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    Congressional Black Caucus speaks out on immigration bills, family separation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Celebrating Juneteenth

    A Message from the Louisiana Democratic Party

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

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

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

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

    Best,
    Karen Carter Peterson, Chair

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Until justice is real, 

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

     References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Who to Watch: Dawn C. Collins

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

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

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

    Personal resolution:  Seize the Day.

    Life/business motto: Integrity. PERIOD.

    Business resolution: Uplift community.

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

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Breathe

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

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

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

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

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

    Website: DawnChanetCollins.com

    Social media: facebook.com/littleorganizerthatcould

    @DDCollins76 on both Twitter and Instagram ℜ

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    Historic independent police monitor bill heads to Governor’s desk

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

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

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

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

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

    COMPLETE HCR 98

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

    By On Notice 4 Justice

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  • Dillon honored by Washington Parish sheriff

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

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

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  • Public comment period for ITEP proposed changes ends June 22

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Grow Baton Rouge Farmers & Makers Market opens June 9

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

    ONLINE: www.GROWBATONROUGE.com

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    Judge Piper Griffin named Louisiana Judicial Council Chairperson

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

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

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

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

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    Southern University wins in NIS national oral and poster competitions

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

    Oral Presentations

    Irene Lewis   1st Place Agricultural Sciences undergraduate

    Kirstin Brooks 2nd Place Psychology undergraduate

    Gagandeep Kaur 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Poster Presentations

    Prathusha Bagam 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Demario Vallier 2nd Place Poster Biology graduate

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Interview with Donney Rose on Black Out Loud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • SU Board to meet Friday, May 25

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

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

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

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    SU Commencement speaker wants graduates to ‘be the change’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

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    Developmental Disabilities Council seeks public comment by June 11

    Public Comment Sought on Council’s 

    FFY 2019 Action Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Billy Washington
    Guest Columnist

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  • ,,

    High schoolers meet Chief Justice for Law Day

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Retiring? You have a choice to make on Medicare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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  • ,,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Fifth Annual Family Fit Day is Saturday, May 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For additional details on Family Fit Day, visit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Antonio R. Harvey
    California Black Media

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    Wells Fargo makes $60 billion pledge to Black homebuyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Stacy M. Brown
    The Washington Informer

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

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    IWE Festival returns to Baton Rouge with May 26th Kickoff 

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.iwefestival.com

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Christine Assaf
    Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

    Genia Coleman-Lee

    Genia Coleman-Lee

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

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

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

    Sandra Dee Olison

    Sandra Dee Olison

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

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

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

    ONLINE: myteamfamily.com

    Read more »
  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: Push for new constitution is suspicious

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

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

    Sincerely,

    Jay Morris
    State Representative / District 14
    Monroe, La

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Mayor Broome launches Buy Baton Rouge program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Project Power Summer Camp opens registration for youth

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tell Rep. Carmody: stop selling out our communities

    Until justice is real, 

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

     References:

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

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

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

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  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For more information about Senate Bill 365, click here.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Perkins has been appointed as library’s PR director

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Williams of New Venture honored

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • ,

    Kina Kimble appointed commissioner of 19th judicial court

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

    YES
    NO

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

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

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

    YES
    NO

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

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

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

    YES
    NO

    Capitol High School EBR Tax Opposition

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  • ,

    State epidemiologist receives The Reverend Connie Thomas Award

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

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  • ,

    SU, BRCC sign articulation agreement for STEM students

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

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

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

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

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

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  • ,,

    Angela Rye to speak at Southern University Spring Commencement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Senator Regina Barrow
    Louisiana Legislature

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

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome
    East Baton Rouge Parish

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

    Rev. Lee T. Wesley

    Rev. Lee Wesley

    Rev. Lee Wesley

    Together Baton Rouge 

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

    State Representative Randal L. Gaines

    Randal Gaines

    Randal Gaines

    Chairman, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus 

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

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

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

    Donovan Hudson
    Attorney

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

    Ernest Johnson JD
    Former President, Louisiana NAACP  State Conference

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

    This can still happen legally!

    What We Need!

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

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

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

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

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

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Assistant Director, ACLU of Louisiana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Patricia Morris
    President, Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

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  • ,,

    Halfmann delivers courageous account of a slave teacher’s legacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Sateria Tate
    NBRNOW Blue Ribbon Commission

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  • ,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • ,

    An open letter to the citizens of Baton Rouge

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

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

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

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

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

    Sincerely,

    Raymond A. Jetson
    Chief Executive Catalyst
    MetroMorphosis

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    Temple honored by Boys and Girls Club

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

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  • High schoolers win at national court competition in DC

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

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

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

     

    Jaidyn Bryant receives her award as a top four competitor

    Jaidyn Bryant receives her award as a top four competitor

     

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

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    COMMENTARY: 3 ways stress takes a toll on your body

    April is Stress Awareness Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

    Friday, April 27th

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

     

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    Discover world of space with Renee Horton

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

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

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

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

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Celebrate National Minority Health Month

    Submitted news

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Michele McCalope
    The Drum contributing reporter

    Read more:

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

    Attorney General to give update on Alton Sterling case

    ‘I am that next legacy’

    Department of Justice statement on the Alton Sterling investigation

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

    Dialogue necessary to move beyond fear

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

    Sessions during the symposium will include:

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.suagcenter.com/symposium.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

    Tara Melancon

    Tara Melancon

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

    The issue has become increasingly relevant.

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

    Read more at The Crime Report by Julia Pagnamenta.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Nurses focus on ‘community medicine’ to restore healthcare desert

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

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

    exterior_460w-300x300

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

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

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

    IMG-4407

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

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

    DSC_8414

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    IMG-4228

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

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

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

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

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

     

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Photos by Hodge Media Group

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    Entrepreneurship program seeks new applicants from military personnel

    The Louisiana Veteran Entrepreneurship Program, or LVEP, is accepting applications from Louisiana military personnel, including active duty, reservists and veterans, who are interested in starting a business. The deadline to submit applications is April 17.

    LVEP was created in 2017 as a partnership between Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs, the Louisiana National Guard, the Louisiana Business and Technology Center and LSU Executive Education. LVEP is designed to boost business opportunities for Louisiana veterans through a three-week, online learning program, followed by a one-day “boot camp” or in-person training session. LVEP graduates are then provided long-term counseling from small business resource partners in their communities.

    The program strives to have at least 30 percent of its participants launch a business and collectively raise at least $5 million in startup capital. A long-term goal of the program is to create 100 new jobs through new veteran-operated businesses.

    “Our veterans come home with remarkable leadership skills and on-the-job training,” said LSU Innovation Park executive director Charles F. D’Agostino. “This program empowers them to utilize these skills and channel their entrepreneurial spirit, creating new businesses and generating jobs in our communities.”

    Participants must have access to a computer and Internet connection to participate in the three-week online portion of the course and to complete assignments.

    Submit applications on the LSU Innovation Park website:www.lsu.edu/innovationpark/LVEP.php.

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  • ,,,

    Senator Chabert writes ‘It’s time to end attacks’

    Dear Editor:

    Since 2014, several parishes have filed lawsuits in an attempt to make energy manufacturers pay for rebuilding Louisiana’s coast. These lawsuits are mostly being driven by plaintiff’s law firms that have built reputations for suing our state’s oil and gas companies.

    Restoring our coast and protecting our wetlands is an important mission, but these lawsuits are not the answer. The reality is that there are many parties that contribute to coastal and wetland degradation in our state, not just energy manufacturers. The energy manufacturers are good corporate citizens that contribute to their communities in many ways. These employers are the source of thousands of high paying jobs, tens of billions in economic growth, and billions more in state and local tax revenue. The recent approval of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline project is an example of this recent growth.

    These lawsuits attack the companies that are currently the largest contributors to our coastal restoration funds. If we truly want to grow and maintain our coastline, we should be doing everything possible to encourage the industries to locate and expand in our state. It’s time to end these attacks and come together to create a coastal protection plan that works for everyone.

    Sincerely,

    Senator Norbert “Norby” Chabert
    Louisiana Senate District 20

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  • ,

    Southern rolls out Ag mobile during annual small farmer conference, hundreds in attendance

    More than three hundred small farmers from throughout Louisiana gathered at the Felton G. Clark Activity Center for the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’s 8th Annual Louisiana Small Farmer Conference. The three-day conference themed, “Transforming and Elevating Louisiana Small Family Farms,” was held March 15-17, 2018.

    Events kicked off on March 15 with a ribbon cutting for the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus’s Mobile Education and Technology Center.

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    The mobile center will be used to provide educational training, bring Internet access, hands on testing and live instruction to low-to-moderate income families residing in the most marginalized areas and remote corners of the state.

    Sessions held during the day included grant writing, emergency preparedness, and integrated pest management.

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    La Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain DVM

    The second day of the conference began with an address from Louisiana’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM. The keynote address was delivered by Leonard Jordan, the acting chief of the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service.

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    Leonard Jordan

    Session included Programs for Veterans, Intensive Small Scale Farming, Agro-Tourism, Farm Liability Insurance, Social Media Marketing, Biodiversity on Your Farm, Estate Planning, Record-Keeping and Urban Farms.

    The Louisiana Living Legends Banquet was held on the evening of March 16 following the conference’s sessions. This banquet honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    The 2018 honorees were Winzer Andrews, retired county agent/ parish chairman with the LSU AgCenter’s Cooperative Extension Service in Caddo Parish; State Representative Barbara West Carpenter, Ph.D., dean of International Affairs and University Outreach at Southern University; and Veeraraghava R. Bachireddy, Ph.D., professor emeritus of plant and soil sciences at the SU College of Agricultural, Family, and Consumer Sciences.

    The three join 24 others who have been honored with this recognition since 2005.

    Anthony Reed, director of special projects for the School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences at Alcorn State University, served as the speaker for the banquet.

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    The conference concluded with a workshop on Managing Feral Hogs. During the workshop Gene Cavalier, a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry spoke to the attendees about the rules and regulations for feral hogs in Louisiana. Derrick Banks, extension agent at Prairie View A & M University also made a presentation on managing feral hogs.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens-Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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  • ,

    COMMENTARY: Preparing Parents for the ACT

    Standardized tests give many students the heebie jeebies, especially tests that are known by three letters and determines many factors about life after high school.  I’m talking about the ACT and the SAT. As a an academic and college coach, I either have to help students reduce their anxiety about these tests or light a fire beneath them.  My true preference is to have students in the middle of these extremes. Students should have a healthy respect for these tests. They should not feel that their intellectual identity is reflected in the scores they make.  However, they should not take it lightly either.

    While it has been nearly 17 years since I have had to prepared for the ACT, the test has changed very little.  My test preparation was trial and error over the course of my high school career. My family did not have the resources to take a full course by the top test preparation companies. And, neither one of them attended college so these tests were foreign to them, which means they could offer minimal help.  So, I purchased a $25 test prep book and went at it on my own for about two hours during the week and five hours on the weekend. I religiously did this from my sophomore year to my senior year. My score was enough to give me a competitive edge for scholarships and awards.

    Throughout the years, I realized that my study methods, nor the result, were a common practice or experience. I really wanted  to empower students to conquer the ACT regardless of the hand life has dealt. I began to offer workshops and personal coaching services. While the students benefited the most from the information, parents were comforted knowing that they were able to provide support for their child.  Here are the top 6 tips that I always provide families embarking on their journey of test preparation.

    1. Start early. A majority of the ACT is based on skills learned in 7th – 10th grade.  Most students wait until junior or senior year to take the test. By then, they have forgotten most of the concepts, especially in math.  Arrange for your child to take the test in their spring of their 9th grade year.

    2. Take the ACT often to decrease anxiety. Taking the ACT is like any other performance activity.  The more students practice in real conditions the more comfortable they will be when it counts. Also taking the ACT frequently can help students recognize patterns of questions that will help them streamline their study strategy. Taking the test one or two times raises the stakes for students and causes pressure, which in turns breeds fear and anxiety.  Start with taking the test once a year during 9th and 10th grade years. Increase attempts to two times in the fall and spring during their junior year. Seniors should take the test as many times as possible until the desired score is reached. Taking practice tests at home under similar testing conditions is also useful.

    3. Dedicate special study time. Slow, consistent and steady wins this standardize test race.  Starting ACT prep as early as the 9th grade prevents cramming which leads to anxiety. Help your student set aside quiet time that is dedicated to practice.  Schedule a few, intense, short study sessions (30 – 50 minutes) per week during the academic year. Increase the frequency during the summer to prevent summer melt.

    4. Divide and conquer.  The ACT is perceived to test students on everything they have learned. This is a myth that paralyzes students with stress.  There are a set number of skills and concepts that the ACT focuses on. You can find a complete list of topics on act.org and in most preparation books.  Devise a strategy to attack the content and create a schedule to cycle through content. Use scores on official and practice tests to determine weaker areas.  The ACT administration can provide students with their actually answers along with the answer key for an additional fee. Paying the additional fee may be worth the cost, as students can gain valuable wisdom and insight into own their testing habits. I often find students getting wrong answers because of 2nd guessing, simple mathematical mistakes, or misunderstanding the question and not because they could not answer the problem.

    5. Invest in affordable resources. There are many free and low-cost resources available to aid students in their preparations.  A test prep book is an essential resource. However, they are not all the same. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure the book has a diagnostic test, at least two additional practice tests, and skill building sections where students can refresh on concepts. Another type of prep book is a workbook that walks students through specific content in-depth.  Workbooks allow students to become their own tutor and interact with the material. There are some preparation books that are just a series of practice tests. These types of book offer very little help on individual concepts, however they offer great information on how to eliminate the wrong answer and attack common questions. Lastly, there are also books that just provide tips and strategies.  Besides books, you can also find flash cards, mobile apps, and email subscriptions. ACT.org has free and paid practice material. Sites like Kahn Academy and YouTube have free videos that help students work through particular problems and concepts.

    1. Talk positive.  Words, positive or negative, can impact a student’s mindset and mindset has the greatest impact on performance.  I often hear parents say, “She’s not good with tests.” “He’s never been good in math.” I see the result when students are in front me in a workshop.  Students give less than 100% effort while saying, “I don’t remember this or “I could never get this.” When students think they are already defeated, they won’t commit the time or effort into improving. This is known as a fixed mindset.  Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their talents, traits or performance can never improve. Those with a growth mindset Parents can help shift students’ mindset from fixed to growth by calling attention to their hard work, quality time dedication and their persistence. Parents should recognize small improvements no matter if it is getting one practice problem correct or improving their score on the official test. Focusing less on skills or ability and more on effort and strategy can help your student improve their performance on the ACT as well as get them in the college mind frame.

    While I am a part-time college coach, I am also a full-time higher education administrator who works to improve the number of students who complete college.  Understanding the full picture from admissions to graduation, I know that grades and scores are shallow predictors of success especially for minority students.  There are plenty of smart students who are college drop-outs. Those who persist to the end are the ones who take advantage of resources, practice self-management, confidently face challenges, acknowledges their weaknesses and appreciates learning. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that I give these same tips to parents during freshman orientation on how to help their child succeed in college.  How a student prepares for the ACT can give more insight into college performance than the score by itself. Helping them to connect quality effort and discipline to high performance can be as valuable of a win as achieving the score alone.

    By Erin Wheeler, Ph.D.
    Erin Wheeler, Ph.D., is the founder of BePreppy.com, a college counseling site dedicated to providing quality low-cost, college planning assistance to all. She can be reached at erin@bepreppy.com.

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  • COMMUNITY EVENTS: March and April 2018

    Local and Statewide Events

    March

    22 – 25: Louisiana Crawfish Festival: 5:00 p.m. at the Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center at 8245 W Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette. Cajun entertainment and current hit parade bands explode on stage to draw crowds to the sounds and glitter of showmanship.

    24: BRBT Dancin’ in the Streets 2018: 4:30 p.m. at Perkins Rowe, 10202 Perkins Rowe, B.R. Event presented by the Baton Rouge Ballet Theater. Enjoy an awesome dance party in the streets of downtown with pulsing live music and delectable food provided by various local restaurants. $55 advance, $65 at gate.

    24: Repticon Reptile and Exotic Animal Convention 2018: 10 a.m. The convention will be held at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center, Gonzales. $12 Adults, $5 Children 5-12.

    24: BREC’s 2018 Summer Camp Registration: 9:00 am for Baton Rouge residents (April 3, 2018 at 3:30 pm for non-residents). For further information, call 225-272-9200 ext. 580.

    24: Sistars of Empowerment Social Organization “Bossed Up to Glow up” Empowerment Breakfast: 9:30 a.m. at Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, B.R. This is the second part of the Boss up Series by Sistars of Empowerment. This women’s empowerment breakfast will motivate and inspire you to “glow up” even after the “boss up”. This event is for young ladies and women who are looking to reach their greatest potential in every aspect of life. Guest speakers, Door prizes, Food, Fellowship, and Fun. Free, RSVP to sistarsinc13@gmail.com.

    25: The 100 Black Women of Metropolitan Baton Rouge “Stay at Home Tea” Fundraiser: All day online event. For further information, visit their website at https://www.100blackwomenmbr.com/workshops.

    25: Screening of the movie “Backpack Full of Cash”: 2:30 at Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, B.R. Come join Progressive Social Network (PSN), Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE), and One Community One School District for a followed by a panel discussion with local education leaders, activists, and experts. The panelists will include individuals with diverse views on charter schools in Baton Rouge. Narrated by Matt Damon, this feature-length documentary explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, “Backpack Full of Cash” takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, exposing the world of corporate-driven education “reform” where public education — starved of resources — hangs in the balance.

    27: Mary B. Perkins Cancer Center’s Mobile Clinic: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The mobile clinic will be at the Main Library at Goodwood Blvd., B.R. distributing free breast, prostate, skin, and colorectal kits. For further information, call 225-215-1234.

    27: Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus’s 14th Annual “Connecting Businesses with Contracts” Procurement Conference: 8:00 a.m. at the Felton G. Clark Activity Center. The conference provides a venue for potential and existing business owners, contractors, non-profits, small towns, and municipalities to learn about the resources that are available through federal, state and local government agencies and major prime companies.

    30: Downtown Baton Rouge Live After 5 2018: 5 p.m. City Hall Plaza, 100 North Blvd, B.R. Come out and enjoy free live entertainment on March 30, April 6, April 13, April 20, April 27, and May 4, 2018. Free.

    April

    4 -8: Cycle Zydeco 2018:  6:00 a.m. at the Ramada Lafayette Conference Center, 2032 SW Evangeline Thruway, Lafayette. This festival consists of a leisurely ride through Louisiana’s swamp country. Participants ride from venue to venue eating, dancing and drinking their way to a good time.

    6: SwagHer Magazine Issue Release Party- Changing the Narrative: at 7:00 p.m. at BREC’s Jefferson Highway Park, 8133 Jefferson Hwy, B.R. $15.

    6: Denham Springs Fair: 4:00 p.m. at 7510 Vincent Rd, Denham Springs.

    6-7: Scott Boudin Festival 2018: 5:00 p.m. at the City Hall Grounds, 125 Lions Club Road, Scott, LA. The festival is filled with plates of lip-smacking Cajun cuisine, rhythmic blues and carnival entertainment for kids of all ages. $45 all weekend ride pass.

    7: The New Orleans Chapter of the National Black MBA Association: “Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship Gala”: 5:00 p.m. at the Homer L. Hitt Alumni and Visitors Center, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans. The keynote speaker will be former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, Jr.  For further information, email the association at scholarship@nonbmbaa.org.

    7: The 3rd Annual Crawfish Color Run:  10 a.m. at The Lodges at 777, 777 Ben Hur Road, B.R. This kaleidoscopic 5K was established in 2011 and takes place in several cities throughout the world. Run, laugh, listen to music, dance and be doused with colors along the way. The first 500 people to register and make a suggested $5 donation to Relay for Life receive a free shirt.

    7-8: BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo Zippity Zoo Fest 2018: 9:30 a.m. Celebrate 48 years at the BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo, 3601 Thomas Road, B.R. For further information, call 225-775-3877.

    12: Women’s Council of Greater Baton Rouge General Meeting: 11:30 a.m. at Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, B.R.

    12 -15: 35th French Quarter Festival:  11:00 a.m. at the New Orleans French Quarter.  There will be 21 stages set up throughout the French Quarter that celebrate all genres of music from contemporary jazz, folk and gospel to Zydeco and New Orleans Funk. Food and beverages offered at the festival are provided by local New Orleans restaurants.

    13 – 15: 47th Annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival: Noon at the Memorial Park located in the historic and beautiful Ponchatoula, Louisiana. The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is a free family friendly outdoor festival, filled with lots of great food, games, and live entertainment.

    14: The CEO Mind Foundation: WOMANHOOD 101: GIRLS EMPOWERED: 9:00 a.m. at 4000 Gus Young Ave, B.R. For further information, call 225- 372-1416 or info@theceomind.org.

    14: Urban Congress on African American Males: 2018 Urban Congress General Convening: 8:15 a.m. at 6955 Florida Blvd, B.R. This is an open invitation to individuals of all interests, industries and backgrounds who share one common agenda: creating a Baton Rouge where Black males are valued by the community as integral assets and are productive, connected, healthy, and safe.

    14 -15: 24th Annual Baton Rouge Blues Festival: Noon at Louisiana Old State Capitol, 100 North Blvd, B. R. This year’s festival will feature performers such as Mavis Staples and Kenny Neal. For a full performance listing, visit their website at http://www.batonrougebluesfestival.org.

    18: Champions of Services Awards and Gala: 5:30 p.m. at Capital Park Museum, 660 N 4th St, B. R. Volunteer Louisiana will celebrate its 25th Anniversary and the legacy of national service and volunteerism in Louisiana. The event will feature a keynote address from Governor John Bel Edwards. For further information, please visit http://www.volunteerlouisiana.gov.

    19-22: Louisiana International Film Festival: Cinemark Perkins Rowe, 10000 Perkins Rowe, B.R. Guests will see Louisiana’s finest along with terrific films submitted from around the world. For movie listings and pricing, visit https://www.lifilmfest.org/event/fulllineup or call (225) 761-7844.

    21-22: Angola Prison Rodeo: 9:00 a.m. at Angola Prison Rodeo Arena, 17544 Tunica Trace, Angola.  Tickets are $20, children 2 and under free.

    25 – 29: Festival International de Louisiane:  6:30 p.m. at Downtown Lafayette, 315 Lee Ave, Lafayette. The festival celebrates the French flavor of Southwest Louisiana with five days of world music, art and food in downtown Lafayette.

    25: East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition: 6:00 p.m. at Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, B.R. A community coalition is forming with a campaign to expose the deplorable conditions in the EBR Parish jail. There will be a call for reforms so that city officials can take the necessary steps to correct this gross violation of residents’ rights. All those interested in participating are invited to attend.

    27 – 29: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Week One): 11:00 a.m. at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. Advance tickets are $65 for adults ($80 at the gate), $5 for children ages 2-10. For performance listings go to http://www.nojazzfest.com/lineup.

    28: The CEO Mind Foundation GRILL AND CONNECT: 11:00 am. at 4000 Gus Young Ave, B.R. This is a community outreach event that allows the organization to connect organically with the members of a neighborhood. Refreshments will be served. For further information, call 225- 372-1416 or info@theceomind.org.

    29: Louisiana Earth Day Festival: 1:00 p.m. at LSU Parker Coliseum/Ag Center, B.R. For further information call 225-274-8367.

     

     

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  • ,,,

    There’s a Juke Joint in West Baton Rouge

    The West Baton Rouge Museum is pleased to announce the grand opening of the Juke Joint exhibit on April 6th at 6:30PM. This new permanent exhibit will interpret the rich blues heritage of West Baton Rouge. It is one of the first projects of the museum’s new curator of exhibits Kathe Hambrick.

    Kathe Hambrick, Curator of Exhibits, West Baton Rouge Museum

    Kathe Hambrick, Curator of Exhibits, West Baton Rouge Museum

    The Juke Joint grand opening is a tribute to Slim Harpo with living legends Henry Gray and Carol Fran along with tomorrow’s legends Carter Wilkerson and the Riverside Blues Band and Rudy “Trey” Richard, III. We will be frying fish and serving up Juke Joint beer from Tin Roof and the all new “Baby Scratch My Back” cocktail invented just for us by Cane Land Distilling Company, said museum planners.
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    Juke joints have a history that is deeply rooted in small towns throughout the south. West Baton Rouge was famous for the juke joints that provided relief to the workers coming in from the sugarcane fields and long hard days of work on the Mississippi River. The night time establishments in West Baton Rouge Parish drew crowds as the Blue Laws of East Baton Rouge did not apply on the west side. You could hear live music playing all night through open windows across the canebrake. Ernest Gaines is quoted in his memoir, Mozart to Leadbelly, “Baton Rouge was a dry town on Sundays; so I…would go across the Mississippi River into Port Allen, into The White Eagle bar.” He wrote about hearing Bobby Rush, Bobby Blue Bland, and Ernie K-Doe in The White Eagle.

    Learn more of the juke joints and the Blues musicians that made West Baton Rouge famous. Be prepared to dance and share your juke joint stories from West Baton Rouge Parish.

    ONLINE: http://westbatonrougemuseum.com

    Photos by James Terry III

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  • Erika McConduit resigns as president of Urban League of Louisiana

    The Urban League of Louisiana (ULLA) announced today that President and CEO, Erika McConduit, has resigned to explore other career opportunities, effective July 2018. The search for McConduit’s successor will begin in the near future.

    In an official letter to the Board of Directors, McConduit stated: “For the past five years, I have proudly served as president and CEO of this esteemed organization and community treasure. During this time, I have had the privilege of serving under a dedicated Board of Directors, and leading an incredible team of professionals, who’ve all worked tirelessly to breathe life into our mission of assisting African Americans and others seeking equity to secure economic parity, power, and civil rights. Personally and professionally, however, I challenge myself to have an even greater impact in a different field, which is why I am exploring other career opportunities at this time.”
    McConduit worked for the Urban League of Louisiana for nearly a decade, first serving as Vice President of Programs and subsequently as Executive Vice President before being named President and CEO in 2013. She is the second woman to serve in this role in the affiliate’s 80-year history.
    During her tenure as President and CEO, McConduit achieved incredible outcomes, most notably, expanding the organization from serving the Greater New Orleans area to a statewide entity, with a satellite office in Baton Rouge and space agreements in surrounding parishes in Louisiana. McConduit also oversaw the purchase of a new 26,000 sq. ft. headquarters building in the mid-city area of New Orleans, which also provides office and meeting space for small businesses, non-profits, and the community at-large. Under McConduit’s leadership, the organization responded to crises including flood recovery by providing over $3.5 million in clothing and household goods to impacted families in the Greater Baton Rouge area, and hosted a landmark conference to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, releasing a research publication examining the State of Black New Orleans Ten Years Post-Katrina.
    “As the President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana, Erika McConduit dedicated herself to the mission of the organization,” said ULLA Board Chairman Chris D’Amour.  “Erika exemplifies the Movement. As Chair of the Board, I extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to Erika. ULLA will now conduct a first class search to find our next CEO who will continue Erika’s legacy of changing lives throughout Louisiana.”
    The Urban League touches the lives of over 10,000 Louisianans each year through direct service programs in early childhood education, parent engagement, college and career readiness, workforce development, economic inclusion, and civic engagement. During McConduit’s service as President and CEO, countless members of the community were impacted in each of ULLA’s direct service areas, which had a direct and sustainable impact on the region at large.In addition, her tenacious policy and advocacy efforts helped to transform systems at both the local and state level.
    McConduit expressed her appreciation by stating, “I’d like to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to our clients, funders, partners, community members, staff, Board of Directors, Young Professionals, Guild, and the National Urban League. In our 80th anniversary year, the Urban League of Louisiana is strong, vibrant, and ready to grow to even greater heights.”
    During her remaining time at the organization, McConduit will play an active role to ensure a seamless transition for continued success in the League’s work to Empower Communities and Change Lives.
    McConduit concluded her letter to the board with, “It has been my greatest honor to have had the privilege of serving as president and CEO of such an important, effective, and transformational organization as the Urban League of Louisiana. I sincerely appreciate the trust and support you’ve given me throughout this incredible journey.”
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  • Federal judge blocks construction of Bayou Bridge pipeline said it would ‘irreparably harm’ Atchafalaya Basin

    Federal District Court Judge Shelly Dick halted the construction of the controversial Bayou Bridge pipeline across the Atchafalaya Basin. Today’s decision grants a preliminary injunction to prevent ongoing irreparable harm to this ecological treasure while a lawsuit, filed Jan. 11, is being heard.

    Dick found that the lawsuit filed by several groups — Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association (West), Gulf Restoration Network, Waterkeeper Alliance and Sierra Club, represented by lawyers with Earthjustice – raises serious concerns and that the 162-mile pipeline would irreparably harm the Atchafalaya Basin.

    The groups recently presented live testimony during a hearing showing that the ancient cypress and tupelo trees slated to be turned into mulch while the pipeline right-of-way is being cleared would never return, including evidence that these old-growth trees are the Noah’s Ark of the swamp – providing habitat for migratory birds, bears, bats and numerous other wildlife.

    In addition, the groups showed that pipeline construction would further degrade nearby fishing grounds that local commercial crawfishers rely on for their livelihood.

    “The court’s ruling recognizes the serious threat this pipeline poses to the Atchafalaya Basin, one of our country’s ecological and cultural crown jewels,” said Jan Hasselman, attorney from Earthjustice representing plaintiffs in this matter.  “For now, at least, the Atchafalaya is safe from this company’s incompetence and greed.”

    Jody Meche, a third-generation commercial crawfisher and president of the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, testified about how the Bayou Bridge pipeline would make existing problems worse – problems created by the irresponsible behavior of oil and gas companies during construction to previous pipelines in the basin.

    These problems include hypoxic water conditions that kill crawfish, eliminating harvests in areas of the Basin, the safety of local communities and the survival of Cajun culture.
    “We fight the fight for years, telling our story, raising public awareness about the issues we have in the Atchafalaya Basin,” Meche said. “It felt great to finally be able to tell my story in a courtroom.”

    “After years of witnessing the systematic destruction of the Basin with impunity by these companies, while our government turns a blind eye, it felt good to finally tell our story to a person with the power to make a difference,” Dean Wilson, executive director of Atchafalaya Basinkeeper said.

    The groups also raised concerns about the fact that construction of the pipeline would decrease natural flood protection in the basin, which acts as the major floodway project that protects millions of people in coastal Louisiana and the Mississippi River valley from Mississippi flood waters.

    The Bayou Bridge pipeline project proposes to connect the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, which transports volatile and explosive Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to refineries in St. James Parish and export terminals, forming the southern leg of the Bakken Pipeline. Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), which owns the Dakota Access Pipeline and is a joint owner in the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline, has one of the worst safety and compliance records in the industry.

    Federal data shows that Energy Transfer Partners and its subsidiary Sunoco Inc. have been responsible for hundreds of significant pipeline incidents across the country in the last decade.

    Last week, Sunoco was fined a record $12.6 million by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for violations incurred during the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline.

    The court ordered BBP to halt construction, citing the need to prevent further irreparable harm until the matter can be tried on the merits. The judge said the court would provide a more detailed opinion at a later date.

    Additional reaction from plaintiff groups:

    “ETP has a horrible track record that keeps getting worse every day,” said Donna Lisenby, Clean and Safe Energy Campaign Manager at Waterkeeper Alliance. “Waterkeeper Alliance is very grateful and relieved that a despicably horrible and incorrigible repeat offender has been temporarily stopped by the courts from damaging water, land, and wildlife in Louisiana.”

    “We have no time to lose,” said Scott Eustis, Gulf Restoration Network. “The sand stolen by these rights-of-way must flow to the coast—the sand cannot be spent filling our swamps. Once those swamps are filled, there’s no fish, and the vines cover the trees, so no birds. It’s over.”

    “The Bayou Bridge pipeline would pose an unacceptable risk to the wetlands, water, and communities along its route, and should never be built. It is a relief that the court has granted this injunction so we can make our case against this dirty, dangerous pipeline, and we will continue to fight until it is stopped for good,” said Julie Rosenzweig, Sierra Club Delta Chapter Director.

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  • ,,

    Homecoming crowd celebrates Tasker Memorial’s anniversary

    Words from two favorite old hymns best describe the recent 150th anniversary celebration at Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Ponchatoula.

    Written after Tasker was organized in 1867 and, like the church, both songs have stood the tests of time: “O what a foretaste of glory divine” (“Blessed Assurance” 1873) and “What a day of rejoicing that will be” (“When We All Get to Heaven” 1898.)

    Indeed, the rejoicing by the congregation was just a sampling of the future awaiting Christians everywhere.

    Former City Councilman Wayne F. Foster was master of ceremonies and two choirs participated, Tasker’s and visiting Amite Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion.

    The choirs led and were sometimes joined by the congregation in singing as well as solos by Barbara Dixon and Clifford Guy Walker. Songs heard: “He is Lord”, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”, “I’ll Go if I Have to Go by Myself”, “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand”, and “How Great is My God.”

    One song, “He’s an On-Time God,” reminded everyone of God’s timing: “He may not come when you want Him to, but He’ll be right there on time!”

    During the service Jacqueline Brumfield extended a welcome, Debbie Brown gave history and Virginia Jeanpierre and Yvonne Elzy gave reflections.

    Pastor Rev. John E. Hurst Jr., welcomed everyone, introducing Mayor Bob Zabbia who thanked the church for the invitation, expressing what the church and its members mean to the community. He recognized Community Center Director Lynnette Jackson Allen who grew up in the church and introduced Kathryn Martin as the writer of the proclamation.

    Gwen Bankston, read with great feeling its words, some of which are:

    Whereas, Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church stands at the corner of South Sixth and West Ash Streets in Ponchatoula as a permanent monument and testimonial to the toil and sacrifice of its faithful leaders and members across the years; and

    Whereas, the church has always been of great historical importance to the City of Ponchatoula since its organization October 12, 1867; and

    Whereas, the leaders, members and friends who come and go from the place of the Holy on a regular basis help meet the needs of the church family as well as those of the community and many others through their support of home and foreign missions; and

    Whereas, the church and its family serve as a beacon to the feet and light to the path to lead the way for countless men, women, boys and girls to know our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ;

    Whereas, it is a privilege to extend the expression of our esteem and best wishes to Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church on its 150th anniversary;

    Now, therefore, I, Robert Zabbia, Mayor of the City of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, hereby proclaim this day as Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church Day.

    Rev. Dr. John Wesley Forbes III, pastor of Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion, brought a rousing timely sermon.

    Those working behind the scenes to bring the special day about were the program committee: Helena Brown, Jacqueline Brumfield, Barbara Dixon, Wayne F. Foster, and Joyce Roberts; finance committee: Debbie Brown, Charles Dixon, Wayne F. Foster, M. Nathaniel Kelly, and Joyce Roberts; music committee: Linda Hodges and Lawrence Greely.

    The service was followed by a time of feast and fellowship and this blessed and wonderful day will long live on in the minds and hearts of everyone attending.

     By Kathryn J. Martin
    Contributing Writer

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  • ,

    Public asked to comment on future of Medicaid-management care March 14 – 16

    The Louisiana Department of Health is seeking public input as the State moves towards improving its Medicaid managed care program. Those who are interested in learning more about the department’s plans are invited to attend one of three forums scheduled this week.
    The forums will allow participants to learn about, and provide input on, Medicaid’s next Request for Proposals (RFP) for new Medicaid-managed care contracts. This competitive process will begin in early 2019. The meetings will be held at the following dates, locations and times:
    March 14
    Baton Rouge
    Our Lady of the Lake, Main Auditorium
    5000 Hennessy Blvd., Baton Rouge
    6 pm to 8 pm
    March 15
    Lafayette
    Lafayette General Hospital, Administrative Office
    920 W. Pinhook Road
    6 pm to 8 pm

     

    March 16
    Lake Charles
    Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, Sherman Conf. Center
    1701 Oak Park Blvd.
    11:30 am to 1:30 pm
    Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee will be attending the March 15 forum in Lafayette.  “The future managed care approach will emphasize rewarding providers for better care, improving whole-person care and excelling at population health management,” said Gee.
    With more than 1.5 million Louisiana residents enrolled in Healthy Louisiana, Medicaid’s managed care program, the Department of Health is committed to designing a procurement to find the best health plan partners to achieve the “Triple Aim” of better care, better health, and lower costs in the Medicaid program.

    “The Department is early in the policy development and information gathering stage for this future procurement and looks forward to public input in the design process,” said Jen Steele, Medicaid director.

    Currently, the state has contracts with five managed care plans to provide specific Medicaid benefits and services to eligible children and adults in Louisiana.

    The current Medicaid-managed care contracts will expire on December 31, 2019, and the new Medicaid managed care contracts formed through the RFP will be in place for January 1, 2020.

    All meetings are open to the public, and pre-registration is not required. For more information, visit www.makingmedicaidbetter.com or email healthy@la.gov.

    Read more »
  • ,

    3 ways to prepare for a troubled teen’s return from a treatment center

    Raising a teenager can be a challenge under the best circumstances.

    But when a teenager’s addictions, learning disabilities, or emotional and behavioral issues become more than parents can bear, the young people often are placed in residential or wilderness treatment programs where professionals help them work through their issues.

    Success can quickly unravel when the child returns home, though, if parents aren’t ready with a game plan to help with the transition.

    “Parents often fear that their son or daughter is going to relapse into old, unhealthy or dangerous patterns,” said Tim R. Thayne, PhD, a marriage and family therapist and author of Not by Chance: How Parents Boost Their Teen’s Success In and After Treatment (www.drtimthayne.com).

    “They have fears about how their child will connect socially with other people and whether they will find the right friends. They fear their teen will fall further behind in academics.”Unknown-1

    Thayne suggests a few ways to help parents ease the transition:

    • Identify natural mentors for your teen. A natural mentor – such as a neighbor, teacher, relative or coach – is typically more effective than an officially assigned mentor. “Studies suggest that most formal mentoring relationships last less than a year,” Thayne said. “In contrast, natural mentoring relationships, which come from the church, school, family and neighborhood, are far more durable, with the average lasting nine years.”

     

    • Know when and how to grant back privileges and freedoms. Don’t let your teen pressure you into promising the return of certain privileges. Long before they come home, teens in treatment often begin asking what they are going to be able to do and how soon. “They want back the freedoms they once had, such as cell phone and car use, sleepovers, computer time, dating, time with friends and so forth,” Thayne said. “If there is ever a time not to buckle under pressure from your teen, it’s now while they are still in the program. If your teen is going to be angry, let the program deal with the fallout.” When they do come home, don’t make a rule you aren’t willing to back up. Consistency is key. Over time, as your trust grows, be ready to hand out rewards before being asked, but this doesn’t have to be done all at once. “Things can be handed out for a weekend trial, or at a level of 50 percent of what your child initially pushed for,” Thayne said.

     

    • Find someone to talk with. “Parents should have someone they can open up to about their emotions,” Thayne says. He suggests finding a therapist or a coach who has experience working with parents in this situation. “That counselor will be better equipped to help you through this transition,” he said. “Nothing will surprise them; not your fears, not your questions, not your situation.” In addition to an expert coach, Thayne said, it also helps to have a trusted friend you can vent to as well.

    “Long-term success doesn’t come about by chance, by hoping or simply because you shelled out a lot of money and sent your child away to get help,” Thayne said. “It requires work and changes on your part, and it takes a concrete plan.”

     

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  • ,,,

    SU Land-Grant Campus holds successful 75th Annual Livestock Show

    For 75 years, Southern University has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout Louisiana to gain valuable knowledge and skills at its Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show. The event was held March 1 – 3 at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena.

    “We are excited to celebrate 75 years of holding a livestock show. Southern is the only Historically Black College or University that currently holds a livestock show and we are very proud of that,” said Dawn Mellion-Patin, Ph.D., SU Land-Grant Campus vice chancellor for extension.

    To qualify for the state show, competitors had to have won first place at a parish livestock show.
    Thirty-nine young people from across the state were named state champions in various breeds of dairy and beef cattle, lamb, goat and poultry during the show.

    Southern provides a holistic experience for its participants, the community and college students enrolled in the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    “Our participants are learning about every aspect of the livestock industry,” said Patin. “They are responsible for feeding the animal, taking care of the animal and ultimately selling the animal and using the money from the show to purchase another animal and repeat the process over next year.”

    Patin also discussed the importance of this 75th anniversary.

    St. Joseph mayor and retired Tensas Parish Extension Agent, Elvadus Fields, has travelled with participants to Southern’s Livestock Show for 57 years.

    “I think it (SU Livestock Show) aids in the development of responsible womanhood and manhood,” said Fields. “Most of all that child is responsible for that animal. If the animal eats, the child has to feed it. If the animal gets sick, the child has make sure the animal gets well.   The child has to learn how to discipline the animal and be disciplined as well,” said Fields.

    Seventeen year-old Destinee Morris is an example of the development that Mayor Fields talked about. The West Feliciana Parish native has been showing steers at the Southern University Livestock Show since she was 11. She said participating in the Livestock Show has helped her learn to enjoy nature.

    “In the past I did not like being outside at all, but now I enjoy being around animals and different farm animals and taking care of them,” said Morris.

    She credits her sister for peaking her interest in showing steers after seeing pictures of her participating in Southern’s Livestock Show.

    This year is Morris’ last year participating in the Livestock Show. The high school senior plans to attend college out of the state in the Fall. For her final show she took home Reserve Champion in the Market Steer Division and placed 3rd in Showmanship.

    The Southern University Livestock Show is like no other show in the state. “Our show is unique in the fact that we offer guided school tours that include a petting zoo, gardening station and educational presentations while the participants are showing their animals,” said Harold Mellieon, Ph.D., director of Livestock Show Programs. “The tours provide an opportunity for many youth in the Baton Rouge area to see live farm animals in person for the first time. We also have college students from Southern’s College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences assisting with every part of the show. This gives our college students hands on experience in the field,” he said.

    Southern also holds a “Night with the Stars: Old Fashion Livestock Decorating Contest” on every Friday evening after all the animal have been judged.

    “We hold this event to give the participants an opportunity to have fun with their animal one last time because the Jr. Auction on Saturday morning,” said Mellieon.

    The “Night with the Stars’ winners are:
    Kyle and Wyatt Sonnier, both from Calcasieu Parish, dressed as the Cookie Monster with Borden’s milk and a cookie in 1stplace; Brady Hayes from Jefferson Davis Parish, dressed as Elvis & The King in second place and Zabadiah Ates from Union Parish, dressed as St. Patrick’s heifer in 3rd place.

    The first, second and third place winners received a $100 and a Ozark Trail 26 Quart High Performance Cooler, $50 and a EndZone Bubba Keg and $25 and a Coleman’s Oversized Quad Chair, respectively.

    The following is a list of additional winners in various livestock categories and their home parishes. Each winners received a premium, ribbon, rosette and trophy belt buckle.

    Registered Dairy
    Grand Champion – Wyatt Sonnier, Calcasieu Parish
    Reserve Champion – Kinsley Windom, St. Tammany Parish

    Commercial Dairy
    Grand Champion – Camille Sonnier, Calcasieu Parish
    Reserve Champion – Kyle Sonnier, Calcasieu Parish

    Dairy  Showmanship
    Grand Champion – Wyatt Sonnier, Calcasieu Parish
    Reserve Champion – Kinsley Windom, St. Tammany Parish

    Brahman Bull                                                           
    Grand Champion – Caplan Young, Winn Parish
    Reserve Champion – John Michael Pickett, Winn Parish

    Non Brahman Bull                                                   
    Champion Non-Brahman – Skylar Primm, Caddo Parish

    Brahman Heifers
    Champion Brahman – Jesse Sandel, Sabine Parish
    Reserve Champ Brahman – John Michael Pickett, Winn Parish

    Non Brahman Heifer                                    
    Champion Non-Brahman – Hailee Daigle, Ascension Parish
    Reserve Champ Non-Brahman – Zabadiah Ates, Union Parish

    Commercial Heifer
    Grand champion – Ashlyn Natali, Calcasieu Parish
    Reserve Champion – Trevor Mclendon, Sabine Parish

    Beef Showmanship
    Grand Champion – Tanner Browning, Sabine Parish
    Reserve Champion – Brenden Ford, Sabine Parish

    Market Steer
    Grand Champion – Brady Hayes, Jefferson Davis Parish
    Reserve Champion – Destinee Morris, West Feliciana Parish

    Market Lamb
    Grand Champion – Jacob Reyenga, Bossier Parish
    Reserve Champion – Caroline Dupree, Bossier Parish

    Market Lamb LA Bred
    LA Bred Champion – Jacob Reyenga, St. Martin Parish
    LA Bred Reserve Champion - John Adam FontenotBossier Parish

    Lamb Showmanship                                      
    Grand Champion – Tanner Browning, Sabine Parish
    Reserve Champion – Brenden Ford, Sabine Parish

    Market Goat                                         
    Grand Champion – George Chambers, Bossier Parish
    Reserve Champion – Katlyn Mathews, Bienville Parish

    Market Goat LA Bred                                     
    LA Bred Champion – Katlyn Mathews, Bienville Parish
    LA Bred Reserve Champion - Luke Padgett, Claiborne Parish

    Goat Showmanship                                     
    Grand Champion – Madison Green, Winn Parish
    Reserve Champion – Katlyn Mathews, Bienville Parish

    Market Hog                                          
    Grand Champion – Brady Hayes, Jefferson Davis Parish
    Reserve Champion – Jada St. Pierre, St. James Parish

    Hog Showmanship                                        
    Grand Champion – Palynn Fontenot, Cameron Parish
    Reserve Champion – Jada St. Pierre, St. James Parish

    Broiler                                                             
    Grand Champion – Jamie Kile, Rapides Parish
    Reserve Champion – Taylor Martin, Rapides Parish

    Broiler  Premier Exhibitor                           
    Grand Champion – Addisyn Robinson, St. Landry Parish
    Reserve Champion – Cedrick DeRouen, East Baton Rouge Parish

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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  • Rose selected for national recognition at The Kennedy Center

    Baton Rouge poet and teaching artist, Donney Rose, has been selected for the 2018-1019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow Recognition. The Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow Recognition is an award that highlights Citizen Artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities and who live up to the ideals of service, justice, freedom, courage and gratitude that are inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s legacy.

    As part of the recognition program, Rose will attend the 2018 Kennedy Center Arts Summit, “The Future States of America: Using the Arts to Take Us Where We Want to Go,”  April 15-16, held in Washington, D.C. He is also invited to collaborate, share practices, and receive mentorship from Kennedy Center artistic partners and staff at the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows Retreat, tentatively confirmed for Sept. 21-24. He will receive ongoing professional development opportunities with Kennedy Center staff and partners; information regarding national convenings to attend, potential grant applications, and other resources from top partners such as the Aspen Institute, National Endowment for the Arts, ArtChangeUS, and Citizen University. Rose is also invited to attend, present, and participate in Kennedy Center’s 2019 Arts Summit.

    Rose was nominated for the fellowship by Maida Owens, Louisiana Folklife Director, Louisiana Division of the Arts. The nomination process included recommendation letters from which Rose received high praise in varying areas of his work by attorney and LSU Law professor, Chris Tyson; former Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon; LSU English professor Sue Weinstein Ph.D.; Love Alive Church pastor Ronaldo Hardy; and Humanities Amped co-founder Anna West, Ph.D.

    Rose began his work as a poet through spoken word and competing nationally in poetry slams. A graduate of Scotlandville Magnet High School, Rose has always sought ways to better his hometown and as such, is invested in the city’s youth development scene. He began working in youth development in 2008 through Louisiana Delta Service Corps. He has worked full time as a teaching artist and marketing director for Forward Arts, Inc. for nearly a decade. He was named to The Drum‘s Men to Watch in 2015 and  Business Report’s Top Forty under 40 class in 2017. He was the recipient of the inaugural Making a Mark award at the 2017 Ink Festival (Tupelo, Miss.) and the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year award from New Venture Theatre. His writing has been featured on Button Poetry, All Def Digital, and in Nicholls State’s Gris Gris literary journal. Following the turmoil of Baton Rouge’s summer of 2016, Rose was a pivotal voice in the community and was interviewed by the BBC, Democracy Now, the New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Advocate.

     

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  • ,,,

    COMMENTARY: Teachers have Been Armed!

    A couple of days ago, I read a blog post from a sister who works within the public fool system. She stated emphatically that if white teachers were to be armed, she would immediately remove her Black son from the school.

    Trust me. I think that that’s a great idea.

    My only issue is that we are so reactive.

    If white folk do this, I’ll do that.

    If Dump becomes president, I’m moving to Afrika. (I wonder how many have actually repatriated.)

    Always reacting.arming-teachers-28166604_10108801548667945_659648788552076372_n-680x680

    The reality is that teachers have always been armed with the weapons of miseducation, cultural misorientation, and low expectations. They, Black and white teachers, have been dealers in mentacide for the longest. That “mental gun” has shattered more dreams and lives than we can ever calculate.

    We don’t need anything else to happen within the schools to know that the public, private, and charter fool system is no place for the young Afrikan mind.

    Let’s be proactive. The proactive posture fills us with power and puts us in control of our lives and our children’s education.

    This reactive stuff is LAME.

    With or without guns in the classroom, our Afrikan minds don’t survive in the contaminated soil of the Eurocentric educational system. But we can do something about that.

    Revolutionary Love,
    Baba Dr. Brotha Samori Camara
    from Accra, Ghana

    P.S. Mississippi has already begun the process of arming teachers. Now what? Read about it HERE.

    Samori Camara, Ph.D., is an Afrikan warrior scholar, director of Kamali Academy–which began in New Orleans, educational consultant, life coach, and motivational speaker. Follow his @SamoriSpeaks

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    Celebration of ‘Hidden Figures’ continues with book talks, outdoor movie at Baton Rouge libraries

    The 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration of Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly continues with various other events, programs, movie nights, book talks, crafts and more.

    The OBOC launched in late February with a free, fun, family friendly Launch Party at the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., which featured food, music, games, prizes, stargazing and even a Moon Walk. Special guest Alyssa Carson, a 16-year-old aspiring astronaut talked to the crowd about the wonders of outer space and encouraged youngsters to follow their dreams. Mayor Sharon Broome also was in attendance and addressed party goers with an inspiring message.

    All the events are free. A schedule and related information, as well as an InfoGuide, is posted at www.ReadOneBook.org, and it will be updated with additional events periodically. Here are some upcoming related events:

     LASM Discovery Dome Presents Magic Tree House: Space Mission and We Are Stars. Presentations run now through March 28; For a full schedule, pick up a copy of the Library’s monthly newsletter The Source, or visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com.

    Discuss Hidden Figures with Tamara Wade, Ph.D., 10 am, Tuesday, March 20, Main Library at Goodwood

     Book Talk with Author of The Radium Girls Kate Moore, 7 pm, Saturday, March 24, Main Library at Goodwood

    Hidden Figures Escape Room Mission for Adults, 4 pm, Thursday, March 29, Delmont Gardens Branch

     Hidden Figures Movie Night on the BIG Screen, 7 pm, Friday, April 6, Main Library at Goodwood

    The World Behind Hidden Figures with Renee Horton, Ph.D., 2 pm, Saturday, April 7, Main Library at Goodwood

    History of Flight with Jim Slade & Katharine Wright, 2 pm, Sunday, April 22, Main Library at Goodwood

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Summit scheduled to engage communities around improving health, addressing gaps

    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is hosting a statewide conference, the 2018 Health Summit: Engaging Communities for a Healthier Louisiana, March 20 at the C.B. Pennington Jr Building Conference Center, 6400 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge.

    LCHE and the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana in collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Health-Office of Public Health, and our summit partners, will serve as the hosts. This signature conference is designed to share knowledge among a broad audience with a goal of developing a framework for the mobilization of communities to address social and economic gaps that impact the health of Louisiana residents.

    This year’s summit will build upon the work done in the 2016 and 2017 Health Summit’s to continue our collective efforts toward improving health in Louisiana. Check out the preliminary agenda here:

    The distinguished speaker lineup includes:

    • The Honorable John Bel Edwards, Governor of the State of Louisiana
    • Senator Regina Barrow, Chair, Select Committee on Women & Children, Louisiana State Senate
    • Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Office of the Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge
    • Dr. Parham Jaberi, Assistant Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health
    • Patti Rose, Ed.D, Rose Consulting and Faculty Member, Florida Atlantic University’s Graduate School of Business, Author, Health Disparities, Diversity, and Inclusion, Context, Controversies and Solutions, First Edition
    • Dr. Corey Hebert, CEO, Community Health TV, Assistant Professor LSU, Assistant Professor, Tulane University, Chief Medical Officer, Dillard University
    • Judy Lubin, PhD, MPH, Center for Urban and Racial Equity
    • Jennifer Mathis, JD, MA, Deputy Legal Director & Director of Policy & Legal Advocacy, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
    • Michael McKnight, B.S., Vice President of Policy & Innovation, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
    • Alexander Lu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, Francis Marion University
    • Ritney Castine, Principal and Chief Strategist, Imagine Greater
    • J. T. Lane, M.P.H., Senior Director, Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services, LLC
    • Sarah M. Gillen, M.P.H. Chief Operating Officer, Louisiana Public Health Institute

    Keynote:

    Patti Rose Ed

    Patti Rose Ed

    Patti Rose, E.D., is director and founder of Rose Consulting and previously served as president and CEO of Plainfield Health Center in Plainfield, New Jersey and as vice president of Behavioral Health Services at The Jessie Trice Center for Community Health, one of the largest community health centers in the nation, in Miami, Florida. She is the author of several books, including, Cultural Competency for Health Administration and Public Health, Cultural Competency for the Health Professions, and  Health Disparities, Diversity and Inclusion: Controversies Contexts and Solutions by Jones and Bartlett Learning. She also has published articles including a piece in the Harvard Journal of Minority Public Health, which focused on teenage pregnancy in the Black community. Dr. Rose’s passion is to travel the globe to understand the world and to share her knowledge of various cultures, history, health education and health promotion, health disparities, globalism and diversity through her writing, teaching and speaking engagements. Her current research is focused on health disparities, particularly in the United States, from a social justice vantage point, utilizing a cultural lens, and through comparative analysis, from a national and global perspective.

    ONLINE: 2018 Health Summit

    Read more »
  • ,

    ANALYSIS: La’s non-unanimous jury law: an instrument of legal, political, social oppression

    While Louisiana fought the Civil War, Booker T. Washington was a child slave.  After the Civil War, both he and the state of Louisiana had a new course to charter. Louisiana, faced with the emancipation of approximately 331,000 slaves, had to confront issues including voting rights, education and criminal justice. Washington was tasked with shedding his identity as an object—a piece of property—and embracing the world as a human with rights, feelings, aspirations and a purpose. History records Washington as the victor.

    Washington, a great orator, writer and respected advisor to Presidents, founded a university and became one of the most influential Black intellectuals of the late 19th century. Instead of true transformation, Louisiana opted for cosmetic reform. It went from a state that trafficked people for their free labor in a financial and a social caste system to a state that criminalized and incarcerated people within the same caste-based structure.

    With high hopes, Washington pleafully penned an open letter to the Post-Civil War, 1898 Constitutional Convention:

     Since the war, no State has had such an opportunity to settle for all time the race question…as is now given to Louisiana…Will your Convention set an example to the world…?…It requires little… statesmanship to repress, to crush out, to retard  the hopes and aspirations of a people, but the highest and most profound statesmanship is shown in…stimulating a people so that every fibre in the body, mind and soul shall be made to contribute…to the usefulness and nobility of the State.

    His sagacious words met resistant ears. In reflection on their accomplishments, the Convention of all white males haughtily expressed: “Our mission was…to establish the supremacy of the white race…to the extent to which it could be legally and constitutionally done.…”

    Non-unanimous verdicts, used in non-capital, felony cases, made its way to the Constitution of 1898. They allow convictions on a vote of as few as ten jurors. Besides Louisiana and Oregon—the only free state admitted to the union with an exclusionary clause prohibiting African Americans from residing or owning property there and once an embracing home to the Ku Klux Klan—all other states have a unanimous jury system, requiring all twelve jurors to vote in favor of a conviction in these types of criminal cases.

    In 1803, when Louisiana became a territory, unanimous verdicts were required. The change from unanimity was to: (1) obtain quick convictions that would funnel people into Louisiana’s newly-created convict leasing system (as a replacement for free slave labor); and, (2) ensure Black jurors would not block convictions of other African Americans.

    This Jim Crow Era law was revisited during the 1973 Constitutional Convention.  A change from nine to ten of twelve was made.  “Efficiency” was cited as justification for maintaining the system.

    In the 1972 case of Apodaca v. Oregon, the United States Supreme Court endorsed this system. Citing Apodaca, Louisiana courts won’t consider challenges, despite over forty-five years of credible research establishing that unanimous verdicts are more reliable and more thorough.

    There’s evidence that non-unanimous juries contribute to wrongful convictions, mass incarceration and the marginalization of women and minorities. This law causes different Sixth Amendment standards between federal courts (which require unanimous verdicts in criminal cases), the other forty-eight state, criminal courts (which require unanimous verdicts) and the Louisiana and Oregon state courts. The impact is tantamount to a form of gerrymandering in that it dilutes a voting block within the jury.

    The law allows a prosecutor to circumvent jury discrimination rules preventing race from being justification not to seat a juror by simply silencing the voice of Black seated jurors after-the-fact. It shows flagrant disregard for the American Bar Association’s position that unanimous juries should be used in all state and federal criminal courts.  The law also promotes oppression and discrimination and undermines public trust in the Government.

    Courts are not the sole solution. The legislature could initiate or endorse a change in the law, which will ultimately have to be removed from the state constitution.

    Racism, oppression and discimination are sustained not only by humans, but also by laws, policies, and systems. Efforts to address one, but not all will produce outcomes instead of changes. Emancipation was not just about physical freedom. The Civil Rights Movement was not just about physical presence. The struggle has always been about social, legal and political equality. The 1898 Convention officials knew the consequence of denying these things.  They observed:

    Whatever is unjust carries in itself the seeds of defeat and decay. Justice is irrepressible. No matter how you may trample it…its voice is never silent. It clamors…with a force that is irresistible until at last its voice will be heard and the structure whose foundations rest upon its violation will crumble into ruin….

    The Sixth Amendment assures an impartial jury and the Framers envisioned that to be a unanimous vote of twelve.  It is our collective duty, “with a force that is irresistible, to crumble into ruin this unjust system.”  Washington did what he could.  Will you?

    Angela Allen-Bell

    Angela Allen-Bell

     By Angela A. Allen-Bell

    Angela A. Allen-Bell is an associate professor of legal writing and analysis and B.K. Agnihotri Endowed Professor at Southern University Law Center. Follow her @AngelaAllenBell

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Feature image from http://www.courts.oregon.gov/courts/lincoln/jury/Pages/default.aspx

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  • ,,

    Louisiana creatives flourish in light of Black Panther

    As the sun rises on the blockbuster Black Panther movie, it illuminates the work of Louisiana Black creatives including an English professor who writes and lectures on Afrofuturism, a comic creator who uses historic air legends to pen a new future, and an artist who embraces the imagery and passion of Afrofantasy in developing the culture for his labor of love.

    A recent Baton Rouge expo brought the three together. Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda was a launch party for the release of Marvel’s Black Panther. The micro-con had a Black Panther theme highlighting a range of comic styles and fandom groups. It featured discussion panels, a comics and arts marketplace, cosplay, workshops, film screenings, games, and competitions.

    The Black creative forces in attendance were quick to explain that Black Panther isn’t revealing the birth of impactful Black roles in the sci-fi, comic book world, but it is shining light on the efforts that have been at play for decades, if not centuries. LSU professor Isiah Lavender III is a latter-day scribe who melds race, science fiction and historic fact vs. fiction. He’s a New Yorker who attended Southern University, completed his master’s work at LSU, and returned to teach at LSU after earning a Ph.D.

    Isiah_Lavender

    Isiah Lavender III

    imageloader

    Lavender is the author of Race in American Science Fiction and Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction. Lavender studies American literature and popular culture with an emphasis on Black American literature. “I study race and ethnicity in speculative fiction, particularly Black writers in the science fiction genre,” he said. “I think the more important question is why study race in science fiction at all?”

    Consuming his theme, Afrofuturism, is no easy task. He explains that Afrofuturism involves the past, present and future of race in sci-fi. “Science fictional Blackness comes into being, dating back to the enlightenment era that remains as a part of the world into this contemporary age,” Lavender said. “I mean science fictional in a sense that these flights of fancy have used science to create a fiction of race as it is applied to Black people, indeed, all people of color.”

    “Now Afrofuturism has emerged to understand the science-fictional existence that Blacks have always experienced living in the new world, an unreality driven by economic demands, would-be science, and skin color.”

    Lavender uses a plethora of beautiful words that signify that he really “liked” Black Panther and is thrilled that this movie, with such a strong Black influence is seeing great success at the Box Office. “We want to see complex images of race and racism and we want to discuss the implications,” he said. “We want to see Black creators do their own thing.”

    Me

    Marcus Williams, comic artist

    Enter children’s book author Greg Burnham ready to do his own thing with Tuskegee Heirs. Burnham is a graduate of Bossier High School and Grambling State University. He and his co-creator Marcus Williams, comic artist and illustrator, have developed a fictional world based on the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, Black World War II pilots.

    Tuskegee Heirs is a futuristic sci-fi that takes place about 80 years from the present in a time when man-piloting is illegal. All air flight is remote or with the use of drones. “These five teen pilots are learning how to fly in the old P-51s that the Tuskegee Airmen flew,” Burnham explained.

    Tuskeegee_Heirs1

    Zachary Robinson enjoys meeting BlackCreatives of the Tuskegee Heirs during Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda at the Main Library in Baton Rouge.

    The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, that later became the U.S. Air Force. They received their training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama and flew more than 15,000 individual sorties in Europe and North Africa during World War II. Their performance earned them more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses and helped encourage the integration of the American military.

    The celebration of Black Panther was also the celebration of #BlackCreatives and the Tuskegee Heirs  creators showed no evidence of competition. In fact, Tuskegee Heirs hosted an exclusive Black Panther movie premier event for fans in Atlanta.

    Tuskegee Heirs stands with Black Panther in many ways including the use of strong female characters: Ayanna, a unit leader; Genesis, the mission briefer; and Jena, the mechanic. Tuskegee Heirs is a six-book series that the creators hope to push toward animation.

    Flying solo and not far behind is Baton Rouge visual artist Antoine “GHOST” Mitchell who has nurtured a stunningly beautiful collection and is moving toward a comic book release.

    Mitchell’s labor of love, Sankofa’s Eymbrace, is scheduled to be finished at the end of this year. He describes his concept as “Afrofantasy.” He employs fantasy settings, but the characters are Black people. “I’m taking elements of different African spiritualities and ways of life and building something imaginative from that much like what JRR Tolkien did with the Lord of the Rings, taking a lot of Norse mythology,” Mitchell said.

    Mitchell_comic_art

    Sankofa’s Eymbrace by Antoine “GHOST” Mitchell

    If differs from Afrofuturism, but his admiration and excitement for Afrofuturism is through the roof. Mitchell explained that Afrofuturism, as what is seen with Black Panther and Wakanda, does not mean the setting is in the future, but that it employs futuristic technology emerged in the current time setting. It is “a marriage of sci-fi and Black culture.”

    Mitchell’s art is vibrant, stunning and Afrocentric. He has not summarized his storyline, but the words released in conception reflect his background in poetry as well as art:

    In the beginning was the beat.
    The beat became the Dual Rhythm.
    The Dual Rhythm became Sankofa, the two Swans of Balance.

    They would become the A’she, or Magical Spiritual Energy,
    Wielded by the chosen Sankofa Children
    Who would stand against the reoccurring force of DysOrder
    .

    Mitchell sees a refreshing wind blowing as more embrace the hashtag #BlackCreatives. “They are anyone who is Black and creative working in creative industries like movies, comics, cosplays, jewelry making, artists, and more,” he said.

    Mitchell, growing up in a small rural town in East Feliciana Parish, sparked an imagination that helped him embrace worlds like Wakanda and realms now open for travel through Afrofuturism and Afrofantasy. “I’ve been doing this since I was 11 and always wanted to do comic books,” he said. “I had this idea of wanting to do super hero-type comic books, but after I got more into fantasy, I wanted to create something that tells an epic story and uses a lot of elements that I’ve mentioned.”

    Story and photos by Frances Y. Spencer
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    BONUS: Blerd-ish podcast–https://www.mixcloud.com/blerdish1/mid-city-micro-con-special/–promoting the Mid City Micro-Con! Guests include Samantha Belmont, organizer; TaLynn Kel, Cosplay Judge and Body Image in Comics & Cosplay Panelist; and Chenese Lewis, Body Image in Comics & Cosplay Panelist!

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    Grocery Delivery begins in Baton Rouge

    Baton Rouge area residents can get groceries delivered from a variety of stores, right to their door.  Instacart, the nation’s largest on-demand grocery delivery service, is launching in the Baton Rouge area starting March 8, through popular local stores including Rouses Markets, Albertsons, Costco, CVS, and Petco. 

    The delivery area will cover over 188,000 households and is bringing income earning opportunities to the area with plans to bring on more than 100 new shoppers. Areas of service include: Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Denham Springs, Zeeland Place, Port Vincent, Dennis Mills, Geismar, Dutch Town, Brittany, Duplessis, Prairieville, Hobart, St. Amant, Acy, St. Gabriel, Walker, Inniswold, Westminster, Acadian Place, Merrydale, Monticello, Park Forest, Old Jefferson, Shenandoah, and West River Oaks. The service is also launching in New Orleans.

    ONLINE: www.instacart.com

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    Honoring Baton Rouge’s centenarian: Ann Isadore Wilson Gray

    Baton Rouge leaders, family, and friends celebrated the life of centenarian Ann Isadore Wilson Gray who was born January 21, 1918, in Covington, La., to Alexander and Viola Wilson. Affectionately known as “Mother Gray,” she has six children, 12 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. She attended Reddish Street Primary School and finished up at Our Lady of the Lake Nursing School. She loves to read books and will do so for hours. (Photo by Kat Turner-Thalleen)

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    11-day Arts Fest features creative writing workshops, spoken word performances, art demos, showcases, live music

    Baton Rouge Community College will present its 10th Annual Arts Fest, March 12-23, throughout three of its locations – Mid City Campus, 201 Community College Drive; Acadian Site, 3250 N. Acadian Thruway E.; and Frazier Site, 555 Julia Street. The festival includes art demos, lectures, discussions, creative writing workshops, spoken word performances, student showcases, and live music.

    Sponsored by BRCC’s Division of Liberal Arts and the Student Government Association, this year’s festival will celebrate community, throughout a variety of morning, afternoon, and evening events and programming, presented by local and student artists, as well as nationally and internationally renowned visiting artists. All events, unless otherwise noted, are free and open to the public.

    The festival will kick off at BRCC Mid City on Monday, March 12 with a breakfast for BRCC students. Festival highlights include a variety of art and printmaking demonstrations by professional visiting artists and BRCC professors to be held at Frazier and Acadian; a series of creative writing workshops and spoken word performances by renowned writers including local talents, as well as internationally acclaimed visiting artists, Hanif Abdurraqib and Ebony Stewart; and the Mid City Jazz Festival, which is in its third year.
    Below is a schedule of events. A detailed schedule is available below.

    Monday, March 12

    Kick-Off Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Bienvenue Student Center, Mid City

    The BRCC Art Club will run ceramics and printmaking demonstrations, and music will be provided by BRCC’s own Dr. Charles Brooks

    Silk Screening Workshop/Textile Printing Demo with BRCC Instructor Jerome Rankins, noon to 2:30 p.m., Old Print Shop, Room 131, Acadian

    Students and guests will be able to screen print their own canvas bag and koozie can holder.

    Jerome Rankins, BRCC adjunct graphics instructor and former Istrouma High graphic arts teacher for 15 years will do a demonstration on textile printing. He will be talking about screens, screen preparation; materials needed and proper clean up to preserve your screen.

    Chronicling Community with anthropologist Malcolm Shuman, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Room 127, Louisiana, Mid City. Local writer and anthropologist Malcolm Shuman will this discussion of the material culture of three communities—prehistoric, African American, and European—at one site, over time. What can we understand about these communities from analyzing the artifacts they’ve left behind? What was the role of art in each community?

    Malcolm Shuman has been practicing archaeology for more than 40 years, and publishing fiction even longer. After serving in the US Army, he earned a doctorate in anthropology from Tulane University in 1974, and has traveled much of the world, carrying out archaeological and anthropological work in the U.S., France and Mexico. MysteriousPress.com has recently re-released fifteen of his novels published in the 1980s and 1990s, including the books in his three mystery series–the Micah Dunn mysteries, set in New Orleans (St. Martin’s Press), the Pete Brady mysteries, set in one of those small north Louisiana towns where murders never (and of course, always) happen (St. Martin’s Press), and the Alan Graham mysteries, featuring a Baton Rouge archaeologist who solves mysteries past and present (Avon Books).

    Tuesday, March 13

    “Voices of a People’s History of the United States” performed by students from East St. John High School (Reserve, La.), 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Voices of a People’s History of the United States brings to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people who built the movements that made the United States what it is today, ending slavery and Jim Crow, protesting war and the genocide of Native Americans, creating unions and the eight hour work day, advancing women’s rights and gay liberation, and struggling to right wrongs of the day.

    Performances of Voices are put on around the country; in schools and in places like Lincoln Center. It is a series of dramatic readings of letters, speeches, and diaries by groups of oppressed, marginalized, or forgotten figures in American history. Based on the work of historian Howard Zinn, Voices challenges a white cisgender, heteronormative, patriarchal narrative of history. Students and special guests will perform these readings as monologues, with narration before each.

    Narrative Creative Writing Workshop with Julie Wedding, Noon to 1:15 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Magnolia, Mid City. An Arts Fest favorite, Julie Wedding, returns this year with her popular narrative poem workshop.

    Creative Writing Workshop with former Baton Rouge Youth Poet Laureate, Brittany Marshall, 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Mid City. In this workshop, attendees will be asked to share aloud their thoughts on/experiences with community. They will collectively discuss aspect of their identities, interests, or hobbies in attempts to find ways to connect with each other and form a collective identity. The text “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks will also be explored.

    Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Brittany Marshall was Baton Rouge’s Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate (2016). She is now enrolled as a senior at Louisiana State University where she is studying English Secondary Education and Spanish. She has represented LSU at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (2017), and is the author of musings of a black girl (May 2017, Penmanship Books).

    ReVision Colorism Healing Creative Writing Workshop with Sarah Webb of Colorism Healing, 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Mid City. Colorism is the bias and discrimination against people of the same race based on their skin tone and other features like hair texture. Participants in the ReVision workshop will explore the topic of colorism from a multicultural perspective by engaging in a sequence of creative writing activities designed for writers at all experience levels.

    Sarah L. Webb is a Ph.D. candidate in English who studies intersections of race, gender, literacy, and technology. In 2013, Sarah founded the website Colorism Healing through which she hosts annual writing contests, publishes books, and provides information and resources related to colorism. She has been a professional writer, teacher, and mentor since 2007, working in a range of industries such as universities, non-profits, small businesses, K-12 public education, magazines, and TV news. Her writing has been published in numerous places online, such as For Harriet and Blavity, and in print books and magazines such as Teaching Tolerance and Dig. ColorismHealing.org

    Wednesday, March 14

    Etymology Creative Writing Workshop with Taylor Scott of Forward Arts, Inc., 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City

    In this 60 minute writing workshop, participants will create a poem from a saying or phrase that they hear so often – whether it stems from pop culture or a particular family member. Ultimately, each participant will take a phrase and create new meaning, turning the phrase on itself in such a way it is unrecognizable from its intended usage.

    Taylor Scott is a writer, performance artist, and director from Baton Rouge who works as a teaching artist through Forward Arts. She is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave program – the only collegiate hip hop and spoken word community of its kind in the country. She has graced many stages including the Little Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway, Contacting the World Theatre in Manchester, England, and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. She directed the Bellhops, a Madison-based blues and hip hop theatre ensemble. In 2014, the Bellhops premiered Honey In My Tea, a 45-minute production that centers the narratives of black women, at the Overture Center for the Arts. The following year, the Bellhops released a 6-track EP, Hero of My Own Tale, which is available on Bandcamp. Scott is now pursuing a master’s degree in English at Louisiana State University, where she has an individualized, interdisciplinary course plan that includes black diasporic literary and performance studies.

    Joy & The Elegy Creative Writing Workshop with Hanif Abdurraqib (5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The workshop will center on the elegy, and look to find ways to extract joy out of a form that is usually reserved for grief. We’ll look at different elegies before using the blueprint of the form to write elegies for living things, for things we find the potential to be hopeful in.

    Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much was released in 2016 and was nominated for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in fall 2017 by Two Dollar Radio.

    Spoken Word Showcase featuring Brittany Marshall, Taylor Scott, and Hanif Abdurraqib; Hosted by Donney Rose, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Magnolia Theatre, Mid City

    A showcase of spoken word poetry by some of today’s most gifted and accomplished writers. Readers/Performers include Brittany Marshall – Baton Rouge’s inaugural youth poet laureate (2016); Taylor Scott – alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave program, the only collegiate hip hop and spoken word community of its kind in the country; and Hanif Abdurraqib – renowned and internationally acclaimed poet, essayist, and cultural critic. The show is hosted by teaching artist and area poetry legend, Donney Rose.

    Thursday, March 15 (Frazier Day)

    Instant Zine Print Workshop with Hope Amico of Gutwrench Press, 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Print Shop, Frazier. At its simplest, this tiny folded book can be made with one sheet of paper, a pair of scissors and a pen. Once we master the basic form, the possibilities are endless. We will start by using a Vandercook Proofing Press to number the pages of your future zine. Then we will use drawing, collages, and other materials (all provided) to create one-of-a-kind books that can be photocopied and shared (or traded in true zine fashion). What is a zine? Short for fanzine, these photocopied booklets were once small magazines devoted to a certain subject. In the past years, book artists and zinesters have exploded the realm of possibility creating everything from books of basic instruction to complicated art books.

    Hope Amico founded Gutwrench Press in 2008. Gutwrench Press is dedicated to better correspondence through letterpress printed postcards, unique hand-bound books and zines exploring our connections to our hometowns. We re-purpose materials whenever possible and encourage you to write back through the Keep Writing Postcard Project. Hope has a BFA from Louisiana State University, focusing on printmaking and book arts. She has worked with letterpress printers in Louisiana and the Bay Area, is currently a member of the New Orleans based letterpress shop, Baskerville. In 2016 she returned to New Orleans where she now resides. In her other life, she teaches yoga to all sorts of people.

    Friday, March 16

    Student Art Showcase, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Winners announced at Noon, Magnolia Gallery, Mid City. Join us as we celebrate the student artists at BRCC, whose work will be featured in the Magnolia Gallery. The top placing artists and artworks will be announced at noon.

    Monster Mugs with Caroline Smith, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Ceramics Studio, Frazier. Ceramics Demo + Talk — come make your own MONSTER MUG!

    “STEAM Day” Event: “The History, Artistry, and Science of Brewing” by German-born brewmaster, Henry Orlik, 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Henryk Orlik is a German born Brewmaster. In his more than 40 years in the industry, Henryk has brewed in Germany, and all over North America. Although currently at Legal Draft in Arlington, Texas, Henryk has strong ties to Louisiana, having worked at Heiner Brau in Covington, Abita, and was also contracted to brew specialty beer for Chef Josh Besh and Zea’s. On Friday, March 16th, BRCC’s Art Fest in conjunction with the STEM department is proud to have Henrk Orlik speak on “The History, Artistry, and Science of Brewing”. This talk will examine the German roots of brewing as well as the current trend of the emerging microbrewing industry, explaining both the science behind brewing as well as the artistry.

    Monday, March 19

    Intro to SUMINAGASHI - Designing with a Dip with Petrouchka Moise of Mooi Labs, 3 p.m., Frazier. Have you ever wondered how do they get cool psychedelic swirl pattern on fabrics, nails, or paper surfaces? Have you seen the latest dip designs on Facebook or Pinterest and wanted to try it out for yourself? Now it’s the time for you to learn to swirl with your favorite colors. Come and unwind and as we teach you how to make colorful creations on silk with the use of dyes, and resists. No prior painting or art skills required. Suminagashi, Japanese for “floating ink”, is what we call is also known as “Marbling”. This is a technique used to create these surface designs that resemble the patterns found in water. It’s been used for many years to create book covers and endpapers, and now we are seeing in high-end nail salons, fashion brands, and home décor.

    Petrouchka Moise is the founder and artist/teacher of Mooi Lab. Mooi Lab is a creative pop-up concept for individuals and their friends to try out their inspirations and passions. Through Mooi Labs, Petrouchka promotes the importance of art, culture, and education across Louisiana and the Caribbean. Petrouchka is a creative driven by the “aha” moment. She is a first-generation Haitian-American from Brooklyn, New York, who’s been living in Baton Rouge for almost 20 years and is loving every minute of it. It’s all about the discovering what makes life more authentic, colorful, and priceless. Petrouchka believes in the power of art. After a severe car accident in 2012, she lost her ability to see colors, to connect with the world around her or even have the confidence to pick up a brush. As she learns to regain her life back, Petrouchka’s artwork has been the source of her healing. “My art helps me daily in learning how to cope with PTSD, communicate my thoughts to others, and find joy in redefining myself”. Silk painting has created a new chapter for Petrouchka. “The silk takes me on a journey of color and collaboration”. Through silk, she is currently working on a collection of art to share with others her process of being a survivor of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

    Tuesday, March 20

    Careers in the Arts Panel – Local Artists for Panel TBA (10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Recital Hall, Governors, Mid City. Members of the local artistic community share their experiences in making their way in their respective fields. There will be a moderated talk followed by a Q-n-A, time permitting.

    Speech and Theatre Showcase (noon to 1 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. BRCC’s stellar speech students share their work in a special performance.

    “Models of Diversity” Fashion Show spearheaded by Jada Titus, BRCC Liberal Arts student and fashion designer, and BRCC Art Professor and fashion designer Cynthia Giachetti 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Magnolia Gallery, Mid City. BRCC’s Inaugural Arts Fest Fashion Show. The theme is Models of Diversity and is spearheaded by Jada Titus, BRCC Liberal Arts student and fashion designer, and BRCC Art Professor and fashion designer Cynthia Giachetti. There will be fanciful fashion, music, and refreshments.

    Spoken Word Performance by 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, Ebony Stewart, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The performance will consist of a collection of poems centered on the theme of ‘community’. Ebony Stewart strives to speak her truth from a black woman in America’s point of view, undo systematic thinking, and inspire marginalized voices. Following the performance, Ebony Stewart will facilitate a Q&A period.

    Ebony Stewart is an international touring performance artist and slam poet. She is the 2017 Woman of the World Poetry Slam Champion (hosted by Poetry Slam, Inc., Dallas, Texas), and the only three-time adult woman slam champion in Austin, Texas. Ebony Stewart is the story of the black girl winning.

    Wednesday, March 21

    Voices from the Bayou, one year later discussion,  3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The student authors of the book, Voices from the Bayou will share their experiences during their book tour since the book’s publication last year.

    “Merchandising Museums: The Unanticipated Consequence of the American System of Cultural Patronage?” by LSU professor, Kevin Mulch, Ph.D., 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Mulcahy is the Sheldon Beychok Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Louisiana State University, where he has taught since 1980. Mulcahy is the author of numerous articles and books. On Wednesday, March 21st, Mulcahy will present his article “Merchandising Museums: The Unanticipated Consequence of the American System of Cultural Patronage?” at BRCC. This article is from his book Transforming Nostalgia into Novelty-The Merge of Museums and Creative Industry. In the talk Mulcahy will examine “Merchandising Museums”, the current trend of museums to cater to the wants and wishes of wealthy donors and corporate sponsors, and the negative effects this can have.

    Ceramics Demonstration with Osa Atoe, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Frazier. Functional Pottery and Ceramics Demonstration.

     

    Thursday, March 22 (Frazier Day part II – Self Portrait Cycle)

    Self-Portrait Photography Workshop with Heather Weathers, 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Design Room, Frazier. Self-Portrait Photography Workshop utilizing performance art methods. A camera phone is required.

    Self-Portrait Video Workshop with Bernadette Vielbig, 1:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Design Room, Frazier. Self-Portrait Video Workshop utilizing performance art methods. A video phone/smart phone is required.

     

    Friday, March 23

    Mid City Jazz Festival III, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (competition); 7 p.m. (concert), Magnolia Theatre, Mid City. The Mid City Jazz Festival is an annual event that fosters Jazz education and performance for middle school and high school students. They interact with each other and nationally recognized Jazz Artists in a friendly and competitive environment. The adjudicators will give constructive feedback to all participants to enhance their performance and interpretation of Jazz as an art form. This years’ judges will be local artist and international touring tubist, Michael Foster, Willis Delony Virginia Martin Howard Professor of Keyboard Studies & Professor of Jazz Studies at LSU, Yamaha recording and performance artist  Rex Richardson. That night, after the competition, the judges, and the festival founder, Charles Brooks, will give a free concert which is open to all participants, their families and the general public. For more information on the Mid City Jazz Festival go to thecharlesbrooks.com/MidCityJazzFestival.

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Tea and Truth Dialogue Series

    Common ideas of gender identity can build bridges and barriers in every part of our lives. From societal roles to glass ceilings, we can feel empowered or restricted because of gender.

    Come join 821 and your fellow community members as we share our experiences with navigating societal ideas of gender and think about how to break the glass ceilings and barriers that exist.

    This article was submitted online.

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    Black mothers keep dying after giving birth, researchers blame racism

     Tennis superstar Serena Williams recently made international headlines after telling the harrowing story of how, after giving birth to her daughter, she had to demand life-saving treatment from hospital staff who didn’t take her seriously. Her story renewed public interest in a topic that needs more attention: Black women in the U.S. are nearly four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than White women.

    According to the CDC, a pregnancy-related death can occur not only during pregnancy but also within one year after the end of pregnancy. There has been a steady increase in U.S. pregnancy-related deaths, but Black mothers are disproportionately affected.

    In Louisiana, Black women are nearly four times as likely to die within one year of birth as White women, Louisiana obstetrician Dr. Joia Crear Perry, president of National Birth Equity Collaborative, wrote in an essay for The Root. The maternal mortality rate for the state is 19.6 per 100,000 live births, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.Joia PerryWhile chronic conditions like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes are usually said to be the main culprits, research shows that some other issue may be to blame for this disparity: racism.

     In a joint investigation, NPR and ProPublica collected more than 200 stories from Black mothers, and revealed that “the feeling of being devalued and disrespected by medical providers was a constant theme.”

    Black mothers from around the country told terrifying stories about how doctors wouldn’t believe them about health conditions until it was almost too late and even regularly dismissed their pain. These stories revealed how Black women are facing these issues regardless of education and income.

    20171207-shalon-in-uniform-inline

     

    The publications also highlighted the story of Shalon Irving, a 36-year-old mother and an epidemiologist from Atlanta who collapsed and died three weeks after giving birth. She insisted to nurses, “It just doesn’t feel right” and was sent home anyway with only a prescription.

    As reported by NPR, Irving was researcher working to eradicate disparities in health access and outcomes who has become a symbol of one of the most troublesome health disparities facing Black women in the U.S. today: disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality.

    Chronic stress caused by racism outside of the healthcare system also influences the health of Black mothers, reproductive justice advocate Elizabeth Dawes Gay, MPH, wrote for The Nation.

    “Black people experience chronic stress resulting from exposure to overt and covert racism and micro-aggression, which can range from something as basic as intentionally avoiding eye contact to the extreme of being harassed, abused, or killed by police,” Gay wrote.

    293884104_4358392094001_1280

    Erica Garner on Time.com

    Some believe this chronic stress contributed the tragic death of activist Erica Garner, daughter of the late Eric Garner. Vox reported that the stress of her father’s chokehold death by police, combined with her chronic health issues, could be the reason why the 27-year-old mother died just four months after giving birth to her second child.

    “The US has failed to deal with its high rates of maternal mortality on many fronts — particularly for women of color,” Vox staff writer P.R. Lockhart wrote.

    These grim statistics reveal that something needs to be done about pregnancy-related deaths among Black women. But what will the solution look like?

    Gay said the first step is acknowledging racism’s role.

    “We won’t go far in solving the American maternal-health problem without first acknowledging and then addressing how racism—both inside and outside the health-care setting—harms Black moms,” she said.

    By Anastasia L Semien
    Contributing writer
    Anastasia Semien is an award-winning digital journalist whose work has been published in publications across the country. This article was featured at WeBuyBlack.com. Follow her at @AnastasiaSemien
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    Community Vision Board Party

    Interested in changing your local and global community for the better? Want to be a global citizen?

    Create your own community vision board that molds your vision for global citizenship and social change in your local and global community!

    All supplies will be provided. If you have some old magazines or newspapers you don’t mind cutting up, bring them along. If not, just bring yourself!

    This article was submitted online. .

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    Federal class action suit filed against Johnson and Johnson on behalf of buyers

    Co-counsel Ben Crump says people of color were ‘victimized twice’

    This week, new documents were uncovered as part of existing lawsuits filed by ovarian cancer and mesothelioma victims. The documents indicate J&J knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos and heavy metals were prevalent in the talc used in its Johnson’s Baby Powder and other products but failed to put a warning label on them. J&J stock prices plummeted after this and earlier disclosures.

    Rosen Law Firm, a global investor rights law firm, and Ben Crump Law, a civil rights and personal injury firm, announced the filing of a federal securities class action lawsuit on behalf of purchasers of the securities of Johnson & Johnson between Feb. 22, 2013, and Feb. 7, 2018, both dates inclusive (“Class Period.”) The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for J&J investors under the federal securities laws.

    FL-2015-Justice-Benjamin-Crump-large

    Ben Crump

    According to the lawsuit, throughout the Class Period defendants made false or misleading statements, and failed to disclose that J&J has known for decades that its talc products include asbestos fibers and that the exposure to those fibers can cause ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. J&J’s denials that talc could cause cancer and mesothelioma were materially false and misleading, and the company concealed contingent liabilities and loss of future revenues from the product. As a result of the company’s actions, the lawsuit claims, investors suffered damages when the true details entered the market.

    Crump said Johnson & Johnson engaged in “cynical tactics to market these products to women of color, while knowing their potential harm.”

    “Johnson & Johnson devalued Black lives by expressly marketing a product to Black customers that they knew for decades to be harmful,” Crump said. “Given that many Black workers’ retirement funds depend on government pension funds that invest in this stock for their retirement, Johnson & Johnson victimized them twice, jeopardizing their physical and their financial health.”

    In the 1990s, Johnson &Johnson began a concerted effort to boost the sales of its baby powder by “targeting” Black and Hispanic women, according to a company memorandum made public in recent lawsuits that led to multimillion-dollar verdicts against the powder manufacturer. In the past, Black women have reported significantly higher use of feminine hygiene products, including genital powder. A 2015 case-control study in Los Angeles found that 44 percent of Black women reported using talcum powder, compared to 30 percent of white women and 29 percent of Hispanic women.

    Rosen said the class action lawsuit has already been filed. Anyone wishing to serve as lead plaintiff, must move the Court no later than April 9, 2018. A lead plaintiff is a representative party acting on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation. Anyone wishing to join the litigation should go to http://www.rosenlegal.com/cases-1288.html or contact Phillip Kim or Daniel Sadeh of Rosen Law Firm toll-free at 866-767- 3653 or via email at pkim@rosenlegal.com or dsadeh@rosenlegal.com. Rosen Law Firm represents investors throughout the globe, concentrating its practice in securities class actions and shareholder derivative litigation. Since 2014, Rosen Law Firm has been ranked #2 in the nation by Institutional Shareholder Services for the number of securities class action settlements annually obtained for investors.

    Ben Crump is well known for representing clients in a wide range of civil rights and personal injury cases and is a former president of the National Bar Association. He has been recognized by the National Bar Association as the Nation’s Best Advocate and listed on The National Trial Lawyers’ Top 100 Lawyers. His firm also focuses on practice areas that include class actions, personal injury, wrongful deaths, and workers’ compensation.

    The Rosen and Crump firms announced a partnership earlier this year to expand and diversify reach and help bring justice to organizations and individuals impacted by securities fraud and corporate misconduct throughout the world.

     

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    Lafayette to unveiling African American History Parade poster

    Revealing of 1st Annual African American History Parade Poster

    The African American Heritage Foundation in Lafayette will start their annual Black History Month Celebration with the unveiling of the 1st historical poster,  Sunday, Feb. 11, at Benoit Galleries, 535 ½ Jefferson St.

    Visual artist Bryant Benoit was commissioned to create a piece that embodies the Let Freedom Ring theme. The theme incorporates cultural, education, health, economics, and politics as all paths leading to freedom.

    The Lafayette native studied architecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and entered the construction industry. He worked as a commercial construction project superintendent for several years. “I decided to explore my creativity in art. My perception of my culture is expressed through my work. I tell stories of love, pain, family and spirituality. My work is like music. I feel the vibrations of the melody and relate its words to events that either happened or are happening in my life. My art is vibrations of my thought perception on canvas,” said Benoit.

    His work has been featured in regional galleries and favored by art collectors around the world. Bryant’s work is owned by clients & collectors in the USA, Paris, New Zealand, and Ghana. When Benoit isn’t in the gallery, you can find him at art markets and festivals including Jazz Fest, the New Orleans Art Market in Palmer Park, Bayou Boogaloo Cajun Food Festival in Norfolk, VA, and Piedmont Park Arts Festival in Atlanta.

    Prints and signed number prints of Let Freedom Ring will be for sale. To purchase the poster online: https://squareup.com/store/benoit-gallery-llc

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    PERSPECTIVE: Metro council considers marijuana policy changes to stop criminalization

    The Baton Rouge Metro Council is considering potential changes to the city’s current marijuana possession policy. The proposal, co-authored by Councilmen Chandler Loupe and Lamont Cole, would prohibit the arrest of individuals in possession of small quantities of marijuana and disallow the use of prior marijuana possession convictions to be used to justify longer prison sentences for repeat offenders. The proposed changes are an example of sensible, progressive policy and bipartisan cooperation that seem to be more common coming from the council recently.

    The move towards decriminalization of marijuana is happening in cities all over the country as attitudes regarding marijuana have changed and more attention is being focused on the potential adverse effects of current drug policies. In 2016, the New Orleans city council passed an ordinance that decriminalizes marijuana possession by providing tickets, not arrests, and reducing the penalties to modest fines.

    Unlike the New Orleans ordinance, the proposal currently before the Metro Council retains current penalties; a fine of up to $300 and/or 15 days in jail for possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana and a fine of $500 and/or 6 months in jail for possession of more than 14 grams. However, the proposal ends the practice of using prior marijuana possession convictions to compound penalties for repeat offenders which prevents misdemeanors from turning into felonies with lengthy jail sentences.

    The proposed changes are smart policy and a good first step for several reasons. No longer arresting for marijuana possession eliminates potential hurdles and financial barriers individuals with arrest records face. Despite the rate of marijuana usage being roughly the same for across racial lines, Blacks are much more likely to be arrested for possession. And thus for a single marijuana charge, more young Black men and women will be denied jobs, school loans, housing assistance, and promising futures.

    Aside from impacting inequity in the criminal justice system, there is also a strong fiscal argument for making these changes. The proposed policy would not only save the city money, but it would free up resources in an already stretched thin police force.PSN BR logo

    At the Jan. 24 Metro Council meeting despite Cole’s requesting that the item be deferred for two weeks, several concerned citizens and advocates expressed their support for passage of this ordinance. We think that this is smart policy that benefits the community as a whole and hope that it will receive the full support of the council when it comes up again at the next meeting.

    Perspective By Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge
    Special to The Drum

    Progressive Social Network is a grassroots advocacy organization promoting the progressive values of equity, inclusion, and accountability in the greater Baton Rouge area. ONLINE: www.psnbr.org

     

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    Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Fest selects official poster design painted by Christopher Turner

    The 2018 Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival poster, depicting New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian, are being sold. This year’s collectible poster was designed by none other than artist Christopher Turner

    “The New Orleans Indians performance at the 2017 Jazz Fest was a highlight for everyone who attended,” said Henry Turner, producer/director of the Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival. “I’m happy to celebrate our culture and the new tradition of the festival poster” said  Turner. This tremendous tribute to one of New Orleans’ great treasures.”  

    Turner’s poster titled “Big Chief: A painting of a New Orleans Indian” is the first in what festival producers promise will be a series of musician-designed posters to come.

    Unsigned posters are $40. Artist-signed prints are $100. Order at www.batonrougemardigrasfestival.com/,  Meet and Greet held  at Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room Thursday, February, 8. from 8pm to midnight meet poster artist Posters will also be for sale on the grounds of the Baton Rouge Mardi Festival, February 10

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    Protect and Serve Louisiana First

    First Black State Trooper reflects on dealing with racism 
    On August 10, 1967, A.Z. Young, president of the Bogalusa Voters and Civic League (BVCL) began a 105-mile march from Bogalusa, Louisiana to Baton Rouge. The ten-day march began with 25 participants but grew to as many as 600 near its conclusion, as they successfully made it to the state capitol. Though the event was organized as a peaceful demonstration in an effort to bring attention to a number of local and state employment discrimination issues, over 2,200 National Guardsmen and policemen were ultimately required to protect the march participants. One of the issues that the BVCL sought to challenge then Governor John J. McKeithen on was integration of the Louisiana State Troopers law enforcement body.
    In response to that public challenge, McKeithen stated that he would agree to hire black personnel for the State Troopers, but was unaware of any capable candidates. After watching that statement on television Ernest Marcelle Jr., who had graduated from college with a degree in criminology, had served as a military policeman, and had a previous stint with the New Orleans Police Dept., called the governor and made him aware of his previous experience and a desire to take on a position with the State Troopers. After speaking with Governor McKeithen, Marcelle was told that he would put him in touch with a black attorney working with the governor who would process his information. Following that conversation the attorney told Marcelle that the governor’s office would make contact with him in a few days.

    AZ Young

    AZ Young

    “To be honest I thought that that would be the end of it. But a few days later I did get a letter from the Superintendent of the State Police,” Marcelle said in a recent interview with the Shreveport Sun about his time with the department. “He interviewed me and afterwards I was selected. That was in July (1967) and they gave me a notice to come back in November (training period). There were 39 whites and I was the only black, so of course being the only black in the class it was a little rough. They wanted us to sleep in the barracks together just like it was done in the military. They tried different things to discourage me. They gave a test every Saturday morning and if you failed one you were out of the academy. So one of their strategies was to get me frustrated where I would either fail one of my tests or just quit all together. During that time I did a lot of praying, and I was able to make it through successfully.”
    Reflecting on his first days actually serving with the State Troopers, Marcelle said, “They did not want to put me in an (official) uniform so they started me out as a detective working in the Wildlife and Fishery building in the French Quarters in New Orleans. I worked there for about a year and a half, but at the time I was working for a captain who sent me in to Homer, Louisiana to work undercover. I was building narcotics and prostitution cases. My cover involved working in an auto dealership at the time. Nobody (locally) was supposed to know who I was. After building up a bunch of cases over a few weeks, one of the drug dealers that I had built a case on came into a restaurant where I was one morning and called me out by my real name. I ignored him but he told me that he knew who I was. He told me that he knew that I was building a case against him and told me that if I didn’t get out of there in a hurry that I would be going back to New Orleans in a box. He then described the captain that I was working under to me … He (the captain) went to Homer and talked to some of the drug dealers telling them who I was and that I was building cases on them. He felt that the drug dealers would then wipe me out.”
    Maecelle said he quickly fled back to New Orleans and tried to contact the Superintendent for the State Troopers regarding what happened, but never was able to reach him. Shortly thereafter he utilized contacts he had with local media outlets in New Orleans and recounted how he was being set up. After gaining some attention with the subject, Maecelle then received a call from the Superintendent who advised him to relocate to Baton Rouge and serve in Troop B, where he remained throughout the rest of his time with the department.
    Ernest Marcelle Jr. Louisiana's First Black State Trooper

    Ernest Marcelle Jr.
    Louisiana’s First Black State Trooper

    “My very first day I walked in for roll call in Troop B, there was a Shift Lieutenant who walked up to me in front of everybody and told me that this was a white man’s job, ‘We don’t want any niggers here and we are going to get rid of you.’ He spent his whole career trying to get rid of me,” Marcelle recounted. He added that the Lieutenant made it a habit to look through the tickets or arrest reports made by Marcelle seeking out white offenders. If he found them the Shift Lieutenant would routinely contact them and get them to file false complaints reports against Maecelle, attempting to get him fired. The scheme ultimately failed.

    After seven years with the State Troopers, Marcelle was an active participant in the National Association of Black Police officers. He helped to organize his local chapter in 1973. During a convention that he attended in Louisville in 1975, Marcelle and three other black State Troopers that were hired later were approached by a representative from the U.S. Justice Dept. The representative made them aware of an opportunity for the four of them to file suits against the state regarding discriminatory practices. Ultimately Marcelle ended up being the only one of the four troopers to file a suit against Louisiana through the Justice Dept.
    After the process became public knowledge Marcelle recalls his time serving on a desolate patrol route during the late evening. Of particular note he felt very odd about a series of communications from his superiors eager to pinpoint his specific location. Feeling that he was being setup for some type of ambush he gave them inaccurate information.
    Additionally he recalls several other attempts to sully his official record and his reputation whereby his superiors would tell him that his work schedule had been changed and he would then be reprimanded later for failing to show up for work. Marcelle said that they used a similar scheme — giving him notice that he would be required to testify in court on a particular issue, but giving him the notice after the trial had ended. In conjunction with some other generally minor infractions on his record, for which he never saw his fellow white officers reprimanded, Marcelle was terminated from the Louisiana State Troopers in 1967. This occurred two months before he would be able to qualify for his retirement benefits.
    Marcelle recalls being frustrated by the move mostly because he was passionate about his role in the department. During his interview he stated that his time in the department was not always bad, and remembers serving with some decent and fair-minded white colleagues.
    Currently  Marcelle  serves as chaplain of the Disabled American Veterans Association. He also speaks about his time as a State Trooper to various audiences across the state.
    by Ronald Collins Jr.
    Shreveport Sun News
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    Ask Dr. Kevin: Understanding clinical trials and sickle cell disease

    Clinical trials are critical to bringing new medicines to people who need them, particularly those affected by conditions with limited treatment options, such as sickle cell disease (SCD). These studies, which determine the safety and effectiveness of new investigational treatments, rely on the participation of volunteers. Without enough volunteers, researchers are unable to complete the research required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate if a new drug should be made available to patients. Therefore, the only way to get any drug approved by the FDA and accessible to patients in need is through clinical trials.

    Unfortunately, finding enough patient volunteers is often a challenge in conducting clinical trials, and this has been particularly true for trials exploring new treatment options for SCD, which occurs in one out of every 365 African American births. Although African Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, they comprise only 5 percent of clinical trial participants overall.

    Fear and misunderstanding about clinical trials likely contribute to the difficulty of recruiting participants. Recently, Pfizer and the NNPA collaborated on a national poll consisting of 741 participants to learn more about perceptions of SCD and clinical trials in the Black community. A majority of respondents indicated a willingness to participate in future clinical trials for SCD, if given appropriate knowledge and recommendations from health care professionals. Of those who indicated that they would not participate in clinical trials, ‘fear of uncertainties’ was the most cited reason.

    To help address some of these uncertainties, I’m here to answer the most common questions about clinical trials. It is my hope that this information will help you make an informed decision should you or a loved one choose to participate in a clinical trial in the future.

    Are clinical trials safe?

    Strict guidelines and supervision are in place to protect the safety of people who take part in studies—from careful study design to periodic monitoring of study data by independent experts. That said, clinical trials are designed for research purposes, and because of this, there is some level of risk involved. However, before an investigational drug can be given to clinical trial volunteers, researchers must complete a rigorous screening and preclinical testing process (in the laboratory and in animals), which can take up to six years to complete.

    If I participate in a clinical trial, will I get a “sugar pill” or placebo instead of a real drug?

    Participants in a clinical trial using a placebo will always be informed if there is a possibility they could be receiving the placebo, which looks identical to the real drug but does not contain the active ingredient. However, the vast majority of studies are not placebo-controlled trials, and patients in the clinical trial who are not receiving the drug under study will receive the current standard of care available to the public. Patients who take part in clinical trials will never be asked to sacrifice quality of care.

    Will it be expensive to participate in a clinical trial?

    Patient care costs are generally covered by health insurance, as they are for tests and treatments you would receive even if you were not involved in the research. The majority of participants in clinical studies receive at least some reimbursement from their health insurance. Most often, the clinical trial sponsors will pay for the study therapy and insurance companies will pay for the routine care procedures, such as blood tests.

    Before participating in clinical trials, I recommend checking with the researchers regarding your financial responsibilities as a patient, as well as with your health insurance carrier regarding coverage.

    How do I find out about clinical trials?

    You can always talk to your doctor; however, he or she may not know about all available clinical trials that might apply to you. Only approximately 1 in 5 patients say that their health care professionals have talked to them about participating in a clinical trial.

    As for resources, the National Institutes of Health has an online database that is a great tool to search for appropriate trials: https://clinicaltrials.gov. Another great resource is “I’m In,” a campaign to build awareness about the importance of diversity in clinical trials, especially among African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic populations. You can find more information on Pfizer’s Clinical Trial page, too.

     

    What’s the timeframe for clinical trials?

    I’m often asked, “Why does a new treatment take so long?” The short answer is that treatment takes as long as it does because the cardinal rule of medicine is “First, do no harm.” Thus, the development of a new therapy is a multi-stage, complex process that has to meet the highest standards of patient protection.

    Clinical trials, which generally take 5 to 10 years, are at the center of the rigorous science that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of a medicine and provides a thorough view of its benefits and risks, and is the only avenue to bring medications to patients in need.

    By Dr. Kevin Williams
    Chief Medical Officer, Pfizer Rare Disease Unit

    ONLINE: more information about sickle cell disease, the collaboration between the NNPA and Pfizer Rare Disease, and a new nationwide poll conducted by Howard University to deepen understanding and gauge perceptions around SCD and clinical trials among African Americans.

     

    Dr. Kevin Williams is the chief medical officer for Rare Disease at Pfizer. He pursued medicine after being inspired by his father’s work as a general practitioner in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Follow Pfizer on Facebook and Twitter.  This article is the third installment in the “Ask Dr. Kevin” series, brought to you by Pfizer Rare Disease in collaboration with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) to increase understanding of sickle cell disease.

     

     

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    Miss Black Louisiana USA 2018, Makeva Armant to participate in Mardi Gras Festival, Feb. 10

    Miss Black Louisiana USA 2018, Makeva Armant, will be part of this years’ annual Baton Rouge Mardi Gras celebrations. She is a French teacher at McKinley Senior High School and pursuing a Masters of Arts in Teaching and Languages through on-line courses from the University of Southern Mississippi. Her hobbies include singing, traveling and spending quality time with family and friends. Her goal is to share her passion for languages, cultures and the wellness of the Black community with as many people as possible in order to spark the same interest in the many young people that she encounters as a professional.  Armant will introduce Henry Turner Jr. at both the Mardi Gras VIP Festival Pre-Party on Thursday, February 8th at Henry Turner, Jr.’s Listening Heritage Museum and at 5th Annual Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival at North Boulevard Town Square on Saturday, February 10

    image

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    State asks public for comments on reallocating disaster recovery funds from The Great Food of 2016

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development is accepting public comments on an Action Plan Amendment that reallocates Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for recovery from The Great Floods of 2016.

    Action Plan Amendment 7 will move $22,484,482 from the Multifamily Rental Gap program, which has experienced lower than anticipated demand, into the Neighborhood Landlord and Piggyback rental programs; and will amend the maximum award for the Piggyback program in order to accommodate multiple affordable housing models. The total Rental Housing Allocation will remain the same at $134,163,402.

    The formal public comment period for Action Plan Amendment 7  continues until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Residents, community leaders and elected officials can view the plan by visiting http://www.doa.la.gov/Pages/ocd-dru/Action_Plans.aspx and clicking on the respective APA link.

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    We’re over the moon about ‘Hidden Figures’; Celebrate the One Book One Community selection

    It’s that time again – time to begin the 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a FREE, fun, family friendly LAUNCH PARTY at the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in honor of this year’s selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. The title was first announced at the annual Louisiana Book Festival downtown in October 2017.

    There’ll be FREE food, music, games, prizes, stargazing and even a Moon Walk (cake walk)! Our special guests include Tamiara Wade, Ph.D. former Learning Expert at the NASA Stennis Space Center, and Alyssa Carson, a 16-year-old aspiring astronaut who attended Space Camp seven times, Space Academy three times, Robotics Academy once, and is the youngest to graduate from the Advanced Space Academy! Learn more about Carson at www.nasablueberry.com. Partners Forum 35 also will be on hand to welcome the NASA STEM Team!

    There are various other events, programs, movie nights, book talks, crafts and more related to the book and OBOC that will be scheduled throughout the community all spring long. All the events are FREE. A schedule and related information, as well as an InfoGuide, is posted at www.ReadOneBook.org, and it will be updated with additional events periodically.

    Here are some upcoming related events:

    · Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda | FREE!
    10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, February 10, Main Library at Goodwood

    · LASM Discovery Dome Presents Magic Tree House: Space Mission & We Are Stars
    Presentations run March 5 – 28; For a full schedule, pick up a copy of the Library’s monthly newsletter The Source, or visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com.

    · Book Talk with Author of The Radium Girls Kate Moore
    7 p.m. Saturday, March 24, Main Library at Goodwood

    · Hidden Figures Movie Night on the BIG Screen
    7 p.m. Friday, April 6, Main Library at Goodwood

    · The World Behind Hidden Figures with Dr. Renee Horton
    2 p.m. Saturday, April 7, Main Library at Goodwood

    · History of Flight with Jim Slade & Katharine Wright
    2 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Main Library at Goodwood

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    East Baton Rouge Parish Library celebrates Black History Month

    February is Black History Month! To celebrate, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is inviting the whole family to join in the fun with a variety of FREE programs and events to commemorate the rich culture and traditions of African-Americans and their impact on United States history.

    Other events include movie screenings, trivia games, exhibits and more for all ages. For a complete schedule, visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com. Here are some of the Black History Month programs and events planned at your Library:

    Featured Events

    Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda
    Come to the FREE Mid City Micro-Con to gear up for the release of Marvel’s Black Panther film at the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, February 10! For more information, visit the InfoGuide at www.ebrpl.com, or call Samantha Belmont at (225) 231-3710.

    One Book One Community LAUNCH PARTY Celebrating Hidden Figures
    It’s that time again – time to begin the 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a FREE, fun, family friendly LAUNCH PARTY at the Main Library at Goodwood at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in honor of this year’s selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Enjoy FREE food, music, games, prizes, stargazing, a Moon Walk (cake walk) and so much more! For more information, visit www.ReadOneBook.org.

    Resources for African-American Genealogy

    Adults are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 7, for a class focused on resources designed to help in researching African-American ancestors. Due to the history of slavery, prejudice and discrimination against African-Americans in our country, African-Americans were routinely excluded from many records that could have documented details of their daily lives. In this class, attendees will learn several search techniques and how to navigate special records collections including African American Heritage, Ancestry.com and more that will assist in genealogical research. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 231-3751.

    Adults

    Three-Part Black History Month Film Series
    Adults are invited to celebrate Black History Month at the Carver Branch at 5 p.m. Thursday, February 8, 3:30 p.m. Friday, February 16, and 11 a.m. Saturday, February 24! We’ll watch three different films that highlight the stories of African-Americans throughout history.

    Make African Doll Crafts!
    Experienced crafter JoAnn Fryling will be back at the Library again this year to give a fun craft tutorial. Adults are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, February 15, to learn how to create a beautiful African doll craft. All supplies will be provided. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 354-7550.

    Black History Month Trivia for Adults

    Come to the Carver Branch at 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 28, for a little friendly competition with other adults on black history. Spend the beginning of February brushing up on your history and then come prepared to impress!

    Teens

    Self-Portrait Remix

    Hey teens! Join us at the Library for the Self-Portrait Remix program! Bring your friends with you to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 5, to be inspired by prominent African-American portrait and figurative artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Mickalen Thomas and Ernie Barnes, and create a collage portrait of your own. You even can use your art as a swagged-out Instagram or Facebook photo!

    Black History Month Trivia for Teens
    Join other teens at the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 12, to celebrate Black History Month with the Black Heritage Trivia board game! Test your knowledge on history, cultural experiences and major contributions made by African Americans from the year 1619 until present day. Winners will receive a prize!

    Traditional African Textiles

    Teens can come to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 26, to honor Black History Month through the appreciation of fabric and fashion. Explore printmaking and patterning through traditional African textiles to make a beautiful hand-stamped scarf or bandana inspired by traditional African fabrics such as Kente cloth, Mud cloth and Ankara cloth.

    Children

    Peanut History Story/Craft
    Kids ages 8-11 are invited to the Carver Branch at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 20, to hear a reading of George Washington Carver by Julia Garstecki. Afterwards, each child will create a peanut man craft! Registration is required. To register, call the Children’s Room at (225) 389-7460.

    Fairwood Awesome Bookworms Book Club
    Kids ages 7-11 can come to the Fairwood Awesome Bookworms (FAB) Book Club meeting at the Fairwood Branch at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 27! We’ll be reading Daniel Hale Williams: Surgeon Who Opened Hearts and Minds, a biography of the pioneering African-American doctor who in 1893 was one of the first in the world to successfully perform open heart surgery. Afterwards, you’ll learn a little about your own heart when you take your pulse both resting and after light exercise. Registration is required. To register, call the Children’s Room at (225) 924-9386.

    For more information about any of these Black History Month events, call the Library location directly. To learn more about the Library or any of its other free programs, events or resources, visit us online at www.ebrpl.com.

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    Love your heart more

    Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States and that every 1 in 4 deaths that occur in America are heart related.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, said health providers at the Louisiana Healthcare Services in Baton Rouge.  “Often times heart disease can be prevented by simply making modifications to your daily life,” said Nicole Thomas, RN. According to Thomas, four modifications can be made right now to decrease chances of battling heart disease.

    Make Healthier Food Choices. Listen we know here in the south we are know for the best cuisine and cajun foods however we need to be smart about it. So instead of getting the southern fried fish, try the grilled salmon or the blackened fish. Instead of adding a side of fries add a side salad. Instead of adding mayo, add honey mustard. It’s all about making better choices.

    Exercise More. Now we know that this is a big one for some people but guess what a few extra steps can turn into a mile. So even if you cant run on a treadmill at the gym for a whole hour, instead of taking the elevator all day while at work, takes the stairs all day. Instead of riding around looking for the closet parking spot, park further out which will require you to walk more. Rather than sitting outside watching the kids play, join them in a game of basket ball or riding bikes.

    Stop Smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke devise a plan to stop such as decreasing week by week how many cigarettes you smoke. Rather than reaching for a cigarette at the first sign of stress, take a walk to blow off some steam. There are even medical alternatives that your medical provider can provide to assist with kicking the habit.

    Develop a Relationship with a Primary Care Provider. The best thing you can do is to have a relationship with a Primary Care Provider who is fully vested in helping you to live your best life. This means attending annual wellness screenings, having further testing done for that pain that you feel in your chest, receiving care for that headache that just wont go away, and asking questions when you don’t understand.

    Located at 7855 Howell Place, Set. 103B, in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Healthcare Services has primary care providers available daily 8am – 8pm. Call (225) 810-3188.

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    Gov. Edwards Proclaims February 2018 Black History Month in Louisiana

    Gov. John Bel Edwards proclaimed February 2018 Black History Month in the state of Louisiana.

    “Every year during the month of February, we pause to pay special appreciation for the role African Americans have played in our state’s economic, cultural, spiritual and political history. Without a doubt, Louisiana is a better place for everyone to call home because of those who have fought for justice, equality and freedom. We take this time each year to celebrate and learn more about the significant achievements and contributions they have made to our state and our nation.”

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