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    Journalists meet with NYT editor

    The Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalist president Michelle McCalope, vice president Gerron Jordan, secretary Gheni Platenburg, secretary, and treasurer Kelli Palmer, along with a dozen members and LSU faculty met with New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Nov. 30, at Louie’s Cafe.

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    Student organizations collect 200 drinks for BR Sickle Cell

    Southern University student organizations, Association of Women Students (AWS) in conjunction with the Alpha Tau Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held sports drink drive to benefit Baton Rouge Sickle Cell.

    To share the spirit of giving AWS and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. rallied the Jaguar Nation together in support of sickle cell. The end result was collecting nearly two-hundred bottles of sports drinks. During this long event students flocked to the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union Cotillion Ballroom to leave their contributions. The completion of the drive and the foundations recent participation in a health fair at the university is cultivating new ideas for future partnership.

    “I understand the importance of giving back especially during this time of year. I’m also familiar with the trials of the disease because I know someone who lives with it which contributed to the need for a successful drive. I look forward to helping Baton Rouge Sickle Cell more in the future,” said Harris.

    Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disease that affects red blood cells. It changes the cells from flexible disks into rigid crescents. Dehydration is a severe complication of sickle cell disease caused my loss of water in the body. Dehydration can create slow movement in blow flow causing a painful event for a person with sickle cell disease. The Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, Inc. is a 42-year-old non-profit that provides support and advocacy services to more than 600 individuals living with Sickle Cell Disease in 11 parishes.

    ONLINE: www.brscaf.org
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    Pictured from left to right: Zana Harris President AWS, Lorri Burgess Executive Director Baton Rouge Sickle Cell, Sarah Thanni Vice-President AWS and Dorlissia Robinson Secretary AWS.

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  • Germany resigns from SU football; Jackson and Atkins to leave

    Southern University football confirmed  offensive coordinator Chad Germany has resigned from the program. Germany will remain on staff until Jan.14.

    “Chad Germany has been instrumental in the success of the Southern University football program for four years,” said head coach Dawson Odums.

    “His development of the quarterbacks at Southern helped produced the program’s all-time leading passer and perennial All-SWAC performers. We thank Chad for his service at Southern in helping rebuild the football program and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

    Defensive line coach Myron Jackson, linebackers coach Lorick Atkinson and cornerbacks coach Chris Scott will not return to the Jaguar coaching staff in 2016. 

    Despite finishing 6-5, 6-3 in league play, Southern placed 11 players on the All-SWAC team announced Dec. 2 by the conference office.

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    SU Ag Center’s Fall Gardening Workshop Draws Large Crowd of Gardeners

    The near-freezing morning temperature didn’t stop almost 100 attendees from showing up for the Southern University Ag Center’s Fall Gardening Workshop, held on November 24 in A.O. Williams Hall – SU Ag Center.

    Prior to the start of the program, attendees were treated to smoothies and a juice breakfast bar made from vegetables grown in the Center’s Urban Demonstration Farm. Stephanie Elwood, Extension Associate at the SU Ag Center, provided the attendees with recipes to make the smoothies and juices at their homes during her presentation on Fall Season Planting and Smoothie and Juice Gardens.

    SU Ag Center Vice Chancellor for Extension Dr. Gina E. Eubanks welcomed the packed crowd to the workshop and to the Southern University Ag Center.

    Other presentations included Pollinators and Pests: Encouraging Healthy Ecosystems, which explained how some insects assist in the pollination of plants; Bee Keeping: Raising Queen Bees in the City, which discussed how to transplant a queen into a bee colony and maintain a bee colony in an urban environment; The Human Element: Maintaining and Growing an Urban Agriculture Community, which focused on community gardening and Non-traditional Uses for Traditional Crops, such as harvesting and selling banana leaves and making jelly from corn cobs.

    Attendees were also given the opportunity to share topics that they would like to learn more about during the next workshop with the Ag Center’s staff.

    The workshop ended with a tour of the Southern University Ag Center’s greenhouses and its Urban Demonstration Farm.

    The Fall Gardening Workshop was co-sponsored by the Southern University Ag Center, its Wisteria Alliance Program and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program.

    For additional information about gardening, the SU Ag Center’s Urban Demonstration Farm or to schedule a tour of the Farm, contact Mila Berhane, Stephanie Elwood, Dawn Mellion Patin or Zanetta Augustine at 225-771-2242.

    PHOTO: Zanetta Augustine, Extension Associate at the SU Ag Center standing on far right in purple, leads Fall Gardening Workshop attendees on a tour of the Center’s greenhouse on November 24. (Photo by LaKeeshia G. Lusk, SU Ag Center.)

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    N.O. issues Bayou Classic parking, traffic instructions

    The City of New Orleans issued parking instructions and reminders in advance of events for the 2015 Bayou Classic. The public is encouraged to be patient and to prepare for heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the specified areas by making transportation arrangements accordingly.

    Battle of the Bands

    On Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Battle of the Bands will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. There are no street closures for this event. Traffic will be regulated by detailed officers around the Superdome.

    2015 Bayou Classic Football Game

    On Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 at 1:30 p.m., the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will host the 2015 Bayou Classic Football Game. There are no street closures for this event. Traffic will be regulated by detailed officers around the Superdome.

    Parking enforcement personnel will be monitoring for illegal parking, including blocking hydrants, driveways and sidewalks, or parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk, intersection or stop signs. Motorists are also reminded to park in the direction of travel on one-way streets, and with the right wheel to the curb on two-way streets.

    In addition, RTA services, including streetcar and bus service may be interrupted during these events. Details on route changes are available at www.norta.com.

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  • PICO invites public to #NotOneDime economic boycott through Dec. 3

    DRUMCALL from PICO.

    This week marks the one-year anniversary of the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown.

    This week we wait for the release of the 2014 video depicting the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by a white Chicago police officer.

    This week we watch the ongoing tragedy in Minnesota related to the killing of Jamar Clark and the shooting of unarmed protesters by white supremacists.

    And this week as we continue our efforts to righteously resist systems of oppression using our bodies, our ballots and our bucks, we are excited to partner with our friends at Urban Cusp, Hands Up United, and other organizations around the county, calling for a nationwide #NotOneDime economic boycott from November 22 – December 3, 2015.

    The words of the prophet recorded in Isaiah 58, included here, serve as a sacred guide for us as we enter this season of disciplined economic resistance.

    We are inviting you and your loved ones to disengage in non-essential spending, and to redirect your spending to black and minority-owned business. Let’s begin to starve the beasts of corporate interest and economic systems which profit off the bodies of our loved ones.

    Rev. Michael McBride
    Director of Urban Strategies and the Live Free Campaign
    PICO National Network

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    Former SU history professor Arthur Tolson passes away, services planned Nov. 30

    BATON ROUGE–Arthur L. Tolson, Ph.D, a longtime faculty member in the Southern University Baton Rouge Department of History, died Wednesday, November 18, 2015, in Baton Rouge. He was 91.

    SU System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton issues the following statement and condolences:  “The Southern University System is tremendously saddened by the passing of former history professor Dr. Arthur Tolson who served as a faculty member in the Department of History at Southern University for 45 years. A true scholar and intellectual, Dr. Tolson touched the lives of countless students and was a trusted mentor to many of his colleagues and fellow SU faculty members. His legacy of teaching and commitment remains an exemplary model for others. We extend our deepest sympathy to Dr. Tolson’s family, colleagues, and friends.”

    The retired SU professor was the son of Melvin B. Tolson an American Modernist poet, educator, columnist, and politician who is the protagonist of the 2007 biopic “The Great Debaters.” The film is based on his [Melvin Tolson Sr.] work with students at predominantly Black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, and their debate with University of Southern California in the 1930s.

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    Arthur Tolson, Ph.D., along with Denzel Washington who portrayed his father Melvin Tolson in The Great Debaters

    “Dr. Arthur Tolson was truly a mentor and an inspiration to numerous students,” said Shawn Comminey, SUBR history chair. “His philosophy, wisdom, humor; the encouragement and support he displayed through the years, go without saying.”

    According to a 2008 SU Digest article, Arthur Tolson made history as the first Black to attain a master’s degree in history from Oklahoma State University and a doctorate in history from the University of Oklahoma.

    Share your memories of Dr. Tolson below along with photos (email to news@thedrumnewspaper.info) for his commemorative page.

    Funeral Arrangements for Dr. Arthur L. Tolson

    Southern University Baton Rouge
    Monday, November 30, 2015

    Lying in Repose
    4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    Royal Cotillion Ballroom
    Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union
    Southern University and A&M College
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70813

    Funeral Service
    7 p.m.
    Royal Cotillion Ballroom
    Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union
    Interment
    Green Acres Memorial Gardens
    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    Arrangements
    Treasures of Life, Center for Life Funeral Services
    315 East Airline Highway
    Gramercy, Louisiana  70052
    225.258.4039

    Family requests in lieu of flowers, forward all donations to: Treasures of Life, Center for Life Funeral Services

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  • What’s in Your Attic?

    Time for the Annual East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Attic Treasures Event, Nov. 21

    Bring your collectibles, antiques and other treasures for expert review at the 15th Annual Attic Treasures & Collectibles Event at the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. It’s very similar to what you see on Antiques Roadshow, which runs on LPB TV. Hundreds of people lined up with their treasures at last year’s event.

    This is the time to raid your attic, closets and garages for that interesting or antique art, old toys, pottery, jewelry, rifles, war artifacts, small furniture or other item of interest and see what the story is behind it and possibly what its value might be. The free event will run 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, November 21, at the Main Library at Goodwood. There is a limit of three items per person at the event, and experts will be on hand to look at your collectibles and antiques. Come for the antiques viewings, but bring your Library card to stay and visit our facilities!

    For more information on the Attic Treasures event, call (225) 270-1928 or (225) 231-3750, visit www.ebrpl.com or click on the Library’s Facebook or Twitter sites.
    In conjunction with the Attic Treasures event on Saturday, East Baton Rouge Parish Library Archivist Melissa Eastin will offer a free workshop entitled Preservation of the Home: Making Memories Last. It begins at 2 p.m. at the Main Library’s Technology Lab (second floor).
    At the workshop, Eastin will discuss the best practices for preserving family archives and ensure the long-term survival of items from photographs to textiles. Participants also will be treated to a demonstration of the Library’s P4A Antiques Database. RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED to attend this workshop and the program is limited to 15 participants, so call (225) 231-3752 to reserve your space today.

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  • Book on Old South Baton Rouge seeks integration-era photos

    Raymond A. Jetson, Pastor of Star Hill Church, and Lori Latrice Martin, associate professor of sociology and African and African American Studies, are working on a new book with Arcadian Publishers about historic Old South Baton Rouge. The book will cover the period immediately following Reconstruction through the early 1970s when residents of the historic neighborhood integrated elementary and high schools, as well, the state’s flagship university.

    The authors hope to replicate the success of a recently published book by professors at Southern University about Scotlandville. The purpose of the book is to memorialize the life and legacy of African Americans with personal, family, professional, business, religious, and political ties to Old South Baton Rouge and Louisiana’s first high school for African Americans, McKinley High School. Upon completion of the book, 100% of the proceeds will benefit the McKinley High School Alumni Center.

    The authors invite contributions of original photographs, documents, postcards, etc., from the community. Family and school photos, government documents, business receipts, church anniversary journals, pictures of social club members and events, are just some of the contributions the authors hope to include in the book.

    “We want this book to be for, by, and about the people of Old South Baton Rouge. The community nurtured many people who went on to leave their footprints in politics, sports, education, civil rights, theology, music, and the arts, to name a few. It is our duty to preserve this history for current and future generations. Old South Baton Rouge history is African American history; it is American history,” said, Pastor Jetson.

    Anyone interested in being part of this historic project is invited to send materials to: Star Hill Church, 1400 N. Foster Drive, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70806, Attention: Old South Baton Rouge. The authors will also accept contributions during a series of events leading up to the dedication of the Baton Rouge Bench by the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road Project on Saturday, February 6, 2016, at McKinley High School Alumni Center. The Toni Morrison Society will recognize the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, which served as a model for the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.

    The public can also drop-off contributions for the book, Old South Baton Rouge, at Carver Library, 720 Terrace Avenue, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at 9:30 am on the following dates:

    November 21, 2015
    December 19, 2015
    January 23, 2016

    For more information contact: Dr. Lori Latrice Martin at (225) 578-1785 or lorim@lsu.edu.

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    Fall Gardening Workshop slated for Nov. 24

    By Felix Cunningham III
    SU Ag Center

    The Southern University Ag Center invites the Baton Rouge community at large to its third annual Fall Gardening Workshop on November 24, 2015. Registration for the event, which is free and includes a healthy lunch, will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the program will start at 9 a.m. inside A. O. Williams Hall – SU Ag Center.

    Topics for this year’s workshop will include:
    • Seasonal planting
    • Pollinators and pests
    • Bee keeping
    • Maintaining and growing an Urban Ag Community
    • Non-traditional uses for traditional plants
    • Planting a smoothie/juice garden
    • Urban agriculture issues

    There will even be an urban garden tour if the weather permits.

    Besides learning about planting and how to keep a garden in an urban society, participants will also be able to taste-test smoothies and juice made from the plants in the urban garden. This event will link the participants to gain opportunities to grow or enhance an urban garden successfully.

    “This is going to be an action-packed event,” said Stephanie Elwood, extension associate of the Southern University Ag Center.

    The workshop is co-hosted by the Southern University Ag Center, its Wisteria Alliance Program and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

    For more information about the workshop, contact Mila Berhane, Stephanie Elwood, Dawn Mellion Patin or Zanetta Augustine at 225-771-2242.
    ONLINE: http://www.suagcenter.com

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    LaPlace Elementary School wins grant for its first music program in a decade

    Toyota and VH1 Save The Music have completed their national music festival activation and social media campaign to benefit music education. The campaign came to a close last weekend as Toyota presented LaPlace Elementary with a grant that will fund an entire instrumental music program for the school. This will be the first time in over a decade that the New Orleans area elementary has been able to provide music education to its students.

    The grant was achieved through an interactive festival activation and social media campaign implemented at music festivals nationwide including Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Nocturnal Wonderland, Life is Beautiful and Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. The activation engaged with festivalgoers through a life sized Whispering Willow tree on the festival grounds. Participants were asked to write what music means to them on a leaf, hang the leaf on the tree, take a photo, and post to social media with the hashtag #ToyotaGiving. For each social media post, Toyota donated $1 to VH1 Save The Music.

    With the five festival run complete, Toyota was able to fulfill a $30,000 donation to VH1 Save The Music, a grant substantial enough to restore a musical instrument program for the entire school. LaPlace Elementary School was selected as the grant recipient for a multitude of factors. Not only is it the largest elementary school in the Parish, servicing more than 1,000 students, but the school had no music education program in place. With this grant, LaPlace was able to hire a music teacher to implement an instrumental music program that will now thrive with the instruments and equipment purchased and donated by the Foundation.

    At a school wide assembly on Friday, Oct 30, executives from Toyota and VH1 Save The Music met with the Principal and new music teacher and previewed the new music curriculum. Genre-defying artist Santigold treated the students to a live performance.

    CS_uPrNWsAA9UTt“Music has given me the opportunity to explore the world and connect with people internationally,” said Santigold. “My music studies helped me turn my passion into my living and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams and nurture my creativity. I am proud to support the VH1 Save the Music campaign and the students of LaPlace Elementary in New Orleans. All of our children deserve and need music education.”

    “Toyota is honored to help further music advocacy with a grant to support the creation of an instrumental music program at LaPlace Elementary School,” says Steve Appelbaum, National Manager of Engagement Marketing, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. “A curriculum that includes music is invaluable in igniting the passion and curiosity that encourages thinking outside of the box. Music invites innovation – and innovation changes the world.”

    “We are so grateful for the Toyota’s commitment as well as the participation of Santigold and all of the outstanding artists who lent their support and efforts in the music festivals and social media campaign,” says Paul Cothran, Executive Director of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. “Toyota’s leadership and generosity in this highly successful campaign made it possible for the Foundation to provide a full package of instruments, restoring for the students of LaPlace Elementary School access to the exceptional benefits of music study, creative expression and opportunities for brighter futures.”

    “We are grateful that so many people would come together to help a school most probably haven’t even heard of,” says Superintendent Kevin George. “We would like them to know that our students are making music again and we are laying a foundation that we hope will follow them throughout their lives.”

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  • Funeral services scheduled for Dr. Robert Anderson

    Memorial services for Baton Rouge dentist Robert Anderson will be held at Berean Seventh Day Adventist Church, 4555 Fairfields Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, November 10, 2015 at 1:00 PM. Family Visitation immediately following the Service. The family has provided this obituary by Freya Rivers.

    Obituary for Robert Clifton Anderson, Sr., D.D.S.

    (December 3, 1953 – November 4, 2015)

    Robert C. Anderson Sr., DDS, was born in New Orleans at Flint Goodrich Hospital on December 3, 1953.  He came into the world kicking and screaming and having his way while developing strong steadfast convictions that would not be deterred. For over 8 years cancer assaulted him daily.  He fought with every ounce of his being while continuing to be a husband, father, provider, grandfather, servant and dentist to his community, and brother in Christ to his church family.  The Lord gave him peace and put his body to rest on November 4, 2015.

    Dr. Anderson graduated from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in 1980 following in his father’s footsteps, Civil Rights Leader the late Dr. Dupuy H. Anderson, Sr.  They collectively gave mote than 70 years of Dental and Civic services to the Eden Park Community.  Robert continued his father’s legacy of service to the underprivileged and the mission to spread the word of God..  Robert began a beautification project that spread for blocks surrounding the office at 3615 North Street well before the downtown development district was even an idea.

    Robert and Denise were married on September 17, 1977.  Their children are Robert Jr., Sara and Aaron.  Robert Jr., the eldest, became a certified dental assistant and joined the office team following in his father’s footsteps.  Sara received her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center with honors, and the baby boy, Aaron, received his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Southern University Nursing School.Although, Robert could not prevent the children from ever encountering some of the misfortunes and mishaps of life, he was always there to support them and give them the academic and spiritual foundations to succeed.  His grandchildren Caleb and Christian Clarke and Aadon Anderson who called him Papa are being grounded in their Papa’s footsteps.  Robert was so very proud of his children and their achievements which allow them to be independent and free to determine their own futures.

    Robert lived his love of Christ with his every breath.  He shared his love of Christ at his office with anyone who would stay long enough to listen.  He generously provided free books to encourage interested listeners to embrace God.  He enjoyed sharing with his patients Bible Readings for the Home.  His favorite book was the Bible and The Great Controversy.   He believed in taking care of his body through an active healthy lifestyle and encouraged and inspired others to do the same.  He witnessed to everyone.   In Our Father’s footsteps, Robert walked as a true Christian.

    Robert is survived by his loving and devoted wife Denise of 38 years; his children Robert, Jr.; Sara, her husband Dedric Clarke, children Caleb and Christian;  Aaron, his wife Jessica Harris Anderson, child Aadon; his mother Inez Anderson; sister, Freya Anderson Rivers, husband Griffin, children Monica Rivers, Shariba Rivers, husband Sundiata Mason and children Ausar and Assata; Sanford Hawkins-Rivers, Angela, children Asha, Kasi and Nyah Hawkins-Harrison; and LaMailede Moore; and brother Dupuy Anderson Jr., wife Michele and “Bear;” and niece Angela Anderson Thomas, her mother Donna Anderson, husband Bryan and child Mya Belle Thomas.  Robert is preceded in death by his father Civil Rights Leader Dr. Dupuy H. Anderson, Sr. and his brother Ralph Waldo Anderson.

    –submitted by

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    N.O. native T. Geronimo Johnson wins Ernest Gaines Award

    Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson has been selected as winner of the 2015 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

    Ernest Gaines, a native of Louisiana’s Pointe Coupee Parish and a literary legend, is a 2013 recipient of the National Medal of Arts, a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, a recipient of the National Humanities Medal and a member of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Last year marked the 40th anniversary of publication of his critically acclaimed novel “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” which was adapted into a made-for-TV movie that won nine Emmy awards. His novel “A Lesson Before Dying” published in 1993 won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

    Now in its ninth year, the Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed $10,000 prize created by donors of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. The award recognizes outstanding work from rising African-American fiction writers while honoring Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world.

    Welcome to Braggsville by New Orleans native T. Geronimo Johnson

    Welcome to Braggsville by New Orleans native T. Geronimo Johnson

    Johnson is a New Orleans native who lives in Berkeley, California, and serves as visiting professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a master’s in language, literacy and culture from the University of California, Berkeley. He previously held the Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University and the Iowa Arts Fellowship at the University of Iowa. His fiction and poetry has appeared in Best New American VoicesIndiana ReviewLA Review, and Illuminations, among others.

    In addition, Johnson has taught writing at Arizona State University, the University of Iowa, UC Berkeley, Western Michigan University and Stanford. His first novel, Hold it ’til it Hurts, was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.

    Welcome to Braggsville offers a socially provocative and dark comedy about four UC Berkeley students who stage a protest during a Civil War reenactment in rural Georgia. In his review, Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin said Johnson is “a terrific storyteller, and he moves fluidly from past to present, place to place. In the end, no one is right and everyone is – or perhaps it’s the other way around.” The book has been called a social satire that follows the Berkeley students into disaster. “It’s an ambitious book about race that wants to say something big about America,” writes NPR.

     

    Angela Flournoy, author of The Turner House

    Angela Flournoy, author of The Turner House

    Due to the exceptional quality of this year’s entries, Gaines Award judges short-listed two books – The Sellout by Paul Beatty and The Turner House by Angela Flournoy.

    The national panel of judges for the 2015 Gaines Award are: Thomas Beller, award-winning author and journalist; Anthony Grooms, a critically acclaimed author and creative writing professor at Kennesaw State University; renowned author Elizabeth Nunez, professor of English at Hunter College-City University of New York; Francine Prose, author of more than 20 books, including “Blue Angel,” a nominee for the 2000 National Book Award; and Patricia Towers, former features editor for O, The Oprah Magazine and a founding editor of Vanity Fair magazine.

     

     

     

    Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout.

    Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout.

    Award ceremonies take place at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge. Johnson will read excerpts from his winning novel. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at rsvp@braf.org.

    About BRAF

    The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is one of the Gulf Coast region’s largest community foundations. Winner of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 2011 Award for Outstanding Foundation, BRAF connects donors to projects and nonprofit groups, along with investing in and managing community projects. For more information, visit BRAF.org.

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    Black designer lights up General Motors

    If you’re driving down a highway, street or tunnel anywhere in North America and you see the shimmering new headlights on the latest Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC or Buick approaching you, there’s a good chance you’re seeing the work of Martin Davis, a talented, young African American designer who works for General Motors.

    Since 2012, Davis has led the exterior lighting and design studio for the automaker’s North American division, the team responsible for the exterior lighting for every brand under the General Motors’ umbrella.

    Davis traces his love for design and innovation back to elementary school. He didn’t like Hot Wheels and the Lego sets that he owned weren’t intricate enough to hold his attention even at 5 years old. He found that he didn’t like any of the toys sold in the stores, so he started making his own.

    The Detroit-area native started collecting empty cardboard boxes that were used for transporting fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, bring them home and just start cutting. He molded shapes with glue, tape and construction paper. There was a small closet in the entryway of his parents’ house, just big enough for a chair and his creations: interior designs for a car including a dashboard and center console. Then he invited all of his friends over to “test drive” the car. He rolled out a new model about once a month.

    His father, then an employee at Ford Motor Company’s stamping plant in Dearborn, Mich., shut down young Martin’s burgeoning auto operation fearing that letting the neighborhood kids play with cardboard in their closet presented a safety hazard.

    That didn’t stop him from sharing his talent for design with others, including his father’s employer.

    “One day I decided to send my sketches into Ford. I was still in middle school. I found an address to Ford in some magazine and put a few of my drawings in an envelope and put it in the mail,” Davis explained. “I didn’t tell my parents anything.”

    A few months went by, and the young designer began to lose hope and figured that nothing would come of his letter. Then one day after school when he got home, his brother was waving a piece of paper at him.

    “’This guy from Ford called you here’s his number and he wants to call you back,’” Davis recalled his older brother saying.

    So Davis anxiously dialed the number and the Ford employee who answered, thanked him for his interests and told him that he sent the drawings over to the design department, and that someone would get in contact with him.

    He received a follow-up letter from the design department with some career advice and a list of schools.

    The list of schools included his eventual choice. Following the advice that he received from Ford, while still in middle school he set his mind to attending the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in downtown Detroit.

    After he graduated from CCS, he applied to a number of companies. At one point he believed that he would follow in his father’s footsteps at Ford, but despite earlier interest in the middle schooler’s work, he never got an offer from the company.

    But he did get an offer from GM.

    “My time at GM has been amazing,” said Davis. “I couldn’t have imagined it being better.”
    Davis admitted his first day on the job was nerve-racking, and it took him awhile to find his way around the mammoth General Motors complex.

    “I remembered sitting at my desk that first day looking around at all designers thinking, ‘How am I going to compete with all of them?” said Davis.

    But the young designer did compete, gaining confidence with every completed sketch. Davis’ work began to catch eyes of the design managers and they started selecting his sketches among dozens plastered on the 20-foot wall in his studio at GM.

    “The early days were a lot of fun,” said Davis. “There was a freeness. I remember doing sketches for the 2004 Oldsmobile show car, the last show car they did.”

    One of his sketches was selected as the theme sketch for the car. That Oldsmobile show car would be built at the world-famous, now defunct Gruppo Bertone design house in Italy.
    Even though Davis wasn’t selected to join GM designers in Italy, he didn’t sit on the sidelines for long.

    A few months later, as the end of his first year with GM approached, the auto company gave him the opportunity to travel to Birmingham, England to work at an advanced design studio that primarily focused on Cadillacs. There he worked on the Cadillac Cien, a two-seater, mid-engine concept car.

    The assignment, originally scheduled for two months stretched into two years.
    “It was a really great experience to work on such a high-profile concept car,” said Davis.
    After the two-year stint in Birmingham, the Detroit area native worked on a number of production programs, including the GMC Acadia and the auto company’s Cadillac group in China.

    When Davis returned to the United States, company executives were having ongoing discussions about General Motors’ exterior lighting designs compared to some of their competitors.

    Davis said that as the conversations were happening about the direction of the new project wholly-focused on exterior lighting, he jumped at the opportunity and volunteered to do it.
    “It was almost like a huge experiment,” said Davis. “We never had a dedicated, exterior lighting design studio, but we wanted better lights, so we said, “Let’s see how this work.’”

    Davis and his team took on the exterior lighting responsibilities for three well-known “programs”: the GMC Acadia Chevy Traverse and the Buick Enclave. Management immediately recognized how valuable having dedicated focus on lighting could be.

    “Not long after that they made it an official studio and made me the first manager of that studio in 2012,” said Davis. “That was really cool.”

    Davis said that he still loves to draw, but in his current position he’s more like the conductor of an orchestra than an individual musician.

    “I don’t have an instrument. My team has all of the instruments they need and I have to remember that,” said Davis. “Now my job is to make sure that my team knows where each brand is going and understands how to use technology to create a design that is appropriately styled to the character of each vehicle.”

    At first some designers of General Motors other brands were apprehensive about giving up that much control of a central element in the cars overall style, now Davis said all of them want his team’s designs.

    Ed Welburn, General Motors’ vice president of Global Design, praised Davis and his team for their creativity.

    “Martin is doing a phenomenal job,” said Welburn. “Lighting on that [Cadillac CTS] is so striking. It wasn’t too many years ago that every headlight was either round or rectangular. Now lighting is so much a character of the car. It really is the eyes of the vehicle. Our organization is really dependent on Martin.”

    Davis said educators, parents and support groups first have to raise awareness among students of color about opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers and then help them to understand that they can also excel in those professions.

    The GM design manager mentors children in the Detroit metro area and recommended that all students get focused at a young age and seek educational and career development programs that can assist them with achieving their goals. Davis added that his presence in the automotive design field shows students, especially students who look like him, that they can also be successful in that field.

    “I think that goes a long way,” he said.

    And Davis has come a long way, too.

    “It almost feels like a dream that I have this responsibility,” said Davis. “You think of [General Motors'] history, this 100-year-old company that’s been making cars forever and now there’s this opportunity to shift focus to another part of the vehicle, a part of the vehicle’s face, the face of each brand. It’s a humbling experience. I really do appreciate the privilege and the opportunity to fulfill this role.”

    By Freddie Allen
    NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Instructor launches book on managing diabetes

    The Sims Memorial Library at Southeastern Louisiana University will host a book talk and signing featuring SELU sociology instructor Rebecca Hensley to introduce her new book, Your Life Isn’t Over ~ It May Have Just Begun! A Mini-Manual on Managing Diabetes, Tuesday, Nov. 10, in Room 313 at 5:30pm.
    “This is the book of tips, hints, and inside information that I wanted – and needed – when I was diagnosed with diabetes myself in 2008, but it didn’t exist,” said Hensley. “After years of hearing doctors say that most of their diabetic patients struggle with managing their condition, I decided that maybe I could inspire others by sharing how I manage diabetes while living a high quality life.”
    Library director Eric Johnson said the event also recognizes November as National Diabetes Awareness Month.
    The American Diabetes Association estimates that there are more than 21 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the United States and another 4,500 being diagnosed every day. Hensley said she remembers feeling overwhelmed when she was first diagnosed. “A lot of the materials I received early on were either too scientific, very complicated, or pretty boring,” she said with a laugh. “Some of the things I most needed to know to succeed I had to figure out on my own.”
    “My book is intended to help other people with diabetes get over the hump of fear and depression they may be dealing with. I’m not suffering,” she said. “In fact, I’m healthier, more fit, and even happier than I would have been had I not developed this disease that has helped me do the things everybody actually ought to do but doesn’t. And I eat chocolate every day.”
    The book talk is open to the public and free of charge. Light diabetic-appropriate refreshments will be served.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Community asked to complete online survey on EKL site land use designs

    NORTH BATON ROUGE ELECTED OFFICIALS AND other community leaders and more than 100 stakeholders gathered at the S. E. Mackey Center to discuss their ideas and preferences of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site at 5825 Airline Highway. The public input received during the March meeting served as a critical first step in understanding the community’s vision.

    Landscape architect Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., of DesignJones, LLC , presented two LSU student designs completed over the summer which included the ideas and wishes expressed during the fi rst public meeting.

    These drawings and images will generate additional ideas and discussion of alternatives for the project site. Now, the volunteer committee is asking the community to complete an online survey that identifies specific land use. The survey is available at www.5825Airline.com, and all residents are asked to provide input.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    19 farmers graduate from SU ag institute

    Nineteen small farmers from LOUIsiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia,Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas were honored during a graduation ceremony on Friday, Sept. 18 for completing their two-year course of study in the Southern University Ag Center’s Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    The graduation ceremony marked the completion of the Institute’s 10th class.

    United States Department of Agriculture’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Joe Leonard served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. Leonard praised the SU Ag Center’s administrators and Dawn Mellion-Patin,Ph.D., director of the Institute, for sharing the program with not only the citizens of Louisiana; but the Southern region of the country.

    “This is the best part of my job,” said Leonard, “meeting you all.” Leonard went on to thank the participants for the time they invested
    and encouraged them to continue to learn. “We see you and honor the accomplishments that you have made. We are looking forward to greater accomplishments,” said Leonard.

    The Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute graduates are Decetti Taylor, Tuskegee, AL; Travis Collins, Eudora, AR; Howard Brown,
    Eudora, AR; Alvis Hicks, Pensacola, FL; ShyeastaCullars– Athens, GA; Eric Simpson, West Point, GA; Elmer Miller, Stanford, KY; Ronnie Venson – Boyce, LA; Michael Atkins, Bastrop, LA; Terry Jackson, New Orleans, LA; Valerie Milligan, Jackson, LA; Roberta McKowen – Jackson, LA; Evelyn Jackson, Jackson, LA; Theresa Brewer-Cook, Crystal Spring, MS; Ronald Simmons, Kenansville, NC; Chase Reynolds, Salisbury, NC; Henry Houser, Bowman, SC; John Frazier, Salters, SC; and Jessie Denise Prejean, Hempstead, TX.

    L. Washington Lyons, Ph.D, executive administrator of the Association of Executive Administrators presided over the program. SU Ag Center interim chancellor Adell Brown Jr., Ph.D., provided a welcome and opening remarks and vice chancellor for extension Gina E. Eubanks, Ph.D., provided the program’s closing remarks. The ceremony was also attended by Kevin Norton, Director of Louisiana’s USDA National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Craig McCain, Director of Louisiana’s USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). About the Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute The Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute is a two-year course of study specifically designed
    to guide small, socially disadvantaged, limited resource and/or minority farmers through the transformative process of becoming successful agricultural entrepreneurs.

    The goal of the Institute is to promote the sustainability of small family farms through enhanced business management skills and leadership development. The leadership institute has taken the majority of the participants from being just small producers through the mindset of being great producers with limited acreage, herds or holdings.

    The SU Ag Center is collaborating with the Southern University Law Center, Alcorn State University – Small Farm Development Center, Prairie View A & M University – Cooperative Extension Program and North Carolina A & T State University – Cooperative Extension Program to bring the Institute to the farmers in various locations.

    ONLINE: www.suagcenter.com/small-farmers.
    Photo by Cheryl Ferlygood

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    High school students travel to protest Mississippi flag

    Twenty Louisiana Students Traveled to Mississippi to Rally & March over State Flag

    Students from Kentwood High Magnet School and St. Helena College and Career Academy,traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, on October 11 to participate in the One Flag for All Mississippians March and Rally.

    The 20 students were engaged during their civics classes on the importance of letting their voices be heard, and the many ways they can get involved to do so. This sparked their interest in participating in the history making event.

    The march and rally–which attracted more than 200 participants–were organized by local leaders and was led by South Carolina State Representative Jenny Horne, rapper and former Southern University SGA president David Banner, and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams to show support of Initiative 55, which calls for the removal of the Confederate battle emblem from the State of Mississippi’s flag.

    Standing from left on the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol during a rally following the One Flag for All March are, South Carolina State Rep. Jenny Horne, civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, rapper David Banner, and Mississippi activist Sharron Brown.

    Standing from left on the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol during a rally following the One Flag for All March are, South Carolina State Rep. Jenny Horne, Civil Rights Activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, Former SU SGA President & Rapper David Banner and Sharron Brown.

    The march began at the intersection of J.R. Lynch and Rose Street and ended at the steps on the south side of the Mississippi State Capitol, where the rally lasted from 3:40 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    “We shouldn’t have a flag that represents a bad time in our history,” said Sharron Brown, who proposed Initiative 55 to the Mississippi legislature which would force a constitutional amendment to change the flag. Brown has started collecting signatures for the initiative, and she said she is hoping to see it on the state’s ballot in 2018.

    The students traveled from Baton Rouge with Southern University Ag Center’s assistant area agent Nicolette Gordon, youth coordinator Toni Melton, and St. Helena College & Career Academy’s civics teacher Idella Smith.

    Submitted by the Southern University Ag Center

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  • ,

    Southeastern University names homecoming court

    Fourteen Southeastern Louisiana University students have been chosen as members of the 2015 Homecoming queen and beau
    courts. The seven women and seven men will reign over Homecoming festivities Oct. 12- 17. Chosen as members of
    the queen court are (L to r): seniors Jamie Lynn Ban, New Orleans; Allison Etzel, League City, Tex.; Si-Arah McCray,
    Baton Rouge; and Jasmine Wilson, Franklinton; juniors Ashley Nelson, Loranger; and Randi St. Pierre, St. Amant;
    and sophomore Christina Ferrando, Mandeville.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Attorneys say Moore vs. Tangi schools far from over, community needs to act

    Gideon Carter and Nelson Taylor

    Attorney Gideon Carter, NAACP Tangipahoa president Pat Morris, and attorney Nelson Taylor

    HAMMOND—Lead attorney for the ongoing civil rights case against the Tangipahoa Parish School Board Nelson D. Taylor and Gideon T. Carter told parents and community leaders that the case is not over and the courts have not approved the Duncan Plan, although some reports state 0therwise. Parents and leaders gathered at the African American Heritage Museum were concerned about the large number of students transferring to different schools under the Duncan Plan.

    Under the Duncan Plan, 200 white students from North Loranger will be bus to Amite, 300 white students from the Champ Cooper Robert area will be bused to Hammond. Three hundred Black students west of Hammond will be bused to Ponchatoula.

    Sandra Simmons and Angela Baldassasro

    Sandra Simmons and Angela Baldassasro

    Loranger resident Angela Baldassaaro said, “if the school board accepts the Duncan Plan my child will be attending a failing school in Amite. Make Amite schools like Hammond schools I will be glad to send my child to Amite.”

    Residents from the North and South ends of the parish want all schools to be the same. Taylor said racism is alive in Tangipahoa Parish.“Black students are being expelled from school like running water,” he said, “the school board is hostile toward the court appointed compliance officer.”

    “The school board continues to do what they always did. Don’t hire Black teachers and fire the ones they do have. They promise to build three new schools, and they are not building them. There is a power circle in this parish (with) the school board and judges. The Black community needs to take action,” said Taylor. “We are up against some top-notch lawyers. The community needs to raise some funds, because we need to talk to some people, we need depositions and that cost money. Raise funds and manage those funds,” said Taylor.

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Publisher

    Read more »
  • ,

    National Week of Action, Oct 12 -18, focuses on Victor White III’s death

    DRUM CALL: OPEN LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY

    Victor White III was a 22-year-old whose death in police custody is becoming known as a “Houdini Suicide.” Police in New Iberia claim Victor committed suicide in the back of their police cruiser. They allege that after being pat down twice and being detained in the back of a police car,  Victor produced a gun and shot himself in the back while his hands were cuffed behind his back. The coroner’s report later showed that the bullet entered in his chest.

    How did Victor produce a gun in the back of a police cruiser after being searched twice? How is it possible that Victor shot himself in the chest while his hands were bound behind his back?


    Victor’s father has a simple question: “My son was not Houdini.  So, who [did] it?”


    The Justice for Victor White Committee is working directly with the family of Victor White III for a National Week of Action to be held in New Iberia and Lafayette, October 12-18, 2015. We seek to honor the life of Victor, raise awareness of his untimely death, demand accountability for law officers’ actions, and ensure transparency in future investigations.  We invite organizations, community leaders, elected officials, and citizens to stand with us in this fight for justice.

    The Victor White case embodies a blatant disregard of human rights.  Here’s how you can stand with Victor White’s family in their fight for justice:

    1. Attend the March Against Police Violence on October 17th at 11 am  in New Iberia, La.  and connect other organizers to this event.
    2. Participate in Week of Action (October 12-18) events as a host, guest speaker, or attendant. The week will consist of coordinated student walk-outs(Oct 12), Police Brutality Symposium(Oct13th), a two-day teach-in workshop series Oct 14-15), a music concert (Oct 16th), March Against Police Violence on (Oct 17), and day of healing on (Oct 18). See www.justiceforvic.com <http://www.justiceforvic.com>  for more details on events.
    3. Make a donation at GoFundMe.com/JusticeforVic. Financial support will be needed to make these efforts successful. You can also send donations directly from your Paypal account to the email address JusticeForVictorWhite@gmail.com. To be listed as an Official Sponsor, please contact Dawn at (337) 344-4462 <tel:%28337%29%20344-4462> .
    4. Make an in-kind donation. We need signs, shirts, water, printing services, etc,
    5. Attend Justice for Victor White planning meetings held every 2nd and 4th Thursday at Imani Temple (201 East Willow Street – Lafayette, LA 70501).
    6. Share Victor White’s story.  Commit to sharing Victor White’s story everyday, like us on Facebook, share his story on social media using the hashtag #JusticeForVic, etc.
    7. Tell your story. Post a video or message completing the prompt, “I want to trust the police, but…” Be sure to use the following tags: #IWantToTrustThePoliceBut, #JusticeForVic, @Justiceforvic [instagram],  and @JusticeForVW3 [Twitter].

     

    Victor White’s case deserves more local, regional and national attention. We believe Victor White was murdered by police while in police custody. His death and subsequent cover-up represents a systematic failure to hold police accountable for a growing trend of abuse, which disproportionately impact people of color.
    Join us in this fight.  Please contact us by phone or email to let us know how you and/or your organization can support this effort. 

    Justice for Victor White Committee

    Read more »
  • Gales undergoes successful surgery

    Southern University wide receiver Devon Gales underwent a successful spinal surgery Sunday afternoon.

    Gales suffered several fractures in his neck that were stabilized. He continues to have movement in his upper body and remains in good spirits and will remain at Athens Regional until he is released to return to Baton Rouge for further treatment.

    The Gales family, along with Interim Athletics Director Roman Banks and the entire Southern University family, would like to thank Athens General, The University of Georgia and all of the many people who aided in his care during this unfortunate event. We are extremely thankful for all of the prayers and well wishes that Devon has received from many people nationwide.

    Also, special thanks to the Georgia football program and Sports Medicine staff for all of their love and support that they have shown Devon during this difficult time.

    Due to the overwhelming amount of love shown to them from everyone, the family is asking for privacy at this time. They appreciate and request your continued prayers and thoughts.

    If you would like to send cards or well wishes to Devon, please send them to:

    SU Athletics:
    C/o Devon Gales
    PO Box 9942
    Baton Rouge, LA 70813

    Read more »
  • ,

    ‘God is the goodest’: Port Allen native releases lighthearted book about Jesus

    One thing 29-year-old Keion Jackson is pretty sure of is that God has a sense of humor. His newly-released book “Because Jesus” was written to show just that.

    “Often when faith is discussed, we forget that joy is a part of God’s personality.  Laughter is one of the greatest gifts he’s given us,” Jackson said. “I wanted to write this book to inspire people in a fun, new way that explores the humorous and lighthearted parts of faith.”

    And even though this Port Allen, La. native is in Kansas City where he’s undoubtedly missing Louisiana staples such as boudin, étouffée and crawfish boils, Jackson is making his mark in the industry as an accomplished writer and author, having published several children’s books.

    “Because Jesus” is filled with small, funny reminders that God’s love is all around. Jackson, who writes for Hallmark, uses simple things most people come into contact with on a daily basis- such weather,

    image

    technology and even food- to show that.

    “He did not come to condemn. One of the many ways God is not like the comment section on YouTube,” one page of the book says.

    “‘Don’t worry- I got this” is pretty much the essence of the whole gospel,” another page reads.

    Jackson’s favorite part of the book, which has received positive reviews, is its accessibility. The playful phrases, colors and imagery on each page make “Because Jesus” a page-turner and instant favorite.

    “I’m not a pastor. I’m not a bishop. I’m not even a deacon. I’m just a regular dude who’s been touched by the love of Christ,” Jackson said.  “It’s cool that I get to share the faith from that point of view. I’m trying to live this thing out according to The Word, and it’s not always easy.”

    “But this book gives me the chance to talk about God’s love and forgiveness in a fun, lighthearted, down-to-Earth kind of way.  That’s really exciting to me,” he added.

    “Because Jesus,” available on Hallmark.com, is the first installment of Jackson’s faith-based collection that will be released in Hallmark Gold Crown stores and online in 2016. The collection will feature items such as mugs, plaques and journals.

    Jackson doesn’t have any inspirational quotes or mottos that he lives by, but simply a Bible verse: Romans 8:28.

    “It’s a reminder that God is working on situations in our lives, even when we can’t see it.  He’s got an eternal viewpoint,” he said. “He’s looking down on us from forever, with a perspective we can’t see from the middle of our situation. This verse is a reminder that—no matter what—things will eventually get back to good.”

    He says that due to social media usage, today’s young people have a strong grasp on the value of individual voice and understand that their perspectives matter. He hopes his work can inspire those wanting to follow in his footsteps.

    “Believing your voice is worthy of being heard is a big part of being a writer.  But it’s not enough.  Young writers must pair that with education.  Learn the craft.  Learn structure.  Learn literary devices,” he said.

    Jackson is Clark Atlanta University graduate who enjoys filmmaking, volunteering and watching TV in his spare time. Fans can expect more books from him in the near future. If he gets his way, some of them will be about his home state and the teenage condition- always with extra doses of humor and optimism.

    “Life is interesting; there’s a story everywhere you look,” Jackson said.

    By Anastasia Semien
    Jozef Syndicate

    Read more »
  • ,

    Brown named SU Executive VP, provost

    The Southern University System has selected M. Christopher Brown II as the new executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. Brown has more than 10 years of experience in higher education administration including serving as president of Alcorn State University in Mississippi, and as executive vice president and provost at Fisk University in Tennessee.

    Brown, who is currently senior fellow, Division of Academic Leadership and Change, for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Washington, DC, was chosen from a pool of candidates after a nationwide search to fill the new SUS cabinet position. The search committee, co-chaired by retired SU chemistry professor William E. Moore and Sonya Hester, Southern University Shreveport Faculty Senate president, was comprised of SU faculty from each campus, students, staff, alumni, and community stakeholders.

    Prior to serving as the18th president of Alcorn State University and before his appointment at Fisk, he served as dean of the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, vice president for programs and administration at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, director of social justice and professional development for the American Educational Research Association, as well as executive director and chief research scientist of the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute of the United Negro College Fund. Brown has held faculty appointments at Pennsylvania State University, George Mason University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Bowie State University, West Virginia University, Indiana University, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

    “We are pleased that Dr. Brown will join the SUS team,” said Ray L. Belton, SU System president-chancellor. “He is a dynamic and innovative administrator who has demonstrated a high level of engagement working productively with faculty and staff in higher education. Dr. Brown’s extensive academic background and his executive leadership qualities are commensurate with our immediate vision to sustain and enlarge the SU System.”

    Brown is the author/editor of 17 books and monographs. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and publications related to education and society.  Regarded as an international scholar, he has lectured and/or presented research in various countries on six of seven continents – Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.

    “I am humbled by this honor. I look forward to working with President-Chancellor Belton to help realize his vision for the SU System,” said Brown.

    He was the recipient of the 2001 Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Promising Scholar/Early Career Award, the 2002 AERA Committee on Scholars of Color Early Career Contribution Award, the 2007 Philip C. Chinn Book Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education, the 2008 Association of Teacher Educators Distinguished Educator Award, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Commission on Access, Diversity, and Excellence 2013 Distinguished Service Award. He also was recognized with a 2013 Trofeu Raca Negra (Black Race Trophy) from the Honors Council of the Society of Afro-Brazilian Socio-Cultural.

    A former member of the South Carolina State University Board of Trustees, Brown is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, the 100 Black Men of America, Rotary International, a 33rd degree Free and Accepted Mason Prince Hall Affiliation, and an ordained Baptist minister.  

    The Charleston, South Carolina native holds a Ph.D. in higher education from The Pennsylvania State University, a master of science in education policy and evaluation from the University of Kentucky, and a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from South Carolina State University.

    Read more »
  • FuturePAC endorses La Legislature, BESE candidates

    FuturePAC announced its endorsement of candidates for the upcoming Louisiana Legislature and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) elections.  The primary election will take place on Saturday, October 24, 2015.  

    “The priorities of the candidates FuturePAC is endorsing align with those of the regional business community.  For that reason, FuturePAC has chosen to support them,” said Stephen Babcock, chair of the FuturePAC board of directors.

    Candidates receiving FuturePAC’s endorsements include:

    Louisiana State Senate
    Scott McKnight, District 16

    House of Representatives
    Ronnie Edwards, District 29
    Edmond Jordan, District 29
    Tony Bacala, District 59
    Chad Brown, District 60
    Donna Collins-Lewis, District 61
    C. Denise Marcelle, District 61
    Barbara West Carpenter, District 63
    Joyce Marie Plummer, District 63
    Darrell Ourso, District 66
    Paula Davis, District 69
    Ryan Heck, District 69

    Board of Elementary & Secondary Education 

    Sandy LeBlanc Holloway, District 3
    Jason Engen, District 6
    Laree LeJeune Taylor, District 6

    About FuturePAC
    FuturePAC, a political action committee affiliated with BRAC, actively supports candidates and issues that promote economic development and improve the business climate in the Capital Region.  More information is available at www.futurepac.biz <http://www.futurepac.biz> . 

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Car Review: Lexus GS 350 F Sport

    HOUSTON – After more than a week, it felt like we drove the Lexus GS 350 F Sport sedan through every one of the 600 square miles that comprise this city. And we only found a few irks to complain about.

    Actually, we drove the Lexus GS 350 F Sport to New Orleans and back here. After 10 days and almost 1,000 miles, we came away with a healthy respect for the road worthiness of the midsize luxury sedan.

    Except for going over some rather spacious expansion joints on the causeways that slice through southern Louisiana, not once did any road noise make its way into the cabin.

    Although the Lexus GS F Sport has an available rear-wheel-biased all-wheel-drive system, how often are you going to get inclement weather beyond heavy rain in this region? Anyway, that is a long-winded way of saying that we had a rear-wheel-drive model of the F Sport and it was just fine.

    Still, the car had what Lexus called an adaptable variable suspension that came with its sport package. Settings were normal, sport, sport +, eco and snow. Even though regional gas prices ranged from $2.47 to $2.62, they were cheaper with cash, we set the car in Eco mode because of the distances involved on the trip.

    That mode set throttle mapping and seat heating and climate control systems for optimal fuel economy. In ECO mode, the instrument meter lighting changed to blue. But the sport package is more than an extra setting, sport +, in the drive mode selector. We had a full tank of fuel when we left, we filled the tank again once we arrived and we filled it once more for the return trip.

    The visit to New Orleans included a side trip to Hammond, just North of Lake Pontchartrain, and the place we gassed up the second time.

    Our test car had an EPA rating of 19 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Considering the 1,000 miles we drove, it was relatively easy on fuel.

    The sport package was comprised of chassis enhancements, a sport tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, larger front brakes that were appreciated with all the sudden slowdowns from Interstate speeds because of traffic congestion and high friction brake pads. Our test car also had lane keep assist and a rearview camera.

    Of course there were firmer springs, thicker stabilizer bars and special bushings.
    Although our test car was not equipped with it, the Lexus GS 350 F Sport has available dynamic rear steer that can add up to two degrees of rear wheel turn that enhances cornering and lane changes.

    No matter whether we were traveling at 80 mph or 8 mph, our 3.5-liter engine performed flawlessly. It generated 308 horsepower, 277 pound-feet of torque and it was mated to an eight-speed transmission. There was no herking or jerking, no searching for the correct gear and the car accelerated swiftly when needed.

    We thought the side view mirrors could have been shaped differently; they didn’t provide a wide enough view of what was on the side of the car. But the blind spot alert system made up for that lack. And in an age of portable electronic gadgets, we thought the car could have used more than one USB jack.

    However, these gripes were mere inconveniences that were more than offset by the driver experience of the Lexus GS 350 F Sport. Our test car was swathed with a black perforated leather interior. The front seats were heated as well as cooled and the driver’s seat was 18-way power. Aluminum pedals and brushed aluminum trim completed the interior’s sport motif.
    The car featured Lexus’ 12.3 inch dual information screen. We spent a lot of time in navigation mode and that gets us to our third quibble. The navigation system will not mute the audio system when giving directions to the driver. A moderate decibel level when playing the radio will drown out the directions being giving by the voice of the navigation system. Yes, there is a map with a designated route but you can miss those directions as well, if your eyes are on the road where they are supposed to be.

    Still, the system had predictive traffic information that included detour preview, ETA calculation and low-fuel coordination with available fuel stations. We didn’t avail ourselves of the traffic information in the navigation system and ended up getting it off the traffic app in the Enform App Suite.
    Either or, this trips marks the last time will travel back to Houston from the Big Easy on the Sunday after Turkey Day. The traffic was as thick as molasses in some places.
    The information system had the usual compliment of stuff: Bluetooth, satellite radio, media capability, meaning it would and did play stations off the Pandora app on our smartphone and there were voice controls.

    Other equipment on the Lexus GS 350 F Sport included adaptive cruise control, land departure warning, pre-collision warning, a 17-speaker 835-watt premium audio system, a rearview camera and folding side mirrors.
    Our Lexus GS 350 F Sport was a quality midsize sedan in one of the most competitive segments of the luxury market. The car had a base price of $47,700. Add options that included the sport package and a $910 freight charge and the final tab was $60,784.


    By Frank S. Washington
    AboutThatCar.com.

    Read more »
  • Democrats announce candidate endorsements

    The East Baton Rouge Democratic Parish

    Executive Committee (EBR DPEC) finalized its endorsements of local and statewide candidates following the Candidate Endorsement Social, last week, where members and the  public heard presentations from each of the Democratic candidate.

    The committee has endorsed:

    Governor
    John Bel Edwards

    Lieutenant Governor
    Melvin L. ‘Kip’ Holden

    Secretary of State
    ‘Chris’ Tyson

    Attorney General
    Geraldine ‘Geri’ Broussard Baloney

    Commissioner of Ag and Forestry
    ‘Charlie’ Greer

    Commissioner of Insurance
    Charlotte C. McDaniel McGehee

    BESE, District 8
    Carolyn Hill

    State Senator, District 15
    Regina Barrow

    State Representative, District 29
    Ronnie Edwards
    Edmond Jordan
    Vereta T. Lee

    State Representative, District 61
    Donna Collins-Lewis
    C. Denise Marcelle

    State Representative, District 63
    Barbara West Carpenter
    Dean ‘Deaneaux’ Vicknair

    State Representative, District 66
    Antoine Pierce

    State Representative, District 68
    Patty Merrick

    State Representative, District 69
    Mark Holden

    State Representative, District 70
    ‘Shamaka’ Schumake

    City Judge, At-Large
    Tarvald Smith

    Election day is October 24.  Early voting is October 10-17.  “We look forward to working closely with our endorsed candidates to have a successful election day,” said Dawn Collins, EBR DPEC chair.

    Read more »
  • Southern begins search for Shreveport, Law Center leaders

    Two separate search committees comprised of a diverse group of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and stakeholders will screen applicants and select finalists for two SU System campus chancellors.

    The Southern University Shreveport (SUSLA) and the SU Law Center (SULC) Search Committees will assist the SU System with selecting replacements for Ray L. Belton, the former SUSLA chancellor who was named SU System President-Chancellor in June, and for retired judge Freddie Pitcher Jr. who stepped down as SULC chancellor in June.

    “We will rely on the deliberations and experience of these select groups of knowledgeable individuals as we seek qualified and dynamic leaders for our nationally recognized community college campus and our Law Center,” said Belton, who also is serving as an ex-officio member on both committees.

    The SUSLA committee is scheduled to meet Thursday, Oct. 1, in the Jesse Stone Science Lecture Hall, at noon. The SULC committee will hold its initial meeting Tuesday, Oct. 6, in the Board of Supervisors’ Meeting Room, 2nd floor, J.S. Clark Administration Building, at 3pm. 

    The Southern University Shreveport Chancellor Search Committee includes, from SUSLA:  Levi Brown, SGA president; Larry Ferdinand, executive director for corporate and business development and SU alumnus; S. Albert Gilliam, interim chancellor; Sonya D. Hester, associate professor of English and Faculty Senate president; Janice Sneed, vice chancellor, Community and Workforce Development and Title III; and Tiffany Williams Varner, director, School of Nursing. Other members of the 12-member SUSLA committee include SU alumni:  Dottie Bell, a retired educator and former SU Board of Supervisors member; retired Caddo District Judge Leon Emanuel; attorney Wendell Piper, president, SUSLA Foundation Board of Directors; E. Jean Ware, a retired educator; and Frank Williams, executive director, SUSLA Foundation. The committee’s chairman is Willie C. White III, chief executive officer, David Raines Community Health Centers. Bell and Gilliam will serve as co-chairs.

    The 13-member SU Law Center Chancellor Search Committee will be chaired by SULC alumnus Dwayne Murray, partner, Murray and Murray Law Firm, and vice-chaired by SULC alumna Erin Monroe Wesley, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Baton Rouge Area Chamber. SULC faculty, student, and staff representatives are Alfreda Diamond, interim vice chancellor for institutional accountability and evening division; Angela Scott-Gaines, computer support specialist; Patrick Harrington, president, Student Bar Association and student member, Louisiana Board of Regents; attorney Virginia Listach, director, Law Clinic; Andrea Love, director of recruitment; and attorney Winston Riddick, a retired SULC professor. SULC alumni representatives are:  Timothy Hardy, partner, Roedel, Parsons, Koch, Blache, Balhoff and McCollister Law Firm and member of the Louisiana Technical and Community College System Board of Supervisors; Louisiana State Representative Edward “Ted” James; Domoine Rutledge, general counsel, East Baton Rouge Parish School System, and president, SU System Foundation Board of Directors; attorney Willie James Singleton; and attorney Joseph K. “Joe” West, president and CEO, Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

    Read more »
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    Baker candidate forum scheduled for Oct. 13

    Main Street Pilot International will host a Baker Candidate Forum, Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 5:30 p.m., Baker Municipal Center, 3325 Groom Road, Baker, Louisiana. 

    The non-profit, headquartered in Baker, mission is to transform communities by developing youth, providing service and education, and uplifting families.

    Candidates qualifying for the following races are invited to participate: BESE District 8, State Senator 15th Senatorial District, State Representative 63rd Representative District, EBR Clerk of Court, and City Judge City Court, Division C, City of Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
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    Southern University campuses boast ‘significant’ freshman class

    SU System overall fall enrollment up

    Targeted recruitment campaigns, an innovative alumni enrollment initiative, and creative recruitment strategies helped boost Fall 2015 enrollment for the Southern University System, said university officials in a news release.

    Overall enrollment for the SU System increased by 490 students (12,884), nearly four percent.

    Enrollment numbers show the overall enrollment for the SU System flagship campus in Baton Rouge increased by more than 200 students over the previous year.

    The freshman class enrollment increased by 31 percent. A breakdown of the Southern University Baton Rouge (SUBR) enrollment data indicates 6,389 students with 1,210 new freshmen.

    “These figures are encouraging for a number of reasons. First, they signify the much-anticipated news that Southern University’s enrollment woes have bottomed out and that we are entering a new era of modest, yet consistent, enrollment growth. I am confident that 2015 marks the beginning of a new chapter in this institution’s history. Second, our enrollment increases will infuse more general fund and auxiliary dollars into the Baton Rouge campus to support academic instruction, research, student support services, and campus life programs,” said SU System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton.

    Last year, the Baton Rouge campus began a recruiting campaign, “Pathway to Prominence,” that directly correlated to an influx of applications for admission. Campaign tour stops in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Texas allowed students to hear from University administrators and student government leaders, as well as hear and see the SU Jaguar Marching Band and cheerleaders perform.

    The SU National Alumni Federation and the SU Foundation provided critical support for the SUBR Office of Admissions to hire three additional recruiters that are housed in Illinois, Georgia, and Texas.

    “This year’s success is the result of the shared effort of Jaguars across the country. Southern University is witnessing the first significant enrollment gain in nearly a decade. Despite my satisfaction regarding our student count, it is what we cannot count that means the most to me. We will never be able to count the hours that students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners contributed to realizing this goal,” said Brandon K. Dumas, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management, SUBR.

    The SU Baton Rouge fall freshmen class comes from 30 states and the District of Columbia. The top five states are Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, and Florida. The top five declared majors include nursing, business management, criminal justice, biology, and mechanical engineering.

    Southern University Shreveport’s (SUSLA) enrollment count for Fall 2015 is 3,174, compared to 2,952 last year, constituting a 7.1 percent increase in enrollment.

    Recruitment efforts at the Shreveport campus also combine both traditional and new protocols. “Southern Sundays have proven to be beneficial,” said SUSLA enrollment management director Terrence Vinson.

    The Southern Sundays initiative involves administrators, faculty, staff, and students attending local and regional churches to disseminate information about enrollment opportunities at SUSLA. Additionally, SUSLA has targeted recruitment of HiSet graduates. HiSet students are those students who have successfully completed the Educational Testing Service HISET® exam, the new alternative to the GED® test, which allows them to have a state-issued high school equivalency credential. 

    Southern University New Orleans (SUNO) fall enrollment stands at 2,704, compared to 2,674 for Fall 2014.

    The 2,704 students include 210 first-time freshmen, a 45 percent increase from the Fall 2014 figure of 145. With the addition of 206 students enrolled at SUNO in a joint-program with SUSLA, close to 3,000 students are currently taking classes on both SUNO’s Park and Lake campuses.

    “I am happy to report that we met our enrollment goals this year,” said SUNO Chancellor Victor Ukpolo. “The increase is the result of the hard work demonstrated by our faculty, staff, and administrators to provide the best educational environment for incoming students.”

    Bucking the trend of declining enrollment for law schools across the country, the Southern University Law Center (SULC) enrollment for Fall 2015 is 617, up by 37 students.

    SULC Interim Chancellor John Pierre said the Law Center has implemented a number of strategies and programs for prospective students, to try to get them in the door.

    “One important item the Law Center is emphasizing to prospective students is cost and value,” said Pierre. “Nationally, Southern still has one of the lowest tuition rates, but with an exceptional legal program for students that offers an experience that most other law schools can’t compete with.”

    In addition to touting the value of their programs, SULC is offering enrollment options that will allow students greater flexibility and time to complete their degrees. One particular option is the part-time, day and evening program.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Conservative Koch brothers make inroads into Black America

    It was a scene that a young, militant Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. could not have envisioned 30 years ago. At the national convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Baton Rouge, Chavis was participating on panel about reforming the criminal justice system with, among others, Mark V. Holden, the senior vice president and general counsel of Koch Industries, Inc.

    The company is owned primarily by Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers known for their strong libertarian views, their major donations to ultra-conservative causes and opposing President Obama’s major initiatives. In fact, a major profile of the two brothers, the New Yorker observed, “In Washington, [David H.] Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular. With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars.”

    The article stated, “Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies – from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program – that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.” According to the Associated Press, “With a fortune estimated at $41 billion each, Charles and David tie for fourth on Forbes’ list of the richest Americans, and tie for sixth on Forbes’ worldwide billionaires list.”

    In the strangest of bedfellows, representatives of Koch Industry and Chavis, who served a little more than four years of a 34-year sentence for conspiracy and arson in the 1970s as leader of the Wilmington Ten (the charges were thrown out on appeal for prosecutorial misconduct) and now president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), are working together on reforming the criminal justice system. That irony is not lost of Chavis.

    “Thirty years ago, I probably would have been one of the ones questioning my leaders on why it would be necessary to sit with conservatives,” Chavis said. “But over the years, I’ve matured.”

    He has matured to the point where his focus is on results, not rhetoric, Chavis said. “For me to sit on the stage with the general counsel of Koch Industries, I think, was providential and very fitting because this is the one company that appears to be serious about criminal justice reform,” Chavis said. He said criminal justice reform should be broad-based and include everything from racial profiling to disparate sentencing and prosecutorial misconduct.

    Chavis said, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to reform the criminal justice system with rhetoric. A lot of people over the last several years have talked about criminal justice reform, but haven’t put up any money and haven’t done anything that will create a bi-partisan coalition to make it happen.” Holden, the general counsel for Koch Industries, said the company has been working on criminal justice reform for the past 12 years. “It would be short-sighted for us as a company to just say, ‘Hey, someone made a mistake in the past – don’t even bother applying,” Holden told the SCLC delegates. “You would miss out on a lot of talent, opportunities, and people who could do great things for our company.” He said, “Charles Koch [the chairman of the board of Koch Industries] has already made it clear that this is his key priority this year. Whether this happens or not, we don’t control that – it’s up to Congress.”

    In a Politico column co-authored by Holden and Charles K. Koch, they wrote: “Reversing overcriminalization and mass incarceration will improve societal well-being in many respects, most notably by decreasing poverty.

    Today, approximately 50 million people (about 14 percent of the population) are at or below the U.S. poverty rate. Fixing our criminal system could reduce the overall poverty rate as much as 30 percent, dramatically improving the quality of life throughout society – especially for the disadvantaged.” They said, “To bring about such a transformation, we must all set aside partisan politics and collaborate on solutions.” For many, however, the Koch name has come to epitomize partisan politics. The Washington Post reported, “The filings show that the network of politically active nonprofit groups backed by the Kochs and fellow donors in the 2012 elections financially outpaced other independent groups on the right and, on its own, matched the long-established national coalition of labor unions that serves as one of the biggest sources of support for Democrats.

    “The resources and the breadth of the organization make it singular in American politics: an operation conducted outside the campaign finance system, employing an array of groups aimed at stopping what its financiers view as government overreach. Members of the coalition target different constituencies but together have mounted attacks on the new health-care law, federal spending and environmental regulations.” Despite their right-wing politics, the Koch brothers have been making inroads into Black America. They donated $25 million to the United Negro College Fund, a move that was roundly criticized by some and applauded by others. Georgia-Pacific, a Koch subsidiary, has been a longtime supporter of SCLC, and Benjamin Chavis has signaled his intention to enlist Koch Industries to advertise in Black newspapers.

    Luke Charles Harris, an assistant political science professor at Vassar College, said, “Now more than ever, it has become clear that organizations that take this sort of money are poor substitutes for the groups that sustained Black people throughout the legal revolution to dismantle segregation in the U.S.” Harris added, “One has to look at the ways that the Koch agenda undermines our battles to fight against structural racism, and the contemporary manifestations of white supremacy. Their track record across the board is horrific on these matters. “They are bad news for poor people, for unions, for people locked in the bottom of the economy, and for voters who want to exercise their right to weigh in in an important way on the issues that genuinely affect them.”

    Chavis acknowledges the Koch brothers conservative politics, but sees working together on criminal justice reform as an opportunity to influence them. “I believe as a result of this movement that’s now emerging for criminal justice reform, I think that there’s an opportunity to have a discussion with the Koch brothers about their politics,” Chavis said. “If you want to change America, we have got to have an inclusive discussion, not an exclusive discussion. Am I saying there’s the potential to have a progressive dialog with the Koch brothers? I believe the answer is yes.” But Harris believes Chavis is being naïve. “The Koch brothers already know what progressive Black folk think,” he said. “And they have spent countless millions of dollars establishing and fueling an agenda that essentially reverses the imperatives that Dr. King gave his life for: imperatives like the right to a fare wage, and the right to vote.”

    Patrick Delices, a Pan-African scholar and professor at Hunter College in New York City, said he understands Chavis’ frustration with slow rate of Black economic progress.

    “Historically and currently, the reality is that liberals at the corporate executive level and the political leadership level have failed to advance considerably the economics, politics, and culture of Black folk. Thus, it is in our best interest to engage with other people and groups who can perhaps offer to us a better deal,” he stated. “With that said, it is up to us to have a clear understanding that when we meet, negotiate, and engage in a business/political transaction with other people our interest/empowerment must come first, not the needs of other people.”

    Regardless of what his critics believe, Chavis is convinced that he is taking the correct path to being effective. “To my progressive brothers and sisters, I would say come and join me in getting the brothers and sisters out of prison,”he said. “Let’s get the question of prosecutorial misconduct resolved. Come join me. Let’s not just wait until the next incident of police brutality happens. Come join me, let’s reform the whole system.”

    By George E. Curry
    NNPA Editor-in-Chief

    ONLINE:blackpressusa.com

    Read more »
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    Mayor’s youth advisory council seeks new high school members

    Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden announces that the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council is searching for youth leaders from all area high schools and homeschoolers to join the council to advocate for the youth of their communities, collaborate to tackle issues in the area through community projects, and foster leadership and character development amongst their peers.

    Parents and youth (grades 9th-12th) of East Baton Rouge Parish are invited to attend an Information and Recruitment meeting Tuesday, September 15, 2015, where they will learn more about the program and application procedures and meet the advisors. The Information and recruitment meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library located at 7771 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806.

    The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council is looking for youth who are residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, currently enrolled in 9th through 12th grade, and are passionate about youth advocacy and making a difference in their community. There are no requirements to apply. Council members are expected to attend all meetings and events, demonstrate a strong commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy, and maintain positive and respectful attitudes at all times. Youth must show initiative and take responsibility for their actions. When applying we ask that if selected, members keep in mind that they will not only represent themselves, but their families, communities, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and the Office of Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden.

    The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council will offer approximately 80 youth from diverse backgrounds a chance to participate in a program that believes youth are the leaders of today as well as tomorrow. Youth will partake in professional development seminars, leadership training, service projects, team building exercises, and field trips. The council seeks to elevate youth voices in the community and provide youth with the unique opportunity to be the drivers of their own ideas from conceptualization to implementation and reflection.

    Community, parents/family members, youth, faith-based organizations, and educators are invited to encourage youth who are interested to fill out an online application.  Online applications will be available beginning Friday, September 18, 2015, and will close Friday, October 2, 2015. Applications can be found at http://myacbr.com/apply/  The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council will announce application decisions at the beginning of October 2015.

    For more information, please contact Jonas Augustine at (225) 389-4222 or via email at jaugustine@brgov.com  or Kia Bickham at (225) 389-3100 or via email at Kbickham@brgov.com  in the Office of the Mayor- President.

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  • Henry added to hall of fame

    Southern University’s acclaimed art professor, Randell Henry, has been inducted into the Scotlandville High School Alumni Association’s Hall of Fame. A mid-term January 1976 Scotlandville grad, Henry is among the first 12 persons selected by the Scotlandville High School Alumni Association to go into the Hall of Fame.

    Henry  said his high school’s hall of fame selection tops the honor he received recently when one of his paintings was cited by the New York Times chief art critic, Roberta Smith, as her favorite piece at the recently held New York art show, “60 Americans.”

    “I never thought I would be in a hall of fame. This is more than lagniappe from Scotlandville,” he said.

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  • SU Ag Center among recipients of $2 Million Walmart Foundation grant

    OPELOUSAS

    –The Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives (SCRI), a satellite campus of the Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center housed in Opelousas, has received a grant from the Walmart Foundation to teach healthy living practices to youth through its Ambassadors for Healthy Living Program.

    Louisiana is among 20 other state 4-H organizations approved for funding by Walmart’s 4-H Youth Voice: Youth Choice program. This year, the foundation donated $2 Million nationally to the program to expand its reach from 15 states to 21, reaching 75,000 at-risk youth and their families with interactive education about nutrition and food security challenges.

    The Ambassadors for Healthy Living Program is a component of the SCRI’s outreach programs; which include the Back-to-School Summit, the Youth Educational Support (YES) after-school program, and the Gardening Program. While these programs address healthy living, Ambassadors for Healthy Living is a more in-depth program. Its goals are to ensure that all youth who participate in the program: 1) have an understanding and acquire knowledge of the phrase, “healthy living;” 2) have a complete understanding of the importance of healthy living; 3) implement strategies to develop and maintain a healthy eating and physical lifestyle; and 4) become ambassadors of healthy living in order to encourage family and friends to develop and maintain a healthy eating and physical lifestyle. The program covers the SCRI’s ten parish area of St. Landry, Lafayette, Vermilion, Acadia, St. Martin, Pointe Coupee, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Allen and Evangeline Parishes, as well as, East Baton Rouge and Orleans Parish.

    “Health and happiness are interchangeable. When you are your healthiest, you are happier in every sense of the word. It is extremely important for all of us to be healthy, no matter what age! SCRI has already begun reaching out and improving the health of youth and families in the community. With this generous grant, we will be able to reach even more young people so that they can have a healthier lifestyle,” said Youth Specialist/Director of SCRI, Dr. Wanda Burke.

    According to the Child Trends Data Bank, child-aged food insecurity is associated with a greater risk for being overweight. Food insecurity can result in lower diet quality and less variety, both of which can contribute to being overweight and nutritionally deprived. Evaluation results from the 2011-2012 Youth Voice: Youth Choice program years show that participating young people reported a higher understanding of nutrition and physical activity knowledge and an increased active use of that knowledge. Additionally, participants’ attitudes towards nutrition and physical activity became more positive and young people showed an improved ability to make healthy food choices, even in food insecure settings.

    Other states receiving the grant including: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia and West Virginia.

    4-H is a community of six million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within USDA.

    Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts. By operating globally and giving back locally, Walmart is uniquely positioned to address the needs of the communities it serves and make a significant social impact within its core areas of giving: Hunger Relief and Nutrition, Sustainability, Career Opportunity and Women’s Economic Empowerment.

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  • Capitalize the “B” in Black when referring to Black Americans. Always.

    Journalist petitions The New York Times and AP Stylebook
    By Lori Tharps

    This is a call to action to capitalize the “B” in Black when referring to Black people in printed material. Specifically, I’m calling on magazine and newspaper editors, as well as book publishers, to always use the uppercase for Black Americans. Currently, the vast majority of media outlets and book publishers refer to Black people in the lowercase.

    This could be viewed as a simple style issue, one that only writers and editors would take seriously, but I’m not looking to start a revolution over grammar. This is about identity and respect. With a mere slash of a copyeditor’s pen, Black culture is reduced to a color. It seems silly to have to spell it out, that black with a lower case “b” is a color, whereas Black with a capital “B” refers to a group of people whose ancestors were born in Africa, were brought to the United States against their will, spilled their blood, sweat and tears to build this nation into a world power and along the way managed to create glorious works of art, passionate music, scientific discoveries, a marvelous cuisine, and untold literary masterpieces. When a copyeditor deletes the capital “B,” they are in effect deleting the history and contributions of a people.

    As a journalist and author myself, I cannot understand how any editor, who understands the significance of an errant comma or a “there” instead of a “their,” can sanction the use of a lower case “b” to signify a culture of people. Latinos get a capital “L,” Asians get their “A,” Native Americans get both the “N” and the “A” in capital letters (even though grammatically speaking, native should not be capitalized), but Black people don’t deserve the uppercase? Even visually, seeing that lower case “b” in a sentence where blacks stand beside Latinos and Asians, reeks of second-class citizenry and disrespect on the page.

    Some like to argue that if we capitalize the “b” in Black than we have to do the same for the “w” in White, when referring to White Americans. I have no problem with that. White Americans deserve their capital letter too, but I’m not here to fight their battles.

    Another problem we’re dealing with is that there isn’t a consensus around this issue. Some publications, mostly academic ones, capitalize Black when speaking of Black people. But most news organizations, including The New York Times as well as any publication that relies on the AP Stylebook (which is most mainstream media outlets), use the lower case for any “racial designations derived from color.” But the dictionary – both Webster’s and Oxford – states quite clearly that when referring to Black people, uppercase is acceptable and correct.

    So, if capital “B” is acceptable, what’s keeping news organizations like The New York Times and The Associated Press from taking a stand for equality on the page? If both are correct, then why not offer a capital “B” as a token of respect if nothing else? Is it inertia or racism? Not for nothing, the editors of the AP Stylebook just recently updated not one but five !!!! of their rules, so we know that change is possible.

    Ironically, W.E.B. Du Bois fought this very same fight almost 100 years ago. Only back then, he and other activists were demanding to have the “n” in Negro capitalized. Du Bois targeted local and national newspapers and like me, viewed the lower case letter as a form of disrespect and overt racism. And he wasn’t wrong. Reportedly, one editor of a Georgia newspaper said he’d never capitalize the “n” because it might, “lead to social equality.” Finally, on March 7, 1930, The New York Times agreed to change their policy and wrote in a stirring editorial, “In our ‘style book’ ‘Negro’ is now added to the list of words to be capitalized. It is not merely a typographical change; it is an act of recognition of racial self-respect for those who have been for generations in ‘the lower case.”

    If The New York Times had the courage and the insight to make that change in 1930, then I challenge them – and the Associated Press – to do the right thing today. Change your stylebooks and capitalize the “B” in Black. Always.

    Read more »
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    NBR Initiative to host Aug. 27 discussion with Superintendent Drake

    Members  of  the  community‐led initiative  Our  Schools…Our  Excellence  (OSOE)  are  hosting an  open  forum  with  East  Baton  Rouge  Parish  School  System  Superintendent  Warren Drake, Thursday,  August  27, 6pm, at Star  Hill  Church, 1400 N. Foster Dr.    

    An  Evening  with  Superintendent  Drake  is  purposed  to  connect  the  North  Baton  Rouge  community  with  the  new  parish  leader  as  he  shares  his  plan  for   schools  in  North  Baton  Rouge.  

     “I  believe  it  is  critical  that  we  engage  our  stakeholders  from  every  area  of  the  parish  in  a  discussion  about  the  future  of  East  Baton  Rouge  Parish  schools.  I  look  forward  to  the  opportunity  to  meet  with  members  of  the  North  Baton  Rouge  community  to  address  issues  of  importance  to  them,” said Drake.

    Since  taking  over  as  superintendent,  Drake  has  shared what  he  believes  is  required  to  improve  the  education  ecosystem  in the parish. OSOE leaders said Drake’s  plan  “greatly  aligns  with  OSOE’s  Community  Compact.  Thus,  our  goal  is  clear:  to  allow  Superintendent  Drake  to  explain  his  vision  to  an  audience  that  needs  it  most,  and  to  challenge  the  community  to  work  with  our  new  leader  to  see  it  come  to  pass.”

    The meeting is free and open to the public but registration at  https://eveningwithdrake.eventbrite.com is encouraged.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Ancona’s delivers quality meat, service for 57 years

    There is a banner hanging on the wall of Ancona’s Stop & Save Inc. that reads, “50th Anniversary Reunion and Block Party. Music by D. J. Sammy the Entertainer. Celebrating 50 years of service to the community. Same Location – 2nd Generation Owners”.

    The banner is dated 2008 and even today, the Italian, family-owned and operated business is celebrating its success.

    Herald as one of the best meat markets in the city, Ancona’s opened its doors in 1958.

    The corner store has been at 2705 North Street where the Ancona family–Roy Sr., Frank, Luke, and Johnny–has developed a successful food business by accommodating thousands of customers who pour into the store monthly for staple groceries, meats, and hot lunches.

    The Italian descendents were raised on 29th Street and Easy Street in Easy Town and embedded with a very rich culture and legacy. The family siblings–a total of 11–played sports on the sole gravel road: North Street where the business now stands. The store grew under the vision of Roy Ancona Sr and is now under the management of the Ancona children, Mark and Roy Jr.

    FAMILY HISTORY
    Frank Ancona attended Louisiana State University majoring in chemical engineering and worked at Exxon for several years and as a math instructor at the St.Paul Adult Learning Cente.

    Roy Ancona Jr. attended Southeastern University and has owned the store since 1996. He started working in the store at the age of six years old bagging in the meat market and has been involved in the family store since that time. Roy Jr. said he is very proud of the family achievements and takes great pride in being one of the business managers.

    Mark Ancona was a part of the Submarine Corps Group and lived in Hawaii for many years. While in the military service, “many recognized and identified the Ancona name as relationship and being located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” Mark said. In 1966, he bagged groceries and worked with his father and was paid fifty cents an hour. He attended St. Thomas Moore, Catholic High School, and Broadmoor High School. He was employed with Louis Mechanical Plumbing, Lanehart Paint Company, and stated a lawn company before joining the military.

    In 1995, Robbie Ancona provided support to Mark and Roy to buid the business before relocating to Lexington, Kentucky.

    Another legacy of the family is also Vince Ancona, oldest brother who owned and operated a grocery store in the Baton Rouge Community during the time of World War II.

    ANCONA’S OFFERING
    Ancona’s community store includes groceries, hot deli, a meat market, breakfast and lunch plates, ,oney orders, and check cashing services. It is an establishment that welcomes the Baton Rouge community residents and other outline areas. The doors are opened and it is in an excellent location. Major businesses including Benny’s Cafe, Cafe Express, and the Match Box, continuously purchase meat specials from Ancona’s.
    “Business is good,” the owners said,  “Thanks the Baton Rouge Community for continued support and efforts in allowing the doors to stay open and for many others to follow.”

    By Mada McDonald
    Community Reporter

    Read more »
  • DrumBeats

    Brief news from across Tangipahoa to East Baton Rouge parishes.

    HOUMA
    A Louisiana school board member refuses to resign after she said that streets named after Martin Luther King are racist since the Confederate flag is racist. The NAACP wants Terrebonne Parish School Board member Vicki Bonvillain to step down after she made a series of Facebook posts earlier in July, whining about the backlash toward the Confederate flag in the wake of the killing of nine African-American churchgoers in South Carolina by a white supremacist Confederate sympathizer in June. Bonvillain posted an image on her Facebook page saying that if the Confederate flag is racist then so is the Democratic Party, BET, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the NAACP, Black History Month, and La Raza. In her opinion, all of these are “racist” symbols that should be destroyed.

    NATIONAL
    In an effort to cut recidivism, the Obama Administration plans to restore federal funding for prison inmates to take college course. This move is considered part of the President’s broader push to “overhaul the criminal justice system according to the Wall Street Journal. The plan would allow thousands of inmates across the United States to access higher education.

    STATE
    The Board of Secondary and Elementary Education has approved a plan to increase access to affordable child care and to raise funding levels for qualified childcare centers and teachers across the state. The plan will increase the amount of money the state will pay per child from $35 to $93 a week for children in the Child Care Assistance Program. It will also allow families to remain eligible for CCAP for at least one year regardless of changes in work or school status of parents. Praised for its increased funding, the plan does not increase the number of children served in CCAP which has dropped over the last six years.

    BATON ROUGE
    Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico rank the worst states for child wellbeing by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. According to the 2015 Kids Count Data Book, more families are struggling to make ends meet and a growing number of kids live in high poverty neighborhoods. Louisiana ranks 48th overall with 28 percent of children in poverty, 34 percent of children whose parents lack secure employment, and 12 percent of teens not in school and not working. In education, 50 percent of children don’t attend preschool, 77 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading and 79 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in math. ONLINE: www.aecf.org

    HAMMOND
    The 2015 Northshore Gubernatorial Forum is set for 8 p.m. on Wednesday Sept. 2 in Southeastern Louisiana University’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. The four leading candidates in the race have indicated their intent to participate in the forum, which is being underwritten by First Guaranty Bank, Northshore Business Council, Northshore Legislative Alliance, and Southeastern Student Government Association. A collaborative effort of the regional business, economic development and higher education communities, the event is free and open to the public.

     

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  • COMMENTARY: Stopping access doesn’t stop payday debt traps

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency created after the 2008 financial crisis, is in the process of creating the first set of federal rules governing the short-term lending industry. Fearing that consumers are getting caught in “debt traps” — borrowing money to pay back previous loans over and over again and never getting out of debt — the agency is pushing for new regulations on small-dollar credit products like payday loans, title loans, and high-cost installment loans.
    image

    About 12 million Americans rely on short-term loans each year. Traditional banks have long ignored these customers, since banks are unable to underwrite such loans profitably.

    But as written, the regulations could wipe out most — if not all — of the entire short-term lending industry, leaving consumers without any market alternatives. That’s why the CFPB should scrap its regulations and instead focus its efforts on either addressing the problematic features of short-term lending products or creating a framework to encourage industry innovation.

    If the CFPB enacts rules that essentially put the short-term lending industry out of business, what are consumers to do?

    Some say they should save more.

    But the Federal Reserve found that 47 percent of Americans couldn’t pay for an unexpected $400 expense with savings or a credit card, but would be forced to sell a possession or borrow.

    Others say they should ask family.

    While some are fortunate enough to have friends or family members to turn to, many don’t. Of those unable to meet a shortfall of $250, many do not have friends or family with money to lend.

    Others suggest they should go to a bank.

    But it’s not profitable for banks to make short-term loans. With fixed costs of operations, underwriting, servicing, compliance and charge offs, banks cannot offer loans of a few hundred dollars.

    The CFPB’s new regulations would dictate exactly how lenders should assess a consumer’s ability to repay a loan. This will disproportionately impact those who lack traditional income documentation, like the elderly, divorcees, minorities, and low-income Americans. These are the people the proposal is supposed to protect.

    A better solution would allow short-term lenders to follow the guidance imposed from the credit card reforms, like reasonable income and expense verification, or a safe harbor for responsible lenders who have proven they can manage risk effectively.

    The ideal framework would protect consumers by ending problematic practices, but keep credit flowing to responsible, hard-working Americans. Reasonable procedures for income and expensive verification, rules ensuring payments cover interest and reduce principal, and eliminating bad actors will go a long way to achieving the consumer protections the CFPB desires.

    The CFPB’s proposal would reduce access to credit, which would increase bankruptcies, lower credit scores, and force borrowers to turn to more expensive options with fewer consumer protections. It would stifle innovation and reduce choice for consumers who desperately need more, not fewer, options.

    The CFPB should adopt a framework that incentivizes innovation and market alternatives instead of prescribing a one-size-fits-all mandate. It should work to expand access to credit in struggling, low-income communities, not restrict it.

    Submitted by Sasha Orloff


    Sasha Orloff is the CEO and co-founder of LendUp, a venture-backed startup that builds credit solutions for consumers who banks and traditional lenders can’t help.

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    Wheeler leaves for Kentucky State University

    Erin Wheeler, Ph.D., has been appointed assistant vice president for academic support services at Kentucky State University. She was a biology instructor at Southern University and A&M College, an adjunct biology instructor at American InterContinental University Online, and a STEM learning strategy consultant with the Center for Academic Success at Louisiana State University.

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    La. NAACP denounces racist overtones in Secretary of State’s race

    Leaders of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP have taken up issue with LA Secretary of State Tom Schedler following several blog and social media posts on Schedler’s campaign website that the organization and others said are racist and troubling. NAACP state president Ernest Johnson sent this letter to Schedler and NAACP members:

    The last place Louisianans want or expect to see racist overtones and the denial of the history of voter suppression is in a race for Secretary of State- the official who is responsible for overseeing fair and impartial elections.

    We are concerned that this scenario is playing out in the campaign of Tom Schedler, our current Secretary of State. First, an article on Mr. Schedler’s website titled “We Now Have a Campaign Issue in the Secretary of State Race” takes pains to point out that Chris Tyson is a “Black Democrat” who should not be taken seriously in running against a “Republican incumbent.”

    In a separate and even more troubling article,“Tom Schedler Reflecting on the Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act”, Schedler defies logic by asserting a commitment “to the spirit of the Voting Rights Act WITHOUT the need for Federal oversight and intrusion.” 

    As recent events with the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, Bogalusa City Council, and West Feliciana Parish Council clearly show, without federal oversight, Louisiana will revert to voter suppression tactics clearly designed to destroy representative government.

    The Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP is calling upon Schedler, the top elections official in this state, to curb this divisive rhetoric and to focus on legitimate issues of the campaign- that is, focus on an inclusive process that maximizes voter participation.

    Ernest L. Johnson, Esq. President

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    Don’t call her a champion!

    Call Colette Greggs a hero or a champion and she would snap back “no I’m not!” She also doesn’t want to be called a healer, a life giver, or a living donor.

    But the truth is Colette Greggs is all of that.

    The moment she entered Oschner’s Medical Center after having donated her kidney to Muriel Haysbert, who has suffered with lupus for a decade, Greggs became one of 6,000 living donors who will give an organ this year.

    She also became Haysbert’s hero even though Greggs refuses to accept the label. “I am so blessed. God used her as a vessel to return my life (and) to give me a quality of life that I wanted.”   Read entire story.

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    Kiwanis to bowl for kids, Aug.22

    The Kiwanis Club of South Baton Rouge and several regional Kiwanis Clubs are coming together for the 2nd annual “Bowling for Babies” bowl-a-thon, Sat., August 22, 2pm, at Circle Bowl, 8878 Florida Blvd. 

    The bowl-a-thon is organized in the spirit of The Eliminate Project: Kiwanis eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. Tetanus kills one baby every nine minutes or about 160 newborns each day. Kiwanis International is raising US$110 million by 2015 in an effort to protect at least 61 million women and their future babies who are at risk of this deadly and highly preventable disease.  The event supports Kiwanis’ mission to serve the children of the world.

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    Meet the Team Celebration

    The Hammond High Magnet School Touchdown Club cordially invites students, parents, and fans to the annual “Meet the Team Celebration,” Sat., August 15,  10am – noon at the HHMS football field.

    The celebration is open to the public.

    It will feature the introduction of the 2015 Tornado freshman, junior varsity, and varsity football teams by Head Coach Cecil Thomas. Other activities will include performances by the Torettes and cheerleaders. Concessions, raffle items, 50/50 drawing, and door prizes will be available.

    “We ask everyone to come out to help honor the hard work and dedication of our players and coaches by attending this event. This event is an excellent opportunity to meet the families and friends of our young athletes and coaching staff and allow us to take pride in their accomplishments as we kick off the 2015 season,” said organizers.

    Season tickets and parking passes will be on sale. For more information, please contact Coach Cecil Thomas at cecil.thomas@tangischools.org.

    @jozefsyndicate

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    Southeast Regional Biblical Institute (SRBI)

    The Baton Rouge community has another opportunity to study God’s word and prepare ministers and laypersons for the work of ministry. The 2015 Fall Semester class for first term at Southeast Regional Biblical Institute, at 185 Eddie Robinson Sr Dr., will begin on August 17, at 6 pm.

    This diploma program is through Samford Ministry Training Institute, Birmingham, Alabama. The student will earn the Biblical Studies diploma after the completion of 6 classes of concentration in Biblical Studies plus an additional four classes of electives chosen by the student. This Diploma Program of biblical and theological education is being offered to ministers and laypersons. This Extension Institute has been designed for persons who want to improve their biblical and theological knowledge. This Institute will further prepare men and women for ministry. ALL interested persons, with or without college degrees are invited to participate. The courses will be taught by seminary trained instructors and experienced pastors.

    ONLINE: www.srbi-br.org

    For more information, contact: Dr. Mary W. Moss, Director of The Southeast Regional Institute at (225) 772-0307 or email-pastormoss@att.net or Thelma Jones,
    tjones1972@cox.net.

    By Community News Submission

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    Barrow announces candidacy for Senate seat

    After serving the constituents of House District 29 for three consecutive terms, State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow will officially announce her intention to run for the Louisiana Senate District 15 seat on tomorrow, Tuesday, August 4, at her campaign headquarters, 3558 Monterrey Drive, in Baton Rouge.

    For the next several months, Barrow said she plans to travel throughout District 15 and expand her campaign as she reaches out across the district to “share her platform with citizens searching for effective, result driven and inspirational servant leadership for Louisiana Senate District 15 in Baton Rouge.”

    She said the ability to successfully lead others and influence change is the most important components to effective leadership.

    Since 2005, she has represented District 29, serving on the Ways and Means Committee; Health and Welfare Committee; Municipal, Parochial, Cultural Affairs Committee; and the Joint Capital Outlay Committee. She is the Immediate Past Chairwoman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.

    She serves as the state director for Women in Government, Women in Legislature Lobby, and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

    Barrow is the wife of 31 years to James Barrow, Sr. and together they have two adult children: Shanrika Barrow-Fobb and James Barrow, Jr.

    @jozefsyndicate

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  • School starts this week!

    The first day of school for public school students in East Baton Rouge Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, East Feliciana Parish, St. Mary Parish and Point Coupee Parish is Thursday, August 6, and teachers and parents are ready. Public school students in Livingston Parish and St. Helena Parish will return to school on Friday, August 7. On Monday, August 10, public school students in Assumption Parish, Ascension Parish and West Baton Rouge Parish will begin the new school year.

     

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  • ,,

    Woman to Watch: Blair Imani Brown

    Last year, when hundreds of students gathered at LSU by candlelight in response to the Mike Brown indictment decision, it was the organizing work of Blair Imani Brown and Peter Jenkins. The event became the catalyst for the group now known as Baton Rouge Organizing, and Brown, Shamaka Schumake, Majdal Ismail, Zandashé Brown, Aryanna Prasad, and Leonela Guzman became co-founders. Soon after, they organized a Die In on LSU’s campus, an #ICantBreathe A Rally for Eric Garner on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, a rally for Victor White III, a Google Hangout about Freddie Gray, while providing support for events outside of Baton Rouge including a Die In and Solidarity March in Lafayette. They have also organized to push for animal rights and push against homophobia and sexism.

    But those efforts at social justice only seem to reveal the tip of Brown’s passion for equality, giving meaning to the work she has begun around human rights. The budding lawyer said she’s learned how important it is to change policies. “I’m a nerd about the civil rights movement,” she said. “I’m enchanted by it and it’s transferred into an urgency to be part of changing how we think of things through law. The push right now is education because (we) don’t have the ability to initiate public policy.”

    At 21 years old, Brown has stepped up to address the daunting, and often times risky, challenge of fighting for equal rights and fair treatment of all humans. Her demands have lead to her being threatened by email, followed to her apartment, and called a N*gr B. They have also lead to changes at LSU. For one, Brown was able to have the Odell S. Williams African American Museum included on in the Department of History’s internship program.

    “When I found out about the museum was not a part of the program, I was confused and I spoke to professor… What kind of failure of the institution is this?” she said with a laugh. “But I believe it was just miseducation and they sincerely did not know and were not overlooking. It was important that they acknowledged it and willingly corrected it.” Now the university can introduce students to the city’s only public museum dedicated to Black history.

    Through Baton Rouge Organizing, Brown and the other leaders galvanized students to push the LSU police department to change how it identifies suspects on the campus wide alert system. The police would announce that the suspect was a “Black male wearing a hood” and the group used that in a 15-person demonstration on the campus where they wore hoodies and held up signs that stated “He fit the description.” The demonstration included students and the university’s director of diversity. They also sent a letter to the LSU PD requesting that they “respond responsibly”.

    “(We used a) combination of the wide spread social media presence and main stream media and LSU media,” Brown said, “It was something that couldn’t be ignored.” The system now offers more detailed descriptions on campus alerts.

    “Education is the best vehicle for awareness and change,” she said. As her awareness of injustices increased, Brown said she began noticing that the women around the world had similar experiences, “I founded Equality for HER a women’s empowerment organization dedicated to bring awareness to women’s health, education, and rights…and to address the intersections of one’s identities that constitute their being.”

    She has been able to work with women as far away as Latin America, Egypt, and Lagos.

    “I feel that too often we are made to choose one part of identity in order to join a given group. For example there’s often a narrative that I must divorce my heritage as a Black person in order to “focus” on women’s rights or conversely remove my identity as a women in order to work on LGBTQ or minority rights. While this narrative is unfortunately very prominent, I think I have proved it to be false.”

    For that, Blair Brown is a Woman to Watch.
    image

    Blair Imani Brown, 21
    LSU Student
    Founder and President, Equality for HER
    Co-Founder, Baton Rouge Organizing

    Hometown: Pasadena, CA

    Moves made: In January 2014, As I began my efforts with Equality for HER, I simultaneously worked as the assistant organizer of the Louisiana Queer Conference in 2014 with student activist Michael Beyer…I developed an intersectional presentation on dating violence. I was able to do a few presentations at Louisiana State University, develop a web module about Breaking the Cycle on EqualityforHER.com, and provide commentary about Louisiana’s issues with domestic violence for media outlets…After the decision was announced not to indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, Peter Jenkins and I used social media to bring the Baton Rouge Community together for a candlelight vigil in less than 24 hours. The Baton Rouge Organizing Facebook group turned into an amazing phenomenon. With Equality for HER, we have just finished our Women’s History Month features where in we feature a variety of multicultural women achievers that have made contributions to our society. However, perhaps the most inspirational endeavor I have been a part of is the work with the family of Victor White III…and getting a petition circulating on Change.org urging the New Iberia coroner to change the cause of death from suicide to homicide. This petition was delivered (to the coroner’s office) on the anniversary of Victor White Iasi’s death. More than a year after his mysterious death we still await justice for Victor White III.

    What to expect from you: This year began with all eyes on Baton Rouge Organizing. We have been able to initiate, sponsor, and promote various protests around many issues. We have held rallies, demonstrations about racial profiling, vigils for “Our Three Winners” Deah, Yusor, and Razan who were victims of Islamophobia. Shortly after the (Victor White III) petition’s delivery, I visited Howard University Law School, and I made the decision to attend there in the fall…Working with Rev. Victor White Sr. and his family has further encouraged me to pursue a legal career, so that much like Attorney Marilyn Mosby, I can be apart of the systematic change required to root out the racism and corruption within the court system…I continue to organize events surrounding social justice issues.

    What music are you dancing to? Anything from Motown Records. I love the empowering message of the protest songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I have also found a renewed appreciation for the rap music of the ‘90s.

    What are you reading? “Death of a King” by Tavis Smiley

    Mentors and Role Models: My mother, Kristina Brown, she has taught me strength and resilience. My father, DeWalt Brown, is someone who I also admire because of his commitment to social justice and belief in humanity. The person who I both identify with and aspire to emulate is Attorney General Kamala Harris. I also look up to Representative John Lewis, Dr. Terrence Roberts, and Melissa Harris Perry.

    Personal Resolution: My personal resolution for 2015 is to find a balance between my efforts in social activism and my academic career. I have resolved to take on less projects while cultivating leadership skills in my peers. I have also become committed to being an advocate of causes that I may not directly identify with. I have recently converted to Islam and getting closer to God has given me a lot more strength and helps me give up my fears and worries to him.

    Company Resolution: With Equality for HER, we will be transitioning the brand under the leadership of Sophia Herzog as we work in collaboration while I am starting my first year of law school.

    Life motto: To create and implement change and to advocate for all marginalized people.

    Where to find you online? www.BlairB.com or on LinkedIn.

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    Baton Rouge Police to offer Equalizer Women’s Self-Defense class

    The Baton Rouge Police Department is offering an Equalizer Women’s Self-Defense class. The free class will be held at the Baton Rouge Police Department Training Academy, 9000 Airline Hwy, 6 pm – 10pm. The course covers: facts about violence against women, reducing the risk of becoming a victim, defensive striking, common grab defenses, head-lock defenses, bear hug defenses, striking and knife defense and group escapes. The class is open to women over the age of 13. Participants should wear comfortable clothing suitable for physical activity. Participants must attend all 4 sessions to be certified.

    Class size is limited so participants should register early by following this link.

    Session 1

    Tuesday, August 18th

    Session 2
    Thursday, August 20th

    Session 3
    Tuesday, August 25th

    Session 4
    Thursday, August 27th

     

     

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  • Welcome to Port Allen, Mr. Gossett

    Actor Louis Gosset Jr. is probably best known for his role in the landmark ABC miniseries “Roots” ; as the tough by-the-book drill sergeant in “An Officer and A Gentleman,” and roles in “Iron Eagle”, “A Raisin in the Sun”, “Left Behind”, “Daddy’s Little Girls” “The Grace Card”, “The Least Among You”,”The Olive Branch” and “One More River to Cross”.

    On Friday, July 31, he will keynote the CPM Bible College “Spirit of Excellence Scholarship Education Gala” at 7pm in the West Baton Rouge Community Center, 749 North Jefferson Avenue.

    G

    osset authored the book, “An Actor and A Gentleman” where he writes frankly of the pressures in Hollywood, struggles with and triumph in God over drugs, alcohol and his current work to eradicate racism and violence in our communities. Gossett has been recognized for his work with the Wings of Hope Anti-Drug Organization and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America. Currently, this versatile actor, national, international spokesperson, missionary is forging the vision of the Eracism Foundation, a non-profit entity aimed toward educating the youth, mentoring and reconnecting the generations with the goal of eradicating racism.

    ONLINE: www.centerpeaceministries.com. 

    @jozefsyndicate

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    Keep Louisiana Beautiful asks, “Do You Know an Everyday Hero?”

    Anti-Litter Organization Opens Nominations for Awards Honoring Exceptional Community Leaders

    Keep Louisiana Beautiful (KLB) invites each Louisiana resident to “Be an Everyday Hero” by presenting seven awards honoring groups and individuals whose exemplary efforts, large and small, help to keep our state beautiful. The organization will honor the winners with the distinction of “Everyday Hero” at KLB’s state conference awards banquet in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Oct. 1, 2015.

    Nonprofits, KLB affiliates, businesses, professional groups, governmental agencies, civic and community organizations, schools, churches and individuals are eligible to be nominated, and nominations are open to the public. To nominate a deserving Everyday Hero, visit: keeplouisianabeautiful.org for the application and instructions.

    Everyday Hero Awards will be presented in the following categories:

    • Alice Foster Award – An individual volunteer with exceptional leadership in litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling and beautification.
    • Golden Can Award – A public servant who displays a deep commitment to KLB’s mission in their daily work by going above and beyond the call of duty.
    • Most Innovative Program – A successful beautification, litter prevention or waste reduction program led by a school,
    • civic group, nonprofit or KLB affiliate.
    • Youth Award – A student or youth-led group that displays creative thinking, demonstrates effective leadership, engages peer participation and makes a significant impact on their community.
    • Outstanding Affiliate – A KLB affiliate that shows fortitude, leadership, creative, diverse programming and community engagement.
    • Outstanding Affiliate Director – A KLB affiliate director who demonstrates exceptional dedication to KLB’s mission and leadership in building a strong and sustainable organization.
    • Corporate Leadership Award – A business that exhibits a consistent dedication to KLB’s mission, environmental stewardship and community enrichment.

    KLB’ s 12th annual state conference will be held Oct. 1-2 at the Lafayette Science Museum and marks the yearly culmination of the most up-to-date information on the impact of litter and expert resources for state beautification. The first night of the conference will feature the awards dinner, with special guest speaker Marcus Eriksen, co-founder of 5Gyres. KLB encourages affiliates, teachers, partners, volunteers, community leaders, state agency representatives, and parish and city officials to register now to secure their spot at the 2015 annual conference. To register or learn more, visit www.keeplouisianabeautiful.org .

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    DHH asks residents to take precautions against mosquitoes

    Health department confirms three new cases of West Nile

    The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has confirmed three new cases of West Nile virus this week, the first cases of 2015. This week’s new infections include two cases of neuroinvasive disease, one in DHH Region 2 and one in Region 6. The third case, also in Region 6 was asymptomatic.

    About 90 percent of all West Nile virus cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent will develop West Nile fever. Only a very small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with the neuroinvasive disease. Residents who are at least 65 years old are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.

    “There is an opportunity for you to get bitten every time you step outside, whether you’re taking a quick walk to the mailbox or spending hours at the ball park,” said State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry. “You need to take the proper steps to protect yourself and your home from mosquitoes every time you go outdoors.”

    Last year, Louisiana saw 61 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease in the state. DHH has been tracking West Nile Virus for more than a decade, and statistics about its occurrence in Louisiana can be found online at www.dhh.louisiana.gov/fightthebite.

    Protecting Yourself

    If you will be outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months. CDC recommends that you always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent.

    • Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Do not apply under your clothes or on broken skin.
    • To apply repellent to your face, spray on your hands and then rub on your face.
    • Adults should always apply repellent to children.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time.
    • Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods of time.
    • Make sure that your house has tight-fitting windows and doors, and that all screens are free of holes.

    Protecting Your Home

    • Reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around your home, which is where mosquitoes breed.
    • Dispose of tin cans, ceramic pots and other unnecessary containers that have accumulated on your property. Turn over wheelbarrows, plastic wading pools, buckets, trash cans, children’s toys or anything that could collect water.
    • Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers. Drainage holes that are located on the container sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed.
    • Check and clean roof gutters routinely. They are often overlooked, but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
    • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
    • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.

    Travel Precautions

    Anyone traveling abroad should also take these same precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes in other countries. Mosquitoes in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, South America, Asia, Africa and Europe, might infect you with chikungunya or dengue fever. For more information about these diseases, visit the CDC’s website by clicking here.

    The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH’s Twitter account and Facebook.

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    Month With Mada: Black Lives Matter Symposium brings youth, adults together

    “The Quality of Life in the Baton Rouge Community regarding all age groups, genders, culture needs to be addressed,” said The Rev. Dale W. Flowers during A Black Lives Matter Symposium, July 6 – July 10, at New Sunlight Baptist Church, 1777 America Street.

    Many Black males have been victims or have lost their lives to police brutality and other others, and this has had a major impact in many communities all over this nation. The symposium presenters discussed a wealth of valuable information ranging from crime, poverty, violence, racism, drugs, education, and healthcare. East Baton Rouge Parish Constable Major Reginald Brown provided the bike giveaways. Gift cards came from local businesses.

    On Monday, July 6, panelists discussed adjudicated property, increase in crime, blighted areas, and first-time home ownership. Attorney Winston Riddick and Nun Judith Brun of Sacred Heart Catholic Church shared tips and techniques for better decision making for teenagers. The smaller age group children had information shared from the Southern University and Louisiana State University agriculture centers.

    On Tuesday, July 7, Chief Administrator George Bell discussed the closure of the Mid-City Baton Rouge General Hospital’s emergency room while Sherry Asberry from Our Lady of the Hospital talked about healthcare. State Representative Alfred Williams discussed funding sources that could have been considered in saving the emergency facility. Other presentations involved HIV/AIDS, Clerk of Court-Identification Cards and Fingerprinting.
    Representation from the Baton Rouge Police Department was given by Riley Harbor focusing on crime prevention, proactive/reactive measures, and the importance of Neighborhood Watch Programs and Civic Organizations. The highlight that added to the session on Wednesday July, 8th along with other topics was Tanesha Craig, a fitness instructor talked about healthy diets and led the group in an exercise fitness class. Terrell Johnson, African American World History Professor from Southern University, also gave a dynamic and profound presentation.

    On Thursday, July 9, the topic was education. EBR School Board member Evelyn Ware Jackson and Liz Frischert discussed assessment and accountability, the importance of having an education, and the Common Core Education Program. Marcus Coleman, Dean of Students at Southern University A & M College, shared college preparatory information, academic readiness for the upcoming school term. Norma Veal gave tips on fire safety, and a representative from the Baton Rouge Constable Office talked about the D.A.R.E. Program

    Finally on Friday, July 10, the culminating sessions wrapping up the Black Lives Matter Symposium included a period of questions and answers.

    Flowers said the primary focus and concentration is to devise a plan to improve the quality of life in the community where we reside, work, and live.

    The Black Lives Matter Symposium reached out to children as young as pre-K toddlers to senior citizens. It was a very informative and a much needed dialogue for alerting and keeping the Baton Rouge Community aware of issues affecting many citizens. This symposium showed the importance of knowing what is happening and going on in today’s society.

    By Mada McDonald
    Drum Columnist

    The Month with Mada column shares commentary on community and current events compiled by Mada McDonald, a public relations professional and community activist in Baton Rouge. Leave your comments below.

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    Crump to keynote national asset building conference

    The Southern Regional Asset Building Coalition (SRABC) will hold its eighth annual conference Oct. 8-9 in Biloxi, Mississippi, at the Beau Rivage Resort. The featured keynote speaker is Maxine Crump, the executive director of Dialogue on Race Louisiana.

    Crump made history when she became the first Black woman to live in a residence hall on LSU’s campus, then again in 1975 by becoming Baton Rouge’s WAFB Channel-9 News’ first Black reporter. She’s been inspiring others to make history ever since, through her work in television, radio, humanitarian efforts and community development. She also plays an important role in working to eliminate race discrimination in Baton Rouge with the  Dialogue on Race Louisiana, which aims to educate the community on ways to make their future free from “a vivid racial divide that still exists in Louisiana.” In February earlier this year, she took the TEDxLSU stage with her message “Using Talk to Create Action”.

    “The public is especially invited to join this dynamic network at the 8th annual conference and become engaged in making concrete steps to ensure economic inclusion and wealth building for all,” said Gena McClendon, SRABC project director.

    Since 2007, the SRABC conference has brought together 250 advocates and experts from 18 states to collaborate on specific strategies and efforts that increase financial security for communities across the nation.

    With special emphasis on defining policies and programs that support low-income families and communities, this year’s conference provides participants with provide opportunities to collaborate utilizing the latest research and innovative ways to assist low- to moderate-income families in building wealth.

    SRABC is a partnership of state coalitions dedicated to the advocating for and the development of asset-building policies and programs for low-income families and rural communities.

    ONLINE: www.srabcoalition.org

     

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    Attorney announces candidacy at demolished hospital

    Jordan seeks to represent Dist. 29

    Using the partially demolished LSU Earl K Long Hospital as his backdrop on yesterday (July 15), Brusly attorney Edmond Jordan announced  his candidacy for the Louisiana House District 29.

    “I will fight to balance the disproportionate economic disparity between north and south Baton Rouge….We need to bring businesses to District 29 and help rejuvenate this district,” Jordan told the small gathering of supporters.

    “If we do things the way that they’ve always been done, then things will remain the way that they’ve always been… It’s time to change what we’ve been doing. Let’s work together to stop the decline in the quality of life for the citizens of Louisiana,” Jordan told the small gathering of supporters.

    image

    Edmond Jordan

    State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow has termed out of the District 29 seat after having represented the area since 2005.

    For Jordan this is an opportunity for meaningful change.

    He said an individual who knows how to fight for the best interest of people should hold the office of State Representative.

    “The time is now to elect such an individual. I am that individual,” he said.

    Jordan said he will travel throughout the district, which covers a portion of North Baton Rouge through West Baton Rouge, and reach “like-minded citizens searching for strong, responsible and inspirational servant leadership” for the district.

    A life-long resident of Brusly, La., Edmond Jordan is a graduate of Brusly High School, Southern University A&M College and the Southern University Law Center.  Jordan has been an attorney for 17 years, representing the Louisiana Public Service Commission, LDEQ, and the United States Department of Homeland Security.  Additionally, he a co-owner of Cypress Insurance Agency in Baton Rouge, LA. 

    He currently serves as director/trustee on the boards of Essential Federal Credit Union, South Louisiana Charter Foundation and Capitol City Family Health Center.

    Read more »
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    Ursula White’s quest to understand women’s fat

    Local researcher looks for answers about body shape and health

    Long before Monroe native Ursula White earned a PhD and years before a distinguished career as a scientist was even a fleeting thought, she was a self-described curious child.

    “I always wondered about the world around me and why it worked the way it did,” said White. “I was always asking ‘Why?’”

    That insatiable curiosity is what drove White into her career as a biomedical researcher, but it’s her family background that led her to specialize in thebiology of fat cells (or adipocytes) and metabolic disease.
    “Many relatives on my mom’s side of the family struggle with their weight and have Type 2 diabetes. Growing up, I watched my great grandmother and grandmother struggle with the disease. All of my mom’s siblings are diabetic.”

    White’s great grandmother had only a fraction of the resources available to her to manage the disease that people with diabetes have today, and eventually one of her legs was amputated due to complications from the disease.

    Seeing the prevalence of the disease in her family left White concerned.“Am I destined to have diabetes, or are there things I can do to prevent it?” White asked. “You know genetics play a huge role, but there have to be other factors at play.”

    With those questions in mind, White entered LSU as a biology major, and eventually found herself as a student in a human disease course taught by Jackie Stephens PhD.
    White was intrigued by what she learned in  Stephens’ lectures about the important role that fat cells play in our bodies and how their actions can influence health.

    Upon entering graduate school, it was in White’s last laboratory rotation that she was sure she’d found her passion; and she again found herself learning from Dr. Stephens, who served as her advisor and mentor.
    After earning her PhD in adipocyte biology from LSU, White began working at Pennington Biomedical Research Center to pursue her interests in translational research, which applies important findings in basic science—like adipocyte biology—to significant developments in human research to enhance health and well-being.

    “My experiences from basic fat cell research sparked my interests to better understand how adipocytes behave in humans. While we know that there is fat in different areas of the body, we want to know if it differs by location,” said White.

    Now, White is hard at work on the Apple & Pear research study at Pennington Biomedical, where she is partnering with women in the community to try to understand why women carry weight differently and how it may affect health.

    “We know that women who are more apple-shaped and carry their extra weight in their abdomen are at a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and other dangerous health problems, while pear-shaped women with more fat in their hips, thighs, and buttocks may be protected from these diseases” said White. “Now we want to know why the fat in the abdomen is different from the fat in the thighs and how these differences impact health.”

    White is determined to make a positive impact on the health of our community and our state through her work, and she knows first-hand about the power of people who participate in research.

    “If it weren’t for people who stepped up in the past to help scientists develop better diabetes medications, many people, including my mom’s siblings, may not be here today,” White said. “When you volunteer for a research study, you are actively changing people’s lives for the better. That’s why I do what I do every day—I want to help people live better lives.”

    If you are interested in participating in the Apple & Pear study, you may be eligible to receive health assessments, as well as nutritional/lifestyle counseling, at no cost to you, along with compensation for your time.

    ONLINE: www.pbrc.edu

    @jozefsyndicate

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  • Brown to lead SU Ag center

    The Southern University Board of Supervisors has named Adell Brown Jr., Ph.D., interim chancellor for the SU Ag Center effective July 1, 2015.  Brown served as Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, and currently as Vice Chancellor for Research and Executive Vice-Chancellor.

    Brown has more than 42 years of experience in higher education and agriculture, with 39 of those years at Southern University.
    He has held several positions within the SU Ag Center and the SU Baton Rouge (SUBR) campus. These positions included Adjunct Professor in the Department of Economics and Finance in the College of Business; Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration at the SU Ag Center; Associate Specialist and Specialist/Extension Economist; Assistant Administrator and Specialist for Agriculture; Acting Administrator and Assistant County Agent for the Cooperative Extension Program at SUBR. He also served as Small Farm Coordinator for the College of Agriculture at SUBR.

    Apart from of his employment with the Southern University System, Brown has been Vice President for Research, Planning, Community and Economic Development and Tenured Associate Professor in Business for the College of Business at Mississippi Valley State University;  Program Manager for the USDA’s Cooperative State Research Services Office of Small-Scale Agriculture in Washington D.C.; USDA visiting professor for Farmer Home Administration and  Research/Teaching Assistant for the Department of Agricultural Economics at Louisiana State University.
    He is also the immediate past president/chair of the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Baton Rouge, a non-profit organization where African-American males assume roles of community leadership, responsibility, and guidance to enhance the lives of youth.
    Brown earned a bachelor of science in agricultural business from Northeast Louisiana University, a master of business administration with a concentration in management and finance from the University of Southwest Louisiana and a doctorate in agricultural dconomics with concentrations in Production Economics, Statistics and Management from Louisiana State University.
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    SUBR set to win four HBCU Digest Awards

    Southern University is a finalist in four categories in the 2015 HBCU Digest national awards competition.

    SU’s College of Nursing and Allied Health is a finalist in the Best Nursing School category and the Human Jukebox Marching Band is among the top Marching Bands.

    Southern scored in the Top Alumnus category with National Alumni Federation President Preston Castille. The SU Alumni Federation also finished among the top National Alumni Association of the Year Category.

    The winners will be announced and receive their awards at a ceremony July 10 at Hampton University in Virginia. The ceremony is part of the HBCU National Media Summit being held at Hampton from July 9-11.

    According to HBCU Digest, finalists are annually selected based on the impact of nominees’ achievement on institutional development, and for media coverage earned for the institution by way of the nominee.

    The Marching Band category includes: Southern, Alabama State University Mighty Marching Hornets, Florida A&M University Marching 100 and Albany State University Marching Rams Show Band.

    Schools in Best Nursing School category, include: Southern, Prairie View A&M University and Tougaloo College.

    The Alumnus of the Year category, includes: Castille; Adriel Hilton of Morehouse, FAMU, and Morgan State University; Michael Jones, of Dillard University; and John Thompson, FAMU.

    The National Alumni Association category includes: Southern, FAMU, South Carolina State University, Tuskegee University, Xavier University of Louisiana and Clafin University.

    Winners are selected by an academy of former HBCU Awards winners, former and current HBCU presidents, alumni, faculty, students and journalists covering HBCU issues for local or national outlets.

    Created in 2011 by HBCU Digest Founding Editor Jarrett L. Carter Sr., the HBCU Awards is the first national awards event to recognize the influence and impact of HBCUs on American culture.

    The SU Alumni Federation previously won the HBCU Digest’s inaugural National Alumni Association of the Year award in 2012.

    @jozefsyndicate

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    Dillard finalist for six HBCU Digest Awards

    Dillard University ranks among the finalists in six “Best Of” categories sponsored by the HBCU Digest annual awards ceremony that will be held this week on Dillard’s campus. The HBCU Digest is a daily blog/news resource providing news synopsis, links and commentary on stories about America’s 105 historically black colleges and universities.

    Each year it sponsors the HBCU Awards event to honor, acknowledge and celebrate achievements at historically black colleges and universities throughout the country.

    Crowning winners in the fields of leadership, arts, athletics, research, and community engagement, the HBCU Awards is the first and only event to recognize the influence and impact of HBCUs on American culture.

    The HBCU Awards ceremony will be held July 10 during the HBCU National Media Summit, which is July 9-11 at Hampton University in Virginia.

    From a pool of 430 nominations, Dillard University was selected as a finalist in the following areas: Best Choir; Best Fine Arts Program – (Film and Theater); Best Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics STEM Program (Physics); Female Faculty of the Year – Kemberley Washington; Male Alumnus of the Year – Michael Jones, ’82; and Male President of the Year – Dr. Walter Kimbrough.

    @jozefsyndicate

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    Message to the Community from BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight

    I cannot in good conscience justify spending scarce taxpayer resources for a swimming pool that only five people walked to and used on a daily basis. I am writing to set the record straight about the imminent removal of the Gus Young swimming pool.

    BREC’s 2004 Imagine Your Parks plan evaluated the entire park system and the BREC Commission approved a separate aquatics plan which recommended modernizing some pools and creating an aquatic system that offered more options in strategic locations, including learn to swim pools, splash pads and centrally located Liberty Lagoon Water Park. The plan, prepared by a national aquatic firm familiar with best practices, also included partnering with other agencies to enable us to use resources more efficiently.

    The closing of pools at Baringer, Webb, Jefferson Highway and Gus Young Neighborhood Parks and the renovation of pools at Howell, City-Brooks and Anna T. Jordan Community Parks are part of that plan. The plan recommended having aquatic features only in community parks which serve a much larger population than neighborhood parks like Gus Young. In 2012, BREC was forced to close the 50-year old pool because it did not meet safety and health requirements and could not be repaired.

    BREC places a high priority on teaching children to swim and continues to expand its partnership with the YMCA. Together we offer swimming lessons at BREC and YMCA pools and have created a free water safety program taught to students and parents during the school year. We are proud to say that in addition to teaching more than 475 kids to swim last year hundreds more have signed up for swimming lessons again this summer.

    BREC transports hundreds of children from our summer camps to our pools and to Liberty Lagoon on a daily basis. Outside camps also use those locations. Using cost savings from the closure of neighborhood pools, and working with the YMCA, we created a “Splash Pass” which offers children the ability to swim at YMCA pools at BREC prices during our public swim times. Liberty Lagoon, in its fifth season, continues to thrive, frequently reaching maximum attendance levels and serving people throughout the parish.

    More than that, BREC places a high priority on serving youth and teens across the parish in order to offer healthy, safe, structured activity and protect them from exposure to violence or juvenile delinquency. Here is a snapshot of programs currently offered:

    • BREC on the Geaux serves 35 locations with 29 in the inner city area servicing approximately 8,000 youth and teens since January.
    • BREC offers 61 Recreation classes and programs for youth in the inner city areas and 28 programs for teens.
    • BREC offers 41 summer camps with 17 in the inner city area. 2015 summer camp enrollment has increased by nearly 1,400 children for recreation camps alone.
    • BREC hosted 16 Community Events in the inner city area since January servicing approximately 4,675 people.
    • BREC’s sports leagues such as baseball, football and basketball have served approximately 10,497 youth and teens since January.
    • BREC’s Outdoor Adventure serves 236 youth and teens with programs.
    • BREC’s Golf Department offered 72 programs targeted to youth and teens through the First Tee and other programs.
    • BREC Belfair Teen Center has served approximately 75 teens through a job training program.

    Later this summer, BREC will present several options to replace the 50-year old pool at Gus Young at a public meeting. Community leaders have asked us to consider building a splash pad which would require a significant amount of private funding and Commission approval since it is counter to our Aquatics plan. BREC simply cannot afford to build splash pads or pools in neighborhood parks. If a sufficient amount of private funding is not located, we have ideas on how to enhance this active park and the many events held there now.

    BREC remains committed to serving the entire parish while making the best use possible of limited taxpayer dollars that fund more than 180 parks. We also remain committed to partnering with the YMCA and schools to teach children to swim, offer quality recreation programs for youth and teens during after school and out of school breaks and creating a healthier and safer community.

    Carolyn McKnight
    BREC Superintendent
    cmcknight@brec.org

    Read more »
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    50th Anniversary of the MC Moore desegregation Case featured on The Ed Show

    Blacks in Ponchatoula, La., are still pushing for equality in the Tangipahoa Parish School System after 50 years.
    This segment of The Ed Show: Let’s Talk About It, features the original family of the M.C. Moore Desegregation Case.

    The Ed Show is hosted by The Drum Newspaper publisher Eddie Ponds on WSTY-TV in Hammond. To be a guest, complete the form on the Submit News page of this site or click here.

    Read more about this case at Does the education of Black children matter in Tangipahoa?

    @jozefsyndicate

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    Rep. Richmond calls for investigation into abusive practices of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office

    WASHINGTON, DCIn a letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond requested a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into alleged abusive patterns and practices of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office:

    “We can no longer allow the abusive culture that has permeated IPSO to go unchecked,” said Richmond who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee,. “The accounts of discrimination, abuse, and even deaths occurring as a result of the actions of deputies clearly illustrate a pattern and practice that systematically violates the basic rights of citizens. It is imperative that the Department of Justice step in and correct this conduct before there is any more loss of life.”

    “Just last year Victor White III– died as the result of a fatal gunshot wound while handcuffed in the backseat of an IPSO squad car. According to IPSO Deputies, Mr. White pulled out a handgun, while his hands were cuffed behind his back, and shot himself in the back. However, the full coroner’s report indicated that Mr. White had died from a single shot to his right chest, contradicting the initial police statement that he had shot himself in the back. This is just one example of the copious discrepancies that has plagued the office.”

    “Recent unrest in communities across the country have shed light on the fact that many people feel they have been unfairly targeted by police and forced to live their lives under the threat of an oppressive regime. The role our law enforcement officers fill is too important to the function of our society to allow this dynamic to go on unchecked.”

    The letter to Attorney General Lynch can be found here.

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  • Willie D. Larkin named next Grambling president

    UL System Board Names Next President of Grambling State University

    GRAMBLING–The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System today named Willie D. Larkin as the ninth president of Grambling State University.

    Larkin, chief of staff to the president of Morgan State University, is expected to assume the presidency on July 1.

    Larkin thanked the board and the Grambling community. “I’ve been working for this my entire life. I thank my mom and dad. Although they’re not living anymore, they’d be extremely proud,” he said.

    Larkin was among five candidates who interviewed publicly on the Grambling campus this week. A search committee, appointed by the UL System Board, consisted of board members, students, alumni, faculty and community representatives. After interviewing semifinalists, the Board selected two candidates for final interviews today in front of a diverse university audience.

    In his interview, Larkin stressed the leadership and collaboration skills he’s honed in the decade he served leaders of Morgan State and the University of Wisconsin Colleges, as well as his experiences with the Faculty Senate and University Senate at Auburn University.

    Larkin said his first task will be to put together an executive team and to begin developing an agenda “to turn this university around” and return it to greatness “in every respect.”

    He said, “I know that we’re a great athletic school and that people here love academics, but academics are important as well. The key is to balance those things out.”

    Despite a modest background, Larkin explained, his opportunities have inspired him to seek similar opportunities for others.

    “Coming from an agricultural rural background, the oldest of eight children, born to uneducated parents and getting the opportunity to leave that sharecropper farm and go to college and get a college education, most people would say, ‘You’re really not supposed to be where you are. You’re not supposed to have accomplished what you’ve accomplished,’” Larkin said.

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    Juneteenth event, book uncover history of Scotlandville

    Local authors join forces with citizens to create tribute to small town’s history, June 19.

    Telling a story in pictures is Images of America: Scotlandville, the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series. The book by local authors Rachel L. Emanuel, Ruby Jean Simms, and Charles Vincent released the book June 1, 2015. The book contains wonderful vintage images capturing this African American community’s history.

    A rural village that was once the entry point for the slave trade and home to a cotton plantation, Scotlandville became the largest Black town in Louisiana.

    Located in the northern part of East Baton Rouge Parish, Scotlandville’s history is intricately tied to Southern University and A&M College System, the naton’s only historically Black university system

    image

    . Southern University relocated from New Orleans to the bluff of the Mississippi River on the western edge of Scotlandville in 1914.

    The story of the university and town is a tale of triumph and struggle in the midst of racism, inequality, and oppression. Presented through the theme of firsts in businesses, churches, schools, residential developments, environmental issues, politics, social organizations, and community service, Images of America: Scotlandville focuses on the people who shaped the community economically, politically, socially, and culturally.

    Using photographs from institutional and personal collections, Emanuel, Simms, and Vincent describe the origins, development, and heyday of the vibrant neighborhoods of Scotlandville before the community’s incorporation into Baton Rouge.

    Emanuel is the director of communications and development support for the Southern University Law Center; Simms and Vincent are both professors of history at Southern University.

    EVENT INFO:
    Juneteenth Celebration Book Launch
    Friday, June 19,  4-5:30 p.m
    Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church Family Life Center
    6700 Scenic Hwy
    Baton Rouge, LA

    Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers.
     

    @jozefsyndicate

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    Month with Mada: Awards luncheon, golf tournament, lawyers’ gala

    The Gloryland Educational Resource Center, Incorporated, will host the 10th Year Anniversary “A Decade of Service”  Awards Luncheon, Saturday, June 6, at Boudreaux’s, 2647 Government Street.

    Warren Drake, the newly appointed superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. 

    The Resource Center concentrates on five programs:  Filling The G.A. P. (Gloryland After-School Program); Operation R.E.A.C.H. Summer Enhancement Program; Balm in Gilead Health and Wellness Educational Program; Food Pantry and Clothes Closet; and the Scholastic Scholarships Program. Scholarship recipients, scholastic achievers, graduates and the community service award to Amerigroup and Demetria Perkins for volunteer service will be recognized during the noon luncheon.

    Tickets are available for a donation of $25 per person (tax deductible).  For information, contact Gloryland Baptist Church at (225) 356 – 0577.

    The Capitol City Golf Association will observe its 50th Annual Capitol City Golf Association Amateur Open Tournament to be held June 13-14.  It will be held at the Copper Mill Golf Course in Zachary, Louisiana. Approximately, 120 golfers from Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida are expected to participate.  Members of CCGA over many years has provided an array of golf activities.  CCGA concentrates on providing opportunities to help youth play and understand golf tips and techniques and reinforce life skills as well as mastering educational experiences.

    One major accomplishment for 2015 is to support the First Tee of East Baton Rouge Parish and the Melrose Elementary mentoring and assistance project.  There have been other community based charitable projects as approved by the CCGA Board of Directors.  The CCGA was established in 1961 and the legacy of the CCGA was founded and organized by Coach Larney Owens.

    The association is a chartered non-profit corporation.  In recognition of the 50th Anniversary, CCGA will appreciate any support from corporate sponsors, sponsor a hold and/or initiate merchandise for prizes to be given away at the tournament.  The Capitol City Golf Association invites the Baton Rouge Community to come and be a part of this endeavor and offer any assistance for our youth related to positive golf activities.

    During the Greater Baton Rouge Chapter of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society Annual Scholarship Gala held Friday, April 17, Donna M. Lee, Esq., of the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal presented the Martinet Southern University Law Center Scholarship to Lillian Williams, the Martinet Paul M. Hebert Law Center, LSU Scholarship  to Andrew Hairston, and the Martinet High School Scholarship to Cameron Murray of Catholic High School. Rolando R. Urbina, Esq., presented the A. P. Tureaud Award to Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the Dutch Morial Award to Kean Miller, LLP, and the Lifetime Achievement Award to attorney Johnnie A. Jones Sr.  Quintillia K. Lawrence, commissioner, 19th Judicial District Court conducted the swearing in of the society’s president Rolando Urbina, 1st vice-president Tayla Bergeron, 2nd vice-president Carlton Miller, treasurer Lykisha Vaughn, secretary Ashley Greenhouse, and immediate past president Christopher Hebert.  About 300 people attended the festive gala. ONLINE: http://www.louismartinetbr.com/

    By Mada McDonald
    Drum Columnist

    The Month with Mada column shares commentary on community and current events compiled by Mada McDonald, a public relations professional and community activist in Baton Rouge. Leave your comments below.

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    McKnight receives LDA Distinguished Service Award

    Hugh V. McKnight, DDS, of Baton Rouge, has been named this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Service Award that was presented during the 135th House of Delegates of the Louisiana Dental Association (LDA) on April 11, 2015, at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

    The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor bestowed by the LDA and is given annually to individual members who exemplify the highest standards of professional conduct in dentistry and make extraordinary contributions in organized dentistry and their community.

    image

    Dr. McKnight has been a member of the LDA, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Greater Baton Rouge Dental Association (GBRDA) for 36 he was the 1992 president and has served on LDA committees.

    He was the 1979-81 president of the Pelican State Dental Association and has been the assistant treasurer of the National Dental Association since 1992. He is a life member of the Pierre Fauchard Academy and a fellow in the International College of Dentists and the Academy of General Dentistry. He has served in consultant roles for the EBR Parish School Board, the Head Start Program, Earl K. Long Medical Center and the EPSDT Dental Medicaid Program. He’s currently a member of MCNA’s Dental Medicaid Advisory Committee.

    Dr. McKnight is a firm believer in giving back to the community. He is active with Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church (at 9700 Scenic Hwy. pastored by Rev. Jesse B. Bilberry, Jr.) in various capacities including Sunday school teacher and chairman of the Deacon Board (ministry). He is also a member of the Boy Scouts of America Board (Istrouma Area Council).

    He is married to Audrey McKnight, and they have three children Sheletha Yvette, Hugh, Jr. and Yolanda.

    The LDA is the largest professional health organization for dentists in Louisiana. It is a statewide grassroots organization whose purpose is to promote, advocate, and protect the dental professional. The LDA has over 1,900 members. For more information, visit www.ladental.org.

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    Small business and recruitment events end June 4

    East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden will host a series of events during the first week of June to foster the growth of opportunities for small, woman-owned and minority businesses, and individuals seeking employment.  All events are free, but participants for each event are asked to register in advance online at http://businesswithbr.com.

    The Mayor will kick off the week by welcoming the Women’s Business Enterprise Council, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana and the Southern Regional Minority Supplier Development Council fora 6pm networking event on June 1, at L’Auberge Casino and Hotel, 777 L’Auberge Avenue.

    From 9am – 1pm, June 2 the Mayor will host a technology recruitment fair for those seeking employment opportunities.  Representatives will be sourcing business consultants, designers, certified professionals, programmers and other highly skilled technical professionals.   This fair will take place at L’Auberge Casino and Hotel.  Holden encourages those attending to come dressed for success with several copies of their resume.

    The Mayor will then host his 4th annual Small Business Development Summit on June 4 , to help local businesses explore possible contracting opportunities with the City-Parish. The summit will be held from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at L’Auberge Casino and Hotel.

    Representatives from the following city-parish departments will be on hand to discuss their processes for procuring goods and services, and to provide information about how small businesses can take advantage of those opportunities:
    •           Purchasing
    •           Mayor’s Office of Community Development
    •           East Baton Rouge Parish Library
    •           Downtown Development District
    •           Sanitary Sewer Overflow Program/Department of Public Works
    •           Fire Department
    •           Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
    •           Division of Human Development and Services
    •           Juvenile Services
    •           Information Services

     There will also be opportunities to meet one-on-one with city-parish departments, procurement managers and technical assistance partner.

    “Building on our past successes, this year’s upcoming summit will again work to strengthen the local pool of qualified small businesses and  help small business owners achieve success by providing one-on-one consulting, networking opportunities and other assistance,” Holden said.

    All three events, including the summit are free, but participants are asked to register in advance online.

     

    Business with Baton Rouge is part of the Mayor’s Small Business Investment Initiative administered by the Mayor’s Office of Community Development to stimulate the local economy through small business growth.   The program is funded by an SBA grant obtained by the Mayor for supporting entrepreneurship, creating jobs and stimulating local economic recovery and growth. 

    The Business with Baton Rouge program, coordinated by the City-Parish Business Development Coordinator, Stacie Williams,  brings our City-Parish agencies together to assure there is consistency across programs designed to encourage small business participation. 

     

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  • Flight training program offered for middle, high schoolers

    Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum is hosting a STEM/Flight Training Program, June 1 – 26, at 1600 Phoenix Square in Hammond. The four-week program provides junior high and high school students with an opportunity to get an early start towards a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and aeronautics.

    Attendees will:
    • Learn how to build a personal desktop computer
    • Learn about electronic components and circuit design (build a digital count-down clock circuit)
    • Learn how to build and launch model rockets
    • Learn how to build and fly remote control model airplanes, quad-copters and helicopters
    • Examine general aviation aircraft and engine design
    • Learn about the fundamentals of airplane flight
    • Get behind the controls of an single-engine aircraft while in flight with an FAA Certified Flight Instructor
    • Explore a US Army Blackhawk helicopter and private jets
    • Visit from computer/electrical/civil/mechanical engineers and aviation professionals (airline pilots and military pilots)
    • Participate in a weekend field trips

    Summer camp tuition cost is $250 per student. For more information, call the museum at (985)-542-4259.

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  • ,,,

    Does the education of Black children matter in Tangipahoa?

    The Fight Continues: 50th Years of Moore v. TPSB

    The fight to ensure equality for all children and employees in the school has extended through its fiftieth year. On May 3, 2015, the lawsuit filed by M.C Moore against the Tangipahoa Parish School System turned fifty with no resolution to the desegregation suit. The lawsuit was initially filed on behalf of his daughter, Fannie Moore, who was disenfranchised and not given an opportunity to receive an equitable and fair education, which is guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The name of this case was later changed to Joyce Marie Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School System, and was named after his younger daughter, thus becoming a Class Action Lawsuit with the plaintiffs being the class of Black parents and their children in Tangipahoa.

    Fifty years later, the question remains whether or not education in the lives of Black children matter. The answer is emphatically, yes it does, because the fight continues for equity in this school system. Unfortunately, there is very little resolve towards settling this decades old desegregation lawsuit.

    Moreover, many are keen to talk about or write pieces about what happens or does not happen in the public school system in Tangipahoa Parish. Consequently, I process and attempt to find balance with personal ties to the conflicts in Tangipahoa Parish race relations and injustices found in our school system that have had my attention for decades now.

    As we begin to reflect on the importance of this lawsuit, we think of the lawsuit being filed in 1965. As a result of this filing, Mr. Moore was ostracized. For instance, he and his family were threatened, and his livelihood and means of providing for his family were taken away through his logging business being sabotaged, which resulted in his having to bake cakes to sell to provide for his family. Men guarded his home at night after his home was shot into early one morning. His wife heroically crawled through grass and weeds to a neighbor’s home to call the police because their telephone lines were cut on the outside of their home. Those bullet holes remain in Mr. Moore’s home to this very day. Despite having his life threatened and his livelihood compromised, Mr. Moore pressed on. Thank you, Mr. Moore, for your courage and tenacity in ensuring equality for African-

    American children, and ultimately all children.

    After this case was filed and opened in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, with the late Honorable Alvin Benjamin Rubin as the presiding judge, the Tangipahoa Parish School System was forced to integrate its public schools in 1969. Judge Rubin ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating, in pertinent part, that the Tangipahoa Parish School System was segregated and did not provide equitable educational access to African-American students. As a result, the school board was ordered to reinstate the jobs of all terminated African-American employees as one of the wrongs the Tangipahoa Parish School System committed following forced integration in 1969.

    The plaintiffs’ case was led by Attorney Nelson Dan Taylor, Sr., who is now the Lead Attorney in the Moore Case. This case was Attorney Taylor’s first case as an attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund.

    Unfortunately, the school system did not comply with Judge Rubin’s order, and the case became dormant following Honorable Alvin Benjamin Rubin’s untimely death.

    The case was later reopened in 2007 at the urging of the Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP because of numerous complaints of the school system’s wronging of African-American children and African American employees. Evidence was provided to prove that the same segregated conditions still exist in Tangipahoa Parish School System. The test case used to reopen the M.C. Moore desegregation case was the case of Coach Alden Foster, who became the first African-American head high school football coach hired in Tangipahoa Parish. Coach John Williams was reportedly the first African-American head high school football coach in Tangipahoa Parish. However, after speaking to several others, including Coach Williams, we discovered that he was not given the position of head football coach at Hammond High School in Hammond, La., despite being appointed by Judge Rubin. Instead, Coach Carmen Moore, a white coach, was named as the head football coach at Hammond High.

    The discourse of this article is too long to write all of what has happened over the past fifty years in the Moore Case, however, a Master Thesis done by Dr. Wayne Brumfield is found in the Southeastern Louisiana University public library.

    As we commemorate the lawsuit’s fiftieth anniversary, let us remember to thank God for the stamina of Mr. Moore, his trials endured, and triumphs he and others made for every child attending school in the Tangipahoa Parish School System. Let us be mindful, as well as thankful for all of the accomplishments seen and unseen in this case having been reopened, because without such, sitting conservative judges would have dismissed this case due to its inactivity.

    While there are some 36 unopened desegregation cases, let us be mindful that the M.C. Moore lawsuit has set a precedent for subsequent desegregation cases. As President of the GTPB NAACP, and as I walk in the shoes of the late Mr. M.C. Moore, I feel his pain many times, and my heart breaks as I continue to witness the disenfranchisement of African-American children in the Tangipahoa Parish School System. Despite the many wrongs of this school system, I am reminded by Ecclesiastes 9:11 that “the race is not given to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor the bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all.” With these words in mind, the fight for equality will not end, and it cannot until “justice rolls down like a mighty stream” for every student and employee in this school system. There can be no other way, and no person will be left behind.

    Patricia Morris
    NAACP Tangipahoa Branch President
    Ponchatoula

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    SU Ag Center to host C.H.E.F. Summer Cooking Camp for Youth

    The SU Ag Center, in collaboration with the LSU AgCenter, will sponsor a youth cooking school entitled, “Creating Healthy Enjoyable Foods” (C.H.E.F.), for youth ages 9-11 on July 13-17 and ages 12-14 on July 27-31.

    The C.H.E.F. cooking school is designed to teach youth basic cooking principles and nutrition education based on the USDA’s, “MyPlate” food guidance system and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

    Each day, participants will work together to create an entire meal while learning healthy eating and physical activity principles, food preparation, kitchen and food safety, common cooking terms, proper food handling, measuring techniques, critical thinking and team building skills, planning and time management.

    “These camps are designed to teach children the basic principles of healthy eating,” said De’Shoin York Friendship, Associate Specialist for Nutrition at the SU Ag Center. “In many households the parents work and very often when kids get home from school they are home alone. Instead of choosing fast foods or frozen prepared foods, which may be high in fat or sodium, our cooking camps teach youth how to safely prepare nutritious snacks and meals, many of which do not involve the use of a stove,” she added.

    Both sessions will be held on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus in Pinkie E. Thrift Hall from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. To ensure the safety of all participants, only 12 youth will be accepted per session. Participants are required to bring a bag lunch and snack each day.

    To register for the camps, parents must submit a completed register form with the $30 registration fee. This fee, which must be pay in the form of a money order, includes all materials, food and attire needed for the camp. Money orders should be made payable to the Southern University Ag Center and mailed to: C.H.E.F., Nutrition Education Program, Southern University Ag Center, P. O. Box 10010, Baton Rouge, LA 70813.

    For additional information or to obtain a registration form, contact Kiyana Kelly or Marquetta Anderson-Reynolds at 225.389.3055 or via e-mail at, kiyana_kelly@suagcenter.com or marquetta_anderson@suagcenter.com.

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    Woman to Watch: Lue Russell

    Lue Russell, Th.D., is a passionate lionhearted woman. As chapter chairwoman of the National Congress of Black Women and state organizer with the PICO National Network, Russell fights for equality, justice, and change within the Black community throughout in Louisiana.  She is also the pastor and executive overseer of ministry fellowship at Hearts of Fire Ministry in Hammond, La.

    Born in Tunica, La., Russell attended Xavier University and Trinity Christian University.  Beyond her formal studies is the conviction she has to help her community grow. 

    “It is not even as simple as ‘I want to be a leading voice.’ It is not and never was my desire. I’d much rather simply be home and be my husband’s wife and my children’s mother, but . . . I am a minister of the gospel and have been called to an assignment and I am answering my call. God has a way of taking you places you can’t even imagine, and he prepares you. He does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” 

    Russell said she finds her joy in answering her call to help the Black community. This has allowed her to create initiatives to meet the needs of her community, and to hold leadership positions in several national as well as local programs. For that, she is a Woman to Watch.

    Meet Apostle Lue Russell, Th.D., 56.  (Read “Called to Fight, serve, and minister” by Hailey Zamora)

    Professional title: Chapter chairwoman, National Congress of Black Women, Greater Baton Rouge Region Chapter, state organizer, The Micah Project/PICO National Network, and founder, Hearts of Fire Ministries and  Hearts of Fire Five Fold Fellowship Alliance where I serve as chairman of the Board.
           
    What music are you dancing to? “God is on Your Side” by Leandria Johnson and Mississippi Mass Choir.  I love Gospel and ‘60s Soul music.  

    What are you reading? The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Fit for YOUR Assignment by Reina Olmeda

    Mentors or Role Models: Dr. E. Faye Williams, Prophetess Debra Morton

    Moves made : Appointed statewide Organizer for Micah Project and PICO National Network working to organize people of faith around social issues that affect families of color in Louisiana particularly childhood obesity and mass incarceration.  

    Appointed Host Committee Chairwoman, for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and was instrumental in securing this Conference to be held in Baton Rouge July 23-26, 2015.

    Organized and structured the Greater Baton Rouge Region Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women

    Organized, coordinated and hosted a Summit on the State of Families of Color in Louisiana at Southern University Feb 27, 2015.  Work began in 2014 including the commission and oversight of a study by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Southern University that verified the structured injustice and deep rooted racist inequalities that drives many of the problems in communities of color.  The Summit was called to develop solutions to the problems the study revealed.

    What to expect from you: I will be working to organize a Clergy Table of Leaders that will serve as the voice of the people of Baton Rouge as we prepare to address unjust public policy and laws that govern mass incarceration in this state.  At the same time I will be working to mobilize congregations and pastors to work with their members and community to prepare them to vote by assuring they are registered, trained on how to vote and then transport them to voting polls.  Teaching as many as we can reach the necessity of voting that we can build power across this state.

    Will continue my work with the National Congress of Black Women to move forward in serving Black women and their children by removing or addressing barriers that prevent families of color from doing well.  Our focus is to assure that all communities of Louisiana have healthy children and thriving families.

    Celebrating my 10-year pastoral anniversary May 31, 2015.

    Personal Resolution: My personal resolution is to continue to march for justice, to love and enjoy family and friends as much as possible and to stand with my husband, Rev. Terry Russell, in our ministry and works across the state.  To spend as much time as possible with my two daughters, an attorney and a network administrator.

    Business/Company Resolution :
    To build our Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women to be one of the most impactful and active chapters in the country.  To create a movement for justice as I work to organize faith leaders across the state and to reach souls for Christ through our ministry, Hearts of Fire!

    Life/business motto: Success is to be measured not so much by what one has attained in life as to the obstacles he has had to overcome while trying to succeed recognizing that only what you do for Christ shall last.

    Where to find you online?
    Dr. Lue Russell on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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  • ‘Be Inspired’ reveals Beauchamp’s struggles

    In his first book, Be Inspired: My Struggle for Justice and Equality Inspired by the Death of Emmett Louis Till, documentary filmmaker and Baton Rouge native Keith Beauchamp reveals intimate details of his day-to-day  struggles to uncover the truth about  Emmett Till’s 1955 murder. 

    Unlike his documentary, Be Inspired reads like a diary log of Beauchamp’s victories and challenges to tell the story of Till’s decades-old cold case.

    Since the documentary’s release and the reopening of the Till case, Beauchamp has traveled extensively around the country, speaking and lecturing about his journey to tell the stories of Emmett Till and others.

    His film and television work have become great educational tools, and the completion of this book–Be Inspired–adds value to the anals of Black history and civil rights justice. BuytheBook.

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  • ,,

    Conference to focus on advancing leadership in economic development

    The Southern University College of Business is hosting its Second Annual Advancing Leadership in Economic Development conference on June 11 -13 at the Southern University College of Business’ T.T. Allain Hall.

    The two-day conference will feature local and nationally recognized business leaders who will share effective leadership strategies and successful economic development programs.

    Featured speakers include: James Joseph, former ambassador to South Africa and former public policy professor at Duke University;  Richard McCline, Ph.D., with the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia; and Will Campbell with Capital One.

    Topics include regional economic growth and development opportunities, revitalizing rural and inner-city neighborhoods, leadership models that get results,  and the role of political leaders in economic development.
    It is targeted to small business owners, community development professionals, nonprofit organizations, city and state leaders, and anyone else who is interested in learning more about leadership and business opportunities in our area.

    “This conference encourages attendees to play a greater role in growing their businesses and organizations and to take advantage of the many economic opportunities available in our city and state,” said Donald Andrew, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business and coordinator of the conference. ‘It also gives attendees the tools they need to succeed and it’s a great networking opportunity.”

    Registration is $50.  For more information on speakers and to register, go to subruniversitycenter.org or call (225) 771-5640 or (225) 771- 6248.

     

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    The Diabetic Kitchen hosts ‘Why is Diabetes Called the Silent Killer?’

    The Diabetic Kitchen will host its monthly meeting, Thursday, May 28, at the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 119 Jefferson Street in New Iberia. The 5pm meeting time is free and open to the public.

    Dr. Kimberly Smith Dauterive will explain why diabetes is called the “Silent Killer.” She will also discuss the complications of uncontrolled diabetes, including blindness, kidney failure, and blockage leading to limb amputation.

    The Diabetic Kitchen founder Nathaniel Mitchell Sr. said the meeting promises to be an information filled and lively exchange.

    ONLINE: www.thediabetickitchen.org

    or
    The Diabetic Kitchen on Facebook

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  • Southern’s post-season ban lifted

    Southern University’s NCAA-imposed postseason ban as a result of the unusable data probation has been lifted, interim athletics director Roman Banks announced May 15.

    During a meeting in the J.S. Clark Administration building, Banks told the SU Board of Supervisors all athletic programs are postseason eligible for the 2015-16 academic year and revert to having their Academic Progress Rate scores determine postseason eligibility.  Southern’s fall certification is a key and ongoing component in culminating the department’s unusable data probationary period.

    Beginning with 2012-13 championships, NCAA Division I institutions must earn a minimum 900 four-year APR or a 930 average over the most recent two years to be eligible to participate. For 2014-15 championships, teams must earn a 930 four-year average APR or a 940 average over the most recent two years to participate in championships. In 2015-16 and beyond, teams must earn a four-year APR of 930 to compete in championships.

    Southern als learned the 2013-14 student-athlete data submitted to the NCAA has been deemed accurate and serves as the department’s starting point for the calculation of future multi-year APR scores. 

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    To the Class of 2015: ‘Don’t You Turn Back’

    Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. / It’s had tacks in it, /And splinters, / And boards torn up, / And places with no carpet on the floor-Bare. / But all the time / I’se been a-climbin’ on, / And reachin’ landin’s, / And turnin’ corners, / And sometimes goin’ in the dark / Where there ain’t been no light. / So, boy, don’t you turn back.” – Langston Hughes, “Mother to Son,” 1922

     

    If you are disposed to using the Internet as your guide, a diploma will generally be described as the proof of your successful completion of a course of study, or the bestowal of an academic degree. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that diploma in your grasp, occupying a prominent space on a wall or waiting to be pressed into your eager hand is so much more than the sum of your years-long efforts to be where you are today. Your degree is a key that opens a new door, a new phase of life and a new set of challenges.

    Your life’s journey-and its achievements-does not end here. Celebrate, because you’ve earned it; bask in your well-earned feeling of accomplishment today, because tomorrow you will find that there is much work to be done.

    On the other side of that new door is a staircase, and that staircase may not be the kind fashioned from crystal with smooth, reliable, clear-cut steps. Obstacles may slow or impede your climb. There may be tacks, broken floorboards and torn up carpet that would trip, or at worst, defeat someone without the training you have been so fortunate to attain. There is no shortcut here, no elevator, or bypassing of these difficult steps and turns. There is, however, the choice to apply the perseverance and commitment to excellence you have already shown in your higher education journey.

    On the one hand, there is much to celebrate in our country when it comes to academic achievement in African-American communities. Today, we enjoy the highest high school graduation rates in history. More students of color are in college and dropout rates are at historic lows. But the wealth and unemployment gap between Blacks and whites remains wide. While the Black unemployment rate has finally dipped into the single digits, it stubbornly remains more than twice as high as the jobless rate for whites. As our country’s economy continues to make steady gains after the debilitating 2008 recession, millions in Black and Brown communities are being left behind. In this country-founded largely on the principle of economic progress through hard work-the American dream of upward mobility remains only a dream for too many of its citizens.

    Your education, drive and diploma, may likely shield you from the harsh economic realities experienced throughout communities of color across our nation, but it does not strip you of an obligation to be an actor, rather than a spectator, in our country’s struggle to create one nation with liberty, justice and economic opportunity for all.

    No one gets to where they are on his or her own. You have parents, grandparents, friends and family members who invested in your future success, put you on this path and made sure you stayed the course. How will you repay their commitment to you? Whether your ancestors came here by plane, by train, by ship or shackled underneath the hull of a ship; whether the continent they called home was Asia, Europe or Africa, what they did when they reached the shores of our nation, what they sacrificed-all of it is debt incurred. How will you choose to compensate them for their struggles?

    Among you are the teachers who will lift the standard of education in poor communities and begin to close the achievement gap; among you are the preachers who will heal the wounds of communities torn apart by violence; among you are the elected officials who will institute laws and policies that promote social and economic fairness for all of America’s citizens. Herein lies the answer. The answer our nation has been searching for is you and your talent, put to a higher purpose.

    I cannot promise you that your climb to success in this life will be a crystal stair. You may very well encounter dark corners and obstacles. What I can promise you is that you have been prepared to meet these challenges head on. And more than meet these challenges, you have also been prepared to be an actor in solving so many of the longstanding issues and inequities facing our nation, so “don’t you turn back.”

    By Marc Morial
    Guest Columnist

    National Urban League President

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    SU breaks ground for new Jaguar Park

    Plans are underway to transform the east side of AW Mumford Stadium into Jaguar Park, an attractive urban sport complex. On May 11, the Southern University System Foundation broke ground to launch construction of the campus’ new addition.

    Jaguar Park will feature a lighted NCAA regulation soccer game field and football practice field, a soccer field house, coaching observation tower, along with javelin and discuss runway.

    image

    The facility will be enclosed by mesh and aluminum fencing with 40 connecting brick columns.

    SUS Foundation executive director Alfred Harrell talks about the new Jaguar Park at the groundbreaking: http://t.co/iIGIvDQ5x0

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  • Hundreds attend Black journalists luncheon

    About 250 people recently attended the Third Annual Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists’ Scholarship luncheon.

    The April 23 event honored pioneering journalists Jean West, former anchor at WAFB and the first Black anchor in Baton Rouge; John Williams, (posthumously) who was the first Black photographer at The Advocate;  Ivory Payne, publisher of the Weekly Press which has served the North Baton Rouge community for more than 30 years, and Genevieve Stewart, former host of “Question of the Day” on KQXL-FM.

    “I really enjoyed the event and so did my guests,” said Danielle Kelley.  “Job well done.”

    “A beautiful affair,” said Attorney Paula Clayton.  “It’s always special when the awards are shared because of the rewards received from others.”

    “Congrats on a beautiful event,” said WAFB Anchor Donna Britt.

    “I thought the event was very, very inspirational,” said Mada McDonald. “I enjoyed it from the beginning to the end. It was nice to see the community coming together for a positive activity and there was a lot of love in the room.”

    Money raised from the event will be used to send LSU and Southern students and a professional member of the organization to National Association of Black Journalists’ Convention (NABJ) in Minneapolis in August. Last year, BRAABJ sponsored three students at the NABJ convention in Boston.

    “This event is our way of thanking our pioneers in the business for paving the way for us in the industry,” said BRAABJ President Michelle McCalope. “And we are so grateful for the support we receive from our members, the community, and our media sponsors.  We couldn’t do it without them.”

    Since 2013, the event has raised more than $40,000 which includes this year’s donations. Past honorees include Maxine Crump, Henry Stewart, Mayor Kip Holden, Ed Pratt, Bob Rene, Yvonne Campbell, Henry Baptiste, and Sylvia Weatherspoon.

    BRAABJ is a non-profit organization made up of local media and media-related professionals and student journalists. The organization was founded in 2012.

    Its mission is to highlight and support journalists of color, give back through mentoring and scholarships and promote diversity in our newsrooms. It is an affiliate of the National Association of Black Journalists.

    ONLINE:  brareabj.org and facebook.com/BRAABJ

     

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  • SU program increases male student retention

    A Southern University System program designed to reverse the trend of fewer Black male students attending and graduating from college is demonstrating higher than average success in student retention.

    Implemented in 2012 and located on the Southern University New Orleans  campus, the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement (CUSA) is the centerpiece initiative of the Five-Fifths Agenda for America (FFAA), a demonstration project with the dual goals of increasing the number of college degrees among black men and increasing the ranks of black male classroom teachers.

    Data from a recent internal SU System CUSA enrollment and retention status report indicates that the Honoré Center program is associated with an increase in fall-to-fall retention in a range of 25 percent to 46 percent.   Of the 30 total students who completed at least one semester after enrolling in the Honoré Center over the past three academic years, 12 remain actively enrolled in the program and another 12 students remain enrolled at SUNO in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Those numbers represent a 40 percent program retention rate, however overall retention rises to 80 percent when including former cohort members still enrolled at SUNO.

    “Not only are Honoré participants being retained in school at a higher rate then comparable students at peer institutions in Louisiana, they are making faster progress towards earning bachelors degrees. All of the Honoré students remaining in school are on pace to earn degrees in six years or less,” said CUSA director Warren Bell Jr.

    The  goal  of  the  FFAA  national  initiative  is  to  “identify  and  enable  young  Black  men  from  the  bottom  quartile  with  character  and  leadership  potential  to  become  educators  and  servant  leaders  who  will  seed  positive  change  in  their  schools  and  communities.  A  value-‐added  goal  is  to  establish  public  Historically  Black  Colleges  and  Universities  as  institutional  bases  for  long-‐term  systemic  change,”  said  FFAA  founder  and  SU  System  President  Ronald  Mason  Jr.

    Bell  said  the  Honoré  program reached  a  milestone  in  April when two  original  cohort  members,  third year  students  Louis  Blackmon  and  Dominique  Carter,  earned  Honor  Roll  recognition  during  SUNO’s  Spring  2015  Academic  Honors  and  Awards  ceremony.  

    image

    Honoré  Center  for  Undergraduate  Student  Achievement  (CUSA)  students  Louis  Blackmon  (right)  and  Dominique  Carter  (left)  pictured  with  CUSA  director  Warren  Bell  Jr.  after  receiving  honor  roll  recognition  during  SUNO’s  Spring  2015  Academic  Honors  and  Awards  Day  Program,  April  8,  2015

     About  the Honoré  CUSA
     The  state  of  Louisiana  in  2012  awarded  the  Southern  University  System  a  half  million  dollars  in  funding  to  plan  and  implement  an  initiative  designed  to  address  an  important  national  challenge:    to  reverse  the  trend  of  fewer  African-‐American  male  students  attending  and  graduating  from  college.    Named  for  retired  US  Army  Lieutenant  General  Russel  L.  Honoré  who  led  all  active-duty  troops  from  all  military  branches  for  the  storm  recovery  operations  following  Hurricane  Katrina’s  destruction  of  the  Gulf  Coast  in  2005,  the  Center  recruits  New  Orleans-‐area  male  students  into  a  highly  structured  living  and learning  environment  designed  to  ensure  their  academic  and  personal  success  as  college  men  and  future  leaders.    All  Honoré  scholars  promise  to  serve  at  least  two  years  after  graduation  as  local  classroom  teachers.  They  agree  to  rigorous  rules  of  conduct  and  performance.    The  State  of  Louisiana  provided  a  total  $1-million  to  support  the  Honoré  Center.  In  addition  to  Louisiana  Legislative  start-‐up  support,  the  project  is  endorsed  and  receiving  further  support  to  continue  its  operations  through  private  donors  and  philanthropic  organizations  including  the  Thurgood  Marshall  College  Fund,  the  Open  Society  Foundation,  Educational  Testing  Services  plus  the  Kellogg,  Lumina,  and  Kresge  foundations.  CUSA  will  move  ahead  as  a  project  that  is  completely  underwritten  in  FY2016  by  private  and  foundation  dollars.    For  more  information:    http://honorecusa.sus.edu

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    LSU offers middle, high school students chance at cash, lunch with favorite author

    LSU’s Young Adult Literature Contest to Host Student Essay Contest

    LSU is offering area middle- and high-school students an opportunity to meet one of their favorite authors through the Young Adult Literature Conference & Seminar, happening May 31-June 5.

    Students may enter a writing contest, with a grand prize of $75 dollars, and a chance to have lunch with one of the five authors in attendance.

    Young adult authors Jacqueline Woodson, Sharon Draper, Kwame Alexander, Coe Booth and Sharon Flake will all be on campus as featured speakers at the conference, and have volunteered their time for this contest. Interested students should write a short essay on who their favorite author is and why. Entries may be submitted at chseproed@lsu.edu by May 15, with a winner to be announced on May 20.

    Kwame Alexander, author of The Crossover

    Kwame Alexander, author of The Crossover

    Sharon Draper, author of Out of My Mind

    Sharon Draper, author of Out of My Mind

    The Young Adult Literature Conference & Seminar theme, titled, “African-American Cultures in Young Adult Literature,” will provide attendees with unprecedented access to some of the nation’s most celebrated African-American authors. The conference will give participants unprecedented access to prestigious authors and academics in the field of young adult literature. School teachers, principals, curriculum specialists and librarians will all have the opportunity to explore the process of incorporating young adult literature into their classrooms and libraries while earning 30 continuing education credits. University and college professors who teach and/or study young adult literature can network, share ideas and brainstorm new curriculum approaches with other academics and professionals in K-12 settings.

    For more information on the conference, or to register, visit http://chse.lsu.edu/yalit.

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  • President Obama gives six-point answer on Baltimore during press conference with Japan

    During joint press conference with Japan’s Prime Minister, President Barack Obama responded to journalist Chris Jansing’s questions on Baltimore with six points.

    Here’s the transcript:

    Chris Jansing. (NBC Senior White House Correspondent)

    Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  As you know, the National Guard is now on the streets of Baltimore — the latest aftermath in a series of what have been high-profile confrontations between black men and police officers.  And there seems to be growing frustration among African American leaders that not enough is being done quickly enough.  Marc Morial of the Urban League said, “The U.S. is in a state of emergency of tremendous proportions.”  The president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund says, “We are in the throes of a national crisis.” 

    Are we in the throes of a national crisis?  What are you prepared to do about it, both in terms of Baltimore and the larger picture?  And what do you say to critics who say that since the death of Trayvon Martin, you have not been aggressive enough in your response? 

    And to Prime Minister Abe, how important is a Pacific trade deal to keeping the influence of China in check, both economically and militarily?  And do you agree with President Obama when he says that failing to complete a deal will simply further China’s influence?  Thank you.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Before I answer the question about Baltimore, I’m going to horn in on your question to Prime Minister Abe.

    I’ve been very clear that TPP is good for American businesses and American workers, regardless of what China is doing.  And we will make the case on the merits as to why it will open up markets for American goods, American exports, and create American jobs.  So this is not simply a defensive agreement, this is something that is going to be part and parcel of our broader economic agenda moving forward.  And when 95 percent of the world’s markets are outside our shores, we’ve got to make sure that we’re out there competing.  And I’m confident we can compete.

    With respect to Baltimore, let me make a couple of points.  First, obviously our thoughts continue to be with the family of Freddie Gray.  Understandably, they want answers.  And DOJ has opened an investigation.  It is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, and I think there should be full transparency and accountability.

    Second, my thoughts are with the police officers who were injured in last night’s disturbances.  It underscores that that’s a tough job and we have to keep that in mind, and my hope is that they can heal and get back to work as soon as possible.

    Point number three, there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday.  It is counterproductive.  When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement — they’re stealing.  When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson.  And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.

    So it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction.  That is not a protest.  That is not a statement.  It’s people — a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.

    Point number four, the violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders.  And they were constructive and they were thoughtful, and frankly, didn’t get that much attention.  And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way I think have been lost in the discussion. 

    The overwhelming majority of the community in Baltimore I think have handled this appropriately, expressing real concern and outrage over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray, and that accountability needs to exist.  And I think we have to give them credit.  My understanding is, is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.  What they were doing, what those community leaders and clergy and others were doing, that is a statement.  That’s the kind of organizing that needs to take place if we’re going to tackle this problem.  And they deserve credit for it, and we should be lifting them up.

    Point number five — and I’ve got six, because this is important.  Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that have raised troubling questions.  And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks.  And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations but, more importantly, moms and dads across the country, might start saying this is a crisis.  What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis.  This has been going on for a long time.  This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.

    The good news is, is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities, and we have to pay attention to it and respond. 

    What’s also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together here in the White House have come up with very constructive concrete proposals that, if adopted by local communities and by states and by counties, by law enforcement generally, would make a difference.  It wouldn’t solve every problem, but would make a concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective, honest and fair law enforcement officers, that they’re able to do their job better because it will weed out or retrain or put a stop to those handful who may be not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

    Now, the challenge for us as the federal government is, is that we don’t run these police forces.  I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain.  But what I can do is to start working with them collaboratively so that they can begin this process of change themselves. 

    And coming out of the task force that we put together, we’re now working with local communities.  The Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for those jurisdictions that want to purchase body cameras.  We are going to be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference.  And we’re going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary. 

    I think it’s going to be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organization to acknowledge that this is not good for police.  We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are going to be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation.  There are some bad politicians who are corrupt.  There are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don’t do the right thing.  Well, there’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing.  And rather than close ranks, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize they got to get their arms around this thing and work together with the community to solve the problem.  And we’re committed to facilitating that process.

    So the heads of our COPS agency that helps with community policing, they’re already out in Baltimore.  Our Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore.  But we’re going to be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solutions that we know work. 

    And I’ll make my final point — I’m sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but this is a pretty important issue for us. 

    We can’t just leave this to the police.  I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching.  I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching.  But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching.  This is not new.  It’s been going on for decades. 

    And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents — often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves — can’t do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college.  In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem.  And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.

    If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs.  That’s hard.  That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force.  And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that.

    Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses in.

    But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could.  It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant — and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.  We’re paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important.  And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence. 

    That’s how I feel.  I think there are a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way.  But that kind of political mobilization I think we haven’t seen in quite some time.  And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference.  But I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough because it’s easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law and order issue, as opposed to a broader social issue.

    That was a really long answer, but I felt pretty strongly about it.

    The press conference continued discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Read it in it’s entirety at www.whitehouse.gov.

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    Cassidy votes against Loretta Lynch

    Louisiana’s U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy’s office said the Congressman “chose to protect the U.S. Constitution and vote against confirmation of attorney Loretta Lynch to be the next U.S. Attorney General.” Cassidy himself offered the following statement:

    “Key decisions the president has made are wrong, like executive amnesty. Although Loretta Lynch is well qualified, it’s hard for me to support someone who supports that decision.”

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    Tierra Smith named national student journalist of the year

    The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is proud to announce the selection of Tierra Smith of Grambling State University as the association’s 2015 Student Journalist of the Year. The award recognizes a full-time collegiate journalist who displays a commitment to NABJ’s goal of outstanding achievement within the field of journalism.

    It isn’t often that a historically Black college or university has a campus newspaper willing to dig deeply – even when a powerful administration is watching and questioning nearly every move. It’s with this approach that Smith has led the campus newspaper with tenacity comparable to some of the nation’s top editors, just on a college campus. Under her leadership, The Gramblinite, GSU’ s campus newspaper, has been diligent in holding GSU’s administration accountable, from questions on salaries of top administrators, to spending, and lack of resources for the school’s football program, Smith has continuously been unafraid to ask the hard questions.

    “We couldn’t be more proud of Tierra. She is clearly off to a great start, and we wait with anticipation to see what will be next as she begins her journalism career,” said NABJ President Bob Butler. “Tierra is an aggressive and passionate journalist which will serve her well as she continues to pursue her passion.”

    A native of Milwaukee, Smith became fascinated with the media when she was accidentally enrolled in a journalism course at her high school in Houston.

    “If they never put me in that class, I would have never been exposed to journalism,” Smith said, in a piece written last year for The New York Times Student Journalism Institute. She was a 2014 participant in The Times program at Dillard University and she was a 2014 student journalist with the NABJ Student Multimedia Projects.

    Her high school journalism teacher was going to remove her from the class because she did not have the necessary prerequisites, but she saw her passion and decided to let her stay. A few months into the class, Smith was named an editor of the high school’s newspaper and yearbook.

    Now a graduating senior, Smith, 22, is majoring in mass communications with a concentration in sports journalism. Smith was also a participant in the 2014 Class of the Sports Journalism Institute, a program geared toward creating a pipeline of more women and minorities in sports journalism. Additionally, Smith was the recipient of the 2014 NABJ Sports Task Force, Larry Whiteside Scholarship.

    Smith is a talented student journalist, and a strong NABJ student member. She’s been a part of NABJ since 2012, attending three national conventions, a regional conference and restarting the GSU student chapter as founding president. She has grown her chops at Grambling State along with internships at Gannett’s The News-Star and the Gannett Content Production Center in Monroe, Louisiana. In Summer 2014, she was a sports intern at the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah.

    Smith was most recently named a Dow Jones News Fund business reporting intern for Summer 2015. She will be working for NABJ’s Greg Moore at the Denver Post. She also has an active role in the GSU chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and she maintains a 3.6 GPA. Smith will start the next chapter of her journey as a graduate student at Louisiana State University this Fall.

    Smith will be honored along with other honorees at NABJ’s Annual Convention and Career Fair this summer in Minneapolis.

    An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation, and provides educational, career development and support to black journalists worldwide.

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    300,000 nationwide expected to Stand Against Racism

    YWCA Greater Baton Rouge is calling on all individuals, organizations, businesses and religious institutions to join us in taking a Stand Against Racism on Thursday, April 23. YWCA Stand Against Racism will unite our community in a bold demonstration that delivers a clear message: Racism can no longer be ignored nor tolerated.

    “Racism continues to be a pervasive issue in our community and communities across the United States,” said Jennifer A. Shoub, CEO of YWCA Greater Baton Rouge. “Participating in ‘Stand Against Racism’ is just one way we can make change by coming together to organize and show our commitment to eliminating racism.”

    YWCA Greater Baton Rouge will take a Stand Against Racism in unison with others throughout the country. On Thursday, April 23, YWCAs will join in a National Day of Action to urge Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act. From Thursday through Sunday nationwide, more than 300,000 people are expected to participate in a range of locally organized events involving public policy advocacy, community education and trainings that will lead to a commitment to working for racial justice by taking the pledge Against Racism.

    The local event, sponsored by YWCA Greater Baton Rouge with partner East Baton Rouge Parish Library, 4pm, Thursday, April 23, 7711 Goodwood Boulevard. Registration begins at 3pm. Participants will register, have an opportunity to sign the YWCA’s pledge to eliminate racism, make a personal statement on a provided sign, and stand with like-minded people committed to eliminating racism. Social media opportunities will also be available.

    Founded in 2007 by YWCA Trenton and YWCA Princeton, Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA. This campaign is designed to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism. Stand Against Racism is one part of the YWCA’s national strategy to fulfill our mission to eliminate racism.

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    SUNO researcher partners with PBI to continue DNA forensic research

    Pressure BioSciences, Inc. announced it has entered into a Collaboration Agreement with Southern University at New Orleans to focus on improving and extending the applications of the Company’s unique and patented pressure cycling technology platform for the detection of DNA in forensic samples.

    Pam Marshall,Ph.D., interim director, Forensic Science Program SUNO is an expert on sexual assault kit examination and collection practices and will lead the program with Pressure BioScience Inc.

    While a graduate student in the laboratory of Professor Bruce Budowle (a recognized key opinion leader in forensic science) at the University of North Texas’ UNT Health Science Center, Marshall and her colleagues showed that incorporating PCT into the testing protocol for poor quality bone enabled more DNA to be detected as compared to standard methods. As part of the collaboration, Marshall will continue this pioneering work. She and her team at Southern University also will investigate other important areas in which PCT might enhance forensic sample testing.

    “A critical yet often difficult task in forensic analysis is the extraction of high quality DNA from challenged or inhibited samples,” said Marshall. “My previous work with the PCT platform gave me an appreciation for this powerful and enabling technology. My published research established that improved quality and quantity of DNA could be extracted from human bone samples with PCT, as compared to bones not treated with PCT.”

    Marshall said she believes that several projects undertaken during the collaboration could help establish PCT as a standard method in forensic science. For example, in an effort to reduce poaching, the extraction of DNA from seized African Elephant ivory samples is an important yet very difficult challenge at the present time. “We believe PCT might enable the recovery of greater amounts of DNA compared to current methods,” she said. “If successful, this could lead to the use of PCT for the extraction of DNA from a variety of difficult samples. This will be one of the first projects undertaken.”

    “We are pleased to support Dr. Marshall and her team in their development of new, improved, and expanded applications of the PCT platform in the testing of forensic samples. We believe their efforts will result in commercially profitable PCT-based products for PBI, possibly before the end of 2015,” said Nate Lawrence, vice president of marketing and sales for PBI.

    “In addition to the possible development of new PCT-based products, we are pleased that the collaboration also will support the Forensic Science program at SUNO,” said Mr. Richard T. Schumacher, President and CEO of PBI. “This program provides students with the course work, skills and experience necessary for success as a forensic scientist. This role is critical to our criminal justice system, since investigators, courts, and the public depend on forensic scientists for accurate and timely information.”

    Mr. Schumacher continued: “Our country needs well educated, professionally-trained, forensic scientists. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently estimates an approximate 20% increase in job growth in the forensic science field over the next six years. However, although the number of forensic science graduates nationwide is high, the number of graduates among underrepresented minorities is highly inadequate. That is why we are pleased to support educators like Dr. Marshall and universities like SUNO who are at the forefront of developing the next generation of highly skilled forensic scientists, with a vast majority from underrepresented populations.”

    Southern University at New Orleans was founded in 1956 to expand academic opportunities for Blacks. Today, SUNO still serves as a beacon for those looking for educational advancement in an environment that provides the personal attention some students need for success. With our mission in mind, we plan to be America’s premier urban institution of higher learning in the field of Forensic Science, providing educational access to students ready to contribute to our city and nation. In 2013, SUNO successfully implemented the Forensic Science Bachelor of Science degree program. SUNO is the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Louisiana to offer this degree and one of four nationwide. The BS in Forensic Science degree program is committed to producing technically knowledgeable and skilled graduates equipped with the basic foundational science and laboratory problem solving skills necessary for success in the crime laboratory. Upon completion of the Forensic Science program, graduates will be prepared to function as forensic scientists, or for advanced study in such areas as forensic science, biomedical research, medicine and law. Please visit the University’s Web site at www.SUNO.edu.

    Pressure BioSciences Inc. develops, markets, and sells proprietary laboratory instrumentation and associated consumables to the estimated $6 billion life sciences sample preparation market. PCT customers also use our products in other areas, such as drug discovery and design, bio-therapeutics characterization, soil and plant biology, vaccine development, histology, and forensic applications.

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    Phat Boyz Pizza fills Black-owned void in North Baton Rouge

    Being the only Black-owned pizza business in Baton Rouge is a handicap and a blessing, according to Armand Sonnier, owner of Phat Boyz Pizza, the city’s newest pizza joint.

    Since the closure of the local Pizza Hut chain owned by Lundy Enterprises, Sonnier is now the sole minority pizza vendor.

    He said many people are hesitant to try his pizza because they are not used to Black ownership.

    “They always think that the pizzeria belongs to Whites only,” he said. Bearing a name many know as the acronym for “pretty, hot and tempting,” one bite into the PhatBoyz’s extra large specialty would change their hesitancy into addiction.

    In fact, Sonnier’s customer base is steadily increasing with many repeat customers.

    For nearly 30 years, Sonnier has been in the pizza-making business, starting as a driver for Domino’s Pizza. He also waxed floors for extra income.customers who love his pizza.

    Over the years, his appreciation for the pizza business grew. One day while on the job, he picked up Pizza Today magazine and came across a pizza oven priced at $10,000. At the time, he was making enough money to afford the oven. He decided to start his own business and work for himself. Once he left Domino’s, he began laying out plans to become an owner in the pizza business

    His main objective for Phat Boyz, he said, is to provide affordable pizza, using quality ingredients, and to provide delivery to communities throughout North Baton Rouge.

    Sonnier and his staff make their own dough, buy products from local distributors, and make a special blend of sauces and topping combinations to appeal to customers. “We do everything ourselves,” he said.

    Armand Sonnier ,owner, phat boyz

    Armand Sonnier ,owner, Phat Boyz

    Competition with other pizza establishments is not the primary focus for Sonnier because his business is independent.

    He is focused on providing customers with quality pizza at an affordable price. He used his own money to fund the building they are using to operate the pizza business. His fiancé, Carolyn Haymond, children, and grandchildren help with the business.   According to him, customers are looking for a good place at a fairly decent price. He says that these are the reasons why the pizzeria has continued moving forward.

    Sonnier’s other objective for this pizzeria was to make his pizza available to communities including Glen Oaks, Southern Heights and Zion City. He felt it was not right that other establishments refuse to deliver to certain areas throughout Baton Rouge.

    wingsHe has dealt with many startup difficulties including equipment failure and lack of knowledge of state laws in the beginning stages of the business.  Throughout the tribulations, he has learned to stay up with certain things such as employee forms, taxes, and laws that were discovered. Sonnier put his all towards not only his pizza designs, but he also strives to makes sure that his customers are satisfied with what they order. He isn’t worried much about being the only Black- owned pizza place in Baton Rouge. He would rather have the people recognize him for his work rather than for being a Black business owner in a predominately White industry.

    Phat Boyz is located at  9186 Greenwell Springs Rd . It is  open Mon. – Fri., 10am – midnight and onWeekends 10am – 10pm and delivery orders can be placed by calling (225) 923-3433. ONLINE: http://www.phatboyzpizzabr.com/

     By James Teague
    Contributing Writer

    This article was originally published in The Drum newspaper June 13,2014

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    Chief Justice Johnson declares May 1 as Law Day

    The Louisiana Supreme Court issued a resolution urging all Louisiana state court judges to dedicate the month of May 2015 to reaching out to schools to provide students with an opportunity to learn about the law, the role of judges, and the court system from members of the judiciary. Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to strengthen our heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day. Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1st to celebrate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The 2015 national Law Day theme is “Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law.”

    “During the month of May, the Louisiana Supreme Court will host school students participating in Law Day activities including: mock trials and tours of the Royal Street courthouse which include visits to the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum and the Law Library of Louisiana,” said Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson.

    On this 57th anniversary of Law Day, the resolution states in part that “all judges have a unique ability to educate young people about our legal system and respect for the law.” Teachers or principals interested in coordinating a Louisiana Supreme Court tour or a Law Day presentation with a local judge, contact the Louisiana Supreme Court Community Relations Department at 504.310.2590.

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  • Attack economic racism taking responsibility

    Despite ill-intended efforts to do it for us, Black Americans have a responsibility to define our own reality. It is a fundamental human right recognized and respected by the United Nations. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to define, without apology, the deadly and debilitating manifestation of racial discrimination and injustice as “economic racism.”

    Why are so many Black Americans still mired down in intergenerational poverty, lack of health care, inadequate education, raging unemployment, disproportionate imprisonment, the highest rate of housing foreclosures and housing discrimination, the lowest rate of bank lending and overcall exclusion from access to sustainable wealth generation in every region of the nation?

    How is it mathematically possible for Black Americans to spend more than $1.2 trillion annually in the United States, and yet the overwhelming majority of the companies that make huge profits from the annual spending of Black Americans do nothing more than invest far less than 1 percent of their profits back into Black-owned businesses and grassroots organizations throughout the country?

    Why does the American economy remain racially segregated in 2015? Why are Black Americans consigned to poverty and economic inequality?

    The answer is amazingly simple: It is the reality of economic racism, defined as the intentional racial discrimination against Black Americans and other people of color to prevent economic equality, justice, parity, advancement, and empowerment; it is the systematic racial exclusion of Black Americans and other people of color from economic policy-making at local, state and national levels in both corporate and governmental entities; and, it is economic institutionalization of racial oppression, stereotyping, and profiling coupled with the ignorance of racial prejudice and hatred.

    Yes, this is an admittedly complex definition of economic racism. The matrix of complexity concerning economic racism, however, does not make it impossible to challenge and to overcome. No one is born a racist. We can and will eventually liberate ourselves from all forms of of racial oppression and economic racism.

    We have not concentrated on economic racism as much as we should have because of the overemphasis on politics. But we eventually had to recognize that even our political system is controlled by economics and politicians tend to be more responsive to those who support their campaigns economically.

    The economic liberation of Black America will require establishing more internal unity and more external coalition-building and partnering with those who stand for freedom, justice and equality with their money, words and deeds. Organizing and mobilizing an effective movement to challenge and overcome economic racism is long overdue

    The perpetrators of racial injustice and discrimination are always reluctant to confess or acknowledge the reality of these centuries-old phenomena. In the United States, in particular, there is a historic and contemporary denial of how race plays a determinative role in all aspects of society. As former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) was fond of saying, “Slavery was America’s original sin, and racism remains its unresolved dilemma.”

    And we see that racism manifested in so many ways.

    Today, it now appears that the only way to get people to acknowledge racially-motivated police misconduct against Black Americans and other people of color is to have a video tape of the transgression. Thank God for the recent videotape of the police murder of unarmed Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C. Sometimes, as was the case with Eric Gardner in New York City, we can have videotape and rouge cops still escape punishment.

    Racism in all of its oppressive manifestations must not only be consistently called out and challenged, but also we must be vigilant and diligent to make sure that we are effective in the elimination of the undergirding factors that cause racism to exist and persist in the first place.

    In my home state of North Carolina more than 32 years ago, while helping to lead civil rights protests against the digging of a massive toxic waste landfill in predominantly African American Warren County, I coined the term “environmental racism.” Warren County was also the place where Congress of Racial Equality Chairman Floyd B. McKissick Sr., the first African American to receive a law degree from the University of North Carolina, attempted to build Soul City as an economic empowerment zone and a new city for Black Americans and others who considered themselves progressive.

    Environmental racism is the intentional racial discrimination in the deliberate targeting of ethnic and minority communities for exposure to toxic and hazardous waste sites and facilities, coupled with the systematic exclusion of racial minorities in environmental policy making, enforcement, and remediation. As a result of the definitive work that we did on this issue back in the 1980s, today there are effective and transformative environmental justice movements and organizations across America and throughout the world.

    One day, I hope we’ll be able to look back and say the same about economic racism.

    By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
    NNPA Columnist

    Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached for national advertisement sales and partnership proposals at: dr.bchavis@nnpa.org; and for lectures and other professional consultations at: http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc

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    Turner takes 3rd at state science fair

    Tyler Turner

    Tyler Turner

    Lake Forest Charter School 8th grade student Tyler Turner won 3rd place at the Louisiana Science and Engineering Fair in the environmental science category. Tyler’s project was titled “Alternative Roofs” and studied the most cost effective and energy efficient ways of roofing. His results found that grass covered roofs absorbed less energy than tile and wood. The fair was held March 23-25 in the LSU Union.

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    COMMENTARY: What about the fired felons?

    A Look at Apple’s Teachable Moment

    Inclusion inspires innovation. This mantra, featured prominently on Apple’s website, was put to the test last week when the company came under fire for dismissing several construction workers who had been convicted of a felony.

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, anyone who had been convicted of a felony in the past seven years was banned from working on the construction of Apple’s new Cupertino campus. Apple and its contractor, DPR Construction, also denied employment to people with felony arrests, not just convictions.

    Since then, Apple has taken a step in the right direction by rescinding the policy. But in an industry already notorious for being out of touch with the broader opportunity gap in America, the company’s leadership has an opportunity to do much more: to lead the tech field on inclusion as much as it already leads on innovation.

    Apple’s quick response was encouraging. In a statement, the company noted that its policy “may have excluded some people who deserve a second chance” and that it has “never had a blanket ban on hiring people with felony convictions”. This was an indication that Apple understands the devastating impact of blanket discrimination on the 12 million Americans with a felony conviction in their past. Still, the company’s response leaves too many unanswered questions about the status of the fired workers, the contours of Apple’s internal policy, and the company’s commitment to ensuring that this will never happen again.

    Life is hard for someone with a felony conviction. People returning to their communities not only have a difficult time finding a job. That’s more than 60 percent are unable to find work in their first year out. But also face other challenges that make landing gainful employment even harder. Even someone who served a short sentence for a low-level crime will often run into barriers to stable housing, healthcare, educational opportunities, and public benefits. In 2008, the reduced job prospects of people with felony convictions cost the US economy between $57 and $65 billion in lost output.

    It is not too late for Apple to right a wrong, prove its commitment to inclusion, and become a leader on fair hiring practices. (For example, The Cupertino campus project, expected to yield thousands of construction jobs, can still provide a unique opportunity for Apple to support the local economy and provide work for an underserved population.)

    Here are three steps that Apple can take in coming days:

    Apple should publicly address the fate of the fired employees.
    Reports have indicated that Apple may have plans to reevaluate or rehire the impacted employees, but it should make this intention publicly clear. The number of workers fired may have been small compared with Apple’s national employee base, but a job is important for any single worker, especially one operating in the context of perpetual discrimination. Apple should clarify its hiring policies and publicly “Ban the Box”.

    In their statement, Apple leaders denied practicing blanket discrimination. But at the same time they acknowledged that workers on the campus project had been victims of discrimination. In order to clear things up, Apple should work with community leaders to develop transparent and inclusive hiring policies that ensure that all applicants are considered regardless of their past mistakes. Crucially, the company should agree not to deny employment to people whose crimes are irrelevant to the job at hand.

    Apple should also follow in the footsteps of large companies in other fields and announce a companywide “Ban the Box” program. The company already claims that it considers all applicants on a “case by case” basis, and it could stand by this promise by removing questions about job applicants’ criminal records from initial employment applications. Walmart and other major companies have already “banned the box”, alongside cities like San Francisco, 15 states and over 100 other cities and counties nationwide.

    Apple should move Silicon Valley forward on second chance employment. Finally, Apple should use its perch as an industry leader to move Silicon Valley forward on fair hiring practices for applicants with criminal records. Apple could convene a Business Leaders Summit to encourage its peers to learn from their mistake. The summit could provide the tools and encouragement for others in the tech industry to commit to fair hiring practices. It could also impart an important lesson to others in the industry: discrimination is not only unfair to qualified job seekers who have made amends for their past mistakes (or been arrested but not convicted). It also means employers may be blindly screening out some of their best and brightest applicants.

    There is a growing bipartisan consensus, echoed by leaders as diverse as Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Rand Paul, that mass incarceration has failed the nation. Seventy million people in the United States, more than 1 in 4 adults, have some type of record of arrests or convictions. These records last a lifetime. This is long after the individual has been held responsible for the crime committed.

    Apple’s policy has already led to the dismissal of employees succeeding in their positions, supporting themselves and their families. This is exemplary of the problem. It is also the way forward. Apple can move closer to realizing its stated vision of a diverse and inclusive workforce where inclusion inspires innovation. With these steps, Apple can ensure that the reality of this vision does not leave millions of Americans with records behind.

    If Silicon Valley is going to achieve its goal of becoming a true meritocracy, it is not enough for us to focus on treating our most privileged workers more fairly. We need to ensure just treatment of the least privileged as well.

    By Ben Jealous and Heather Warnken
    Ben Jealous is partner at Kapor Capital and former president and CEO of the NAACP. Heather Warnken is a program director at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, UC Berkeley School of Law.

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    Stewart named La. House communications director

    The Louisiana House of Representatives has promoted Cory Stewart to director of communications. Having previously served as public information specialist and deputy director of communications for the House of Representatives, Stewart has 13 years of legislative, communications and organizational leadership experience. His work has received local, state, and national recognition and awards. Stewart is the Chairman of the National Association of Legislative Information and Communications Staff and is the recent recipient of the national Legislative Staff Achievement Award given by the National Conference of State Legislatures. A graduate of Southern University and A&M College, Stewart began his career in public service with the Louisiana House as an intern in 2002 and joined the full-time staff in 2006.

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    Legislators say their top priority is North Baton Rouge’s health care service

    With the closure of the emergency room at Baton Rouge General Hospital Mid City, North Baton Rouge area state legislators issued the following statement regarding the closure and next steps to insure that citizens have continued access to health care services.
     

         “For months we have worked tirelessly with other community leaders, citizen groups, hospital executives, the medical community, and state health and hospital officials to avoid the closure of Baton Rouge General’s emergency room in Mid City. Sadly those efforts were not successful. And while we are encouraged that the state along with its private hospital partner Our Lady of the Lake have made an effort to expand the health care services available to residents at both the LSU Mid City and North Baton Rouge clinics, we are convinced that will not be enough to protect the health, safety and welfare of tens of thousands of hard-working North Baton Rouge area residents.

         What is particularly discouraging is that there are alternatives. Expansion of eligibility for the federally- funded Medicaid program would provide health care coverage to over 200,000 Louisiana citizens and ease the financial burden on health care providers and emergency rooms who now care for those uninsured. It is working in other states, like Arkansas, and it can work here.

         Another option is to re-think the state’s partnership with Our Lady of the Lake Hospital to provide additional state financial support for those hospitals and healthcare providers who treat the uninsured outside the public-private partnership agreement. A direct appropriation to those other hospitals that are impacted by the changing health care landscape should also be considered.

         Anyone who thinks that the closure of the Baton Rouge General Mid City emergency room will not have a ripple effect across not only East Baton Rouge but surrounding parishes as well is not grounded in reality. The effect of the closure will not only impact those who have depended on those services but anyone who is need of emergency health care services in the region, regardless of their insurance status or geographical location. For many it may be a matter of life or death.

         As state legislators and proud residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, we will continue to fight and advocate for a health care system that preserves the lives and livelihoods of our parish, our communities, our neighborhoods and our families.

    —From State Senators Sharon Weston Broome and Yvonne Dorsey Colomb and State Representatives Regina Barrow, Pat Smith, Ted James, Dalton Honore, and Alfred C. Williams.

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  • Funds will help disadvantage kids get ready for Kindergarten

    Increased Demand for Early Childhood Seats Signals Need for Increased Funding

    The Department of Education announced funding awards for statewide Early Childhood Pre-Kindergarten programs that benefit low-income four-year-olds. More than $81.6 million will fund 17,851 children served through the Cecil J. Picard LA4 Early Childhood Program and the Nonpublic Schools Early Childhood Development program (NSECD). This year, 1,850 families seeking pre-kindergarten slots were unable to obtain LA4 or NSECD admission because of a shortage of seats in these programs. Overall, 3,150 Louisiana four-year-old children are at risk of not being served by any early childhood program, including pre-kindergarten, Head Start or child care, because of an inadequate number of seats.

    “We must remain committed to the welfare of our greatest asset, our children,” said State Superintendent John White. “That commitment is dependent upon our assurance our at-risk children have access to these Early Childhood programs which will prepare them for the rigors and challenges of school. Without funding for these programs, these children are at risk of falling further behind.”

    Today, only half of Louisiana children enter kindergarten ready to learn with basic number and letter recognition skills. Louisiana’s pre-kindergarten programs – LA4 and NSECD – provide disadvantaged four-year-olds six hours of early childhood education each day, and have been proven to enhance participants’ language and math skills. To provide families with choice, these programs are offered in public schools, state-approved private preschools and child care centers. These two programs are expected to serve 17,851 children across the state, at a rate of $4,580 per child.

    Both programs are very popular with families. Communities indicate there are at least 1,850 families of at-risk four-year-olds who are seeking a spot in high-quality pre-K this fall, but there is not enough funding available. At the current rate, the state would need an additional $8.5 million to offer slots to these children this fall.

    “The increase in cost and interest clearly demand a need for more funding,” said Superintendent White. “These children deserve the same educational opportunities given to every other child in Louisiana.”

    In 2012, the legislature passed Act 3, requiring the creation of a unified network for early childhood care that would establish a common expectation for excellence among all publicly funded service providers, along with accountability for results. That same year, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved the state’s multi-year strategy to implement Act 3, the Early Childhood Care and Education Networks.

    To help address family demand, the Department applied for the Preschool Development Expansion Grant in 2014 and will partner with local Early Childhood Networks to offer an additional 4,600 high-quality pre-K slots to families over the next four years, starting in 2016. Participating communities will coordinate enrollment to make it easier to apply and families will be able to choose between public, nonpublic school and child care settings.

    Still the Department estimates there are an additional 3,150 low-income four-year-olds who qualify for child care, Head Start, or Pre-Kindergarten, but whose families may not be aware of what is available. As demonstrated in the recent Early Childhood Funding Model required by the Legislature, the Department estimates an additional $26 million investment is needed to provide a high-quality pre-K option to every at-risk family in Louisiana that wants one.

    The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved the Department’s LA4 and NSECD allocation recommendations.

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  • Budget won’t fund primary or voter outreach; Dems speak out

    Louisiana Will Lose Presidential Primary Under Gov. Jindal’s Budget

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler testified in front of the state House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, March 18, that Gov. Jindal’s current budget does not provide the funds to hold next year’s presidential primary, and he will be forced to eliminate his office’s voter outreach program as well.  Officials with the Louisiana Democratic Party said what is “especially troubling is that this announcement comes on the heels of the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the historic March in Selma.”

    “This is an absolute outrage and a complete abdication of core responsibilities of the state government,” said Chair Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans). “Reasonable people can have robust conversations about the role and size of government – but surely we should all be able to agree that one role of government is to oversee fair and impartial elections.  Eliminating Louisiana’s voice in the choice of our next president is unacceptable.”

    Given the timing and recent polls, Peterson said, “One must ask the question – is he doing this because he knows he couldn’t win in his own state? How much more will Louisiana have to sacrifice at the altar of Bobby Jindal’s presidential ambitions?” (Jindal garnered two percent support from the most recent Iowa presidential primary poll, and a Republican poll has shown Jindal with a 27 percent approval rating in Louisiana.)

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler

    A presidential primary election would cost the state approximately $3.5 million, according to Secretary of State Tom Schedler who said when his office looked at the budget, he found that there was no money for the primary.  “Matter of fact, there is no funding for elections beyond December, January when they leave office.” A spokesperson from the Division of Administration said they have spoken with Schedler and they will work with his office to come up with a funding solution so that the state can have a Presidential Primary next year.
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    Black Journalists honoring four journalism pioneers, April 23

    The Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists (BRAABJ) will honor four pioneering journalists at its third annual Scholarship Luncheon on April 23.

    The former journalists are John Williams, the first Black photographer at The Advocate (posthumously); Jean West, former WAFB Channel 9 anchor and the first Black anchor in Baton Rouge;  Ivory Payne, publisher of The Weekly Press newspaper which has served the African American community in North Baton Rouge for more than 40 years,  and Genevieve Stewart, former host of “Question of the Day” on KQXL-FM.

    “This is our way of saying thank you to those who paved the way for other Black journalists in our area to pursue a career in the media,” says BRAABJ President Michelle McCalope. “We realize that without them there would be no us.”

    The luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. at Boudreaux’s , 2647 Government Street in Baton Rouge. Tickets are $25 and sponsorships are also available. You can purchase tickets online at brareabj.org.

    Proceeds from the event will provide scholarships to Southern and LSU journalism students. Since 2012, the luncheon has raised nearly $30,000 and provided scholarships to six students.

    Last year, the organization sponsored three students at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Boston.

    For tickets or more information, call (225) 678-1472 or (225) 229-1906.  Visit BRAABJwebsite at brareabj.org.  The association is a non-profit organization made up of local media professionals. Our goal is to highlight and support journalists of color and give back through mentoring and scholarships. It is an affiliate of the National Association of Black Journalists.

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    New twists on Easter baskets kids will treasure

    This year tell the Easter Bunny to hop to it and avoid those same old Easter basket ideas kids have been getting for decades. By filling your children’s baskets with personalized surprises, you can make the day extra special.

    Don’t just fill baskets with boring seasonal sweets and a stuffed bunny. Baskets are more fun when they are personalized to the interests of each recipient. (Read this story about Lee Hardy of Florida who is preparing 700 baskets to give away).

    Barbara Jeha Arnondin, co-founder of MetroMom Events, has the insider scoop on what kids want this season.  “Your children will be delighted to unwrap baskets that they feel were made specifically for them,” said Arnondin. “Kids love anything that is geared toward their own interests but also has some surprises. And these days, unexpected twists can even be found in the sweet treats you choose.”

    One new Easter item that will help surprise kids of all ages are premium Swiss milk chocolate eggs with a toy surprise inside from Choco Treasure.  These chocolate eggs have themes that you can match to a child’s interests, including Hello Kitty, Penguins of Madagascar, and Sports Balls.  All of the Choco Treasure themed collections are comprised of 15 to 18 different toy surprises, such as 3-D puzzles, water squirters, figurines, and even a deck of mini playing cards.

    Here are a few ideas from Arnondin to get started on personalizing kids’ Easter baskets:

    Easter baskets take over the home of Lee Hardy as she prepares hundreds of the holiday giveaways. (Photo: WTSP)

    Easter baskets take over the home of Lee Hardy as she prepares hundreds of the holiday giveaways. (Photo: WTSP)

    Music Fans

    For kids who love to listen to the latest hits, fill their baskets with a new pair of headphones, a gift card for downloading their favorite tunes, a portable speaker, a blow-up guitar, or any type of small instrument to make their own music.

    Sports Fans

    For kids who love sports, Easter baskets filled with sports surprises could include team trading cards, league sticker books, team branded mobile device cases, tickets to a game and Choco Treasure Sports Balls which come in the shape of baseballs, footballs, and soccer balls.

    Movie-Goers

    There were many big box office hits for kids over the past year. And whether your child’s favorite was “The Lego Movie,” “Big Hero 6,” or “Penguins of Madagascar,” an Easter basket filled with movie favorites like popcorn, posters, soundtracks, their own 3-D glasses, licensed toys or newly released DVDs will help you get two thumbs up.

    Girly Girl

    Hello Kitty is consistently popular among girls of all ages. Consider a basket filled with themed craft activities, dress-up accessories and Hello Kitty Choco Treasure toy-filled eggs, which include a variety of Hello Kitty figurines, 3-D puzzles, mini playing cards and more. This basket will have little ladies playing for hours.

    Dino-riffic

    Digging for treasure is easy when you create a themed basket for your mini-paleontologist. Include a fossil excavation kit, a magnifying glass, and a coupon for a trip to see the dinosaurs at a local museum. By thinking outside of the basket this Easter you can create egg-stra special experiences kids will remember for years.

    By StatePoint

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  • Three named Southern University Agricultural Legends

    Three individuals were recognized as Louisiana Living Legends during the fifth annual Louisiana Small Farmer Conference at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center on March 20.

    They are Bobby R. Phills,Ph.D., program director for the Science Center and professor in the College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee; Freddie Johnson, a retired Southern University food and nutrition professor, of Baton Rouge; and Elvadus Fields, former county agent and farm management specialist at Southern, now retired, of St. Joseph.

    These three join 15 others who have been honored with this distinction since 2005.

    “The Louisiana Living Legends Award is an opportunity to honor heroes with ties to the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center for their years of selfless service,” said Dawn Mellion-Patin, Ph.D., agricultural specialist and organizer of the small farmer conference.

    Phills is the former dean and research director of the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences at Southern. In this role he created the Beginning Agricultural Youth Opportunities Unlimited (BAYOU) Summer Enrichment Program, which exposed hundreds of high school students across Louisiana to the broad array of careers in the agricultural sciences.

    “This program was responsible for placing hundreds of student interns at major research universities, in private industry and with the USDA,” Mellion-Patin said.

    Johnson served for 36 years in the Department of Human Nutrition and Food at Southern. Before that she was supervisor of food service for the state Department of Education. Her activities included sensory evaluation and establishing a staff sensory panel, design of a food research sensory evaluation area and a home economics space utilization study. Her research included the palatability of “rabbit nuggets” and other alternative food products for limited resource families.

    Fields was a county agent for the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service for 32 years and then became a farm management specialist for Southern. He has been a supporter of the SU Livestock Show and was responsibility for bringing more than 150 youth to show animals for more than 50 years. He was a founding member of the Delta Livestock Enterprise and Northeast Louisiana Black Farmers and Landowners Association.

    During this year’s small farmer conference, the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the 1890 land-grant universities was also celebrated, said Gina E. Eubanks,Ph.D., vice chancellor for extension at the Southern Ag Center and program leader for nutrition and food sciences at the LSU AgCenter.

    Southern University is one of 19 universities across the country with 1890 land-grant status. In 1890, Congress passed the Second Morrill Act with the stipulation that Blacks were to be included in the land-grant university system. The first Morrill Act was signed into law by Pres. Abraham Lincoln in 1862. There is an 1862 land-grant university in every state including LSU in Louisiana.

    The other 15 Living Legends include Bernestine McGee, Floyd Jenkins, Elsie Cyrus, Samuel Donald, Alonzo Chappell, Sara Sims, Pecola Scott, Willie T. Sensley, Owusu Bandele, Leodrey Williams, James McNitt, James Archie, Solon Marshall, Kirkland Mellad and Wesley Crawford.

    By Linda Foster Benedict
    LSU AgCenter

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