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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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    Bayou Classic Ranked Number One HBCU Classic

    The numbers have spoken. Bayou Classic enters its 45th year as the number one ranked HBCU Classic. With 66,550 attendees in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the November 25, 2017, battle on the gridiron between Grambling State University and Southern University, the attendance numbers surpassed their top four HBCU Classic competitors. Also on the list were Magic City Classic (#2 with 61,221 attendees), State Fair Classic (#3 with 55,231 attendees), Florida Classic (#4 with 47,819 attendees), and Southern Heritage Classic (#5 with 47,407 attendees).

    This ranking comes with another number one spot, as the Bayou Classic also topped the attendance rankings of the top 35 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) games played in 2017.bayou classic

    The ranking should ignite pride and excitement amongst longtime Bayou Classic fans and newcomers. “As we look to the future of Bayou Classic, the possibilities are limitless. Building off this momentum, we hope to engage a larger fan base and provide even more opportunities to students, fans, and alumni.,” says Dottie Belletto, President and CEO of the Bayou Classic’s management company, NOCCI.

    Since 2011 when NOCCI took over as the Bayou Classic’s management company, the game experienced a 63.4% increase in overall attendance. The Bayou Classic has come a long way and hopes to hold on to that number one spot for years to come

    The 2018 Bayou Classic Game will be held on Saturday, November 24, 2018, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

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    2018 ESSENCE Festival Initial Line-Up Announced July 5-8 In New Orleans

    ESSENCE wants you to grab your squad and plan your trip as it announces its exhilarating initial talent line-up for the 2018 ESSENCE Festival, taking place July 5-8 in New Orleans. The nightly concert series keeps the spotlight on women, featuring electrifying headline performances from Janet Jackson; Mary J. Blige; a headline set featuring Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, with special guests Snoop Dogg and many others in a special curation by The Roots; Xscape; Fantasia and Miguel*Additional acts will be announced in the coming weeks.

    This year’s Festival will feature chart-topping names and inspiring experiences across four days of music, culture, empowerment and entertainment. The electric nighttime concerts will feature more than 40 acts and will take place across five stages at the Louisiana Superdome—including the Festival’s renowned Mainstage and four intimate Superlounges. For the first-time, the Festival will also feature an ESSENCE Superlounge with a unique DJ-curated experience—with offerings by actor/DJ Idris Elba, MC Lyte and more. Also, for the first-time, the Festival welcomes an interactive music experience with The Read’s Kid Fury and Crissle hosting a Superlounge.

    *Artists scheduled to perform at the nightly ESSENCE Festival concerts over Fourth of July weekend at the Louisiana Superdome include: Janet Jackson; Mary J. Blige; Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, along with Snoop Dogg and more in a special curation by The Roots; 112; Daniel Caesar; D-Nice; Doug E. Fresh’s Legends of Hip-Hop Show featuring Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee and more; DVSN; Fantasia; H.E.R.; Idris Elba; Kelela; Kelly Price’s For The Love of R&B featuring Dave Hollister and Vaughn Willis; Kevin Ross; MAJOR.; Mali Music; Marsha Ambrosius; MC Lyte; Miguel; Mykia Jovan; Ro James; Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing Experiencefeaturing Wreckx-n-Effect, Blackstreet and Guy; The Read’s Kid Fury and Crissle; VICTORY, Xscape and many more to be announced soon. Mainstage host: Roy Wood, Jr.

    “In 2018, women are at the forefront of a seismic shift reverberating across the cultural landscape, and this movement comes to life for our community at the ESSENCE Festival,” said Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications. “Some of the most iconic female artists and powerhouse performers of this generation—Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia and others—embrace ESSENCE and the Festival as a sacred space to entertain, inspire, revel in culture and be renewed.”

    Weekend ticket packages are on sale now with prices starting at $150. For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE Festival® visit EssenceFestival.com.

    Join the Festival community: Follow us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of Festival on Facebook. The 2018 ESSENCE Festival® is presented by Coca-Cola®State Farm is a major sponsor. ESSENCE Festival is executive produced by Essence Communications Inc., and produced by Solomon Group with the ESSENCE® Empowerment Experience executive produced by GeChar.

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    Louisiana Travel Association announces new officers, honors graduates of tourism leadership class

    The Louisiana Travel Promotion Association–-which voted Jan. 23 to change its name to the Louisiana Travel Association-– installed a group of tourism industry leaders as new officers for its executive committee and board of directors during the association’s Annual Membership Meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Lafayette.

    “For 57 years, LTA has strengthened Louisiana’s tourism industry through our marketing program, advocacy efforts and educational opportunities,” said Jill Kidder, LTA President and CEO. “We are thrilled that our members have selected tourism industry leaders from throughout the state to lead this organization as we continue to promote a viable job-creating and revenue-producing industry.”

    New officers installed on the executive board committee include:
    · Chairman Travis Napper, Ruston-Lincoln CVB
    · Vice-Chair Janice Delerno Verges, The Stockade Bed & Breakfast
    · Secretary Ben Berthelot, Lafayette CVC
    · Treasurer Kerry Andersen, Pinnacle Entertainment
    · Immediate Past Chair Mark Romig, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation

    New directors:
    · Timothy Bush, Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou
    · Dustin Gontarski, Compass Media
    · Jennifer Ritter Guidry, Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
    · Kevin Kelly, Houmas House Plantation & Gardens

    Returning directors:
    · Marc Becker, New Orleans Hotel Collection
    · Peggy Benoit, Carmel Inn & Suites Thibodaux
    · Dickie Brennan, Dickie Brennan & Company
    · Alana Cooper, Monroe-West Monroe CVB
    · John Crook, Vernon Parish Tourist Commission
    · Brandy Evans, Shreveport-Bossier CTB
    · Marion Fox, Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission
    · Arlene Gould, Natchitoches Parish CVB
    · Andy LeBouef, Mardi Gras World
    · Ralph Ney, Marriot Hotel Baton Rouge
    · Donna O’Daniels, St. Tammany Parish Tourist & Convention Commission
    · Lynette Tanner, Frogmore Plantation & Gins
    · Denise Thevenot, Louisiana Tax Free Shopping

    LTA also honored the Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy graduates during the meeting. The 18 members of the LTLA class spent all of 2017 developing their leadership skills while learning from seasoned professionals from throughout the tourism industry. The goal of the program is to equip each class member with knowledge and skills that will enrich their tourism-related organizations, therefore strengthening the state-wide tourism industry.

    “LTLA has been a tremendous opportunity for those interested in learning more about Louisiana’s tourism industry, and we are proud of the 2017 graduating class,” said Jill Kidder, LTA President and CEO. “It is our hope that these professionals will utilize their new-found knowledge and experience to better themselves, their organizations and their state.”

    Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy 2018 graduate

    Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy 2018 graduate

    The graduating class of LTLA includes: Rebecca Blankenbaker, with Cane River National Heritage Area; Marica Brewster, with Von Mack Agency; Alvon Brumfield, with Louisiana Renaissance Festival; Kimberly Caldarera, with L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles; Megan Gavlick, with L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles; Katherine Johnson, with Natchitoches CVB; Zondra Jones, with St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission; Leslie Landeche, with Mardi Gras World; Barry Landry, with Louisiana Office of Tourism; Shanna Landry, with Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB; Kaylie Leblanc, with Lafayette CVC; Angie Manning, with Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB; Joshua McNemar, with Office of the Lt. Governor; Jessica Ragusa, with Office of the Lt. Governor; Madeline Sanchez, with Louisiana Travel Association; Timika Spurlock, with Sheraton New Orleans; Stella Thorton, with Louisiana Tax Free Shopping; and Kellie Walters, with Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou.

    LTA is a trade association leading and strengthening Louisiana’s vibrant tourism industry through promotion, education and advocacy on behalf of our members. The membership voted in early 2018 to shorten the association’s name and staff is working with an agency to reveal a full rebrand later this year. Tourism generated $1.04 billion for Louisiana in 2016 and employs more than 230,000 people throughout the state.

    ONLINE: LTPA.org

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    Technical assistance services available for small businesses impacted by floods

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development has announced an application deadline of Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the Restore Louisiana Small Business Program, which offers interest-free, partially forgivable loans to businesses impacted by the 2016 floods.

    The $43 million program is designed to help eligible businesses in the 51 parishes that were impacted by the March and August 2016 floods. To date, the program has funded about $11 million in loans.

    “This program has the potential to help many small businesses impacted by the 2016 floods, but time is running out,” OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes said. “The first step for owners to find out if they qualify is to apply, and we encourage all of those who are in the recovery process to do so before the deadline.”

    There are five participating lenders accepting applications throughout the 51 impacted parishes. Their information, as well as coverage area, office locations, program criteria and application instructions can be found on the Restore Louisiana website.

    The interest-free loans range from $10,000 to $150,000, with 40 percent of the loan forgiven if qualified borrowers comply with all program requirements.

    The loans can be used for working capital—such as rent, mortgage, utilities, non-owner employee wages and inventory—as well as for furniture and movable equipment. Construction-related expenses are not eligible. For more information, call (225) 219-7824.

    Representatives from the Restore Louisiana Small Business program will be available at upcoming outreach events for the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program, where representatives will answer questions and accept applications. Due to the recent winter weather, some outreach events have been rescheduled. Please note the new dates:

    • Feb. 5 – East Baton Rouge Parish Library/ Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Feb. 6 – Livingston Parish Library/ Denham Springs-Walker Branch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Feb. 7 – East Baton Rouge Parish Library/ Baker Branch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

    Flood-impacted small business owners are also encouraged to contact a local office of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center for technical assistance services. These centers can provide free one-on-one consulting, financial management guidance, business plan development, long-term recovery and sustainability plans, financial projecting and disaster preparedness planning. Click here for a list of locations and contact information.

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    Thank You from the Odell S. Williams Museum

    I am so  proud of the city. Thank you, Baton Rouge, for answering the call for a Day of Peace in Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    It brightened my day to know that by Wednesday morning, there had been no homicides in the City of Baton Rouge,and for that with pride, we are grateful.

    A Special “Thank You” to all the caring citizens for coming together planting, cleaning, painting and nailing up empty buildings.  Hundreds of volunteers, artists and concerned citizens came together to help create a Better Baton Rouge and a real “Scenic Highway”in Scotlandville.

    I firmly believe that “Little By Little, Day by Day, Working Together, We Can make a Difference.”  We will take this little minute and use the sixty seconds in it to become stronger and better as we work towards justice, peace, and love.

    HARAMBEE! Let’s Pull Together. WE ARE BRPROUD

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph
    Odell S. Williams Now And Then African-American Museum
    Baton Rouge
    Sadie Roberts-Joseph is the founder of the museum. Photo by Daniel Atkinson.

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    Know Your Liver educational session planned for Feb 24

    Rarely are we informed about the importance of a healthy liver, or the ramifications of an unhealthy one. The L. K. Davis Liver Disease Awareness Association was created with this in mind, setting out to address liver health issues in our families and communities. Consisting of physicians, nurses, practitioners, health coaches, counselors, liver disease patients, caregivers, and many other interested parties, our goal is to help educate the public about the necessity of a healthy liver, and support those affected by liver disease, from early diagnosis through end-stage. Our services are free, and all donations are tax-deductible.

    Our first educational session of KNOW YOUR LIVER will be held on February 24, at the Carver Branch of the EBRP Library, at 11am. Our educational sessions will be held monthly, as will our support group meetings for liver patients and their caregivers.

    L. K. Davis Liver Disease Awareness Association is a non-profit organization, which collaborates with local health-care providers, drug/alcohol treatment programs, veteran’s services, schools, and others, in the common interest of liver disease awareness.

    For more information about this topic, email liver.disease.awareness@gmail.com.

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    Metro council to hear public on marijuana penalties, considers fencing downtown area overpass

    Baton Rouge metro council meetings are off to a running start in January. With one meeting out of the way and one upcoming on the 24th, now is the time to get informed and involved in local government.

    At the January 10th meeting, Councilman Matt Watson (District 11) removed his proposal to create a tax for the increase of Police Salaries. By deleting the proposal from the agenda ahead of public comments and a vote, the tax issue can be raised again at another time. Had it gone to a vote and failed, rules state that it cannot be brought forward for another calendar year. He cited a current lack of support as his reason for the removal.

    New BR police chief Murphy Paul made an appearance at the meeting to ask for a budget increase for the Targeted Violent Criminal Program. These funds, which come entirely from a federal grant, would be used to purchase an automated dispatch system.

    Council members deferred a number of items to future meetings. Changes to the city pay plan are on hold for sixty days after a heated debate on how changes will impact newer employees. The decision on whether or not to re-appoint Cleve Dunn Jr. to the Airport District Board was deferred again and is currently set for the next meeting on January 24th. The 24th meeting will also readdress the placement of fences under the overpass at North St. This discussion was deferred out of concern for the homeless population that resides there. The Mayor’s office is working with organizations and stakeholders to create a program to address concerns.

    Issues introduced at the meeting on the 10th will be up for public comment and voting on the 24th. A draft introduced by council members Chandler Loupe (District 3) and Lamont Cole (District 7) will change the enforcement of marijuana possession. The penalty for possession of under 14 grams would be punishable by a $300 fine and no more than 15 days in jail under the changes.

    An item intended to reduce crime in hotels and motels introduced by council members Watson, Erika Green (District 5), and Barbara Freiberg (District 12) could have negative repercussions for hotel owners. Under the changes hotel and motel guests will have to present a valid government issued ID before being allowed to stay in a room. The changes also increase the fines levied if a hotel or motel keeps an incomplete record of previous guests. Under current law, hotels must retain guest records for the previous three years of operation.

    The proposed changes also create a permit system for hotels/motels. These business would have to register with the Department of Development in order to operate. The required permit could be suspended or revoked if the hotel or motel had too many police dispatches for drug or prostitution related crimes over a given time period. Hotels and motels without an up to date permit would not be able to stay open for business.

    By Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge
    psnbatonrouge@gmail.com
    @PSNBatonRouge.

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    AKA, L’Auberge host 3rd Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Prayer Breakfast

    SUBMITTED NEWS–The Gamma Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. partnered with L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge to host the third annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Prayer Breakfast on January 15,  in the L’Auberge Baton Rouge Event Center.

    The nearly 400 attendees included elected officials, community and business leaders, local law enforcement officers, community members, L’Auberge staff, high school and college students, community partners, and members of the National Panhellenic Council, which encompasses nine historically Black Greek-lettered organizations.

    Gwendolyn Thomas, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter President, presided and provided the occasion. Mickey Parenton, L’Auberge General Manager and Senior Vice President, and Kizzy Smith, L’Auberge Human Resources Director, welcomed the guests, who also received greetings from Monique Edwards, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter Vice President.

    The Woodlawn High School JROTC presented the colors, Danielle Gardner performed the National Anthem, and John Gray Band provided entertainment. LaChondria Holder and Pamela Honoré served as committee chairmen.

    Those in attendance listened to guest speaker Louisiana DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson, enjoyed breakfast and united in prayers led by Reverend Patricia Turner-Brown, assistant pastor of Bethel AME Church, and Minister Ashlynn James, associate minister Impact Outreach Ministries. Following the breakfast, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter members participated in The Walls Project community service activity. Members assisted the organization with revitalization efforts in North Baton Rouge encompassing the area from US 190 to Swan Street.

    Special tribute was presented to the members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated by Mavis Lewis as the organization celebrated its 110th year. The sorority is an international service organization founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC on January 15, 1908. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is comprised of nearly 300,000 members in approximately 1,012 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the United States, Liberia, Bahamas, US Virgin Islands, Germany, South Korea, Bermuda, Japan, Canada, South Africa, and the Middle East.

    Specifically, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter has served her community since 1940 with multi-faceted programs in education, music & arts, family strengthening, and financial literacy. Also, she provides scholarships annually through her charitable foundation, The Ivy Foundation, Incorporated, to East Baton Rouge Parish graduating high school seniors plus Louisiana State University and Southern University students. Finally, she partners with various organizations to provide impactful community services.

    Picture shown left to right:

    LaChondria Holder
    Committee Chairman

    Mickey Parenton
    L’Auberge General Manager and Senior Vice President

    Kizzy Smith
    L’Auberge Director of Human Resources

    Dr. Shawn Wilson
    Louisiana DOTD Secretary and Guest Speaker

    Gwendolyn Thomas
    Gamma Eta Omega Chapter President

    Pamela Honoré
    Committee Chairman

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  • Hammond welcomes first baby of 2018: Clarielle White

    HAMMOND—Nearly 19 hours into the new year, Shaquell LaFrance and Clarence White of Hammond celebrated the arrival of their second daughter and North Oaks Medical Center’s first baby of 2018. Health care providers at North Oaks Medical Center presented Clarielle White and her parents with a “Baby New Year 2018” welcome basket. Clarielle White arrived at 6:59 p.m. on Jan. 1 to ring in the new year with her parents and 3-year-old sibling Sha’Niyah, who is “very happy to be a big sister.” Clarielle was delivered by Obstetrician/Gynecologist Diana Dang, MD, and weighed 6 lbs., 8.3 oz. LaFrance is a sophomore studying accounting at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. White, a running back, recently transferred to Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi, from Fresno City College in Fresno, California, to join the Braves’ football program. Participating in the basket presentation were Labor & Delivery Staff Registered Nurse Shannon Davis, Dr. Diana Dang, and Nursery Certified Nursing Assistant Wintress McCormick.

    ONLINE: northoaks.org.

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    Tangipahoa library plans meetings to discuss March 24 tax renewal

    The Tangipahoa Parish Library will host seven town hall meetings to discuss their upcoming millage renewal leading up to the March 24 proposition election.

    Starting Jan. 16, the Library system will hold public hearings at each of their six branches to answer questions and outline plans for the millage renewal.

    Currently, the Library receives three mills for “improving, maintaining, operating and supporting the Tangipahoa Parish Library and its branches.” The 10-year tax has been on the books for decades and has been critical to provide library services for the public.

    Scheduled meeting dates and locations are as follows:
    Amite Branch: Jan. 16 at 5 p.m.
    Kentwood Branch: Jan. 29 at 5 p.m.
    Loranger Branch: Feb. 5 at 5 pm.
    Ponchatoula Branch: Feb. 20 at 5 p.m.
    Independence Branch: Feb. 26 at 5 p.m.
    Hammond Branch: March 1 at 5 p.m., and March 17 at 10 a.m.
    For more information on the March 24 Tangi Library tax renewal, go to www.TangiLibrary.com.

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    Gov. Edwards declares State of Emergency, Crisis Action Team activated Wednesday due to freezing weather

    Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an Emergency Declaration Wednesday, Jan. 17, due to the freezing precipitation and low temperatures throughout Louisiana. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Dept. of Transportation and Development and other state agencies have been activated in response to this emergency.

    “The weather conditions are extremely dangerous, and while it may be tempting to venture outside, it is critical that everyone stay off the frozen highways and streets and heed all state and local warnings in order to be safe,” said Edwards. “Parts of all major interstates in Louisiana have closed because of the icy conditions and unfortunately, one life has already been claimed by this extreme weather. Our state Crisis Action Team and DOTD have been working around the clock responding to emergencies, salting roadways and providing resources to those who need assistance. Until the freezing temperatures lift, I urge everyone to take the necessary precautions, remember to check on people, pets and pipes, and stay warm and remain patient.”

    DTsog0tX4AEnRF0.jpg-large

    The winter weather has caused major road closures throughout the state. DOTD began salting and pre-treating roads in northern districts on Monday evening and Tuesday morning in the southern districts and continues those operations. Continue monitoring www.511La.org for updates on roadways and other important information.

    “The disruption and danger of extreme weather conditions like we are experiencing cannot be underestimated” said Dr. Shawn Wilson, DOTD Secretary. “In addition to major closings of interstates across Louisiana, we have seen hundreds of vehicle accidents, including 18 wheeler accidents and even a death. Drivers should heed our call to stay put until the all clear is issued.”

    DOTD facts:

    • 1,204 employees have been deployed for 24 hour operations.
    • 134,600 hits to www.511La.org (which typically gets 2,500 hit per day).
    • 1.5 Million pounds of salt have been used on roadways statewide.
    • 25 Dump trucks.
    • 236 trucks with spreaders/sprayers.
    • 5 airports have been closed.

    GOHSEP activated its Crisis Action Team on Tuesday. The State Fire Marshall’s Office reminds everyone to use caution when operating space heaters or any other heating source in their homes. When using any type of heating source, whether it is a space heater or fireplace, homeowners should incorporate a “three-foot rule,” where there should be a space of at least three feet between a heating source and any combustibles such as furniture and décor. Ovens or open flame sources, such as candles, should never be used to heat homes.

    Click here to read the Emergency Declaration.

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    Rene honored with Above and Beyond Award

    A long-time Southern University Baton Rouge employee and former assistant mass communications professor was presented the December 2017 Above and Beyond Award.

    Robert Rene’, Ph.D, also has served as interim director and associate director of the Office of Recruitment and Admissions. Rene’ worked in television news before serving at Southern University.

    In his current role, Rene’ meets with students, parents, principals, counselors, and alumni to guide students’ academic futures. He recently participated in the fall 2017 California Community College Transfer to HBCUs Caravan that took place October 31 -November 8. The caravan began in Northern California Sacramento area and concluded nine days later in the Southern California — Long Beach area.

    “Dr. Robert Rene’ was such an asset to this year’s caravan. He brought such a wisdom and calm to the caravan. I am personally appreciative of his flexibility and support during the entire trip,” said Helen P. Young, project director, California Community Colleges Transfer Guarantee Agreement to Historically Black Colleges & Universities.

    “I humbly accept this award for the service I enjoy doing,” said Rene’.

    The Above and Beyond Award was established to help inspire and motivate SU employees to reach their maximum performance. One award is presented at the SU Board of Supervisors meetings each month.

    Recipients of the award are nominated by their peers. Nominations are forwarded to the Board of Supervisors chair and vice chair for selection.

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    Who to Watch 2018: McClanahan, Banks, Emery, Gilmore, and Harris in Baton Rouge

     

    Twelve Louisiana residents have been selected by The Drum’s publisher and staff as people to watch in 2018. In this issue, we introduce five: NAACP State President Michael McClanahan, councilwoman Chauna Banks, novelist Lynn Emery, anti-domestic violence activist Twahna Harris, and policy advisor James Gilmore Jr. Ph.D.

    Read their individual stories:

    Chauna Banks office

    Chauna Banks

    Michael McClanahan

    Michael McClanahan 

    WHO TO WATCH James Gilmore headshot

    James Gilmore, Ph.D.

    Who To Watch Twahna Harris headshot

    Twahna Harris

    Lynn's Promo Photo016[6]

    Lynn Emery

    Read more »
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    Who to Watch: Lynn Emery

    Author Lynn Emery’s romantic suspense novels and mystery fiction have won and been nominated for several literary awards, including Best Mul- ticultural Mainstream Novel by Romantic Times Magazine. Set in the swamps and bayou, Emery’s thrillers—a total of 22 to date—mix mystery and supernatural suspense with strong female leads and a huge dose of everything Louisiana.

    Her 1996 romantic suspense novel, After All, inspired a BET made-for-television movie with Holly Robinson Peete and DB Woodside starring as lead characters. In this novel, sparks fly between an ambitious Baton Rouge newswoman and the man she loves. Intrigue and scandal threaten to turn all of their hopes to dust unless they are able to trust each other to save their future and their love.

    Emery also won three Emma Awards for Kiss Lonely Goodbye as part of the Romance Slam Jam conference. She has sold 14 novels to four major publishers over the span of her literary career. Emery has been a contributing consultant to Today’s Black Woman magazine for three articles about contemporary relationships between Black men and women. She works full-time as a licensed social worker with a special interest in mental health is- sues as they affect women. With that, meet Lynn Emery.

    What should we expect from you in 2018: I plan to release two novels in 2018. Third Sight Into Darkness will be released January 26. I plan to write the fourth book in my Joliet Sisters psychic detectives series, Dead Ahead, for release later in 2018. I have planned to sign at New York Comic Con in 2018.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017: I have written five novels during this period: Smooth Operator, Hunting Spirits, Pretty Dangerous, Into the Mist, and Dead Wrong. I designed and created a website for my publishing company, Lazy River Publishing. In October 2017, I exhibited at New York Comic Con and was a co-participant on one panel on how artists, writers, and creators can find and build their audiences.

    Personal resolution: My goal is to balance self-care with being of service to others.

    Life/business motto: Make excellence a habit.

    Business resolution: My goal is to increase knowledge of my brand and my novels.

    What is your #1 priority right now? To reach more readers who enjoy the kind of fiction I create.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Several versions of the old saying, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

    Role models: Literary roles models include Agatha Christie, Ernest Gaines, J. California Cooper, and Maya Angelou.

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward? My decision to write novels started when I was eleven years old. I read an Agatha Christie novel with a shocking twist at the end that blew my mind. Right then I decided to write my kind of mystery featuring smart women solving mysteries. I started my first novel, but didn’t finish it. I had a lot to learn! Fast forward twenty years, and I joined a writers group to stop just talking about writing novels and to finally do it. I attended a writers conference, met an editor, and sold my first book.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Classic R&B and smooth jazz

    What are you reading? Mostly mystery fiction and sci-fi. Last favorite novels I read are The Seed Bearing Prince by Davaun Sanders, Lion’s Blood by Steven Barnes, and Fledgling by Octavia Butler

    What’s entertaining you? Streaming original series on television The Punisher, Broadchurch, Midsomer Murders, and Bosch, to name a few. I recently watched “What Happened to Monday,” a movie on Netflix, and loved it.

    Email: lynnemery@cox.net

    Social media: www.facebook.com/lynn. emery.author

    Twitter: LynnEmeryWriter Online: www.lynnemery.com

    Twelve Louisiana residents have been selected by The Drum’s publisher and staff as people to watch in 2018. In this issue, we introduce five: NAACP State President Michael McClanahan, councilwoman Chauna Banks, novelist Lynn Emery, anti-domestic violence activist Twahna Harris, and policy advisor James Gilmore Jr. Ph.D.

    Read more »
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    Scenes from MLK Festival of Services in Scotlandville

    A four-day event where The Walls Project and 100+ businesses and organizations reactivated two miles of historic Scenic Hwy in Scotlandville. Read more

     

    Photos by CondiB
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  • ,,

    Who to Watch: James Gilmore Jr., Ph.D

    On any given day, James Gilmore Jr, Ph.D., can be found actively push- ing a political issue, managing an athlete, marketing spa services, or fishing. Within his company, Bayard Management Group, he manages government relations, workforce development, and strategic planning for clients in healthcare, education, and private business. As a policy advisor, Gilmore has worked with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Gov. John Bel Edwards, and former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, leading the Children’s Cabinet and Louisiana Housing Finance Agency. He is also a founding member of the Mentorship Digital Media Academy and the Mentorship Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Academy.

    Gilmore is a member of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District where he works with a
    team tasked with bringing economic developments to the under-resourced area.

    Today, he maneuvers throughout the parish working with senior citizens in his role as chief administrative officer of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.

    What is your #1 priority right now? To ensure that Senior Citizens across East Baton Rogue Parish are provided the best quality of life and services via the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017: Director of Training for Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Director of the Children’s Cabinet Office of Governor John Bel Edwards, Chief Administrative Officer Office of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

    What to expect in 2018: I will monitor the performance of the recent $7.8 million annual millage passed in the 2016 election for the purposes of supporting senior citizens in East Baton Rouge Parish; strengthen police and community relations in East Baton Rouge Parish; host a Minority-Owned Business Expo in East Baton Rouge Parish; host an East Baton Rouge Parish Senior Expo; ensure that minorities have a more equitable share of City of Baton Rouge contract opportunities.

    Personal resolution: To live my best life daily

    Life/business motto: Stay organized and purposeful for high productivity.

    Business resolution: To ensure the success of my sports agency, spa, and work- force develop- ment training firm by hiring competent and reliable staff.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Everyone does not think like me, respect differences, and be capable of using discernment in personal and professional decision-making.

    Role models: President Barack Obama and Honorable Louis Farrakhan.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Ledesi, Smokie Norful, Big Krit, Chris Brown, Jeezy

    What are you reading? The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz

    Social media: James Gilmore (Facebook); Bayard_Sports (Instagram)

    Online: www.bayardmanagement. com and www.bayardsports.com 

    Twelve Louisiana residents have been selected by The Drum’s publisher and staff as people to watch in 2018. In this issue, we introduce five: NAACP State President Michael McClanahan, councilwoman Chauna Banks, novelist Lynn Emery, anti-domestic violence activist Twahna Harris, and policy advisor James Gilmore Jr. Ph.D.

    Read more »
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    Castine named New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center event manager

    Lauren Castine has been named event manager at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center–the sixth largest convention center in the nation. She will be responsible for managing all aspects of the event planning process. As a liaison between the Center and clients, she will guide clients through event preparation and show set-up, monitor in-house events and oversee all related activities to ensure successful events.”

    ONLINE: https://www.mccno.com/new-orleans-ernest-n-morial-convention-center-names-lauren-castine-event-manager/

    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge NAACP will host annual King Celebration, Jan 15

    The Baton Rouge NAACP will host its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Jan. 15, 2018 at  Mt. Zion First Baptist Church, 356 East Blvd. , at  8 a.m. The guest speaker will be Judge John Michel Guidry. A reception will be held afterwards in the church  fellowship hall featuring food and various vendors. The event is free and open to the public. Due to the weather, the march to City Hall after the program has been cancelled.  

     

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  • Who to Watch: Twahna Harris

    “Whatever you’re passionate about will write the legacy you leave to the world,” said Twahna P. Harris, whose passion in advocacy is writing an enduring legacy against domestic violence.

    Recognized statewide for the work she does to assist domestic violence survi- vors, Harris’s personal journey of abuse has equipped her to empower women and men of all ages to “stand up and speak out”. Her life story was included in The Pixel Project: The Survivor Stories 2015 in honor of Mother’s Day—the same year that she was nominated for the United States Women Summit. Harris is the founder and executive director of The Butterfly Society, a Zachary, La.-based, anti-domestic violence non-profit established in 2014.

    The Arnaudville, Louisiana, native has been a member of the Community Coordinated Responsive Team with Iris Domestic Violence Center and the TaskForce on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.

    Last Fall, Harris was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to the stateDomestic Violence Task Force Commision. Under her leadership, The Butterfly Society has estab ished memorial gardens in four Louisiana cities, partnered with barbershops for discussions with men, influenced domestic violence policies, and supported hundreds of survivors seeking escape or restoration. Twahna Harris, 47, is a person to watch.

    Moves made in 2015 to 2017: I have been appointed to Domestic Violence Task Force Commission for the State of Louisiana. The Butterfly Society is a household name. I’m blessed to be employed with them as the legislative assistant to East Baton Rouge Councilman Lamont Cole in District 7 .

    What to expect in 2018: GREATNESS!

    Personal resolution: Never forget to reach back.

    Life/Business Motto: Meeting people where they are.

    Business resolution: The work we do is never about ourselves but those we serve.

    Best Advice You’re Ever Received? Be who you are, not who people say you are.

    Role models: My mother Cecelia W. Porch, grandmother Mable D. White, my sister Wanda M. Porch, my aunt Elmira P. Jefferson, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, and my uncle Joseph L. White.

    What has been a deciding moment or experience that pushed you forward? Surviving domestic violence was a defining moment in my life. Making a commitment to help educate, engage, and empower communities to end domestic violence.

    What are you reading? Hacks by Donna Brazile

    What’s entertaining you? Blue Blood, Chicago PD, Law and Order Special Victim Unit

    What music are you listening/ dancing to? R & B, Zydeco

    Social media: Facebook: Twahna P Harris, TheButterflySociety14

    Twitter: @ butterflyorgLA

    Email: thebutterflysociety@gmail.com

    Online: www.thebutterflysociety.org

    Twelve Louisiana residents have been selected by The Drum’s publisher and staff as people to watch in 2018. In this issue, we introduce five: NAACP State President Michael McClanahan, councilwoman Chauna Banks, novelist Lynn Emery, anti-domestic violence activist Twahna Harris, and policy advisor James Gilmore Jr. Ph.D.

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    White Hills Elementary fourth graders thank ‘Wonder’ donor

    Within two weeks of White Hills Elementary 4th grade teachers Lacy Aucoin (pictured at left) and Carlita Joseph-Gordon (right) requesting book donations on Facebook, Rachel Dickerson and Maranda Smith Williams mailed 26 copies of Wonder by R. J. Palacio to the students. Gordon, who is using the book to address core reading standards, said the books will help students jumpstart or continue building personal libraries. Other books on the teacher’s wish list are: Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Summer Saves Summer by Adara Gaston, and Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.

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    Good Job workshop to teach how to get the job you really want

    Workshop will teach how to set goals and reach them this year 

    It’s a New Year and you’re still doing the same old thing. But it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

    The “Good Job workshop: How to get the job you really want in 2018” will teach you how to set your goals and reach them this year.  The workshop will be held Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. to noon at the EpiCenter, business and event center, 6220 Florida Blvd. Suite B, in Baton Rouge. The cost is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. (Register online)

    As part of the workshop, participants will learn effective goal-setting techniques, how to develop a plan and work it and valuable tips and strategies for pursuing their passions and following their dreams.

    The seminar is sponsored by Michelle McCalope, president of On Assignment Media, and the EpiCenter, a business and event center. The former award-winning journalist, author, and entrepreneur has 30 years of experience in the media and business industry.

    The seminar is based on McCalope’s motivational books, Good Job: A Guide to Pursuing Your Passions and Following Your Dreams  and That Good Job: Strategies for Pursuing Your Passions and Following Your Dreams. She shares the lessons she’s learned along the way to help inspire others to follow their dreams and not just settle for a job that pays the bills.

    Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. Refreshments will be served. For more information, email onassignmentmedia@gmail.com

    ONLINE:  www.goodjobworkshop18.eventbrite.com

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    City sees community pharmacies expand

    Following the closure of Community Pharmacy 1 Baton Rouge’s first Black-owned closed-door pharmacy, the city began to see an increase of pharmacies opening around the city and particularly in North Baton Rouge.

    Community Pharmacy focused on providing prescription drugs through health care providers like nursing homes and mental health facilities rather than directly to individual consumers. It wasn’t until 2008 that Baton Rouge customers would have other options for purchase medicine instead of at big-box pharmacies like Rite Aide and Walgreen’s. That year, Kimberly Murphy Paul, a registered pharmacist, opened Noah’s Pharmacy in Brusly, La. This has led the way to a type of surge in Black pharmacies opening in the city.

    According to state records, Belford Johnson and Duston Stacia, PharMD, became owners of Affordable Pharmacy in 2009. In 2015, Johnson and Jabari Alexander open a second location on Gardere Lane, Brent Landry opened Brent’s Pharmacy in Mid-City Baton Rouge. In February 2017, Eric Peters, PharMD, opened Lagniappe Pharmacy on Drusilla Lane while operating two locations in Gonzales since 2014.

    Each pharmacy has unique service or distinction. Noah’s Pharmacy has a digital app. Brent’s Pharmacy is a Health Mart franchise. Affordable Pharmacy, which offers free delivery, has earned AIDS Drug Assistance Programs credentials. All locations of Lagniappe Pharmacy has online prescription refills.

    The area will see its sixth Black-owned pharmacy, Parker’s Pharmacy, open in the Broadmoor Shopping Center on Florida Blvd this month. Owner Orlando J. Palmer Jr., Pharm, and brother Kyle will operate the new location which Orlando calls their “first”.

    Orlando Palmer is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy with a doctor of pharmacy.

    How would you describe what you do? As owner and Pharmacist in Charge, I am responsible for the day to day business aspects of the pharmacy. From filling patient prescriptions, counseling patients on their medication, training, coaching and managing employees.

    How did you get started? I’ve always known that one day I would start my own community pharmacy. My brother and I have been planning our vision for Parker’s Pharmacy for over two years. We both left Baton Rouge after high school to pursue college and professional goals. After 10 plus years away, we collectively decided that Baton Rouge was where we needed to be to continue our vision.Orlando Parker Pharmacy

    Where did your interest in pharmacy start? I always had an interest in healthcare growing up. I was going to be a pediatrician, anesthesiologist or pharmacist. The first two years of Pre-Med/Pre-Pharmacy college curriculum was the same. I decided to become a pharmacist and the rest is history.
    My pharmacy career consisted of retail pharmacy experience (Walgreen’s and CVS Pharmacy) and nuclear pharmacy experience (PETNET Solutions, a Siemens Company). Managing a nuclear manufacturer was very rewarding. Every single day, we assisted in the diagnosis and management of various cancer and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

    Why did you choose Baton Rouge? Baton Rouge is home, born and raised. My brother and I collectively made the decision to move back to Baton Rouge to grow our family and business.

    Why the Broadmoor area? The Broadmoor area needs a community pharmacy. It met all of our target site selection criteria. We have other Parker’s Pharmacy locations planned for the Baton Rouge area.

    What is most challenging aspect of your business? Poor service in business has been a documented issue. This include the retail/community pharmacy industry. It will be a challenge to decondition patients, to choose a better pharmacy experience, from the only thing they may currently know.

    What’s most rewarding? Improving patient health outcomes of family, friends and the community where I was born and raised.

    What are two things you wished everyone understood about pharmacy and medicine? Pharmacy, specifically prescription medications, is only one main component to improving and managing your health. Healthier food choices, diet, physical exercise, smoking cessation are also key components. The world of medicine will constantly evolve and Parker’s Pharmacy will be there for their patients to help guide them through those times.Parker family

    What do you think is the most important aspect of pharmacy? This is a tough question. I have gone back and forward with education and adherence as the most important aspects of pharmacy. Ultimately, I conclude education. Educating your patients on their new or current medication regimen and course of therapy. This includes directions, side effects, drug-drug interactions, drug-food interactions, any additional supplements needed, nutritional education, etc. The more time you take to educate your patients will ultimately improve adherence to medication. It’s a direct correlation to improved patient health outcomes.

    What are your goals or future plans? My goal is to provide an exceptional pharmacy experience to all patients. This includes customer service, education and awareness and improving the overall health of my community. We have plans for multiple Parker’s Pharmacy locations around the Baton Rouge metro area.

    Who works with you in the pharmacy? My brother Kyle Palmer is co-owner of Parker’s Pharmacy. His role is Director of Community Outreach Services. We also employ a team of pharmacist and pharmacy technicians.

    Should you (a pharmacist) be asked clinical questions? How do you handle clinical questions when asked? Every single day a pharmacist answers clinical questions. The intense college curriculum, clinical rotation requirements, national and state board exams and work experience allows pharmacist to continue to be one of the most trusted professionals. If a pharmacist is unable to pull up information from memory, there are ample clinical resources readily available.

    What unique business relationships or partnerships do you have in Baton Rouge? As we launched our business venture, we have partnered and aligned our services with many great organizations. These organizations are top notch when it comes to execution and results. Off the top of my head they include:
    1. The BYAN Group led by Courtney Scott for strategic planning and marketing
    2. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber for business development
    3. The Maxine Firm led by Ellen McKnight for nutritional support and logistics
    4. The CEO Foundation led by Jasiri Basel for community outreach
    5. Louisiana Healthcare Services led by Dr. Leah Cullins and Nicole Thomas for clinic services

    Why are you here? I love this question. This venture is way bigger than the impact of a neighborhood pharmacy on a community. My brother and I are here to build and strengthen our hometown community of Baton Rouge. We are here to provide HOPE to the community where we were born and raised, specifically 70805.

    ONLINE: parkersrx.com

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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    Who to Watch: Councilwoman Chauna Banks

    Chauna Banks has lived her entire life in Scotlandville district where she has served seven years as councilwoman. A graduate of Southern University Lab High School and Southern University, she has found her life’s purpose in being a public servant beyond her master’s degree in counseling and full-time job. She has argued for equitable resources for the northern part of Baton Rouge, saying the area “has been systematically subjected to political, economic, cultural or social degradation because its residents are majority Black. It is inflicted with several forms of discrimination: economic, recreation, retail, housing, media and infrastructure.” She moves into the final year of her second term with more recognition in part due to her fights to keep the Baton Rouge Zoo at Greenwood Park in North Baton, to end the contamination of Devil’s Swamp in Alsen, Louisiana, and to have Baton Rouge police

    release the 911 recordings on Alton Sterling. She continues to believe that there is a solution to every problem, and “when we work together, everybody wins.”

    MEET COUNCILWOMANCHAUNA BANKS, 56

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017:

    • Tasked the North Ba- ton Rouge Blue Ribbon Com- mission to work toward qual- ity of life assets in the north- ern portion of the parish, such as an emergency room and other healthcare options.

    • Organized the Alsen/St. Irma Lee Advisory Board to look at bringing resolve to the years of environmental justice.

    • Increased city-parish funding for Jewel J. Newman Community Center building and grounds upgrades.

    • Awarded several grants: The KaBOOM! In the amount of $15,000 towards a “Community Playground Build” Project, an annual ExxonMo- bil Grant of $2500, and just recently, the Capital Area United Way grant for $30,000 to operate the JJNCC TeenWorkPrepBR, $25,000 BRAF Flood Relief Grant to renovate JJNCC computer room.

    • Supplement revenues via an annual JJNCC Capital Campaign: Masquerade Ball, Back-to- School Rally, and Annual Senior Appreciation Luncheon.

    • This fall we added a GED Adult Education Program to offerings.

    What to expect in 2018 from you:

    • Maintaining the Baton Rouge Zoo at its current Thomas Road location and expanding the concept of “The Zoo at Greenwood Park” with sig- nificant upgrades.

    • Advocating for a middle class housing sub- division for young professionals with growing families.

    • Reducing the time for rehire of city-parish workers with a positive marijuana read from three years to one year.

    • My long-range goal is to have a performing arts theatre built in District 2.

    Personal resolution: My personal res- olution is to be dedicated to God by doing my best to exercise kingdom principles in earthly affairs.

    Life/business motto: Work smarter, not harder. Business resolu- tion: My business resolution is to maintain and promote a high standard of professional ethics and practice impartial- ity, fairness, and an equitable discharge of services without bias.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Maintaining the Baton Rouge Zoo at its current Thomas Road location and expand- ing the concept of “The Zoo at Greenwood Park” with significant recreational upgrades.

    Best advice you have ever received: Rules without relationships bring on rebellion.

    Role models: Both my grandmothers, my mother, and my aunts.

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward? Rearing a male child as a single female parent propelled me to be a very responsible and involved parent.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Contemporary Gospel is what I listen to daily, but I also like ‘70s R&B.

    What are you reading? HOLY BIBLE

    What’s entertaining you? CBS shows

    E-mail: cbanks@brgov.com

    Social media: Facebook/CouncilwomanChauna Banks

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  • Cervical Health Awareness Month begins

    January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.

    Learn how Cervical Health Awareness Month can make a difference here.

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    Study: Blacks work 30 jobs at high risk of automation

    Innovation is changing America, from self-checkout lanes in grocery stores to driverless cars. New jobs will emerge, like technicians who service these technologies. Other jobs will be eliminated, such as some cashiers and drivers.
    To what extent are Blacks—whose unemployment rates are already twice as high as those of Whites—currently represented in jobs at high risk to automation?

    According to a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, joblessness among Blacks is expected increase more because 30 jobs Blacks work in are at high risk of automation.

    “Twenty-seven percent of Black workers are concentrated in 30 occupations at high risk of automation. By comparison, these 30 occupations account for 24 percent of all white workers and 20 percent of all Asian-American workers,” according to the report Race and Jobs at High Risk of Automation.

    There are 3.3 million cashiers and 580,000 are Black or 3.22 percent of the Black workforce compared to 1.92 percent of the white workforce and 2.54 percent of the Asian workforce.

    There are 500,000 taxi drivers and chauffeurs and 143,000 are Black or 80 percent of the Black workforce compared to 21 percent of the white workforce and 87 percent of the Asian workforce.

    At risk are retail salespersons, cashiers, secretaries, administrative assistants, cooks, waiters, waitresses, laborers, freight and stock movers, hand construction laborers, accountants, auditors, receptionists, information clerks, grounds maintenance workers, office clerks, sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, food preparation workers, real estate brokers and sales agents, production workers, security guards, gaming surveillance officers, miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators, agricultural workers, inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, weighers, insurance sales agents, industrial truck and tractor operators, shipping/receiving traffic clerks, taxi drivers and chauffeurs, sales workers and truck drivers, billing and posting clerks, paralegals and legal Assistants, bus drivers, fast food workers, operating engineers, and construction equipment operators.

    “While automation will create new types of jobs, the Black community faces a unique combination of well-documented challenges that make it particularly vulnerable in labor-market transitions,” the report said. “These challenges include: an average household net worth that is one-tenth of whites, making periods without income particularly difficult.”

    The study also noted that automation could increase the Black unemployment rate from 7.5 percent to more than 20 percent. However, the study reported that economic disruption can create new opportunities that address long-standing social inequities. The Joint Center is a research and policy analysis institution focused exclusively on issues concerning people of color.

    ONLINE: jointcenter.org

    By Cora Lester
    The Drum reporter

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    Southern University, LSBDC proclaim ‘Innovate now!’ with workshop series

    When innovation meets entrepreneurship, great things happen. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University and the Southern University Innovation Center are bringing to the capital region a series of trainings through an event called, “Innovate Now! When Innovation Meets Entrepreneurship” that will begin on January 16, 2018 at the Southern University Innovation Center located at 616 Harding Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA.

    Innovate Now! will build awareness and provide information to the small business community to inspire and inform aspiring and existing entrepreneurs about resources to help them succeed. This dynamic series addresses three major areas of focus: Innovation in Business, Product Innovation, and Innovation Globally.

    “Entrepreneurs want to be intellectually challenged, and want to make a difference in society while still obtaining financial gain,” said Ada Womack, LSBDC at Southern University interim director.

    Innovation is simply a new way of doing something, Womack said, and added that Innovation is defined as incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.

    Entrepreneurship is “one who takes a risk to start a small business.” Womack said the well- known Innovation Equation model is Innovation = Creativity + Risk-Taking.

    “Southern University offers Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship assistance all on one campus,” Womack said.

    Southern University has taken large steps towards developing its entrepreneurship and economic activity especially since the grand opening of its Innovation Center in September.

    Southern University Executive Director for Strategic Engagement Deanna Williams Smith said “we are equally as excited about the upcoming Innovate Now Campaign which allows the local business community to take advantage of the numerous resources offered in one stop.”

    “The SU Innovation Center provides attractive and affordable lease office space to small upcoming businesses as well as outreach programs for our students who are guided by an entrepreneurial spirit,” Smith said. “Through our partnership with the LSBDC, our business tenants have a unique opportunity to form critical partnerships, business training resources, and access to student and faculty engagement. It’s a great time to start the New Year with ideas and passion through innovation.”

    The Innovate Now! schedule:

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – Innovation in Business: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Shakita Billups, Entrepreneur
    Anyone can be innovative. Innovation means coming up with new ways of doing things. During this session you will learn about bringing innovation into your business that can help you save time and money, and give you the competitive advantage to grow and adapt your business in the marketplace. Innovation can increase the likelihood of your business succeeding. Businesses that innovate create more efficient work processes and have better productivity and performance.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – Product Innovation: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker – Carlos Thomas
    What is product innovation? This session will provide an introduction to product innovation and the steps in creating your product or service that is new or significantly improved regarding characteristics or intended uses. These components are inclusive of significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, incorporated software, user friendliness or other functional characteristics. Product innovations may include both new products and new uses for existing products.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – Innovation Globally: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Mike Smith, CEO-OPEX
    My business is going global! Many businesses are aware that there are hidden opportunities in global innovation. Global operations is a treasure trove of ideas and capabilities for innovation. It can be challenging going global with your ideas or exploit the capabilities in global innovation projects. Some of the challenges of global projects are familiar: figuring out the right role for top executives, for example, or finding a good balance between formal and informal project management processes. In this session you will learn about the challenges and benefits of taking your business global.

    ONLINE: www.lsbdc.org.

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    Tips to help women prepare for long-term healthcare

    Women spend much of their lives caring for others. As mothers and wives, they never seem to stop giving to their families and husbands.

    So who will take care of mom if she needs long-term care? Or will she plan ahead for her long-term care?

    It’s important that she does. Women typically outlive men by an average of about five years. According to aarp.org, more than two-thirds of Americans 85 or older are women. And about 79 percent of 65-year-old women will need long-term care during their lifetime, according to a study by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.

    Women often become long-term caregivers for their husbands or other family members. And as statistics show, they are also more likely to become widowed before needing long-term care themselves. Her husband’s needs may have further drained assets, leaving the widow with less financial wherewithal to apply to her own care.

    “Women too often don’t adequately plan ahead for LTC needs,” said Lisa Odoski, a financial professional focusing on women’s well-being and Vice President of the Fried Group, the parent company of TFG Wealth Management.

    “At the same time, research shows among unpaid care-givers in the U.S., two-thirds are women. They sacrifice a lot – sometimes their own careers or reducing their regular work hours.

    “Women today have a greater risk of needing LTC services and of becoming unpaid caregivers. It’s an important time for them to develop an LTC strategy that helps preserve their total financial future.”

    Odoski gives three tips to help women prepare for their long-term care:

    • Educate yourself. Family financial planning used to be almost exclusively the men’s turf. Those days are long gone, and with many houses running on two incomes and women outliving men, women need to make planning for their distant future more of a priority. But an AARP survey showed 60 percent of women hadn’t considered how they would pay for long-term care. “They should start by consulting an investment expert and financial planner,” Odoski said. “They need to get up to speed on senior care costs, insurance and savings plans.”

    • Know your retirement benefits and your spouse’s. Women should take advantage of their employer’s retirement plan and not delay in saving for their future, including the last years they may spend alone. It’s especially important, in the event of divorce or their spouse’s death, to know their spousal rights in regard to their spouse’s pension, Social Security or veteran’s benefits. “They don’t want to be in a position where most of their spouse’s benefits are going toward their own care,” Odoski said.

    • Think long-term with your budget. Women should have specific goals and a plan to save towardthem. The statistics say the goals should include a portion devoted to long-term care insurance, which covers a wide spectrum of products and services. “They should lay out all monthly and annual spending needs and crunch the numbers to determine what they’ll need in later years in order to maintain their familiar lifestyle,” Odoski said. “They need to look at all LTC options. Medicare and private insurance usually aren’t enough to cover long-term care anymore.”

    “After decades of taking care of others,” Odoski said, “women more than ever need to know how to take care of themselves.”

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    Middle school engineers, teacher tackle water robotics

    When the buzzer sounds, the students in Ingrid Cruz’s eighth-grade marine robotics class hop into action. Their mission? Compete against other teams to guide a remote-controlled underwater vehicle along the bottom of a pool to recover critical equipment—using only the robot’s camera to see.

    Cruz’s students attend the Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy, a science, technology, engineering, art and math-focused middle school. Its curriculum offers courses such as game design, computer applications and multimedia production. The goal is to get students interested in science and math topics past middle school, planting the seed of encouragement to pursue these subjects further in high school and college.

    Though some of the robots developed by Scotlandville’s students have started earning them ribbons, it took a little trial and error for the course to gain its footing. “The first day of our marine robotics competition three years ago was the first time our robot had ever been in the water,” Mrs. Cruz said. “As soon as it got wet, everything fell apart.”

    Part of the issue was a lack of access to a pool where they could test their robot prior to competing. When leaders at the ExxonMobil YMCA learned the school needed access to water, they put in a plan to let them use the facility’s pool. ExxonMobil also provided grants so the students could take swimming lessons and water safety courses. “So now we get to test our robot in an actual pool, in the deep end, and we’re having more success because of that,” Cruz said.
    But it takes more than a pool to develop underwater robots. It’s crucial for the students to strategize and work as a team, skills they learn throughout the school year leading up to the competition.

    “The students absolutely must demonstrate teamwork,” Cruz said. “Building the robot is not easy, and when one student has an idea and somebody has a different idea, they have to learn to work together and test everyone’s ideas to see which one works best.” Cruz said it took her students about three months to build their last robot.

    The applications of the technology they test at the YMCA pool go well beyond marine applications. Just to name a few, fields like archeology, aviation, oil and gas, and even space exploration all use remotely operated robots.7 SPEMA Robot

    “The missions have relevance to real life,” Cruz said. “During one, the kids had to maneuver the robot inside a shipwreck and identify some of the packages inside the ship. In another, they had to open a power source and replace a battery inside, so they had to install a gripper on the robot.”

    It may be a few years before Scotlandville students start careers in robotics or engineering, but that hasn’t kept them from being exposed to some of the biggest names in remotely operated vehicles. After a 2016 competition, for instance, representatives from one local company were so impressed by the students’ enthusiasm, they asked one of Scotlandville’s teams to show their technology to some of their managers.

    “We’re making the robotics courses relevant to the kids, letting them know that this is a viable pursuit,” Cruz said. “Developing these underwater robots is a first step that could inspire our next generation of engineers and innovators.

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    Jones joins investment team for Congo TV Network

    Sports marketer Walter Jones joins investment team for Congo TV Network. Jones has come in as a Priority Investor in Congo TV Network. Jones will join about 12 other investors who have given Congo TV the stability needed to have a prosperous and record breaking year in 2018. According to The Wrights, a priority investor is someone who owns five or more shares of the network. Jones will join about 12 other investors who have given Congo TV the stability needed to have a prosperous and record breaking year in 2018.

    ONLINE: CongoTV

    Read more »
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    4th Annual MLK Festival of Service lasts Jan. 12 – 15

    The upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day presents a great opportunity for anyone to make a direct impact on Baton Rouge from a grassroots level. Together with Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome and the City of Baton Rouge, Southern University and CADAV, Inc., The Walls Project is hosting the 4th annual MLK Festival of Service from Friday, Jan. 12 to Monday, Jan. 15. In partnership with 100+ organizations, The Walls Project will reactive a two-mile stretch of historic Scenic Highway from Airline Highway to Swan Avenue.

    Throughout the weekend-long celebration, volunteers are able to participate in working together on projects that include painting, trash cleanup, gardening, and general beautification of Scenic Highway. This event poses an opportunity greater than logging in service hours, volunteers will work hand in hand with citizens from every part of the Baton Rouge community. By strengthening local relationships across the city, we create a more connected community.

    Pat McCallister-LeDuff, director of Community Against Drugs and Violence (CADAV), a longtime Scotlandville resident and business owner said this about the event, “Through the power of collaboration we will drive this charitable plan to create a significant change in our community together for a ‘Better Scotlandville.’”

    More than 50 professional artists from across Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Florida will create murals on local businesses over the two mile stretch of highway.

    The event will also encompass landscape improvements, such as groves of bald cypress trees planted by BR Green, community garden sites to promote healthy living by SoulFresh Organics, Keep Baton Rouge Beautiful, and G.E.E.P.

    To celebrate the weekend of service, a community block party held on Monday, January 15, from 10am – 4pm, hosted by Build the Fire, BRidge Agency, Small World Int’l, Baton Rouge Music Studios, and BREC. The block party and resource fair  will allow volunteers to enjoy free music, connect to resources provided by local nonprofits, shop at an artists’ market and partake in the international food fair.

    Additionally, an open air town hall will be facilitated by The Drum Newspaper featuring Governor John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, and Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome, Senator Regina Barrow, and Councilwomen Chauna Banks and Tara Wicker.

    For those wanting to become involved with this event, visit www.thewallsproject.org/mlk-festival-of-service for more information, volunteer registration and donations.

     

    Read more »
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    Nearly 400 attended training centered on mentoring males

    On Saturday, January 6, nearly 400 community members attended the Urban Congress’ MentoringBR Community Training to learn practical ways to mentor African American male youth.

    The event, held at the EBR Council on Aging’s Event Center, was led by Brian Sales, a representative of the national mentoring partnership, MENTOR. The ultimate goal was to teach community members about the real and potential challenges Black males face daily and give them practical ways they can guide and inspire them.

    “What we want to do is to strengthen their awareness of how they engage with Black boys in our community,” said Raymond Jetson, president and CEO of MetroMorphosis.

    Among the attendees was a diverse assembly of community members, organizations active in mentoring, and faith-based groups.

    MentoringBR and the Urban Congress will connect those who are not part of a specific organization to opportunities to apply the skills they’ve learned on Saturday.

    Community members who missed the first training opportunity are encouraged to register for and attend the second and final training on Saturday January 20. Registration is open at mentoringbr.org. 

    Read more »
  • COMMUNITY EVENTS: January in Baton Rouge and Ponchatoula

    Ongoing Events

    East Baton Rouge School Board. Each third Thursday, 650 N. Foster. 5pm. ebrschools.com

    Tangipahoa Parish School Board, each first Tuesday, Central Office Board Room 59656 Puleston Road, Amite, 6pm

    Ponchatoula City Council meets every second Monday, 6pm, Council Chambers, City Hall, 125 W. Hickory St.

    Ponchatoula Farmers’ Market. Every Sunday. Noon to 4 p.m., Country Market, 10 E. Pine St., Ponchatoula.

    Restore Louisiana Outreach Events. Representatives will answer questions to complete Restore Louisiana applications for homeowners affected by the 2016 floods.restore.la.gov. Held at local lbraries 2pm-6pm in East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ponchatoula, Lafayette, Abbeville, and Monroe.

    St. Helena Parish Farmers’ Market. Every Wednesday. 8am – noon. Turner Chapel AME, Greensburg, Contact: Bianca Plant (225) 222-4136. EBT accepted.

    West Baton Rouge NAACP, every 2nd Tuesday, Hall’s & Sons Funeral Home, 1160 Louisiana Avenue, Port Allen, 6pm.

    Victims of Domestic Violence, meeting with the Iris Center hosts its Coordinated Community Response Team, last Tuesday of each month, West Baton Rouge Parish Library, 1pm. (225) 332-2509.

    January Events

    9 – Feb. 6. Black Minds Matter: Join the Conversation. Every Wednesday. 6:30. The Red Shoes. Government Street.

    11: Heritage Lecture: An Architecture Apart. The Significance of Separate African American Spaces. Old Governor’s Mansion, 502 North Blvd. 6pm. Free for members of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana. Others: $10.Speaker: Laura Blokker, Tulane School of Architecture. Refreshments provided.

    12: Won’t Bow Down: The Graduates. 7pm. The Graduates ensemble emerged out of a drama club inside The Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St Gabriel. They use personal experiences with the criminal justice system to create performances that reach out to young at-risk women, offer a window into incarceration’s effects on individual lives and encourage those who have the power to shift current policies to do so. Directed by Ausettua Amor Amenkum, artistic director of Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective; and Kathy Randels, artistic director of ArtSpot Productions and founder of The LCIW Drama Club.

    12- 15: MLK Festival of Service. Scenic Highway, Scotlandville. Vegan Village opens at 10 am, Jan. 15. Town Hall . www.thewallsproject.org/events.

    13: 2nd Annual NAACP Louisiana High School Senior Bowl Football Game. A.Mumford Stadium. Southern University. 1:30pm. NAACP All-Star Senior Band will perform. (225) 270-9729. naacplarec@yahoo.com

    14 I am Not Your Negro Documentary Screening. 6:30pm. Main Library. 7711 Goodwood Blvd. This Academy Award-nominated film explores the history of racism in the United States through James Baldwin’s reminiscence of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.

    15: Annual MLK March, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 356 East Blvd, Sponsored by the NAACP State Conference.

    15 – 16: Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical general auditions. 6pm nightly. New Venture Theatre. 427 Laurel st. 2nd floor.

    15: Freedom Garden Project. MLK Jr Daay of Service and Grandparents Day. The River Road African American Museum. 406 Charles St. Donaldsonville. 10am – 3pm. Tour museum and plant seeds in the Freedom Garden. melanie@aamuseum.org. (225) 474-5553.

    19-21: Baton Rouge Free Health Clinic. 10550 Veterans Boulevard. Free dental, vision, and medical services. 8am daily. batonrougefreeclinic.com or (225) 347- 0760.

    25: Homebuyers Seminar: Building Credit To Buy a New Home. 6pm. Eden Park Library. 5131 Greenwell Springs Road. Wells Fargo presenter. Hosted by UREC. www.urecbr.org.

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  • NAACP Louisiana State Conference host swearing-in ceremony

     The NAACP Louisiana State Conference will host a swearing-in ceremony to install its newly-elected officers.

    Former Baton Rouge NAACP President Mike McClanahan  has been sworn in as the new NAACP State President along with other executive officers. Southern University Law Center Chancellor John Pierre served as the guest speaker and Judge Don Johnson presided. Other elected officials from throughout the city and state were also in attendance.

    “We’re excited to start this new chapter and continue the legacy and the mission of the NAACP,” McClanahan said. The event was held on Saturday, Jan. 6 at the Louisiana State Archives, 3351 Essen Lane, in Baton Rouge at 1 p.m.

    The following people will be officially sworn in:

    Newly-elected officers of the NAACP Louisiana State Conference:

    ·         President                                Mr. Michael McClanahan

    ·         First Vice President                 Dr. Levon Leban

    ·         Treasurer                                Mr. Charles Heckard

    ·         Secretary                                Ms. Michelle Ratcliff

    ·         Vice President (District H)      Mr. Lloyd Thompson

    ·         Vice President (District G)      Ms. Wendy Calahan

    ·         Vice President (District F)       Rev. Edward “Chipps” Taylor

    ·         Vice President (District E)      Mr. Alfred Doucette

    ·         Vice President (District D)      Ms. Janelle Chargois

    ·         Vice President (District B)      Mr. Jerome Boykins

    ·         Vice President (District A)      Rev. Kevin Gabriel

    ·         Members at Large                  Ira Thomas and Vincent Alexander

    Photos by Condi B.
    Read more »
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    Historymaker: Landrum-Johnson named Chief Judge at Orleans Criminal Court

    In a historic appointment, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson ascends to a higher role in the court. She will serve a two-year tenure as chief judge of criminal court, becoming the first Black woman to serve in that office. For the past 10 years, Landrum-Johnson has presided as judge of Section E of criminal court. She was first elected to that office in 2008, and is currently serving a second term. As chief judge, Landrum-Johnson will continue to preside over criminal trials and proceedings allotted to her section while also overseeing the administrative functions of the court and serving as an ex officio member on court committees. In 2007, she became the first African-American woman in Louisiana to serve as District. She also spent 10 years as an assistant district attorney in Orleans Parish. She worked in private practice, public defense, and as a criminal law professor at Southern University at New Orleans.

    ONLINE: Louisiana Weekly

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    LETTER: We Stand With the Most Effective People

    Our intentions never have been and never will be to hurt White people or any particular race for that matter. Strategically speaking, supporting the advancement of African Americans in Tangipahoa is supporting the overall growth of the entire parish considering about half the parish is African American. And there is absolutely no way that we can ensure what is in the best interests of our children with the mindset that we should hire unqualified Black people at the expense of losing effective individuals who are non-Black. The point is that we understand that to bring about the significant transformation spoken of by the board, the system has to make certain it hires the most effective individuals to lead in specific roles. We can no longer just hire people for purposes unrelated to bringing about success in our children first. Nor can we sit around and wait for an unknown superintendent while things continue to fall apart as one Board member hinted to as an option. Significant change means that even individuals on the board may need to be educated on exactly where the district falls short which should help guide them with “look fors” when determining who is best qualified for various roles so that the hire that may have happened in the case of Transportation can more likely be prevented.

    And as hurtful as the truth may be, we have fallen a little short with our children. Think about it. As per LDOE, students of color in Tangipahoa have a graduation rate of only 66%. This means that a whopping 34% did not even graduate. According to statistics, what is the likely outcome for these kids?  Ask Sheriff Daniel Edwards. Or, ask our Parish’s landlords. Not even discussed is the fact that the average ACT scores of students of color is a mere 16.5. We must do better. It all works together and begins with ensuring our kids are receiving a quality education.  Our concern is not about race if the individual has proven to be qualified and effective in advancing all kids, especially Black children which is definitely needed if we want to improve our parish long term. It cannot be.

    For the record, there have been many Black individuals whom the NAACP did not support in positions that directly affect our children. In fact, we recently expressed our non support for the following individuals prior to their selection and we will explain why:

    Walter Daniels 
    Walter Daniels has not only supported every single action made by the current superintendent, he has also made specific statements that belittle women. Just recently, Mr. Daniels stated that a “woman cannot handle the Director of Transportation job.”  It is 2017, and this is the sentiment of an actual School Board member. How will he inspire more African American girls to go into STEM fields with this mentality?

    Andrew Jackson – The role of the CDIO is to hold the system accountable to following the court order while doing what is in the very best interests of our children. We can recall that the system fought viciously against the current individual serving in this role for being unqualified for the position. The NAACP agreed with the system in this case.  Under his watch so far, the system has:

    1. Began with a salary of $40,000 annually; now according to the LLA Report has increased significantly.
    2. “Negotiated” a job for a long time female friend (colleague from Reynolds Institute) in a public school as an actual social worker although this individual was found to not even possess a license to serve in such a role, let alone deal with our children.
    3. Allowed the current superintendent to choose White candidates for positions in which more qualified Black candidates applied knowing these individuals were not the better candidate for bringing out the best in our kids. For instance, nothing was ever done about the Early Childhood Coordinator position.
    4. Allowed the superintendent to let Hammond High go a full year without being advertised while being run by someone who was a teacher less than a year ago.
    5. Did absolutely nothing about the removal of the hundreds of African American children from Eastside and Westside to Greenville Park and Woodland Park even after having been warned of the impact this would have on both school’s overall performance scores. This placed Black kids in a worse situation than previous.
    6. Knowingly allowed the superintendent to avoid advertising key positions for months at the expense of our children and an entire system that is already in educational crisis mode.
    7. Never followed through with the complaint challenging the actual credibility and validity of our system’s magnet programs due to so many that are believed to be magnets in name only. For instance, How is Westside Middle Magnet different from Natalbany Middle?  What is the specialized program and how has it benefited the kids?
    8. Never followed through with complaint of flawed evaluation system in which individuals like the same magnet supervisor responsible for the failing magnet programs and schools as a result may be underserved receiving high marks. We have yet to see evaluations as compared to performance.

    Byron Hurst
    We have all come to realize that doctorate degrees come “a dime a dozen” these days and we know from watching first hand poor leadership at some schools that things that look nice on paper seldom guarantee effectiveness. Therefore, we must look at an individual’s performance record in educating our kids. Byron Hurst was an ineffective school leader in St. Helena Parish. The school failed and he was later given a position as an Assistant Principal in Tangipahoa Parish. He then applied for a Principal position at Sumner High and was offered the Director post instead due to the superintendent wanting to place a White individual in that position. This decision making had absolutely nothing to do with children of course.  We will never support this unethical decision making. Now we have a failed principal overseeing the welfare of our kids. Again, significant change must take place.

    So, for those who have so long believed the NAACP to be anti-White, let our support for Kim Notariano teach an important lesson about our organization. Chuckling as I am writing this, she is definitely not paying us to stand for her. And she does not have to. We know that Kim. We know she loves children and takes her job seriously. Her record and credentials speak for themselves. Her knowledge of transportation, performance record as an actual parish bus driver, not to mention her business background far outweigh educational backgrounds in our opinion not to mention the fact the individual now in question did not even qualify for the position based on the system’s own advertised qualifications. If the board had hired the other candidate, then it would have followed the same pattern as discussed in the cases above. And if we are going to go ahead and pull together to bring about the significant changes spoken of that the people want, then the NAACP is taking the steps necessary to do our part. Children first!

    Patricia Morris
    President
    Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

    Read more »
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    Edwards makes board appointments to Children’s Trust Fund, polygraph, others

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

    Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board
    The Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board provides funds for non-profit and public agencies throughout the state for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

    Alicia C. Kober, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Kober is a pediatrician at Ochsner. As required by statute, she will serve as the representative of the Louisiana State Medical Society.

    Shailindra M. “Lynn” Farris (photographed), of Baker, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Farris is a licensed clinical social worker and a Title IV-E Director at Southern University Baton Rouge. As required by statute, she will serve as the representative of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

     

    Sabine River Authority
    The Sabine River Authority’s mission is to provide for economic utilization and preservation of the waters of the Sabine River and its tributaries by promoting economic development, irrigation, navigation, improved water supply, drainage, public recreation, and hydroelectric power for the citizens of Louisiana.

    Dayna F. Yeldell, of Zwolle, was appointed to the Sabine River Authority. Yeldell is a real estate broker and the owner of First Choice Real Estate Services, LLC. She will serve as a resident of Sabine Parish.

    Byron D. Gibbs, of Hackberry, was reappointed to the Sabine River Authority. Gibbs is a retired teacher, coach, and administrator with the Cameron Parish School Board and a veteran of the United States Air Force. He will serve as a resident of Cameron Parish.

     

    Louisiana State Polygraph Board
    The Louisiana State Polygraph Board issues polygraph examiners licenses and monitors the continuing education of polygraph examiners in the state of Louisiana.

    Don A. Zuelke, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Polygraph Board. Zuelke is a licensed polygraphist and the owner of Don A. Zuekle & Associates.

     

    Fluoridation Advisory Board
    The Fluoridation Advisory Board assists public water systems with obtaining funding to implement water fluoridation, assists the director of the state Oral Health Program with the educating of the general public, and advises the state Fluoridation Program.

    Alicia C. Kober, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Fluoridation Advisory Board. Kober is a pediatrician at Ochsner. As required by statute, she will serve as the representative of the Louisiana State Medical Society.

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    BUSINESS EVENT: Monthly Pitch Competition Networking Mixer

    Best 30 second PITCH wins $250 in FREE marketing & advertising

    Our Purpose
    Build business and personal relationships through recurring networking events.

    Our Vision
    Be the most sought-after networking group in Lousiana.

    Our Mission
    Make each event better than the last by asking for feedback and help.

    Our Goal
    Have each attendee bring at least one of their most trusted and respected professional contacts as a new guest every time they come back to an event.

    We host Networking Events monthly on a Thursday from 6-8PM. We regularly have 1 complimentary drink for each preregistered guest and use the events to promote charitable causes.

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    Masquerade Ball, Silent Auction planned Feb. 10

    The Jewel J. Newman Community Center Annual Masquerade Ball and Silent Auction is planned for Saturday, February 10, 8pm until 12 midnight.  The optional black tie/cocktail attire affair is set to be a great time for everyone, said Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks.
    “Come celebrate a night of masked mystery, fun, games, prizes, and dancing. Masks purchased at the door (limited quantity available). Appetizers, beverages, and desserts provided by Victory Catering included in the cost of your ticket.”
    All donations go to Jewel J. Newman Community Center efforts to continue to provide outreach, activities, and funding for needed community center improvements.   Individual tickets ($40) and table of 8 tickets ($300) can be purchased by contacting the Jewel J. Newman Community Center at (225) 775-3935 or 77-JEWEL or email jjncc@brgov.com.
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    Law enforcement looking for drunk drivers during holiday weekend

    Law enforcement agencies across Louisiana are working overtime to put drunk drivers in jail as the long New Year’s weekend approaches, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
    Through the end of 2017, law enforcement agencies on the state and local levels are partnering with the LHSC in a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement mobilization to get drunk drivers off the road and to spread the word about the dangers of impaired driving.
    During the long New Year’s Eve holiday weekend in 2016, 76 people were injured and 5 people died in crashes involving alcohol on Louisiana roads, according to data from the Highway Safety Research Group at LSU. In all, there were 56 crashes across the state during the New Year’s Eve holiday that involved an impaired driver in 2016.
    The LHSC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offer these tips for New Year’s Eve:
    • It is never okay to drive drunk. If you plan to drink, also plan to designate a sober driver or use public transportation to get home safely.
    • Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
    • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement agency.
    • Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
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  • Community trains to mentor 1,000 males

    MentoringBR is a network of entities dedicated to strengthening the quality of mentoring provided to Black males in Baton Rouge. Organizers said the ultimate goal is to significantly increase the number of active mentors by training 1,000 community members during National Mentoring Month on Jan 6 and 20.

    ONLINE: mentoringbr.org

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    Mission to help Baton Rouge kids move more

    Three quarters of children in the United States are not meeting physical activity recommendations, according to a recent report authored by concerned health experts from around the country and by scientists from Baton Rouge at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center. The report, compiled by the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance, indicates that nearly 63 percent of children are exceeding screen time guidelines, meaning that a majority of kids are sitting more and moving less. These habits put our country’s children at risk for obesity, diabetes and related chronic disease as they get older.

     Here in Louisiana, one out of every two children is considered overweight or obese*. That statistic is unacceptable to Amanda Stain, Ph.D., an assistant professor of research in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Lab at Pennington Biomedical, who is working to find creative ways to improve children’s health.

    “We know that if we can help children develop healthy habits such as moving more when they are younger, they are more likely to continue those habits past adolescence into adulthood,” said Staiano.

    According to Staiano, the first step to helping kids move more is understanding why they aren’t already moving enough. That’s why she is leading the TIGER Kids research study, which is researching ways to increase kids’ physical activity and decrease sedentary behavior to improve their overall health.

    During the course of the study, Staiano and her team are using state-of-the-art technology like activity trackers and global positioning systems (GPS) to follow kids’ physical activity patterns for seven days to learn more about what prevents them from being active and what motivates them to move more. Kids in the study will also use a mobile phone app to share more information with researchers about who they are with and what they are doing—for example, spending time at the park with friends—when they are most physically active.web tigerkids_poster 9.75x9.75

    “This is a great way for me to teach my daughter about healthy habits,” said Brandy Davis, whose daughter, Ariamarie, is participating in the TIGER Kids study. “Both my son and I have been a part of research studies at Pennington Biomedical before, and we have really gotten some great health information from participating in those studies. My daughter was so excited to be a part of the TIGER Kids study because she is fascinated by the activity trackers and all the great information she’ll get about her own activity levels.”

    Staiano said the TIGER Kids study is still looking for children between the ages of 10 and 16 to participate in the study. In addition to great health information they can share with their doctor, participants who complete the study will also receive compensation for their time.

     

    TIGER Kids Study with Pennington Biomedical

    Study Purpose

    The TIGER Kids research study will evaluate ways to: increase kids’ physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior (help kids move more and sit less), encourage healthy eating, and assess other factors that may influence school performance, body image, stress and mood.

    TIGER Kids participants will also receive valuable health information at no cost. Each participant is eligible to receive a copy of:

    • their lab work; including blood sugar and cholesterol tests;
    • a printout of their DXA scan, which includes total body fat, total muscle mass, total lean mass and bone density readings; and
    • a copy of body measurement data including height, weight, waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure and heart rate.

    Study Qualifications

    To qualify, participants in this study should:

    • Be between 10 and 16 years old
    • Not be on a restrictive diet

    Compensation

    Total compensation for the completion of this study is $100.

    Study Contact

    Parents, are you ready to see if your child qualifies for the TIGER Kids study? Visit http://www.pbrc.edu/TIGERKids to screen online or call 225-763-3000.

     

    Read more »
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    John Gray to marshal Mid City Gras parade

    Acclaimed jazz musician and music teacher John Gray has been chosen as grand marshal of the inaugural Mid City Gras parade, which rolls Feb. 4, at 1pm, from North Blvd to Baton Rouge Community College.

    The McKinley High School and Southern University graduate is a full-time teacher at The Dunham School. He also performs professionally with The JGrayJazz Trio, The Michael Foster Project, The Soul Jukeboxx, The Uptown Jazz Orchestra and The Treme Brass Band.

    Gray has been named one of The Drum’s People to Watch, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s Teacher of the Year, and a Top 40 Under 40 Black Entrepreneur.

    He is also a recipient of Dunham’s Master Teacher Award and The LINK’s Role Model of the Year award, one of Louisiana Life Magazine’s Louisianans of the Year, and an Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge Arts Ambassador.

    To apply for Mid City Gras, see the Parade Application Tab at www.midcitygras.org or  email hello@midcitygras.org.

    ONLINE: midcitygras.org

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    Grambling student, Adrian Wilson, named to La. Board of Regents

    Adrian Williams, of Ruston, has been appointed to the Louisiana Board of Regents. He is in his third year as a Liberal Arts and Theatre major at Grambling State University. Williams has served as the 2014-2015 Student Government Association (SGA) Freshman Class President, the 2015-2016 SGA Sophomore Class President, the 2016-2017 SGA Chief of Staff, a Student Ambassador, a member of the University Concert Choir, the NAACP, and the Floyd L. Sandle Players Club.  He is a brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc. and currently serves as the 2017-2018 SGA President. Williams has aspirations to become a professional performer, lawyer, and political figure.  Following graduation, he plans to attend graduate school for performing arts and law school.

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    Wilbert Pryor named to Board of Regents

    Wilbert Pryor, of Shreveport, has been appointed to the Louisiana Board of Regents. Pryor is the chief deputy district attorney for Caddo Parish  for the Honorable James E. Stewart, Sr., Caddo Parish District Attorney.  He formerly served as an ad hoc Shreveport City Court judge and was in private law practice. A native of Shreveport, Pryor is a graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, where he was a football letterman, and the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center.  He has served on the Louisiana Lottery Corporation Board of  Directors and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.  He presently serves on the Family Justice Center of Northwest Louisiana Board of Directors, the Pathways to Education  Board of Directors, and the Zion Baptist Church, Board of Deacons. For his efforts to improve the community, Mr. Pryor was awarded the 2016 NAACP Shreveport branch Dr. Jesse N. Stone Pioneer Award.

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    Oil and gas industry challenged to engage STEM talent in Black communities

    WASHINGTON DC–When it comes to preparing the next generation for careers in science, technology engineering and mathematics, also known at STEM, Jack Gerard, the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said that leaders in the oil and natural gas industry have to answer the “awareness question.”

    “There are many people out there, today, that don’t really understand the oil and natural gas industry or the opportunities that it can present for them, their families and for well-paying careers,” said Gerard. “It’s incumbent upon us, as an industry, to have this dialogue more often and to intensify this discussion, so that people really understand,” the connection between the oil and natural gas industry and their everyday lives.

    The American Petroleum Institute and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, recently hosted a panel discussion focused on increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM careers and in the oil and natural gas industry. API, the only national trade group representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, according to the group’s website, supports 10.3 million jobs in the United States and nearly 8 percent of the U.S. economy.

    The panel discussion coincided with the release of a new RAND report titled, “Postsecondary Education and STEM Employment in the United States.” The report, which was prepared for API, examined national education trends and the relationship between degree attainment and employment and wages, specifically in STEM fields.

    “Many of tomorrow’s best paying careers, at all levels, will require some kind of training or education in a STEM discipline,” said Gerard.

    STEM degrees can lead to higher earnings and can help to close the wage gap between Blacks and Whites. Those higher earnings are even more pronounced in the oil and gas industry.

    Blacks with STEM bachelor’s degrees earn $45.15 in hourly wages in the oil and natural gas industry, compared to Blacks with non-STEM bachelor’s degrees, who make $28.10 per hour, according to the RAND report.

    Whites with STEM bachelor’s degrees make slightly more per hour than Blacks with STEM degrees working in the oil and natural gas industry ($45.26 vs. $45.15).

    The hourly wage gap is higher between Whites and Blacks with non-STEM degrees that work in the oil and gas industry ($37.73 vs. $28.10).

    According to the 2016 report titled, “Minority and Female Employment in the Oil & Natural Gas and Petrochemical Industries, 2015-2035” by IHS Global prepared for API, “nearly 1.9 million direct job opportunities are projected through 2035 in the oil and natural gas and petrochemical industries” and “African Americans and Hispanics will account for over 80 percent of the net increase in the labor force from 2015 to 2035.”

    Gerard said that over the next 10 years about 50 percent of the oil and natural gas workforce is going to “turnover.”

    According to the IHS Global report on minority and female employment in the oil and natural gas industry, Blacks accounted for 6.7 percent of the total workforce.

    Gerard said that as the current workforce reaches retirement age, the industry will need a rising generation to fill those jobs. Understanding the demographic shifts the industry has to get more aggressive in addressing that challenge, added Gerard.

    “If we’re going to do the things that are necessary to move the needle to impact those 1.9 million jobs, we have to go where most people don’t want to go and that’s in the Black and brown communities,” said Calvin Mackie, Ph.D., founder of STEM NOLA. “We often talk about STEM in a way that a common man and common woman really can’t grasp.”

    Mackie, who is an engineer in New Orleans, said that millions of Black and brown boys play football and basketball every Saturday, dreaming of making it to the NFL or NBA, even though their chances of achieving that goal are statistically low.

    “If we’re going to solve this problem, we have to go to the communities and make sure that on every Saturday there are a million Black and brown kids doing STEM, hoping and believing that, 15 years later, they will become,” millionaires and billionaires, said Mackie.

    Mackie runs a program that exposes elementary and high school students from underserved communities to STEM principles and STEM careers.

    Gerard said that leaders of the oil and natural gas industry recognize that they have to engage more effectively with minority communities, in order to build relationships and train and recruit their future workforce.

    “We need help from people who have been on the frontlines for many years,” said Gerard.

    Overton said that working with groups like the National Newspaper Publishers Association can improve the oil and natural gas industry’s outreach in the Black community.

    Overton also shared an anecdote about the African American women who were depicted in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

    African American NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughan predicted that an incoming IBM computer would displace “human computers” in the 1960s. In anticipation, she learned the computer language Fortran, and she taught it to her team of Black women mathematicians. When the IBM arrived, the team was ready and took over new jobs operating the IBM, Overton said.

    “We are in this moment of rare opportunity…we can be proactive instead of reactive, like those women in ‘Hidden Figures,’” said Spencer Overton, the president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

    Mackie said that in order to increase awareness about STEM careers in the oil and natural gas industry, programs have to be culturally and environmentally relevant.

    “When we start talking about STEM education…sometimes it’s disenfranchising our children, because it’s not exposing them to the possibility of the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industry,” said Mackie.

    Mackie said that the nature of work is rapidly changing, driven by innovation and technology; that rapid change has the power to change lives for those individuals who have access to the resources to harness those tools.

    Some education advocates fear that Black children, oftentimes don’t have access to those resources.

    “America is in trouble,” said Mackie. “We have to make sure that we expose every kid to the possibility of STEM, because the future will belong to those that can play in it and create it and all of our kids deserve that possibility.”

    Gerard noted that the oil and natural gas industry contributes to the production of the energy efficient screens found on windows, the paint on the walls in our homes and offices, the fiber composites in the carpet, and the plastic components in smartphones.

    “We have to make our industry more relevant in those conversations, so that rising generations realize that there are vast opportunities up and down the continuum,” said Gerard. “So, we don’t scare them with the STEM conversation, but we teach them that everything that they do is grounded in this industry and the opportunity within that space is very significant.”

    Gerard continued, “If we can work on this together, we’re going to see a lot of opportunities out there, because people will start making those connections between [the oil and natural gas industry] to things they take for granted and to well-paying careers.”

    By Freddie Allen 
    NNPA Editor-In-Chief

     

    PHOTO CAPTION: Calvin Mackie,Ph.D., engineer and founder of STEM NOLA, talks about diversity and inclusion in the oil and natural gas industry, during a panel discussion at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

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    ‘The Talented Ribkins’ wins 11th Annual Ernest Gaines Award

    New Orleans writer Ladee Hubbard’s novel, The Talented Ribkins, has been named winner of the 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

    Now in its 11th year, the Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed $10,000 prize given annually by Baton Rouge Area Foundation donors to recognize outstanding work from rising African-American fiction writers, while honoring Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world.

    The award will be presented to Hubbard at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge. Doors open at 6 p.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at gainesaward@braf.org. 

    The Talented Ribkins is Hubbard’s first novel. It was inspired by the essay “The Talented Tenth,” written in 1903 by civil rights sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois, calling for exceptional men to step up to help save their race. The novel follows Johnny Ribkins and his family who are on a race to dig up stolen money stashed all over Florida before Johnny’s former mobster boss finds him. Luckily, Johnny’s family hold unusual superpowers that help him in his search although the superpowers get in the way from time to time. The novel incorporates race, class and politics, and the unique gifts that bind the Ribkins family together.The-Talented-Ribkins-grey-232x300

    Hubbard earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, a master’s of fine arts in dramatic writing from New York University and a master’s of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. While attending Princeton, she was mentored by Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison. Hubbard is a professor of African studies at Tulane University.

    The national panel of judges for the 2017 Gaines Award are: Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner for his 2003 novel, The Known World; Anthony Grooms, a critically acclaimed author and creative writing professor at Kennesaw State University; renowned author Elizabeth Nunez, professor of English at Hunter College-City University of New York; Francine Prose, author of more than 20 books, including Blue Angel, a nominee for the 2000 National Book Award; and Patricia Towers, former features editor for O, The Oprah Magazine and a founding editor of Vanity Fair magazine.

    Due to the exceptional quality of entries, judges for the Gaines Award short-listed three books for commendation this year – New People, by Danzy Senna, What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah, and What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons.

    Previous winners of the Ernest J. Gaines award include Crystal Wilkinson for Birds of Opulence, T. Geronimo Johnson for Welcome to Braggsville, Attica Locke for The Cutting Season, Stephanie Powell Watts for We Are Taking Only What We Need, and Dinaw Mengestu for How to Read the Air.

    Ernest Gaines, a native of  Pointe Coupee Parish and a literary legend, has received a National Medal of Arts (2013), a MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, and the National Humanities Medal. He is a member of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His critically acclaimed novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was adapted into a made-for-TV movie that won nine Emmy awards. His 1993 novel A Lesson Before Dying won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

     

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  • Former legislator Roy Burrell, others named to state commissions

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

    Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Commission

    The Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is a nonprofit organization created to provide insurance products for residential and commercial property applicants who are in good faith entitled, but unable, to procure insurance through the voluntary insurance marketplace.

    Brian E. Chambley, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Commission. Chambley is the Director of Agency Development and the Specialty Products Sales Manager for Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company. As required by statute, he was nominated by Farm Bureau Insurance Companies.

    College and Career Readiness Commission
    The College and Career Readiness Commission makes recommendations for the development of statewide policies, guiding principles, and programs that address the current and future economic needs of the state and promotes student success in high school and in life beyond secondary education.

    Melinda W. Mangham, of Lafayette, was appointed to the College and Career Readiness Commission. Mangham is the Interim Director of Middle School for Ascension Episcopal School. Additionally, she operates her own education consulting firm, Mangham Academic Planning Strategy.

     

    Early Identification of Hearing Impaired Infants Advisory Council
    The Early Identification of Hearing Impaired Infants Advisory Council advises the Office of Public Health on various aspects of the development and implementation of the Early Identification of Hearing Impairment in Infants Law, which includes making recommendations on risk factors for hearing loss, program standards and quality assurance, program integration with community resources, materials for distribution, and program implementation and follow-up.

    Marbely D. Barahona, of Jefferson, was appointed to the Early Identification of Hearing Impaired Infants Advisory Council. Barahona is a Parent Guide for Louisiana Hands & Voices.

    Ashley J. Nielsen, of Covington, was appointed to the Early Identification of Hearing Impaired Infants Advisory Council. Nielsen is an Inclusive Education Specialist for Northshore Families Helping Families.

     

     

    Human Trafficking Prevention Commission Advisory Board
    The Human Trafficking Prevention Commission Advisory Board provides information and recommendations from the perspective of advocacy groups, service providers, and trafficking victims to the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission.

    Taneka Harris Blacknell, of Prairieville, was appointed to the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission Advisory Board. Blacknell is a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As required by statute, she will serve as a representative with expertise in advocacy for adult victims of human trafficking.

    Stacie S. LeBlanc, of Gretna, was appointed to the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission Advisory Board. LeBlanc is an attorney and the Executive Director of the New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center and Audrey Hepburn CARE Center. As required by statute, she was nominated by the Louisiana Children’s Advocacy Centers.

    Richard M. Pittman, of Gonzales, was appointed to the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission Advisory Board. Pittman is an attorney and the Director of Juvenile Defender Services for the Louisiana Public Defender Board. As required by statute, he will serve as a public defender and was nominated by the Louisiana Public Defender Board.

    Kathleen S. Richey, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission Advisory Board. Richey is an attorney and the Chief Executive Officer for LouisianaChildren.org. She will serve as the organization’s representative on the board.

    Rafael F. Salcedo, Ph.D., of Folsom, was appointed to the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission Advisory Board. Salcedo is a clinical psychologist in private practice. As required by statute, he will serve as a licensed psychologist with experience related to exploitation and was nominated by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

     

    Oilfield Site Restoration Commission
    The Oilfield Site Restoration Commission serves to: (1) approve and evaluate a priority list for site restoration annually; (2) approve lists of Contractors acceptable to conduct site assessment and site restoration; (3) review administration of site restoration activities and review the adequacy of site restoration assessments and reopen the funding needs and arrangements for site-specific trust accounts every four years; and (4) provide general administration and management of the Oilfield Site Restoration Fund and all site-specific trust accounts.

    Cynthia G. Dupree, of Lafayette, was appointed to the Oilfield Site Restoration Commission. Dupree is a member of the Louisiana Landowners Association’s Board of Directors and will serve as its representative on the commission.

     

    Southern Rail Commission
    The Southern Rail Commission serves to promote the safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods to enhance economic development along rail corridors; provide transportation choices; and facilitate emergency evacuation routes. The SRC engages and informs public and private rail interests to support and influence southeast rail initiatives.

    John M. Spain, of New Roads, was reappointed to the Southern Rail Commission. Spain is the Executive Vice President for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Additionally, he is a veteran of the United States Army.

    Roy W. Woodruff Jr., of Metairie, was reappointed to the Southern Rail Commission. Woodruff is an Adjunct Instructor at Tulane and a former District Fire Chief with the New Orleans Fire Department. He is also a veteran of the United States Navy.

     

    Louisiana Economic Development Corporation
    The board of directors is responsible for governing the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the single review board for all financial assistance loans, incentives or inducements, customized workforce training, investment programs, and any related appropriations, grants, or joint ventures administered by the Department of Economic Development, excluding those financial incentive programs administered by the state Board of Commerce and Industry or programs only authorized by the Secretary, the Governor, and/or the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

    Todd O. McDonald, of New Orleans, was appointed to the board of directors of the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation. McDonald is the Vice President of Strategy at Liberty Bank and Trust Company. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council and will serve as its representative on the board.

     

    Water Resources Commission
    The Water Resources Commission is responsible for working with the Commissioner of Conservation to prevent waste of ground water resources and to prevent or alleviate damaging or potentially damaging subsidence of the land surface caused by withdrawal of ground water.

    Glenn L. Brasseaux, of Carencro, was reappointed to the Water Resources Commission. Brasseaux is the Mayor of the City Carencro and a veteran of the United States Army Reserve. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as the representative of the Louisiana Municipal Association on the commission.

     

    Louisiana Rehabilitation Council
    The Louisiana Rehabilitation Council’s duties include reviewing, analyzing, and advising the Louisiana Rehabilitation Services within the Louisiana Workforce Commission regarding the performance of its responsibilities relating to eligibility, extent, scope, and effectiveness of services provided. The Council also reviews functions performed by state agencies that affect or that potentially affect the ability of individuals with disabilities in achieving employment.

    Brian C. Wood, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Wood is an intern with the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs. He will serve as a former recipient of Vocational Rehabilitation Services on the council.

    Nanette J. Magness, of Shreveport, was reappointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Magness is the Program Director and Clinical Director for the Low Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Louisiana Association of the Blind. She will serve as a former recipient of Vocational Rehabilitation Services on the council.

    Alexis D. Young, of Minden, was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Young is a licensed clinical social worker and Webster Cares Grant Counselor for the Webster Parish School Board. She will serve as a former recipient of Vocational Rehabilitation Services on the council.

    Marvin R. Rush, of DeRidder, was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Rush is a former educator. He will serve as a former recipient of Vocational Rehabilitation Services on the council.

    Susan G. Killam, of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Killam is the Transition and Employment Initiatives Director with LSU Health’s Human Development Center. She will serve as a representative of individuals with disabilities who have difficulty representing themselves.

    Nicole D. Walker, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Walker is the Executive Director of UpLIFTD, an organization which assist persons with disabilities and the disadvantaged in achieving their goal of self-sufficiency through their desired employment. She will serve as a representative of service providers for the community rehabilitation program.

     

    Louisiana Manufactured Housing Commission
    The Louisiana Manufactured Housing Commission functions to: (1) License manufacturers, retailers, developers, salesmen, and installers; (2) Work with manufactured home consumers, manufacturers, retailers, developers, salesmen, and installers to hear complaints and make determinations relating to construction defects, warranty issues, and service complaints; and (3) conduct hearings on any violation of the provisions of the law.

    James Douglas Anderson, of Lake Charles, was appointed to the Louisiana Manufactured Housing Commission. Anderson is a Performance and Learning Consultant with Clayton Homes and a veteran of the United States Air Force. He will serve as an at-large representative.

     

    Louisiana Statewide Independent Living Council
    The Louisiana Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) was established to support the efforts of our citizens with disabilities to live independently in the community of their choice. Some of the specific duties of the Statewide Independent Living Council are: (1) jointly develop a State Plan for Independent Living; (2) monitor, review, and evaluate implementation of the state plan; and (3) develop strong positive partnerships with the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council and other members of the disability community.

    Kandy S. Baker, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana Statewide Independent Living Council. Baker is a licensed clinical social worker and a Program Coordinator for the Louisiana Workforce Commission. She will serve as the representative of the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council.

    Rosemary M. Morales, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana Statewide Independent Living Council. Morales is a Program Manager for the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities within the Louisiana Department of Health.

     

    Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council
    The Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council is responsible for monitoring and reporting to the governor and the legislature on the implementation and administration of laws pertaining to the administration of workers’ compensation claims and making specific recommendations thereon.

    Jennifer L. Marusak, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council. Marusak is the Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the Louisiana State Medical Society and will serve as its representative on the council.

     

    Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners
    The Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners licenses private investigators and businesses in the state of Louisiana in order to contribute to the safety, health, and welfare of the people of Louisiana.

    Paul C. Dugas, of Schriever, was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners. Dugas is a licensed private investigator and the Owner and President of Dugas Legal Investigative Services, LLC. He will serve as the representative of the 2nd Public Service Commission District.

     

    Louisiana Workforce Investment Council
    The Louisiana Workforce Investment Council serves to develop a strategic plan to coordinate and integrate a workforce development delivery system to assure efficiency and cooperation between public and private entities by advising the governor on the needs of Louisiana’s employers and its workforce as well as being responsible for occupational forecasting, which is used for driving programs and funding for job training.

    Leigh D. King, of Ferriday, was appointed to the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council. King is the Vice President of Cox Business. He will serve as a representative of the general business community on the council.

    Melissa H. Mann, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council. Mann is the Director of Governmental Affairs for CenturyLink. She will serve as a representative of Louisiana’s information technology sector on the council.

     

    Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
    The Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports serves to develop, foster, and coordinate services and programs of physical fitness and sports for the people of Louisiana. The Council encourages local governments and communities to develop local physical fitness programs and amateur athletic competitions.

    Benjamin J. Berthelot, of Lafayette, was reappointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Berthelot is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission.

    Robert W. Boudreaux, of Broussard, was reappointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Boudreaux is the State Office Administrator for the Knights of Columbus Louisiana State Council.

    John B. Boyer, of Gretna, was reappointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Boyer is retired. He is a USA Track and Field Certified Official.

    Pamela G. Carey, of Atlanta, was reappointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Carey is the Sports and Recreation Consultant and GUMBO Coordinator for Families Helping Families at the Crossroads in Rapides Parish.

    Katherine F. “Kathy” Hill, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Hill is an Adjunct Professor of Kinesiology at LSU.

    Kenneth W. Jenkins, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Jenkins is retired. He is the former Director of Student Activities for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.

    Joseph N. “Joey” Odom, of Lake Charles, was reappointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Odom is the Manager at Sports Productions. He formerly served as the Director of Public Relations and Parks for the City of Lake Charles.

    Charles W. “Bill” Skinner, of Hammond, was reappointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Skinner is a retired educator.

    Rani Gregory Whitfield, M.D., was reappointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Whitfield is a board certified family physician with a Certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine.

     

    Red River Waterway Commission
    The Red River Waterway Commission was created for the purpose of establishing, operating, and maintaining the Red River Waterway, a navigable waterway system, extending from the vicinity of the confluence of Red River with Old River and the Atchafalaya River northwestward in the Red River Valley to the state boundary.

    Roy A. Burrell, of Shreveport, (photographed above) was appointed to the Red River Waterway Commission. Burrell is the President of Best Communications Management Services and a former member of the Louisiana State House of Representatives. He will serve as an at-large member on the commission.

     

    Capital Area Groundwater Conservation District
    The mission of the Capital Area Ground Water Conservation District is to provide for the efficient administration, conservation, orderly development, and supplementation of groundwater resources in the parishes of East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana. The board develops, promotes, and implements management strategies to provide for the conservation, preservation, protection, recharging, and prevention of waste of the groundwater resources over which it has jurisdictional authority.

    Jens P. Rummler, of Oscar, was reappointed to the Capital Area Groundwater Conservation District. Rummler is a USDA-certified master farmer and a Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry certified master cattle producer. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of Pointe Coupee Parish.

    Nelson L. Morvant, of Gonzales, was reappointed to the Capital Area Groundwater Conservation District. Morvant is a licensed professional geoscientist and a Senior Environmental Analyst at Entergy Services, Inc. As required by statute, he was nominated by and will serve as a representative of industrial water users in the district.

     

    Red River Levee and Drainage District
    The Red River Levee and Drainage District was established to construct and maintain levees, drainage, and levee drainage, and to do all other things incidental thereto.

    Carl W. Carpenter, of Pelican, was appointed to the Red River Levee and Drainage District. Carpenter is the owner and operator of CWC Services. As required by statute, he was nominated by a legislator representing the district.

     

    Jimmy D. Long Sr. Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts
    The Board of Directors for the Jimmy D. Long Sr. Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts functions to establish and maintain the School and to provide the highest quality of instruction for the children of the School.

    Jimmy D. Berry, of Natchitoches, was appointed to the Jimmy D. Long Sr. Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. Berry is a retired educator and principal for the Natchitoches Parish School Board and Northwestern State University.

     

    Louisiana Board of Drug and Device Distributors
    The Louisiana Board of Drug and Device Distributors issues licenses for and regulates the distribution of legend drugs and legend devices by distributors within and into the state of Louisiana in order to safeguard life and health and to promote the public welfare.

    Chad D. Gielen, of Crowley, was reappointed to the Louisiana Board of Drug and Device Distributors. Gielen is the President and CEO of Louisiana Wholesale Drug Co., Inc. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Association of Wholesale Drug Distributors.

    Randall D. Brooks, of Prairieville, was reappointed to the Louisiana Board of Drug and Device Distributors. Brooks is the Facility Manager of PetNet Solutions. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Association of Wholesale Drug Distributors.

     

    Parish Boards of Election Supervisors
    The purpose of the board in each parish is to oversee and supervise all elections within the parish to ensure the safety and accuracy of the democratic process. The Board of Election Supervisors oversees the preparation and conducting of each election in the parish. Each parish’s board is composed of the parish’s registrar of voters, the parish’s clerk of court, the chairman of the parish executive committee of each recognized political party, and one member appointed by the governor.

    Wilkie J. “Jo” Travis, of Kentwood, was appointed to the St. Helena Parish Board of Supervisors. Travis is a retired dairy owner.

    Robert R. Gentry, of Many, was appointed to the Sabine Parish Board of Election Supervisors. Gentry is the retired publisher and owner of The Sabine Index Newspaper and a veteran of the Louisiana National Guard.

    Margie D. Bass, of Jonesville, was reappointed to the Catahoula Parish Board of Election Supervisors. Bass is a loan teller with Catahoula LaSalle Bank.

     

    Medicaid Pharmaceutical & Therapeutics Committee
    The Medicaid Pharmaceutical & Therapeutics Committee is responsible for developing and maintaining a preferred drug list (PDL) in conjunction with a prior approval process relating to the Medicaid drug program.

    Marty R. McKay, of Woodworth, was appointed to the Medicaid Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committee. McKay is the owner of Pearson Drugs #7. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Independent Pharmacies Association.

     

    Louisiana State Polygraph Board
    The Louisiana State Polygraph Board issues polygraph examiners licenses and monitors the continuing education of polygraph examiners in the state of Louisiana.

    Judith C. Goodman, of Metairie, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Polygraph Board. Goodman is a licensed polygraph examiner and the owner and President of Professional Security Training.

    Calvin T. Bowden, of Denham Springs, was appointed to the Louisiana State Polygraph Board. Bowden is a licensed polygraph examiner and a detective with the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office.

     

    Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board
    The Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board provides funds for non-profit and public agencies throughout the state for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

    Angela S. Breidenstine, Ph.D., of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Breidenstine is a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor at Tulane University School of Medicine’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She will serve as a representative of the Louisiana Psychological Association.

    Yolanda T. Motley, of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Motley is the Senior Administrator of Kingsley House, Inc. She is serve as a representative of the early childhood community.

     

    New Orleans Center for Creative Arts
    The Board of Directors for the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts oversees the management of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). The Board oversees the hiring of the President/CEO, the fiscal operations of the facility, and the development of policies necessary to operate the center. NOCCA is a state agency whose mission is to provide arts training for high school age students who aspire to be professional artists.

    Troy J. Broussard, of Prairieville, was reappointed to the Board of Directors for the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Broussard is the Associate State Director of Advocacy and Outreach for AARP and a veteran of the United States National Guard.

     

    Louisiana Statewide Independent Living Council
    The Louisiana Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) was established to support the efforts of our citizens with disabilities to live independently in the community of their choice. Some of the specific duties of the Statewide Independent Living Council are: (1) jointly develop a State Plan for Independent Living; (2) monitor, review, and evaluate implementation of the state plan; and (3) develop strong positive partnerships with the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council and other members of the disability community.

    Roszella J. Viltz, of Lafayette, was reappointed to the Louisiana Statewide Independent Living Council. Viltz is a Children’s Special Health Services Parent Liaison for the Louisiana Department of Health. She will serve as an advocate for individuals with disabilities.

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    28th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration, Dec. 30, focus on Nia principles

    The Afrocentric Focus/Maat Study Group of Baton Rouge invites the public to the 28th annual Kwanzaa Celebration at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30. Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community and culture observed for seven days beginning Dec. 26. This year’s Kwanzaa Celebration is being held on the fifth day of Kwanzaa, which focuses on the fifth principle of Nia.

    Representing purpose the principle Nia, guides the community to “make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”

    The event will be held at Southern University in T.T. Allain Hall’s Global Conference Room (room 313) with James L. Conyers, Ph.D., as the featured speaker. Vendors will be available with African heritage clothing, jewelry, art and books.

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    State task force established to review sexual harassment, discrimination policies in agencies

    Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order announcing the Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy.  The seven member board is tasked with reviewing current harassment and discrimination policies within every state agency that falls under the executive branch, as well as researching and identifying the most effective ways to create work environments that are free from any form of harassment or discrimination.

    “Every person, whether they work in state government or private industry, should be able to do their jobs without fear of being sexually harassed or discriminated against,” said Gov. Edwards. “There is no circumstance under which harassment or discrimination of any kind will be tolerated by my administration. This task force will help us identify which current policies are effective and which ones are not, whether new ones need to be implemented and whether additional changes need to be made in these areas. The goal is to ensure state employees are safe at work and have the confidence in knowing that any allegation made will be taken seriously and that there are adequate procedures in place to address those complaints. The work has already begun, and we will have helpful discussions and feedback in very short order.”

    The duties of the task force members include the following:

    • Review the sexual harassment and discrimination policies of each state agency within the executive branch.
    • Research and identify the most effective mode of training to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination and evaluate the effectiveness of the existing video state employees are required to view each year.
    • Develop a protocol for sexual harassment and discrimination policy orientation for new employees, those participating in any state sponsored training academy and employees promoted to supervisory positions.
    • Research and identify the specific conduct that should be prohibited by sexual harassment and discrimination policies.
    • Research and identify a clear reporting process when an allegation is made as well as the most appropriate action that should be taken once an investigation is completed.

    The task force will make specific recommendations to ensure uniformity of sexual harassment and discrimination policies across the agencies and submit a report to the governor regarding its findings no later than March 1, 2018.

    Further, before January 1, 2018, all state agencies within the executive branch are to review their policies relative to sexual harassment and discrimination and submit a detailed report to the commissioner of administration.

    ONLINE: executive order.

     

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    Judge Faith Jenkins to be SU fall commencement speaker

    Southern University Baton Rouge has invited Faith Jenkins to be its fall commencement speaker. Jenkins is the host of Judge Faith – a nationally televised court TV show now entering its fourth season.
    Originally from Shreveport, Jenkins  graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Louisiana Tech University (where she was also the first Black woman to win the title of Miss Louisiana Tech University) and a J.D. from Southern University Law Center where she ranked #1 in her law class. She went on to become Miss Louisiana in the year 2000 and represent the state in the Miss America pageant where was first runner up to Miss America.
    Jenkins started her legal career in New York in the litigation group at Sidley Austin. After five years as a commercial litigator, she became a prosecutor at the Manhattan District attorney’s office. As a prosecutor, Jenkins  handled hundreds of criminal cases and was the lead attorney in numerous jury trials. Her work included indicting and prosecuting a multitude of violent crimes such as gang assaults, robberies, burglaries, kidnapping, drug sales, and firearms cases.
    Jenkins  is also known for her legal and social commentary on television. Prior to signing as a legal analyst exclusively with MSNBC, she appeared regularly on CNN, Fox News, and HLN to analyze the nation’s most high profile cases and legal issues.
    During the George Zimmerman trial in Florida, Jenkins analyzed the trial daily on all three major news networks. She appeared nightly – from jury selection to verdict — on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation to discuss witness testimony and opine on the trial’s overall progress each day.
    Southern University will be conferring degrees for more 500 graduates commencing bachelor’s, graduate, and doctoral programs. Jalen Wagner, senior biology major, will be the chief student marshal for the commencement. The program is set for Friday, December 15, at 10am in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
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    Baton Rouge sailor reflects on year of recruiting in America’s Navy

    First Class Jalisa Green, a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, shows that not shying away from hard work and responsibility does not go unnoticed.
    Green, a Louisiana native, longed to travel and see the world beyond her hometown of Baton Rouge.  She believed joining the Navy would give her that opportunity.
    After enlisting in 2009, she was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, serving on USS Cowpens with follow-on assignments on USS Spruance  and USS William P. Lawrence.
    “Working on a ship was challenging; it meant long hours, a lot of sweat, dirt, and wrench-cranking, but I loved it,” said Green, a gas turbine system technician (mechanical).
    Although her passion is to travel as much as possible, early in her career she knew one day she would transition to shore duty as a recruiter.
    “I had a great recruiter, who has been a positive influence from day one in my decision to become a recruiter, and continues to support me throughout my career,” said Green.
    Recruiters are representatives of America’s Navy and act as ambassadors in their communities.  To become one requires previous experience in the Navy or other branch of the military, an outgoing personality, creativity, initiative, and strong organizational and time-management skills, among other skills.
    For some Sailors, transitioning from the fleet to recruiting can be challenging.  Many find it difficult adapting to office work after spending time in more operational rates on a ship.
    “For me the biggest difference was all the paperwork,” said Green.  “But the long hours and dedication you have to put in are the same.  Ship life had already groomed me for that.”
    Green has proven her strength and ability to adapt within the recruiting world.  As a second class petty officer, she was given the position of leading petty officer (LPO) for her division, a role that is traditionally given to a first class petty officer.
    “Becoming a LPO was a tough experience.  I had to make sacrifices in my personal life for my career,” admits Green.  “It was hard, at first, to find that balance and to remember to take care of myself and make time for other goals, like college.”
    Green says she finds strength through her many mentors in the recruiting community as well as through her family.
    “I reach out often to my chief, division leading chief petty officer, and my first class petty officers,” said Green.  “They all encourage me to never back down and to always strive for more from myself and my recruiters.”
    Green’s grit and strong work ethic made her a standout Sailor within the recruiting community and lead to her meritorious advancement to first class petty officer through the Meritorious Advancement Program  on June 30.
    Earning meritorious advancement was a huge milestone for Green, who says she was completely surprised by her selection.
    “I honestly did not think it was an achievable goal for me,” she explained.  “It is hard to be competitive within your rate as a recruiter, so I did not think it would happen.”
    Successful recruiters can apply for reclassification under the Navy’s Career Recruiting Force (CRF) program.  Green has chosen not to convert to CRF, instead hoping to one day return to the fleet.
    “As much as I have enjoyed recruiting, shore duty has reminded me of why I joined the Navy in the first place, which was to travel and do something different,” Green said.  “I have not traveled enough,” she said.
    Green said making first class has not been a big change for her.
    “Serving as the LPO for my division as a second class made me already think like a first class, so this advancement is only the beginning and makes me want to work harder to achieve my goals,” said Green.
    Those goals, Green said, are to eventually finish college and make chief petty officer or become a commissioned officer.
    “I am thankful for this opportunity, but personally it is not enough; I need to keep pushing,” she said.  “I also need to humble myself and remember all the recruiters and chiefs who have gone before me and to those whom have given me guidance to get me where I am today.  I wouldn’t be here without their help.”
    By Giselle Christmas
    Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class
    Navy Recruiting District San Antonio Public Affairs
    PHOTO CAPTION:
    171020-N-ND850-679:  CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Oct. 20, 2017) Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 1st Class Jalisa Green of Baton Rouge, La., is a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting Station Corpus Christi, Navy Recruiting District San Antonio.  After enlisting in 2009, Green served aboard the USS Cowpens (CG-63), USS Spruance (DDG-111), and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) before becoming a Navy recruiter.  (U.S. Navy Photo by Burrell Parmer, Navy Recruiting District San Antonio Public Affairs/Released)

     

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    Flooded Louisiana Schools Receive $14 Million More in Recovery Funding

    Approximately $14 million in federal disaster aid will support schools in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, and Tangipahoa parishes with recovery and repair efforts following the August 2016 floods.

    Some repair projects received supplemental funding to enhance construction, reduce flood damage and break the cycle of repetitive losses.

    Students and schools in these parishes will benefit from the following projects reimbursed by FEMA:

    • Amite Westside Middle Magnet School has been approved for nearly $466,000 for classroom repairs. This includes $7,785 to install watertight doors.
    • Baker High School has been approved for about $2.4 million for repairs to classrooms. FEMA previously approved $5.4 million to reimburse the cost of temporary facilities, debris removal and cleaning expenses along with funding to replace contents and assist with building repairs.
    • Brookstown Magnet Middle School in Baton Rouge has been approved for approximately $2.4 millionfor classroom repairs. FEMA previously approved $1.7 million for cleaning and flood damage removal expenses.
    • Lake Elementary School in St. Amant has been approved for nearly $3.3 million for building and equipment repairs. Of that total, $61,758 will help elevate electrical equipment vulnerable to flooding. FEMA previously approved $7.4 million for temporary facilities and flood-damage removal and debris expenses.
    • St. Amant Primary School has been approved to receive about $1.8 million for classroom repairs. This includes funding of $150,300 to elevate electrical equipment.
    • The Runnels School in Baton Rouge has been approved for about $1.3 million for temporary classroom facilities, contents and repairs to accommodate displaced students and faculty.
    • The Wilma C. Montgomery Center – an East Baton Rouge School Board administration building - has been approved for about $1.3 million for repairs.

    To date, FEMA has reimbursed Louisiana schools more than $133 million for disaster-related projects through the Public Assistance program.

    The PA program has reimbursed over $489 million to local and state government entities as well as certain private nonprofits for August 2016 flood-related expenses. Eligible reimbursement projects include repairing or replacing disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure, debris removal and emergency response activities.

    FEMA has a long-term commitment to help Louisiana communities and critical infrastructure recover from the August 2016 floods. The agency continues collaborating with the state on recovery projects with 282 applicants in 26 parishes.

    FEMA typically reimburses 75 percent of eligible expenses. However, the agency will reimburse applicants 90 percent of eligible expenses given the magnitude of the August 2016 floods.

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    Grambling takes 44th Bayou Classic, heads to SWAC Championship

    NEW ORLEANS - The 44th Annual Bayou Classic was all about unity. During the weekend, the theme “We Are One” was echoed from the Superdome to the French Market and throughout the various venues which hosted Bayou Classic events across the city. The Grambling State University Tigers took the victory for their third straight Bayou Classic, but the exciting back-and-forth game, combined with family fun events, and HBCU pride made everyone a winner.
    IMG_2022
    The Annual Bayou Classic brings fans from Grambling State University and Southern University and A&M College to New Orleans for an HBCU experience like no other. Students, fans and alumni unite to experience the historic rivalry and take part in the unique tradition and pageantry.
    IMG_2689
    The attendance at the 2017 Greek Show presented by McDonald’s and Battle of the Bands presented by the U.S. Marine Corps was 28,730. The attendance at the game was 66,550. This year, the electrifying halftime show was presented by P&G’s Crest 3D White Toothpaste.
    For the second year in a row, the game served as a playoff for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Championship game. The Grambling State University Tigers will go on to face Alcorn State on December 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The SWAC champion will then play in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia on December 16.
    Dottie Belletto, President and CEO of New Orleans Convention Company, Inc. (NOCCI) said, “It was a great year and now we have begun the planning for our 45th Bayou Classic Anniversary for 2018.”
    Highlights of the 44th Annual Bayou Classic include:
    • With the Grambling Tigers winning the Bayou Classic with a score of 30-21 against the Southern Jaguars, the Tigers lead the series holding 23 victories in the 43-game series.
    • With the win, the Grambling State University Tigers move onto the SWAC Championship against Alcorn State to be held in Houston on Saturday, December 2, 2017.
    • Grambling’s Devante Kincade and Southern’s Austin Howard were named MVPs of the 44th Annual Bayou Classic.
    • Louisiana Seafood presented a 44-foot po-boy to commemorate the Bayou Classic’s 44th Anniversary at the Bayou Classic Press Conference.
    • The theme of the 44th Annual Bayou Classic was “We Are One” to promote unity amongst the HBCU community.IMG_2801
    • In 2017, fan voting via the Bayou Classic App played a larger role in choosing the winner of their favorite step stem at the Greek Show and MVP of the game. There were 1,121 people that voted for the winner of the Greek Show and 493 people voted for the MVP of the game.
    • Over the Bayou Classic Weekend, the Bayou Classic App peaked in downloads at number 34 out of the top 200 Sports Apps. The app had 8,279 downloads and was more popular with fans this year vs. the debut year in 2016.
    • First place winners of the Bayou Classic Greek Show presented by McDonald’s, Beta Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Psi Beta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., were presented with $3,000 checks for their victories.
    • This year the Bayou Classic Parade changed the date from Thanksgiving Day to pre-game on Saturday. The Bayou Classic Parade had an attendance of more than 65,000 attendees. The parade featured 11 high school marching bands, three of which were from out of state.
    • Bayou Classic Fan Fest presented by Cox with entertainment by iHeart Radio reached capacity for the first time and the entrance gates to Champions Square were closed. Over 12,500 people attended Fan Fest on a flow.
    • iHeart Radio provided artists including K Camp, Young Greatness and Cupid along with headliner T.I., presented by Coors Light at the Bayou Classic Fan Fest presented by Cox.
    • Six teams comprised of 21 students were selected to present their final presentations at the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge presented by Nexus LA. The winner of the $10,000 Grand Prize was Team OurGlass from Southern University who created a portable 3D-printed device that brews tea, so that users can brew and drink tea “on the go”. The team is working with the Technology and Entrepreneurship Clinic at Southern University’s Law Center to patent and trademark their intellectual property, and set up legal structures to enable them to start selling their product.
    • The top three finalists of the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge received $10,000 in free legal services from Stone Pigman Law Firm to advise them on next steps.
    • Approximately 150 people attended the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
    • Sheryl Underwood, actress, comedian, and personality as seen on The Talk judged the Greek Show along with Elvin Ross, founder of Elvin Ross Studios, and Music Director of the beloved Tyler Perry films. Singer, songwriter, model and actress, Solange Knowles was in attendance for the show.  Omar J. Dorsey, actor in Queen Sugar was in attendance for the game.
    • The U.S. Marine Corps Band played an instrumental rendition of the National Anthem before the big game.
    • Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Bryan Terrell Clark who plays George Washington in the Broadway play Hamilton, and Anthony Pope, senior vice president and region manager for Cox’s Southeast Region conducted the coin toss before the big game.
    • The Bayou Classic partnered with the inDEFINED Initiative, Bryan Terrell Clark’s fashion line which supports inner city arts education. inDEFINED sold a special edition Bayou Classic tee at Fan Fest which benefited arts education programs in New Orleans.
    • Grambling’s Devante Kincade and Southern’s Lenard Tillery were inducted into Bayou Classic’s MVP Club during the Coaches Luncheon in honor of being named MVPs of the Bayou Classic in 2016.

    See more photo highlights by Yusef Davis, photojournalist 

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    COMMENTARY: Louisiana School Finder gives parents information to help children succeed

    School accountability is key to ensuring all students — regardless of Zip code, race, socioeconomic status or differing abilities — have equal access to the high-quality education they deserve. But it’s often difficult to gather information that paints a complete picture of how well local child care centers and schools are preparing children for the next grade level. A new tool created for Louisiana families offers a solution.

    Earlier this month, the Louisiana Department of Education released a new online tool called the Louisiana School Finder that enables families to find and evaluate schools and early childhood programs across the state to find the sites that best fit their unique child’s needs. The revamped report card system shows overall school and district performance scores — Louisiana schools, for example, earned a collective “B” letter grade this year — and traditionally reported data points like assessment results, graduation rates and college enrollment. It’s also expanded to offer results by student group, detail student discipline and attendance data, and even highlight facts about the teachers who work at each site, a huge step toward ensuring greater transparency and addressing equity.

    In addition, the system gives users information about all publicly funded early childhood centers, prekindergarten and Head Start programs across the state, unifying our early childhood and K-12 education systems. These new ratings, which were unveiled for the first time this year, are derived from site observations and provide a snapshot of each classroom’s climate and how well they are preparing kids to enter kindergarten ready. Statewide, about 1,500 performance profiles are now available.

    The Louisiana School Finder plainly communicates the details families need to make informed decisions about their child’s education, and the facts educators, stakeholders, nonprofit organizations and advocates need to understand the gaps that exist, how to direct resources and how to leverage best practices. It is truly a one-of-a-kind community tool.

    As president of Urban League of Louisiana, my job is focused on ensuring that all students have the same resources and opportunities as their counterparts. It’s a responsibility that is the heart of my organization. The Louisiana School Finder helps accomplish that mission and positions our state, our schools and our students toward continued success.

    By Erika McConduit

    President of the Urban League Louisiana

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    Our Glass wins Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge

    Four Southern University Baton Rouge students collected a $10,000 grand prize after placing first in the Bayou Classic Biztech Challenge.

    Their business pitch, Our Glass, caters to herbal tea consumers and is a 3-D printable, portable bottle that is insulated and allows consumers to brew tea on the go.

    Adorned in a white t-shirt with baby blue writing that spelled Our Glass, senior mechanical engineering and supply chain major from Mer Rouge Nathan Morrison, presented the problem of not being able to brew tea quickly without a heating element nearby.

    After coming up with the idea, Morrison sought out those who he knew could help bring his vision to life. SUBR students, Polite Stewar. Jr., Rashad Pierre and Ashley Lewis were the three additional powerhouses behind Our Glass.

    “We have to get patented, trademarked and figure out who gets what,” Morrison stated in regards to the volume of investment offers that the quartet have recently begun to receive after their victory.

    The students received a $10,000 check in which they will split four ways. They were also gifted $10,000 in legal fees during the Nov. 25, 2017, event.

    Read complete story at The Southern Digest.

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    Network Coalition honors New Orleans, Baton Rouge leaders during Bayou Classic 2017

    VCI International Inc. hosted the 24th Annual Network Coalition Reception at  the Hyatt House hotel in New Orleans honoring business and political leaders during the Bayou Classic weekend festivities. Honored were:

    • Lisa Mims-Devazin, PhD, Chancellor, Southern University New Orleans
    • State Senator Wesley Bishop
    • New Orleans City Councilman James Austin Gray ll
    • Eugene Green of The Green Business Report
    • Tyrone Legette of  Legette Construction
    • Hall Davis V of  Hall Davis and Sons Funeral Home in Baton Rouge
    • Tony Brown of the Eyes Open Foundation in Alexandria Louisiana
    • Sailor Jackson Jr., Louisiana Secretary of State office (retired)

      Tony Brown

      Tony Brown

    Michael McClanahan incoming president Louisiana NAACP State Conference was introduced. Erika McConduit, president of the Urban League Louisiana, Network Coalition chairman WT Whitfield, VCI International president Allen Semien Sr, Bobby Phills, Ph.D, chancellor-dean of the Southern University Land Grant Campus, Martin Burrell, president of the Dallas-based Burrell Group, and State Representative Sam Jenkins of Shreveport welcomed guests to the

    Untitled4pm event.

    Sponsors for the event included Acadian Companies, Baton Rouge Community College Foundation, Maximized Communications, CAWAN Resource Network, JAVA Copy Center, The Burrell Group, Yusef Davis Photography, Dr. Everett D. Gibson, and Ted Ellis Art Gallery.

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    High blood pressure redefined for first time in 14 years: 130 the new high

    High blood pressure should be treated earlier with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication – at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90 – according to the first comprehensive new high blood pressure guidelines in more than a decade. The guidelines are being published by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) for detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure.The guidelines were presented this week at the Association’s 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, Calif., the premier global cardiovascular science meeting for the exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

    Rather than 1 in 3 U.S. adults having high blood pressure (32 percent) with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, there will only be a small increase in the number of U.S. adults who will require antihypertensive medication, authors said. Additionally, more African-Americans, a population that faces a higher risk for high blood pressure than other demographics, will have high blood pressure under the new guidelines. Fifty-six percent of women will be affected compared to 59 percent of men, which reflects an increase from 42 percent for women and 46 percent for men. This now means African-American men have the highest rate of hypertension while, previously, black women did.

    These guidelines, the first update to offer comprehensive guidance to doctors on managing adults with high blood pressure since 2003, are designed to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier.

    The new guidelines stress the importance of using proper technique to measure blood pressure. Blood pressure levels should be based on an average of two to three readings on at least two different occasions, the authors said.

    High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, following smoking. It’s known as the “silent killer” because many times there are no obvious symptoms, and it significantly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

    Paul K. Whelton, M.B., M.D., M.Sc., lead author of the guidelines published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, noted the dangers of blood pressure levels between 130-139/80-89 mm Hg.

    “You’ve already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure,” he said. “We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it. It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches.”

    Blood pressure categories in the new guidelines are:

    * Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;
    * Elevated: Top number (systolic) between 120-129 and bottom number (diastolic) less than 80;
    * Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89;
    * Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg;
    * Hypertensive crisis: Top number over 180 and/or bottom number over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.

    The new guidelines eliminate the category of prehypertension, which was used for blood pressures with a top number (systolic) between 120-139 mm Hg or a bottom number (diastolic) between 80-89 mm Hg. People with those readings now will be categorized as having either Elevated (120-129 and less than 80) or Stage I hypertension (130-139 or 80-89).

    Previous guidelines classified 140/90 mm Hg as Stage 1 hypertension. This level is classified as Stage 2 hypertension under the new guidelines.

    The impact of the new guidelines is expected to be greatest among younger people. The prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45 according to the report. For African-Americans, high blood pressure develops earlier in life and is usually more severe.

    Damage to blood vessels begins soon after blood pressure is elevated, said Whelton, who is the Show Chwan professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans. “If you’re only going to focus on events, that ignores the process when it’s beginning. Risk is already going up as you get into your 40s.”

    The guidelines stress the importance of home blood pressure monitoring using validated devices and appropriate training of healthcare providers to reveal “white-coat hypertension,” which occurs when pressure is elevated in a medical setting but not in everyday life. Home readings can also identify “masked hypertension,” when pressure is normal in a medical setting but elevated at home, thus necessitating treatment with lifestyle and possibly medications.

    “People with white-coat hypertension do not seem to have the same elevation in risk as someone with true sustained high blood pressure,” Whelton said. “Masked hypertension is more sinister and very important to recognize because these people seem to have a similar risk as those with sustained high blood pressure.”

    Other changes in the new guidelines include:

    * Only prescribing medication for Stage I hypertension if a patient has already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, or is at high risk of heart attack or stroke based on age, the presence of diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease or calculation of atherosclerotic risk (using the same risk calculator used in evaluating high cholesterol).

    * Recognizing that many people will need two or more types of medications to control their blood pressure, and that people may take their pills more consistently if multiple medications are combined into a single pill.

    * Socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress are now recognized as risk factors for high blood pressure. In some urban communities, socioeconomic status can affect access to basic living necessities, medication, healthcare providers and the ability to adopt lifestyle changes.

    The new guidelines were developed by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations. They were written by a panel of 21 scientists and health experts who reviewed more than 900 published studies. The guidelines underwent a careful systematic review and approval process. Each recommendation is classified by the strength (class) of the recommendation followed by the level of evidence supporting the recommendation. Recommendations are classified I or II, with class III indicating no benefit or harm. The level of evidence signifies the quality of evidence. Levels A, B, and C-LD denote evidence gathered from scientific studies, while level C-EO contains evidence from expert opinion.

    The new guidelines are the successor to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC7), issued in 2003 and overseen by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In 2013, the NHLBI asked the AHA and ACC to continue the management of guideline preparation for hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors.

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    Policy experts discuss education in the new Jim Crow era

    After decades of desegregation efforts, federal civil rights laws, and other attempts to close the achievement gap, a high quality education remains an elusive goal for most Black children.

    In an effort to engage Black parents around reaching that elusive goal, educators and community stakeholders tackled leadership, educational equity and policy in urban schools, during a recent panel discussion.

    Led by moderator Linda Tillman, professor emeritus of education leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the panel discussed the challenges faced by African American teachers and leaders, as they work to educate Black children and young adults in urban communities.

    “We are here to revisit old discussions and bring fresh ideas,” Tillman said. “Jim Crow has affected Blacks in so many ways. Black education is a right [that’s] not solely based on White norms.”

    Panelist Terri Watson, a City College of New York (CCNY) educator and co-creator of the CCNY-based “Growing Our Own Doctor’s Project,” said that there’s not only a need for better education, but that there’s also a need for safer communities for Black students.

    “We have to focus on creating space where kids are informed and active, that’s important,” Watson said. “We have to let the kids know that the world is waiting for them, they’re up next and we have to change their mindset that the world views them as disposable.”

    Rodney Hopson, a professor and associate dean of education psychology at George Mason University, Sonya Douglass Horsford, an associate professor of education leadership at the Teachers College at Columbia University, and M. Christopher Brown II, the president of Kentucky State University also participated in the panel that took place during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference.

    Both Brown and Horsford, longtime friends, said the majority of public schools are now non-White. The proliferation of charter and alternative schools has also chipped away at the effectiveness of public schools.

    The federal government has played such a major role in shaping education policy and schools now mostly prepare African Americans for prison, not college, Brown said.

    “The school’s structure that’s used is that they teach our kids how to stand in a straight line, to raise their hands when they have to go to the bathroom…you do that in prison, so that’s the training they’re getting,” Brown said.

    He then quoted what he said was a prophetic statement made by W.E.B. Du Bois 57 years ago.

    “[African American] teachers will become rarer and in many cases will disappear,” Brown said quoting Du Bois, noting that the prediction has come to pass.

    Brown continued, quoting Du Bois: “[African American] children will be instructed in public schools and taught under unpleasant if not discouraging circumstances. Even more largely than today, they will fall out of school, cease to enter high school, and fewer and fewer will go to college.”

    Horsford, like the other panelists, said no one should be surprised, because, after all, resegregation has occurred and education is the “new civil rights in the new Jim Crow.”

    “We shouldn’t operate from the assumption that our schools are broken,” she said. “They are doing exactly what they were designed to do, which is to sift and sort children into different categories for economic reasons.”

    Horsford added that African Americans must tap the potential, possibilities and gifts of the young people who truly hold the answers to society’s pressing problems.

    Even educators have suffered and are poorly valued in a system guided by high-stakes testing and performance-based accountability, Horsford said.

    “We have to engage in parallel efforts…we need to reimagine schools and school systems that support everyone,” said Horsford. “We also have to make sure that, in the meantime, we are preparing students to not only survive, but also thrive in an era of extreme inequality.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Contributor

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