many pages in my song book soul and

    skip over songs that are too painful for me to try and sing.

    I tried to make rhythms of my flinching when you requested my most haunting tunes,

    tried to persuade you I had lovelier lullabies for you to listen to but

    you would have none of it.

    Excerpt, “Trust Issues” – Jennifer Deschner

    But, spoken word, especially slam is still relatively new to her. Deschner read her first poem at Freshhhh Heat Teen Open & Poetry Slam as a means to pay her friend back a loan or as she jokingly said, by way of blackmail from having owed the money for such a long period of time.

    It was in the trickery that Deschner found her love for performing. She then brought her joy back to McKinley, and thus was able to onboard schoolmate Amber Torrence.

    “Jennifer is my mentor,” Torrence said. “She told me I was good and not to doubt myself – I’m here because of her. Now I’m in love with poetry and when I feel like I need to say something, I write it.”

    Torrence said that while she still gets nervous, she loves performing and being onstage. She shares that love with her teammate Antonio Dupre, who admits before being exposed to slam, he thought poetry was for nerds.

    “I feel like poetry is an addiction at this point,” Dupre said.

    And he’s since gotten quite creative with his words, even crafting persona pieces.

    I dream of being the finger of a hero.
    Sometimes I lightly caress the body of a gun
    just to have some of the glory it sheds
    stick to me.
    My owner tells me that one day,
    we will be paraded in the streets
    for having, holding, and making use of
    a gun.
    He tells me
    that America told him
    that heroes kill people.
    Every other finger I’ve talked to around here
    agrees with me;
    a bandolier is quite hip these days.
    It’s more functional
    AND looks better than spandex.
    It’s a must for any DIY heroes.
    They don’t come with capes or catchphrases anymore,
    but with heavy backpacks and weaponry.
    A bullet is the modern man’s superpower.

    Excerpt, “The Psychosis of a Hero’s Trigger Finger” – Antonio Dupre

    Dupre has also tried his hand at the dreaded group poem editing for a piece with teammate Brittany Marshall, who said 2014 is her first year working on poetry. Marshall and Dupre were also teammates on the Baton Rouge Magnet High slam team at ALL CITY – the team champions of the team/indi competition.

    “I’ve gotten way better with using literary devices now,” Marshall said. “Just within a year I’m going to Philadelphia to compete! I want to see if I can make a name for myself.”

    9 year old me

    thought I could save my mama. 

    that I could write her addiction away.

    10 year old me

    told mama that I’d write her letters

    to express to her how I felt

    mama didn’t remember how to express how she felt

    but by the time 11 year old me came through

    those letters became prayers to

    God

    but the prayers became futile 

    because 12 year old me 

    wasn’t sure God even existed anymore. 

    I’m not even sure God exists anymore

    Excerpt, “Mama” – Brittany Marshall and Antonio Dupre 

    Overall the youth were extremely excited in preparation for BNV and about having a world champion as their coach, even comparing Skidmore to biblical figure Moses.

    “It’s somewhat scary to be coached by the iWPS champ,” Dupre said. “It’s like I don’t want to show him anything because he’s just the best – like when somebody goes to the top of the mountain and sees that old man with a beard and a stick and it’s like ‘old, wise one’ – he’s like a sage of poetry.”

    Deschner didn’t go as far as worshipping Skidmore, but she did acknowledge his immense skill level as a teacher.

    “He’s good at not being too pushy when he wants us to push ourselves,” she said. “It can be intimidating but it’s also comforting to know that someone who’s so passionate is on our side to help us grow. He’s so passionate about poetry and he wants to instill that in us.”

    Fall programming for Forward Arts will begin in September with in-school residencies and after school writing workshop, Word Crew.

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  • Capitol City Golf Association celebrates 49 years

    Before Tiger Woods swung his first golf club, the Capitol City Golf Association had been recruiting Black golf enthusiast for more than two decades.

    “There was time where blacks could work on any golf course, but were only welcomed to play at a few, especially in the south”, said Don Watson CCGA Tournament Coordinator. This year the Capitol City Golf Association celebrated its 49th anniversary.

    To commemorate almost half of century of promoting the golf among the community the CCGA hosted its annual golf tournament.

    Ronald Williams, Corey Grant, Al Ridley, Henry Pointer, Mophi Mmopi,Don Watson, CCGA Tournament Committee chair Huston Williams, CCGA president Sidney Brown III, Mark Young, and CCGA treasurer Paul Levy

    During Father’s day weekend golfers representing Southern Association of Amateur Golfers registered golf clubs from Louisiana, and throughout the southern region of country, united at the Coppermill Golf Club, in Zachary La., for two days of competition.

    “Our mission is to promote the sport of golf and share the benefits that can be gained from taking up the sport at an early age” said Sid- ney Brown III CCGA President

    swing

    Tyler Armstrong takes a swing as part of the Frist Tee Program.

    In order build on the legacy set by the CCGA ,and engage youth golf enthusiast, the organization partnered for the first time with the Baton Rouge chapter of the First Tee program.

    “Golf is a sport that doesn’t discriminate, you don’t have be to certain height or have certain build, and almost anyone can play,” Watson said, “All you need is a desire to learn the game.”

    The First Tee is a national program that introduces the game of golf to young people and uses it to teach character education and life skills that help young people pre- pare for success in high school, college and beyond.

    Brown said this year the organization would work with First Tee to provide mentors, coaches, and scholarships for the program.This year’s the competition saw the greatest variety in age among participants, with youngest being 13 and the oldest 72 years old.

    According to a study by Harvard Medical School senior citizens who play golf regularly are likely to benefit from a stronger heart and sharper memory.

    To celebrate the vast variety of age groups and states represented by the more than 80 SAAG members who participated, and its 49- year history, the CCGA hosted a banquet.

    “Our organization has grown from the support our chapter members and other organizations, the annual banquet is our way of thanking those who supported promoting unity off the golf course,” said Huston Williams

    The CCGA was organized in 1961 to provide amateur golfers with opportunities to develop their individual skills and encourage others in the community to participate in the game.

    The CCGA is the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Southern Association of Amateur Golfers. The SAAG is to a regional organization of 18 golf clubs spanning throughout the southern region of the United States.

    Cameron James

    City News Manager

    Read more »
  • Finding Freedom: Memorializing the Voices of Freedom

    Finding Freedom: Memorializing the Voices of Freedom Summer by Jacqueline Johnson (ISBN 1881163520) provides detailed information about the Freedom Summer.

    Monument on the campus of Western College at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

    The monument, dedicated in 2000, commemorates Western’s role in Freedom Summer 1964 and memorializes James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman.

    They were the Freedom Summer trainees murdered in Mississippi, whose deaths brought national and world attention on the continuing existence of segregation and violent racism in the United States during the 1960s.

    Finding Freedom: Memorializing the Voices of Freedom Summer contains essays from participants in the 1964 training sessions, including essays by Oxford residents who supported the Friends of the Mississippi Project; monument architect Robert Keller; a poem by Miami University alumna Rita Dove; and period pho- tographs by photographer George Hoxie. Filmmaker and Baton Rouge native Keith Beauchamp contrib- utes the preface.

    BY KARLY M. BROWN

    Contributing writer 

    Read more »
  • Williams-Garcia, Mosley great picks for summer reading

     

    THIS SUMMER YOU CAN Relax and go on an adventure at the same time with two books that are sure to knock your sandals off with their fun filled adventures.So kick back those bare summer feet, unwind and prepare to go on a journey with some fascinating fictional characters as they quest throughout the great unknown.

    One Crazy Summer

    By Rita Williams-Garcia 11-year-old Delphine has taken on the role of mother to her two younger sisters after their mother, Cecile abandons the family. You’ll take part of a crazy journey across country with Delphine, her sisters, the Black Panthers, and Cecile. Delphine learns a valuable lesson one crazy summer that will stick with her for life.

    Fearless Jones                                                                                                                                                                                                                   By Walter Mosley Paris Minton was a bookstore owner with no enemies and living a worry-free life. But that

    fearless jonesall changed when Elana Love walked into his store. Elana dragged Paris into something he had never been in before. His house was burned down, he was beat up, and shot at and all because of Elana. So what do you do when your back is against the wall and you have no idea where to go and who to trust? You get Fearless Jones, the happiest and the scariest man alive to help you out of this mess. Come with Paris, Elana, and Fearless on a ride that they will never forget and that will forever change Paris’ life.

     BY KARLY M. BROWN

    Contributing writer

    Read more »
  • Southern receives charter bus

    SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY now has its own touring bus. The Office of Student Affairs purchased the bus for $45,000 – it cost $264,000 new – from the Louisiana Property Assistance Agency. The bus has been rebuilt from the windshield to the rear of the vehicle. Among the changes include, new seating, televisions, Wi-Fi access along with a new restroom facility. The touring bus is believed to be the first of its kind in the univer- sity’s history.

    Read more »
  • Cupid releases ‘CuRobiks’ fitness DVD

     

    THIS SUMMER THE LOUISIANA king of dance music, Cupid, is delivering new music to help fans shrink their waistlines.

    The singer, whose real name is Bryson Bernard, said he received the wake up call that it was time to get in shape when he saw the way looked with the extra pounds on television.

    “I saw myself on The Monique Show and I really didn’t like how I looked,” he said. “After watching that interview I new I needed to make the change.”

    The former track athlete realized he could no longer make excuses for his growing waistline and in- stead needed to make time for exercise while on tour.

    He realized he could use his music as a catalyst to get his fans active. So at the beginning of last year, he launched Curobiks DVD.

    “I would see people coming to my shows and dancing to my music and they would be sweating so we took my songs and merged dance moves with aerobic ones,” he said.

    The Lafayette native’s songs “Do it with Your Boots On” and the “Cupid Shuffle” provide the soundtrack for Curobiks, a combination of calisthenics, aerobics and line dancing led and instructed by the singer.

    Since it’s release, the DVD has sold more than 10,000 copies and counting, motivating Cupid to take the life style on the road with the CuRobiks Fitness Concert Experience.

    “This is an experience that will give me a chance to entertain and interact with audiences in way that I have never done before,” he said.

    He said the CuRobiks Experience is a concert and aerobics class rolled into one, suitable for all ages and skill levels.

    Divided into three segments, participants will first learn how to line dance, join in the 45-minute concert/workout led by Cupid and end with a meet and greet where they can also gain health awareness and purchase CuRobiks literature and DVD’s.

    As the singer travels the country en- couraging a more active lifestyle among fans he is still working on new music and has released two singles.

    “A lot of my music is high energy music suitable for all ages. Anytime I try to step out of the box or do something different, the formula just doesn’t work support.”

    He said his newest single “Wham Dance” pays tribute to the high-energy music and people Louisiana is known for.

    “I worked with Mystikal on this single and together we created a song that cel- ebrates the music that makes Louisiana unique,” he said.

    Cupid’s new album will be released this fall along with CuRobiks 2.

    BY CAMERON JAMES

    City News Manager

    Read more »
  • National report finds ‘Blacks beyond broke’

     

    WASHINGTON—THE growing racial wealth gap—$200 in median wealth for Blacks in 2011 and $23,000 for whites–threatens na- tional economic se- curity in the United States, according to a recent report by the Center for Global Poli- cy Solutions.

    “When it comes to the racial gap in liquid wealth, African Ameri- cans and Latinos are nearly penniless,” stated the report. “The median liquid wealth of whites is over 100 times that of Blacks.”

    The report said that when retirement savings are taken out of the analysis, the disparities in liquid wealth are even more disturbing.

    “Blacks are found to hold a mere $25 and Latinos just $100 in liquid wealth, com- pared to $3,000 held by the typical white household,” the report said.

    During a press conference on the re- port on Capitol Hill, Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that the racial gap is not some product of changes in the economy.

    “It’s our tax policy,designed to help the rich, It’s also our trade policy, off-shoring our jobs and it’s also the attack on unions,” said Ellison.

    Congressman Ste- ven Horsford (D-Nev.) said that families are living paycheck to paycheck and are drowning in debt from predatory loans and mortgages and decreased home values following the housing crisis.

    This great divide in wealth has con- tributed to many of the problems that are facing communities of color, including lower educational achieve- ment and family in- security, according to Horsford.

    He said that minorities were institutionally restricted from having access to wealth-building tools largely until the Civil Rights Movement and, though explicit insti- tutional racism has somewhat subsided, the wide gap in wealth between families of color and White fami- lies is still a reflection of more discreet sys- tematic and social bar- riers that have limited economic mobility.

    The report outlined a number of policy recommendations, including a universal “baby bond” trust program.

    Darrick Hamil- ton, associate profes- sor of Economics and Urban Policy Milano Graduate School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School in New York City said that baby bonds could help close the wealth gap.

    “The idea is that as an adult you can engage in wealth building you can pur- chase an asset so that you have the opportunity to build economic security over a lifetime,” said Hamil- ton. He explained: “If the average account is $20,000 at birth and we have about four million babies born per year, that would make the cost of around $80 billion a year for the program.”

    Hamilton said that would be about 2.2 percent of the federal budget and rival what gets spent at the Department of Education.

    He said, “If you could design another program like the Department of Education that would help close the racial wealth gap and provide economic security for all Americans I ask, would you do it?”

    Maya Rockeymoore, president of the think tank that produced the report, said that the African American community should know that it’s not about them, it’s about the system and how it is structured with policies that deny their opportunity to have equitable chances for growing wealth in this nation.

    “We’ve been told that all of the households have recovered from the recession, that’s what the Federal Reserve data shows,” said Rockeymoore, president and CEO for the Center for Global Policy Solutions. “What our study shows is that for every dol- lar in wealth held by typical white family, African- American and Latino fami- lies only have six and seven cents.”

    We talk about the employment experience, pushing for living wage policies focusing on creating jobs financial literacy and entrepreneurship are a part of the quality educational experience.

    There are elements of personal responsibility connected to how we build and grow wealth, but the structural elements outweigh the personal considerations, said Rockeymoore.

    “In order to make policy change you have to be politically involved,” said Rockeymoore. “In order to make sure your bank account looks different, there are certain things that you can do as well.”

    Whatever it takes, the country can’t continue to go down this road, said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D- Md.)., noting that in less than 30 years, the majority of people living in the Unit- ed States will be people of color.

    Cummings said: “If you have the majority in this country who are not earning enough money to take care of their families, who are not earning enough to create a savings account and don’t have pensions, who’s going to buy the refrigerators, who’s going to buy the curtains who’s going to buy the cars?”

    Cummings added: “We have to make sure that America understands that this is not just a minor- ity problem, this is an economic security problem. If you cut that many people out of the economic mainstream, your country will literally collapse.”

    BY FREDDIE ALLEN

    NNPA Correspondent 

    Read more »
  • Timothy Carter’s composition performed internationally

    BY THE END OF 2014, Baton Rouge musician Timothy Carter will have a law degree from Southern University Law Center. But that’s likely not going to be the highest point of his year as his first love recently provided him an international surprise.

    A musical piece he began writing in the summer of 2009—which had never been performed publicly—made its debut in Tokyo, Ja- pan, at the Kanto Honor Band Concert at the International School of the Sacred Heart.

    The orchestra was comprised of top musicians from international schools in the Tokyo area, with Carter’s song “Takin’ It On Home” being conducted by one of his mentors, Quincy Hilliard.

    Hilliard kept the debut an acciden- tal secret from Carter because Hilliard was unsure if he would have the or- chestra perform the piece.

    Carter said the song is just as close to Hilliard as it is to him. It was Hilliard who encouraged him to begin writing the composition that would later become “Takin’ It On Home.”

    “The song was always one that Dr. Hilliard was excited about; it’s one he has been wanting to see come to life,” Carter said. “He had been trying about 10 years or so to get someone to write a jazz piece for a concert band. He and I would always talk about opportunities to debut the piece.”

    Carter was not in Japan when his music was played but he received a copy of the program and has admittedly watched a YouTube video of the performance several times.

    “It is an extremely gratifying experience–extremely rewarding,” he said. “It’s also humbling to know that some- thing you spent so many hours, days, weeks, and months working on, could show someone else, (and they could) interpret it and give it back to the au- dience the way you originally had seen it. Those kids in Japan did that and more.”

    Carter said that seeing his composition played internationally has inspired him to work on many more pieces.

    Upon graduating law school, he said he intends to practice copyright law from the expertise and experience of someone who understands the ins- and-outs of both law and music.

    BY LESLIE D. ROSE

    Assistant Managing Editor

    Read more »
  • ‘Booking It With Baby’ tour returns to Baton Rouge

    The Glen “Big Baby” Davis Foundation and the East Baton Rouge Parish Library System’s fourth annual “Booking it With Baby” literacy tour will begin Wednesday, July 9.

    “Over the past four years, my foundation has accomplished more than I ever imagined through our literacy initiative. I am so humbled by the kids’ response and I can’t wait to meet and interact with them this year.”  Davis said

    Los Angeles Clipper and Baton Rouge native will be traveling through his hometown via the library’s mobile unit to bring books and promote literacy to children in the community.

    This year’s tour will include a special stop on July 10 at The Eden Park Library where   the first ever “Big Baby & Hollingsworth Reading Center” will be revealed.

    The tour will end on Saturday, July 12, with the second annual “Big Baby’s Family & Friends Day” at Star Hill Church. Open to the public, this event will provide a more relaxed setting during which guests can interact with Davis and other community leaders.

    For a full schedule of this years stops click here

    Read more »
  • Diagnosis leads to transformation: Q&A with Jeffery Woods

    WHEN JEFFERY WOODS’ WIFE SURPRISED him an expensive T-shirt he said, “I put it on, it looked horrible and I felt so bad”. Instead of returning the shirt, he hung it in his closet as motivation to get back into shape. Over the course of one year, the 42-year-old father of two was able to transform from a flabby 245 pounds back to the lean 187-pound athletic build he had as a high school athlete. The married 42-year-old father of two answers questions about his new lifestyle.

    Who is Jeffery Woods?

    I am happily married to my wife Racquel and we have two children named Laci and Clayton. Laci is a se- nior in High School and Clayton is a 1st grader. Throughout the last couple of years I have managed to work full time, support a family and complete doctor- ate in Organizational Leadership. This surely could not have been done if I did not exercise daily and maintain great eating habits. The exercise and proper diet provided me with the fuel to keep going.

    How did your health start to take a turn for the worse or was it always generally poor?

    Well, couple with the diagnosis of CardicSarcoidosis about 15 years ago, prednisone was prescribed and the battle began to fight the bulge. As you can see in the pics, I went from a size 32 to a 38 in no time. Prior to my illness I was al- ways fit and successfully completed the Marine Corp Marathon in 4:28. The following year as I was training for my 2nd Marathon and the JFK 50 miler I passed out during an or- ganized Flag Football Game. I will spare you the long diatribe, but it is a good story because I ended up finishing the game, Neverthe- less, fast forward 15+ years and at 12:00 Noon today, in celebration of my fitness accomplishments I am registering for the Marine Corp Marathon. In summary, I was fit once before and experienced a life altering obstacle which did not kill me, but motivate me to enjoy everyday of my life.

    How bad did it get before you made a change?

    My level of fitness was so bad it impacted me physically, mentally and socially. I refused to go to public pools because I was so embarrassed about my image. This saddens me to say, but I felt so bad about my image, I missed the opportunity to take my daughter to the public pools. In addition, I laughed at myself at how out of shape I was as I walked up the stairs and was out of breath.

    What was the breaking point or epiphany that made you change?

    Honestly, my wife gave me a really nice T-shirt and when I put it on, it looked horrible! I felt so bad because it was an expensive T-shirt and she said “I can take it back” and I said no. I hung the T- shirt up in my closet and it wearing it in public became part of my mo- tivation to get back into shape.

    What fitness regimen do you use?

    I utilized insanity workouts five times per week, I run 13 miles every Saturday, and I do a casual 40-mile bike ride on Sundays. I have continued this routine over the last year.What have you done to ensure maintenance of this fitness level, or are you still moving toward a goal?I continue to follow my exercise plan and watch the diet. Typically I do my weights two days a week and supplement my strength training with Push-ups, Pull-ups and Sit Ups. In addition, I will use workouts that are shared in the magazine which provide diversity in my exercise routine. I have a goal this year which is to complete my fourth marathon in 4 hours which is what my time was over 15 years ago.

    What’s the single most important piece of advice you now would give?

    Watch the DIET! This is key. If you have a limited amount of time to exercise, watch the calories and processed foods and enriched products. And lastly, we all face choices and exercising and proper eating habits should not be one. As the brain needs oxygen, our bodies need the right fuel and physical ac- tivity in order to enjoy life.

    How did you celebrate reaching your goal?

    I have a tattoo which I got af- ter I achieved my fitness goal. It is called Ichi-go Ichi-e and is used in Japanese tea ceremonies symbol- izing for us to enjoy every encoun- ter life presents, as we will never have it again. This is my mantra now to maximize my life and it first starts with being physically, men- tally and spiritually fit. I owe this feeling of “utopia” to fitness and a strong desire to have the best life I can possibly have

    By Cameron James 

    City News Manger

    Read more »
  • Coaxum to be honored by McDonald’s

    Henry L. Coaxum, Jr., a New Orleans business executive and civic leader, is one of this year’s recipients of the McDonald’s 365Black Awards.   The national awards salute outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the Black community.

    Coaxum will be honored at the awards ceremony which will be held Saturday, July 5, 2014, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during the 20th anniversary of the ESSENCE Festival™ presented by Coca Cola®  in New Orleans.

    This year’s honorees also include: civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton; music executive and entrepreneur Kevin Liles; film producer Will Packer; inspirational leader Iyanla Vanzant; and former NFL athlete Dhani Jones.  Additionally, artist Skyler Grey and entrepreneur Gabrielle Jordan Williams will be recognized alongside this lineup with the first-ever McDonald’s 365Black Community Choice Youth Award.

    Coaxum, president of Coaxum Enterprises, Inc., is the owner/operator of seven McDonald’s restaurants in New Orleans. 

    Read more »
  • Lewis named Mentee of the Year

    JALEN N. LEWIS has been selected as the 100 Black Men of America Inc.’s Mentee of the Year. Lewis is Glen Oaks High School senior, member of the ROTC, and a drummer in the school’s marching band. He was nominated by the 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge president Michael W. Victorian. Lewis will be honored by the national organization later this summer.

    Read more »
  • Leaders urged to let the courts help solve desegregation case

    HAMMOND—A LARGE CROWD gath- ered at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church to hear Nelson Taylor, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the ongoing 1965 civil rights case against Tangipahoa Parish School Board. The case was filed by the late M.C. Moore 49 years ago against

    the 19-member school board. Taylor told attendees he felt the need to speak to residents after reading and hearing about all of the good things that were directed at him.

    “Before going any further, let me tell you a little about myself,” he said. “I was twenty 27 years old and just out of law school when I got this case. I am a well trained civil rights lawyer, only interested in enforcing the 14th Amendment and protecting my clients, a class of Black children and their parents.”

    He also told attendees he isn’t op- posed to magnet or specialized pro- grams many of which are Hammond- area schools, but that he is opposed to providing enhanced academic offerings in some schools and not others.

    Taylor denounced the ideal of indi- vidual taxing districts. He urged implementation of a single-bonding district,which he said he believes will lead to fairness in the distribution for all of the parish schools.

    All portable building must be moved from Midway Elementary School and other schools around the parish, he said. The school board promises to build three new schools, which they never did, the board has the money—$50 million— more than enough to build three new schools.

    By Eddie Ponds

    Publisher

    Read more »
  • Tatum moves to shrink EBR board

    FOR MUCH OF THE LAST TWO YEARS, the proposed St. George breakaway school district has been front and center in the conversation about local poli- tics and education.

    It is the proposal by a group of citizens in what is currently Baton Rouge to break away and incorporate the City of St. George. This controversial plan has led to several pieces of state legislation and aggressive action by the Baton Rouge Metro Council.

    Though all of those bills failed to put a moratorium on it, so did legislation by Senator Bodi White that sought to create a “transition district” that would pave the way for the creation of the St. George School District.

    Because of the failure of this bill, School Board President David Tatman is working to
    make sure a plan to shrink the size of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board is implemented by local government instead of legislators.
    The Baton Rouge Area Chamber and others who support shrinking the board, have said the measure would provide for more efficient operations of the school board and save money by having to pay fewer school board members.

    These supporters cited the success- ful breakaways of Zachary, Central and Baker and the formation of those individ- ual school districts leaves the school board with less territory to cover and assert that it, thus, makes sense to reduce school board membership.

    Opponents of this plan feel that it would result in unnecessarily large school districts that would be difficult to manage and make it easy for local business leaders to unseat people with whom they disagree.

    Either way, Tatman said he wants to have it complete by this year’s election. In 2013, article 4 of the voting rights act was struck down. Thus, for the first time, Louisiana and other formerly segregated states will not have to get clearance before re-draw- ing districts.

    Tatman said two board members—who he is not at liberty to name—will also not be seeking re-election. School Board Rep. Craig Freeman of District 6 has announced that he will not be seeking re-election. District 11 member Mary Lynch has not announced if she will seek re-election.

    By Terry Young II

    Contributing Reporter

    Read more »
  • Deruise receives award from Governor’s office

    ARIANNE DERUISÉ received this year’s highest honor of the Director’s Award at the annual Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Deruisé received this honor for her specialized roles of meteorological operations officer and state hurricane program manager during normal work days, and in times of activation for emergen- cies and events. Deruisé has been instrumental in the success of many of the state’s responses, including 2013’s Tropical Storm Karen and this year’s uncommon winter storms

    Read more »
  • LLBC secures $5.4 million for education

    The LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS successfully secured $5.4 million for all Councils on Aging and school districts across the state of Louisiana. The money was placed in the Conference Committee Report of HB 1094, a supplemental appropriation bill, and has been allocated: $42,187.50 to each of the 64 Parish Councils on Aging and $35,065.00 to each of the 79 School Districts for Technology Improvements.

    Read more »
  • Sweet Summer: Louisiana Snowballs

    AS STHE TEMPERATURE RISES MANY LOUISIANANS reach for the ever-popular snowball to keep cool. Although it is loved by many throughout Louisiana not many know its origins and other facts about the southern staple. The Drum has found the answers to some of the most asked questions about this southern treat and created a directory of the most popular snowball stands from Ponchatoula to Baton Rouge.

    Is it snowball and snowcone?

    Not to be confused with the snow cone which is made from pre frozen crushed ice, the snowball is made from carefully stored and then shaved-to-order ice. IMG_2922 copy

    Where did the snowball come from?

    According to southernfoodways.org, the first snowballs were sold in New Orleans during the Great Depression that followed the stock market crash of 1929. At the time, a serving of shaved ice cost two cents. Most of the earlier snowball
    stands offered patrons only three flavors to choose
    from: strawberry, spearmint, and pineapple.

    How do they shave the ice?

    According to sno-ball.com, it was in 1934 when two snowball pioneers—George Ortolano and Ernest Hansen— revolutionized the industry by creating and patenting the first electric ice-shaving machines. Prior to the creation of the machines, large blocks of ice were shaved by hand. Today, the widely used ice shaver is the Southern Snow Machine; it incorporates more than 60 years of research and technology.

    Why do some snowball stands spell snowball “sno-ball”?

    As the popularity of this frozen treat grew in the 1930soutlets selling them began spelling “snowball”without the “w” to help consumers differentiate sno-ball stands from snowcone stands. Today, many stands are named sno-ball stands to pay tribute to the earlier stands in New Orleans.

     

     

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  • Men’s Health : A guide to cancer screenings

    BY AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY

    IN HONOR OF NATIONAL MEN’S Health Week Month take time to encourage The American CancerSociety is encouraging men to talk to their doctors about appropriate screening tests they need to stay well based on their age and risk factors.

    Thanks to advancements in screening test many cancers can be found early, when they are preventable or easier to treat.

    Colorectal Cancer

    Many colorectal (colon) cancers begin as growths called polyps, and if these polyps are found through regular testing and removed before they turn into cancer, the disease can be stopped before it starts. Start testing at age 50, or younger if people in your family have had colon cancer. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.

    Lung Cancer

    The Society does not recommend routine lung cancer screening for people who are at average risk of the disease. However, we do have guidelines for people who are at high risk due to a history of smoking. If you answer “yes” to all of the following questions, you may be a candidate for screening. Talk to your doctor about the benefits, limitations,

    and potential harms of lung cancer screening to decide if it’s right for you.

    • Are you between the age of 55 and 74 years old?

    • Are you in fairly good health*?

    • Do you smoke at least 30 packs of cigarettes a year?

    • Are you still smoking, or have you quit smoking in the last 15 years?

    If you and your doctor decide that you should be screened, you should get a low dose CT scan every year until you reach the age of 74, as long as you remain in good health. Screening should only be done at facilities that have the right type of CT scan and that have a great deal of experience in CT scans for lung cancer screening.

    *Screening tests are meant to find cancer in patients who do not show symptoms. To achieve the best potential benefit from screening, patients should be in good health. For example, they need to be able to have surgery and other treatments to try to cure lung cancer if it is found.

    Prostate Cancer

    The American Cancer Society does not recommend for or against routine prostate cancer testing for men. Instead, we recommend that, starting at age 50, men take the opportunity to make an informed decision with their health care provider about screening for prostate cancer after receiving information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits associated with testing. Testing should not occur in the absence of this informed decision-making. Men at high risk, including African American men and those with a family history of the disease, should have this talk earlier, at age 40 or 45.

    Skin Cancer

    During your regular checkups, have your doctor check your skin for signs of skin cancer. If you notice any changes to existing moles, tell your doctor right away.

    About half of all men in the US will develop cancer in their lifetime. Leading a healthy lifestyle combined with following the recommended screening guidelines can reduce your risk for developing cancer, or find it early when treatment is more likely to be successful. Remind dad about the importance of regular exercise, refraining from tobacco use, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, and staying safe in the sun.

    Find more ways to help men stay well and get well by visiting cancer.org/menshealth or by calling The American Cancer Society anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345.

     

     

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  • A love for Lululemon

    RUNNING HAS BECOME A way for me to stay in SHAPE and relieve stress, so as I began to pursue it more and more, I wanted a product that would motivate me while ensuring that I look good.

    Spending more time running meant that I needed to invest the same amount of money into my running ward- robe as I do in my other clothing. That’s when I learned that shopping for workout clothes would be different than shop- ping for everyday wear.
    Although it ranked high, looking good was not priority, but func- tionality was. As I looked around, I couldn’t find the two together. I would find a pair of shorts and shirt that look great, but after doing a few jumping jacks, yes jumping jacks, in the dressing room the comfort just wasn’t there. Then I would find something that passed the jumping jack test, but was lacking in the looks department.

    Then I found Lululemon. I had seen their logo before on people as ran the lakes or even on the person, but it was brief conversation at Target that made me want to try the brand. As I stood in the checkout line I heard a man and woman discussing the 7-mile run they had just finished. They looked as if they were dressed to begin a run and not like they had just finished one. I just knew they were freaks of nature. So I asked them “Did you guys literally just finish- ing running seven miles in 70 degree weather?”. The lady looked at me and replied “Yes”. Their faces were red and sweaty, but the rest of their bodies and their clothes were bone dry. I pointed this out to the woman and said that’s why I asked and man replied, “We’re wearing Lululemon”.

    From that brief conversation I knew Lululemon sounded exactly what was I looking for – it would provide comfort, functionality, yet still look appealing.Lululemon 2 (1) copy

    After search online I found Baton Rouge was home to a Lululemon show room. Also through my research I learned that Lulu- lemon began yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, but branched out to provide comfort those who run, work out and participate in other sweaty pursuits.

    I was slight apprehensive about visiting because I thought I’d be entering a place filled with yoga and running enthusiasts who would be nothing but annoyed that an amateur had ventured into their territory. It couldn’t have been more of the opposite, as soon as I entered the small showroom – the sales associate, Amanda began a conversation with me.

    The first product I got was the Metal Vent Tech SS shirt. Not only does it have mesh venting, it’s seam free to avoid chaffing. I also got a pair of Pace Breaker shorts.

    I try to run at least 12miles a week, usually three miles per day, but wearing Lululemon pushed me to run farther. The comfort of their athletic apparel is the best. I usually run without a shirt to help keep cool, but the lightweight feel and moisture wick material of the Metal Vent Tech SS shirt kept me cooler than I would’ve been shirtless. As ran I could feel the breeze through the breathable material as I took each stride.

    I was just as comfortable in the Pace Breaker shorts. I actually want use them for lounging and lunging and I even slept in them one night to ensure I would get up and run. My favorite feature is the strategically placed mesh venting on the sides and the two way stretch fabric allowing the wearer to move easily in them.

    No matter what type of workout you do, you can’t avoid sweat and odor but the Pace Breaker Short and Metal Vent Tech SS Shirt absorb both. When I run I sweat a lot, sometimes to the point I have to wring out my shirt, but when I finished my run, just like the couple I saw at Target, you could only see sweat on my forehead. As far as odor, neither of the products needed to be washed until third or fourth work- out.

    Needless to say Lululemon has found a customer for life in me. The products they sell not only motivate me to want to work harder and sweat more, but also my runs are now more comfortable and enjoyable.

    Cameron James

    City News Manager 

    Read more »
  • Session ends with ‘sweeping change’

    THE 2014 LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE session saw sweeping change to state policy. A number of new laws were introduced and a num- ber of changes were made to ex- isting ones. As usual, areas such as public education, abortion, the rights of LGBT individuals and healthcare were front and center. As usual, there were pas- sionate advocates on both sides of each issue.

    As is often the case in Louisiana, there were several bills regarding repro- ductive rights and sex education. One of the most highly publicized bill was HB 388 which was sponsored by District 16 State Representative Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) out of Monroe. The legisla- tion seeks to require that any doctor who performs an abortion at an abortion clinic must have admitting privileges at a hospi- tal within 30 miles of that site. The legis- lation passed and, if signed
    into law by governor Jindal, would force three of thestate’s five abortion clinics to close.

    Perhaps the most controversial bill involving pregnancy was legislation presented by State Representative Austin Badon (D)
    that would mandate that brain dead women who are pregnant must remain on life support if they are at least 20 weeks pregnant in spite of wishes to the contrary by the family or that woman herself.

    Other bills related to the life of the unborn include measures to block sex educators who are affiliated with any organization that supports or provides abortions from entering pub- lic schools and legislation that will require women considering abortions to undergo evaluation and have certain information presented to them. All of these bills passed and are awaiting the signature of Governor Jindal. Three bills by Rep. Pat Smith

    (D-Baton Rouge) regarding sex education failed in committee.

    This session was also an event- ful one in regards to issues facing LGBT citizens. There were three pieces of leg- islation that directly addressed the population. First was a bill presented by Rep. Jared Brosett (D-New Orleans) that would prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation in gender identity. It failed in the House Commerce Committee.

    There was also legislation introduced by Smith that would remove un- constitutional “anti sodomy” laws from Louisiana state law as well as local ordinances. While the bill did pass in committee, it ultimately died on the house floor. Finally, there was legislation introduced to prohibit employment discrimination in Louisiana. However, the legislation was pulled by Rep. Karen St. Germain (D-Plaquemine) who sponsored it because she felt that it would not have the adequate support.

    With a national debate over marijuana in full swing, it was in- evitable that the debate would play out on a state level as well. There was a series of bills proposed from both chambers that would change state policy regarding the drug. Notable efforts include a bill by Senator Fred Mills (R-New Iberia) that would allow for the medical use of marijuana in certain situations and a bill that would reduce criminal penalties for marijuana when the amount was less than 28 grams. All efforts to change existing state law as it relates to marijuana failed.

    Not surprisingly based on Gov- ernor Jindal’s adamant opposition in months prior to session Medicaid expansion did not pass on the state level. Senator Bill Nevers (D- Bogalusa) proposed legislation to let the voters decide whether or not they wanted it. The bill died in the Senate health committee.

    Other notable legislation include efforts to get Louisiana pay day lenders to cap interest rates—which did not pass—and a bill that would change the way schools are penalized for not meeting Common Core standards—that did pass.

    By Terry Young Jr

    Contributing Writer

     

    Read more »
  • Medical Training College to host Open House

    Attendees will learn about programs offered by the Medical Training College on June 21 a 1p.m. Tours of the campus will be given and staff will be available to answer any questions. Free. Online: www.mtcbr.com. MTC is located at 10525 Plaza Americana Dr.

    Read more »
  • Chef Ludlow offers tips for making famous tender BBQ Ribs

    CHEF DAVID LUDLOW HAS BEEN the go to cater for events ranging from corporate fundraisers to for celebrities including Lisa Raye and former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

    The Convent, La., na- tive has been in the catering business for more than a decade, offering his most famous dishes has been his ribs. “I learned how to cook from my grandmother, I never went to culinary school she instilled passion in me for cooking that has never left.”, he said Ludlow shared his tips for barbecuing ribs with The Drum.

    BARBECUING RIBS ON THE GRILL

    1. Clean your meat.

    Remove ribs from packag- ing and thoroughly wash ribs and lay them in a pan.

    2. Create a dry rub.

    Use black pepper, Zaterain seasoning, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, sage, chili powder, dry oregano, and brown sugar. Mix all ingredients well. Season

    both sides of ribs with dry rub. (Note: any seasoning of your choosing is okay)

    3. Prepare the grill.

    I prefer to smoke my ribs. Soak wood chips in bucket of water for 30 minutes be- fore putting on grill. Place coals and put all the way to one side of the grill – I don’t cook over direct heat. Light the coals. Before it’s time to put meat on the grill, put the soaked wood chips on top of the coals.

    4. Cooking the ribs.

    Lay the meat on the grill. Close top and open bot- tom vent slightly. Now, let them cook! The best cooking temperature is be- tween 250-300. Every 30- 40 minutes check to see if coals need to be added. Ribs should be done in 5 to 6 hours.

    Chef David Ludlow can be reached by visiting  ludlowstasteoflouisiana. com or calling (678) 914-2037

    Read more »
  • Student wins science Olympiad in Africa

    WHILE MOST MIDDLE SCHOOL students doodle to past the time, seventh grader Jalen Scott’s favorite pastime took him to Africa.

    As a student in Elkhan Akuhundov’s science class at Ken- ilworth Science and Tech- nology Charter School, Scott said it was when he looked at his pencil that he came up with the idea for a science fair project.

    “Every year students have to pick a topic to study and present their findings at the science fair, I looked at my pencil and thought to myself, lead has to be found more places than just in pencils,” Scott said.

    Upon joining the sci- ence, technology, engineering, and math program at Kenilworth, Scott decided his project for the science fair would examine elevated levels of lead in soil at Baton Rouge area schools.

    He said he was able to meet with LSU graduate students and professors, who after helping him decide on what to study. also helped him set up experiments and gather data.

    “It was fun working with the professors and I knew my project would be successful, because they know what they’re doing and they will share their expertise with you to make sure you know what you’re doing,” Scott said.

    Scott’s project produced a study of soil at 11 schools in the Baton Rouge area.

    “We used a PXF [Por- table X-ray Florescent] which is an instrument that when you place it in the soil, it tells you the com- pounds that make it up,” Scott said.

    Scott found lead levels above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency screen- ing limits at four of the schools.

    “The more involved I got in the project, the more I wanted to know and the more I wanted to know, the harder I worked to make this my best project yet,” Scott said.

    Akundov said his stu- dents are very involved in their projects when it comes to performing experiments and gathering data while teachers mainly only serve as the liaison between the students and their mentors at the University.

    “I’ve always been amazed by the interest he’s shown in science – I have always pushed his interest in anything that has to do with education,” said Sherman Scott, Jalen’s father.

    He continued to say that last year he worked with his son on a science project that didn’t receive a high grade so he used that defeat to motivate him toward victory with this project.

    “I learned along with my son, there were times I would look up words I didn’t know or look up ways to show my son how to explain something, I wanted him to see that it takes hard work to be the best,” he said.

    In 2013 when the young Scott presented his project at the science fair,

    his peers and teachers were not the only ones who took notice of the sixth grader’s research.

    “I can definitely see a difference from when I first met him, two years ago, to now,” Akundov said. “Not just from an academic standpoint, but he is more confident, and the experiences he’s had will have an impact on the rest of his life and the way he views the world.”

    Last year Scott’s work was published in the aca- demic journal Soil Hori- zons. This year Akundov entered the child’s work into the 2014 Golden Cli- mate International Envi- ronmental Project Olym- piad in Nairobi, Kenya.

    “I entered the project because it was very successful, it was published, had community impact and extended way beyond a science fair and lead to him being recognized by Arnie Dunckan, U.S. Secretary of Education,” Akundov said.

    Scott flew with his father and teacher to present his findings at the Olympiad where they stayed from April 29 to May 2. His findings were the only entry from the U.S. accepted to compete among 135 entrants from 31 countries.

    Scott left the competition victorious taking home its highest honor, the Wangari Maathai Special Award.

    After receiving so many accolades at such a young age, one would think Scott would want to pursue a science related career, but he said when he gets older he wants to be a graphic artist.

    “It’s something I have always wanted to do, as soon as I go home I draw, as soon as I get in class I draw, as soon as I leave class I draw. I feel like it’s a calling I’ve had since I was little,” Scott said.

    But his teacher believes he has already made an impact on the science industry.

    “It makes me feel important as a teacher being able to help a student accomplish so much with just one project,” Akhundov said. “This proves to everyone that anything is possible if you work hard, put in effort and keep trying.”

    By Cameron James 

    City News Manager

    Read more »
  • Barnes elected to COSBP

    Louisiana State University School of Law student KENNETH BARNES JR. has been elected vice-chair of the Council of Student Body Presidents. COSBP is a state entity that comprises Student Government Presidents from public in- stitutions of higher learning. Universities, Coleges, Community Colleges, as well as Technical Colleges are represented within COSBP. Barnes will serve as the liaison between the COSBP’s committees and COSBP, as well as fulfill other duties of COSBP’s Executive Board.

    Read more »
  • Tips to Reduce Allergens in Your Home this Season

    Many people seek refuge indoors around this time of year, when outdoor air is full of pollen and other allergens. For allergy sufferers, however, the air indoors can prove to be just as problematic.

    Dust that collects in a home contains common household allergens such as dust mite particles and animal dander. If dust is disturbed from furniture, hard surfaces and carpet, those allergens can become airborne and reduce indoor air quality.

    May is designated National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and it is an excellent time to make your home cleaner and healthier by removing common household allergens and improving your indoor air. Even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, everyone can benefit from better indoor air quality.

    “The way you clean your home is important. Most household cleaning routines only re-circulate allergens throughout your home rather than removing them,” said Justin Bates, president of Stanley Steemer, International, Inc. “If your cleaning routine doesn’t specifically focus on dust and allergen removal, you may be only moving them around, sending allergens back into the air.”

    To maximize your cleaning efforts while reducing allergens, consider these simple tips.

    • Dust hard surfaces regularly with moist cloths or special dry dusters designated to trap and lock dust.

    • Wash your bedding and linens often. Doing so can help you control dust mites in your home.

    • Vacuum often. Although cleaning can sometimes trigger allergic reactions by releasing dust into the air, vacuuming floors once or twice a week will reduce surface dust and allergens. Make sure your vacuum has a high efficiency air filter to capture dust.

    • Use a certified professional carpet cleaning service to deep clean your carpets to remove the stains, spills and dust that regular vacuuming leaves behind. Be sure to use a service that’s qualified to reduce allergens in the home. Stanley Steemer’s Professional Carpet Cleaning service is the first to be certified asthma and allergy friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

    Independent testing proved Stanley Steemer’s proprietary cleaning process removed 94 percent of common household allergens, including 92.8 percent of cat dander, 97.8 percent of dog danger and 91.4 percent of dust mite allergens. The process also reduces exposure to bacteria and mold by 90 percent within 24 hours of cleaning. AAFA recommends a certified professional carpet cleaning every three to four months.

    • Protect yourself when doing housework by wearing a mask. After cleaning, consider leaving for a few hours to avoid allergens in the air.

    • Reduce pet dander. If you have allergies, don’t keep pets with feathers or fur, such as birds, dogs and cats in your home. Animal saliva and dead skin, also known as pet dander, can cause allergic reactions. If you already have a pet, keep it out of the bedroom.

    • Shut out pollen. Inspect your windows for a film of pollen on the frame or sill. Prevent pollen from entering your home by keeping windows and doors closed. Use an air filter and clean it regularly or run the air conditioner and change the filter often.

    Over 70 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies. If you’re one of them, be proactive. National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month is the perfect time to eliminate triggers in your home so you can breathe more easily. A cleaner home is a healthier home.

    For more tips on reducing allergens in your home, and more information about asthma and allergy friendly carpet cleaning services, visit StanleySteemer.com.

     

    Read more »
  • Working hurts finances of Blacks working way through college

    WASHINGTON (NNPA) — More than 60 percent of Black students could receive greater financial aid for college through the Pell grant program if enrolled full-time, according to a new report by the National Urban League.

    The report, which focused on the profile of a typical Black student and the uphill battle they fight to get to college and earn a degree, found that 62 percent of Black students receive funding for college through the Pell grant program, but many more would qualify if they didn’t have to work supporting themselves, their families or young children.

    “While 62 percent of African American students receive some Pell support, only 14 percent of independent African Americans receive the maximum Pell Grant award,” the report stated.

    During the 2011-2012 school year, maximum Pell grant awards ranged between $4,500 and $5,500.

    According to the report, Black students are more likely to come from low-income families than their white peers. Black students are less likely to receive family contributions, which increase the likelihood of receiving higher Pell Grant awards.

    A 2012 report on Pell grant recipients by the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, said that Blacks account for 12 percent of Pell recipients, while 63 percent of funds allocated to the grant program went to white students.

    In fact, the Pope Center report found that the typical Pell recipient was white, female, 25 years old, works part-time, is financially independent and is going to school full-time.

    Yet, the independent status of Black students often leaves them unable to attend college full-time and makes it even harder for them to graduate.

    “The biggest distinction that we found is that most African American graduates are independent or non-traditional students compared to other races and ethnicities,” said Susie Saavedra, a senior legislative director at the National Urban League’s Washington Bureau.

    Saavedra, who co-authored the report, said that the distinction between independent students and dependent students is significant because there are important differences that affect the way each group matriculates through college.

    “Independent African-American undergraduates are more likely than others to be single parents, 48 percent, compared to 23 percent of whites, 34 percent of Latinos, 36 percent of Native Americans and 19 percent of Asians,” the report stated.

    More than 40 percent of independent Black students attend two-year schools and about one in four independent Black students are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs. In contrast, more than half of all dependent Black students are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs.

    Saavedra said that Black students often enter college so academically unprepared that they’re using their valuable Pell grant dollars to pay for remedial courses that don’t count towards a degree, further limiting their financial resources.

    Despite their own constrained financial resources, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), often graduate a disproportionate amount of Black students, compared to predominately white institutions.

    Although, HBCUs account for less than three percent of all post-secondary institutions they graduate almost 18 percent of the Black students that earn bachelor’s degrees.

    Marybeth Gasman, a professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia said that the cooperative-learning environment found at many HBCUs rather than a cutthroat competitive environment and that ends up supporting students.

    “If you have students that are mentoring each other instead of constantly trying to one-up each other, it changes the environment and it makes it more academically and socially supportive,” Gasman said.

    She said that racial incidents that occur at majority-white institutions often chip away at the psyche of Black students.

    “Within the HBCU environment there is a belief in the potential and the success of Black students, that right there can make an enormous difference,” Gasman explained.

    Saavedra said that even with reforms to the Pell grant program, financial aid alone is not enough to retain and graduate low-income and underserved students.

    “Instead, a growing body of research suggests that when financial aid is paired with wrap-around services or personalized approach to higher education we see improved retention among low-income students,” Saavedra said.

    Researchers recommended building learning communities to strengthen connections between students, increasing access to social safety net programs to provide students with comprehensive financial support, enhancing career advisement. Students also need greater financial counseling to help them understand the real cost of college and summer bridge programs to prepare them for the coursework.

    Saavedra said that policymakers and advocates must find better ways to serve non-traditional students.

    “Many of our recommendations offer a proactive approach that move the conversation beyond the goal of college access to providing the necessary support and re­sources to address the factors highlighted [in the report],” Saavedra said. “We believe these strategies will help us realize the larger goal of college completion, upward mobility, and economic empowerment for all underserved students.”

    By Freddie Allen

    
NNPA Washington Correspondent

    Read more »
  • Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Board dedicates new block

    Members of the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Board dedicated their newest block at Fairview-Riverside State Park
    in Madisonville.
     This installation adds yet another block in St. Tammany Parish and becomes #104 on the five parish Quilt Trail. The goal
    of this three year old non-profit driving trail is to strengthen the economy through tourism, one quilt block at a
    time.
    Visit www.laquilttrail.com to request a free map. 
    q2
    Read more »
  • Faith, poverty drives a ‘real’ queen

    THE MAKING OF A REAL QUEEN is simple, yet many see it as a position of privilege.

    A real queen is someone very much like my mom, sisters, and me—women driven by faith, poverty, discrimination, color, gen- der and health issues.

    My faith to pray and trust God to give me di- rection as I pursued my dreams and visions em- powered me. My mother believed if you could pray about, it would be all right, and change would come in God’s time if you let go and worked to make it happen. Faith she would always say, can’t work through lazy folk, they quit trusting too easy and want success fast!

    Poverty, as defined by my mother, is a state of mind. Poverty was some- thing that I did not under- stand because as a child when opportunities were presented to me, my mom had prepared me to the best of her ability to accept the challenge and succeed. Poverty to some was not having what you needed. That did fit my mom’s def- inition! Poverty to her was not having food on the table, clothing, or shelter, from the sun, storm and rain. Poverty was not hav- ing the freedom to pray or family support.

    I experienced discrimination at an early age when our school bus broke down and all of children had to walk down a long, muddy gravel road. Another bus came by and the driver stopped to speak to our bus driver that looked white.

    When he discovered he was Black, his next reply, was those kids can’t ride the white bus! I shouted, “we can ride because the bus is yellow!” After walking about ten miles in my white tennis shoes, filled with mud, finally we were home. I told my mother of the conversation.

    Her advice was, see this as an experience in this life, many cars and trucks will pass you by, but the time will come when you will drive your own. These are hard times, and it will get better, I know, I am not in

    the field no more. Often times because of my skin color, I was not seen as someone that would not succeed or give back to society, but take from it. Being Black, my mother would say, defined strength that many did not possess – your color one day will not matter, God got plans for you and your color don’t make you or break you.

    My gender has been an issue with the vocations I have chosen, and having been ordained, called and chosen by God to do them. As a minister of almost 48 years, still my gender is an issue with that good old boy’s club. I am seen as ag- gressive instead of asser- tive because I am a woman, speaking truth to power, standing for what I believe,

    unwavering in my faith and teachings by a real queen.

    My many health is- sues, challenges, losses, disappointments and pain taught me how to be a real queen. Following my mother’s example as she is a real queen overcom- ing the struggle and stigma of a single mother rearing five daughters after a sepa- ration from her husband, making sure the words “I can’t”, never become a

    part of her daughter’s vo- cabulary. What makes me a real queen, are the les- sons I have learned, and life journey, I experienced. The ability to stand when I find myself standing alone, but not really alone, for I stand on the shoulder of my mother, the real queen. My mother did not write a best seller, but as a queen, her character and service to the community will leave a legacy of fun memories and lessons on family values, faith and perseverance. I am the daughter the real queen, writing what I hope to be a part of history, not in books, but in the hearts and minds of women and children, attempting to forge a better generation for the future, encouraging, empowering and en- bolding the next real queen to not accept the criticism of society that choose to define her, but to forge her path to greatness and her true purpose in life, creating another real queen!

    By Joyce Turner Keller,

    Th.D., is founder of Trav- elers of Christ Evangelistic Ministry. She is a global advocate for HIV/AIDS.

    Read more »
  • Miss Capital City USA shares her journey with Miss USA/Universe

    MY JOURNEY OF competing in the Miss USA/ Universe Organization as an African- American woman did not begin as such, and is not laced with adolescent experiences of tiaras and sequins.

    Being raised in south Baton Rouge, my ultimate objective as a child was to fortify my dreams and potential and to not fall prey to the same statistics as my peers. It wasn’t until early adulthood that I was inspired to compete in the Miss USA/Universe Organization in 2008 when CrystleStewart won the coveted title, Miss USA.

    However, being overweight and in an abusive relationship, I was greatly discouraged from pursuing the newfound dream. With a compilation of faith, heartache and God’s divine order I was able to successfully lose more than 60 pounds, lose the jerk, start an event-planning firm, return to college and launch a career in film, music and stage.

    While recovering from an injury last summer, I was encouraged by my 13-year- old sister to compete as she, her friends and I watched the national pageant from my home. I applied later that week and to my surprise would soon hold the title of Miss Capital City USA 2014.

    Already an active member in my community as a mentor and philanthropist in the arts, I was partaking in the activities of a dutiful beauty queen prior to my affiliation with the organization, however I was pleasantly surprised to find how many young women were inspired to see a woman of their ethnicity, from their community join such an elite sorority of women. It was at that moment that I realized that my ethnicity did matter, but only because it was resounding proof to many women that now it no longer does not.

    I’ve learned in mentoring and with my philanthropic work that people only do better when they know better and they only pursue better when they are aware that the possibility of attainment exists.

    I can say without reservation that my ethnicity did not play a factor in competing in the 2014 Miss Loui- siana USA Pageant, but I’m sure it played a factor in the positive self-image of women when I beamed with pride after being an- nounced as a finalist.

    This journey called life has been an eventful one but what I can impart from are two things: there is nothing more anti-climatic than opening a beautifully presented gift box to find that it holds nothing…hold something and have an opinion about it; and if you ever want to make God laugh, just tell Him what your plans are and He will show you that His are better whether you like it or not.

    BY Shanna Burris

    Miss Capital City USA Shanna Marie Burris is a professional performer in stage, film, music, and dance. She is a Baton Rouge native. 

    Read more »
  • Komunyakka receives honorary Doctorate

    Pulitzer Prize winning poet YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at Centenary College’s May 3 graduation alongside Moonbot creator WILLIAM JOYCE. A Bogalusa native, Komunyakaa is veteran of the Vietnam War as well as a lifelong poet and educator.

    Read more »
  • Consequences

    Here’s look at the books written by Baton Rouge natives that have landed on THE DRUM staff’s bookshelf. These books are available in major bookstores and online.

    The story of four women trying to balance social lives, work, and careers, but when men enter the picture and influence the decisions they make, they must deal with the consequences. Consequences was written by Calandra “StaXX” Brown.

    Read more »
  • Battle to incorporate City of St. George continues

    WHEN THE BATON ROUGE Metro Council voted 9-3 to approve the annexation of the Mall of Louisiana and two major hospitals into Baton Rouge earlier this month, some people said it was a big blow to the effort to incorporate the proposed City of St. George.

    It is an effort that supporters said would improve education and create an independent school district. Opponents said it would pose an economic threat to the parish and some even have called it white flight.

    By definition, white flight, a term first used in 1967, is the departure of whites from places (urban neighborhoods or schools) increasingly or predominantly populated by minorities.

    Nestled in East Baton Rouge Parish, the proposed city is more than 84 square miles and has a population of more than 107,000 people. If supporters have their way, it will become the fifth largest incorporated city in the state.

    “This started about and continues to be about public education,” said Lionel Rainey III, spokesperson for the incorporation effort.

    Rainey said that six out of 10 schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System are failing. He called the school system one of the worst in the state and coun- try. He cited hundreds of students arrested within a school year.

    “It’s just a failed school system,” said Rainey, who added that the system is being investigated for a major grade changing scandal.

    He stressed that the incorporation effort is not white flight and not about race at all.

    “It’s got nothing to do with skin color. Those who have the ability to leave are leaving – it’s middle class flight,” Rainey said. “The first thing I say is who are we breaking away from? This area is not a part of Baton Rouge. That’s rheto- ric used by someone who doesn’t know what’s hap- pening.”

    Residents Against the Breakaway, or Better Together, created by East Baton Rouge Parish residents against the incorporation, said online that the best way to solve the problem is by working together, not separating.

    lionel_rainey_876894969

    Lionel Rainey III, spokesperson for the incorporation effort.

    This group said in a media release that 7,000 students would be displaced by the incorporation by be- ing forcibly displaced from their schools and that the new school district would create a major school capacity crisis for southeast residents.

    But Rainey said it’s just not true. He said students could go to the schools that will be built in the city of St. George, a school system that will be designed by the person who designed the gifted and talented program for East Baton Rouge Parish schools.

    “I don’t think that tens of thousands of students should suffer so you can have a great magnet school,” he said.

    District 7 Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle has been vocal about her opposition of the incorporation of St. George, citing it would hurt the city of Baton Rouge financially.

    “This is just a bad deal for Baton Rouge,” she said.

    Marcelle, whose mother lives in the St. George area, said the city has invested $300 million of infrastruc- ture out in that area. She added that it would be un- fair to receive and benefit from the improvements and then decide to break away.

    “When my mom moved out there, none of that was there,” she added as she talked about how the city has widened and improved streets in that area to enhance the city as a whole.

    Marcelle said that the fire and police department would suffer greatly along with the city from this incorporation. She also said that it would add more leaders, something that the parish does not need.

    “Duplication of government doesn’t make us stronger,” she continued.

    Marcelle said the council voting in favor of annexing the Mall of Louisiana, Our Lady of the Lake Hos- pital and Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Bluebonnet Campus opens the doors for other businesses to come in as well.

    C Denise Marcelle

    District 7 Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle

    She said she expects LSU to come in automatically because part of their campus would be in St. George and the other in Baton Rouge with the new city’s borders. She also expects businesses such as L’Auberge Casino and Perkins Rowe to want to be annexed into Baton Rouge because of not wanting to go with the unknown. She said that if the city is incor- porated it could levy a tax as a new city to help build schools, city hall and pay the salaries of a mayor and council members.

    “I think they [St. George incorporation organizers] acted prematurely because they didn’t talk to these businesses. You should have them on board beforehand,” she said. “Perhaps they would have had a better outcome.”

    An LSU analysis of the economic impact of the in- corporation, jointly com- missioned by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Baton Rouge Area Foun- dation, was published in December. It revealed that the incorporation would lead to significant reductions in public services, particularly police protection.

    The analysis, which was conducted pre Mall of Loui- siana annexation, stated that this effort would take $85 million, or 30 percent, from the East Baton Rouge Parish General Fund, which is mainly supported by sales taxes. Even with the mall out of the equation, there are still major sales tax gen- erators that contribute to this number.

    The study also showed that the incorporation would threaten economic development and job creation ef- forts due to fractured and duplicative regulatory and permitting processes and the interjection of sales tax competition between two cities currently considered one community.

    The study revealed that this effort would jeopardize retirement and post-employment benefit costs, unless the new city shares in legacy costs, which is an obligation of all taxpayers in East Baton Rouge Parish.

    Another issue highlighted is that the new city would cut funding for the EBRPSS even more than the break away district proposed in 2012 and 2013, mainly be- cause the proposed city has a larger geographic area with major destination retailers that produce sales taxes from people all over the parish.

    Supporters of this effort are still working to gather enough signatures to put the incorporation on the ballot for the Nov. election.

    Under the Lawrason Act, a petition must be cir- culated and signed by 25 percent of all registered voters located within the proposed new city before it can be submitted to the Registrar of Voters for cer- tification and ultimately the Governor, who will place the issue to be voted upon by proposed residents.

    Rainey would not release the number of petition signatures obtained but did say that they are well on their way of having the number needed to place this issue up for vote. He said he’s confident the sig- natures would be obtained by the deadline.

    Better Together has launched a signature removal campaign in addition to a petition of its own opposing the St. George incorporation.

    Marcelle, who started an effort years ago to annex several of the surrounding areas, said she looks forward to annexing other incorporated areas of Baton Rouge in the near future.

    “It should be what can we do better to make the city better, not what divisive can we do,” Marcelle said.

    By ANASTASIA SEMIEN

    Contributing Reporter 

    Read more »
  • Richardson chosen for ‘Mr. Hammond High’

    Hammond High Senior CHASE RICHARDSON was chosen as Mr. Hammond High. He is a four-year letterman of the Robotics Team and serves as the Interact Club President, Beta Club Treasurer, and as the Vice-President of the HHMS Chapter of the National Honor Society. He is also a member of the Chess Club. Richardson plans to attend Southeastern Louisiana University in the fall taking pre- engineering courses before transferring to LSU to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

    Read more »
  • For Winners Only

    Here’s look at the books written by Baton Rouge natives that have landed on THE DRUM staff’s bookshelf. These books are available in major bookstores and online.

    By Marvin Anderson
    Published by Insight Publishing Group. For Winners Only is  21-day journey to guide the reader to discover the winner within.

    Read more »
  • WHO TO WATCH: Myeshia Carter

    MYESHIA CARTER IS A 22-YEAR-old native of Baton Rouge. She grew up in a single parent home with seven siblings, where she was number six of her mother’s eight children.

    Growing up, Carter’s family was not always financially stable as they had to live on Section 8 Housing and other forms of government assistance for the majority of their lives.

    Carter did not come from a strong educational background neither her mother nor her six older siblings finished high school. Noticing this constant cycle of school drop outs, her siblings becoming single parents at young ages, and living on government as- sistance, at age 14, Carter decided she would break that cycle.

    She became the first of her sib- lings to attend high school. At Belaire High School, Carter was able to do extracurricular activities like play in the band and be on the slam poetry team. It is on the slam poetry team that she found an outlet, a way to let go of the pent up worries and anger about her home life.

    Writing poetry became Carter’s refuge as she let the world know her story. She became one of the six slam poets from Baton Rouge to compete nationally at Brave New Voices for two years consecutively. Competing at Brave New Voices gave Carter a chance to leave Ba- ton Rouge and travel throughout the United States where she was introduced to so many different people.

    That was the defining moment for her because she saw that there was a whole world out there waiting for her to explore and learn from. Travel- ing to these different places helped her to figure out that she wanted to leave Baton Rouge for college to learn more about the diverse world around her and find her place in it.

    During her se- nior year of high school, she became a fellow of the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, where she was able to have men- tors to help her prepare for college and had access to resources she needed. With constant support from the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, her lifelong mentor Daniel Kahn, the poetry slam team and her peers, Carter became the first of her seven siblings to graduate high school in 2010. But gradu- ating high school was only the beginning as she had other ambitions and bigger milestones to complete.

    Carter also became the first of her siblings to attend college, and to that, she attended one of the top Historically Black Colleges in America, Howard University, where she was an English major and business minor. At Howard, she pursued her dream of working in Corporate America as she spent some time at Google after her freshman year and also worked for PepsiCo Beverages Company as a sales intern her sophomore and junior years.

    After being denied the full internship with Google in their sales department, Carter did not allow that to stop her from achieving her goal to work in Corporate America. She reached out to an organization in her network called INROADS. INROADS is a program that helps minority students get into Corporate America by partnering with different companies.

    Through INROADS, Carter was afforded an interview with PepsiCo. Through each year in college and working for PepsiCo, she realized that it did not matter where she came from, that she did not have to be a product of her environment, and that she is limitless when it comes to defining success.

    On May 10, Carter graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. In July, she will take on her full time role as a sales associate at PepsiCo Beverages Company in New Orleans.

    Graduating college has been one of the biggest accomplishments of her life as she looks back to where she was in the past to where she is now.

    She is very humble that she had programs and peo- ple in her extended family network to motivate and push her. Her goal is to become CEO of a multibillion-dollar company and to be a great entrepreneur. She lives by the saying – “you are limitless for you are the only person who can keep you achieving greater heights.”

    Carter is looking forward to a promising future as she has many more milestones to reach, and she will do so confidently.

    Read more »
  • Luter, Johnson join Ponchatoula church in celebrating dedication

    PONCHATOULA— For more than eight years, the members of First True Love World Outreach Ministries believed they were building their sanctuary.

    Pastor Carl Coleman said, “It’s been a long, but a steady journey since construction began in June of 2005, and now the church congregation is enjoying the fruits of their hard labor.”

    In 2005, Coleman, began seeking financing for the construction, but was set back when a banker told him they will be charged a $20,000 fee to begin their loan. That when we decided we would build it in phases and pay for it as we went, he said. We built the church without incurring any debt.”

    First, builders poured the slab then started with beams for the building. Over time, a roof and walls were added and then the interior was filled with 2,200 sheets of sheetrock.

    “We brought the congregation on tours of the church five or six times during construction,” Coleman said. “It showed people what we were doing

    and kept them motivated. We had our first service in the new church Easter Sunday.”

    Now finished, the 30,000 square-foot church has a large sanctuary, several Sunday School classrooms, office space, seven bath room and many other features.

    church outside

    On May 28, the church hosted three nights of special services.

    Fred Luter Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist church in New Orleans, was the guest speaker.

    Guest speakers were Pastor Samuel Brown of Mt. Vernon and Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church of Hammond, while Bishop Raymond Johnson of Living Faith Center of Baton Rouge.

    While talking about the new church Coleman was proud, with a smile on his face, but humble in his soft-spoken mannerisms and giving all the credit to God. He attributed the growth of the congregation and building of the new church to God and good

    services, which led to the church spreading by word of mouth.

    Co1eman said the church’s capacity, as listed by the State Fire Marshal, is 1,184. The church has an average attendance of between 500 and 600 during Sunday services, but Coleman is planning for future growth.

    The old church was not large enough to hold that many people in one service, so there were two Sunday services.

    “The new church has more than enough room for the current congregation and room to grow,” he said. Sunday service at First Tine Love World Outreach Ministries begins with 8:30am Sunday School.. The church is located at 41239 South Range Road in Ponchatoula.

    By Eddie Ponds

    The Drum Publisher

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  • Local charter to open in Baker

    BAKER—IMPACT CHARTER Elementary, a locally operated, charter SCHOOL has broken ground to begin construction at 4815 Lavey Lane in Baker. Officials said the free public school will open its doors to students this fall.

    “We found Baker had the biggest need for the type of program we will have and that is what made [it] the best site for Impact,” said Chakesa Webb Scott, CEO of Impact.

    Impact will initially accept students in grades K-3 in its first year. Each subsequent year, the school will add an additional grade up to fifth grade.

    “We want to build an educational foundation with our students starting at the foundation and build on as they matriculate,” Scott said.

    Impact will function as a free public charter school. There are 200 students already enrolled with more students expected by the time school opens on Aug. 11.

    Former principal of Prescott middle Christopher Smith has been chosen to be the school’s academic leader.

    “We worked with and launched a regional search with the [help of the] Re- covery School District. Finding a principal who is already from the area and has charter experience will help us build a solid foundation,” Scott said.

    Construction on the 30,000 square-foot facil- ity began in early May and is expected to be completed in time for the school year opening. The school will have incorporated technology throughout the building, ranging from each classroom having its own air conditioner, to building a multipurpose media lab. The classrooms will also utilize a tool called the Doceri system, rather than old-fashioned chalkboards.  The upgraded system will allow teachers to apply lessons using an iPad projected on a screen.

    Impact will also be the first school in Baker to use the core knowledge curriculum.

    “Core knowledge curriculum has already seen suc- cess in other private schools in Baton Rouge,” Scott said. “This program emphasizes and focuses on the core subjects of math, history, reading and science but also includes art and music component – [it] also aligns with Common Core.”

    According to its mission statement, Impact Charter Elementary School will provide a rigorous core knowledge education for all students in a safe, supportive and challenging learning environment.

    While the school is still taking applications, kindergarten spots have been filled. The school will be the first charter to school provide transportation to students. Students living in Baker and some parts of north Baton Rouge will be receive transportation offered by the school.

    Impact is operated by Education Explosion Inc., a Baton Rouge-based non profit.

    The school’s administration office is located at 201 Sherron Avenue in Baker or call (225) 308-9565

    By Cameron James

    City News Manager

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  • Smith introduces controversal sex education bills

    STATE REP. PATRICIA HAYNES- Smith introduced three bills in the education committee designed to alter the conversation on young people and sex in the state of Louisiana on May 13.

    With Louisiana’s two largest cities—New Orleans and Baton Rouge— constantly at the top of HIV infection lists, someone in every parish living with HIV and Louisiana ranking number five in regards to

    the rate of teen pregnancies, many say that something has to be done. One bill would allow nine questions about sexual practices to be added to a national survey that

    Louisiana teens all take. The next would mandate the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals analyze statistics regarding the pregnancy rates and sexual health of Louisiana teenagers.

    The most controversial was legislation that would mandate age appropriate sex education at all grade levels in Louisiana public schools. While the first two passed the committee, and are headed to the house floor, the sex ed. bill did not.

    Smith is very well known for her support of sex education. She has introduced measures to guar- antee it in the state of Louisiana since 2010.

    “I recognized that there was a major problem with teen pregnancy and began to delve into other statistics relating to this is- sue. Bills had been introduced in past legislative sessions and failed and yet the problem still existed. Having served on the school board in EBR, I recalled a town meeting where Dr. Holly Gallen questioned why we had not yet taken this on,” Smith said.

    With the overall conservative nature of the state of Louisiana, it is no surprise that the idea of discussing sex with K-12 students would be met with opposition.

    “The committee make up has changed over the years and has become more republican than before. I have gotten the bill out of committee before for it just to die on the house floor. The religious groups such as Family Forum and Catholic Bishops have always opposed the bill and the governor as well.  rates and have more influence over some legislators rather than them ing at the cold hard facts. And the problem is not going away,” Smith commented.

    There had been a great deal of discussion of what would be ‘forced upon’ Louisiana children if sex ed. legislation became law. However, there would be no stringent requirement—merely that there would be some form of sex education at all levels.”

    The bill did not dictate the curriculum but asked that it be age appropriate. There are many other states that have adopted curricu- lum and the Dept. of Education would have the sole responsibility of determining what would have been appropriate for Louisiana students.

    While the legislation to mandate sex education did die in the education committee, Smith said she remains hopeful about her other two bills. As far as the surveys go, she is hoping that adding those questions will allow the CDC to collect informa- tion that will be eye opening for state officials.

    “The survey can provide a snapshot of the risks stu- dents are taking regarding sex, It is a random selection process and is anonymous. If the sex questions are allowed, we can expect to see the CDC to make some recommendations on interven- tions,” she said.

    She said she feels that mandating that DHH officials prepare a report on teen sexual health in the state will be immensely important.

    “They do not do this at all. Perhaps this will begin a thought process on what to do about eliminating the high, STI, HIV rates and teen pregnancy,” she said.

    The next stop for the bill is the House Floor.

    By Terry Young Jr.

    Contributing Reporter

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  • Crowning Glory: Beauty, Brains and Black

    The Miss USA beauty pageant has been held annually since 1952 to select the United States entrant in the Miss Universe pageant. This year the coveted crown will be given in Baton Rouge on June 8, at what will be by then, the newly renovated River Center.

    So far, only three women from Louisiana have ever won the title, and none have gone on to become Miss Universe, but that doesn’t mean that Louisiana women haven’t made a splash in the pageant organization – three titles is actually the median number of wins among the 32 crown-bearing states.

    In all of the years of Miss USA, women-of-color have also been scarce as title-holders. The first Asian American to win was Macel Wilson in 1962; the first Latina was Laura Martinez- Herring in 1985; the first Black was Carole Gist in 1990, who was also first runner-up to Miss Universe that year; and the first Miss USA of Middle-Eastern descent was Rima Fakin in 2010.

    Since Gist’s win in 1990, only five more Black women have won the Miss USA title, Kenya Moore (1993), Chelsi Smith (1995), Shauntay Hinton (2002), Rachel Smith (2007) and Crystle Stewart (2008).

    The reason there aren’t many winners-of-color is because there aren’t very many women-of-color entering the pageant. Roughly four to five women of color are competing at the state level and of course, to have more at the big pageant, one of them would have to win the state crown.

    In some states, that’s not so likely and in other’s, like Louisiana, those victories have only just begun happening within the last 10ears.

    In 2005, Louisiana USA awarded the crown for the first time to a Black woman –Candice Stewart.

    While Stewart acknowledges that she may inspire other Black girls to compete in pageants, she doesn’t want race to be so much the topic of conversation.

    “Beauty breaks all barriers – it’s not defined by skin color,” Stewart said.

    Hebert

    Hebert

    “One of the reasons I did it was to inspire other people. I feel like it is a predominately Caucasian-dominated field, so for me to be a person to break the mold that someone can look up to makes me just hope that people look back at my reign as Miss Louisiana and admire that.”

    Stewart began competing in 1999 at age 15 at the Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageant, placing first runner up. The following year Stewart won the pageant. Additionally she has also held the titles of Miss Teen Louisiana American Coed (2000) and Miss American Teen (2000).

    She competed for Miss Louisiana USA twice, receiving her opportunity to move on to the Miss USA pageant in 2005, while attending Xavier University of Louisiana in pursuit of a speech-language pathology and audiology degree.

    Stewart used her platform to help schools in her hometown Metairie and the Greater New Orleans area. “All of my family is in education, so I went in and spoke at a lot of public schools,” she said. “I encouraged the youth in the city that whatever their dreams are, you can accomplish and live them, because mine was Louisiana beauty pageants and I did it.”

    And while beauty may be a big portion of pageantry, to combat the beauty vs. brains concept, all Miss USA/Universe organization competitors are required to have an extensive resume that shows some form of education, community work and an already active platform.

    “All of the girls typically are educated or enrolled in school and do lots of extra-curricular activities,” Stewart said. “To say that you want to step on stage and have someone judge you, tests your brain power because you’re in an interview, and you not only have to be beautiful, but you also have to be able to express your views on what’s going on in your community and the world.”

    Stewart said that to be in a pageant, you have to be very disciplined. She equated discipline to being goal-oriented and that to success.

    “I believe that pageant women are very successful,” she said. Post pageantry, Stewart has earned her bachelor’s degree from Xavier,been an NFL cheerleader for the Houston Texans, opened up a small pageant coaching and image consulting business in the Houston area and competed on CBS’ Big Brother 15.

    Candice Stewart

    Candice Stewart

    She now works in her field as a pediatric speech therapist assistant.

    “My time as Miss Louisiana USA has far exceeded just a year,” Stewart said. “I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities to do a lot of great things.”

    Stewart said one of the most exciting things she has gotten to do since being crowned was going to Gabon to work with getting together the Miss Gabon Universe pageant and preparing the first Gabonese to compete at Miss Universe.

    While aged out of competing, Stewart said she still has a very close-knit tie to the pageant form.
    “I think that a pageant gives a girl a megaphone to give whatever message she has,” Stewart said. “For me, it was believing in the beauty of my dreams to accomplish any goal set. When you get a crown on top of your head, you already have an extra megaphone – people want to listen to you, they want to know your message.”

    But Stewart cautions, if you’re not willing to work, then you aren’t going to win. It’s a message that Baton Rouge area pageant coach and reigning Miss Louisiana International also lives by.

    For the past two years, regional transportation safety coordinator Ashley Hebert has represented Louisiana as a pageant queen, most recently as Miss Louisiana International 2013.

    Hebert’s first pageant was at age 27, when she took the title of Miss Black Louisiana USA. Already aged out of the Miss category, Hebert, now 29, held a platform long before she wore a crown.

    She competed in July at the 2013 Miss International Pageant in Chicago with a revamped version of her Miss Black Louisiana USA platform of education. It included a three step process, which was published in USA Today in 2012, to focus on the education of young girls and women.

    “Educational achievements for women have ripple effects within the family and across generations, so I focused more on ways to educate and empower young women through the areas I once worked on as Miss Black Louisiana USA 2012,” Hebert said.

    Hebert, who ranked in top 15 for the Miss Black USA Pageant, said her Miss International Pageant was nerve-wracking.

    “Many of my fellow contestants were career pageant girls with a history of pageants or crowns under their belts, so there was some anxiety there,” Hebert said. “But, once I arrived, I took some time to calm down, get my head on straight and got ready to compete and represent my state.”

    Stewart in Gabon

    Stewart in Gabon

    While Hebert’s reign ends soon, she plans to continue working toward her education platform and empowering young women. She holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from LSU, is on the advocacy board for the Capital Area Heart Association, is a member of the leadership council for The Cinderella Project and involved with their Leadership Academy to help young ladies get into college. Since being chosen as Miss Louisiana International by way of application and interview process, Hebert is working to bring the actual pageant to Louisiana.

    She also intends to continue work with Miss Congeniality Pageant Professionals, the company she started in 2012 to train girls how to win pageants and help queens maximize their reigns using all the knowledge she has gained in her two years as a queen. She said she knows that moreBlack women are going for titles because they have come to her for training.

    Hebert said she hasn’t really experienced racism in pageantry, but has had to over-explain the need for a Miss Black Louisiana pageant.

    “When people ask me why we need it and why there isn’t a Miss White Louisiana pageant too, I say there is – it’s Miss Louisiana,” Hebert joked.

    Hebert’s last appearance as queen was as a dancer at the Big Buddy annual fundraising event, Dancing with Big Buddy in May.

    “What I have learned as a queen is what it means to truly be a role model to young women of this state, which is an honor,” Hebert said. “I have learned that you must do more than preach a message these days, you must be the message to others.”

    Both Stewart’s and Hebert’s firms not only teach competitors how to win, but how to reign, choose appearances and speak as a queen.

     

    By Leslie D. Rose 

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  • LA Democrats revel in past, plan for future

     

    EBR Parish Democratic Executive Committee hosts Banquet

    BATON ROUGE-A desire for change, growth and honor brought Democrats from all over Louisiana to East Baton Rouge Parish to celebrate the party’s history and make plans for the future.

    The event, “Remembering Our Roots: Every Man a King”, the first of what will be an annual banquet for the group, was held May 31 at the MJ Womack Center in Baton Rouge. It honored three EBR Democrats for their service to the party.

    “If we don’t remember the past we will not understand much of the present and have no conception of the future,” said former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards who served as the keynote speaker. “The past is important because we build on it to make things better.”

    L to r:Ben Jeffers, Dawn P Collins, Represenative Patricia Haynes-Smith, Louis Reine

    State Rep. Patricia Haynes-Smith was given the J.K. Haynes Sr. Award of Advocacy in Action; Louis Reine, president of American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Louisiana was given the Victor Bussie Award of Excellence and the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Ben Jeffers.

    “Receiving an honor from the party that I have worked hard for is a humbling and gratifying experience,” said Jeffers, who was honored for being the first Black person to serve as the Chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

    Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and John Bel Edwards discussed some of the issues the state is facing.

    “We have a charity hospital system in this state that has been in place since the 1700s, it has survived the civil war, the world wars, hurricanes, but it could not survive Bobby Jindal and the Republican majority,” Edwards said.

    Campbell pointed to some of the issues facing Louisiana, such as budget cuts and coastal erosion.

    “The state constitution says only domestic oil can be taxed,” Campbell said. “Since 1922 we refine 95% foreign oil in the state of Louisiana and only refine 5% Louisiana oil, but we only tax the oil refined in the state.

    Campbell continued that Louisiana’s biggest problem is coastal erosion and that every hour – land equal to the size of one football field – is being washed away from the state’s coast.

    Along with discussing issues facing the state, speakers highlighted the unity within the party.

    State representative Edward “Ted” James said that the beauty of the Democratic Party is that it is made up of a variety of ages, socio-economic backgrounds and races with similar ideas.

    “We will not be successful if we don’t give our resources, change will not happen if we continue to let this state be red,” James said. “If you can’t afford to write a thousand dollar check, you can give your time and call a thousand people, if you can’t call a thousand people you can knock on a thousand doors, we have to come together.”

    Representative Edward "Ted" James and Volunteer Maria Harmon

    Representative Edward “Ted” James and Volunteer Maria Harmon

    James said that the melting pot of citizens who come together with ideas and work hard to put them into action to create a better Louisiana is the party’s greatest asset.

    Maria Harmon, a volunteer for the East Baton Rouge Democratic Party, is one of those helping the party attain the assets James referenced.

    “Since I graduated this summer with my Masters I have been looking for a job,” Harmon said. “The hard work the Party has been doing inspired me to work voluntarily [with them] as I search”

    Harmon said as volunteer she learned no matter who a person is or where they come from. everyone is affected by the decisions made by elected officials.

    “There are so many issues affecting young people right now, such as budget cuts to higher education, health care, pay day lending and equal pay for women – all of these things affect us as young people,” she said. “A lot of younger people today are more progressive, more liberal and we need to have our voices heard.”

    Former governor Edwards is one of the pioneers for diversity among politics in Louisiana. During his time as governor, he appointed more Blacks and women to high positions in his administration than his predecessors anywhere in the nation.

    Edwards reflected on the first time he took the step to create racial equality by appointing the state’s first Black post master Huey Fontenot. He said its something he still considers one of his proudest moments.

    Councilwoman C.Denise Marcel

    Even though Edwards held acclaim for such doings, he is now more widely known for being convicted of 17 counts of racketeering, extortion, money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud in 2001. He was sentenced to 10 years and was released in 2011.

    “At night I would reflect on how people supported me and how we worked together to better this state, how we were the voice for people who couldn’t speak,” Edwards said. “I’d sit and wonder what it would be like when I got out.  The last conscious thought I’d have would be for the people of Louisiana. All those concerns were washed away when I got out and realized you had not forgotten me.”

    Earlier this year Edwards announced he would run for the vacant seat on Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District.

    The Democratic Executive Committee had only six weeks to prepare for the event, making it clear that the banquet’s theme, inspired by Huey P. Long, still resonates with people in the capitol city and beyond.

    By Cameron James

    Read more »
  • Southern University’s director of bands to retire

    Director of Southern University’s “Human Jukebox” Marching Band, Lawrence Jackson, is retiring this summer.

    “The best thing is that I’m leaving on my terms. I love everybody, I love Southern University and I have no problems,” he said. “This is the time I have chosen to retire.”

    Jackson’s official last day will be July 1. He has been the band director since 2006, after taking over for the late Dr. Isaac Greggs.

    “Southern University has been blessed to have Mr. Jackson lead the famed human jukebox and continue the great legacy left by former band directors Dr. Isaac Greggs and Dr. Ludwig Freeman,” said James Llorens Chancellor of Southern University

    Under Jackson’s direction, the marching band has maintained the national prominence it  gained under Greggs’ leadership.

    At the end of the 2013 football season the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) named its top college marching bands and the Human Jukebox finished second behind The Ohio State marching band.

    “To be recognized by the NCAA as the second best band, behind The Ohio State band is one of my highest moments. Ohio State has a million dollar budget and we have a bubble gum budget compared to them,” he said

    Jackson played in SU’s band from 1971 to 1975. Nicknamed “Crowley” after his hometown in Louisiana. During that time Jackson won several band awards including, most outstanding, top grade point average and he was a section leader.

    Nathan Haymer, Assistant Band Director, has been named the new band director.

    Read more »
  • Are you ready to SACK it?

    HAPPY NEW YOU EVERYBODY! When I think about spring I think about all things fresh and brand new. I think of how the budding tree survived a brutal winter and is now bringing forth new life. I think about how some animals emerge from hibernation owning their place in the animal kingdom as if they never left. Then I think about you.

    Just as spring makes me think of new, so do you. In this moment and place in your life the opportunity to refresh and become anew is available. Ask yourself the question – have you too survived a harsh season in your life, like the tree in the winter – and you are now ready to bud with phenomenal possibilities? Are you ready to release yourself from a stagnant place and reclaim your territory like the animals within their kingdom?

    If you are in agreement to what I’ve said thus far or answered yes to any of the questions, it’s time for you to join the ranks of the Southern Jaguars and LSU Tigers in your personal spring training camp of life, and preparing to overcome the opponent that’s trying to block your new path.

    It’s Time to SACK IT!

    SACK is an acronym of action that I challenge many of my clients with. SACK means to See It, Accept It, Change It and Know It. So I now challenge you. I challenge you to look at your life and make an assessment and commitment to spring into better by SACK-ing whatever lies between you and the ball. You must win at this game called life.

    So let me coach you to your win. See It – This is the assessment stage of your life, where you look into at what has been, what is and what you envision to come and analyze what you did wrong, what you did right and what must be done differently.

    Accept It – Now you must accept whatever has happened.It simply is what it is. This is the part of the process in which you must take ownership of not just the hits, but also the misses.

    Challenge It –It’s time to make a decision that you are up for the win. Be intentional about what you want and make up your mind that you won’t settle for the small plays that will attempt to compromise your big win.

    Know It –Confidence in your new is a must. Therefore, an action plan and strategy must be in place to maintain that high level of confidence needed to conquer.

    So, there are four easy steps to spring you into a new you. Start practicing today for tomorrow’s win. I’m convinced you have enough strength to SACK it!

    Marvin Anderson is a speaker, author and owner of Insight Business Group, LLC, a coaching, consulting and success strategies company in Baton Rouge. 

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  • Chicken Shack continues seventh decade with new location

    SINCE THE TIME THOMAS DELPIT founded Chicken Shack in 1935—with less than a dollar in his pocket and only a third grade education—the restaurant has remained a fixture in Baton Rouge dining for 77 years.

    Many trials and tribulations have long setback the opening of new Delpit Enterprises restaurants and the company has even had to closed two restaurants over the years.

    But this summer, Joe Delpit expand the family-owned chain again when the third Chicken Shack restaurant opens at the former Popeye’s, 8372 Scotland Avenue, in North Baton Rouge.

    In 1958, Joe Delpit took over ownership of the restaurant that his father Thomas Delpit opened in the front portion of the family’s shotgun home on East Blvd.

    The Delpit dynasty began in 1950 when Thomas realized that his once small, sit-in restaurant had outgrown the home.

    “This was during World War II, and it was hard to get building materials, so my father gave a contractor almost $50,000 and he took the money and ran away,” said Joe Delpit.

    Undeterred by this setback Thomas was still able to open a new location. As the popularity of the Chicken Shack grew, so did the number of celebrities who came to eat including B.B. King and Count Basie. The Chicken Shack also served as a meeting place for Black social clubs who were not allowed

    in white establishments. Even after the death of his father, Joe wanted to uphold his dream of expanding the Chicken Shack throughout Baton Rouge. Delpit decided that the Rebel Shopping Center located in a predominantly white area—which is now where Baton Rouge Community College—would be the best location. He went back to bank to try to secure another business loan, but was denied.

    “I was not denied because the bank did not have faith in me. I was denied because there was high chance that some of the racists in the community would burn it down and the bank would lose their investment.” he said

    Undiscouraged, Joe Delpit put the plans to open another Chicken Shack on hold and continue to focus on the current restaurant – then politics.

    He became the first Black city councilman in Metro Baton Rouge and later became state representative for District 63. There he helped to establish the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.

    All along, he never lost sight of the goal to open more Chicken Shack locations. So when the restaurant chain Jim Dandy was closing, Delpit saw his opportunity.

    As a politician, Delpit was able to make many connections – one of them was with the owner of a bank who was able to secure a $175,000 Small Business Administration loan to purchase three Jim Dandy locations on Terrace Street, Highland Road, and North Acadian Throughway.

    His childhood friend and former Chicken Shack employee Henry Batiste moved back to Baton Rouge and suggested the two open another Chicken Shack, as business partners.

    They purchased another location on Mohican and Pawtucket for only $12,000. They also opened a small store in Southern University’s Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union, which closed after new mangers contracted with the university. All, but the North Acadian location have since closed.

    Now adding a new location, Delpit said he believes it is likely to have more success than its closed predecessors.

    By Cameron James

    City News Manager

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  • Louisiana Divas

    By Cosha Hayes, Shawanga Hall, and Alicia Hardy
    Published by Branue Productions, three Louisiana women come together to tell their stories ranging from over-coming postpartum depression to understanding your gifts, to give readers the true definition of what being a Louisiana Diva really means. For more information click here

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  • Rutledge named Principal of the Year

    Sharmayne Rutledge was named East Baton Rouge Parish School system Principal of the year. She is principal Greenbrier Elementary. She is also a semi finalist for the Louisiana State Principal of the year.

    Read more »
  • The Michael Foster Project remembers Isaac Greggs

    The Michael Foster Project is one of the most sought after brass bands in Louisiana. Its founder, Michael Foster attended Southern University where he was a member of the “Human Jukebox” under the leadership of Isaac Greggs. It was there that he met many of his band mates. Members of the Michael Foster project who marched under Greggs’ leadership share some of the most valuable information they received from Isaac Greggs.

    Michael Foster – sousaphone

    Human Juke Box Member from 1985-1989

    “When he invited the seniors to join him at his table at the Zulu Club at the end of the Zulu Parade.  Being in the band wasn’t easy, but if you worked hard and marched all four years, you knew you earned a seat at the table with Doc. He would offer you some of his special cognac. Just knowing that you made it four years and you earned the right to be at that table with him was my best memory of him.”

    Rod Jackson – saxophone

    Human Juke Box Member from 1995 to 1999

    “He saw something in me as a saxophone player before I took an interest in jazz music.  He took me into his office and gave me three cassette tapes – he gave me a Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon tape and a Coltrane tape. I still have those tapes, listen those artist and apply what I’ve learned from them to how I play today.”

    Jeremy Thomas -trumpet

    Human Juke Box Member from 2003 to 2006

    “A lot of the wisdom he was able to pass down to me was just well received. I had a young, fertile mind and so everything he said, I soaked up. He was very wise man, he would say things like “The tallest building will fall if it doesn’t have solid roots.””

     

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  • America needs to save hurting Nigerian girls

    I WOULD LIKE NOTHING MORE than to hear on the news that our FBI or Navy Seals have found and saved the 276 kidnapped girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram. There are reports that some of the girls have already died or are sick due to poisonous snakebites. They and their families are suffering. They need help.

    Boko Haram has led a five-year Islamic uprising in Nigeria that has taken the lives of thousands of people, both Muslimand Christian. Just this week an attack on Gamboru, which is on the border of Cameroon, took the lives of 300 people.

    In recent weeks Boko Haram’s regime has been responsible for the kidnapping of 276 young girls and is threatening to sell them into slavery. This year alone, at least 1,500 people have been killed by this terroristic group. Nigeria is a nation of approximately170 million people. The country is half Muslim and half Christian. The religious regime feels that Western influences are corrupting Nigeria and that a Muslim state must be enforced.

    Abubakar Shekau is the leader of Boko Haram which means, western education is a sin. Shekau has been in hiding with his ruthless and depraved army in the Sambisa Forest. The forest is reportedly 23,000 square miles of thick, tall vegetation filled with poisonous snakes, lions and monkeys. It is extremely

    difficult to navigate. There is no place in our world for this kind of ideology car- ried out in the name of religion. Shekau and his militant blood- thirsty supporters are deranged psychos who wreak misery on any- one with whom they

    come into contact. America cannot run to every nation and put out every fire. Ukraine, Syria, Egypt and many other places are filled with serious problems and could use our help. I do not believe we are the world’s police.

    Nigeria is considered a very poor country but their economy is growing. They are Af- rica’s largest oil pro- ducer with billions of dollars in oil sales. Unfortunately most of the Nigerian wealth is in the hands of a few people and corruption abounds from busi- ness to government.

    They seriously need to utilize some of their oil money to develop a stronger military and police force to protect them.

    America cannot take care of every- body. However, try- ing to help Nigeria develop a better de- fense is something we should do and I hope we can be successful. This shouldn’t require five thousand troops. However, it may require our government sending FBI, Navy Seals, or whoever to locate and deal with Abubakar Shekau. Surely we have one drone just for him.

    by Glenn Mollette

     a national columnist 

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  • BRING BACK OUR GIRLS AN OPEN LETTER

      Bring back our girls. Bring back our daughters. Bring back what was stolen and taken to be used unapologetically in a way that no girl or woman should ever have to experience. How do you go on living your day-to -day lives knowing the hard truth about our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, and cousins? Our […]

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  • New UREC leaders appointed

    The Board of Directors for Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation ,UREC, has appointed two Baton Rouge community and business leaders to key board offices. CATHY DENSON, assistant vice president of Commercial Banker Bank at Red River Bank, has been appointed chair of the board, while GIRARD J. MELANCON, PH.D., executive director for adult and continuing education at Baton Rouge Community College, has been appointed vice chair.

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  • National museum to feature Bayou Classic, HBCUs

    WASHINGTON—Southern University, Grambling State University, and other historically Black universi- ties will be featured in the National Museum of Afri- can American History and Culture when it opens in Washington DC in spring 2016.

    The museum is the only national museum devoted to documenting the history and culture of Black Americans.

    With a primary focus on its legendary football program, GSU will be joined by a section featuring longtime GSU head football coach Eddie G. Robinson. In addition, there will be an area dedicated to the Bayou Classic.

    Other historically Black universities scheduled to be featured in the museum include Howard, Florida A&M, Tennessee State, and Tuskegee universities.

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  • Congressman wants reparations

    WASHINGTON—U.S. REP. John Conyers Jr. said he will re-introduce in the 113th Congress legislation that calls for a seven member commission to study reparations for Black people in the United States.

    “It is the most impor- tant piece of legislation I have ever in- troduced, and I will re-intro- duce HR40 in the 113th Congress,” Cony- ers (D., Mich.) told the 400 attendees at the “Revitalizing The Reparations Movement” conference ear- lier this month at Chicago State University. The 113th Congress first met Jan. 3, 2013.

    He made his comments in the wake of 14 Caribbean nations demanding reparations and apology from Britain and other Eu- ropean countries for the trans-Atlantic slave trade. If the countries fail to ne- gotiate with the Caribbean nations, they will sue them in the World Court, which is located in The Hague, The Netherlands. Thus far, Sweden is the only country that has indicated a will- ingness to negotiate reparations.

    Conyers said the ac- tions by the Caribbean nations will revitalize the reparations movement in the United States. “I think it is going to be a spring- board for reparations,”he said.

    Conyers first introduced the legislation, titled “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act,” in 1989 during the 101th Congress. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where Conyers is the ranking member.

    The eight-page piece of legislation, which was co-introduced by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D., Va.), said the 4 million Africans and their descendants were en- slaved in the United States and colonies that became the United States from 1619 to 1865. The government sanctioned slavery from 1789 through 1865, enabling it to flourish. At the same time, it deprived Africans of life, liberty, citizenship rights, and their cultural heritage. In addition, slavery denied them the fruits of their own labor.

    The Commission to Study Reparation Propos- als for African Americans Act would study the lin- gering negative effects of slavery and discrimination and recommend appropri- ate remedies in consider- ation of the Commission’s findings. In addition, the Commission would exam- ine defacto discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants from the end of the Civil War to the present, including economic, political, and social discrimination.

    The Commission will hold hearings and submit a written report.

    Conyers said he wants to hold hearings in Wash- ington, D.C., about repa- rations for African Americans.

    “If the Republican Congress blocks the hearings, I will hold them throughout the country,” he said.

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  • Artists unveil school mural

    THE VISUAL ART DEPARTMENT of Central High School recently unveiled a completed mural of a Louisiana landscape scene. The mural was designed by the tal- ented art senior students of and painted by talented art seniors MATTHEW GUIDRY and OR’RON CLARK.

    The Talented Art Program in the Central School District provides instructional services to students who have been identified by state assessment as having artistic commitment, possessing above average creativity, and advanced artistic skills

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  • Planting love for Mom

    MORE THAN 10,000 MOTHERS IN the Baton Rouge area received a Mothers Day gift that will keep on giving, thanks to
    Rotolo Pizza’s “Homegrown Love for Mom” program. The pizzeria collected cups to give to elementary school students
    throughout Baton Rouge–like the ones pictured from Dufroq Elementary– who prepared tomato plants for their mothers. The program encourages recycling, teaches students basic gardening techniques, and encourages healthy eating. “Programs such as Homegrown Love for Mom provide us with the opportunity to give back to the community, share our passion for pizza, and give hard-working moms a gift they can share with their families,” said Mitch Rotolo, founder and CEO of Rotolo’s Pizzeria.

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  • Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co drop controversial ingredient

    AS A RESULT OF CUSTOMER feedback and a petition on Change. org, Coca-Cola is dropping the controversial ingredient—br0minated vegetable oil—from Powerade.

    A petition started by a Mississippi teenager noted that an active ingredient in Powerade is linked to a flame retardant and is not approved for use in Japan or the Europe- an Union. The Food and Drug Administration told the Associated Press that brominated vegetable oil is used as a stabilizer for flavoring oils in fruit flavored drinks.

    Last year, PepsiCo said it would drop the ingredient from Gatorade. At the beginning of this month, bottles of Powerade in strawberry lemonade and fruit punch flavors being sold in the Detroit, Omaha, Washington DC, and New York areas no longer list the ingredient.

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  • Spread the truth about Black graduates not myths

    LONG ISLAND TEENAGER Kwasi Enin captured national headlines after becom- ing part of an impressive club: high school seniors who have been accepted into all eight Ivy League schools. However, while many celebrated Enin’s achievement, a bitter minority griped that the teenager had somehow gamed the system. The racial subtext was obvious – Enin couldn’t have actually have gotten into all those schools by himself. Why? Well, because he’s Black.

    This type of harmful and wholly inaccurate narrative has been constructed around Black male student achievement for years. Enin is just the latest high profile example of how it hurts all young men, high school high-achievers or not, by implying that the majority of Black boys are hopelessly behind and may never be able to narrow the achievement gap.

    There are, of course, legitimate issues that Black male students face due to a confluence of factors. But even data that shows the
    more dire aspects of Black male achievement does not exist in a vacuum, with researchers misrepresenting or not calculating for the experiences of Black male students.

    The good news is that bright spots like Enin may help raise the profile of America’s Black young men. However, there is a lot of work to be done, beginning with rethinking the way we use these seven common myths.

    MYTH 1. There are more Black males in prison than college.

    Black men are grossly over- represented in the penal system. However, there are more Black males in college than in prison, as of 2011. Howard Univer- sity professor and Baton Rouge na- tive Ivory A. Told- son found in his research that there are about 600,000 more Black males enrolled in higher education than are in jail.

    This myth has been used by education experts, the media and even President Barak Obama, despite the fact that over the last decade, Black boys have largely avoided the school-to-prison pipeline.

    MYTH 2. Less than 50% of Black males graduate from high school.

    The high school drop- out rate for Black males has actually hit a his- toric low. According to a 2013 Education Week study, about 62% of Blacks completed high school in 2010 (the most recent year for which the necessary data was available), com- pared to 80% of white stu- dents. The increase repre- sents a 30% narrowing of the gap between Black and white high school students.

    Indeed, Black males are graduating at historic levels. According to the Schott Foundation for Pub- lic Education, in 2009-10 the national graduation rate for Black male students was 52%. The graduation rate for white, non- Latino males was 78%. This is the first year that more than half of the nation’s Black males in 9th grade graduated with regular diplomas four years later. At the same time, overall high school dropout rates have decreased steadily since 1990, and there is no indication that the rates won’t continue to fall, given the trend over the past two decades.

    MYTH 3. Black males don’t go to college.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from 1976 to 2010, the percentage of Black students [enrolled in college] rose from 9% to 14%. During the same period, the percentage of white students fell from 83% to 61%.

    The Congressional Black Caucus report “Chal- lenge the Status Quo,” meanwhile, found that there are 12.5 million Black adult males living in Amer- ica, who make up 5.5% of the total population, and 5.5% of the students on college campuses across America are Black male students. The percentage of Black male students en- rolled in college is proportional to the 5.5% of Black men college-age or above living in the U.S. today.

    MYTH 4. Black student-athletes graduate at higher rates than their non-athlete Black peers.

    Often college coaches boast about how teamwork and sportsmanship trans- late to academic success. However, according to a University of Pennsylvania report on Black male stu- dent-athletes in NCAA Divi- sion I college sports, 50.2% of Black male student-ath- letes graduate within six years, compared to 55.5% of Black undergraduate students overall. And the disparity is even larger if Black male student-ath- letes are compared to other student athletes: 66.9% of overall student-athletes graduate within the same six-year period, represent- ing an 11.4% gap between Black student-athletes and their teammates.

    MYTH 5. Black male students have the same opportunities as their peers.

    This is an important one, part of the narrative that allows casual racism like the kind experienced by Kwasi Enin. In fact, a recent U.S. Education De- partment’s 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection sur- vey noted that the Ameri- can school system treats Black boys unfairly. Black male students receive a disproportionate number of suspensions, detentions and call-outs, and have a much higher rate of being expelled from school. In addition, schools attended by Black males have less ac-

    cess to experienced teach- ers and advanced place- ment classes, according to the survey.

    At the same time, the Casey Foundation recently found that Black students face the highest barri- ers to opportunities. The foundation’s researchers measured success toward 12 benchmarks, including literacy proficiency, rates of employment, income and several other factors. The report concluded that Blacks, when compared to other racial groups us-

    ing these benchmarks, fare the worst due to disparities they face from birth.

    MYTH 6. Black male students are underachievers.

    Coded language and misused statistics have constructed this idea that Black male students are underachievers. But ignoring the fact that some of America’s brightest minds are Black, recent research shows that a lack of critical feedback and demonstrated high expectations is stiflingBlack confidence in the classroom.

    In three do ble-blind randomized field experiments, researchers at the University of Texas found that Black students improve their grades af- ter having the assignment expectation reinforced by their teachers. These results point out that a cycle of mistrust and lower ex- pectations is a likely culprit in cases of Black underperformance.

     

    BY ANTOINE SARGENT

    Special to The Drum

    twitter: @sirsargent 

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  • No love like self-love

    May is National Masturbation Month. The celebration of May as National Masturbation Month began in 1995 in San Francisco as a response to the forced resignation of then U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. Elders made history as America’s first Black Surgeon General.

    After a speech at the United Nations World AIDS Day in 1994, an audience member asked Elders about masturbation’s potential for discouraging early sexual activity. She answered, “I think it is something that is part of human sexuality and a part of something that perhaps should be taught.” That statement was the end of Elders’ career as America’s first black Surgeon General.

    Masturbation can be defined as an act of self-love. It’s an essential tool for self-awareness and enhancing our most intimate relationships.

    Like partner sex, solo sex is one of the most gratifying human experiences we have. Many of us live life at a frenetic pace – rushing through most everything we do in our lives. Too often, masturbation is simply done as a quick, easy means to achieve orgasm. Seldom do we consider the sensual component of solo sex. If we took our time and focused our thoughts and energy on the erotic pleasures that our own touch can offer us, we would soon discover just how sensuous autoeroticism could be.

    Self-pleasure can be just as fabulous as actual intercourse as you can masturbate whenever you want. You’re free to experiment with fun, sometimes-unusual sex toys, without worrying about being judged or hurting anyone’s feelings. Who knows what gets you off better than you? Plus, you don’t need to stock up on condoms or worry about birth control. Self-pleasure is always exactly as short or long as you want it to be, so go ahead and be selfish! Self-love is the BEST love!

    You’ll never wake up regretting what happened last night. No one will care if your nether regions haven’t been trimmed in weeks. Yes, pubic hair is apparently making a comeback, but seriously, your vibrator couldn’t care less how you wear your bush.

    When we allow ourselves adequate time for self-pleasuring, our erotic mind and body are given sufficient time to reveal their secrets. We soon learn firsthand:

    What turns us on and off.

    What makes us feel sexy and uninhibited.

    What erogenous zones are most arousing.

    What feels good when done slow and gentle or hard and fast.

    How long we like to be stimulated.

    How sensitive our genitals are.

    The best way to reach orgasm.

    How to expand our sexual capacity into multiple orgasmic bliss!

    Choose a time and place to tempt your inner sex God or Goddess to come out and play and a time of day or evening when you are assured lengthy privacy. Consider a location that you feel comfortable, safe and uninhibited such as the bedroom, shower or bath. Turn off the phone and lock the door or do whatever you have to do to ensure privacy. Gather together any items you think you would want or need – lubricant, lotions, food, towel, a mirror, sensual fabrics, pillows, sex toys and erotic photos or literature. Creating a time and place for your erotic self-pleasuring will make you feel relaxed, sexy and free.

    Use your imagination rather than porn. Not only does watching porn leave nothing to the imagination, it provokes a fast-and-furious release making it one of the leading causes of premature ejaculation in men. By using our imagination instead of porn during masturbation, we prolong the intensity and duration of our pleasure. If you have difficulty using your imagination during solo sex, try using erotic photos or reading erotic literature. Some tantric sex instructors recommend using images of just the genitals of the opposite sex.  Find what works best for you.

    Engage ALL of your senses. To truly experience a luxurious session of self-play, engage as many of your senses as you can – sight, sound, smell, taste and of course, touch.

    Sight: Consider masturbating in front of a mirror. Watch closely as arousal transforms your body into a sensuous scene. Notice the changes in your skin tone especially around your genital area. Become your own sensual trigger.

    Sound: Include whatever music turns you on and makes you feel sexy during your next solo session. Also pay attention to the sounds you make when becoming aroused – the groans, moans, whimpers and sighs.

    Smell: Use erotic-scented candles or lotions such as jasmine or lavender when masturbating. Scent is a powerful memory trigger. Use it during solo sex and then again for partner sex to help you recall the pleasure of your sexual sessions. When we become aroused, we emit a scent – notice if you can detect yours the next time you are masturbating.

    Taste: Lick yourself all over – from your fingertips down the rest of your body. Add the occasional nibble. Taste yourself – add a touch of honey or whipped cream to the experience if you like.

    Touch: Caress, tickle and touch your entire body especially your erogenous zones. Spend time discovering what rhythm and stroke feels best, especially against your genitals. Rub your body with fur, velvet, silk, satin, ice, oil, honey or lotion. Revel in the different sensations.

    Regular self-pleasuring increases our capacity for pleasure. The more pleasure we get, the more we want. The more we learn to enjoy, the more we can handle. We soon discover that orgasm is not a goal to be achieved quickly for the process is just as rewarding. By slowing down and taking ample time to focus on our own complete sensual fulfillment through sexual self-love we learn to become truly great lovers to both ourselves and our partners.

    Get naked and enjoy the sound and scent of your own body. Let go of the pressure, enjoy touching and exploring what feels good. You’ll find that as soon as you release the pressure of reaching the Big-O, the juices will flow! Simply relax. Breathe and be patient. Self-pleasure and knowing what turns you on takes time. You are your own teacher, soon to be your own master.

    The silence and shame that shadow masturbation have long and deep roots. Beyond religious condemnation, the practice was not long ago considered an affliction for which medical doctors used the cruelest of instruments and techniques to control. Yet, women with hysteria were also medically treated by being masturbated by the physicians who eventually built elaborate room sized vibrators to take over the handwork of bringing women to orgasm.

    Back in 1995, Good Vibrations launched National Masturbation Month to protest the firing of Clinton appointed U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders. Conservative members of the administration blasted Elders when she responded to questions regarding safe sex by saying that “Masturbation is something that perhaps should be taught.”

    Getting over our discomfort with masturbation and healthy sexuality is not just important for ourselves, but even more so for the next generation. Opening the dialogue with the young people in your life and normalizing the language of sexuality is one of the most important steps you can take to build sexual health into your family’s future.

    Sigmund Freud said, “The only thing about masturbation to be ashamed of is doing it badly.” Indeed, masturbation is one of the healthiest behaviors we can add to life. It helps maintain genito-urinary health and teaches us to become and remain responsive sexual partners. Learning how to experience pleasure alone can have a meaningful impact on a number of sexual problems between couples.

    Accepting the full responsibility of our own sexual nature, needs and preferences is the gift you bring to a healthy sexual relationship with someone else. There is no wrong or right way to masturbate so don’t dismay. You can be dressed or undressed, sitting up or lying down, whatever feels good for you is the right way. Get to know your body, every nook and crevice could be holding some sensual delight, if you don’t explore – you won’t find out. So get naked and empower yourself!

    By Hasina Ifra

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  • ‘But eating healthy is so hard’

    THERE’S NO LOGIC BEHIND THE MODERN DAY PHILOSOPHY OF “eating healthy is hard to do”. It’s not hard, but it does take willpower and a few adjustments and by making those minor changes, you can actually make a huge difference in your health.

    Let’s take one of America’s favorite dishes for example, good ole spaghetti. Why do we like it so much? Well, it’s pretty much the easiest meal to make. Most of us go right into the supermarket, buy the cheapest pack of spaghetti noodles (usually the generic brand), our favorite sauce (which is why we got generic spaghetti noodles – to afford the sauce) and the cheapest ground meat we can find (again, we really want to make sure the sauce tastes the best). We then rush home to prepare it and in about 25-30 minutes – BAM – we are instant chefs.

    Now let’s go back to the supermarket and take it a little slower. We grab the spaghetti noodles, but instead of grabbing the cheapest brand, let’s just look at some other options. Most of the cheaper brands are made with enriched white flour. The problem with the word “enriched” is that you think it means something good— in the tricky food industry, not so much. Enriched flour is flour in which most of the natural vitamins and minerals have been extracted. This is done in order to give it a finer texture, increase shelf life and prevent bugs from eating it. The crazy thing is that even bugs will die if they attempt to live off it.

    You read that right, bugs will die if they attempt to live off of it, yet the Food and Drug Administration says it’s perfectly fine for us. It makes absolutely no sense, but we do have options. Let your eyes wander over to whole-wheat noodles. Whole wheat is better for your body and your overall health – just read the ingredients label as some wheat is enriched as well. Okay, so maybe you’re not a fan of those noodles, there are still other healthier options. You can find some pretty inexpensive vegetable based noodles in most grocery stores. These are made from a variety of vegetables ranging from zucchini to tomatoes, and in some cases even both. Personally, I like the zucchini based pasta noodles with my spaghetti because it heightens the flavor of the sauce.

    Now, if you have selected one of the better pasta choices then you have already upped the health ante on your easy spaghetti. Let’s just move on to your

    favorite sauce. This is actually the easier part because most spaghetti sauces aren’t that bad for you health wise.

    Again, look at the ingredients label to make sure you can pronounce al the ingredients and to ensure that it’s not loaded with added sugars or meat. The preloaded meat sauce just isn’t a good thing. I mean think about it, would you eat meat that has been sitting on a shelf in a jar for who knows how long? If you want to add a little health kick to your sauce, then get the ones with more chunky vegetables. The added veggies will be good for you. Spend a little money too, the more expensive the sauce, the better the quality of ingredients and the better the taste.

    It’s finally time to select the meat for your spaghetti! I’m going to make this pretty simple, if you pinch a penny to save on anything, let it be so you can save to afford a better quality of meat. The truth is, the more expensive the meat, the better it is for you. Select a ground chuck over a ground beef. Yes, it will cost a little more, but the quality will be a lot healthier for you. Ground chuck will contain less fat and more nutrients and protein than ground beef. You can also look at ground turkey as an option. The average price of ground turkey is 35 cents lower than ground beef, and you can also get ground turkey in a fat free option for the same low price. Or why not try veggie style spaghetti, forgoing all the meat content for extra zucchini, or chunks of fresh cut tomatoes or even a few broccoli trees added for an extra protein kick. Why not try all three?

    All in all, these simple things may only end up adding a couple of dollars to your spaghetti if you incorporate all three – maybe a few cents just trying one or two of the options. Either way, you’ll win by making a choice that will benefit you in the long-term commitment of health. Aren’t you worth those few extra dollars? I think you are. I think you’ve worked hard enough that it’s time you reward yourself with a simple and decent healthy meal. It’s time to treat yourself right – you deserve it!

     

    By Alvin Temple

    Alvin A. Temple is a wellness coach, owner of Pure Yoga.

     

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  • Tips to Reduce Allergens in Your Home this Season

    Many people seek refuge indoors around this time of year, when outdoor air is full of pollen and other allergens. For allergy sufferers, however, the air indoors can prove to be just as problematic.

    Dust that collects in a home contains common household allergens such as dust mite particles and animal dander. If dust is disturbed from furniture, hard surfaces and carpet, those allergens can become airborne and reduce indoor air quality.

    May is designated National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and it is an excellent time to make your home cleaner and healthier by removing common household allergens and improving your indoor air. Even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, everyone can benefit from better indoor air quality.

    “The way you clean your home is important. Most household cleaning routines only re-circulate allergens throughout your home rather than removing them,” said Justin Bates, president of Stanley Steemer, International, Inc. “If your cleaning routine doesn’t specifically focus on dust and allergen removal, you may be only moving them around, sending allergens back into the air.”

    To maximize your cleaning efforts while reducing allergens, consider these simple tips.

    • Dust hard surfaces regularly with moist cloths or special dry dusters designated to trap and lock dust.

    • Wash your bedding and linens often. Doing so can help you control dust mites in your home.

    • Vacuum often. Although cleaning can sometimes trigger allergic reactions by releasing dust into the air, vacuuming floors once or twice a week will reduce surface dust and allergens. Make sure your vacuum has a high efficiency air filter to capture dust.

    • Use a certified professional carpet cleaning service to deep clean your carpets to remove the stains, spills and dust that regular vacuuming leaves behind. Be sure to use a service that’s qualified to reduce allergens in the home. Stanley Steemer’s Professional Carpet Cleaning service is the first to be certified asthma and allergy friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

    Independent testing proved Stanley Steemer’s proprietary cleaning process removed 94 percent of common household allergens, including 92.8 percent of cat dander, 97.8 percent of dog danger and 91.4 percent of dust mite allergens. The process also reduces exposure to bacteria and mold by 90 percent within 24 hours of cleaning. AAFA recommends a certified professional carpet cleaning every three to four months.

    • Protect yourself when doing housework by wearing a mask. After cleaning, consider leaving for a few hours to avoid allergens in the air.

    • Reduce pet dander. If you have allergies, don’t keep pets with feathers or fur, such as birds, dogs and cats in your home. Animal saliva and dead skin, also known as pet dander, can cause allergic reactions. If you already have a pet, keep it out of the bedroom.

    • Shut out pollen. Inspect your windows for a film of pollen on the frame or sill. Prevent pollen from entering your home by keeping windows and doors closed. Use an air filter and clean it regularly or run the air conditioner and change the filter often.

    Over 70 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies. If you’re one of them, be proactive. National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month is the perfect time to eliminate triggers in your home so you can breathe more easily. A cleaner home is a healthier home.

     

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  • Black families becoming more aware of autism

    As Camille Proctor watched her one year-old son, she knew something wasn’t right. He played with others and enjoyed affection, but he never spoke. He also walked on his toes. His pediatrician assured Proctor that was son was probably just developmentally delayed.

    At 15 months old, she learned that wasn’t the case – he was officially diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

    “My son didn’t have the telltale signs, but I figured it out without the diagnosis. I had to basically force a diagnosis for my son so he could get the services he needed,” Proctor says. “But it was hard because now I had a name for what his problem was, but that wasn’t helpful for me going through it every day.”

    Autism diagnosis rates are skyrocketing. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 1 in 88 children had a disorder on the spectrum. By last month, that number had jumped 30 percent to one in 68 children.

    Although autism rates are highest among whites, particularly males, studies show that African-American children are usually diagnosed much later than their white counterparts.

    Because little is understood about autism, information and resources are hard to come by, especially for families of color. Because of that, in 2009, Proctor launched The Color of Autism, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocacy, awareness and knowledge among Black parents, connecting families to local services, and providing one-to-one support.

    “I have exhausted my 401(k) and my son’s father did too, because nobody told us all we needed to do was fill out this 100-page document, get it approved, and he could get all these services for free,” Proctor stated. “I only found out because another parent at my son’s swim class asked if I was going to put him in hippo­therapy [therapeutic horseback riding targeted for autism], but I said I couldn’t afford it. And she told me Medicaid would pay for it.”

    Part of the dearth of information aimed at Black families is because concerted, grounded research did not begin until the 1980s (before then, ASD therapy consisted of electroshock therapy, institutionalization, and drugs). Few resear­chers have chosen to examine how the spectrum manifests in people of color.

    A research team at the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment is working to change that. Dr. Daniel Geschwind and his team have been identifying and studying the genetic causes of autism, how those genetic anomalies manifest in ASD symptoms, and how treatments can be designed around this information. Last year, Geschwind was awarded a $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand his research to study African-American genes.

    “After 10 or 12 years of doing this…I started to realize that from a public health standpoint, it’s time to apply the success [of previous research] to other groups. We lead the field in finding these genes, and I think the next step is the inclusion of underrepresented minority groups in genetic studies—I feel very strongly about that,” Geschwind says. “It’s incredibly important because now, when a person with European genes comes into the [Autism Center] clinic, there’s a 1 in 10 or 1 in 5 chance we can get a diagnosis for them. We assume that would be almost essentially the same for someone with African ancestry, but we actually don’t know.”

    Geschwind explains that in genetic testing, it is important to retain the data’s power—a measure of its validity. That power is undermined by a diverse sample of DNA—if dissimilar DNA samples are compared, it’s hard to tell whether an effect is because of autism, or attributable to the genetic differences. Since DNA from white Americans is most ubiquitous and easiest to recruit, researchers tend to only study this population.

    And since Black Americans have a calamitous history with medical research, it’s even harder to find willing participants. Without willing participants, there is little to no data tailored specifically to African Americans.

    One aspect of raising a child with autism that rings acutely for parents of Black children, particularly boys, is the risk of wandering.

    Last October, 14 year-old Avonte Oquendo wandered out of his school in Queens, N.Y. unbeknownst to his teachers and staff for nearly 15 minutes. After a three-month citywide search, his remains were found along the East River.

    “Very rarely does a case of wandering from school end like [Oquendo’s] but this shows it can,” says Lori McIlwain, co-founder and executive director of the National Autism Association, and founder of the Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response and Education Collaboration. “Wandering happens from every setting, and people need to be aware, schools and teachers need training. We need to all work together on this.”

    From Oquendo’s death came a push for “Avonte’s Law,” and other wandering legislation. Avonte’s Law introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY.), centers on providing voluntary tracking devices to parents of autistic children who wander or bolt. According to AWAARE, tracking devices are a small start.

    “A multilayered approach is what [AWAARE] recommends. Tracking is just one component of that,” McIlwain explains. “We hope that with any kind of change to laws, that wandering prevention will be added. We’ve given our suggestions to Senator Schumer’s office, and we also approached the Department of Education with a list of requests to address this on the school side, because of 30 percent of parents report wandering from schools.”

    McIlwain has a son on the spectrum who is prone to wander and bolt. In the worst incident, he left a playground and made his way toward a highway, where a Good Samaritan found him. Because her son is nonverbal, it took some time to find out where he belonged.

    Proctor’s son wanders as well, especially when he was a toddler. The family dog would follow him, knock him over, and subdue him until an adult came to the rescue.

    “I think this legislation needs to be pushed,” she says. “There’s no reason Avonte should be able to walk out of his school in New York City and Al Sharpton is not all over that. I don’t see anybody out marching for [Avonte]. I’m glad the legislation is being done by a white legislator, and I’m okay with everybody advocating for our kids, but I want to see us advocate for our kids so everyone knows that they are valuable.”

    Proctor’s organization, The Color of Autism, offers resources for parents starting from the first 100 days after a diagnosis. She is also trying to fund a film, Screaming in Silence, a documentary about the affects of autism in African American families.

    “I always ask Black parents concerned about the autism label, ‘Would you rather the label 1234567?’ And they say, ‘What’s that?’ I say, ‘It’s an inmate number.’ Because that’s what’s going to happen to your child when he begins to act out, without a diagnosis or a mental chart somewhere. Nobody cares about a Black child after puberty,” Proctor says. “Autism is not a death sentence. We need to team up and support our own community.”

     

    By Jazelle Hunt

    NNPA Washington Correspondent

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  • Plaquemine native lands spot on new MTV series

    Touring with Trey Songz and outselling Beyoncé on iTunes Japan are just two accomplishments pushing singer Justin Garner to the forefront of the music industry.

    And now, MTV has taken notice of his talent.

    Garner will appear on the network’s new music competition series Copycat this summer.

    Copycat places singers in head to head competition where they battle to see who can cover some of the most popular songs, from artists ranging from Usher to Katy Perry. The winner takes home bragging rights and a cash prize.

    “Right now the music industry has become more focused on gimmicks,” Garner said. “This is a show that is bringing vocal ability back to the forefront of the industry.”

    Copycat will begin airing in June.

    “I’ve been working very hard this year on my music and it is rewarding that so many are taking notice,” he said.

    He is planning a summer tour in the United States and Japan to promote his newest EP 7 and to celebrate the success of his album I Am.

    In the future, Garner said he would like to be signed to major record label and believes that dream will become a reality very soon. His ideal music contract would be with a label supportive enough to invest in a singer who writes, co-produces and has independently released material. So far he has yet to be offered that non-controlling type of contract, but he has been meeting with several interested labels. Until then, he plans to continue pursuing his independent career and making himself undeniable.

    Copycat will air on MTV June 2 at 6:30/5:30c. Watch the trailer here 

    by Cameron James

    City News Manager

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  • ‘Step Off’ Comes to Manship

    You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your sorority sisters! This May, New Venture Theatre (NVT) will present a comedic glimpse at sorority life with “Step Off”, a story of the rivalry between two fictional sororities.

    “The whole idea of these women in this group coming together to create a production is almost a production in itself, so I wanted to showcase it in a way that celebrated femininity and the fierceness that women possess,” said Greg Williams, Jr., NVT founding artistic director and “Step Off” playwright.

    Dreama, the captain of Alpha Mu and her sorority sisters, have been challenged to bring it by rival sorority Kappa Theta in the annual Pearl Step Competition, to prove which sorority is the best on the campus of fictional Bailey University.

    But when the group learns that Adorn, the world-renowned choreographer they emptied their savings account to hire, isn’t what they expected, they find more important lessons than just a choreography routine.

    “This is a play that will entertain and show that part of growing up is finding your voice – you can’t let relationships, organizations or anything else define you,” said Amber Smith who plays Dreama

    Williams said he wanted to write a play that had the feel of a musical. Songs by Beyoncé and Rihanna are used to illustrate the highs and lows for the sorority members. The play even resurrects Brooke Valentine’s “Girl Fight” for what is guaranteed to be one its most memorable scenes.

    “There are so many elements to being in a sorority, one is community service, but they also participate in huge grand events and I wanted to respect that and also showcase it in a theatrical [way],” Williams said.

    Instead of characters bursting into song, the production utilizes choreographer Dwight Bell for the dance scenes to tell the tale of the ongoing battle between the sororities.

    “The characters in the story are going through a lot emotionally and we are using music and dance to showcase those emotions to the stage in a unique way,” Bell said.

    Maxine played by Bianca Siplin, reacts to meeting Adorn played by Aron Ardoin, with Dreama played  by Amber Smith and Zaydra played by Denice King.

    Maxine played by Bianca Siplin, reacts to meeting Adorn played by Aron Ardoin, with Dreama played by Amber Smith and Zaydra played by Denice King.

    Who will take the win at the Pearl and have the title of the best sorority on campus? That is a question that will be answered. But what is sure to make the show entertaining is the journey that these women take to make the dream of victory a reality.

    “Step Off” opens May 15 and will run until May 18 at the Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre inside the Shaw Center for the Arts.

    By Cameron James

    City News Manager

     

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  • Maintain healthy excercise routine during pregnancy

    LEARNING THAT YOU ARE PREGnant may change your view of your body. After all, you now have a developing baby within you to worry about. Add in some side effects of pregnancy, like feeling tired and sick to your stom- ach, and it can be tempting to avoid physical activity. In fact, you can, and should, remain active during pregnancy. Regular exercise helps you stay healthy. It also helps your developing baby.

    Exercise before, during and after birth 

    As you advance through pregnancy, your body will begin to look and feel different. Exercise can make you feel more energetic. It can also reduce the aches and pains that often come with pregnancy and can even make you look better.

    In addition, exercise can help you during delivery. Childbirth requires a lot of physical effort. Be- ing fit prepares your body for the hard work of labor. Even small improvements in fitness will benefit you.

    Once you deliver your baby, you’ll want to return your body to its previous shape. If you exercised regularly before and during pregnancy, you’ll gain less weight from fat. That will make it easier to get back in shape.

    Exercise does not cause miscarriage. According to the American Pregnancy

    Association, the most com- mon cause of miscarriage in the first trimester (three months) is problems with the fetus’ DNA. Other things that can cause a mis- carriage are:

    • Drug use.
    • Smoking.
    • Poor eating habits.
    • Excessive amounts

      of caffeine (such as

      coffee).

    • Radiation (for example, X-rays). Sensible exercise is not proven to cause miscarriage.

      How can you exercise safely during pregnancy?

      You should speak with your doctor before starting any type of exercise pro- gram. Depending on what your doctor recommends, you can do many different things. Swimming can take pressure off your joints. Many experts suggest walk- ing for exercise. Strength training, at least with the arms, should also be fine. You may even be able to run short distances if you were already running before your pregnancy. If not, however, you should hold off until after delivery to begin doing so.

      Exercises to avoid

      While exercise during pregnancy has many great benefits, there are some activities that you should definitely avoid.

      Once you think you are pregnant, you should not do any activity that involves bouncing, leaping or sudden changes in direction. In addition, you should stop doing sit-ups, double- leg raises and straight-leg toe touches during your pregnancy. You should also avoid sharp twisting of your body or holding your breath. And avoiding contact sports, such as basketball, or other activities where you are likely to fall down can help you protect your growing baby.

    Also, take particular care during Louisiana’s hot and humid summers. If you become overheated, it can harm your developing baby.

    If in doubt, ask your doctor

    No two people are exactly alike, and no two pregnancies are exactly alike. Some people are able to remain very active well into their pregnancy. Others have to cut back on their physical activity earlier. That’s why it is important to talk with your doctor about how you’re feeling. Make sure you see your doctor regularly from the very beginning of your pregnancy and follow his or her advice.

    Yolonda Spooner, M.D., is the medical director of AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana (formerly known as LaCare), a Medicaid managed care plan serving nearly 145,000 Louisianans.

    ONLINE: amerihealthcaritasla.com

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  • Walking with Faith

    WALKING BY FAITH IS A METAPHOR COMMONLY USED BY CHRISTIANS, but Pew 2 Pavement is putting that metaphor into action while helping Christians lead a more active lifestyle.

    “If you look back at our history any big change that comes to from our community starts in the black church, our faith is strong but sometimes our health gets put on the back burner” said Nettye Johnson, founder of Pew 2 Pavement.

    When Nettye Johnson wanted to make a change to her health for the better, she joined the popular weight loss program Weight Watchers and began working for the company.

    “While there, I noticed not many African Americans were taking the steps towards as healthier lifestyle, and I felt the motivation had to come from a deeper place,” she said.

    In January of 2013, Johnson launched Pew 2 Pavement a running club that merges faith and fitness.

    Pew 2 Pavement is an eight-week program is designed to support, encourage and equip members of the body of Christ to embrace the discipline of walking and running as an act of worship and stewardship.

    “Our faith tells Christians that our body is our temple, yet many of us are not taking the stewardship to treat it as such,” she said.

    Johnson incorporates faith into the program by hosting daily devotionals with the group before they begin their weekend runs and encourages them throughout the week in various ways.

    “I send out inspirational messages, scriptures, and sometimes YouTube videos to keep everyone in the group motivated throughout the week,”she said.

    The group meets Saturday mornings to pray, talk about their progress, and walk and run together.

    “Until I made being active a God thing and something bigger than just wanting to look a certain way or be a certain size, I was able to overcome a lot obstacles. This unites (Pew 2 Pavement participants) in a bigger way than a group who comes together to just workout,” she said.

    The eight-week program is open to people of all fitness levels and is focused on helping participants develop habits that will lead to an active lifestyle and not just a slimmer waist.

    “The focus of the program is to help (participants) create a healthy lifestyle they’ll continue to live once the program is complete,” she said.

    As soon as participants begin the program, they work with Johnson to create a list of goals they want to accomplish during the program.

    “This is what makes the program unique. I don’t tell participants what to do or how they will look at the end. We sit down and create a list of attainable goals,” she said.

    Johnson said she has had a variety of participants who want set goals ranging from weight loss

    to just wanting to lay to foundation to a more active lifestyle.

    For example, when participant say they can only commit to working out as little as two times a week, she says it is a great first step toward living a healthier life.

    “I am trying to help them set up a lifestyle. We would never go a day without brushing our teeth or praying. Why don’t we have the same approach to being active?” she said.

    Johnson helps the participants create their own goals that center around their different motivators, body types, and health histories. Giving the participants the ability to create their own program based their on schedule and personal goals shows them that living an active lifestyle is easily sustainable.

    As a fitness coach, Johnson said she only makes suggestions on what types of food Pew 2 Pavement participants should eat to reach their fitness goals.

    “I help participants set up guidelines for their diets, but only a registered dietitian in Louisiana can create an actual diet for someone,” she said

    Johnson also uses the program to introduce the various parks to the participants and the group uses courses at parks throughout Baton Rouge.

    “We run in a variety of areas so that participants can learn how to create their own trails and can see there a variety of safe places to run in Baton Rouge,” said Johnson

    The next session of Pew 2 Pavement will start in May and registration is now open for those who are interested at pew2pavement.com

    “Our health is very important we can pray for good health, but we also have to make sure we’re doing our part” she said.

    By Cameron James

    City News Manager

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  • What to keep in the closet for spring

     

    SPRING IN THE SOUTH IS THE season for festivals and all things outdoors. The weather down here can be a little temperamental, but there are two things we can always count on: humidity and heat. Spring is also the season for change.
    There’s no more room for those coats and sweaters, so the closet is in desperate need of a seasonal makeover. Throw out the heavy knits and bring out the linens. There are, however, a few staple pieces that could easily transition from fall to spring.
    Bold Colors
    This trend was quite popular this past fall. Red, blue  and green have become universally acceptable throughout the year. Whether you choose to go monochromatic (same color, different shades) or color block (one solid color paired with another) colors are always fun to explore . Any shade of any of these colors can stay in your closet this season as long as they are lightweight materials (i.e, cotton)

    Denim
    This trend is my personal favorite. Denim can be worn all year long and can be either dressy or casual. Denim on denim is a great style to try: Pair a denim or chambray shirt with a pair of jeans. Light colored jeans are typically a summer and spring trend,but dark can be suitable as well. For both men and women, slim, skinny, straight leg, bootcut or relaxed can be kept your closet. For ladies I see flares making a comeback, so those can stay too.
    White
    Winter white has been an evolving trend over the past few years. No white after Labor Day has basically gone out of the window these days. The faux pas derived mainly from the idea that white is lighter and breathable for warmer climates (i.e, spring and summer). This fact still remains, but instead of heavy knitted or fleece white items, I will say keep the cotton pieces and maybe add some linen to your wardrobe. White jeans and pants are suitable as well.
    Boots

    We Southerners love our boots. Snakeskin, leather, or suede, we rock them all yearlong. Yes, they are generally meant to keep your feet warm (which in fact that do), but in the summer, a pair of boots can compliment a pair of shorts [Women] or some comfortable bootcut jeans [men and women]. I would say pack up the tall, knee length ones and keep the short, ankle ones in the closet.

    Leather & Suede
    Leather and suede? In the spring? Indeed yes, this has become a popular trend. Some shoes (ankle boots, moccasins, or pumps) and bottoms (skirts or shorts for ladies) work for the spring. I would, however, pack up any suede or leather pants or jackets; Spring cleaning bootsThere’s no need with all of this heat.It’s wise to keep staple pieces like these in your closet at all times. Each of these trends are interchangeable and are great styles to transition from winter to spring. At the end of the day, style is whatever you make of it. Some dress for comfort, others to make a fashion statement. Trends come, go and come back again. One thing that is constant is the individual. So remember to just be yourself, be confident, and always live in style!

    BY CHRISTINE HAMILTON

    Contributing Writer

    Christine M. Hamilton is a New Orleans- based style blogger. She studied fashion merchandising at Louisiana State University. Follow her at CMHstyle.com

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  • Future of children’s insurance questioned

    BY NAYITA WILSON

    THE 2015 EXPIRATION OF THe Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has advocates asking Congres- sional leaders to commit to funding the program be- yond the expiration date.

    CHIP, which provides coverage to about eight million U.S. children, is a federal state program that provides coverage for chil- dren who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but whose par- ents cannot afford private coverage.

    The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 retains CHIP’s eligibility stan- dards through 2019 and funds the program through October 2015. ACA also provides $40 million in federal funds to promote Medicaid and CHIP enrollment.

    More than 400 advocacy groups in support of the program sent a letter to President Barack Obama as well as minority and majority leaders in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives asking them to secure CHIP’s future this year so that states can operate their programs without interruption.

    The challenge, accord- ing to Bruce Lesley, presi- dent of First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy group on federal policy and budget issues relating to issues af- fecting children which co- ordinated the letter, is that children currently enrolled in CHIP may find them- selves uninsured if the pro- gram expires and parents can’t afford to go into the private markets.

    Additionally, children who are forced to go into the exchange market brought about by ACA may find themselves in receipt of inferior benefits, he said.

    Here, the Louisiana Children’s Health Insur- ance Program (LaCHIP) provides coverage to children up to the age of 19 who meet citizenship and income criteria that deem them eligible to receive health care, mental health, immunizations and other 5 medical services. Approximately 121,095 children were enrolled in LaCHIP in June of last year according to its 2013 an- nual report.

    One Louisiana orga- nization, Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation, Inc. (Mary Queen), signed the letter in support of seeing CHIP remain in place.

    Tap Bui, deputy direc- tor for Mary Queen, said, “As a nonprofit organiza- tion providing services to the underserved communi- ties of New Orleans East, we hope that our represen- tatives take into consider- ation the needs of the com- munity and support the CHIP program.”

    The Louisiana Weekly reached out to the entire Louisiana Congressional delegation for comments and their stances on the CHIP reauthorization.

    Congressman Cedric Richmond shared the fol- lowing statement: “The Children’s Health Insur- ance Program is crucial to

    so many low-income fami- lies who may be just above the Medicaid threshold, but cannot afford private insurance. I believe that it is important to continue to invest in our youth whether it is health care, food assis- tance, education, and so many more valuable pro- grams that if not properly funded would not only be morally reprehensible, but end up costing even more money in the future. I will continue to fight for criti- cal programs such as CHIP and many others that in- vest in our youth.”

    U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter as well as U.S. Representa- tives Steve Scalise, Charles Boustany, John Fleming, Vance McAllister and Bill Cassidy had not responded by print deadline.

    A representative from within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s press office con- firmed that CHIP is set to expire in October 2015, but could not yet provide an answer with regard to what would become of the chil-dren enrolled in the program should CHIP expire in 2015.

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  • A journey into world of Asperger’s and Autism

    by Carissa Cropper

    WE BEGAN OUR JOURNEY INTO my son’s fascinating world on October 16, 2010, after having a conference with his teacher. Sh described Tyler as being a great student, smart, and intelligent. She said that he would use his vocabulary words constantly throughout the day in an effort to master them and the way his mind worked out a math problem was truly unconventional.

    All the things that a mother and father want to hear about their child. However, she had several concerns with his social interactions with the other students. She noticed that he found it difficult to make connections with other children in his class.

    Oftentimes he would become overwhelmed with emotion over the smallest of mistakes and he would exhibit little quirks and facial expressions when he was placed in an uncomfortable situation. I agreed that I had noticed some of the same things, along with other behaviors, at home.

    His teacher suggested that we go and talk to his doctor about our concerns to see if Tyler was just a “shy” child or was it some- thing else going on. After seeing his doctor it was confirmed that my son had Asperger’s Syndrome.

    This form of Autism is a high functioning form that focuses on more social behavior than anything else. We had to begin teaching our child how to cope with “scary” situations that he was faced with in a daily basis. We had to begin to grasp that when a child with Asperger’s Syndrome tells you that he’s afraid – it means that their mind has imagined the worst thing in the world happening in that situation – so much so that they would rather not even attempt it then face their fear. I learned then that if I did not educate myself on the way to help him better cope in everyday life that this could cripple him, and that was just not an option.

    The first thing we taught Tyler was to embrace his fears. My mother taught him to ask himself this question, “What’s the worst thing that can happen and can you deal with that?” If the answer was “yes” then that’s something you can do. If not, then lets go back to the drawing board. We also taught him to “talk” – don’t just agree. You have feelings about things and they are important. He learned that he has a right to feel anyway he feels, even if it is afraid. The last thing that we worked on is accepting your “quirks”. Sometimes when Tyler is uncomfortable he will hold his hands straight out to the side, he also makes awkward noises at the ends of his sentences and his sporadic tongue thrust that often come out when someone is really crowding his space are what make him Tyler.

    My daughter often tells him that he’s awesome because he always thinks for himself. He never allows anyone to tell him how to feel about something, and she believes that makes him strong.

    I believe that I have been blessed with a very unique gift. My son challenges how I think and how I view things and people everyday. He is my reason for educating others on the importance of acknowledging differences and the acceptance of those differences. This journey is exciting and we welcome the challenges that come with the territory, as Tyler says ” this ride that were on comes with twist and turns, but you just need to wear your seatbelt!”

    Carissa Cropper is a Baton Rouge Comedienne and starring in New Venture Theatre’s production of  “Step Off”

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  • North Baton Rouge soccer keeps kids active

    BAKER—PART OF LIVING HEALTHY LIFEstyle is staying is active and the North Baton Rouge Youth Soccer Association is helping young people do just that.

    Founded in 2008, the goal of the NBRYSA is stresses the fundamentals of soccer and concentrates on the players having fun playing soccer for 3-year-olds to 14-year-olds with any athletic skill levels.

    The organization has a,

    Life-North Baton Rouge Youth Souccer Associationspring and fall season with weekly practices at the J.S. Clark Park. Games are held on Saturdays during the season.

    Every Wednesday, the NBRYSA hosts “bring a friend to practice” to engage potential players and keep kids active.

     

    Read more »
  • Diagnosis motivates mom of 5 to run

    by Chequita Renee Hilliard

    AFTER GOING TO MY PRIMARY PHYSICIAN IN January 2014, I left in tears as I drove home with me was disturbing news, “You have high blood pressure and need to take this pill every morning.” As a registered nurse i knew he was right because I had taken and recorded my blood pressure for 3 months, but just hearing him say those words al- most killed me.

    At that moment I decided to do some- thing about it because I refused to pay for medication the rest of my life and I have my children who need and depend on me. This was a life sentence that I did not want.

    As I drove home in tears, I wanted to make change but, I didn’t want to go through all the fade diets that everyone was doing. I wanted to do the right thing the right way.

    I started working out on my own at home and eating a healthier diet. Later I joined Black Girls Run Baton Rouge and linked up with Varsity Sports. I had decid- ed to make a lifestyle change. I was going to run/walk to get this weight off.

    hilliard crossing finish line

    Since January, I have lost nearly 30lbs, lots of inches, my blood pressure is down and I participated in my first half Mara- thon, the annual Run Like a Diva Half Marathon in Galveston, Texas.page7image38800

    Although I didn’t place in the top amongst the 2800 runners, at the begin- ning of the race I asked God to do two things, let me finish and do not let me be last; he honored both my wishes. Because of that, I am a WINNER indeed. I’ve done what most in my town and age group have never done and I’m thankful.

    Chequita Renee Hilliard is a wife, mother of five, and grandmother to one. She is a reg- istered nurse, owner of Mountain High Photography and Videography Production and Mountain High Training Academy. 

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  • Churches to increase health awareness

    SHREVEPORT—The Nation- al Medical Association (NMA) is partnering with Enroll America and Black churches to increase of the awareness of health coverage opportunities and healthy Black people.

    NMA plans to use the partnership to provide physicians with the opportunity to help the uninsured under- stand the long-term effects of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

    Twenty-one percent, or one in five Blacks under the age of 65 don’t have health in surance coverage.

    Recent surveys by Enroll America showed that 68 per- cent of uninsured Black peo- ple are unaware that financial help is available to pay for health insurance options. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, six in 10 uninsured Blacks qualify for tax credits to pur- chase coverage.

    “The churches in the Af- rican American Community play a pivotal role in inform- ing people about the impor- tance of health coverage,” said Michael LeNoir, NMA president

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  • Mason sets open door meetings May, June

    The entire Southern University System including alumni are invited to one-on-one conversations with SU System President Ronald Mason Jr. He has reserved May 22 and June 26, 9am -noon, for individual meetings as part of his “President’s Open Door Day.” The meetings are by appointment only, on a first-come, first- served basis in the President’s Office, 4th Floor, J.S. Clark Administration Building. Sign up at the Office of the President or call 225.771.4680

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  • Best Kept Secret: Our Daily Bread

    OUR DAILY BREAD WHOLE Food Market and Bakery has been serving the Baton Rouge community with holistic medicines and healthy grocery options since 1989. Owners Alvin Himel and David Butt provide cus- tomers with health staples, vitamins, and organic pro- duce, while introducing shoppers to local products like Baton Rouge-made

    Sensation Salad Dressing. “Our most popular bread is our Farm House loaf, it is made of whole grain wheat and rye and the process to bake takes two days,” Himel said.

    The grocery doubles as a café offering daily spe- cials, and serving healthier versions of many Louisiana staples. “We serve gumbo and jambalaya. Except for our roux, we use fresh organic vegetables, and (meals include) brown rice instead of white,” Himel said.

    The café also serves fruit smoothies and juices from fresh fruits. “Many believe it costs more to eat healthier, but it could ac- tually cost less,” he said. A meal from Our Daily Bread that includes vegetarian lasagna, salad and a roll cost less than $8—a quick, healthy alternative to commercial fast food.

    Our Daily Bread is located at 9414 Florida Blvd in Baton Rouge. Above is a photo of organize produce sold by the local grocer.

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  • SU Ag institute grad recognized for healthy living

    NEW ORLEANS—JENGA Mwendo enrolled in the Small Farmer Leadership Institute Class III at the SU Ag Center in 2009, graduating in 2011.The same year  that she registered for the Leadership Institute, Mwendo founded Backyard Gardeners Network (BGN) in New Orleans.

    Earlier this year, Aetna Insurance selected to spotlight Mwendo for the March page of thee 2014 African- American History Calendar, “Community transformations: African Americans creating sustainable neighborhoods,” encourages healthy living. Aetna is an American managed health care company which takes healthy living seri- ously. Aetna is a member of the Fortune 100.

    The Lower Ninth Ward native returned to New Orleans in 2007 to help rebuild the community after the 2005 Katrina disaster. Mwendo is director of BGN and community organizer who focuses on strengthening the community through urban agriculture. The non-profit organization’s mission is community building, neighborhood revitalization and cultural preservation through urban gardening. They organize food demonstrations, educational workshops, potluck meals, and live musical entertainment. “We get to share home-cooked foods with each other,” she said, adding that her 9-year- old daughter has been a big part of her work. The kids in the neighborhood now appreciate what it takes to grow good food.”

    “If you have your own food source, you can bounce back a lot quicker after hurricanes,” Mwendo said. Jenga enjoys living in New Orleans “despite all the obstacles.”

    Following her gradu- ation from the Lead- ership Institute in 2011, Mwendo was among 14 fellows selected by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) Food and Community to receive an award. The 2011-2013 class of Fellows was a mix of grassroots ad- vocates, thought leaders, writers, and entrepreneurs.

    The award came with a two-year fellowship that provided an annual stipend of $35,000 in addition to communications support, trainings, and travel. The program supports leaders working to create a food system that strengthens the health of communities, particularly children.

    For this class of fellows, the selection committee focused on work that cre- ates a just, equitable and healthy food system from its roots up. More than 560 individuals applied for fellowships that year.

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  • A needed transformation: the weight loss journey of Jeffery Woods

    WHEN JEFFERY Woods’ wife gifted him an expensive t-shirt he said, “I put it on, it looked horrible and I felt so bad”. Instead
    of returning the shirt, he hung it in his closet as motivation to get back into shape.

    Over the course of one year, the 42-year- old father of two was able to transform from a flabby 245 pounds back to the lean 187-pound athletic build he had as a high school athlete.

    As a young boy in high school, Jef- fery Woods had a dream to make it to the 1992 Olympics. In pursuit of his dream, he earned a full scholarship to the University of Rhode Island (URI), where he earned All American Honors in the 400 Hurdles in 1991. While at URI, Woods held 16 school records in nine events and won 16 New England titles in eight events. Woods was also the 2x New England Track & Field Athlete of the Year and in 1992, he received URI’s highest athletic award.

    Although he did not make it to the 1992 Olympics, partly due to a foot injury, in 1995 he completed the Marine Corp Marathon, which was his first 26.2 miler. While training for his second marathon the following year, his life was changed physically, mentally and spiritually during a flag foot- ball championship game in Maryland. He collapsed on the field and spent a month in the hospital being probed and prodded in order to identify the cause. Woods was diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia and a Jeff Woods Before Piccardiac defibrillator was implanted.

    The diagnosis was odd considering Woods’ track and field background. After receiving multiple shocks while sleeping, Woods went to another hospital for a second opinion where he was diagnosed with cardiac sarcoidosis, a potentially life threatening illness. During that time 98% of the cases involved pulmonary organs. Unfortunately for some, 98% of the time, cardiac sarcoidosis was diagnosed post

    mortem. Ultimately doc- tors concurred, the only reason he survived was due to his level of fitness.

    However, as a result of medications, non-activity, poor diet and depression, Woods went from a lean 175 pounds to a whopping

    245 pounds with a 38-inch waist! The weight gain was a nemesis for years and proved to be a formida- ble one at that. For many years, he struggled with the weight, and because of his appearance, he refrained from visiting public pools.

    Finally in 2010, Woods decided he needed to get back in shape. He first

    started with his diet, elimi- nating all sugars, processed foods and all products containing enriched flour. This coupled with Insanity, an exercise program consist- ing of cardio and weight training he found the winning formula to transform his 42-year-old body back into competition shape.

    In 2011 he returned to URI to compete in the Alumni Track Meet, competing in three events. Woods is now lean at 195 lbs with his high school, 32-inch waist. He is also competing in his fourth Marine Corp Marathon this October.

    Jeffery Woods pictured with his family. Left to right: His daughter Laci, Woods, his wife Racquel and son Clayton.

    Jeffery Woods pictured with his family. Left to right: His daughter Laci, Woods, his wife Racquel and son Clayton.

    Illness, depression and poor self-image can be combated with good diet and consistent exercise reg- iment. Woods encourages others to create a plan, and “Live Life with Purpose.” He has energized his life through fitness to ensure he has every opportunity to enjoy his family and re- main healthy.

    Jeffery Woods, PhD, is the Indianapolis Regional Director for The Expecta- tion Project, an adjunct professor at Indiana Wes- leyan and the Founding Executive Director of Fathers 4 Futures.

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  • ,,

    EBR School Board seeks District 11 resident to replace Lamana

    The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board announces a vacancy on the school board due to the death of School Board Member Randy Lamana on April 16, 2014.  At a special meeting to be held on Thursday, May 1, 2014, the Board will appoint a qualified resident of School Board District 11, in the Parish of East Baton Rouge to serve until the duly elected member takes office January of 2015.   

    Qualified residents of District 11 interested in serving should submit a letter of intent along

    image

    with a resume and/or short
    biographical sketch.  Each applicant must also submit a Certificate of Residency/Qualifications from the East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters.  The Certificates of Residency/Qualifications can be obtained free of charge.  Please submit the requested documentation to the attention of:

    Mr. David Tatman, President
    East Baton Rouge Parish School Board
    1050 South Foster Drive
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806

    The deadline for submitting a letter of intent is Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM.   

    QUALIFICATIONS FOR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS

    Persons eligible to serve as members of the School Board shall have the following minimum qualifications:

    1. A Board member shall have attained the age of eighteen (18).
    2. A Board member shall be domiciled in the election district for the preceding year, except after reapportionment.
    3. A Board Member shall have resided in the state for the preceding two (2) years.
    4. A Board Member shall be able to read and write.
    5. A Board Member shall not be serving on certain other boards specified in the Constitution of Louisiana.
    6. A Board Member shall have affirmed to the prescribed oath.

    All applicants must also disclose if a member of their immediate family is an employee of the school system.  “Immediate family” as the term relates to a public servant means his children, the spouses of his children, his brothers and their spouses, his sisters and their spouses, his parents, his spouse, and the parents of his spouse.

    For more information, please visit the school system’s web site at www.ebrpss.k12.la.us or contact us by phone at 225-922-5567. 

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  • Is conservatism working?

    WE LIVE IN A RED STATE. That’s no secret. So many Louisiana residents take pride in our state’s conservative values. Traditional notions of family, “small” government, emphasizing the importance of being business friendly,

    being tough on crime—violent and victimless alike— and the preservation of unborn pregnancies are all key tenets of this mindset. Does this mindset behoove us at all?

    Louisiana’s legislative session recently got under way and this is the time of year the ideologies of our state are most apparent. One of the most controver- sial bills thus far has been HB 388 also known as the safe abortion act. This bill requires doctors to have “admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic and would force 3 of Louisiana’s five abortion clinics to close. One would think that such legislation would come from some old white male Republican, right? WRONG.

    This legislation was sponsored by Katrina Jackson, 16th district state representative who happens to be an African American Democrat. When asked—by several people—why this bill was necessary, Jackson failed to provide any statistics for the state of Louisiana and resorted to only posting links from anti-abortion websites like Lifenews. com that had nothing to do with this state whatsoever. Rep. Jackson is no stranger to such conservative ideals as she sponsored a bill that would allow students to voluntarily participate in the Lord’s Prayer—as if they were prohibited—at school? Wouldn’t you think someone who has the town with largest wealth gap in the nation in her district would have different priorities?

    Also this session, the House Commerce Commit- tee has killed a bill aimed at prohibiting housing dis- crimination against LGBT individuals? Maybe I am missing something but

    who exactly does allowing discrimination help? Also there is the ever present problematic way in which Louisiana handles its pe- nal system. House bill 227 makes it more of a crime to assault referees than to assault the general population.

    Another recent bill added a mandatory minimum for those who flee from law enforcement—regardless of reasoning—and would punish those who violate

    traffic laws in this process more harshly than those who violate them in under other circumstances?

    Given the amount that this state is already spending on incarceration, can we really afford any of this? Is conservatism working for Louisiana?

    Terry Young is a survey researcher for the LSU Public Policy Research Lab in Baton Rouge. 

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  • Wells named the Teacher of the Year

    Mrs. Paula Wells was named the Teacher of the Year for Hammond Westside Elementary Montessori School.  Mrs. Wells was selected by her colleagues for her professionalism, dedication to her students, and knowledge.

    Mrs. Wells exhibits a positive attitude, which is reflected in the way in which her students treat one another.  She inspires her students to work to their potential.  Mrs. Wells’ strong content knowledge and effective lesson delivery lead to her students’ success.

    Mrs. Wells serves as a mentor teacher and provides support to her grade level team. She also serves on the school’s leadership team

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  • Mobile Pantry to make stop in Scotlandville

    Together Baton Rouge and the Greater Baton Rouge Food bank will host  the Scotlandville Mobile Pantry Saturday, April 26 at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. The pantry will provide free produce to Scotlandville citizens starting at 9 a.m. until the produce runs out.  St. Michael’s Episcopal Church is located at 1620 77th Avenue. Patrons are asked to bring a chair and food carrier.

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  • Month with Mada

    LAW WEEK AND THE ANGOLA 3
    The Southern Univer- sity Law School hosted Law Week March 17 -March 21, including solitary confinement exhibition dis-play. The celebration included a memorial program for Herman Wallace, a true vision- ary and member of the Angola 3. The keynote speaker was Robert King. As a member of the Black Panther Party while in prison, the system silenced is- sues and concerns and forced many prisoners into solitary confinement so problems that occurred did not seep out of the prison walls. King spent 29 years in solitary confinement, living in a 6’ x 9’ cell with very little or no contact with the prison general population and special privileges are very limited. “Solitary confinement is slavery,” said King. He was released from Angola Prison in 2001. Many plays, books and studies have been written, making the Angola 3 story known all over the world. King said, “Herman Wallace would be delighted by the support”.

    Malik Rahim was the special guest speaker and also was a member of the Black Panther Party. He shared many encounters with law enforcement and the penal institutions and urged the law students in attendance at this special program. “You can make a difference to change the justice system”.

    Rahim said 2 million individuals are on parole/ probation and omore than a million Black males are in prison.

    King and Rahim made it clear in their presenta- tions that many prisoners have been framed due to their political beliefs.

    In memory of Herman Wallace, who spent more than 30 years in solitary confinement was finally re- leased from prison in Octo- ber 2013. Herman died two days later after battling and suffering with a terminal illness. He never received the proper medical care while incarcerated.He died before justice was able to prevail on his behalf. Wal- lace is loved by many family members, friends and will be greatly missed.

    The other Angola 3 inmate is Albert Woodfox, remains in solitary confine- ment after more than 30 years.

    The Angola 3 Coalition and Amnesty International strongly continue to fight and are vocal and visible. The Angola 3 story is known locally, statewide, nationally and internationally. It has been a catalyst for discussions on the treatment prisoners in solitary confinement receives in the legislature and other judicial processes.

    King and Rahim gave soul-stirring messages and captivated the audience discussing the challenges they encountered while be- ing in prison.

    There is a bill in the Louisiana Legislature HR- 1, addressing solitary confinement restrictions and how long a prisoner should remain in solitary confine- ment.

    Proclamations have been declared regarding the Angola 3, stating that these three individuals are not guilty for crime that they served time in such deplor- able conditions. The fight is moving strong to free and release Woodfox.

    He is older, has health concerns, and needs to walk as a free man as soon as possible.

    This month’s program at Southern was very inspirational.Hats off to Professor Angela Bell, all of the Pre enters and the Students of the Southern University Law Center.

    This new column shares community events and activities compiled by Mada McDonald, a public relations professional and community activist 

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  • Southern University Ag Center pays tribute to ‘Heroes’

    The Louisiana Living Legend Banquet, highlighting three award recipients as “heroes with ties and connections to Southern University” for their years of selfless service. The 2014 Louisiana Living Legends were WESLEY CRAWFORD, retired agricultural extension agent and mentor who served in Monroe, Morehouse and Franklin parishes for 33 years; SOLON MARSHALL, retired vocational agriculture teacher who taught in Richland and Franklin Parishes for 37 years; and KIRKLAND E. MELLAD, PH.D., retired vice chancellor for research, with 39 years of service at Southern University

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  • ,

    Hill to host community meeting on House Bill 1177

    Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) District 8 Rep. Carolyn Hill will host a community meeting 6pm, Tues., April 22, at Capitol Middle School, 5100 Greenwell Springs Road, to discuss the impact of House Bill 1177, which would restructure the administration of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.East Baton Rouge School System Supt. Bernard Taylor, Attorney Domoine Rutledge as well as State Representatives Pat Smith and Alfred Williams will speak. Refreshments and door prizes will be provided.

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  • Easter the season of renewness, restoration

    IT IS OFTEN SAID WE ARE “spiritual beings” having a natural experience.

    How many of you are “spiritual beings” having a “spiritual experience” in this season of restoration? How are you being restored? Are you searching your soul and making necessary changes to move forward? Will you do self-inventory to see how well you are doing as a Christian? Are looking back at days of yesterday and reliving bad and trying times?

    Having this season upon us, is giving us a time to truly be restored to wholeness in Christ, or whomever we serve, mat- ters not name by which they are called!

    Will you spend this sea- son forgiving others as you seek forgiveness as Christ did on the cross? Will you turn this season into one of commercialization by shopping for that special outfit, go- ing to church once a year, prepared the perfect dinner, painting eggs and have a family out- ing; or will you wrap your- self in a “spiritual experience” praying, rejoicing, living, loving, forgiving, giving, and lifting up your Savior?

    Will you be seeking daily to forgive and be for- given, to be a better you and carry a lighter load?

    In this season of renewness and restoration, are you a conformist or a transformer? How have you grown since last years’ “Easter Holiday of  restoration?” How many lives have you transformed or have you conformed to the ways of those that you are seek- ing to transform? In this season of holiness, let it not end with Easter Sunday, but continue to be a life-line to eternity. In this season of “re-newness and restoration” I will be prayerful, forgiving, and I pray to be forgiven?

    Joyce Turner Keller, Th.D., is founder of Travelers of Christ Evangelistic Ministry. She is a global advocate for HIV/AIDS. 

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  • Landrieu to address SU commencement

    U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu will be the commence-ment speaker for the spring graduation ceremony in the F.G. Activity Center, May 9, at 10:30am. Landrieu, a New Orleans native, is the first woman from Louisiana ever elected to the United States Senate. Landrieu was Louisiana’s State Treasurer from 1988 to 1996. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and reelected in 2002 and 2008.

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  • Students remember integrating BR High School

    IT BEGAN ON SEPT. 3, 1963, the first day of school in Baton Rouge. The tem- perature was 75 degrees, but the social climate was much hotter. This was the day that 13 Black students desegregated Baton Rouge High School.

    Cabs provided by the American Friends Service Committee drove up Gov- ernment Street, with the Black students four to a car. Police officers, report- ers, spectators and heck- lers lined the breezeway of BRHS and stood either silent or snickering as the

    11 girls and two boys made their way to the entrance. None of the students nei- ther –white nor Black – knew what to expect on the other side.

    “I knew a lot of kids whose parents wanted them to just wait a few days to go back to school,” said Milou Barry, who attended BRHS when the 13 Black students arrived. “There was a plan being discussed that a group of Key Club members and cheerleaders should greet those taxis and escort those terrified Black students up the long walk to the front doors of that huge school. The rest

    of us were supposed to ap- plaud them.”

    But that didn’t hap- pen. The Black students entered the school quietly, seemingly invisible to the white students – until they were heckled or physically attacked.

    The Black students, who had been recom- mended by their teach- ers, came from McKinley High School and South- ern University Laboratory School. Once they passed an entrance exam, the stu- dents began regular meet- ings with the NAACP and church leaders for training in non-violence and survival strategies. The same measures were not taken on the other side.

    “As far as I know there were no workshops or instructions to the white students who were at the school about what we should expect or, more importantly, what was expected of us in order to fa- cilitate the integration of BRHS,” said Robb Forman Dew, one of the white students at BRHS in 1963. “Had the grownups in our lives wanted the experience to go well they could have done a great deal to make it happen. Many of our teachers were truly racist, and cer- tainly didn’t want the experience to go well, I imagine. Of course, some were wonderful people who were horrified by racism. But no one thought to put in place a code of conduct, or even to try to ame- liorate problems before they came up.”

    This was 10 years after the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Educa- tion, declaring “separate but equal” schools unconstitutional. Before that, desegregation of schools had been happening across the nation since 1940 – in small instances, with the admission of one student here and there, mostly at colleges and universities. In 1960, deseg- regation began in Louisiana with New Orleans public schools. Three years later, in the heat of the Civil Rights movement, Baton Rouge began to integrate Lee High, Glen Oaks High, Istrouma High and Ba- ton Rouge High.

    One of the 13 Black students, who is now in her 60s and asked to remain anonymous, recalled a mo- ment when her frustrations over- came her preparation and training one afternoon at lunch. An incident involving her and a white student took a violent turn. After having a

    lunch plate of food dumped on top of her head by the white classmate, she sent multiple plates crashing atop of the tow-headed boy, leav- ing him red with blood.

    “It was senior day and the theme was cowboy day and none of the [Black] classmates wanted to dress up, but I dressed like a cow- girl,” she said. “That boy dumped his food all over my head; mashed potatoes and gravy and greens. That prompted me to find every plate I could find, breaking them over his head. It was something I wouldn’t normally do, because we were coached and very well trained on nonviolence. I don’t know why he did that, but I think that he was frustrated that his sister and I befriended one another in choir. They [BRHS] suspended me for one day, but it was worth it. That day I earned the name Cassius Clay; it’s what everyone wrote in my yearbook.” (Cassius Clay, who later changed his named to Mu- hammad Ali, won the 1960 Olym- pics gold medal for boxing.)

    And, while that incident may have been an extreme response, softer, quieter events agitated situations like that daily. Most white youths refused to partner with Blacks during class projects, leaving a few brave students and teachers to play those roles. And, then there were some students like Mimi Riche who said she regrets not befriending her Black class- mates.

    “Unfortunately for me, I was not classy enough to step across the line and engage with my new class- mates other than to quietly speak in passing,” Riche said. “Today, I would imagine we might be good friends. The past 50 years have brought us a long way, in many ways, not nearly far enough”

    The class of 1964’s story was all over the nation on television, on the radio and in various news- papers and magazines. The largest media response was in 1963 when NBC evening news aired a report by anchor David Brinkley about the desegregation of Baton Rouge high schools. He noted that the capital city had waited nearly 10 years after Brown vs. Board of Education to begin opening their high schools up to all races. And, the Black students who were described as brave, strong and determined were not getting the same positive messages from their classmates, school system administration, or the city at large.

    Here on the home front, the Black students were told daily that they would never graduate. Many of them said they believed it until May 1964, when they were lined up in an LSU auditorium for com- mencement – some graduating to no applause, but
    with scholarships and high honors. The daily nightmare was nearly over, but the memories remained deep wounds that are still healing.

    “That year at BRHS ran the gamut of human emotions: excitement, wonder, anxiety, fear and closeness to my fel- low [Black] travelers and many other feel- ings,” said Charles R. Burchel, one of the 13 Black students. “I’m glad I did it. For me and others not to have done it would have helped to solid- ify racist stereotypes that were so prevalent.”

    With the 50-year reunion ap- proaching in May, some of the white students have befriended Black students throughout the planning for the event that began in 2011. Several former students said the feeling of a two-year friendship versus what could have been a 50- year relationship weighs heavily on what were once the terrified hearts of teenagers.

    Former student Walter Eldredge and other white students said they now regret not forming relationships with the new stu- dents that year, blaming ignorance as the culprit.

    “My overwhelming memory of that year is that I knew the ostra- cism of those kids was wrong, yet I allowed myself to be diverted into my own little teen-world events and I let others establish the status quo, rather than make myself a target by reaching out,” he said.

    BY Leslie Rose

    Assistant Managing Editor 

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