• ,

    COMMENTARY: Time to fix the legal, judicial systems from within

    OFFICER-INVOLVED KILLINGS of unarmed Black men–including Oscar Grant, Michael Brown,John Crawford, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice–is not a new phenomenon. Police have used deadly force against Black civilians nearly twice per week between 2005 and 2012, according to FBI records.

    Accusations that Black males like Grant, Brown, Crawford, Garner and Rice would be alive today if they merely complied with police officers’ commands are erroneous–and fail to truthfully acknowledge stereotypes towards Black men that
    are prevalent throughout the legal and judicial systems.

    Black men are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested and given longer sentences than any other demographic group–despite there being no evidence showing that they commit more crimes than anyone else.

    This disproportionate policing has resulted in more Black men being incarcerated or on parole today than were in slavery during the 1850s. Law enforcement is not the only segment of society that racially profiles Blacks. In several academic studies of first-person shooter tests (where participants must rapidly decide whether to shoot individuals holding either guns or harmless objects), civilians taking the tests were consistently more likely to shoot unarmed Black men than unarmed White men. These studies highlight the fact that society is not colorblind. We see color, and we see it clearly.

    Prejudices towards Black men are deeply rooted in stereotypes that are not supported by facts and statistics. But facts and statistics are not likely to change the opinions of people who hold deep prejudices and racial biases towards Black men. Ignorance, bias and privilege tend to obstruct logical reasoning. It is only possible to help someone who wants to be helped. And many people do not want to be helped. But that does not mean society should stop trying to improve the legal and judicial systems.

    One of the most direct ways to ensure that unarmed Black men are not denied justice is by serving on a jury. After all, it was a jury that decided not to indict the police offi cers involved in the deaths of Brown, Crawford and Garner. Additionally, it was a jury that decided to convict the officer who killed Grant with involuntary manslaughter instead of murder, and a jury will determine the faith of the officer who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

    Since jury pools are culled from voter registration lists and active voter lists, it is imperative that people register to vote and participate in every election–not just the presidential elections. Mayors, city councils, judges, district attorneys and other local elected officials play a significant role in shaping the laws that govern society.
    Ensuring that elected officials are responsive to the community’s needs and demands is of paramount importance.

    The situation in Ferguson, Mo., magnifies the significance of voting in local elections. Ferguson’s population is more than two thirds Black, but the mayor and five of six city council members are White. While Blacks in Ferguson overwhelmingly believe their local government treats them unfairly, very few participated in the most recent election (52 percent of voters were White). To turn the tide, Black voters need to participate in future elections and elect representatives that are willing to respond to the community’s needs.

    History proves that marches and protests (both peaceful and not) have their place in changing society, too. For example,
    the (non-peaceful) Boston Tea Party, the Selma to Montgomery March, and the march on Washington
    to protest the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War have all shaped today’s laws and systems of government.

    Marching and chanting about the importance of Black lives fits within this historical narrative,but it is imperative that advocates for change work to fix the legal and judicial systems from within, too.

    David Gray is a New Orleans native and has spent the majority of his professional career at the nexus of political advocacy, social innovation and community service.

    Read more »
  • Events: Jan 24-31, 2015

    Saturday, Jan. 24, 11am
    So you want to be an author?
    Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists Monthly Meeting
    On the Boarder Restaurant
    2552 Citiplace Blvd, Baton Rouge
    Local authors will discuss how to start book projects. Free for members and $5 for nonmembers. RSVP by email to brareaabj@gmail.com.

    Saturday, Jan. 24, 10am – 2pm
    Prayer Rally for the Soul of Louisiana
    Southern University Felton G. Clark Center
    The rally is focused on Louisiana’s mass incarceration rate, Medicaid expansion, and the state’s failing education system. Organizations involved: national and local Baptist conventions, Missionary Baptist groups, Full Gospel fellowships, the Louisiana State NAACP, and churches affiliated with AME and CME.

    Sunday, Jan. 25, noon – 4pm
    Cu-Mit To Be Fit With CuRobiks Inaugural Health Fair
    Dupuis Center/Brown Park, Lafayette
    Live fitness concert with Cupid, CuRobiks trainer certification classes, health and fitness vendors, run/walk, and health screenings for all ages. Contact: Lynettebaptist.curobiks@gmail.com

    Sunday, Jan. 25 – Feb. 8
    Ultimate Prom Giveaway
    Participating YMCA locations
    The Cinderella Project and No Glass Slippers are accepting donations of new or gently used prom appropriate dresses and
    shoes. Drop off items at the Americana YMCA, A.C. Lewis YMCA, Baranco Clark YMCA, C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA,Charles W. Lamar Jr. YMCA, Dow Westside YMCA, ExxonMobil YMCA, Paula G. Manship YMCA, or Southside YMCA

    Wednesday, Ja. 28, 12:30pm
    Beyond Bricks Listening Tour
    BREC Cadillac St. Park
    Speak Up! Be a part of a positive movement to recharge our public schools. Register at beyondbricksEBR.org for next week’s sessions: Wed., Jan. 28, 12:30pm at BREC Cadillac St. Park; Thurs., Jan. 29, 6pm at Scotlandville Magnet High; and Sat. Jan 31, 10am at Bluebonnett Library. More dates are posted at http://www.ebrschools.org/

    Thursday, Jan. 29, 6:30pm
    Information Session
    Online at www.louisianaconnectionsacademy.com
    Louisiana Connections Academy will host online information sessions for families and prospective families to learn more about the school’s K-12 curriculum and programs. Call the school at (225) 372-8389 or attend one of the following online sessions:
    Thursday, January 29, 2015 6:30pm
    Thursday, February 12, 2015 11:00am
    Tuesday, February 24, 2015 6:30pm
    Register at www.louisianaconnectionsacademy.com

    Friday, Jan. 30
    BR Black Professionals 2015 Forty Under 40 Entrepreneur Awards Deadline
    To nominate, visit brblackpros4040.eventbrite.com. All nominations must be received by January 30, and winners will be announced during the award ceremony, Saturday, Feb. 28 at The Belle of Baton Rouge. All proceeds generated from nomination fees will benefi t the BR Black Professionals Middle School Laptop Give-Away. ONLINE:www.facebook.com/BRBlackPros.

    To be included in the EVENTS section,submit details to thedrumnewspaper@gmail.com. Iinclude full name and contact
    phone number. Or complete this form online

    Read more »
  • ,

    South Baton Rouge Wall of Fame opens to tours, Feb. 2

    In observance of Black History Month, the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center, 950 East Washington Street, is inviting local churches, youth groups and schools in the South Baton Rouge Community to tour the center’s “Wall of Fame”.

    Housed in the center, the South Baton Rouge “Wall of Fame” displays pictures of African Americans from the South Baton Rouge area who made profound and significant contributions to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the nation, as educators, politicians, entertainers, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, religious leaders, athletes, law enforcement officers, and community activists.

    Organizers said this is truly an educational opportunity for our children/youth and Baton Rouge residents/others to visit the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center.  Overall, the project was a fifteen month planning/research endeavor culminating with a community unveiling on Sun., May 18, 2014, at the community center.

    The SBR Wall of Fame is a learning experience. It highlights the individuals in the SBR community whose success reflects the arts and culture of South Baton Rouge and the State of Louisiana. This is a historical landmark, said members of the planning committee.

    Guided tours will begin on Monday, February, 2, through Friday, February 27. To schedule tours, call (225) 389-4860. Hours at the community center are 8am – 3pm, Monday – Thursday, and 8am – 2 pm on Friday.

    By Mada McDonald
    The Drum Community Reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: Is Obama trying to kill Black colleges?

    Is Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, trying to kill Historically Black Colleges and Universities? If he’s not, he’s going to have a difficult time convincing HBCU presidents, trustees and alumni. Surprisingly, Obama has become their worst nightmare.

    George Curry

    George Curry

    Neither President Obama, the First Lady, the Secretary of Education or the president’s closest advisers attended an HBCU and, consequently, are tone death in recognizing what is broadly viewed as sound policy can inadvertently harm our nation’s HBCUs.

    President Obama’s proposal that the federal government pick up the tab for a worthy student’s first two years of community college is a case in point. Without a doubt, a move toward free, universal higher education is an excellent decision.

    But if the president had consulted the major organizations representing HBCUs, he would have heard suggestions on how to tweak his proposal so that it would not needlessly harm Black colleges, which it is certain to do.

    The amended Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an HBCU as: “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.”

    HBCUs enroll only 3 percent of college students yet are responsible for nearly 20 percent of all bachelor degrees awarded to African Americans. In some fields, the figures are significantly higher.

    President Obama noted, “America thrived in the 20th century in large part because we had the most educated workforce in the world. But other nations have matched or exceeded the secret to our success.” And the U.S. can’t afford to lose the valuable contributions of HBCUs.

    HBCUs compete directly with community colleges. Both enroll students who may need some additional tutoring or training before they are college ready. More importantly, students who enroll in community colleges and HBCUs are in dire need of financial assistance. If you make the first two years of college free to community college students – and not to HBCUs – you don’t have to be a rocket or social scientist to see that Black colleges will come out the losers.

    And the bleeding doesn’t stop there.

    If and when community college students decide to continue their education, they may be more inclined to transfer to a state-supported public university, where costs are cheaper than those of a private or public HBCU. In many instances, that state-supported university might accept all of the student’s credits whereas the Black institution might accept some of them.

    Public HBCUs are likely to suffer under this scenario as well. If a Black student has attended a community college in Alabama, for example, he or she may be more prone to enroll in the University of Alabama or Auburn than they would if they had initially enrolled in Alabama A&M University or Alabama State. And given the costs, those students might totally bypass Tuskegee University, Talladega College or Stillman College, all private institutions.

    Colleges such as Spelman and Morehouse, though harmed, can probably sustain the drop in enrollment. But without any adjustments, it could be the death knell for many others, including Miles College, Tougaloo, Paine and my alma mater, Knoxville College, which already has a foot in the grave.

    With Republicans now in control of the House and Senate, it would have been far wiser for Obama to huddle with Republicans – whose presidents have been strong supporters of HBCUs over the years – to come up with a proposal that both sides could support. Going it alone, especially in this environment, virtually guarantees that the America’s College Promise program will go nowhere.

    What should be done?

    As one educator told me, it would have been better if Obama had said the federal government would pick up the first two years at a two- or four-year college. That would be better for most HBCUs. Because public tax dollars probably would not be designated for private colleges, the private and religious-affiliated institutions would still be in a bind.

    As for the Republican majority accustomed to saying “no” to everything when they were out of power, education would be a good thing to say “yes” to. And correcting the blunders made by the White House may even help in reaching out to a broader political base, a goal the GOP claims it wants to achieve.

    In the meantime, this new community college proposal, coming on the heels of the administration dropping the ball on Parent PLUS student loans that caused some HBCUs to lose as much as 20 percent of their student body and a proposed federal rating system that could also disadvantage some HCBUs, has some of Obama’s ardent supporters wondering if this is part of a plan to kill Black colleges. If it’s not, it may have the same sad effect.

     By George Curry
    NNPA Columnist

    George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

    Read more »
  • ,

    BLM chapters, movement grow nationwide

    WASHINGTON– The last several months have seen an outpouring of activism, with slogans coming in waves: “Justice for Mike Brown,” “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” and “I Can’t Breathe.” But the phrase “Black Lives Matter” has emerged to bind each flashpoint into one cause.



    The 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin and acquittal of George Zimmerman served as the first of these flashpoints, snowballing in August with the murder of Michael Brown. “Ferguson is the birthplace of what’s happening right now. In many ways, Ferguson is like ground zero of these protests,” said DeRay McKesson, who has been protesting and organizing in Ferguson since August. He also co-produces a daily Ferguson newsletter with Johnetta Elzie.

    “When I think of Black Lives Matter, that’s the way people talk about the work as it spreads. It’s easier to say, ‘Black lives matter,’ but I think the Ferguson Movement and Black Lives Matter are one in the same.” Although McKesson is currently focused on ending police brutality and unaccountability, he said he believes in the importance of eventually dismantling all social and political oppression, particularly the types that target Black communities. “If all lives mattered, we wouldn’t have to be here talking about Black lives matter,” he explained. “What we’re seeing is people confronting injustice. You see a collective confrontation against injustice…it’s a creating of a radical new space in Black politics.”

    Black Lives Matter has also become an organization. Three activists, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi co-founded the project in the wake of the Zimmerman’s acquittal in 2013. Initially, the partners set up BlackLivesMatter.tumblr.com and encouraged activists and organizations to share tactics and broadcast their efforts to uplift Black communities via the website. “[The website] was an interactive project and a way to really promote the need for Black organizing in our communities,” said Tometi, who also serves as the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, based in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Even if you’re not working on police brutality explicitly, there are many other issues that are impacting our communities.”

    Today, there are approximately 15 chapters of Black Lives Matter across the nation and one in Canada that are focused on a range of concerns in Black communities, including housing, youth activism, and LGBTQ rights. Its other website, BlackLivesMatter.com, allows Black organizations to meet, network, and collaborate. The project has also adopted a list of demands, including the arrest of Darren Wilson, an end to supplying law enforcement with military weapons, and reinvestment in Black communities devastated by poverty. “Our lives are being systematically attacked all across the board…it is not just at the hands of police,” Tometi said. “Black Lives Matter is a movement about bringing some of those issues and people who are on the margins to the center, and not forgetting about the Black undocumented immigrants, the Black trans person or Black queer person, or disabled people. All Black lives matter. It’s not just having a movement that’s solely about Black heterosexual men, but about all of us.”

    For Chinyere Tutashinda, founding member of the Bay Area-based BlackOUT Collective, the movement is about love for Black people and a desire for justice. “It [started] around dealing with deaths, dealing with the murders, because that’s right there in your face – a life has been taken, there’s a sense of urgency to that,” she said. “But it is beyond that as well. It’s also really about how are we ending the war on Black people, and ending the way Black people are oppressed in this country.”

    On November 28, members of the Collective chained themselves to a BART train as part of a series of actions to disrupt Black Friday consumerism. The Black Lives Matter movement had declared a national day of protest and economic boycott, with some groups successfully causing the closure of shopping malls, Wal-Marts, and other retailers. The news of these protests, and the Black Lives Matter movement in general, has primarily spread through social media and Black media instead of  White-owned major mainstream outlets. Even when retailers saw an 11 percent drop in Black Friday sales, most mainstream media outlets did not include the movement’s efforts in their analyses of the profit loss. “The media follows where the fire is. They have followed the fire really well… but I think that they’ve only done that because we made sure people were out on the streets,” Tutashinda explained. “The reason that Black media and Black journalism came to be was because we understood as a people and as a community that our stories weren’t being told. It’s ok [for Black journalists] to know that their role is to help this [movement] move forward.”

    essence black outBlack media has not only amplified the voices of those on the ground, but has also attempted to further conversations, most recently seen in Essence’s February 2015 issue. The magazine dedicated its 45th anniversary issue to the Black Lives Matter movement, featuring 15 essays from luminaries such as Angela Davis, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Al Sharpton. It is the first time in the publication’s history that its cover did not feature an image, opting instead for bold words against an all-black cover. “Black media has always brought attention to conversations that are happening throughout our community, and sometimes we’ve been the only source for some of the issues that are important. But what’s happening right now is that Black social media has not only been driving the conversation, but also the movement,” said Essence editor-in-chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “A number of the people included in the package, they’re all saying that this isn’t just a movement emerging out of chaos. There really is a lot of organization and planning and thought around this whole movement,” she said. “What I think is so important, especially for Black media, is that we can surface that information.”

    In addition to the issue, the publication is launching a new Civil Rights Watch series to chronicle the movement’s developments, wins, and losses moving forward. A few gains have already been made. The Justice Department is investigating police conduct in a few cities. Seven bills aimed at police regulation and accountability have been introduced in Congress. One was signed into law: the Death in Custody Reporting Act requires states receiving certain federal funds to record all citizen deaths in police custody, and for state Attorney Generals to analyze this information and develop a plan to reduce such deaths. A handful of police indictments have also been attained, for the shootings of Rekia Boyd, Levar Jones, and recently Bernard Bailey, who was killed by a police officer four years ago in South Carolina.

    “It’s great to see publications such as Essence magazine…have a special edition issue called Black Lives Matter. Media plays such a critical role in informing our people. And NNPA publications are so important for our communities especially in rural areas and big cities; this might be the only thing that they read about this movement for black lives,” Tometi said. “[Media] thinks they have to do a balanced story… but in giving two sides equal platform it skews our understanding of how many people really agree with what. The way press culture operates provides a false sense of balance, when overwhelmingly, there’s support for the movement.”

    By Jazelle Hunt
    NNPA Washington Correspondent

    Read more »
  • Let It Shine, a must for young readers

    “Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women” is a wonderfully written, challenging collection of biographies masterfully illustrated for middle grade or advanced lower grade readers. Each story tells about a dynamic woman who was instrumental in gaining freedom from slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, or sexism. From the most recognizable women like Sojourner Truth to the more obscure Freedom Fighters like Biddy Mason, this book presents in detail the challenges and successes of ten women. Andrea Davis Pickney again delivers a great read with clarity and a hefty dose of pride. BuytheBook.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Business building opportunities increase in South Louisiana

    With the continuation of the monthly DrumLine Business Showcase, The Drum newspaper has expanded to online, social media, and additional Business Builder ad campaigns to help small businesses throughout South Louisiana reach more than 30,000 readers.

    The Business Builder ad includes a black and white, eighth of a page ad, a color DrumLine Business Showcase ad, and a month-long listing online in the showcase. Social media posts and links to your site will be shared randomly on The Drum’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Select advertisers will also be featured on The Ed Show at WSTY-TV in Hammond. Sign up quickly, because only 12 Business Builder ads are available each month.

    Entertainers, politicians, and large corporations can find the 2015 media kit has been updated to include online advertising and special campaigns. Reserve your ad place now through March 2015 or call an ad representative at (225) 927-3717.Business Builder 15


    Read more »
  • ,

    Jewel J. Newman Center hosts benefit ball, Jan 17

    SCOTLANDVILLE–The Jewel J. Newman Community Center has partnered with the Culinary Arts Department of Career Academy to cater the center’s first Masquerade Ball and Silent Auction! This semi-formal/formal event will be held Saturday, January 17, in the recreation center with a Silent Auction beginning at 7:30pm. Musical Entertainment will be provided by One More Time “OMT” band.

    The proceeds of this event will benefit the Jewel J. Newman Community Center Playground Capital Campaign. Tickets are $50 for individuals, $80 for couples, and $350 for tables of 10.
    Call, (225) 775-3938 or email at jjncc@brgov.com.

    Read more »
  • ,

    $20k to be awarded in scholarship

    The deadline to apply for the scholarship is January 14, 2015.

    The Gates Millennium Scholars Program (also known as the Bill Gates Scholarship) awards scholarships each year to African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American or Hispanic American students.

    The program, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, selects 1,000 talented students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. The scholarship is renewable and may be used in the freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate years. Students must have financial need and meet Pell Grant eligibility requirements. They must also maintain a grade point average of 3.3 and have a strong interest in leadership and community service. Students may attend any college or university they choose.

    Established in 1999, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program aims to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential. The program reduces financial barriers for African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students with high academic and leadership promise who have significant financial need. The program also increases the representation of these target groups in the disciplines of computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and the sciences, where these groups are severely underrepresented; and develops a diversified cadre of future leaders for America by facilitating successful completion of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

    For more details and/or to apply, visit: http://www.gmsp.org/

    Read more »
  • ,

    Morrell to confront school reform

    NEW ORLEANS - Senator JP Morrell announced today that he will be resigning his long standing position on the Louisiana State Senate’s Natural Resources Committee to fill the vacant seat on the Senate Education Committee. Morrell’s bold move comes at a contentious time for education in Louisiana.

    Statement from Senator JP Morrell:

     “I did not get into politics to skirt the tough issues. I sought office to help bring about positive, lasting change. That is why I have requested to be appointed to the Senate Education Committee.

    Improving education is the most effective way to enhance quality of life in Louisiana. Today we are faced with a range of challenging issues, including: funding, Common Core, career and technical education, early childhood programs, and school governance. While I do not have all of the answers, I am going to listen to all sides, do my homework, and strive to resolve these issues so that we can get about the business of educating our children and preparing them to succeed in life.

    I support our teachers, our parents, and above all, our students. I learned a lot from watching my mother when she was the principal of McDonogh #15 Elementary School. I saw firsthand the effects of insufficient funding, what can be accomplished by a hard-working, professional faculty and staff, and the impact of parents dedicated to helping their children achieve a better future. As a father of two young children, I want to do my part to ensure that Louisiana is a place where they can receive a world-class education.

    We have arrived at a critical juncture, and the future of our state’s education system – Pre-K to Higher Ed – hangs in the balance. That is why I have taken on this role. I hope to bring people on all sides of the issues together to try to do what is best for our children and the future of this great state.”

    Read more »
  • Biblical Institute offers certification Jan. 5

    The 2015 spring classes for the first term at Southeast Regional Biblical Institute will begin on January 5, 2015.  This certificate program is through Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.  This certificate program of biblical and theological education is being offered to ministers and laypersons.  According to organizers, 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. Registration required by January 5, 2015
    at www.samford.edu/continued-learning/ministry-training-institute/

    On-site Registration is scheduled for Monday, January 5, 2015
    at 5pm.
    Baton Rouge Community College
    Small Business Training Center
    350 N. Donmoor
    Baton Rouge, LA 70806

    Classes will begin on Monday, January 5, 2015, 6pm.

    Class Offering :
    Basic Level- How to Think Theologically 
    Advanced Level – The Study of the Book of Ephesians

    The required textbooks are:
    The Study of the Book of Ephesians- The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to Ephesians (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) by F. F. Bruce and How to Think Theologically by Howard W. Stone and James O. Duke.

    For additional information log on SRBI’s website-www.srbi-br.org

    Contact Mary W. Moss, Director of The Southeast Regional Institute at  (225) 772-0307 or   email-pastormoss@att.net.

    Read more »
  • COMMENTARY: Nearly half Black female teens have STD

    Forty-Eight percent of Black female teens have a sexually transmitted disease.

    The above figure is not a new statistic. My concern is that it has become the norm and is unacceptable. One fourth of White female teens have an STD. That figure would be a little more acceptable. Is the Black community in denial? Do we feel it’s okay if almost half our female teens have an STD? When I speak nationwide to youth, many of them tell they are virgins. I then ask how can you be a virgin with an STD? They then tell me it was oral or anal sex which they feel did not violate their virginity.

    Were you aware that the leading cause of death in the Black community is abortion? Each day, 1,786 Black children are aborted. Can you imagine 52% of Black pregnancies are aborted? Again, this not a new statistic, my concern like with STDs, is that it has become acceptable. Are 52% of all pregnancies aborted acceptable to you? Has abortion become the new form of birth control?

    Blacks are 13% of the U.S. population male and female. I would expect Black females to be 13% of females in America who are HIV positive. The reality is that Black females are 64% of the women in America who are HIV positive. Again this is not a new statistic. Are you okay and accepting of the fact that 64% of all women in America who are HIV positive just happen to be Black? Has this become the norm? Is that our reality? Are Black people in denial? Have all the statistics made us numb?

    How can we reduce these statistics? While writing Raising Black Girls, I discovered that Black girls start puberty before anyone else. They start at eight years and eight months while White girls start at 9.7. Black girls also start their menstrual earlier than anyone else at 12.06. Whites start at 12.88. In writing the book, I wanted to understand why. I discovered a relationship between puberty, menstruation and sexual activity. In addition, I also found a relationship between puberty, diet, exercise, body mass index and being breast fed.

    I want to close with a positive statistic seldom if ever is mentioned. There are thousands of Black girls who wear chastity rings and have taken the oath of abstinence until marriage. I salute and applaud you!

    By Jawanza Kunjufu, Ph.D.


    By Jawanza Kunjufu, Ph.D.

    Excerpt from Raising Black Girls and Educating Black Girls

    Read more »
  • ,

    Caught You: Lions celebrate 65 years

    The Capitol Senior High Class of 1967 members celebrate their 65th birthday at their annual Christmas gathering in style with a formal affair at Lake House Reception Center on December 20, 2014. During the event Beverly R. Pitcher was crowned Queen and Frank James crowned King. Pictured left to right are: Bottom row: Queen Beverly R. Pitcher, King Frank James Upper row: Raymond Johnson, Gwendolyn M. Guillory, Deloris R. Gray, Patsy F. Parker, Lyndell C. Brown, Willie White. (Photographer: Cleveland Brown)

    Read more »
  • ,

    DuVernay, cast excel with ‘Selma’

    Rest in peace, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Your story has been told. Your legacy passed on. Your strategies for non-violent demonstrations shared. Your ability to change hearts, minds, and laws has been well-documented.

    Released Christmas Day, director Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” in the most inspiring way, relays MLK’s state of grace. It is a worthy homage befitting of America’s most iconic civil rights leader. A monumental achievement. In 1965, Black Americans, though guaranteed the right to vote in the 1870s under 15th Amendment, were routinely denied the privilege and given literacy and civic tests filled with trivia few would know.


    Ava DuVernay

    In Selma, Ala., Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey) prepared herself for the de-humanizing poll tax experience, but even she couldn’t answer all the questions and was denied her right to vote. She wasn’t alone. In Alabama, there were whole counties where no Black person had ever been allowed to vote.  Something had to be done. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had been organizing peaceful demonstrations for voting rights for years, to no avail. Rev. Frederick Reese (E. Roger Mitchell, from the film “Flight”), head of the Selma Teachers Association, invites Christian Leadership Conference President Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo, from the film “Middle of Nowhere”) and one of SCLC’s chief strategists, Hosea Williams (Wendell Pierce, from HBO’s “The Wire”) to Selma. A change is gonna come.

    King and his inner circle plan a 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. to bring attention to the plight of Blacks who are denied the right to vote. Meanwhile, he has been in talks with President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson, from the film “Michael Clayton”), pressuring him to push Congress to pass a Voting Rights Act. Johnson doesn’t take kindly to the pressure, and is waiting for the “right time.” King looks for ways to force Johnson’s hand. The two engage in a war of wills as Selma is about to explode on the 6 o’clock news.

    Providence brought DuVernay on board this ambitious project. Her family hails from Hayneville, Ala., a small town between Selma and Montgomery. She directed David Oyelowo in the intimate romantic indie drama Middle of Nowhere. She knew how to help him inhabit MLK’s persona. She knew how to tell a personal, humane story.  She took those strengths and masterfully added them to one of the most landmark moments in American history. DuVernay excels at directing the marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and restaging the inhumane beatings of demonstrators by White police, directed by an evil Sheriff Jim Clark (Stan Houston) and condoned by the segregationist governor George C. Wallace (Tim Roth). The behind-the-scenes, devious manipulation by J. Edgar Hoover (Dylan Baker) seems duly vile and sinister under her guidance. The brotherhood and sisterhood of King’s inner circle has the majesty, dignity and reverence fitting for heroic characters, under her eye. Even with all those big events on her plate, DuVernay, uses her skills directing relationships to pay special attention to King’s personal life.


    There’s a scene in the movie when Hoover has sent incriminating tape recordings of two people having sex to King’s stalwart wife Coretta (Carmen Egojo). That moment when she confronts her husband is one of the most dramatic, intimate and upsetting moments in the movie.  It shows the depths to which the FBI was willing to go to destroy King.  It demonstrates that a strong love between a husband and wife can even endure sabotage. It also reveals that the man who led this country out from the shadows of segregation and influenced civil rights movements for decades to come, was simply human. He had foibles.  He had regrets. Yet, his irrepressible spirit endured. It helps that the producers and screenwriter Paul Webb, with re-writes by DuVernay, chose to show just one major achievement in MLK’s life.

    The March on Washington, Nobel Peace Prize, and assassination, are not in this film. Most location shots are in Selma or the White House. You focus on the stops, starts, setbacks and triumphs of an historic march from Selma to Montgomery and the hopeful passage of the Voting Rights Act.  The dialogue between MLK and his disciples, his wife and the president are often electric.  Especially the sparring between LBJ and MLK over Johnson’s snail-pace movement towards justice: “I came here prepared to talk to you about people. People are dying in the street for this. Punished for wanting, for needing, to participate in the American political process. It cannot wait, sir.”

    David Oyelowo was born for the role.  He looks like Martin, especially after adding a few pounds, a pencil mustache and razor haircut. The voice. The movements. The oratory skills. It’s as if MLK entered his soul. Carmen Egojo is the essence of Coretta in appearance and nuance. When she talks, you feel like she is telling secrets from the past. The casting of King’s inner circle is excellent: Cuba Gooding, Jr. as civil rights attorney Fred Gray; Common as social activist James Bevel; André Holland (from the film “42″) as Andrew Young; Stephan James as John Lewis, one of the last surviving Freedom Riders.

    Two strong supporting female performances are at the heart of the film too: Oprah Winfrey as the courageous Annie Lee Cooper, who smacked a police officer. Lorraine Toussaint ( from the film “Middle of Nowhere”) as Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson, a legendary activist who was beaten unconscious during the massacre known as “Bloody Sunday.” Both give sterling performances. Bradford Young’s ( from the film “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”) cinematography is rich, graphic  and mood-setting. Ruth Carter (from Lee Daniel’s “The Butler”) recreates the clothes of the era perfectly and her designs peak in the scene when MLK and Coretta are walking arm-in-arm during a march. Editor Spencer Hart’s ( from the film “Middle of Nowhere”) timing is precision as 122 minutes roll by and you can’t remember when you weren’t at the edge of your seat. John Legend and Common team up for the song “Glory,” and Legend’s old school voice is the perfect conduit for the era.

    These days, as demonstrators fill the streets for various causes, sometimes it’s important to put events into perspective. To gauge what will happen next, you have to look back in time. Unrest brings progress. Protest brings awareness. Unity brings hope. The sacrifices we make today may not be felt for years to come.  But “Selma” teaches us that when we strive, things change. MLK knew that better then anyone.

    By Dwight Brown
    NNPA Film Critic

    Read more »
  • Food for Fines at Local Libraries All December

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Library is hosting a program throughout the month of December as a special holiday gift for our patrons, as well as for those in need. Patrons can donate a non-perishable food item at any of the 14 library branch locations throughout December, and the Library will waive $1 of the total late check-out fine per donated item. All items will benefit the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Food can include canned vegetables, soups and meat; flour; rice; peanut butter; pasta; corn meal; breakfast cereal and bars; or any canned, bagged or boxed non-perishable food item.



    Read more »
  • ,

    Baby Dolls Cafe relocates to larger site



    Baby Dolls Cafe celebrates its second quarter in its new 7869 Greenwell Springs Rd. location in Baton Rouge.

    The owners and staff boast a “good ol’ taste from New Orleans,” with great tasting Southern soul food and seafood. “From our gourmet cinnamon rolls, to our slow cooked falling-of-the-bone ribs, just like Grandma used to cook, our food will certainly guarantee your return. You will experience New Orleans cuisine from the time you walk into our Cajun atmosphere. Locals love us and we love you, come stop by today at Baby Dolls Cafe!”baby dolls ribs

    Daily lunch specials with sides for $6.49
    Hours: 6am – 11pm, Monday – Saturday
    6am – 7pm Sunday
    Call in orders to: (225) 372-2295
    Menu available online at www.babydollscafe.us

    Read more »
  • ,

    DRUM CALL: To Be Equal Eric Garner

    Statement from Marc H. Morial, President & CEO of the National Urban League, on the Grand Jury’s Decision to Not Indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Chokehold Killing of Eric Garner:

    “There are absolutely no words that can describe the miscarriage of justice that has just occurred in America – yet again. There is no rational or feasib

    le explanation that can ever justify the Staten Island grand jury’s decision to not indict the person responsible for Eric Garner’s death – a decision which itself defies common sense. Today’s unfortunate outcome – yet another in a tragic series of killings of unarmed Blacks by police officers in just the past six months – further demonstrates that we need a new approach in this nation to police-community relations, the use of excessive force by law enforcement and police accountability for acts of misconduct.

    Eric Garner did not deserve to die. NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo had no reasonable cause to kill him. After repeated review of the facts of this case and what the video clearly shows, what is most ironic is that Eric Garner was being arrested for the misdemeanor of illegally selling cigarettes; yet, the officer who used an illegal chokehold prohibited by the New York Police Department was neither arrested nor indicted. Officer Pantaleo’s actions directly led to the death of an unarmed man who displayed no threatening acts or acts of violence towards him. This cannot continue.

    To Be Equal

    “Every American lives in safe, decent, affordable and energy efficient housing on fair terms.” – National Urban League 2025 housing empowerment goal

    Mel Watt Lowers Mortgage Down Payment Requirement

    NEW YORK, NY – Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt is taking action to turn the American dream of homeownership into reality for many more people. Director Watt recently announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which he regulates and which are linchpins of the nation’s residential mortgage market, will reduce down payment requirements from 5 percent to 3 percent. This will enable many more low-income, but credit-worthy, consumers to become homeowners while helping the nation’s faltering housing market regain its traction.

    We enthusiastically applaud this move and believe that as a result, more African American, Latino and working class borrowers of all races, who face an especially tough time securing mortgages, will have greater access to conventional loans, which are more affordable than other financing options. We are also encouraged that Director Watt’s plan will allow housing counseling in lieu of costly mortgage insurance to be a compensating factor to help make up for low down payments or low credit scores.

    Saving the necessary down payment to purchase a home is one of the biggest obstacles to attaining the American Dream, especially for communities of color. African Americans and Latinos typically have lower incomes and are less likely to receive an inheritance or first-time buying help from their parents than white Americans. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, while it takes the typical white family 14 years to save for a 5 percent down payment, plus closing costs, it takes the typical Latino family 17 years and the typical African American family 21 years to save those amounts.

    Read more »
  • ,

    DRUM CALL: The Ferguson Decision highlights a house divided

    On Monday, December 1, 2014, President Barack Obama was forced to, again, weigh in to assert the citizenship and humanity of the African American Community.  Why, in 2014, was that necessary? Well, the immediate answer is because, despite overwhelming evidence of the use of excessive force by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in the death of an unarmed, 18-year-old Black male, a grand jury could not find probable cause to charge Officer Darren Wilson with Michael Brown’s murder.

    The larger question, however, is why is it that police officers believe that they can use excessive force, and even murder unarmed Black people with impunity– in broad open daylight, with multiple witnesses who testified that the victim had his hands up in the universal symbol of surrender?  The simple answer is the believe it because, in practice, police officers literally get away with murder nearly every time they use lethal force on African American people. They know, because of their training that all they have to do is SAY  “I feared for my life”, or that “I  feared that this person would inflict great bodily harm upon me.”  With those few boiler plate words, our court system almost always finds that the use of force was “justified” under the circumstances described by the officer.  That’s it!!! Over and out– officer exonerated!!!

    Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.  US Const, Amt 14


    In 1985, in Tennessee v. Garner,(471 U.S. 1), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that: “deadly force may not be used [by a police officer] unless it is necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

    Even when the officer has no reasonable or probable cause to believe that he would be injured, no charges are likely to be brought.  He just has to say that he thought he might be harmed, flash a picture of the dead person, and– oh, let us not forget the third piece of the exoneration process– attempt to destroy the character of the dead person. So, good Lawyers who know that this is a bastardization of the law must keep fighting.

    My condolences, my deepest sympathies, and my apologies to the families of Michael Brown, and to every other person who has been the victim of excessive force at the hands of police officers.  These people who take an oath to protect and serve, act under color of law to mete out what amounts to state-sanctioned street executions without due process of law– and seemingly, without any thought that they might be held accountable. So, good lawyers must keep fighting!!!

    Before anyone starts to believe that there is nothing positive here, as you will often hear me say, I believe that all things work together for Good….  I am heartened by the diversity of the people who have showed up all over the country to peacefully protest the decision of the Ferguson Grand Jury.  There are men, women, young people, seniors, black, brown and white people.  News accounts have shown college professors, journalists, lawyers, teachers, business owners, etc., all express outrage– both at the decision of the grand jury and the inexplicable violence and looting that ensued.

    Many have asked why we are so outraged when a white officer murders one of our children, but seemingly accept it as a fact of life when a young African American male murders someone in our community– generally another young African American male.  The truth is that we are outraged at both.  However, there is a higher expectation in our police officers who are sworn to protect and serve ALL persons within their respective jurisdictions.  Some of the apprehension about reporting Black on Black Crime results not only from fear of the criminals, but also from mistrust of the police.  That mistrust does not happen in a vacuum.  There is a long and storied history in this country of why people of color do not trust police.  It does not help when the lives of people of color are blatantly devalued; nor when we are marginalized and dehumanized on a regular basis in the court system.

    Today, as prior to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, police officers in the United States may, with impunity, murder members of the public, especially people of color, and to get away with it.  Again, all they have to say is that they feared for their lives. But what is left every time no justice is sought in these cases is a segment of  society that feels  they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. Citizens have a First Amendment Right to peacefully protest, and good lawyers must keep fighting!!!

    There is no reason that a clearly biased prosecutor like Robert McCullough, in Ferguson, MO, should be in office. In fact, McCullough’s failure to recuse himself from the prosecution of Darren Wilson, his passive-aggressive stance in presenting the evidence, and his failure to even ask the grand jury to indict Wilson, at best denied Michael Brown’s family due process and equal protection of law.  At worst, it was blatant, egregious malfeasance.

    “…Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand….”  Matthew 12:25

    Peaceful protests are good and an integral part of civil disobedience.  It is utilized to bring attention to an injustice, to bring about unity, and to prevent “desolation”.

    The bottom line, however, is that there is a very simple solution for elected officials who refuse to hear our calls for justice.  VOTE THEM OUT!!!  People of good will, including people of color, must vote in every election.  Every Election!!!  No one, including the prosecutor in Ferguson, MO, is concerned about a community that does not vote.

    What McCullough and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (in occupying domestic streets with military force) told the people of Ferguson in handling the Michael Brown case was, if you don’t vote, you don’t count!!!

     By Alfreda Tillman Bester
    The Drum Guest Columnist

    Alfreda Tillman Bester is an attorney in private practice in Baton Rouge, LA.  She serves as General Counsel for the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and Host of Perspective, an interactive community interest radio program which airs on WTQT, 106.1 fm in Baton Rouge every Tuesday from 5:30 -6:30 p.m.  Listen live at www.wtqt.org

    Read more »
  • Baton Rouge Chapter of The Links celebrates 50 years

    The Baton Rouge Chapter of The Links, Incorporated continued its year-long celebration marking 50 years of friendship and service to the Baton Rouge community with a social event for its members and their guests held on Sunday, November 2, 2014 at the home of Edmund and Terrie Sterling.
    Chartered on November 28, 1964, the Baton Rouge Chapter of The Links, Incorporated is committed to implementing programs that provide opportunities for community development in partnership with local, regional and national agencies. The accomplished and dedicated members are active in the community as role models, mentors, activists and volunteers who work toward ensuring that the name “Links” is not only a chain of friendship, but also a chain of purposeful service.
    During this 50th Anniversary year, the members have continued their history of service to the Baton Rouge community with the following service programs:
    Partnership with the ExxonMobil YMCA, sponsoring the Links Kids Zone
    The Childhood Obesity Initiative
    Links Rosebud Club, a youth mentoring program
    Links International Foreign Affairs & Business Empowerment for Youth
    Manna Givers at the Bishop Ott Homeless Shelter
    Louisiana Links Day at the Capitol, legislative advocacy program with 8 state Links’ chapters

    The Links, Incorporated, founded in 1946, is an international, women’s non-profit, social welfare and service organization. From its inception, the organization’s members have been developing and implementing programs that target issues affecting its members and communities. The Links, Inc. has a membership of more than 12, 000 women in 276 chapters in 41 states, the District of Columbia, and the Bahamas. Community service has been the cornerstone of the organization’s outreach with members contributing more than 500,000 documented service hours annually – strengthening their communities and enhancing the nation. The Links, Incorporated has been internationally known for its programs that are focused on topics such as health, economics, education, youth and policy efforts. Through its philanthropic arm, The Links Foundation, Incorporated, has contributed more than $25 million to charitable causes since its founding.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Silhouette of a Southern Cook

    New Orleans native, Tonya Jacob-Haggerty, shares her 30 years experience as a cook and her observations on relationships in her new 136-pg full color cookbook, “Silhouette of a Southern Cook: How Cooking Relates to Relationships.” This book is full mouthwatering southern dishes like, delightful Shrimp Cakes with creamy Remoulade sauce, New Orleans Authentic Dirty Rice, Jambalaya, delicious Crawfish Bisque, delectable Crab Corn Chowder,  and Award Winning Bread Pudding with Pecan Rum sauce and other lip-smacking southern recipes. Find out why it’s so important to prep your food before cooking and prep yourself before entering in a relationship.

    Read more »
  • App to hold police accountable

    Three LSU students plan to build an app to help the public hold police accountable, one of eight projects selected in the university’s Social Media News Challenge. Jerry Ceppos, dean of LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, chose seven projects to receive mini-grants under the school’s Social Media News Challenge grant from the Knight Foundation. Wilborn P. Nobles III, Aryanna Prasad, and Elbis Bolton plan to develop a mobile app people can use to document and report police behavior —misconduct or acts of courtesy or heroism.

    To complete the project successfully, the students will need to address significant challenges of verification, promotion and technology, Ceppos said. “But I look forward to seeing how they meet those challenges,” he added. “This is exactly the kind of ambitious project we hoped students would pursue with these grants.” Other student projects approved address social issues, entertainment, news at LSU and social media response to university sporting events.

    “We’re pleased with the variety of topics the students have proposed and their creative approaches to engaging the community,” Ceppos said. The social media grants are funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts.

    Read more »
  • ,

    What Will You Find During Medicare Open Enrollment?

    Your health needs change from year to year. And, your health plan may change the benefits and costs each year too. That’s why it’s important to review your Medicare choices each fall. Compare your current plan to new options and see if you can lower some costs or to find a plan that better suit your needs. Open Enrollment is the one time of year when ALL people with Medicare can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage.

    Whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll still have the same benefits and security you have now:

    • Certain preventive benefits – including cancer screenings – are available at no cost to you when provided by qualified and participating health professionals. The annual wellness visit lets you sit down with your doctor and discuss your health care needs and the best ways to stay healthy.
    • Medicare will notify you about plan performance and use its online Plan Finder to encourage enrollment in quality plans.
    • In 2015, if you reach the “donut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, you’ll get a 55% discount on covered brand name drugs and see increased savings on generic drugs.
    • It’s worth it to take the time to review and compare, but you don’t have to do it alone. Medicare is available to help.
    • Visit Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to compare your current coverage with all of the options that are available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.
    • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24-hours a day/7 days a week to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
    • Review the Medicare & You 2015 handbook. It’s mailed to people with Medicare in September.
    • If you have limited income and resources, you may be able to get Extra Help paying your prescription drug coverage costs. For more information, visit socialsecurity.gov/i1020 or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.
    • Get one-on-one help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Visit
    • Medicare.gov/contacts or call 1-800-MEDICARE to get the phone number.

    This message is brought to you by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

    Read more »
  • Lukongo joins Ag Center

    Ben O. Lukongo, Ph.D., was named assistant professor of agricultural economics. In this position, Lukongo provides leadership in the establishment of economic and community programs, serves as an economist for the sequential and mixed species grazing and hibiscus projects, research collaborator for existing and future research projects, and proposal developer in the areas of economic and community development. Lukongo served as a lecturer of economics and research associate for the Department of Finance and Economics in the College of Business at Mississippi State University. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa, native earned a doctorate in applied economics from the College of Business at Mississippi State University.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Tips offered for a safe Bayou Classic experience

    Louisiana highway safety officials are reminding thousands of fans driving to New Orleans for the 40th Annual Bayou Classic football game and the Battle of the Bands that Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the most risky periods for traveling on the state’s roads.

    “Thanksgiving is one of the most heavily traveled holidays in Louisiana and the nation,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.  “When the normal Thanksgiving traffic combines with the tens of thousands of visitors to New Orleans for Bayou Classic events over a long weekend, the potential for congestion and crashes is significantly increased.”

    Last year, over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday, there were 689 injuries and five deaths in vehicle crashes in Louisiana.  Blacks accounted for over one-third of the 2013 Louisiana highway crash deaths.

    Last year, more than half of the people killed in crashes in Louisiana were not wearing seat belts. Of the 140 Black drivers killed in Louisiana crashes, 61 percent were not properly wearing seat belts. Although a 2013 survey found that seat belt use reached a record high in Louisiana, with 82.5 percent of drivers and front-seat passengers buckling up, the 77.4 percent of Black drivers and front-seat passengers who buckled up was below the state average for all drivers and passengers.

    The Commission has provided grants to law enforcement agencies and State Police to participate in this year’s Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket campaign, which runs from Nov. 22 to Nov. 30. Local agencies use the grant money to conduct additional overtime patrols and checkpoints during the holiday period.

    “The Bayou Classic is a popular event that brings together friends and families from across Louisiana and many other states,” LeBlanc said. “We want everybody to make this an enjoyable and safe event.”

    The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission offers the following trips for safe travel:
    - Arrange for a designated driver, call a cab or use other public transportation if you have been drinking alcohol.
    - Buckle your seat belts. Louisiana law requires drivers and front and rear-seat passengers to wear their seat belts when a vehicle is in motion.
    - Avoid driver distractions. State law prohibits drivers from texting and using social media.
    - Drive within designated speed limits.

    Read more »
  • Fewer Blacks getting married

    The percentage of Blacks 25 and older who have never been married was 36 percent in 2012, up from 9 percent in 1960, Pew Research reported. The study, “Record Share of Americans Have Never Married,” found that 36 percent of Black men and 35 percent of Black women have never married. In 1960, 12 percent of Black men never married compared to 9 percent of Black women who never married. For those ages 25 to 34, there were 92 never-married men for every 100 never-married women in 2012, Pew found.

    Read more »
  • We’re collecting bandages – they’re collecting bullets


    Huddled together in the woods – coughing, and eyes burning – we were panicked. I was protesting in Fe

    rguson on the afternoon of August 11, 2014, with my friend and Congresswoman – Senator Maria Chapelle Nadal – when the police launched teargas into our crowd gathered peacefully. They knew that we were trapped on a dead end street and that we had no way out – yet they teargassed us for 3 hours.

    Our entire city is now trapped again as Gov. Jay Nixon is showing up ready for war, mobilizing the National Guard ahead of the grand jury decision about whether or not to charge Officer Darren Wilson for killing Mike Brown. In this moment, we need all of our brothers and sisters across the country to raise your voices with us, calling on Gov. Nixon to serve and protect us as he is sworn to.

    Will you help us? Call Gov. Nixon today: Tell him that the world is watching his actions of militarized escalation in response to peaceful protesters. This is a reflection of his leadership and concern for people. Tell him that we expect him to exercise respect and restraint, protecting the safety of our clergy and youth activists as we exercise our first amendment rights.

    Cornered in the woods and being teargassed, we repeatedly called out for help and no one came to us. Our fear was so great, Maria had an anxiety attack – all I could do was hold her until it stopped.

    Now facing the imminent Grand Jury announcement, I am again afraid of the potential aggressive and violent police response as we gather in protest. But I have to show up because I can’t un-see Mike’s body lying in the street, baking on the hot pavement for four and a half hours, surrounded by more blood than I’ve ever seen before. We have to raise our voices together because our community has suffered too long from racist police and justice systems, and because we believe that anyone who kills an unarmed child of God should be tried.

    In the past two weeks, we have trained 500 of our community members in non-violent direct action. We have spent thousands of hours developing teams and strategies that will amplify our voices loudly but peacefully. Yet as we have been collecting bandages, our Governor and police have been collecting bullets.

    Will you stand with us today by calling Governor Nixon, telling him that as people of faith you demand respect and restraint for local youth activists and clergy? Tell him to de-escalate the militarized police response to our non-violent demonstrations. Tell him that you hold him responsible for all police actions towards peaceful protesters.

    Call Governor Nixon using the script provided by PICO at:

    Thank you for standing with us in this time!

    Rika Tyler
    Youth leader and activist in Ferguson, Missouri
    Partnering with the PICO National Network

    Read more »
  • ,

    Freezing Temps Can Mean Higher Energy Bills

    Jack Frost dropped by a bit early this year, and that could mean higher-than-normal utility bills for Louisiana customers.

    “We’re used to lower bills during the normally mild fall season, but this early taste of winter is a good reminder to everyone that when the thermostat is cranked up, bills rise too,” said Melonie Stewart, director of customer service for Entergy.

    Weather is an important factor in determining how high or low energy bills may be. In fact, heating and air conditioning make up more than half of the total energy bill. Entergy encourages all customers to take advantage of convenient payment options and energy-saving tips to manage their monthly cost.

    “With the official start of winter still weeks away, it’s a good bet we can expect more cold weather in our future and potentially higher-than-normal utility bills. So now is a good time to sign up for one of Entergy’s convenient tools to help manage those costs,” Stewart said.

    One payment option that can help customers manage their budgets during extreme weather is Level Billing, which calculates their billing history over the previous 12 months and allows customers to pay an average amount each month. It helps manage the spikes in energy costs caused by extreme weather.

    Other options that can be found at entergyneworleans.com include:
    Pick-A-Date, which allows customers to choose the date when their bills are due.

    Automatic Monthly Payments, which save customers the trouble of writing and mailing checks.

    To stay comfortable and save energy when the temperatures drop, here are some helpful tips:

    Turn the heat down – During winter months, keep the thermostat set on 68 degrees. Each degree warmer will increase your bill by about 3 percent.

    Blanket your water heater – Heating water for cooking, cleaning, laundry and bathing is the second-largest energy user in homes. Insulating blankets for electric water heaters are inexpensive and readily available at any home-improvement store. These will make a difference in your energy bill.
    This early cold snap also gives customers time to make their homes more energy efficient before additional cold weather heads our way.

    If you’re more a do-it-yourself person, you can find general energy-saving tips and tools online at entergyneworleans.com for either no-cost or low-cost tips, an energy calculator, do-it-yourself videos and more.


    Read more »
  • COMMUNITY EVENT: HIV Health Day Dec. 6

    HAART, Volunteers of America, the Black Treatment Advocates Network and Walgreens invite the Baton Rouge community to join them for a family friendly event on Saturday, Dec. 6, 10am. at the Walgreens located at 5955 Airline Highway. This community event will promote an overall healthy lifestyle by providing free HIV testing, health screenings and employment assistance. The event will also feature games, space walks, raffles, door prizes and food.

    Read more »
  • ,

    SU hosts fall concert Nov. 18

    The Southern University Concert Choir, under the direction of professor Charles Lloyd Jr., will present its Annual Fall Concert.  Guest performers will be Jacqueline Paige-Green, soprano and Richard Hobson, baritone. Students Briannica Thompson, Derelyn Williams, Nicolas Lockett, Ryan Alexander and Arthur Gremillion will be featured soloists.

    The Nov. 18 ” We’ll walk in the light” concert will begin at 3pm in the Stewart Hall Auditorium.  The program will feature Christmas selections, choral anthems, and Spirituals.

    The concert is free and open to the public.

    Read more »
  • 1984 World’s Fair 30th Anniversary Celebration scheduled Nov 7

    NEW ORLEANS - Mark your calendars for November 7, 2014 and head to the New Orleans Morial Convention Center to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1984 World’s Fair. At 5:00 p.m., a large bronze plaque celebrating the Exposition will be unveiled at the corner of Julia Street and Convention Center Boulevard, the heart of the fair site.

    Thirty years ago today, the Louisiana World Exposition was wrapping up with just days to go before closing. Fondly known as the 1984 World’s Fair, it occurred from May 12 through November 11, 1984 and was the catalyst for revitalizing 82 acres of the warehouse district and opening up the Mississippi River to the public.

    Before it became the official New Orleans Morial Convention Center, the building was first used as the Great Hall of the World’s Fair. Those who gather will be reliving memories that include the Wonderwall, the gondola, the space shuttle Enterprise exhibit, the riverfront amphitheater, the synchronized swimmers at the Aquacade, the Vatican exhibit, the Italian Village, the Kid Wash, partying on Fulton Street, and visiting the many pavilions from around the world.

    Three decades later, the Fair’s long-term residual benefits are evident in the vibrant warehouse district and CBD, the blossoming of residential development, an expanded convention center, and public access to the riverfront and visitor amenities. New Orleans citizens still fondly remember the fair, and elements of it can be seen throughout the city in yards, photos, and as décor on public buildings.

    The nostalgic crowd will gather Friday, November 7 at 5 p.m. at the Plaza at New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center where the beautiful commemorative plaque will be unveiled. (Corner of Julia and Convention Center Boulevard)

    Following the dedication, a second line will proceed to the food court at The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk for a 30th reunion of former employees, contractors, exhibitors, concessionaires, performers, and lovers of the 1984 World’s Fair.

    Parking is discounted to $5 in the Hilton surface lot with voucher provided at event.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Month with Mada: Let’s keep it real


    As the election results were announced, it became more and more a concern that President Barack Obama name was exposed.  Our President is the President of this Nation.  He has nothing to do with the present situations in the Senate and House of Representatives.    They have fought against him since day one.  President Barack Obama inherited problems from the Nixon, Reagan, Bush Administrations and all of a sudden the Republicans want to turn deaf ear and act as if these matters had not existed?

    The Republicans have fought against President Barack Obama from day one.  The Republicans show no respect, they work and  try to overpower the first man in office and think because they rule the house/senate it is okay to overrule, but this nation, most importantly, is governed and supported by  our President, President Barack Obama.  Let it be known, he has the final say-so.

    In all honestly, we are not asleep, many of us are  tired of the fight between the House and Senate on Capitol Hill. “Let’s Keep It Real” and come together over the next several years to bring our local, state and national union together for betterment of our communities, state, local and on a national/international component.

    By Mada McDonald
    The Drum Columnist

    Month with Mada 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.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Open enrollment begins with improved Medicare plans

    Fall is a wonderful time of year. Changing leaves. Cooler weather. It’s also the season for people with Medicare to review their current Medicare coverage, as Medicare Open Enrollment begins.

    As we prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment, which began on October 15 and ends on December 7, Medicare wants everyone to know that quality continues to improve both in Medicare Advantage and in the Part D Prescription Drug Program.

    Each year, plan costs and coverage can change. During open enrollment, seniors and people with disabilities across the country have the opportunity to review their current Medicare coverage and see if they want to make any changes for the next year. It’s important for people with Medicare to take the time to make sure their current situation still meets their health care needs best.

    To help people choose a plan, Medicare calculates plan “star ratings” for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Each plan gets a number of stars on a scale of 1 to 5—with 5 being the best—based on quality and performance. These ratings are designed to help people with Medicare, their families, and caregivers compare plans, in addition to information on their premiums and benefits.

    This year, people with Medicare who choose to enroll in a Medicare health or prescription drug plan will have access to more high-rated, four- and five-star plans than ever before. Approximately 60 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees are in a Medicare Advantage Plan earning four or more stars in 2015, compared to an estimated 17 percent back in 2009. Likewise, about 53 percent of Part D enrollees are currently enrolled in stand-alone prescription drug plans with four or more stars for 2015, compared to just 16 percent in 2009. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, enrollment in Medicare Advantage will increase to 42 percent to an all- time high of over 16 million and Medicare Advantage premiums will have decreased by 6 percent.

    For people with Medicare, this is good news in how they receive care. Plans that are higher rated deliver a high-level of care, such as improving the coordination of care, managing diabetes or other chronic conditions more efficiently, screening for and preventing illnesses, making sure people get much-needed prescription drugs, or getting appointments and care quickly. A high rating also means these plans give better customer service, with fewer complaints or long waits for care.

    If you have Medicare and need assistance, you can visit Medicare.gov, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). You should have received the 2015 “Medicare & You” Handbook and important notices from your current plan, Medicare, or Social Security about changes to your coverage. If you’re satisfied with your current coverage, there’s nothing you need to do.

    Better quality in Medicare health and prescription drug plans isn’t the only good news for people with Medicare. For most seniors who have Original Medicare, the 2015 Part B premium will stay unchanged for a second consecutive year at $104.90. This means more of seniors’ retirement income and any increase in Social Security benefits will stay in their pockets. The Part B deductible will stay the same as well.

    Medicare is working hard to make sure this good news continues so that seniors and people with disabilities will continue to get the health care coverage they deserve.

    By Marilyn Tavenner
    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator

    Read more »
  • Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week

    Impact a child’s life with a simple shoebox gift. Fill a shoebox with school supplies, basic hygiene items, and toys for a child overseas suffering due to disaster, war, or poverty. This year, Operation Christmas Child hopes to give shoeboxes to 10 million children overseas. To learn more or to find the nearest shoebox drop-off location during National Collection Week, November 17-24, visit www.samaritanspurse.org. More than 4,000 shoebox drop-off locations will be listed beginning October 1, 2014.

    Read more »
  • Ellison becomes J.C.P Boss-in-Waiting

    J.C. Penney Company Inc. has named Marvin Ellison, an executive at Home Depot, chief executive officer- in-waiting.

    Ellison, 49, will become president of J.C. Penney and CEO-designee on Nov. 1, company officials announced on Monday. He then will succeed Myron E. “Mike” Ullman, III, as CEO on Aug. 1, 2015.

    “I am honored by this appointment and excited about the opportunity to help lead the continued resurgence of J.C. Penney,” Ellison said. “The company has been an important part of the American retail landscape for over one hundred years.”

    Ellison has been executive vice president of Home Depot’s U.S. Stores since August 2008. Home Depot, the Atlanta-based hardware chain operates approximately 1,950 stores nationwide and more than 2,200 worldwide.
    J.C. Penney, one of the nation’s largest retailers, operated 1,063 stores in 2014′s second quarter. The company is based in Plano, Texas.

    Ellison has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Memphis and a MBA from Emory University.

    Read more »
  • Tangi school board to decide on sick leave bank

    AMITE–The Tangipahoa Parish school administration has agreed to provide the school board with a recommendation on a request that accrued leave in the employee sick leave bank be rolled into the next school year.

    School system employees can voluntarily donate one hour of sick leave annually to the sick leave bank. Should an employee expend all of their sick leave and need additional leave, hours can be drawn from the sick leave bank.

    Kevin Crovetto, president of the Tangipahoa Federation of Teachers, told the board that if the remaining hours cannot be rolled into the next year, that they be returned to the employee.

    The board directed the administration to submit a recommendation by the first meeting in November.

    At the request of board member Sandra Bailey-Simmons, the board directed the administration to send to the board a recommendation on a request to set age 14 as the age for transition planning for students with an Individual Education Plan.
    Supt. Mark Kolwe said he would not recommend age 14 for all students, but would consider a case by case evaluation.

    The recommendation will be submitted at the first board meeting in November.
    At the request of board member Brett Duncan, the board directed its attorneys to provide to the board also at the first meeting in November a plan for moving the school system forward toward unitary status.

    The board is operating under the oversight of a federal judge due to a federal desegregation lawsuit filed by the parish NAACP.

    Duncan said he has received questions from constituents as to what steps the board has taken to move the suit to conclusion.

    The plaintiffs have filed numerous complaints and motions with the judge, but all have been ruled to have been without merit, he said.

    He said the school board has not been found in violation of any court order.
    The board cannot undertake simple maintenance projects because of motions filed by the plaintiffs, Duncan said.

    Attorney Pam Dill said the modified desegregation plan approved by the board in September, 2013, has been submitted to the plaintiffs three times for comment, as directed by the judge. The board attorneys have received no input from the plaintiffs, Dill said.

    The judge ordered the board to provide evidence of desegregation in the areas of transportation and extracurricular activities, facilities, faculty, staff, student assignment and transportation.

    Dill said the board has met the court’s requirements for transportation and extracurricular activities. The next step is to address a plan for the other four issues.

    Duncan asked Dill and attorney Ashley Sandage if the attorneys could have a plan ready by the first meeting in November. Dill said they could, that in fact, a plan was already prepared.

    Duncan asked that the plan show where the board now stands in terms of moving toward unitary status, and the measures that are needed to reach full compliance.

    Read more »
  • ,

    China trip promotes Ag development

    Five members of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center faculty and staff will travel to China to exchange knowledge and technology in the area of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate with Chinese scientists and officials.

    The visit is part of the United States Department of Agriculture/Foreign Agricultural Service’s Scientific Exchange Program (SCEP) with the People’s Republic of China.

    The objective of SCEP is to promote bilateral scientific exchange to promote agricultural cooperation, development, and trade between the United States and China. The Southern University Ag Center hosted six scientists from China in June of 2012. This travel will allow China to host a delegation from the SU Ag Center.

    This isn’t the SU Ag Center’s first experience with international exchange. The SU Ag Center was accepted into the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program in 2011. The program provided U.S.-based agribusiness and collaborative research training to African women from Kenya and Malawi.

    “Because of the great reputation of the Southern University Ag Center with international exchange, the USDA approached us about applying for the SCEP,” said Fatemeh Malekian, Professor of Food Science and Nutrition at the SU Ag Center and Project Director of the program.

    “We are going to get to see a very diverse view of China’s agriculture,” said Malekian. The group will travel to Beijing; Harbin, Heilongjiang Province and Nanning, Guangxi Province during their two-week visit. “Our goal is to learn from the way they are looking at agriculture and apply it here at SU,” she added.

    The delegates going to China are: Fatemeh Malekian, professor of food science and nutrition; Oscar Udoh, coordinator for planning and evaluation; Sebhatu Gebrelul, professor of animal Science; Doze Butler, associate dean of the college of agriculture; and communications specialist Bridget Udoh.

    The group will meet with the Chinese scientists who visited Southern, the staff of the National Agro-Tech Extension and Service Center, the College of Economics and Management at the China Agricultural University, the Division of Market Information at the Agricultural Committee of Heilongjiang and Guangxi Provincial Department of Agriculture; visit extension agencies; manufacturers of ag-products, grains and poultry farms.

    By LaKeesha Givens
    The Drum Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,

    Month with Mada: Free Albert Woodfox


    On October 4, 2014, in New Orleans, Louisiana, a press conference and Angola 3 Second Line commemorating the one year anniversary of death of Herman Wallace, one of the Angola 3.  The 1pm event began at the Treme’ Center and ended with a Second Line to unveil the Solitary Garden Project, 1651 North Robertson Street.

    For at least 41 years ago, the Angola 3–three young Black men, Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and Robert King–were put in solitary confinement and have spent a total of more than 100 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. They claimed their innocence and refused to be unheard or silenced;  the fight for justice continues. (Read Amnesty’s report on the Angola 3)

    Robert King, Angola 3 inmate was released in 2001, after 29 years of solitary confinement .  As per Robert,  “I may be free of Angola. But, Angola will never be free of me”.

    Herman was given his freedom last year, but four days after being released, he passed away due to a terminal illness.

    Albert Woodfox remains in Angola. Today, Albert is awaiting word from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals as his third overturned conviction will stand.

    A recent article in the Journal of Law and Social Deviance titled “Activism Unshackled & Justice Unchained: A Call to Make a Human Right Out of One of the Most Calamitous Human Wrongs to Have Taken Place on Human Soil,” Southern University law professor and a dear friend of A3 Coalition, Angela A. Allen-Bell argues that the United States government’s repression of the Black Panther Party, (where it all began for the Angola 3), has had a major and significant impact on court proceedings for the Angola 3.  “Terrorism, COINTELPRO, and the Black Panther Party – An interview with Professor Angela A. Allen Bell tells the truth about this overall situation.  “The social movements of the 1960s/1970s remains an open wound for the nation itself”.  “This is more than a national tragedy; this is a human wrong.”

    Since 2009, the Angola 3 news projects has conducted numerous interviews focusing on different entities and aspects of the Black Panther Party. The sole concentrations at this time is to Free Albert Woodfox and abolish prolonged solitary confinement. These efforts are supported by the Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International and Amnesty U.S.A. and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

    We come together as a people. We plea and cry out in remembrance of Herman’s life and legacy and continue with prayers and positive hope to fight each and every day for the release of Albert Woodfox.

    Please correspond with Governor Bobby Jindal, the Attorney General’s Office, President Barack Obama and other local, state, and national constituents and visit amnesty.org for further information. To review the film “Land of the Free”  go to www.inthelandofthe freefilm.co.uk or the main A3 website at www.angola3.org/; or www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kot68mrqCI to see The Amnesty International video about Angola 3.

    Most importantly, FREE ALBERT WOODFOX, he has served time for a crime not committed.  It is time for JUSTICE to prevail.


    By Mada McDonald
    The Drum Columnist

    Month with Mada 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.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Hundreds bring solutions for closing wealth gap

    As the racial wealth gap in the United States continues to broaden, the Southern Regional Asset Building Coalition arrived in New Orleans late September equipped with viable solutions for improving and sustaining communities that have historically high poverty rates and few assets.

    From September 24 – 26, the SRABC hosted its seventh annual conference, “Closing the Racial Wealth Gap: Innovative Solutions for Change,” with a record number of advocates, researchers, activists, and elected officials gathering to share solutions for asset building that would close the national racial wealth gap.

    The conference charged each participant with the mission to engage new stakeholders and discuss challenges and solutions for economic growth for the southern region.

    “Conferences of this nature are designed to bring new and trending information to the southern region. What this conference offers participants is current information that they may not get in any other venue in the country. The conference offers information that is specific to people of color,” said Gena G. McClendon, project director and director of asset building in states and coalitions at the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis. “We designed this conference with an outcome that would draw participants to take action,” said McClendon.


    Participants discussed historical data and existing social and economic policy structures that contribute to the growing racial wealth gap. The conference challenged participants to take the solutions back to their communities, begin implementing policies, and establish systems that will close the racial wealth gap.

    “This conference has been a form of empowerment for me. I love the power and knowledge that is at these conferences,” said Sheila Jackson, program coordinator for the Campaign for Working Families with the United Way of Volusia-Flaglar Counties in Florida.

    Closing the Racial Wealth Gap: History, Research and Stories

    “The notion persists that hard work is rewarded with the prosperity of the American Dream, but it is not true for all racial groups,” according to Meizhu Lui, former director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland.

    Lui said, “The wealth gap is not behavioral, but structural,” and therefore is not a byproduct of individual action or inaction. “Wealth doesn’t mean being wealthy, but being financially secure…and is generated by investing in assets that appreciate over time.”

    This includes assets such as homeownership, which Derrick Johnson, state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and executive director of One Voice Inc., said is the biggest wealth builder in any community, especially the Black community.

    In fact, “two-thirds of every single dollar in wealth is [gained] through homeownership,” revealed Thomas Shapiro, director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University.

    Even with such strong data in support of homeownership as a means of accumulating wealth, the gap between Black Americans and Whites endures.

    According to Shapiro, there is a 27 percent difference in growth rate between Black Americans and Whites, and there remains a widening gap in wealth since the recession.

    Darrick Hamilton, associate professor of economics and urban policy at the Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School for Public Engagement in New York, NY, said that the typical Black household has a lower median wealth. “Homeownership is an outcome measure…there are potentially other drivers [of wealth accumulation, such as] intergenerational transfers to purchase an asset,” he said.

    “Wealth is an indicator of economic opportunity, security and overall well-being—an indicator in which Blacks and communities of color are most disparate…Policies and seizure have prevented people of color from accumulating wealth as an aggregate,” Hamilton said.

    Though the same issues affect economic growth among Black Americans nationwide, Hamilton said the issues should be looked at from a local perspective. “Asset markets are local [and we] need to look at asset difference from a local context.”

    Data collected by Hamilton revealed that sub-groups of people of color fared differently depending on the area of the country in which they lived. However, no matter how well or how poorly the group fared, the racial wealth gap still existed between people of color and Whites, regardless of the area in which they lived.

    In the presentation, “Social Innovations and Working and Living in the Shadow of Economic Fragility,” Michael Sherraden, founder and director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, presented how assets play a role in the stability of households. He said incomes are declining among the bottom part of the population and race strongly affects income and inequality. Sherraden stressed that the nation must understand these dynamics to address the issue of economic disparities.

    The panelists encouraged SRABC advocates to return to their communities and address local policies that adversely affect rates of homeownership as a first solution to closing the racial wealth gap.

    The Impending Issues

    After a comprehensive review of historical and contemporary economic trends, conference presenters educated attendees on two issues that disproportionately hinder asset accumulation in communities of color: payday loans and child support payments.

    During the “Building Strong Family Legacies” panel discussion, experts addressed the persistent issue of child support and how it plays a major role in diminishing Black families’ ability to generate and sustain wealth. Expert panelists proposed enacting laws that allow for affordable payments. These laws would allow parents remitting payment to sustain themselves, lessen the likelihood of affecting other family members and increase their ability to generate and pass along wealth across generations.

    Gabriela Sandoval, director of policy and research with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and panel moderator, provided the example of how child support not only fails to build wealth but also destroys the possibility of wealth accumulation. “Nate has a four-year-old daughter, Crystal. Her mother Sarah had to sign over rights to the government to receive assistance. Nate’s earned income credit was intercepted and he had his license revoked for child support. He is faced with chronic unemployment. Because his license is revoked, he has no ability to drive, which threatens the piece of job he does have and it limits his income.”

    There are numerous examples of men and women like Nate. Mississippi State Representative and assistant public defender, Adrienne Wooten, added further insight to the child-support discussion and revealed how it is a systemic problem designed to hold back people of color. According to Wooten, “There are two million non-custodial parents in prison, and half of the non-custodial parents who are not in prison are unemployed.”

    Jacqueline Boggess, co-director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, added that fathers go to jail if they don’t pay child support. Further, burdensome child support falls disproportionately on non-custodial parents least able to pay. The vast majority of parents who owe child support have no job or reported earnings, and those who work make $10,000 or less per year. Of the parents who earned $10,000 or less, the median child-support order was for 83 percent of their income.

    Boggess emphasized that any hope for improvement and positive outcomes must come from the federal government. States have minimal reach regarding child-support issues.

    Outside of child support, the other prevailing issue that inhibits asset accumulation is predatory lending, especially payday loans. A number of legislators, including Alabama State Representative Rod Scott and Louisiana State Representative Sharon Weston Broome, have taken up the cause to fight predatory lending in their respective states, but there is still important work to do.

    With interest rates that soar as high as 400 to 500 percent, “Payday loans do not mitigate financial stress; [payday loans] cause financial difficulty and a higher rate of bankruptcy,” according to Haydar Kurban, associate professor of economics at Howard University.

    A panel of emerging leaders presented original research and proposed solutions for curbing predatory lending, including limiting accessibility, developing alternative loan products and expanding financial education. The presenters were Sienna Mitchell, MBA student at Florida A&M University; Jazmyne Simmons, recent graduate of the Florida A&M University Institute of Public Health; Shantell White, recent graduate of Florida A&M University; Alex S. James, sophomore finance student at Louisiana State University; and Leah Wooden, doctoral candidate of educational administration at the University of New Orleans.

    The conference was capped off by a call-to-action message by the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, organizer of the Moral Mondays movement and president of the North Carolina state conference NAACP. Via video, he admonished, “Movements are not built from the top down, but from the bottom up. From Birmingham up. From Greensboro up… That’s what we’ve learned. We must be in a coalition that is transformative and not transactional, and not until just your issue is won. When we make the issues not about Black and White, or conservative versus liberal, but we actually go deeper, into our deeper values, we can build unlikely allies… With the new demographic in the South, and a new language, and homegrown indigenous leadership, with transformative movements that are deeply moral and deeply constitutional, anti-racist and anti-poverty, connecting these together we can, in fact, change, state by state. We can change the South. We can break through the old White southern strategy that has for too long divided us and save the very heart and soul of America.”

    The conference ended with attendees breaking off into individual state coalition sessions lead by the Alabama Asset Building Coalition, RAISE Florida Network, Louisiana Building Economic Security Together, and the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi. Attendees met each of the sessions with excitement and the strong urge to forge ahead, bearing the charge to overcome existing barriers and implement initiatives designed to aid individuals to accumulate assets and sustain wealth that can be passed down from generation to generation.

    “I’ve never experienced anything like this. My view of how to help low-income people of color has widened and I feel a connectedness that I’ve never felt before. I’m just amazed at this whole atmosphere,” said first-time conference attendee, Dorothy Maddox, family self-sufficiency services coordinator at the Daytona Florida Housing Authority. “I would like to reference [Meizhu Lui’s] rule number three, which uses housing to bring people out of poverty. Really, this conference is changing my life and how I go back to teach and impart.”

    “My challenge is to get those with influence to be a part of this movement by working with the RAISE Florida Network and War on Poverty in Jacksonville, Florida,” said Shelia Jackson.

    As Meizhu Lui reminded us, “[It’s about] lifting as we climb.” With the leadership and solutions of the SRABC as its foundation, the South is prepared to lead the way.

    By Traneisha Jones
    Special to The Drum

    Read more »
  • LSU crowns 1st Black king


    Bradley Williams, of Lafayette, was crowned homecoming king at yesterday’s LSU vs Ole Miss football game. He is the university’s first Black homecoming king. 

    Williams,  son of Dr. and Mrs. Chris Williams, is a senior mass communication major.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Forum to detail voter suppression in Louisiana

    Louisiana Progress will present a public forum, “Jim Crow Tactics: Voting and Not Voting in Louisiana,” moderated by Jim Engster, 7pm,  Thursday, October 23, at the LSU African American Cultural Center.

    This forum on voter suppression in Louisiana will feature panelists Chris Tyson, associate professor of law at LSU Law Center;  Roland Mitchell, associate professor of higher education at LSU; Alfreda Tillman Bester, General Counsel for NAACP Louisiana; and State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith.

    The panelists will discuss their expert opinions regarding the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder, gerrymandering in Louisiana, and how the legacies of race discrimination in voting continue to have consequences for Louisiana today.

    RSVP Online: https://m.facebook.com/messages/read/?tid=mid.1413898987749%3A5f7b0a61b56eb3bb49&soft=notifications

    Read more »
  • ,

    SU Ag Center launches Ebola information webpage

    The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center is making it easier for the clients in its 64-parish area to access information about the Ebola Virus.

    The Center has launched a page on its website (www.suagcenter.com) with up to date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the transmission, signs and symptoms and prevention methods for the virus.

    “With three Ebola infections in our neighboring state of Texas, it is paramount that the Southern University Ag Center provides the citizens of Louisiana with the information they need to make informed decisions about the virus and take note of the prevention methods that are available,” said Southern University Ag Center Chancellor Leodrey Williams, Ph.D.

    According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals website, the state has been working to ready its public health and medical infrastructure. “While we certainly hope that we never have an Ebola case in Louisiana, we are committed to ensuring that our health care system and our emergency responders are prepared,” stated the website.

    To view the Southern University Ag Center’s Ebola information page, visit http:// www.suagcenter.com.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Summit on the Plight of the African American Male starts Oct. 17

    NEW ORLEANS - While Post-Katrina New Orleans has experienced tremendous progress and some quality of life improvements, Pastor Tom Watson, organizer of the 20th Annual Citywide Summit on the African American Male, argues “that there still exists the ‘tale of two cities’ when juxtaposed with the harsh realities of African American males living in New Orleans.”  Fifty-two percent of New Orleans African American men are unemployed; disproportionate numbers of Black men and boys are still being incarcerated in mass numbers; NOPD continues overuse of serious force or racial profiling (noted in the Consent Decree) and, nationally, a recurring trend of unarmed Black men being murdered by police could make New Orleans ripe to become the next Ferguson, Missouri.
    Former Mayor Marc Morial is the summit’s speaker. The summit is free and open to the public, as it is intended to elevate a participatory solution-based dialogue addressing these issues with community residents and a distinguished panel of local experts/stakeholders including: Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University; Dr. Patrice Sams-Abiodun,executive director of the Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy at Loyola University and co-author of Recognizing the Underutilized Economic Potential of Black Men in New Orleans; Jason Williams, New Orleans Councilman At-Large; and Kenneth Polite, U.S. Attorney will weigh-in on the state of Black men and boys in this city. The summit is free and open to the public.  WWL-TV Anchor Sally Ann Roberts will moderate.

    2014 Conference Events-Sponsored by Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries & The Family Center of Hope

    Stopping Murders-Rap Sessions & Workshops for 300 school-age males
                    Friday, 9:00 a.m.- Noon
    Restoring Men-20th Annual Summit– National Urban League’s Marc Morial
        Friday, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

    Healing Mothers–Helping Mothers Heal Conference
                     Saturday, 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 pm

    Helping Mothers Heal-From Interruption to Intervention

    As an outgrowth of the 2012 Conference on The African American Male, Helping Mother’s Heal was born as an intervention to aid mothers and families victimized by the murder of their sons. Due to the overwhelming outcry for help, this year’s conference will feature a new convening for victim’s mothers and their families. Mothers will address law enforcement and justice system officials and share with them their grief from these egregious crimes and a persistent, lingering source of their pain, the fact that their loved ones murders remain unsolved. District Attorney Leon Cannizaro, Crimestoppers Darlene Costanza, Juvenile Judge Ernestine Gray and Police Chief Michael Harrison have agreed to take part in the conference. Rev. Patricia Watson, founder, states “our purpose is to turn these mothers’ pain into purpose.” Registration for the conference is $35. To register, call 504.891.3264 or visit www.fchnola.com.

    “These two very important convenings are about bringing community residents together to have a voice,” said  Pastor Tom Watson.  “We cannot wait for top-down government solutions to the issues related to violence that affect us-hence, the conference attempts to explore and influence better outcomes and greater accountability for prevention and intervention.”

    Read more »
  • ,

    SU’s great alumni speak out in new book

    Baton Rouge business coach and Southern University alumnus Howard White brings together 45 of Southern University’s great alumni who share ‘Lessons of Love and Life Learned on the Bluff’ in the newly released book Southern Greats: Lessons of Love and Life Learned on the Bluff .

    White, who is a John Maxwell-certified business coach, spent the past four years and traveled some 30,000-plus miles for interviews to complete this book, this story, this start.

    “No matter how often I put Southern Greats down, I was pulled back into the purpose of teaching, inspiring, motivating, and empowering readers with these stories from highly accomplished Southern University and A&M College graduates, who I call ‘Southern Greats’…They all share a great love for life, measurable success, a passion for their purpose, and a greater love for Southern University,” White said.

    He is the author of TOP Secrets to Create A TOP Performing Business and owner of Top Choice, one of the nation’s leading vendors of Southern University memorabilia located in Baton Rouge.

    Southern Greats: Lessons of Love and Life Learned on the Bluff is available in print and e-book through bookstores nationwide and online at www.southerngreats.com. Academic and bulk discounts are available in the Top Choice Products, 1492 Harding Blvd., Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
  • ,

    WHO TO WATCH: Attorney Alfreda Bester

    There is never a typical day for Alfreda Tillman Bester.

    She is the people’s lawyer.

    But let her tell you, while it helps others, she believes that her legal work also brings her closer to God. “Whatever I’m able to do to help someone who doesn’t have a voice or doesn’t know how to navigate the system is my blessing,” she said. “It is a commitment that I have to the community that I can only say is a gift that God gave me,” she continued. “I love what I do because I get to help people resolve conflicts. It’s a blessing for me and it’s a ministry to me.” And it’s something she said she’s always known she’s wanted to do, except for the intermission of a brief childhood dream to become a physician.

    Incidentally, she credits Sunday school for teaching her everything she knows about life and human interaction, preparing her for a career in law. And also instilling the notion that there is a remedy for lack of knowledge and so she went forth, earning an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, MBA from McNeese State University, and juris doctorate from Southern University Law Center. All of the education coupled with her communal-caring has led her to tackle some of Baton Rouge’s biggest issues.

    The most notable of her recent work is the fight to preserve representative government at the East Baton Rouge Parish school board. That task included a lawsuit to maintain the districts as they were and continual opposition of the reduction in the number of school board districts.

    As an attorney, Bester said she agrees with the popular American idiom “freedom is not free,” and in regards to her community, warns that it is an easily forgettable phrase when one doesn’t understand rights. “You have to learn what your rights are and you have to know how to assert them,” she said. “If you don’t have someone to be that voice for you, then you need to find an organization.” Bester, who works with the NAACP, said the group, popular for its civil rights era work, is the organization to help.

    “We work for people who have no voice,” she said. “Everyone associates the NAACP with representing the rights of only Black people and that is just not the case.” Bester also encourages the community to lay its own groundwork, assuring that there is a task for everyone who is willing to improve their surroundings, be it letter-writing or making phone calls. “It’s about us becoming the village again,” she said. “Understanding that we are our brother’s keeper and until everyone – everyone in the community is free – until everyone has the rights that every other person has, none of us will be free.”

    And in restoring that village, Bester said it’s important not to wait to consult an attorney, but to call as soon as conflict arises.

    By Leslie D. Rose
    The Drum Newspaper

    Read more »
  • ,

    Holder appoints Vanita Gupta to DOJ post

    WASHINGTON DC–U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed Vanita Gupta Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Justice Department. 


    Gupta began her legal career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF), after graduating from New York University Law School and Yale University. LDF is the leading civil rights law firm and a separate entity from the  NAACP.

    Her first case at LDF was to challenge the wrongful convictions of 40 Black Americans in Tulia, TX, who were convicted of selling drugs solely on the testimony of one White undercover officer with a history of racial hostility and misconduct.  Her clients were eventually pardoned by Texas Governor Rick Perry and received six million dollars in a monetary settlement for their civil rights violations.  Gupta has received numerous awards and honors for her outstanding work, including the Reebok Human Rights Award.  

    Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of LDF said, “Even among the incredibly talented lawyers who have worked for LDF over the years, Vanita stands out.  Fresh out of law school, she shined a national light on the miscarriage of justice in Tulia and single-handedly amassed and led the legal team which won freedom and restitution for those convicted.  The Tulia case, and Vanita’s leadership of it, will be known to history as a turning point for racial fairness in the criminal justice system.”

    Ifill also said Gupta’s appointment was incredibly fitting for the times:  “The events in Ferguson provide a stark example of the challenges facing our nation when it comes to ensuring racial equality in the criminal justice system.  Vanita’s expertise in bringing law enforcement and communities of color to the same table, in pursuit of common goals of fairness and accountability, is precisely the type of leadership needed in the Civil Rights Division at this critical time.”

    “(Gupta) is a rock star in the civil rights bar.  We are al extraordinarily lucky that Vanita has chosen to serve her country,” said Leslie Proll, director of LDF’s Washington office.


    Read more »
  • Scotlandville Assembly seeks action on dangerous rail crossing, food access and emergency prep

    Spend a few minutes at the intersection of Scenic Highway and Scotland Avenue, and you are likely to see car after car stopping at a red light while parked directly over the rail tracks that cross the intersection. When the train comes, you’ll see drivers having to decide whether to run a red light or get hit by a train. And you’ll see drivers approaching the intersection with traffic lights that are green for their direction, while a train barrels toward the intersection in front of them.

    “Right now, this crossing is a recipe for disaster,” said the Rev. Clifton Conrad, pastor of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church. “With all the chemical and refining plants in our area, these trains aren’t just carrying daisies. We’re looking for action from our officials to make our community safer.”

    Winning safety improvements at the intersection is one of the goals of the TBR Scotlandville Assembly on Thursday evening, including better street markings, signal pre-emption so that the train and traffic lights are coordinated and the installation of traffic gates, which the crossing currently does not have.

    In addition to rail safety, TBR leaders will seek commitments from emergency preparedness officials and major industries in the area to work with them to develop a neighborhood-level emergency readiness plan and seek support for strategies to attract grocery stores to Scotlandville.

    The meeting is part of a Together Baton Rouge strategy to focus increasingly on local, neighborhood organizing, in addition to large-scale issues affecting the city-parish and the state.

    The meeting is being organized by TBR member institutions in the Scotlandville neighborhood, including Allen Chapel AME Church, Community Against Drugs and Violence, Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, Community Bible Baptist Church, Greater Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Scotlandville CDC and Southern University.

    Read more »
  • ,

    La. Attorney General blocks Ebola waste disposal in state landfill

    A temporary restraining order has been granted blocking the disposal of incinerated waste from the Dallas Ebola victim’s personal items and belongings at a Louisiana landfill, announced Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

    It was reported that six truckloads of potential Ebola contaminated material collected from the apartment where the Dallas Ebola victim became ill were brought to Port Arthur, Texas late last week to be processed at the Veolia Environmental Services incinerator. From there the incinerated material was slated to be transported to the Chemical Waste Management hazardous material landfill in Calcasieu Parish for final disposal.

    The temporary restraining order, signed by Judge Bob Downing Monday afternoon in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court, requires Veolia to cease and desist any transport of the incinerator ash from the treated Ebola contaminated waste in Texas to the State of Louisiana.  It also requires the company to provide the State of Louisiana with information regarding the transportation and treatment of the waste, as well as well as provide a listing of Texas waste landfills authorized to accept such potentially hazardous materials.  While Chemical Waste Management has publicly stated it would not accept the ash content, the temporary restraining order makes the declaration legally binding by commanding the company not to accept or dispose of any incinerated ash or other medical waste originating from Ebola contaminated materials. 

    Read more »
  • Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition to award small businesses $60,000

    Capital One Bank, in partnership with the 41st Annual Bayou Classic, today announced the 2014 Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition, a small business growth plan competition that is being held in conjunction with the 2014 Bayou Classic series of events.
    The purpose of the Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition, which will award a total of $60,000 in cash prizes, is to help small businesses in Louisiana grow and create jobs. The competition will feature two categories: Category No. 1 will be for businesses with annual revenues of less than $250,000, and Category No. 2 will be for businesses with annual revenues of between $250,000 and $1 million.

    Finalists in the statewide competition for both categories will make an oral presentation at the Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Growth Plan Competition on Nov. 28, before the winners are announced on the field during the nationally televised Bayou Classic football game Nov. 29. Each category winner will receive a cash prize of $25,000. The businesses finishing in second place will each receive a cash prize of $5,000.

    “At Capital One Bank, we are committed to Investing for Good in Louisiana communities, connecting our company’s people and financial resources to education, financial literacy and small business and workforce development,” said Rob Stuart, Capital One Bank Louisiana State President. “The Bayou Classic is a Louisiana tradition, and the Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition is a great example of how Capital One brings Investing for Good to life for small businesses in Louisiana. We’re pleased to partner with Louisiana SBDC, ACCION Louisiana and Money Management International to offer this competition and support the Bayou Classic.”

    “We are excited to have Capital One Bank as part of the 41st Annual Bayou Classic this year,” said Dottie Belletto, President of New Orleans Convention Company, Inc., the management firm of the 41st Annual Bayou Classic. “The Capital One Bank Bayou Classic Business Plan Competition continues to build the business opportunities available to entrepreneurs at Bayou Classic. The Bayou Classic events are more than just a football game, but an opportunity to support and grow the business community through multiple opportunities — with this new Capital One Bank program being the pinnacle at this year’s series of events.”

    To be eligible for the competition, businesses and their owners must meet the following criteria:

    Have annual revenues of less than $250,000, to compete in category No. 1, or between $250,000 and $1 million, to compete in category No. 2.
    Be based in Louisiana.
    Have owned the business since before Oct. 31, 2013.

    Applicants must attend one of two business development workshops offered on Oct. 24 or Oct. 25 in any of the following Louisiana cities: Baton Rouge, New Orleans or Shreveport. The training dates and locations for the three cities are:
    Greater New Orleans
    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 24 and Oct. 25
    Louisiana Small Business Development Center
    UNO Jefferson Center
    3330 N. Causeway Blvd., Rm. 317
    Metairie, LA 70002 (parking is free)

    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 24 – CoHabitat Foundation
    500 Clyde Fant Parkway
    Shreveport, LA 71101
    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 25 – Convention Center
    400 Caddo Street
    Shreveport, LA 71101

    Baton Rouge
    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 24
    American Red Cross
    4655 Sherwood Common Blvd.
    Baton Rouge, LA 70816
    9 a.m.-1 p.m., October 25 – Louisiana Small Business Development Center
    616 Harding Boulevard
    Baton Rouge, LA 70807

    Email BayouClassicBusinessChallenge@capitalone.com for more information on training times and locations.  

    Submit a letter of intent by Oct. 31, 2014.

    Submit a business growth plan by November 7, 2014.

    Capital One bank officials and area university business faculty will judge business growth plans at the regional level and select 12 businesses to go on to the competition in both categories at the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel on Nov. 28, the day before the annual Bayou Classic football game. During that competition, each contender will make an oral presentation in front of a panel of community and business leaders. The cash awards will go to the owners of the businesses whose plans and presentations are judged by the panel to be the most creative, innovative and likely to succeed in growing their business and creating jobs in Louisiana.

    To learn more about the competition, eligible business owners should contact Capital One Bank by email at BayouClassicBusinessChallenge@capitalone.com. No purchase is necessary to enter or win. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.

    Read more »
  • ,

    New Venture Theatre presents CHOIR BOY

    New Venture Theatre continues its 2014 season with Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play, Choir Boy. This play is directed by Clarence Crockett and will be performed at the Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre located inside the Manship Theatre.

    The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys is dedicated to the creation of strong, ethical Black men. Pharus wants nothing more than to take his rightful place as leader of the school’s legendary gospel choir. Can he find his way inside the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key? Choir Boy is a gripping new play with music that examines, race, sexuality, faith, bullying, education and strained family relationships.

    The cast are: Christian Jones as Pharus, David Sylvester as Bobby, Toi Bonnet as Junior, Greg Williams Jr. as David, Marcus Anderson as AJ, Brandon Lewis as Headmaster, and Roger Ferrier as as Mr. Pendleton. The crew members are: director Clarence Crockett, set designer Kelly Latchie,  costumer Angela Perry, musical director LaNea Wilkinson, and assistant director Nikki Nadkarni.

    This is an adult-rated show for mature audiences only. No one under the age of 12 will be allowed in the theatre. Performances are at the Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre located inside the Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St, Baton Rouge, on Thursday, October 23 at 7:30pm, Friday, October 24 at 7:30pm, Saturday, October 25 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, October 26 at 3:00pm. New Venture Theatre is the resident theatre for Manship Theatre.

    ONLINE: newventuretheatre.org

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Will Ferguson be a tipping point?

    Civil rights leaders across the nation hope to increase Blacks youth voter turnout by citing the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a city where only 12 percent of registered voters turned out to vote in the last city council elections.


    Community organizers in New Orleans and Houston — two cities with a long history of confrontations between Blacks and the police — have mixed views on whether outrage over Ferguson will translate into voter participation. Ferguson may be a rallying call in New Orleans, but it won’t be the dominant theme for staff and volunteers as they work voter registration tables around the city, said Erica Buher of VAYLA-New Orleans, a multi-ethnic community organization focused on youth empowerment. Big Easy youth are attuned and empathetic to Brown’s killing on August 9, but, according to Buher “what happened in Ferguson happens frequently in New Orleans.” Young people have their own Michael Browns to focus on. Their names, Buher said, are virtually unknown outside the city.

    Buher said she remembers when the police officer — convicted of shooting Ronald Madison on Danziger Bridge in Hurricane Katrina’s wake — was freed after a court upheld his appeal in September of 2013. James Brissette, 17, also died on the bridge from police gunfire. Henry Glover was killed in a separate Katrina incident. The police officer charged in his death was also acquitted on appeal last year in December.

    “The court’s reversal [in the Glover case] hit the community hard,” Buher said.

    Just weeks ago, Armand Bennett, a 26-year-old Black man, was shot twice in the head during a NOPD traffic stop by an officer who allegedly turned off her camera before the confrontation. The incident initially went unreported to the public by the police superintendent’s office. Buher said it reminds people all over again of the NOPD’s lack of transparency.

    “We will work to register voters through National Voter Registration Day up until October 6 which is the last day for us,” Buher said.

    Some 23 sites include college and university campuses as well as organizations like Covenant House and Liberty’s Kitchen, which offer services to the homeless and formerly incarcerated juveniles, respectively.

    “We work hard to reach that 18 to 24-year-old transitional age group because they’re such a critical age and they’re the hardest to reach,” Buher said that In Louisiana, “you can actually register to vote when you’re 16. A lot of that under-18 age group is pushing back on the concept that voting is the only way you can be civically engaged.”

    Yet, in Houston, Christina Sanders, the director of the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund, is convinced that Ferguson has been an “aha moment” for some of her city’s youth and a catalyst that may yield an increase in voter registration rolls.

    “This is a time when I’ve seen more young people connect to the power of the ballot,” Sanders said. She attributes increased interest to social media. “Social media, like Facebook, and the ability to connect with people around the country who are saying the same thing, feeling the same way, that changes the conversation.”

    Sanders agreed with Buher that voter registration is not a panacea or silver bullet to foster change, but the Houston native sees voter registration as the gateway for young people to become more involved in determining how to define and address critical concerns within their communities.

    “Youth should not expect everything to happen overnight, because things didn’t get the way they are overnight,” Sanders said. “Voter registration isn’t sexy, but if you connect with young people about Ferguson and how it affects people’s lives on so many different levels, you have the capacity to build on the fire in people’s bellies. You can build these small fires into a firestorm. What I say to young people is that voting is an opportunity, but your job is to constantly participate.”

    Sanders maintains that Ferguson has brought out a higher level of interest among African American youth in Houston than any single recent incident, an observation about other cities that is shared by Hazel Trice Edney, former editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and current president of the Capital Press Club in the District of Columbia.

    After a recent visit to Ferguson, Edney said she had intense discussions with the media writing class she occasionally teaches at Howard University as an adjunct professor.

    “The students are extremely interested in what’s going on in Ferguson,” she said. “They wanted to know about the disposition of the people, about the next steps the community plans to take. Even more than the Trayvon Martin shooting almost two years ago, Michael Brown’s death has been a wake-up call to many communities.”

    Edney found the stories Ferguson residents told her about police abuse to be appalling, but Brown’s death seems to be a tipping point. “People are in a mood for action. They feel it’s time to do something.”

    By Khalil Abdullah
    New America Media

    Read more »
  • ,

    Political strategist, Donna Brazile, donates papers to LSU

    Though she has made her name and home in Washington D.C. for the past three decades, distinguished LSU alumna, veteran political strategist and commentator, author and Democratic Party official Donna Brazile makes no secret of her pride in being a native of Louisiana and an LSU graduate.

    Now an important piece of Brazile’s personal history has returned to her home state with the recent donation of her papers to the LSU Libraries Special Collections.

    Donna Brazile

    Photographs, correspondence and speeches, as well as other writings, memoranda, reports and analyses, campaign management and research files, and memorabilia comprise the collection.

    Together, the 32 boxes of materials document Brazile’s involvement in Democratic politics and the Democratic National Committee; her interest in and efforts to mobilize Black voters, elect women to office and advocate for voting rights; her public speaking and teaching; her work with the Louisiana Recovery Authority; and her participation in every presidential campaign between 1976 and 2000, including as manager of the Gore-Lieberman bid for the White House.

    Brazile, who was the first Black American to lead a major presidential campaign, said, “LSU was an indispensable part of my education, as a person and as a political operative.”

    “From taking classes with life-changing professors to writing opinion pieces in the Daily Reveille to weekly Friday discussions on campus about the social justice issues of the day, LSU engrained in me a lifelong love of learning and shaped me as a political organizer. Because LSU gave me so much, I am humbled to give LSU Libraries Special Collections my papers and grateful to share my life’s work to encourage and inspire the next generation of political activists to take their seats at the table.”

    A native of Kenner, La., Brazile graduated from LSU in 1981, and the university awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2005. In the early years of her career, she was involved in grassroots efforts to establish a holiday celebrating the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and she organized the 20th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington. She then worked as chief of staff and press secretary to Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congressional Delegate for the District of Columbia. She went on to be an advisor to the Clinton-Gore presidential campaigns and, as noted above, to manage Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid. A significant figure in Democratic politics, Brazile currently serves as vice chair of voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee, and formerly served as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee and chaired its Voting Rights Institute.

    She is an adjunct professor in the Women’s Studies Program at Georgetown University who has also taught at the University of Maryland and has been a resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

    Brazile is also a nationally syndicated columnist, a political commentator for CNN and ABC News and a contributing writer to Ms. Magazine and O, The Oprah Magazine. In 2004 she published Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics (Simon and Schuster), a memoir of her life and her 30 years in politics.

    In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco tapped Brazile to serve on the Louisiana Recovery Board. Brazile is also the founder and managing director of Brazile and Associates, a political consulting and grassroots-advocacy firm based in Washington, D.C. “On behalf of the LSU family, we enthusiastically accept Donna’s papers with the utmost gratitude in doing so,” said LSU Executive Vice President and Provost Stuart Bell, “A pioneer for many, future generations will cherish the rich history that abounds in these treasured documents; those that detail her journey and someone with Louisiana beginnings who has achieved such great impact. We are extremely proud of Donna Brazile, her many contributions to society and are humbled that she is sending her papers home to her LSU alma mater.”

    “Donna Brazile’s longtime involvement in presidential politics and policy making, her status as a trailblazer for women and African Americans, her close and ongoing identification with Louisiana and LSU and the profile she has built in the public arena through her writings, television commentary and service to the DNC all combine to make her papers a welcome and important addition to our political collections,” said LSU Libraries Curator of Manuscripts Tara Laver.

    Brazile’s papers are part of the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections in the LSU Libraries Special Collections, located in Hill Memorial Library.

    Follow Brazile on Twitter @donnabrazile

    Read more »
  • Blacks more likely to bully, be bullied than other groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    While the study did not specifically examine race, the researchers found that kids who are bullied, especially for prolonged periods, are more likely to experience poor mental and physical health in adolescence and beyond.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Parents can play a vital role.

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

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

    States seem to be showing more sensitivity in addressing bullying.

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

    By Jazelle Hunt
    NNPA Correspondent

    Read more »
  • ,

    Cured of sickle cell

    Baton Rouge native confirmed as first person cured of disease


    In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the nature of Sickle Cell began to become clearer and doctors and researchers proved that Sickle Cell comes from an inherited gene from both mother and father. To date, as many as 140 thousand Americans are living with Sickle Cell  with another 2 million people carrying a gene that could potentially be passed down to their children. But with so many Americans affected and all of the research done over the one hundred years since western discovery, there is no cure for the disease.

    However one Baton Rouge native subsequently had been cured through a marrow transplant meant to save her life from another disease.

    Here’s her story.

    In 1976, Kimberlin Wilson George was two years old and newly diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia. Beginning treatment at Earl K. Long under the care of Dr. Shelia Moore, the Wilson family learned more about the disease and became active participants with the Sickle Cell Foundation of Baton Rouge.

    “Throughout my childhood I would have a Sickle Cell crisis every other week,” George said. “I would remember my arms and legs being in excruciating unbearable pain. I would just lay there crying while parents and grandmother prayed and took turns rubbing my arms and legs. When the pain reached an intolerable level I would be on my way to the emergency room at our Lady of The Lake Hospital where they knew me well.”

    Because of the pain and extended hospital stays, George missed lots of school and activities that children her age would normally be involved.

    “Life as I saw it for me was just going to be filled with lots of pain and hospital stays,” she said.

    But by age 8, George said she experienced a Sickle Cell crisis she will never forget.

    “I was in lots of pain and had pneumonia,” she continued. “Of course I was admitted to the hospital and tests were run only to find more abnormalities. My parents were then put into contact with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Once there more tests were run and the only news I remember is that I had three months to live.”

    It was then that the Wilson family also learned that their daughter had AML Leukemia. She was admitted to St. Jude where doctors decided to experiment with one of their first bone marrow transplants to get rid of the cancer.

    George’s transplant – with marrow supplied by her younger brother Shongo – was done in 1983 in Birmingham at The University of Alabama Medical Center. She was then transported back to St Jude for one year.

    “The outcome of my transplant was miraculous,” George said. “I was not only cured of the Leukemia, but also of Sickle Cell. This stunned the doctors and was also proof that God answers prayers. After I was discharged and returned home, I was confined to the house for a while. This was ok with me because I knew that there would be no more pain and I could now live a much normal life.”

    George returned to school her ninth grade year and graduated in 1992. She went on to study at Xavier University of Louisiana, later transferring to Southern University A&M College where she graduated with a degree in child development.

    Finally healthy, George taught first grade for one year, then opened a childcare center that she operated for 11 years.

    “Throughout my adult life I ran into a few obstacles, the side effects from the medication, I thought that I would never have a family and I had a deteriorated hip bone, but I kept going strong,” George said.

    The only other medical issue George ever ran into again was a total hip replacement in 2002. She has since married and has three children.

    George’s results are extremely ill-typical and she is the first person ever documented to have been cured of the disease, which included chemotherapy.

    “I live a wonderful life, live it to the fullest and thank God for living it every day,” George said. “Because of my family, many other people, the bone marrow transplant and God, I stand before you today the first person in the world to be cured of Sickle Cell and the second person to have had two blood diseases still living.”

    One of the most important things that people can do is to get tested to see if they are carriers of the disease. The next step is to get informed. Sickle Cell Warriors is a fact-packed forum where patients can share information with each other (sicklecellwarriors.com), and the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (sicklecelldisease.org) is a national advocacy group that caters to both patients and health care providers. Next, investigate clinical trials and get vaccinated because almost all sickle cell patients are immune-compromised, it’s all the more vital to keep on top of all recommended vaccinations.

    As a survivor, George would also suggest you get support, likewise many patients report getting tremendous benefit from support groups.

    “Understand you might not be the only one dealing with what you’re dealing with – always remain positive,” George said. “Just be as strong as you can, and always try to involve yourself with positive people.”

    To date, about 25 adults have received chemotherapy-free stem cell transplant for sickle cell disease in recent years. Approximately 85 percent have been cured, including Chicagoan Ieshea Thomas, who was the first Midwest patient to receive a successful stem cell transplant to cure her sickle cell disease without chemotherapy in preparation for the transplant, in 2012.

    By Leslie D. Rose
    The Drum

    Read more »
  • Are there innovative solutions for racial wealth gap? SRABC says yes

    As Louisiana drops four spots to claim the 44th place In the financial security of its residents, the Southern Regional Asset Building Coalition will host its 7th annual conference, “Closing the Racial Wealth Gap: Innovative Solutions for Change,” in New Orleans beginning Sept. 24, 4pm, at the Astor Crowne Plaza.

    With the goal of engaging discussions on concrete steps to ensure economic inclusion and wealth building for all, the importance of having such a conference in Louisiana is monumental.

    Here’s why. Earlier this year, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) released Louisiana’s number 44 overall ranking in financial security of residents. The scorecard evaluates how residents are faring across 66 outcome measures in five different issue areas— financial assets and income, businesses and jobs, housing and homeownership, health care, and education.

    The state received a “D” in the area of financial assets and income, a reflection of the state’s high level of income poverty, which is the third worst in the nation. Louisiana ranked 47th in the number of under banked households with 27% of households who have an account continuing to use high-cost or alternative financial services. Louisiana received an “F” in the education category, due in part to low math and reading proficiency levels (ranked 49th and 48th) and low rates of educational attainment. The state ranks 48th in high school degrees and 49th in two-year college degrees. Louisiana received a “D” in housing and homeownership and ranked 49th in high-cost mortgage loans. In Health Care, the state received a “C,” with 19% of residents uninsured.

    The state also ranked 23rd in policies adopted to help struggling families.

    And with those statistics, the two-day conference could not come at a better time. It will feature three plenary sessions, concurrent breakout sessions, legislative roundtable and the introduction of an emerging leadership academy sponsored by the Insight Center for Community and Economic Development. 

    Of the featured plenary will be a session titled “Making Change that Matters: Challenging Systems and Transforming Lives,” moderated by Ashley Shelton, director of One Voice Louisiana. Shelton, along with featured panelists State Senator Sharon Weston Broome, and Derrick Johnson, of One Voice in Mississippi, will discuss the intersection of public policy, grassroots advocacy, and organizing.

    Another feature will be a “Building Strong Family Legacies” session moderated by Gabriela Sandoval, director of policy and research with Insight Center for Community Economic Development.
    Sandoval designs and manages research projects focused on building wealth for economically vulnerable people and communities through the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative and other programs.
    Panelists include Halbert Sullivan, the founding president and CEO of Fathers’  Support Center in St. Louis; lawyer and the co-director at the Center for Family Policy and Practice Jacquelyn L. Boggess; and Adrienne Wooten, lawyer and a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives. Sandoval will discuss how policy change can improve opportunity and life outcomes of Black fathers, their children and their communities.

    The conference officially opens on Sept. 25 with a welcome by area coordinator Joyce M. James of Louisiana Building Economic Security Together, who has a lifestyle quote that matches much of what will be discussed at the conference.

    “Financially empowered people make Louisiana a better state,” James said. “So how do we do that? By educating people about public policy that hinder their ability to be financially empowered. So if you empower the people to build economic security over a lifetime, we could have a better state.”

    James pointed out that there is a difference between wealth and income and that it’s important to explain this, as well as provide education in financial literacy and public policy.

    The conference will also feature a bevy of keynote speakers including the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and author of Preaching Through Unexpected Pain.

    Barber has helped to lead the fight for voter rights, just redistricting, health care reform, labor and worker rights, protection of immigration rights, reparation for women survivors of eugenics, release of the Wilmington Ten and educational equality. He also serves as a national board member and the national NAACP chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee.

    “‘We’ is the most important word in the social justice vocabulary,” Barber said. “The issue is not what we can’t do, but what we can do when we stand together. With an upsurge in racism/hate crimes, criminalization of young Black males, insensitivity to the poor, educational genocide and the moral/economic cost of a war, we must stand together now like never before.”

    The two-day conference will also include keynote speakers Michael Sherraden, founder and director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and Thomas Shapiro, director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy.

    Shapiro will lead a panel discussion on the racial wealth gap. He will open the session by drawing on the historical context within racial wealth disparities.

    The panel – which includes Darrick Hamilton, associate professor, economics and urban policy at Milano; Meizhu Lui, author; and Anne Price, director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development – will present new research findings in the field and explore the power of stories and narrative as a viable platform for expanding public understanding of the racial wealth gap.

    In 1997, Shapiro co-authored the award-winning Black Wealth/White Wealth, which received the 1997 Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award from the American Sociological Association. He has also appeared on The Tavis Smiley Show, Talk of the Nation, CNN and On Point.

    Financial literacy and public policies may be serious topics, but attendees will also be treated to live entertainment by Continuum Music during the two-day event and catered meals are included in registration costs.

    Conference ‘registration is $129 and includes a materials packet, pre-conference activities and dinner on Wednesday, breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner on Thursday and breakfast and lunch on Friday. Attendees will be responsible for travel, lodging and other expenses. 

    Review the agenda: 2014 SRABC Conference Agenda.

    By Leslie D. Rose
    The Drum Newspaper

    Read more »
  • ,

    Genesis Entergy creates $100,000 SU fund

    The Southern University System Foundation and the Southern University and A&M College of Business and College of Engineering and Computer Science recently partnered with Genesis Energy to create a $100,000 scholarship fund for SU students. The scholarship seeks to encourage students to explore opportunities in their chosen fields of study and to develop a relationship with Genesis Energy. Five students from the Southern University College of Engineering and Computer Science are among this year’s recipients.

    “Academia and industry partnerships are mutually beneficial,” said Habib Mohamadian, dean of the SUBR College of Engineering and Computer Science.

    Tamara Montgomery, director of career services at Southern University believes that the University’s relationship with Genesis Energy will provide a strong foundation for SU students. “We are expanding and strengthening our partnership with Genesis Energy to provide scholarships, internships, and research opportunities for our most valuable asset… our students.”

    “We welcome the new Genesis facility to the area and appreciate the opportunity for our students and the Southern University community to be a part of this mutually beneficial partnership. We look forward to Genesis supporting scholarships, internships and laboratory enhancements to strengthen our students’ marketability in the energy and sustainability industries” said Monique Guillory-Winfield, Southern University System vice president for academic and student affairs.

    Genesis Energy is a diversified midstream energy master limited partnership headquartered in Houston, Texas. Genesis operations include pipeline transportation, refinery services, and supply and logistics. Genesis operations are primarily located in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico.

    “On behalf of everyone at Genesis Energy, we offer our congratulations to the 2014-2015 Genesis Energy Scholarship recipients,” said Genesis Energy public and government affairs specialist Drew Ratcliff.

    Read more »
  • ,

    SU Director promoted to VP for Advancement at Winona State

    Winona State University in Minnesota has appointed Ernie Hughes to the position of vice president for advancement and executive directorrector of the WSU Foundation.

    He most recently served as director of community economic development for the Southern University System in Baton Rouge, La. Prior to this appointment, he served in roles as vice president for advancement, special assistant to the president, and executive director of the Southern University System Foundation; and associate vice chancellor for advancement and community development specialist for the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Hughes holds a Ph.D. in human resource development from Louisiana State University, an M.B.A. with specialization in marketing from Mississippi State University, and a B.A. in finance and logistics from Mississippi State University.

    “Dr. Hughes brings with him with more than 20 years of experience in higher education,” said WSU President Scott R. Olson. “His reputation for fostering collaboration and sustainable partnerships is well-suited to our mission in the Advancement Office and for the university at large.”

    Hughes describes WSU as a student-focused, community-responsive university and said he is excited to spend time getting to know the campus and community while helping to develop and instill strategic institutional vision and values.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Report finds banks, others discriminate against communities of color

    WASHINGTON DC – The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 17 of its local member organizations announced the results of a major undercover investigation into the failure of banks and property preservation companies to maintain and market foreclosed homes in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. The investigation of Real Estate Owned (REO) homes in 30 major metropolitan areas found disturbing incidents of discrimination in how these banks and Fannie Mae’s preservation management companies fail to secure the doors and windows, mow lawns, fix gutters and downspouts, remove trash, and provide other maintenance for REOs in African American and Latino neighborhoods, while providing these services for their REOs located in White neighborhoods.

    A report detailing the findings of the investigation, “Zip Code Inequality: Discrimination by Banks in the Maintenance of Foreclosed Homes in Neighborhoods of Color,” was released today. It details the results of the investigation of more than 2,400 REO properties located in and around 30 major U.S. cities. The report is the third released by NFHA (similar reports and results were published in 2011 and 2012) and provides information about the broadest investigation to date into REO discrimination. Both the White neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color investigated were middle and working class communities with high foreclosure rates and high owner-occupancy rates. The investigation avoided zip codes with high levels of renters or investor-ownership.

    “This report documents the ongoing threat to communities of color across America: that zip code determines whether banks properly maintain and market the homes titled in their names,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “The banks and property preservation companies are under contract to maintain these homes. They are supposed to get the best price when selling a foreclosed home. Banks and Fannie Mae are obligated to make sure lawns are mowed, shrubs are trimmed, mail is stopped, and flyers are removed from the porch. They are also responsible for ensuring that the gutters are cleaned to stop water or ice damage, windows and doors are secured and repaired, trash and dead animals are removed, emergency numbers that actually work are posted, and professional “For Sale” signs are placed in the yard. Banks fulfill these obligations in predominantly White neighborhoods but overwhelmingly fail to perform these simple routine maintenance chores in middle and working class African-American and Latino neighborhoods.”

    Read the report: http://bit.ly/reo2014.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Women`s Help Center celebrates 20 years

    For the past 20 years the Women’s Help Center has been dedicated to upholding family values through offering women and families facing an unplanned pregnancy life-affirming support and compassionate care. The Women’s Help Center, located at 7515 Scenic Hwy in Scotlandville, provides free services to women and their families including: pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, HIV testing, prenatal and parenting classes, abstinence support, and compassionate counseling.

    In support of its mission, the Women’s Help Center held its 16th Annual Leaving a Legacy of Life Fundraising Banquet and Silent Auction on Friday, August 15, 2014.  Featured speaker Dr. John R. Diggs Jr, a board-certified Internist, who has put his medical training and 15-plus years of clinical experience to work in developing a series of messages advocating the sanctity of human life and the proven benefits of sexual restraint, captivated the audience with his dynamic presentation.  Featured musical guest, Anita Jarrell-Robertson, melted the hearts of the crowd with her captivating voice and shared testimony of her life-changing experience. All proceeds from this event will be used to help The Women’s Help Center continue to serve families in need.

    Community news submitted by Natalie Thomas
    Photography by James Walker


    Charles “Trey” Thomas III, Rev. Gene Mills, Senator Sharon W. Broome, Barbara Thomas, Dr. John Diggs, Charles Thomas II.

    Read more »
  • Darrow woman claims $100,000 prize

    Less than a month after the launch of the Louisiana Lotterys new SAINTS scratch-off, Tracy Logan steps up with the golden ticket.

    The 49-year-old Darrow resident claimed the first $100,000 top prize-winning ticket for the 2014 SAINTS scratch-off. Logan said she is primarily into basketball, but she felt a little more like a Saints

    She received $70,000 after state and federal taxes were withheld. Logan said she plans to use the money to pay off her car. She purchased her winning ticket at Gonzales Super Stop in Gonzales.

    The Lottery launched its sixth $5 Saints-branded scratch-off game on Aug. 18. The 2014 SAINTS scratch-off includes three scenes emblazoned in shiny gold metallic ink. The game features three remaining top prizes of $100,000 plus the opportunity to enter nonwinning tickets into a series of four second-chance drawings to win unique game-day prize experiences or official autographed Saints merchandise. The entry deadline for the first of those drawings is Sept. 15.


    Tracy Logan of Darrow shows off her big check after being the first $100,000 SAINTS scratch-off

    Read more »
  • ,

    Candidates bow out alderman race

    OPELOUSAS– The race for District D Alderman in the city of Opelousas is down from four candidates to two. Derri Levier and Alfred Dupree Jr. are no longer running for office after their opponent Sherell Roberts filed suits against the two. She said neither candidate lives within the district. According to court documents, Roberts alleged that Levier actually lives in Palmetto, and only changed her voter registration to a home in District D to qualify. In another lawsuit, Roberts claimed that Dupree lived in the Opelousas subdivision of Broadmoor, outside of District D and only recently changed his registration to a District D address. Roberts also filed suit against her final competitor, Rachel Babineaux, who is staying in the race after a judge ruled that she is eligible. Election day is November 4th. Current District D alderman Reggie Tatum is not running for re-election and instead is running for mayor of Opelousas.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Technology firm to bring 200 jobs

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Ministers partner to help combat chronic illnesses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • Tolbert now national Baptist president

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

    Read more »
  • Collins performs with 300 thespians

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


    Read more »
  • EBR home to 500 high-powered rifles, more

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

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

    Read the entire story at WAFB.com

    Read more »
  • ,

    Caught You! JK Haynes

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

    Read more »
  • Artistic protest

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

    Read more »
  • Study: Blacks exposure to pollution greater than whites

    By New American Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • Broussard receives book award

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

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

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


    Read more »
  • ,

    Blacks experience more bullying

    By Jazelle Hunt
    NNPA Correspondent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Parents can play a vital role.

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

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

    States seem to be showing more sensitivity in addressing bullying.

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

    Read more »
  • Grambling grad creates band to guard against germs

    ID Me Bands 2

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

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

    Nicole Reeder ID Bands

    Nicole Reeder ID Bands

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

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

    Read the entire story by Anastasia Semien.

    Read more »
  • High schoolers win nationally with local 100 Black Men

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

    Read more »
  • Who’s in charge?

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

    By Yolanda Brown 

    Contributing Writer 

    Read more »
  • Danse Noir commemorates fifth season with themed recital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    mom copy

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

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

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

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

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

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


    By Cameron James 

    City News Manager 


    Read more »
  • Local youth poetry group competes in Philadelphia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You once asked me why I kept so many secrets,

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

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

    I’ve tried to give you honesty,

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

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

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

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

    you would have none of it.

    Excerpt, “Trust Issues” – Jennifer Deschner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    9 year old me

    thought I could save my mama. 

    that I could write her addiction away.

    10 year old me

    told mama that I’d write her letters

    to express to her how I felt

    mama didn’t remember how to express how she felt

    but by the time 11 year old me came through

    those letters became prayers to


    but the prayers became futile 

    because 12 year old me 

    wasn’t sure God even existed anymore. 

    I’m not even sure God exists anymore

    Excerpt, “Mama” – Brittany Marshall and Antonio Dupre 

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • Capitol City Golf Association celebrates 49 years

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Cameron James

    City News Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Contributing writer 

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


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

    One Crazy Summer

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

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

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


    Contributing writer

    Read more »
  • Southern receives charter bus

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

    Read more »
  • Cupid releases ‘CuRobiks’ fitness DVD


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    City News Manager

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    NNPA Correspondent 

    Read more »
  • Timothy Carter’s composition performed internationally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Assistant Managing Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For a full schedule of this years stops click here

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

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

    Who is Jeffery Woods?

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

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

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

    How bad did it get before you made a change?

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

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

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

    What fitness regimen do you use?

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

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

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

    How did you celebrate reaching your goal?

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

    By Cameron James 

    City News Manger

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • Lewis named Mentee of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Eddie Ponds


    Read more »
  • Tatum moves to shrink EBR board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Terry Young II

    Contributing Reporter

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

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

    Read more »
  • LLBC secures $5.4 million for education

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

    Read more »
  • Sweet Summer: Louisiana Snowballs

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

    Is it snowball and snowcone?

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

    Where did the snowball come from?

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

    How do they shave the ice?

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

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

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



    Read more »
  • Men’s Health : A guide to cancer screenings


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

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

    Colorectal Cancer

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

    Lung Cancer

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

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

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

    • Are you in fairly good health*?

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

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

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

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

    Prostate Cancer

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

    Skin Cancer

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

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

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



    Read more »
  • A love for Lululemon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Cameron James

    City News Manager 

    Read more »
  • Session ends with ‘sweeping change’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Terry Young Jr

    Contributing Writer


    Read more »
  • Medical Training College to host Open House

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

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

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

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


    1. Clean your meat.

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

    2. Create a dry rub.

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

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

    3. Prepare the grill.

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

    4. Cooking the ribs.

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

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

    Read more »
  • Student wins science Olympiad in Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Cameron James 

    City News Manager

    Read more »
  • Barnes elected to COSBP

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

    Read more »
Back to Top
Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com