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    Into the Fire: A.Z Young marches the people of Bogalusa to Baton Rouge

    During the turbulent years of Jim Crow a group of brave residents of Bogalusa made a historical march from Bogalusa to the courthouse in Franklinton to express their concern about the lack of opportunities for African Americans in Bogalusa. The march was led by A.Z. Young and others community leaders.

    Since the famous march from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge and Young’s death, little has been said or written about Young. On March 23, 2018 a Louisiana State Historical Marker was dedicated in front of Young home.

    Emma Dixon, president of the neighborhood homeowner’s association and head of the local AARP organized the event, said “the goal of this event is to educate our youth and give them more pride in the community.”

    Dixon also said, “I want this marker to inspire young people that they could do great thing with their life. Motivate them to achieve academic and economic success and be victorious over generational poverty.”

    “When you think of Bogalusa you think of A. Z. Young, the city was known across the nation for the civil rights struggle and its leadership” Dixon said.

    Marchers continuing toward Baton Rouge under the watchful eyes of State Troopers and Deacons for Defense.

    The late civil rights leader was remembered for his courage and is an active member of the civil rights movement in Bogalusa.

    On August 10, the Bogalusa Voter and Civil League (BVCL) continued their struggle when they embarked on a, 106-mile long march to the state capitol of Louisiana in Baton Rouge. Young planned to present a list of grievances to Governor John McKeithen on the steps of the capitol.

    The march dramatized the violent repression of Blacks in the areas along their route. The stretch of highways that the marchers traveled was home to the most active of Ku Klux Klan chapters in the state.

    Under pressure from the U.S. Civil Rights Division, Governor John McKeithen agreed to dispatch nearly 700 National Guardsman and 500 state troopers to protect the demonstrators as they walked down the center of Highway U.S. 190.

    When the marchers were met in Hammond by local community leaders they slept the night on Greenville Park High School football field.

    Just outside of Satsuma, a group of whites, some of them children, broke through the ranks of the troopers and attacked A.Z. Young and others. The march was postponed for one day because of the attack, which allowed Young to demand more troops to protect the weary marchers.

    web 4 March with sherrif

    Federalized National Guards and state troops were required to protect the marchers through Livingston Parish. They were confronted with violence in Satsuma and Denham Springs. The march was lead by A. Z. Young, Bob Hicks, and family members.

    Before more troops arrived, 50 more Blacks from Bogalusa and the surrounding area joined the march, bringing the total number to almost 80 marchers. Angry white onlookers threw eggs and bottles at the Blacks, while others spread roofing nails and broken glass in front of the march. The soldiers found dynamite under one of the bridges the marchers were going to cross, which was later identified as only a dummy.“

    When the marchers reached the outskirts of Baton Rouge, Governor McKeithen increased protection to a total of 1,500 National Guardsmen. Pouring rain kept most of the Klansman indoors. The tired and cold marchers took shelter in a wooded area.

    That evening allied civil rights demonstrators held a rally at the Capital Junior High School.    A youthful crowd of 400 sang freedom songs and rallied behind A.Z. Young and Lincoln Lynch as they addressed the crowd. That same night, the Klan held a rally in a nearby field, where they burned a 15-foot cross and the flag of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front (a political grouping the U.S. was fighting in South Vietnam).

    When the marchers reached reach the steps of the capital, more than 600 supporters. Eight robed members of the Ku Klux Klan and 300 more spectators followed the demonstrators up the steps. More than 2,200 National Guardsmen and policemen watched as both groups held separate rallies. There were no reports of violence.

    A.Z Young, Bogalusa civil rights leader

    A.Z Young, Bogalusa civil rights leader

    In his speech A.Z. Young voiced complaints about employment discrimination and called for the election of 10 Blacks running for local offices in Bogalusa.

    The marchers‘ direct route through Klan territory forced the federal government to ensure that they were protected, a major step forward for the civil rights movement. Young died in 1993.

     

     By Eddie Ponds and Alex Garcia

    Featured photo: The 1967 march from Bogalusa to the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Marchers enter the City of Hammond. Leading the march  from left to right R. T. Young, Gal Jenkins, A.Z. Young, and Robert “Bob” Hicks.

    Editor’s note part of this article  includes exerpts of “From Bogalusa to Baton Rouge” by Alex Garcia

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    ‘You Can Aspire to Be…,’ a commissioned painting by nationally acclaimed artist Ted Ellis, to be unveiled at the Louisiana State Archives

    In recognition of the rich and colorful history of Blacks in Louisiana, a commissioned artwork by nationally acclaimed artist and Louisiana native Ted Ellis will be unveiled and dedicated at the Louisiana State Archives on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 11am
     
    Entitled “You Can Aspire to Be…,” the work recently traveled across the state to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month. Ellis presented copies to the African-American mayors of five of Louisiana’s largest cities. This tour was sponsored by Acadian Companies, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System.
    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
    Ellis has had a distinguished career in art. He has been commissioned by major corporations such as Walt Disney Studios, the Minute Maid Company, Coca-Cola, Phillip Morris and Avon, Inc. He was appointed in 2018 by the U.S. Department of the Interior to the 14‑member 400 Years of African-American History Commission, which plans programs throughout the United States to recognize 400 years of African-American contributions. The New Orleans-based Zulu Social and Pleasure Club recently named Ellis “artist of choice” for the poster representing its 2019 Zulu Mardi Gras parade.
    Photo captured from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MayorPresidentSharonWestonBroome
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    SU Ag Center’s set to host 76th Annual Livestock Show

    Nearly 100 young farmers from throughout the state will converge on the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena with hopes of having their prized winning animals named champion during the Southern University Ag Center’s 76thAnnual Livestock and Poultry Show.

    The event, which will be held from February 28 – March 2, provides an opportunity for youth to showcase their hard work in raising and caring for various breeds of cattle, hogs, sheep, lamb, goats, and poultry. Winners will receive premiums, ribbons, rosettes and trophy belt buckles.

    The Livestock Show Office is inviting local schools to come to the show on March 1 to participate in guided tours. The tour will include a mini petting zoo, hands-on plant, tobacco-free living and nutrition exhibits.

    Pre-orders of non-processed choice meats from various livestock are currently being accepted by the Livestock Show Office. All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are available:

    • One whole beef $2,000
    • One half beef $1,000
    • One-fourth beef $500
    • One whole pork $225
    • One whole lamb $200
    • One whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to being picked up from the slaughterhouse.

    Those who don’t pre-order their meat are invited to make a purchase during the show’s ‘Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena.

    The office will deliver the meat to either Cutrer’s Slaughter House in Kentwood (985) 229-2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine (225) 687-4258.

    Donations to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are also welcome.

    Since 1943, Southern University has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout the state to gain valuable knowledge and skills at the Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show. The Livestock Show provides a venue for youth to showcase their animals, develop entrepreneurship skills, build character and receive leadership training.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to purchase meat or register a school for a guided tour, visithttp://www.suagcenter.com/page/livestock-show-2019, call 225.771.6208 or email decobea_butler@suagcenter.com.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus.

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    Darryl Johnson opens The Garden Cafe at Goodwood Library

    Darryl Johnson, owner of SYI Food Services, has opened The Garden Cafe at Independence Community Park. The cafe is located directly across from the Goodwood Main Library in Baton Rouge near the botanic gardens and serves hot and cold coffee drinks, smoothies, breakfast dishes, salads, soup, sandwiches, and desserts. Johnson also operates a food truck and catering service, as well as provides concessions at BREC’s Memorial and Olympia Stadiums. Formerly known as Socially Yours, SYI’s food truck provided the refreshments for the opening of the expansion of the botanic gardens in 2018 as his company had begun customizing the café’ space.

     

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    Pick a topic for Black history Month. Find it in the Louisiana Digital Media Archive

    During the month of February, the Louisiana Digital Media Archive is highlighting Black History Month.  Explore videos about Louisiana history during the periods of slavery, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement. Also, be sure to check out the complete Black History Month topic to see more stories and interviews with Black Louisianans who have made significant contributions to the state.

    Solomon Northrup & 12 Years a Slave (1853)

    Learn more about the story of Solomon Northup and the publication of his memoir, 12 Years a Slave, which details his life as a slave in Louisiana.

    Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

    In this clip from Louisiana: A History, take a look at the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation on slaves and free people of color in Louisiana during the Civil War.

    Louisiana Native Guards at Port Hudson (1863)

    In this clip from Louisiana: A History, learn more about the Louisiana Native Guards, the first officially sanctioned African Americans sworn into the United States Army during the Civil War.

    Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

    In this clip from Louisiana: A History, learn more about the origins of this landmark Supreme Court case in New Orleans and its role in upholding segregationist laws through the doctrine of “separate but equal.”

    Rosenwald Schools

    Learn more about the history of the Rosenwald Schools, which were built to educate African Americans during segregation, and the donation of one of the schools to the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville.

    Louisiana’s First Black Nurses

    See the story of these pioneering Black nurses, who worked at the Four South unit of Baton Rouge General Hospital, the only hospital unit available to black nurses and patients during the 1950s.

    Baton Rouge’s Troubled Waters

    View this 2008 LPB documentary which explores the close ties of the African-American community in Baton Rouge and the challenges they faced during segregation.

    Baton Rouge Bus Boycott (1953)

    Watch the 2004 LPB documentary, Signpost to Freedom, which chronicles the circumstances and events that led to the nation’s first large-scale bus boycott protesting segregation.

    Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

    View the 1983 LPB documentary, With All Deliberate Speed, which examines the 30-year history of school desegregation efforts in Louisiana following this landmark Supreme Court decision.

    Baton Rouge Sit-Ins (1960) 

    See a story on the Southern University students who participated in the sit-ins at the Kress Department Store, Sitman’s Drug Store, and the Greyhound Bus Station in Baton Rouge in 1960.

    Integration of the New Orleans Public Schools (1960)

    Watch an interview with Ruby Bridges recounting the day she integrated William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans under the guard of federal marshals.

    Plaquemine Civil Rights Demonstration (1963)

    See the story of a Civil Rights demonstration on September 1, 1963, in Plaquemine (three days after the March on Washington) that turned violent when state troopers stormed the old Plymouth Rock Baptist Church on horseback with the aid of teargas to look for James Farmer, the founder of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

    Bogalusa Civil Rights March (1967)

    View several reports on the 105-mile march from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge, which was organized by civil rights activist A.Z. Young.

    To see more stories, check out the complete Black History Month topic.

    The Louisiana Digital Media Archive (LDMA) is the online home of the Louisiana Public Broadcasting Digital Collection and the Louisiana State Archives Multimedia Collection. This is the first project in the nation to combine the media collections of a public broadcaster and a state archives.

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    Donna Brazile to Speak at SUNO

    Political Strategist Donna Brazile will give the keynote address during the Charles Frye Memorial Lecture at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 11, 2019 at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO). The lecture, hosted by SUNO’s Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS), will be in the new Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Auditorium, 6400 Press Drive, New Orleans, LA 70128. The topic of her address, which is free and open to the public, is “Can the Democratic Party Continue to Usher African Americans into the American Mainstream?”
    Brazille is an author, campaign manager, adjunct professor, political analyst and former interim chairperson of the Democratic National Committee. Born in New Orleans, she was the first African American women to direct a major presidential campaign, acting as campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000.
    She earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial psychology from Louisiana State University in 1981, and was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Author of the best-selling memoir “Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics,” Ms. Brazile is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. She also provides political commentary for CNN and ABC.
    The Charles Frye Memorial Lecture is the first of many events scheduled at SUNO during African American History Month. Go to www.suno.edu for details.
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    Attorneys to be recognized, Jena 6 activist to speak at Feb 21 event

    During the month of February, our Nation formally celebrates the many contributions African Americans have made to our country and heritage.

    On Thursday, February 21, at 6:30 in the BREC Independence Park Theatre, Councilwoman Erika L. Green in partnership with BREC will host “Present Day History: Channeling the Past, Changing the Narrative”.

    The goal of the program is to curate an artistic expression by celebrating moments of Black history inspired by our city, Baton Rouge. We will also be honoring four attorneys for their work in civil rights and discrimination cases with the “Narrative Changers Leadership Award”. This event is free and open to the public.

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  • Natasha Williams joins LPB

    Natasha Williams joins Louisiana Public Broadcasting as co-anchor and reporter, pairing up with managing editor and co-anchor Andre’ Moreau on LPB’s weekly program Louisiana: The State We’re In, the state’s longest-running statewide news magazine program. Williams is a veteran News Anchor, having spent nearly 20 years as Anchor and Investigative Reporter at the #1 CBS affiliate in the country, WHIO-TV.

    “We are delighted that Natasha has joined Louisiana: The State We’re In, she will bring her journalistic expertise to LPB, informing the citizens of our state on the news and events that connect us all,” said LPB CEO Beth Courtney.

    Williams began her broadcast career as Anchor/Reporter at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, also holding the same positions at WTVO-TV in Rockford, Illinois, WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio and WRGT-TV/WKEF-TV, the FOX/ABC affiliate in Dayton. She was named Journalist of the Year by Public Children Services Association of Ohio in 2009, and was awarded for best broadcast writing by the Ohio Associated Press in 2008. Williams was also honored by the Associated Press for a homelessness investigation, which led to policy changes in the city of Dayton that same year. She has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists and won an Emmy Award for her coverage of the 2001 Xenia Tornado.

    Williams earned an undergraduate degree from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina and a Master’s degree from Ohio State University. Williams received an honorary PhD from Wilberforce University in May of 2008, for her commitment to area youth and charitable causes in Southwest Ohio.

    She comes to LPB from KTVE/KARD in Monroe, LA where she was most recently an evening anchor for the NBC Affiliate.

    Louisiana: The State We’re In airs on Fridays at 7PM and encores Sundays at 4:30PM on LPB’s network of channels that include stations in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport. It also airs on LPB’s sister station WLAE-TV32 in New Orleans on Fridays at 7PM.  This award-winning weekly program combines in-depth coverage about the important issues throughout the state along with expert analysis.

     

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  • Weekend Retreat ‘Connecting Race, Love, and Liberation’ brings Black Buddhist author to Baton Rouge’s Red Shoes

    Connecting Race, Love, and Liberation
    March 30 -31, 2019
    The Red Shoes invites the public to a weekend of learning with its scholar in residence, Rev angel Kyodo williams. Mystic meets Warrior in this dynamic leader who says, “Within the idea of compassion lies a shared journey we must all make that transcends faith and tradition: the practice of being human.”
    williams is an African-American Buddhist and author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love & Liberation.
    Through the retreat, williams will guide participants to personally and collectively reckon with the pain and separation passed down by our nation’s legacy of racial injustice, white supremacy, and their interlocking oppression — an inheritance which manifests in our communities, policies, and families.
    Come together for an inspiring weekend:
    • Learn how to connect in authentic and inclusive ways.
    • Embody a method for building internal growth.
    • Unearth myths that deny history, social conditioning and their impact.
    • Gain insight into how race maintains other forms of oppression.
    Register online at https://www.theredshoes.org/programs/rev-angel-kyodo-williams/
    ONLINE: TheRedShoes.org
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    Kelvin Hill hired to oversee public works

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome has hired Kelvin J. Hill to fill the newly created assistant chief administrative officer position overseeing all six city-parish public works departments, beginning Feb. 4.

    Hill, the former vice president of operations at Georgia Pacific in Port Hudson, will be charged with supervising the departments of building and grounds, development, environmental services, fleet management, maintenance, and transportation and drainage.

    “The addition of Mr. Hill to my administration bolsters our capacity to ship high-high quality providers to the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish,” stated Broome in a news release. “He brings a wealth of experience to our public works departments, which are the spine of City-Parish government.”

    Hill served as the vice president of operations at Georgia-Pacific and has more than 20 years of operations and management expertise.

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    Louis A. Berry Institute for Civil Rights & Justice honors Black Panther Malik Rahim

    The Center for African and African American Studies at Southern University at New Orleans partnered with Southern University Law Center’s Louis A. Berry Institute for Civil Rights & Justice to honor and recognize Louisiana’s own Malik Rahim (formerly known as Donald Guyton) at an inaugural Living Legend Award Celebration, Jan. 18, at the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work on SUNO’s campus.

    Rahim was selected because of his lifelong commitment to community activism.

    He enlisted in the United States Navy and after an honorable discharge, he became a founding member of the Louisiana Black Panther Party. He later served as a founding member of Sister Helen Prejean’s anti-death ministry, Pilgrimage for Life, as a founding member of the Fisher Projects Health Clinic and GED studies program and as the founder of the Angola 3 Support Committee. Following Hurricane Katrina, he served Louisiana citizens in need through immediate rescue efforts and later founded Common Ground Collective, which offered free healthcare, legal, rebuilding and clean up services in homes, schools and commercial buildings in nine parishes. By the time his work with CGC ended, approximately half a million Louisiana citizens had been served at no cost. From the 1970s until the present, Rahim has been a fierce and committed advocate for environmental and social justice, housing and prisoner rights and civil and human rights.

     

    Feature photo of Malik Rahim is from BlackSourceMedia.com

     

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    ESSENCE launches initiative for Louisiana-based, minority entrepreneurs, professionals

    GET CONNECTIONS TO CONTRACTS AND ACCESS TO RESOURCES 
    ESSENCE, the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women with a global brand reach of over 17 million, will partner with the City of New Orleans and the Urban League of Louisiana to launch The Pipeline: An Economic Inclusion Initiative.
    The Pipeline is designed to increase the pool of Louisiana-based women and Black professionals pursuing careers and business opportunities in live events and technical production. This initiative will also create opportunities to connect existing production entrepreneurs to service contracts in the industry at both the corporate and governmental levels and give them access to networking, capital raising and opportunities for training and skills development.
    As part of ESSENCE’s partnership with the Urban League of Louisiana, the Pipeline Initiative will launch with information briefings that will target potential bidders in key Louisiana cities featuring RFP training and more.
    The sessions will be held in:
    New Orleans Tuesday, February 5 6:00pm-8:30pm Urban League of Louisiana
    Baton Rouge Wednesday, February 6 9:00am-11:30am Goodwood Library
    Shreveport Thursday, February 7 9:00am-11:30am Round-up Room – Cattlemen’s Ranch
    Monroe Friday, February 8 9:00am-11:30am Louisiana Delta Community College – Monroe Campus
    Current Contract Opportunities Include:
    Event Video Services
    Superdome Catering Services 
    Ground Transportation Services 
    Portable Toilet Services
    Photography Services
    Printing Services 
    Audio Production Services 
    Superlounge Video Services 
     
    For PDFs of Contracting Opportunities and to Register, Visit
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  • Broome funds $7.3 million to community groups

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced 19 grant awards to 15 local non-profits, supportive service organizations, and community developers from the City-Parish’s federal Community Planning and Development dollars. Approximately $7.3 million was made available through four funding allocations to organizations that help low and moderate-income residents with shelter, basic needs, housing rehabilitation, employment skills, and other supportive services.

    This year, the following community organizations are receiving grants:

    Community Development Block Grant

    A total of $3.1 million that provides for community development resources for a wide variety of community needs.

    • Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge, Inc.
    • Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
    • Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance
    • SBP Rebuild Baton Rouge
    • St. Vincent de Paul
    • The Walls Project
    • Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation

    Emergency Solutions Grant

    A total of $256,333 that provides for homelessness prevention and shelter needs.

    • Capital Area Alliance for Homeless
    • Catholic Charities
    • St. Vincent de Paul
    • Volunteers of America, Greater Baton Rouge, Inc.

    HOME Investment Partnerships Program

    A total of $1.4 million that provides grants for local housing strategies designed to increase homeownership and affordable housing opportunities for low and very low-income citizens.

    • Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation
    • Plan B, LLC
    • Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance
    • LaFleur Industries, LLC

    Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Grant

    A total of $2.5 million that provides local communities and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

    • East Baton Rouge Division of Human Development Services
    • Metro Health
    • START Corporation
    • Volunteers of America of Greater Baton Rouge

    The City-Parish receives these federal dollars annually from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund activities that primarily benefit low and moderate-income residents.

    “I am proud to partner with so many tremendous organizations in our community, whose missions are dedicated to tackling our community’s greatest challenges and working to better the lives of so many citizens of Baton Rouge,” said Mayor Broome. “This critical funding provides opportunities for citizens to succeed, which can only help our entire community be more resilient and advance in a positive direction.”

    The City-Parish uses a competitive application process to award the grants. A committee of volunteers and independent contractors helps to score the applications and makes recommendations on funding. Criteria are based on goals and priorities for the use of federal funds that are developed in part with input from local residents and federal grant requirements.

    In 2017, Mayor-President Broome reorganized the City-Parish Office of Community Development, the agency administering the federal grant funds. Now, the City-Parish partners with community development organizations like the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, and the East Baton Rouge Division of Human Development Services for the administration of the community planning and development dollars.

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    HERITAGE presents annual Festival of Negro Spirituals at The Church Baton Rouge

    HERITAGE, a non-profit professional choral ensemble, will host its 28thAnnual Festival of Negro Spirituals, Saturday, February 2, at The Church Baton Rouge – 2037 Quail Dr. – Baton Rouge, at 3pm. The event, which HERITAGE has hosted since 1991, will feature performances of spirituals by HERITAGE and several outstanding high school, community and university ensembles. Admission to the Festival is free.

    Clarence Jones, the founder and director said, “HERITAGE has been sharing its love of the Negro spiritual with the world for more than three decades. We always look forward to the festival and sharing our love of the spiritual with all the great choirs that participate. The Negro Spiritual has a rich legacy that we must pass on to future generations.”

    Other choral ensembles scheduled to perform at the 2019 HERITAGE Festival of Negro Spirituals include:

    • Southern University Concert Choir -Baton Rouge
    • Acadiana Ecumenical Choir – Lafayette
    • The Bennie L. Williams Spiritual Voices – Denver
    • Grambling State University Choir – Grambling
    • McKinley High School Chamber Choir – Baton Rouge
    • New Dimensions Choral Society- Shreveport

    HERITAGE is committed to educate, elevate and enhance the cultural level and appreciation for the Negro Spiritual. Spirituals grew out of the earliest musical expressions of enslaved Africans in the farmlands of Colonial America.

    Located in Baton Rouge, HERITAGE’s mission is to perpetuate the “Negro Spiritual” as a distinctive art form, as an expression of the Negro ancestors’ struggles and aspirations; to preserve the legacy of the Negro Spiritual in its original medium and foster its influence for all people of the community. HERITAGE strives to maintain a standard of professional excellence and to sponsor and support other worthwhile cultural activities.HERITAGE is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. Since 1976, HERITAGE has lent its talents to many civic and charitable causes in and around Baton Rouge and has performed to critical acclaim and thunderous ovations and applause in some of the finest and most prestigious concert halls at home and abroad.

    The ensemble has presented concerts throughout Louisiana as well as Mexico City, Mexico, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Nashville, Memphis, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta, Paris, and London. In Rome, HERITAGE was received in an audience with Pope John Paul II. Recent performances have included Hampton, VA, Los Angeles, CA, West Palm Beach, FL., Saginaw, MI, Huntsville, AL, Denver, CO and the 2018 Performing Arts Discovery/American Sounds program in Orlando, FL.

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    Kenneth Sanders elected Justice of the Peace

    Southern University alumn Kenneth Sanders has been elected Democratic judge of the Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Courts in Arlington, TX.  Sanders is part of a historic number of new Black justices of the peace in Texas. The Fort Worth native defeated the incumbent in the general election on Nov. 8, 2018.

    See his swearing in here: https://youtu.be/xS7ak9Fm-GQ

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  • Camphor designated as a ‘United Methodist Historical Site’

    Throughout February, Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church will celebrate its new distinction as a United Methodist Historical Site by The United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History.

    Each Sunday will celebrate a special theme:

    Sunday, February 3 at 10:55 a.m. Theme:  “History of Methodism”

    Sunday, February 10 at 10:00 a.m. Theme:  “Walk Down Memory Lane” (Recognizing Camphor Trailblazers)

    Sunday, February 17 at 10:55 a.m.  Theme:  “Faithful Living and Sharing God’s Word” (Youth Sunday)

    Sunday, February 24 at 10:55 a.m.  Dedication Service. Theme:  “A Historical Celebration Leading to the Future”.  Speaker will be Judge John Michael Guidry, Louisiana Court of Appeal, First Circuit, Second District.  Reception after the worship service and dedication ceremony in the Moses T. Jackson Fellowship Hall at the church.

    Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church is located at 8742 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Baton Rouge Community and surrounding areas are invited to attend.  For further information please call the church at 225-775-4106.

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  • Southern University Nursing School to host public medical research forum, Jan 24

    With medical breakthroughs consistently occurring, Southern University’s School of Nursing and Allied Health believes that it is imperative for the community to be involved with leading researchers that work to develop cures to critical diseases. With this in mind, the School is working with the national research program, All of Us. With a grant from the program, the School will be hosting an informative forum on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. in the Royal Cotillion Ballroom in the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on campus.

    “As the only HBCU participating in the All of Us initiative, Southern University is being provided an opportunity to increase its visibility at the national level in the area of advocacy health care research of underrepresented populations,” said Dr. Jacqueline Hill, interim dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health. “(It is also an opportunity to) build the minority researcher workforce that is woefully underrepresented among health researchers.”

    Southern’s nursing program is one of nine nursing schools out of the 1,000 American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) member schools that has been selected to receive funding through the organization’s mini-grants awards program to educate diverse communities about the All of Us research program.

    During the campus event, participants will have a chance to learn more about the initiative, ask pertinent questions, and receive free blood pressure checks.  The event’s partners include Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s Healthy City Initiative; The National Library of Medicine, Outreach and Special Populations Branch; Southern University Alumni Federation; Southern University Law Center; Southern University System; and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Delta Research and Educational Foundation (DREF).

    The event is free and open to the public. 

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    Life In Living Color! New Venture Theatre welcomes Season 12

    “Since its launch in 2008, New Venture Theatre has premiered more than 60 shows bringing fresh voices to our arts community. We have hired, nurtured and developed more than 800 artists of color. “We have pressed our audiences to confront difficult issues and lead them with compassion towards transformational dialogue. We have raised our voices in harmony to joyfully lift the human spirit. We did more than build a theatre, we made a home for a hungry arts community. And we’re not done yet—twelve years is just the beginning,” said director Greg Williams Jr.
    Now the community theatre group welcomes season twelve with the following productions.
    CROWNS
    A GOSPEL MUSICAL
    By Regina Taylor, adapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry
    February 14-17
    LSU Studio Theatre | $30
    Crowns is a moving and celebratory exploration of history and identity as seen through the eyes of Yolanda, a young African-American woman who comes down South after her brother is killed, and is introduced to her grandmother’s circle of hat queens. Each hat holds the story of one of life’s joys or struggles, as Yolanda comes to realize that these hats aren’t just fashion statements, but testimonies of sisterhood—they are hard-earned Crowns.
    JAMBO! TALES FROM AFRICA
    THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES!
    BOOK BY ALVIN A TEMPLE
    February 22
    Southern University Hayden Hall Theatre | $15
    “Jambo, human beings!” Take a trip to Africa, where Lion, Monkey, Elephant and their larger-than-life animal friends share three stories of people and animals who find themselves in sticky situations and use their clever minds to escape. Brimming with African folklore, storytelling, and music, each tale is taken directly from the stories passed down through the folklore of many nations and cultures—including East Africa, Kenya, and the Kalahari Bushmen—and offers important lessons for children of all ages.
    FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN
    By WILL POWER
    March 29-31
    LSU Studio Theatre | $20
    Contains some adult content/themes. Recommended for ages 13 and up.
    In the days leading up to one of the most anticipated fights for Cassius Clay—soon to become Muhammad Ali—the heavyweight boxing champion forms an unlikely friendship with controversial Hollywood star Stepin Fetchit. With a rhythmic script, the play explores the bond that forms between two drastically different and influential cultural icons trying to shape their legacies amidst the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1960s and examines the true meaning of strength, resilience, and pride.
    THE COOKOUT
    A DANCE MUSICAL
    April 5-7
    Southern University Hayden Hall Theatre | $20
    You’ll be dancing in the streets with this new dance musical! It’s time to bring multiple generations of the family together for one big outdoor dance party. And let’s face it: At least half the fun of meeting up is having the young folks teach you the latest moves while the older relatives show how they used to get down back in the day! The Cookout is a dance musical that features all of your favorite songs to groove to. They transcend time and inspire you up off that picnic bench after a day of grilling and dining.
    DISNEY’S ALADDIN JR.
    THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES!
    Music by ALAN MENKEN
    Lyrics by HOWARD ASHMAN, TIM RICE, and CHAD BEGUELIN
    Book by CHAD BEGUELIN
    Based on the Disney film written by RON CLEMENTS, JOHN MUSKER, TED ELLIOTT & TERRY ROSSIO
    June 21- 23
    LSU Shaver Theatre | $20 for Adults and $15 for Kids
    Disney’s Aladdin Jr. is based on the 1992 Academy Award-winning film and 2014 hit Broadway show about the “diamond in the rough” street rat who learns that his true worth lies deep within.
    SWEET GEORGIA BROWN
    By GREG WILLIAMS, JR.
    Music by VARIOUS ARTISTS
    July 25-28
    LSU Shaver Theatre | $30
    This new musical is chock-full of sweet blues songs of the ’60s and ’70s, like “I Put a Spell on You,” “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Down Home Blues.” The diva herself, Georgia, has thoroughly burned her bridges in the music industry, including physically assaulting Etta James, cursing out Dr. Martin Luther King, and stealing the Tree of Hope from the Apollo Theatre. Determined to get back on top, Georgia takes up singing in a hole-in-the-wall club, ready to do whatever it takes to be number one again.
    PIPELINE
    By DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU
    August 9-11
    LSU Studio Theatre | $20
    Contains adult language, content and themes. Recommended for ages 16 and up.
    The play’s title refers to the “school-to-prison pipeline,” and within it, inner-city public high school teacher Nya is committed to her students but desperate to give her only son Omari opportunities they’ll never have. When a controversial incident at his private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent. But will she be able to reach him before a world beyond her control pulls him away? Don’t miss this deeply moving story of a mother’s fight to give her son a future—without turning her back on the community that made him who he is.
    HAIRSPRAY JR. 
    THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES!
    Book by THOMAS MEEHAM and MARK O’DONNELL
    Music by MARC SHAIMAN
    Lyrics by MARC SHAIMAN and SCOTT WITTMAN
    Based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by JOHN WATERS
    Date: Fall 2019 (to be announced May 1, 2019)
    LSU Shaver Theatre | $20 for Adults and $15 for Kids
    It’s 1962, and spunky, plus-size teen, Tracy Turnblad, has one big dream—to dance on the popular “Corny Collins Show.” When she finally gets her shot, she’s transformed from social outcast to sudden star. In balancing her newfound fame with her desire for justice, Tracy fights to dethrone the reigning Miss Teen Hairspray, Amber von Tussle, and integrate a TV network in the process. With the help of her outsized mom, Edna, and guest DJ, Motormouth Maybelle, the rhythm of Tracy’s new beat just might prove
    ONE NIGHT ONLY 
    A FUNDRAISER FOR NEW VENTURE THEATRE
    SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2019
    SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY HAYDEN HALL THEATRE
    BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND…
    POLKADOTS
    THE COOL KIDS MUSICAL
    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2019
    SEASON 12
    NEW V AWARDS 
    DECEMBER 7, 2019
    SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY HAYDEN HALL THEATRE
    BOX OFFICE:
    225-588-7576 or www.nvtarts.org
    Read more »
  • 5 signs a restricted airway may be affecting your child’s health

    For most people, breathing is automatic – the air goes in, the air goes out, and we don’t even think about it.  But for those who have airway problems, it is never that simple –  especially for children.
    “Children who suffer from air-passage problems never get enough oxygen to the brain, which causes them to never get enough sleep,” says Dr. Stuart Frost, an orthodontist and author of The Artist Orthodontist: Creating An Artistic Smile is More Than Just Straightening Teeth (www.drstuartfrost.com).  “They typically do poorly in school and seem inattentive and lethargic.”
    Sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep, causing a pause in breathing.  Those pauses in breathing, known as apneic events, often lead to a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Frost says.
    He says signs a child may be impacted by airway blockage include:
    Snoring. Snoring is caused by the vibrations of excess tissue blocking the airway.  When children snore, orthodontists look for a blockage of their airway, from the tip of the nose down to the throat.
    Mouth breathing. When there is no room for the tongue to reach the roof of the mouth (the palate), it can rest in the back of the throat and block the airway.  Also, when a child’s tonsils and adenoids are enlarged, they can reduce the size of the airway at the back of the throat. “Either situation can make it too hard for children to get enough air when breathing through their nose,” Dr. Frost says, “causing them to open their mouth and jut their lower jaw forward during sleep.”
    Clenching or grinding teeth. “If children who are 7 or 8 have baby teeth that are worn from grinding, we know it’s because they’re not getting enough air,” Dr. Frost says. During sleep – and sometimes even when they are awake – their lower jaw is constantly repositioning either side to side or forward to back to open their airway so they can breathe, he says. An expander appliance can widen the nasal passages to help the child take in more air when breathing through the nose.
    Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  Some children who have been diagnosed as ADD may actually just have breathing problems during sleep Dr. Frost says. “ If a child is continually not getting enough oxygen during sleep, the brain will eventually kick in a hyper-alert state to stay alive,” he says. “A child whose brain is hyper-alert tends to bounce off the walls.”
    Bedwetting: A brain that is starving for oxygen can’t wake a child when the urge to go to the bathroom strikes during sleep.  The child will sleep right through any warning sign the brain sends.
    Depending on what’s found during an examination, the solutions for a restricted airway could include braces with an expander appliance, along with surgical removal of adenoids or tonsils.
    “When sleep apnea is not addressed in childhood, over time it can lead to health issues in adulthood,” Dr. Frost says. “By taking care of it when the person is younger, it can save years of restless nights and half-awake days.”
    Read more »
  • Community invited to celebrate United Methodist Women Sunday, Jan 20

    On Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Mark United Methodist Church will Celebrate United Methodist Women Sunday.  The speaker for this occasion will be Sharron Hills, the wife of Acadiana District Superintendent Derrick Hills and former pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church.

    The theme for the occasion is “Celebrating a Faithful Future” with the scripture coming from Proverbs 3:3.  The president of St. Mark UMW is Julia Carnes and the senior pastor is Reverend Simon Chigumira.

    For additional information, call the church office at 357-6150.  The public is invited to attend. The church is located at 6217 Glen Oaks Drive in Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
  • State receives $1.2 million grant to address human trafficking

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana has been awarded a $1.2 million dollar grant from the U.S. Dept. of Justice Office for Victims of Crime to improve outcomes for child victims of human trafficking.  It will be used to implement a multi-year federal project known as the Louisiana Child Trafficking Collaborative. In addition, Gov. Edwards has declared January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Louisiana.

    “We know human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the United States and in Louisiana, which is why Donna and I are very passionate about bringing an end to this senseless crime and helping the children and adults who are victimized by it,” said Gov. Edwards. “We are especially excited about this grant to implement the Louisiana Child Trafficking Collaborative. In Louisiana alone, over the last several years thousands of victims have been identified as either confirmed or prospective victims of human sex or labor trafficking. This must end.  Thankfully, we have already begun to see major progress as we work closely with law enforcement and our state lawmakers to support laws and policies to enact harsher penalties on the perpetrators of human trafficking and help to restore the lives of those directly impacted by this terrible tragedy.”

    Louisiana is one of only seven states to receive this fundingsince 2015. The grant will be implemented over a three year period. In 2016, Shared Hope International ranked Louisiana #1 in the nation for its anti-trafficking laws.

    “This is an important issue that everyone needs to be concerned about because it can and does happen in all communities,” said First Lady Donna Edwards. “Human trafficking is a global, national and statewide problem, and we are committed to doing all we can to raise awareness, help those who are in need and prevent others from becoming victims.”

    In February 2018, The Dept. of Children and Family Services annual report to the Legislature revealed that there were a total of 681 confirmed or prospective victims of human trafficking here in Louisiana. 641 (94.1%) of those were sex trafficking victims 29 (5.1%) were sex and labor trafficking victims.  Of all reported victims 356 (52%) were identified as juveniles again which was a 77% increase from the previous year. The saddest piece of data given was that 72 of those sex trafficking juvenile victims were ages 12 and under.

    The Louisiana Child Trafficking Collaborative will be implemented by the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, which is led by Executive Director Dr. Dana Hunter.

    “Louisiana is very progressive in its efforts to identify, treat, and prevent human trafficking,” said Dr. Hunter.  “We want children and families to be aware of the ways in which pimps recruit victims, but we also want citizens to know that we are doing everything possible to increase public safety.”

    Click here to read State of Louisiana Child Sex Trafficking Project Report.

    Click here for proclamation.

    Read more »
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    ‘Carrying on the Dream’ exhibit brings MLK hearse to Baton Rouge, Jan 15.

    The Capitol Park Museum announces a preview of a new exhibit, “Carrying on the Dream” which features a rare display of the hearse that carried prominent civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s body, at the time of his death more than 50 years ago. The public is invited to preview the exhibit at a kickoff event at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 – the actual birthday of the iconic civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event will also include a special screening of the documentary “I am MLK Jr.” which celebrates the life and explores the character of the American icon.

    Planned in conjunction with The Walls Project, the museum event kicks off the organization’s The MLK Festival of Service – a four-day service event January 18-21 that involves more than 150 local organizations and businesses.

    On Tuesday, doors open at the event at 5:30 p.m. The documentary screening will begin at 6:15 pm. Light refreshments will be provided. The Hearse exhibit preview begins Tuesday at 5:30pm and includes counter stools from the Kress store that were used during the 1960 Civil Rights protest in downtown Baton Rouge. The stools are on loan from Preserve Louisiana.

    Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s, led the preservation of hearse and through its exhibit at Capital Park Museum wants to remind young people what Martin Luther King, Jr contributed to society. “It’s important that the next generation really understands how the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world,” said Graves. “Many of us did not get a chance to hear MLK during his lifetime, so I am hoping they will be able to appreciate him and his work through this tribute to honor his life.”

    “We are excited to kick off MLK Fest with this event. We hope the exhibit and documentary will encourage even more people to come out this weekend and show their support,” said Helena Williams of The Walls Project.

    “This is an opportunity for people to view Dr. King’s hearse as it is such an important piece of history compelling us to contemplate the lasting significance of the civil rights movement,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “The hearse will serve as the centerpiece of a tribute to the struggles of the civil rights movement here in Baton Rouge where the early stages of that time in our nation’s history got its start.”

    Tuesday’s event is free and open to the public.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Southern University System Board installs new chair, members

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors today convened for its first meeting of the new year at Southern University Baton Rouge. Atty. Domoine D. Rutledge and the Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert Jr. were installed as the new chair and vice chair, respectively.

    “We have been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility by way of Southern and I approach it with a seriousness of purpose that it warrants,” Rutledge said.

    The two-time Southern alumnus said he had three major objectives for himself and his fellow board members of the system of five campuses — Southern University Baton Rouge, Southern University New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport, Southern University Law Center and Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

    “…Increased attention and focus to enrollment management,” he said. “Students are the lifeblood of this university. We have to ensure that they have a quality experience academically and otherwise. We must also focus on the alignment of the academic inventory with workforce demands. It is one thing to have a degree but another to have a job. We must ensure our students have marketable skills to compete in a global marketplace.

    “And finally, we cannot ignore how a disinvestment in education — particularly higher education — forces us to create new revenue streams through public and private partnerships and other means that will bear tremendous fruit for this institution for years to come.”

    Also installed to the 16-member board were Raymond Fondel and Leon R. Tarver II — both reappointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards. New appointees, Sam Albert Gilliam and Arlanda Williams, were installed as well.

    Gilliam is a former member of the Board (2000-2006) and most recently served as interim chancellor at Southern University Shreveport. Williams represents Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District and is vice chancellor for workforce development and institutional advancement at Delgado Community College. CrBOekRI

    The Board and others presented tokens of appreciation to Ann A. Smith, outgoing chair, and the Rev. Donald R. Henry, outgoing vice chair, as well as immediate past members Michael Small and the Rev. Joe R. Gant. The Board’s “Above and Beyond” award for Southern University System exemplary employee service went to Patricia Coleman, a payroll accountant at Southern University Baton Rouge.

    Other meeting highlights included more information on the rollout of Southern University System President Ray L. Belton’s working strategic plan for the system; reports from campus chancellors and other administrators; and infrastructure update. The board is scheduled to meet again on Feb. 22 on the campus of Southern University Shreveport.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    LWC provides guidance to furloughed federal employees in Louisiana

    The Louisiana Workforce Commission recognizes the challenges faced by workers furloughed by the partial government shutdown. Furloughed Federal employees who are impacted by the shutdown are subject to specific documentation requirements:

    • Furlough Notice or documentation if available
    • A copy of the SF8 or SF50
    • Proof of wages (W-2 or check stubs)

    To file a claim go to HiRE at  www.laworks.net. LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie said, “I’ve worked throughout my career with workers faced with the loss of a paycheck, it is never easy.  As with all Unemployment Insurance Claims, wages offset benefits. Claims filing and required documentation are different for furloughed workers. Another extremely important peculiarity exists.  If Congress approves retroactive pay, which has been the norm after prior federal shutdowns, all workers who receive unemployment insurance benefits must repay all benefits received.”

    Important tips and information:

    • Federal employers are contacted and have 12 days to provide wage and separation information.
    • Furloughed workers should continue to file benefits weekly as long as on furlough. Claims processing may take up to three weeks. Continue to file every week.
    • Unemployment Insurance claims based on furloughs may be approved for payment unless there is another disqualifying eligibility issue. In these cases, the claimant will be contacted for additional information.

    All required information can be provided to the LWC by either of these methods:

    • Electronically (best option): The furloughed employee can file their unemployment claim through HIRE (www.louisianaworks.net/hire.) Once logged in, go to Unemployment Services > Provide Specific Documents to upload the requested documentation.
    • Fax: (225) 342-2856 (Attn: Special Claims Unit)

    More information and Frequently Asked Questions can be found athttp://www.laworks.net/UnemploymentInsurance/UI_MainMenu.asp.

     

     

    Read more »
  • Library programs held for all ages throughout February

    In addition to regular programs, the following special  East Baton Rouge Parish Library programs will be held for all ages throughout February. The asterisks indicate which programs require pre-registration. For more information about or to register for all the programs listed, call the branch where the event is scheduled directly or visit www.ebrpl.com.

    The Library’s Featured Events, www.ebrpl.com (225) 231-3750

    Release the Hounds: Come to the One Book One Community Kickoff Party!

    It’s that time again … time to begin this year’s One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a fun, FREE street party at the Main Library at Goodwood from 6 until 8 p.m. Saturday, February 23. You won’t want to miss this family-friendly event that’ll formally kick off the spring reading program with activities including FREE food, games and prizes, crafts, face painting, an old-fashioned Cake Walk to win a delicious confection, live music by the Waelandanna band, plus a visit from Sherlock Holmes and much more! In addition, events will be planned throughout the spring through May with book clubs, community groups, discussions on addiction and substance abuse, film screenings and more related to the book and its author. For more information about this year’s OBOC season, the book and a full schedule of events and programs, visit www.ReadOneBook.org.

    EBRP Library Special Collections Celebrates African-American History Month!

    To celebrate African-American History Month, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Special Collections Department will have displays highlighting the Civil Rights Movement in Baton Rouge, prominent people who have affected change in both the African-American community in Baton Rouge and beyond, as well as an exhibit of local African-American artists and musicians. Special Collections also will introduce its partnership with Google Arts and Culture, a platform that allows the public to connect with art and history from culture institutions around the world. February will mark Special Collections first-ever digital exhibition which will highlight the history of the Baton Rouge blues music scene. Genealogy enthusiasts are invited to register to attend the Resources for African Americans class taught by the knowledgeable and skilled genealogy staff at the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 5. Additional information will be posted to the Baton Rouge Room and Genealogy InfoGuides, but patrons are welcome to stop by the Special Collections Department located on the second floor of the Main Library. For more details, program registration or suggestions, call (225) 231-3751.

    African-American Read-In 2019!

    Each year during the month of February, schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting an African-American Read-In. Everyone is invited to the Library to enjoy and/or participate in several FREE programs to celebrate this annual event! To find out more about the national program, visit http://www.ncte.org/aari. Registration is required for all. For program details and to register, call the Library branch location directly.

    Here’s the schedule:

    • 4 p.m. Mondays, February 4, 11, 18 & 25, River Center Branch
    • 4:30-5:45 p.m. Monday, February 11, Fairwood Branch
    • 3 p.m. Saturday, February 16, Scotlandville Branch
    • 4:45-5:30 p.m. Monday, February 18, Baker Branch
    • 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 19, Carver Branch
    • 5 p.m. Tuesday, February 19, Eden Park Branch

     

    VITA Super Tax Day!

    Come to the Main Library at Goodwood from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, February 9, to receive FREE tax preparation assistance through the Capital Area United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program! No registration is necessary, just show up. If spouses are filing jointly, both must be present. Can’t make it? Call 2-1-1 to find your nearest tax site and schedule an appointment. For more information, visit https://www.cauw.org/supertaxday.

     

    Here’s what you should bring:

    • Photo identification
    • Social Security card or ITIN for each family member
    • W-2 forms for all jobs, all 1099 or 1098 forms and information on other income received
    • Child care provider information
    • Checking and savings account information for direct deposit
    • Other relevant information about income and expenses

     

    Get FREE Legal Counsel with the Ask a Lawyer Program

    Adults can come to the Jones Creek Regional Branch from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m. Saturday, February 9, to take advantage of FREE confidential and individual counseling offered by the Pro Bono Project of the Baton Rouge Bar Association. Area attorneys will be available for one-on-one, 15-minute sessions for legal advice on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Inter-Civic Council of Baton Rouge’s Non-Profit Fair!

    Do you want to learn the missions and visions of nonprofit organizations in the Greater Baton Rouge Area? Perhaps you’d like to find rewarding opportunities to get involved in helping others. If so, come to the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, February 16, for the Inter-Civic Council of Baton Rouge’s Non-Profit Fair! See and hear from organizations including the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Susan G. Komen Cancer Center, Families Helping Families, Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, O’Brien House and many more. For more information, call Laura Gilliland at (225) 335-4419.

     

    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile Visits Libraries this Month!

    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile has come back to the Library! Children ages 4-11 are invited to the Library in February to enjoy these FREE informative and entertaining programs designed to educate audiences about wildlife conservation. Attendees will be amazed as they get up close and personal with several live animals at each program and learn about their bone structures, fur and more! Each presentation lasts about one hour. Registration is required for all. For more information and to register, call the Library location directly. Here’s the ZooMobile schedule:

     

    • 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 6, Baker Branch
    • 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, Main Library at Goodwood
    • 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 19, River Center Branch
    • 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 20, Jones Creek Regional Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 21, Eden Park Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 28, Bluebonnet Regional Branch

     

    Baker Branch Library, 3501 Groom Rd., (225) 778-5950

    Heroes of African-American History: Marian Anderson

    To celebrate African-American History Month, Southern University history professor and Director of the Mwalimu Institute Dr. Charles Vincent will be at the Baker Branch at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 23, to present a discussion for all ages on trailblazer Marian Anderson! An acclaimed singer whose performance at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 helped set the stage for the civil rights era, Anderson was born February 27, 1897 in Philadelphia. Much of her life was spent breaking down barriers for other African-American performers. FREE school supplies will be given to the first five students to arrive!

     

    Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., (225) 763-2250

    *Record a Song in the Innovation Space!

    Are you a musician or singer and want to record a song on professional equipment? Patrons ages 12 and up can come to the Bluebonnet Regional Branch’s Innovation Space at any time Saturday, February 2, to record a song for FREE! Come check out Bluebonnet Library’s! All you need to bring is your instrument (or voice) and a flash drive to save your song. We’ll have microphones, an audio mixer and knowledgeable staff to help you record your track with GarageBand. To register, visit the online events calendar at www.ebrpl.com or call (225) 763-2250.

     

    Making Communication Possible with Louisiana Relay

    Outreach Coordinator Bobbye Abney will be at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, to demonstrate for adults the FREE services of Louisiana Relay, the organization that makes telephone conversations possible for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or have difficulty speaking on the phone. Abney will show patrons how the captioned telephone works, explain the communication options that are available and provide the necessary forms to apply for this service.

    Carver Branch Library, 720 Terrace St., (225) 389-7450

    Seven Essential Knots You Need to Know

    Join other adults at the Carver Branch at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 13, to learn how to complete seven essential knots! This skill is useful for everything from survival to hunting, and more. It even can help you keep large items secured properly during transport!

    African-American History Month Film Day

    Adults are welcome at the Carver Branch 3:30 p.m. Monday, February 18, to see the big-screen depiction of a thrilling court case argued by a young Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In this 2017 biographical legal drama film, Chadwick Boseman portrays the civil rights champion in who would later argue several cases, including the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education, during his earlier years as a traveling attorney for the NAACP.

     

    Eden Park Branch Library, 5131 Greenwell Springs Rd., (225) 231-3250

    African-American History Trivia!

    Celebrate African-American History Month by joining other teens at the Eden Park Branch at 3 p.m. Monday, February 18, for African-American trivia! Categories will include firsts, music, sports, inventions and more. Test your knowledge to win the grand prize! Cookies and lemonade served.

    The Art of Alma Thomas Story/Craft

    Children ages 8-11 can come to the Eden Park Branch at 5 p.m. Tuesday, February 19, to celebrate African-American History Month and learn about the exuberantly bold art of Alma Woodsey Thomas! We will read about her life in Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison, and then create our own interpretations of her colorful paintings.

    Fairwood Branch Library, 12910 Old Hammond Hwy., (225) 924-9385

    Introduction to 3D Drafting for Teens

    To draw in 3D means to illustrate something that has volume or space. Would you like to learn more about 3D drafting? Teens can come to the Fairwood Branch at 4 p.m. Tuesday, February 12, to find out the basics of 3D drafting with an online program!

    *Mardi Gras Story/Craft

    It’s Carnival time! Join other kids ages 4-9 at the Fairwood Branch at 11 a.m. Saturday, February 23, for readings of On Mardi Gras Day by Fatima Shaik and Dinosaur Mardi Gras by Dianne de Las Casas. After the stories, each child will make a pair of Mardi Gras glasses and wear them to dance and parade to Mardi Gras music in the Children’s Room! We’ll end the hour with some festive Mardi Gras coloring pages.

    Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., (225) 231-3750

    Join the Job Club Networking Group! 

    The Career Center of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is sponsoring an ongoing search and networking group for adult job seekers in professional careers. Job searching can be a lonely and discouraging activity, and this group will provide you with a safe space to meet and network with like-minded professionals who are challenged by the same job hunting process. Attendees will share job

    search experiences, network tips and encouragement, and they’ll learn the latest job search techniques and so much more. Patrons are welcome to join us at the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Friday in February. It’s FREE and open to those in professional careers who are seeking employment. Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak will lead the meetings, and topics discussed will differ each week. For more information, call (225) 231-3733. To register, go online to https://www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

    Crazy Horse Book Talk with Author William Matson & Clown Family Members

    Adults are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 2, for a FREE book discussion of Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior’s Life & Legacy with author William Matson, along with members of the Edward Clown Family, Floyd Clown and Doug War Eagle. In the book, the Edward Clown family, who are the nearest living relatives to the Lakota war leader Crazy Horse, present the family tales and memories told to them about their famous grandfather. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.

    Louisiana Trail Riders with Author Jeremiah Ariaz

    Associate Professor at Louisiana State University and author Jeremiah Ariaz will be at the Main Library at Goodwood at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 3, to discuss his most recent work Louisiana Trail Riders with adults. The book is a bridge between Ariaz’s long-standing interest in the American West and his current home in the South. It contains the photographs that have garnered him numerous awards and exhibitions nationally. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.

    *Resources for African-American Genealogy

    Adults are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 5, 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 like African American Heritage, Ancestry.com and more that will assist in genealogical research.

    *Write the Résumé That Will Get the Job!

    Lynnette Lee of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Career Center will lead a workshop for adults on writing a great résumé! Come to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 9, to find out how to structure your résumé so that it showcases your most valuable skills. Learn formatting techniques that will make your résumé look clean and professional. You’ll learn about the most common red flags employers look for on résumés and how to avoid them. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 231-3733 or visit www.careercenterbr.com/events.

    *Yes, They Are Hiring: State & City/Parish Civil Service

    If you’re looking for employment with state or local government, we’ve got great news … yes, they’re hiring! Adults are welcome at the Career Center located within the Main Library at Goodwood at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 27, for a FREE seminar that will detail state and city/parish job openings and how to apply for them. A representative from the Louisiana Department of Civil Service will discuss the positions the State will be hiring for in spite of budget cuts, the career paths that different state agencies offer and how to apply for them. The Recruitment and Examination Division of the city of Baton Rouge/parish of East Baton Rouge also will discuss the career options that are available, openings they are seeking to fill, as well as application procedures. Registration is required. To register, visit http://www.careercenterbr.com/events/. For more information, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733.

     

    Pride-Chaneyville Branch Library, 13600 Pride-Port Hudson Rd., (225) 658-1550

    No-Sew Heart Pillow Craft

    We’re in the mood for love … the love of crafting, that is! Teens can come to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, February 2, to make a no-sew pillow perfect for Valentine’s Day. All supplies will be provided for this easy and fun craft.

    Make Mysterious Mardi Gras Masks

    Teens are invited to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, February 23, to make a personalized Mardi Gras mask. Use fabric, puffy paint and glitter to make your craft extra mysterious!

    Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy., (225) 354-7550

    *Resources for African-American Genealogy

    Adults are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, 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 like African American Heritage, Ancestry.com and more that will assist in genealogical research.

    For more information about any of these February events or others, call the Library location where the event is being held directly or visit the schedule online at www.ebrpl.com. For general information about the Library, call (225) 231-3750 or visit the Library’s online calendar at www.ebrpl.com. Can’t visit any of our 14 locations, which are open seven days a week? The Library is open 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com.

     

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    Working past 65? Here’s what to know about Medicare

    If you plan to work past 65 and keep the health insurance you’ve had from your job, you’re likely to wonder what, if anything, you need to do about enrolling in Medicare.

    About one in six older Americans now remains in the workforce beyond what was once the traditional retirement age. And the number of older workers will only grow over time.

    One reason is that Social Security now requires you to be at least 66 to collect your full retirement benefits. Retiring earlier means a smaller Social Security check.

    Then, too, a number of sixty-something workers continue to pursue their careers because they can’t afford to retire. Still others simply prefer to stay engaged and on the job.

    Whatever the reason for postponing your retirement, you still need to consider Medicare as you approach your 65th birthday and qualify for the health care coverage.

    First, you should visit with your company’s human resources manager to determine how your employer-provided insurance will fit with Medicare. That’s also true for anyone turning 65 and receiving health care through a working spouse’s group plan.

    Most workers will want to sign up for Medicare’s Part A, which usually has no monthly premium and covers hospital stays, skilled nursing, home health services and hospice care.

    Of course, like most rules of thumb, there’s always an exception. And this one is no different.

    If your employer coverage takes the form of a high-deductible insurance plan with a health savings account, you should defer enrolling in Part A. That’s because the Internal Revenue Service forbids you to continue contributing to your tax-advantaged savings account once you have Medicare.

    When you sign up for Medicare’s Part B, which covers doctor appointments and other outpatient services, mostly depends on how large your employer is.

    If your company or your working spouse’s company has 20 or more employees, your employer-provided insurance will remain your primary coverage and will pay your bills first. You can delay enrolling in Part B until you stop working.

    If you or your spouse’s company has fewer than 20 workers, Medicare will become your primary coverage, and your employer coverage will be secondary, so you should sign up for Part B.

    Assuming that you’re not yet receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll need to enroll in Medicare by contacting Social Security at 800-772-1213 orwww.socialsecurity.gov.

    Completing the online application is fairly simple and typically takes 10 to 30 minutes.

    You should do this during what’s called your “initial enrollment period,” which runs from three months before the month you turn 65 to three months after your birthday month. For example, if your 65th birthday is in September, you can sign up any time from June 1 until Dec. 31.

    There’s also the question of whether you’ll need to enroll in Medicare’s prescription drug coverage, also known as Part D, when you turn 65 or whether you can put off that decision.

    Again, you should consult with your company’s benefits manager. If your employer plan includes drug coverage that’s at least comparable to Part D coverage, you won’t need to sign up right away.

    When you do finally stop working, you’ll be able to enroll in Medicare (Parts A or B) without risking a late penalty during a special eight-month enrollment period.  You’ll also have two months to select a Medicare drug plan without a penalty.

    To learn more about how your employer health plan works with Medicare, visitwww.medicare.gov/publications and view the booklet “Medicare and Other Health Benefits: Your Guide to Who Pays First.” Or call 800-633-4227 to request a free copy.

    Understanding how your insurance choices fit together as you continue working beyond 65 will help you get the best care for your dollars.

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

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    Negro League Bobblehead series raises $56K in funding

    The Kickstarter Campaign to create a series of officially licensed, limited edition bobbleheads to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Negro National League has raised over $56,000 with five days remaining. The project was launched on December 12, 2018, by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum and Dreams Fulfilled in conjunction with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The goal of the series is to honor and celebrate the league and its players, many of whom were never honored with a bobblehead, while also educating the public about the Negro Leagues and its players.

    Two stretch goals have been added since the start of the campaign, with the first being a bobblehead of Effa Manley, the only female in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Since the campaign hit the $40,000 mark, that bobblehead is being produced. If the $60,000 mark is reached, the first Milwaukee Bears bobblehead will be produced as part of the second stretch goal. Two additional stretch goals are in the works if the campaign’s momentum continues through the final days. Since the campaign hit the goal, the production process began for several of the other bobbleheads in the series, and Kickstarter backers were the first to see those bobbleheads.

    Kickstarter Backers can secure the best pricing by supporting the project before production of the series begins. Several options are available through the Kickstarter Campaign for people wishing to support the project. As soon as the campaign reached the goal, production of additional production process for the remaining bobbleheads in the series will begin and the bobbleheads will be available in the National Bobblehead HOF and Museum’s online and retail stores, Dreams Fulfilled’s website, www.NegroLeaguesHistory.com, the Negro League Baseball Museum Store and other outlets throughout the country.

    Each bobblehead in the series will be individually numbered to 2,020 and come in a collector’s box with a “back story” of the player. The bobblehead series is officially licensed by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and is being produced by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in conjunction with Dreams Fulfilled and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Approvals have been received from all the identified estates of players featured in the series. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each Negro Leagues bobblehead will go to the relatives of the Negro League players and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum located in Kansas City, Missouri.

    The players comprising the Negro Leagues Centennial Team were announced at a special event at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) in Kansas City on December 12th. Bob Kendrick, President of the NLBM, announced the team in conjunction with Jay Caldwell, founder of Dreams Fulfilled, and the Kickstarter was launched. Within 24 hours, the Kickstarter Campaign reached the initial $10,000 goal. The Kickstarter Campaign concludes on National Bobblehead Day — January 7, 2019 — at 7:07pm central time.

    The Negro League Centennial Team (1920 – 2020) is comprised of 30 of the greatest African-American and Cuban players from 1895-1947. Each player is being depicted on a baseball-shaped base with a replica of Kansas City’s Paseo YMCA, the site where the Negro National League was organized on February 13, 1920. Satchel Paige was the first player selected, and his bobblehead has been completed. Paige will be joined by 10 additional pitchers, three catchers, five outside infielders (1B, 3B), three inside infielders (2B, SS), seven outfielders, one utility player, a manager and an owner as voted on by an online poll at www.NegroLeaguesHistory.com and supplemented by five additional players.

    “We are thrilled to commemorate a historic number of former Negro League players with bobbleheads, which are the ultimate honor,” said Phil Sklar, Co-Founder and CEO of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. “Many of these players have never had bobbleheads, and these bobbleheads will help ensure that their legacy and vital contribution to baseball and society is always remembered. We have been overwhelmed by the excitement for the series and can’t wait to produce and distribute them.”

    Jay Caldwell, founder of Dreams Fulfilled stated, “The Negro Leagues Centennial series will bring long overdue recognition to players who were not only among the best to ever play the game, but also early civil rights pioneers who helped pave the way for integration in baseball and the country.”


    About the Negro Leagues:
    The first successful Negro League was founded by Rube Foster on February 13, 1920 at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City. Foster believed an organized league structured like major league baseball would lead to eventual integration of the sport and racial reconciliation. Foster did not live to see his dream come true. Others picked up his cause and in 1947 Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color line.


    About the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum:
    The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is finishing set-up of its permanent location, which is expected to open this winter. The HOF and Museum was announced in November 2014 and hosted a Preview Exhibit in 2016. The HOF and Museum also produces high quality, customized bobbleheads for organizations, individuals and teams across the country. Visit us at www.BobbleheadHall.comFacebook.com/BobbleheadHall or Twitter.com/BobbleheadHall


    About Dreams Fulfilled:
    Dreams Fulfilled was organized to promote the Negro National League Centennial in 2020. Its founder, Jay Caldwell, has been selected by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum as the primary exhibitor for an art and artifact exhibition at the museum between February 1 and May 31, 2020. Dreams Fulfilled will be exhibiting 300 original pieces of art honoring Negro League players and nearly 100 artifacts of African American baseball dating back to 1871. Visit us at www.NegroLeaguesHistory.com or www.facebook.com/NegroLeaguesHistory


    About the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum:
    The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its profound impact on the social advancement of America. The NLBM operates one block from the Paseo YMCA where Andrew “Rube” Foster founded the Negro National League in 1920. In 2006, the NLBM was designated as “America’s National Negro Leagues Baseball Museum” by the United States Congress.

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    Habitat for Humanity Opens 2019 Application

    Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge is now accepting applications for the homeownership program through February 28, 2019. Applications can be accessed online at habitatbrla.org or in person at either of their two ReStore locations or at the local Habitat office, located at 6554 Florida Blvd., Suite 200 in Baton Rouge.

    Those seeking more information will be directed to additional information, including the application process, requirements for the program and income requirements (with minimum and maximum income based on family size needed to qualify).

    Habitat for Humanity works with each prospective homeowner partner through their 255 required “sweat equity” hours and their path to an affordable mortgage. Families/individuals are selected based on need, ability to pay a monthly mortgage, willingness to partner and Louisiana residency.

    Applications can be submitted in person Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. until Thursday, Feb. 28. No late applications will be accepted. For information, call 225-927-6651.

    ONLINE:  habitatbrla.org

     

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    Symposium to discuss ‘The Color of Currency’ in Baton Rouge, Feb. 2

    The Color of Currency is a one-day symposium designed to assist prospective Black entrepreneurs and current business owners with best practices around raising capital/providing resource information to aid in the enhancement of an existing business and development of a start-up business. Presented by Black Out Loud Conference, LLC in association with 100 Black Women of Baton Rouge, MetroMorphosis, and other community organizations.

    The event will feature a panel discussion with Black economic leaders in the Baton Rouge area, break out sessions, a keynote address from ExemptMeNow CEO, Sevetri Wilson, mini consultation sessions, food, music and more.

    Sponsored in part by Renee Marie.

    ONLINE: Color of Currency

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    Become a local expert and news source

    Are you an expert on topics and issues critical to our city?

    Can you be a source of insight on issues like community development, politics, education, social/criminal justice, economics/finances? What about religion, relationships/sex, or alternative health? Are you a scholar or connoisseur of music, movies, or food? Do you have great understanding of housing, construction, real estate? Are you a historian of sports, a city historian, or a collector of artifacts? 

    Complete this form

    We’d love to interview you in 2019!

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    Courtney M. Scott named chief service officer

    Courtney M. Scott has been named chief service officer for Mayor-President Sharon Broome. Scott has over 15 years of multi-faceted experience in project management, community engagement, and communications. She has deep relationships with Baton Rouge’s arts, cultural, non-profit, academic as well as business and civic communities. Her passion and commitment to the city are unparalleled.

    Scott earned both a bachelor and master’s degree in Mass Communication from Southern University and is a graduate of Baton Rouge Magnet High School.

    As Chief service officer Scott will support the development of strategic city initiatives focused on increasing volunteerism, community engagement, and new partnerships with businesses and philanthropic leaders. Upcoming initiatives that fall under the chief service officer include Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program and Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council.

    “Service has shaped my character and success, and I am honored and humbled to serve the Baton Rouge community in this role,” said Scott. “My goal is to create a collaborative experience for residents by developing action-oriented plans that deliver concrete results and continuously improve quality of life while furthering progress in our community.”

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  • Holiday season, a perfect time for dialogue on neglected mental health issues

    There is no perfect time to bring up this subject. But this is as good of a time as any.

    You would have to be literally living under a rock to ignore it. Mental health challenges in America are increasing at a meteoric rate. Traditionally, the holiday season can be stressful for any American. It’s much worse for those who already have issues.

    In this column, I want to do two things. First, we will examine good advice for anyone to adhere to during this season of the year. Secondly, let’s take a look at the tender, loving care needed for those who struggle throughout the year.
    Here are the tips for the general public when it comes to avoiding the holiday blues:

    • Stick as closely as possible to normal routines.
    • Make sure you get adequate sleep and rest.
    • Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with supportive and caring people.
    • Eat and drink in moderation. The last thing you want to do is turn to alcohol, or drugs, for a boost.
    • Get in a little exercise even if you normally don’t. Do the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Park farther than closer at the mall. Take short walks.
    • For each day, stay organized by a “to do” list. Outside distractions and extra activities can complicate life. This can help keep it together.
    • Set reasonable goals and expectations for holiday activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, and partying. Over-planning sets you up for failure.
    • Set a budget from the outset – for everything. How much to spend on eating out? How much to spend on entertainment? Gift purchases? Don’t overdo it.
    • Carve out some “me too” time. Get away to yourself and listen to music or find other ways to exhale. Relaxation is key to balance during a time of hustle and bustle.
    • Never compare what you do or don’t do, to others. If someone you know well is doing way more, getting way more, giving way more, let them do them. You do you. Holiday joy is not a competitive sport.

    When we ignore sensibilities, the risk of fatigue, tension, loneliness, sadness, loss, frustration and isolation become real. Just let go and let it flow. Remember this moment will pass and life will return to a closer state of normalcy. Even then, these are good rules to follow to maintain that necessary balance.

    And whatever you do, don’t let people make you feel bad for any reason. Sometimes imagination can become the most formidable barrier between our thought process and true peace of mind. Sometimes they – whoever they may be – really aren’t talking about you. And even if “they” are, in the end, what does it matter.

    Keep in mind that people who care about you most are those you should care about most.

    Resist the temptation to be weighed down in fear during the holiday season. Remember the simplicity of the reality that this too shall pass. Keep constantly at the forefront of your thinking the simple truth that 95 percent of those things that we dreadfully fear never actually come to fruit- ion.
    As alluded to earlier, there are those among friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, associates, parishioners and organizational affiliation facing health challenges all year.

    If you don’t already know their reality, you can hardly ever tell just by looking. They can be the most attractive, best-dressed, well-educated, articulate, clever, witty, outspoken, creative, and resourceful people in the room. None of those have anything to do with the workings of a troubled mind.

    Mental illness takes myriad forms. Bipolar disorders. Depression. Anxiety or panic. Schizophrenia. Excessive phobia. Obsessive, compulsive disorder. Borderline personality disorder. Suicidal or self-harmful behavior. Dissociative disorders. Eating disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychosis. Tourette’s syndrome.

    There is not enough space to delve into each. Perhaps at another writing, we can explore the symptoms, the effects, treatments.
    For now, the point is to urge one and all to recognize their existence and not to shun those who may be suffering. We need to embrace them on whatever level of familiarity we enjoy with them. Let them know they do not need to hesitate sharing their struggle.

    The Black community is particularly in need of addressing mental health among our friends, associates and family members. It does no good to offer some surface explanation for what we know is a deeper issue; no bandage to cover a virtual tumor.

    Finally, many African Americans suffer symptoms of these illnesses in silence and secrecy. We need to make more of an effort to encourage people to step forward for what is more often than not a treatable – if not curable – issue.

    The point is, African Americans need to embrace this cause with fervor through the holiday season and the year. There is no better time than now to launch a massive movement in our community encouraging heightened awareness, sensitive and necessary care for our mental health.

    By Vernon A. Williams
    Black Press USA

    This article originally appeared in The Chicago Crusader.

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  • Young received distinction honors

    Angela Nichols Young, Ph.D., of Lake Providence, has been selected for inclusion in the upcoming Trademark Women of Distinction 2018 Honors for demonstrating dedication and professional excellence. She is CEO of Healthy Minds Counseling Angency and the House of Hope for Boys in Bastrop.

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    Free library programs scheduled for all ages January

    The following special East Baton Rouge Parish Library programs will be held for all ages throughout January 2019. For more information about or to register for all the programs listed, call the branch where the event is scheduled directly or visit www.ebrpl.com. Can’t visit any of our 14 locations, which are open seven days a week? The Library is open 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com.

    The Library’s Featured Events, www.ebrpl.com (225) 231-3750
    Library Closures in Observance of January Holidays
    All locations of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library will close early at 6 p.m. Monday, December 31, and all day Tuesday, January 1, 2019, in observance of New Year’s Day. The Library also will be closed Monday, January 21, 2019, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For more information about these holiday closures, call (225) 231-3750. Check out the Digital Library 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com/DigitalLibrary.

    Join the Job Club Networking Group!
    The Career Center of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is sponsoring an ongoing search and networking group for adult job seekers in professional careers. Job searching can be a lonely and discouraging activity, and this group will provide you with a safe space to meet and network with likeminded professionals who are challenged by the same job hunting process. Attendees will share job search experiences, network tips and encouragement, and they’ll learn the latest job search techniques and so much more. Patrons are welcome to join us at the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Friday in January. It’s FREE and open to those in professional careers who are seeking employment. Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak will lead the meetings, and topics discussed will differ each week. For more information, call 225-231-3733. To register, go online to https://www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

    *Get a Jump on Success, Take the ACT Practice Test!
    Your Library will offer a FREE American College Testing (ACT) practice exam at two locations this month! Teens can come to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, January 5, and the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 26, to take the practice test. Spots are limited to 25 students per location, so you must register. Please note that preference will be given to teens who are currently enrolled in high school, and middle school students who wish to take the test will be permitted to do so only if there are still spots available the Monday before the test date. The paper practice test will be administered by Library staff through the Homework Louisiana database. Results will be sent to students via email; please allow 7-10 days to receive scores. Registration is required. To register, call the Library location directly.

    *Mastering the Job Interview
    Are you searching for a new job? Your performance during an interview can determine whether or not you get your dream job. Learn how to perfect your job interview skills through this FREE seminar! Adults can come to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 12, to get tips for a great interview, common traps and pitfalls to avoid and interactive demonstrations for answering the most common interview questions. Registration is required. For more information and to register, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733 or visit www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

    Get Organized in the New Year!
    Are you looking for tips and tricks to clean up the clutter and get organized? Join Certified Professional Organizer Alyssa Trosclair at the Main Library at Goodwood for a FREE seminar that’ll help you do just that! Adults are invited to the Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 12, to learn strategies that can help bring order to any space.

    The FBI & the Clementine Hunter Art Forgery Case
    Did you know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has an Art Crime Team? The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Special Collections Departments invites adults to the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, for a presentation led by Special Agent Randy Deaton of the FBI’s Rapid Deployment Art Crime Team’s New Orleans Division. Deaton will discuss what the Art Crime Team does, as well as his investigation of the forgery of artwork by Clementine Hunter, a renowned Louisiana folk artist. Hunter was from north Louisiana, and in her earliest years, she sold her paintings for only 25 cents! By the time she died in 1988, many of them were valued in the thousands of dollars, some worth even more today. Several of Hunter’s paintings will be on display during the talk.

    *Geaux Science for Girls Storytimes
    Girls in kindergarten through third grade are invited to enjoy a special Geaux Science for Girls storytime at four Library locations this month! Girls can go to the either the Main Library at Goodwood, Baker Branch, Bluebonnet Regional Branch or Eden Park Branch at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, January 26, to have fun with science and math-themed stories, plus hands-on science and math experiences led by some of Louisiana State University’s (LSU) top women scientists and mathematicians. Sponsored by Halliburton and the LSU College of Science, this unique storytime is designed to inspire the next generation of women innovators! Registration is required. To register, call the Library location directly.

    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile Visits Libraries in January & February!
    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile has come back to the Library! Children ages 4-11 are invited to the Library in January and February to enjoy these FREE informative and entertaining programs designed to educate audiences about wildlife conservation. Attendees will be amazed as they get up close and personal with several live animals at each program and learn about their bone structures, fur and more! Each presentation lasts about one hour. Registration is required for all. For more information and to register, call the Library location directly. Here’s the ZooMobile schedule:

    • 10:30 a.m. Thursday, January 3, Pride-Chaneyville Branch
    • 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 16, Zachary Branch
    • 11 a.m. Tuesday, January 22, Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch
    • 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 23, Fairwood Branch
    • 4 p.m. Wednesday, January 23, Delmont Gardens Branch
    • 10 a.m. Thursday, January 24, Carver Branch
    • 4:30 p.m. Thursday, January 24, Central Branch
    • 4 p.m. Friday, January 25, Scotlandville Branch
    • 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 6, Baker Branch
    • 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, Main Library at Goodwood
    • 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 19, River Center Branch
    • 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 20, Jones Creek Regional Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 21, Eden Park Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 28, Bluebonnet Regional Branch

    Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., (225) 763-2250
    Organizing for Your Weight Loss Goals
    Do you want to lose weight but feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of it? Adults are invited to the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 8, for a FREE presentation led by Certified Professional Organizer Alyssa Trosclair that will explore the connection between the struggle with weight and disorganization. The seminar will offer simple organizational strategies that can help make achieving your weight loss goals easier. Start the New Year with positive action!

    Teen Bookmark Contest
    Grab your squad and head over to the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 3 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, to design a handcrafted bookmark with other teens, and then submit it for consideration in a contest! Prizes will be awarded to the top two winners.

    Stress Survival Workshop
    Stress wears away at your energy, immune system function, and emotional wellbeing. Prolonged, chronic stress can cause vulnerability to illness and disease. There is something you can do about it, however. Adults are welcome at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 17, for a FREE stress survival workshop led by Dr. Karen Dantin, MD. The presentation will offer tools that can be used to identify and eliminate recurring daily stressors, plus relaxation techniques that can help reduce the strain life can bring.

    Carver Branch Library, 720 Terrace St., (225) 389-7450
    *Code It: Programming a Piano Story/Craft
    Kids ages 9-11 can come to the Carver Branch at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, to hear a reading of Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code by Stacia Deutsch, and Code It! Programming and Keywords You Can Create Yourself by Jessie Alkire. Later, each child will learn how to code using simple software.

    *DIY Lemon Raspberry Lip Balm
    Adults can come to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, January 28, for a fun craft that can help provide some much-needed relief in the winter months. Using simple, household ingredients, you’ll learn how to make sweet raspberry lemon-flavored lip balm. Limited to 10 participants.

    Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch Library, 11300 Greenwell Springs Rd., (225) 274-4450
    *Octaband Movement Program
    This is a program for children ages 6-8 with physical disabilities. Come to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 5 p.m. Thursday, January 10, to hear a reading of excerpts from Being Fit by Valerie Bodden. After the story, we’ll move like an octopus by stretching, shrinking, flowing, flexing, cooperating and connecting to fun music!

    Pride-Chaneyville Branch Library, 13600 Pride-Port Hudson Rd., (225) 658-1550
    Make a Classy T-Shirt Necklace!
    Teens can head over to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, January 5, to make the perfect accessory for turtleneck shirts and sweaters. With five strips of T-shirt fabric formed into rings and an artificial flower for flair, you can create a simple and fabulous necklace!

    Rubber Band Bracelets
    You won’t believe how fast you can make these cool bracelets! Come to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, January 26, to craft with other teens. We’ve got colors for both guys and girls, so bring your squad with you to make fun creations without a loom!

    Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy., (225) 354-7550
    Envision Your New Year: Vision Board Craft
    Start the New Year with optimism to reach your goals! Teens are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 3:30 p.m. Monday, January 7, to think about your goals, and then create a vision board using a poster and magazine clippings. After the craft, we’ll enjoy a sweet treat and discuss our plans for 2019!

    *You Can Be a King Story/Craft
    Kids ages 3-7 can come to the Scotlandville Branch at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 19, to hear a reading of You Can Be a King by Carole Boston Weatherford. Later, each child will create a Martin Luther King Jr. dreamcatcher craft.

    For more information about any of these January 2019 events or others, call the Library location where the event is being held directly or visit the schedule online at www.ebrpl.com. For general information about the Library, call (225) 231-3750 or visit the Library’s online calendar at www.ebrpl.com.

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    Master Sergeant Bianca S. Sellers-Brown retires with 30 years civil service

    USAF - 1980-1Master Sergeant Bianca S. Sellers-Brown retired Nov. 3 with 30 years federal civil service and 34 years in the U.S. Air Force.State Rep. Barbara Norton acknowledged the occasion as Bianca Brown Day. Brown also received proclamations from Gov. John Bel Edwards and Senator W. Jay Luneau. According to her husband, Tony Brown, she has “commuted from Woodworth to Barksdale AFB in Bossier–282 miles a day–for more than 15 years. She has driven 1.1 million miles in that time she says for God and Country.”

    Master Sergeant Bianca S. Sellers-Brown is the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge for the 307th Mission Support Group Commander’s Support Staff, Barksdale Air Force Base, LA, responsible for managing the administrative support functions for over 400 personnel. She has the additional responsibility of Wing Focal Point for the Unit Training Assembly Processing System (UTAPS), managing the participation records for over 1,400 Reserve personnel assigned to the 307th Bomb Wing. As a Wing Focal Point, she also provides training and helpdesk support to all personnel requiring access to UTAPS and the Air Force Reserve Orders Writing system (AROWS-R). Because of her wide breadth of experience and expertise in her career field, she was also appointed to the Wing Inspection Team. Her willingness to assist when required resulted in her being requested by name to provide backfill administrative support to almost 200 personnel assigned to the 489th Bomb Group at Dyess AFB, TX. She has served over 34 years in the United States Air Force and the Air Force Reserves combined.

    Sergeant Sellers-Brown was born in Redlands, California and enlisted in the Air Force through the delayed enlistment program in January 1980, while a senior in high school. After graduating high school, she departed for basic military training in July 1980. She graduated Administrative Support Specialist technical training school at Keesler AFB, MS in October 1980. Her first active duty assignment was overseas at RAF Fairford, England with the 7020th Air Base Group. In January 1983, she was transferred to the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing, the “Flying Tigers”, at England AFB in Alexandria, Louisiana where she attended Noncommissioned Officer Leadership School in November 1987 and received the award of Distinguished Graduate. Her final active duty position was serving as the Military Secretary to the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing Commander. She separated from active duty in December 1992.

    In March 1997, she joined the Air Force Reserve, serving with the 917th Transportation Squadron at Barksdale AFB, LA. While assigned to the Transportation Squadron, she deployed as a transporter to RAF Fairford, England in support of Coronet Astro (Jun 1998), Elmendorf AFB, Alaska (Jun 1999), Australia in support of Operation Tandum Thrust (May 2001) and Istres, France (Sep 2001).

    In July 2001, she accepted a full-time position as an Air Reserve Technician (ART) with the 917th Maintenance Squadron. She earned recognition as the 917th Wing Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter, Apr-Jun 2002. In April 2004, she was hired as the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the Commander’s Support Staff (CSS) with the 917th Mission Support Group (MSG), working directly for the Mission Support Group Commander and promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant in May 2004. In Jan 2011, the 917th Wing inactivated and was reactivated as the 307th Bomb Wing. She remained assigned to the 307th MSG as the Unit Program Coordinator until 1 Oct 2017 when she was assigned the task of standing up the newly reorganized Group CSS for the 307th MSG.

    Her awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Ribbon Long Tour, Air Force Longevity Service, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, USAF Noncommissioned Officer Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon (Rifle) and the Air Force Training Ribbon.

    Sergeant Sellers-Brown is married to Tony Brown of Lake Charles, LA and together they have three children, Shayne (Danielle) Daney, Joseph Brown, and Sydney Brown and six grandchildren, Jaynila, Joseph Jr, Joeria, André, Adrian, and Jylell. Tony is a news journalist and owner of Eyes Open Productions, who was recently featured in a television documentary by Investigation Discovery.

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    Youth ambassadors travel to the nation’s capital

    A panel of judges selected Kentwood High Magnet School 4-H’ers Jayla Berry and Ronny Johnson Jr. to represent Tangipahoa Parish at the National 4-H Council Walmart Healthy Habits Programming Training. The selection was made during an Impromptu Essay Contest on October 10.  These students were tasked with guiding their peers and communities, into living healthier lifestyles through the use of The Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Project. 

    The training was held at the National 4-H Council Headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland on November 1– 3. 4-H youth and adult leaders from the Southern University Land-Grant Campus attended workshops on implementing the HYPE Project Curriculum. While attending the training, youth also had an opportunity to learn about health disparities, community access, policies, systems, and environmental changes through hands-on activities.

    Since attending the training, Berry and Johnson have hit the ground running and have committed to revitalizing Kentwood High Magnet’s school garden and building a Humanity Box for the Town of Kentwood.  During a regular 4-H Club meeting on November 14 the Youth Ambassadors presented their plans, and solicited their club members for feedback in getting the projects underway.

    The HYPE Project is a five-phase model which teaches youth ambassadors how to impact their communities by establishing youth-led campaigns. The phases of the project are: Think, Learn, Act, Share and Evaluate.

    For additional information about 4-H programs in Tangipahoa Parish, contact Nicolette Gordon, assistant youth development Agent at 985-748-5462.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Land-Grant Campus.

    Photo:  Kentwood High Magnet School students Ronny Johnson, Jr. and Jayla Berry attended the National 4-H Council Walmart Healthy Habits Programming Training in Chevy Chase, Maryland on November 1-3, 2018. The two youth ambassadors are developing plans to make their school and community healthier. (Photo courtesy of Nicolette Gordon, SU Ag Center.)

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    Professor researches link between ADHD, entrepreneurship

    Reginald L. Tucker, assistant professor in the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems at LSU’s E. J. Ourso College of Business, recently published an article in Journal of Business Venturing that examined the influence of ADHD on business start-up.

    “It’s my most cited paper, and I think seminal to the Mental Health and Entrepreneurship literature stream,” said Tucker, adding, “We found that ADHD did influence business start-up when impulsivity was present.”

    There has been increased interest recently in how negative traits associated with mental disorders, such as ADHD, may have positive implications in entrepreneurship. While this research has the potential of producing important results, it is still in its infancy and consequently has received limited attention. To that end, Tucker’s study developed and tested a model that ADHD influences entrepreneurship through the multifaceted trait of impulsivity or the tendency to act on impulse rather than thought.

    “Findings demonstrate that entrepreneurship is indeed a unique area where negative traits, such as ADHD, may represent valuable assets,” Tucker said. There are at least two important practice implications associated with the results. First, the results imply that individuals with ADHD symptoms may be empowered to craft their own jobs to fit their special needs. Second, the findings suggest that people with ADHD symptoms and impulsivity will tend to prefer action speed over action accuracy and that this may be functional in the context of entrepreneurship.”

    ONLINE: https://www.lsu.edu/business/sdeis/index.php.

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    Council on Aging purchases property to expand services

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging Purchases Property to Expand Meal Services.

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging has purchased 2.8 acres to meet the demands of meals on wheels and congregate meals services.  The property, located on North 18th Street, will be the site of a new 25,000 square feet facility that will provide much-needed space for preparing home-delivered meals to seniors and congregate (hot) meals that are delivered to the 26 senior centers and feeding sites across the parish.

    “We have performed miracles in the current, but outdated, facility and I am eager to begin construction on a new state of the art building that will accommodate the ever-increasing needs of seniors in our Parish,” said Tasha Clark-Amar, CEO.

    The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging has been housed at the 5790 Florida Boulevard location for over 30 years.  The new facility will not only include a commercial kitchen and meal packing facility, but also a space for administrative offices for more than 60 employees and parking for the agency’s fleet of Meals on Wheels vans.

    “The North 18th/Fuqua site has been an abandoned property in my district for a number of years.  I am proud the Council on Aging is not only expanding services for seniors but investing in a much-needed area of the Parish,” said Councilwoman Tara Wicker.

    The Council on Aging will begin the design phase of the new development in January, with hopes of moving into the new building in approximately 18 months.

    “Many thanks to our board of directors and staff for all their hard work bringing this vision to fruition.  The entire parish will benefit from this investment in seniors, and the community as a whole,” said board chairwoman Jennifer Moisant.

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    Dyslexia screening provision included in new criminal justice reform bill

    Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate health and education committee, announced that his provision providing for the screening of inmates for dyslexia is included in the new version of the First Step Act (S. 3649), legislation endorsed by President Trump to reform America’s criminal justice system. Cassidy announced his support for the legislation two weeks ago.

    “Having treated patients in prisons, I learned that illiteracy often leads someone to turn to a life of crime. Dyslexia is a leading cause of illiteracy, so to address illiteracy and incarceration, we must better address dyslexia,” said Dr. Cassidy. “I’m pleased Chairman Grassley, Jared Kushner and the White House agreed to incorporate my proposal for screening inmates for dyslexia into this bill. It makes sense that if a someone learns to read, they’re less likely to end up in prison and more likely to be a productive member of society. And if someone ends up in prison, they’re more likely to get a job and keep it once they are released. In the end, I think this will save some people from the prison system, make our streets safer, and save taxpayers money.”

    A study found that 80 percent of prison inmates at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas, were functionally illiterate and 48 percent were dyslexic.

    The First Step Act will formally define dyslexia as “an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader, most commonly caused by a difficulty in the phonological processing (the appreciation of the individual sounds of spoken language), which affects the ability of an individual to speak, read, and spell.” The bill requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate an evidence-based, low-cost, readily available dyslexia screening program into the new risk and needs assessment system, including by screening for dyslexia during the prisoner intake process and each periodic risk reassessment of a prisoner. It also requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate dyslexia treatment programs into recidivism reduction programs.

    In October, Cassidy and his wife, Dr. Laura Cassidy, coauthored a column about their family’s personal struggle to overcome dyslexia.

    In June, Cassidy met with Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner about prison reform, and Cassidy stressed the need to identify and address dyslexia in early education in order to prevent students from being consigned to a path of illiteracy, crime, and incarceration.

    Ameer Baraka

    Ameer Baraka

    In May 2016, Cassidy chaired a HELP Committee hearing on understanding dyslexia. The hearing featured actor Ameer Baraka, a New Orleans native who struggled with dyslexia as a student and turned to selling drugs. Barak discussed how he taught himself to read in prison on Fox News in April 2017.

    In February 2016, Cassidy’s READ Act was signed into law by President Obama. The legislation requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to devote at least $2.5 million to dyslexia research every year.

    In 2015, Cassidy hosted world experts on dyslexia for a discussion at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, and chaired HELP Committee field hearings on dyslexia and education in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

    Each year, Cassidy introduces a resolution in the Senate designating October as National Dyslexia Awareness Month.

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    ‘Verbs, Vittles, and Vibes’ featured at SU event

    The Southern University Museum of Art, in partnership with the Nu Gamma Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., recently hosted “Verbs, Vittles, and Vibes: A tribute to the Black Arts Movement” on Thursday, Dec. 13 at the SU museum located in Martin L.Harvey Hall.

    The Black Arts Movement, led by poet Imamu Amiri Baraka, took place from 1965-1975 and impacted the poetry, music, art, and literature. Artists used the on-going political climate as a muse for their work. Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, Haki Madhubuti, and Sonia Sanchez are notable names that contributed to the cause. Though started in the New York/ New Jersey area, it shifted to Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan, and San Francisco, California.

    Guests enjoyed a reading of their favorite poems, light music, and refreshments.

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  • ,,

    Dr. Maurice Sholas inspires SU grads at fall commencement

    Nearly 500 graduates earned degrees from Southern University at its fall commencement, December 14. Led in by Traci Smith, chief student marshal, graduates convened to receive bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as commissions to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. The newest alumni heard from one of their own, Dr. Maurice Sholas, a physician and principal for Sholas Medical Consulting LLC.

    “You may look at today as a glorious ending, but it is a glorious beginning,” Sholas said to the graduates.

    The Baton Rouge native reflected on his family legacy of Southern alumni, beginning with his parents, who met each other at the university.

    “My first visit to Southern was while I was in my mother’s womb,” Sholas said. “My heart was set on Southern from the start in spite of naysayers — those who said I could go to a “good school” because I had good grades. Well, Southern University wasn’t just good to me. It was great.

    “I came here to see what is possible for people like us. I became a part of a community that cares for and cared about me.”

    Sholas said that Southern prepared him for life beyond the Bluff in a number of ways, including him going on to Harvard to earn his M.D. and Ph.D.

    “Southern gave me the confidence to stand with those from corners of the world I’d never heard of,” he said.

    Sholas told the graduates to not fret about tomorrow as they celebrated their achievements today.

    “You don’t have to know today (what’s next),” he said. “When I was sitting here, I had no idea what I would be doing for the next 20 years. While you sort it out, keep moving forward. Excellence defines us. Pride sustains us. Tradition guides us. We are Southern.”

    Sholas closed by reminding the graduates that Southern is a family-oriented organization that reaches well beyond the acres in the capital city.

    “Your SU tribe is a short phone call or text away,” he said. “And my service to you is not over after this message. What I know… what I have experienced is yours. We are Southern.”

    Former Louisiana Sen. Diana E. Bajoie received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university. The Southern University alumna who is a pioneer in state politics. In 1976, she was the only woman serving in the Louisiana House of Representatives; in 1991, she was the first black woman elected to the Louisiana Senate; and in 2004, she was the first woman elected as Senate President Pro Tempore.

    The ceremony can be viewed in its entirety at https://bit.ly/2SLS59d. The Fall 2018 Commencement program can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2S0ByhV.

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

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    Louisiana Democracy Project gives Devil Swamp warning: ‘Don’t eat the coon’

    It may be cultural. It may be heritage but once cold weather and or holidays hit, a segment of the Louisiana population has a taste for wild game such as raccoon.

    Generally, this is not a problem but the Louisiana Democracy Project is continuing to issue warnings to its constituents to avoid eating wild life from the Devil Swam/Bayou Baton Rouge areas. “During the summer an advisory was issued by the Department of Health & Hospitals, along with the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries warning people not to eat fish or crawfish from the area. “We know many people enjoy eating raccoons and raccoons enjoy eating fish and crawfish. We think it is important to warn everyone to avoid not only the seafood but the seafood eating mammals as well”, said Stephanie Anthony, LDP president and chair of Pray for Our Air program.

    Paul Orr of the Lower Mississippi River Keepers agrees that people should not eat largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, or raccoons from the area. Samples show HCB hexachlorobenzene, HCBD hexachlorobutadine, PCB polychorinateed biphenyls, arsenic, lead and mercury in the fish.

    There have been advisory’s out since 1993 telling citizens not to drink, swim or play in the water because of contamination. Whereas some citizens around Alsen, Baker and even the Cedarcrest area of East Baton Rouge Parish say they are vaguely aware of contamination, they do not relate this knowledge to fish-eating mammals.

    Devil Swamp covers over 8 miles and more than 6,000 acres of land. It is bounded on the north by Hall Buck Marine Road on the east, by the bluff and the Baton Rouge Barge Harbor and on the south and west by the Mississippi River.

    During the question and answer period after a presentation to the Green Army meeting at Greater King David Church, award winning scientist Wilma Supra remarked that there was not legislative funding to replace signs damaged or destroyed, to warn citizens about hunting, fishing or swimming in contaminated waters. During the 1980s then State Representative Joseph A. Delpit authored legislation requiring signs posting to warning of water contamination in English, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Today the population in Baton Rouge is 54.98 percent Black, 3.32 percent Hispanic and 3.48 percent Asian. That correlates to about 126,089 Black, 7,974 Asian and 7606 Hispanic equaling over 60 percent of the population.

    Veteran environmentalist Willie Fontenot is said to have named Bayou Baton Rouge, decades ago. He attests to the contamination in the area. He said Devil Swam area is so contaminated that only the devil would enjoy it at this point.

    Anthony said the Louisiana Democracy Project does not ordinarily tackle water issues but they see this is a true grassroots issue affecting the quality of life for citizens whose lives they touch on other issues. They encourage interested parties to contact them at 225-907-1459 or the Department of Health and Hospitals 888-293-7020.

    Feature photo by Jed Postman, taken from SeriousEats.com

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  • Williams inducted as first Black chief judge of the Second Circuit

    Chief Judge Felicia Toney Williams, of Tallulah, has been inducted Dec. 13 to the Second Court of Appeals in Shreveport. On Oct. 4, Williams became the first Black chief judge of the Second Circuit, which serves 20 parishes in North Louisiana. She has served four years on the Louisiaiana Judiciary Commission, and chair of the Louisiana Conference of Court of Appeal Judges. She was elected unapposed to a third, 10-year term. She is married to attorney Moses Junior Williams. She had three children Rhonda, Myra and Justin, and two grandchildren Christian and Camryn.

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    North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative selects 200 new students

    The North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative has selected 200 local students to be part of the program’s fifth cohort, which will begin in January 2019. The students are predominantly from North Baton Rouge and are pursuing careers in electrical, pipefitting, millwright and welding crafts. Each student will receive free training and a National Center for Construction Education and Research Core, Level I, and Level II certification after completion of the program.

    The NBRITI program began in 2012 spearheaded by ExxonMobil in an effort to better connect community members to industry jobs. The training is based at Baton Rouge Community College’s Acadian Campus and provides no-cost training for high-demand crafts. For the past six years, several partners have supported the program and hired graduates including Baton Rouge Community College, ExxonMobil, Excel Group, Cajun Industries, ISC, Turner Industries, Performance Contractors, Jacobs Engineering, Pala Group, Triad, Brock Group, Geo Heat Exchangers, Stupp Corporation, GBRIA, Associated Builders and Contractors, Urban League of Louisiana, and Employ BR.

    “Our partnership is ensuring sustainable workforce educational opportunities in North Baton Rouge, as well as the entire region. ExxonMobil’s continued commitment to bring together business and industry, education institutions and the community is the model of corporate citizenship,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Steib.

    _G4A8249About 800 applicants for the fifth training class were screened by the Baton Rouge Community College and partner company representatives through a testing and interview process. Many attended the North Baton Rouge Career Fair in October to learn about opportunities in industry. The college will offer reduced-cost training opportunities for those students not accepted into the NBRITI program.

    “This training has the power to be transformative – not just for the graduates — but for their families as well. We will be hiring millwrights directly from this new class, and I pledge to continue to lead the initiative forward,” said ExxonMobil Refinery Manager Gloria Moncada. With the addition of a millwright track, this new class will triple in size compared to previous classes.

    A unique aspect of the program is a social skills component involving ongoing tutoring, financial literacy training, and resume and interview assistance. This involves additional support from organizations including the Urban League of Louisiana, BancorpSouth, and ExxonMobil YMCA Community Outreach Retiree Alliance.

    About 45 students of the current, fourth training class will graduate on Jan. 24, 2019, at a special ceremony at the Baton Rouge Community College Acadian Campus.

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    ‘Revolutionary health research initiative’ launched in Baton Rouge

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and the National Institutes of Health launched a revolutionary health research initiative called “All of Us Research Program” in Baton Rouge.

    The All of Us Research Program is building the largest and most diverse health data resource of its kind by asking one million or more people from across the country of different races, ethnicities, age groups, geographic regions, gender identities, sexual orientations, and health statuses to share their unique health information. Many of these people have historically been underrepresented in medical research. Health data from such a large and diverse group of people will enable scientists to study how different factors – from genetics to exercise habits – affect a person’s health.

    Baton Rouge is one of the early cities in the nation to see a focused effort to recruit participants, led locally by Blue Cross. The All of Us Research Program recognizes Louisiana’s diverse population and unique health challenges and encourages residents to sign up for a chance to be part of the future of precision medicine.

    Precision medicine is an emerging approach to disease treatment and prevention that considers differences in people’s lifestyles, environments and biological makeup, including genes. With eyeglasses and hearing aids, we have long had customized solutions to individual needs. More recently, treating certain types of cancer is now possible with therapies targeted to patients’ DNA.

    By partnering with one million diverse people who share information about themselves, the All of Us Research Program will enable researchers to more precisely prevent and treat a variety of health conditions.

    “The All of Us Research Program is an opportunity for individuals from all walks of life to be represented in research and pioneer the next era of medicine,” said NIH director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The time is now to transform how we conduct research-with participants as partners-to shed new light on how to stay healthy and manage disease in more personalized ways. This is what we can accomplish through All of Us.”

    “Here in Louisiana, a state rich in diversity, we have the opportunity to be part of this important research initiative, one that can go a long way in helping to address some of the state’s health problems,” said Dr. Vindell Washington, Blue Cross executive vice president and chief medical officer. “We all know the state of health in Louisiana is poor. We have some of the highest rates of obesity and chronic diseases in the country, and we are consistently at or near the bottom of rankings of health statuses. All of Us will lead to healthcare breakthroughs we believe will be beneficial for our people.”

    Leaders from Blue Cross, the Urban League of Louisiana, Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome’s Healthy City Initiative, Louisiana Department of Health, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, the NIH and the YMCA of the Capital Area spoke in support of the program.

    “Through The Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative, we bring together many key stakeholders who make Baton Rouge a healthier place.” said Hymowitz “Good, timely data is something we always struggle to identify. All of Us will help us to make more data-driven decisions to better support our community.”

    Partners were also able to get a more thorough understanding of what it means to take part in the All of Us Research Program, what information participants are asked to provide and how the research is being used to further precision medicine.

    “This initiative is important to Baton Rouge and populations who often are underrepresented in medical research,” said Judy Morse, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “Without the preventative healthcare measures of programs like All of Us, it would be nearly impossible to detect and cure the diseases that plague our community.”

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  • Cookies and Ice Cream! Business is sweet in Zachary

    Business is sweet for Josh and Leah Collins who are making history less than one year after opening Great American Cookies and Marble Slab Creamery at 20103 Old Scenic Hwy in Zachary.

    Zachary Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Scott joked that the Collins were in business for “five minutes” before taking home Minority Enterprise honors, but Josh Collins is a homegrown success story much like Scott.
    Josh Collins explained that he was born and reared in Zachary and felt it was an excellence business environment for his new franchise. 46492447_1944047952569613_1750653340141748224_n

    “We chose Zachary for the simple reason that there were not other options like this in Zachary,” Josh Collins said. “We lived in Zachary and we said ‘what does Zachary not have and let’s bring something to Zachary that it does not have.’”
    The Collins fondly remembered that their first date was Marble Slab so that make the choice to bring the franchise to Zachary. The roll of the sweet dice has paid off in tremendous ways. “Honestly, it’s been overwhelming,” Josh Collins said. “We broke the franchise record in sales so the initial plans we had were scrapped and we had to go back to the drawing board.”

    ONLINE: facebook.com/GreatAmericanSlab

    By Frances Spencer
    Contributing Writer

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  • 20 take-a-ways from Wake Up Happy!

    Recently, I stumbled on a discounted copy of Wake up Happy by Michael Strahan and Veronica Chambers. It was stuffed in a pile of unknown debut novels and children’s books that Albertson’s Grocery positioned in the middle of the medicine aisle.

    While reading the first two or three chapters, I stopped several times to think through the writing until I finally surrendered to grabbing a pen, marking up the margins, doodling emotions, and underlining paragraphs, page after page. I honestly was not expecting the wealth of insight Strahan laid out.

    Here are the best take-a-ways:

    • It is the attitude with which we pursue our goals that give us our biggest boosts of happiness (Strahan quoted Shawn Achor)
    • Start today with music, words, movements use the power of pause. Don’t rush your day.
    • True love multiplies the joy in your life
    • Find ideas and inspiration everywhere you go. Visualize by using all your senses. Be conscious.
    • Just because no one’s screaming your name, doesn’t mean you can’t win. We count ourselves out waaaaay too soon.
    • We hold ourselves back and doubt ourselves more than anybody else will.
    • There’s more power in your attitude than your bank account
    • Your role of agreement is to find a way to say yes.
    • Process information given and readjust. Process the opportunities, failures, observations.
    • It’s your life, drive it like you own it. Project your purpose to the world.
    • Happiness is the joy we feel while striving toward our potential.
    • Do not be afraid to bet on yourself. Win or lose, take joy in striving toward your potential
    • Be around people who encourage you to talk about your dreams then pushes you to dream bigger
    • A little nibble will give you hope; A line in the water gives you hope.
    • Having something to strive for breeds its own kind of joy
    • Figure out what are the untapped resources that could change your life.
    • Pay attention to detail, the specifics of techniques, and develop a mental toughness. The art of mental toughness is finding focus and confidence to attack whatever challenges arise with everything you’ve got and then some.
    • That juice is worth the squeeze!
    • Answer: what did you do to get better today?
    • Indulge your playful side.

    And of course, wake up happy.

    By Candace J. Semien
    The Jozef Syndicate

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    Unity leads to spiritual growth for Black, White congregations during transition

    Manuel Pigee III boldly prayed in 2015, asking God to lead United Believers Baptist Church to a rebirth at a new property.

    After three years of fasting and praying, God presented the steadily growing African-American congregation with the opportunity to move into a facility utilized by Oakcrest Baptist Church, a predominantly Caucasian congregation, whose Sunday morning worship attendance was in steady decline.

    Since United Believers Baptist Church said, “Yes,” in January to sharing the campus, the congregation has seen God move in more ways than they ever imagined.

    “When I became pastor of the church, I said to them I want you to know I am praying God would do something no one could take credit for — that God would get the glory,” he said. “The way He opened the door and solidified this partnership has generated a great spirit of joy and peace. We are overwhelmed by God’s grace.”

    United Believers Baptist Church was formed after Hurricane Katrina forced Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans to meet at three separate locations, including the Baton Rouge campus.

    Within a year, many members of the Franklin Avenue congregation returned to New Orleans, but a remnant of around 100 stayed behind, growing to 136 in 2017.

    In 2011, Pigee was called as pastor of the church, which was still a campus of Franklin Avenue.

    Four years later, on April 15, 2015, the congregation voted to rename itself United Believers Baptist Church, adopting Psalm 133:1 as its mission – “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.”
    During their three-year search for a new home, the congregation was introduced to Oakcrest Baptist.

    At one time, that congregation had as many as 600 participating in Sunday morning worship, but as the demographics around the neighborhood changed, attendance steadily declined, with fewer than 20 attending last year.

    After a meeting among representatives of the two churches, in June and then another in October, Oakcrest Baptist leaders told Pigee God was leading them to allow United Believers Baptist to share the space, which is located on Greenwell Springs Road in Baton Rouge.

    Charles Bennett, pastor of Oakcrest, and Manuel Pigee III, pastor of United Believers Baptist Church in Baton Rouge

    Charles Bennett, pastor of Oakcrest, and Manuel Pigee III, pastor of United Believers Baptist Church in Baton Rouge

    “They told us we were the church that could reach the community for years to come, and they wanted to work out an agreement with us to gracefully phase out,” Pigee said. “I said to my people this is a great privilege the Lord has allowed us to walk alongside this aging congregation. With the racial divide that is happening in America, it’s amazing to see an aging Anglo church willing to partner with an African American plant as God allows us to escort them to glory.”

    Charles Bennett, pastor of Oakcrest, said the relationship between his church and United Believers Baptist has been pleasant. “We felt we had a choice,” Bennett said. “We could let the buildings not being used to deteriorate, or, we could look for a group we felt good about coming in to use the facilities; and, we wanted a Southern Baptist group in here. Our people are very open and appreciative by the way they have come in and made a difference for Christ.”
    Tommy Middleton, director of missions for the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge, applauds the members of Oakcrest for seeing the need for ministry in its facility for generations to come.

    “To the credit of Oakcrest and the leadership and sensitivity of United Believers, it’s turned out to be almost a textbook of how it’s supposed to be in terms of support, cooperation and love,” he said.

    “In many churches throughout our state and national conventions, churches go through seasons of great growth and then that season passes,” he continued. “If there is not a renewal and a shift to address cultural changes in the neighborhood, that trend continues downward. When they recognize how to correct it or change it over to another church, it allows for a vibrant Gospel witness to continue in that area. Sometimes we hang out with stubbornness — you’ve got to let it go.”

    Since moving into the new building, United Believers Baptist has spent most of its time upgrading the property and building relationships with residents of the neighborhood.

    Members have spruced up the landscaping, restriped the parking lot, installed lights in the parking lot, and placed monitors and additional lighting inside the worship center. Ministry efforts at its new campus have included a spring revival featuring Middleton and Franklin Avenue Baptist Pastor Fred Luter, a Mother’s Day tea and door-to-door visitation. Future ministry plans include a class to prepare young boys and girls for adulthood and after-school tutoring on Wednesdays.

    “One piece of feedback from the community is they want a place for children to go for spiritual enrichment and learn practical life skills,” Pigee said. “We want to do social ministry as a way to create bridges and bring people to the Kingdom through a life-changing relationship with Christ.

    “I anticipate us really impacting the community and touching the lives of families and youth through our social outreach programs,” he said. “We are integrating ourselves more into the community. More than anything we want to be a lighthouse, where people’s faith is being shaped and they are being taught to practice it.”

    ONLINE: unitedbelieversbc.org

    By Brian Blackwell
    Special to The Drum

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    SU Ag Center now accepting meat pre-sale orders for 76th Annual Livestock Show

    The Southern University Livestock Show Office is currently accepting pre-orders for non-processed choice meats from various livestock.

    All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are now available for pre-order:

    · Whole beef $2,000
    · Half beef $1,000
    · Fourth beef $500
    · Whole pork $225
    · Whole lamb $200
    · Whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to picking up the meat from the slaughter house.

    Those who don’t pre-order their meat are invited to do so during the show’s ‘Special Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

    The office will deliver the meat to either the Cutrer Slaughter House in Kentwood, 985.229.2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine, 225.687.4258.

    Donations to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are also welcome.

    The 76th Annual State Livestock & Poultry Show will be held February 28 – March 2, 2019 at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena, 14600 Scenic Hwy, in Baton Rouge.

    Southern University has held an annual Livestock Show since 1943 and has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for the state’s youth to showcase their animals, gain entrepreneurship skills and receive character and leadership training.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to participate in the show or how to purchase meat; visit http://www.suagcenter.com/page/livestock-show-2019 or contact the Livestock Show Office at 225.771.6208.

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    MILESTONES: Eddie Ponds turns 80 with more than 500 published issues of The Drum

    Fall of 2018 is a special time of recognition and appreciation for Ponchatoula’s Eddie Ponds, a man known and respected far beyond the city limits.

    Image (144) HIGH SCHOOL

     

    He’s celebrating having published the 500th edition of his newspaper, “The Drum,” which has readers around the nation and beyond. Now, that’s a lot of papers and that’s a lot of work!

    With his friendly smile and quiet demeanor, one would never guess the long, sometimes rough roads it took to get so far in the world of media.

    Born in the Millville area of Ponchatoula 80 years ago, little Eddie was fourth in a family of ten children and grew up in a far different world than today.

    In a time when Italians could not live in Ponchatoula and had to be out by sunset, Blacks could not walk on the sidewalks if a white person, even a child, was there.Image military 1

    In the Ponds’ home, a high standard of living was instilled by teaching and by example. Both parents had third-grade educations and stressed the importance of education and solid work ethic. A family of faith, they walked together to services at Millville’s Star Valley Baptist Church.

    Eddie attended the Ponchatoula Colored School before going on to Hammond’s Greenville Park High School. Ponchatoula High School was just across the tracks — but Blacks weren’t allowed to cross the tracks.
    Further puzzling to youth was that on Saturday nights, teenage boys, all friends from both races, enjoyed hanging out at Billups Gas Station but they just couldn’t go to school together!

    Regardless of color, many young people got jobs out in public before they were old enough. Eddie’s was doing dishes in Little Ory’s diner where he worked all through high school.

    After graduation, it was off to the Army during the Viet Nam era, where he was in Ft. Benning, Georgia, and Hawaii for Advanced Jungle Training. Just before he was sent to fight, the situation changed and he returned home to marry Carrie Wells. For two years he worked at the sawmill until following his father-in-law in construction. Three times the salary, but some of the work in those days was brutal.

    After telling his wife he’d really like to save to go to college, she asked, “Why haven’t you said something before? You could have started this semester!”

    At some time, Eugenia “Sis” Hebert of PHS, had shown him how to do papers and thanks to the GI Bill, he was able to enroll. He earned his degrees at Southern University in Physical Science and P. E. along with his Teacher Certificate and his Master of Education at Southeastern. He and his wife both held two jobs to make it all possible and he commuted to Algiers to teach at L. B. Landry his first year.Drum 30 yrs

    Ever since high school he’d been interested in photography and even in the Army, where he also played saxophone in the military band, after hours he learned film processing. Hearing that teachers could attend Tulane at half price, he enrolled in Photography but had read every book on the subject he could find. Ponchatoula Librarian Clara Heitman called him any time a new book came into the library behind Little Ory’s, now the Library Room at Roux and Brew Restaurant.

    By now he was teaching at Ponchatoula High School and over the Photography Club. Some of his club members today are professional photographers, saying they owe it all to him.

    “How to Make Money with Photography” said that world was open to journalists so back to Southern University he went to study creative writing. This introduced him to owner and editor of the “Ponchatoula Times,” Brian McMahon, who gave him his start, hiring him to cover City Hall, thus deepening his interest and love for newspaper work.
    For in Eddie Ponds’ heart, he’d recognized early on the only news reported about Black people was for heinous crimes and he wanted to bring awareness and credit for good. He observed that even when famous Civil Rights leader, Julian Bond, spoke at Southeastern, no press covered the event.

    Image (149) ponds taking picturesLeaving a City Council meeting alongside Don Ellzey from “The Ponchatoula Enterprise,” Ponds expressed a desire to start a newspaper to “put things in perspective for the Black Community.” Ellzey offered the use of his facilities along with helpful hints in laying out a paper from start to finish.

    Thus, 1986, the fifteenth year of his teaching at Ponchatoula High School, saw the first edition of “The Drum”.
    That was the day “cut and paste” really was “cut and paste” and when it was time to go to press, he’d sometimes be up three nights in a row. On those days, he made his lesson plans for lots of activity so he could be on his feet to stay awake in the classroom.

    Ponds is known for his “positive” press as he avoids negativity and doesn’t even include police reports. “The Drum” and his good name have opened doors to meeting folks from all walks of life including officials and governors.
    He humbly considers himself “recording African American history” and, for the past year, has added videoing, especially the older population.

    Recently he was recognized by the Baton Rouge Metro Council with a proclamation for his service and on November 3, was honored with a proclamation by Ponchatoula Mayor Robert Zabbia declaring it “Eddie Ponds’ Day” before the whole congregation of his New Zion Baptist Church family.

    ponds familyEddie and Carrie Ponds have passed along the tradition at home as well, being the proud parents of two daughters, Sharon
    Ponds of Ponchatoula and Michelle Nesbitt of Conyers, Georgia—both graduates of Southern University and both educators. Following them are one grandson, one granddaughter and one great-grandson.

    What a credit this fine gentleman is to the innumerable lives he touches in person and through media! Congratulations, Eddie Ponds!

    By Kathryn Martin
    Contributing Writer

     

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    Opportunities Outlook 2019 for DBEs in Construction starts Friday, Dec. 7

    The Urban League of Louisiana’s Contractor’s Resource Center will host its 2019 Opportunities Outlook for DBE Contractors on Friday, Dec. 7, 9am – noon, at the Urban League of Louisiana, 4640 S. Carrollton Avenue, Suite 110, New Orleans, LA 70119.

    This annual event is held to support contractors in preparing for the upcoming year by focusing attention on new opportunities for strategic growth and competitiveness. The event will feature updates on current opportunities and upcoming bids from procurement officers and prime contractors. Other programs and resources that support capacity-building and profitability for the contracting community will also be featured.

    Already confirmed:

    • City of New Orleans – Office of Supplier Diversity
    • New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
    • New Orleans Regional Transit Authority
    • Veterans Administration
    • Broadmoor LLC
    • Landis Construction
    • Woodward Design + Build
    • Hernandez Consulting and Construction

    This event is free and open to all DBE firms. However, space is limited. Register to reserve your spot. Light refreshments will be served.

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    Gregory Pierson appointed assistant director of aviation

    Gregory Pierson was appointed assistant director of aviation of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) by Mike Edwards, the director of aviation.

    Pierson has 12 years of airport management experience, and was serving as the Interim Assistant Director of Aviation. He was previously the BTR Airport Computer/Electronics Systems Manager (IT Manager). He first joined the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport 15 years ago as a PC LAN Specialist. Within his first three years, he was promoted to a PC LAN Administrator. In his most recent role as IT Manager, his Airport-wide involvement afforded him the experience to identify and manage the expectations and needs of various stakeholders, while ensuring the decisions and processes related to the Technology division were in alignment with the overall mission of the Airport.

    Pierson holds a bachelor of science degree in computer science with a minor in business management from Southern University, and a masters of business administration from the University of Phoenix. He has an ITIL Foundation and Software House industry certification and is currently preparing for his AAAE Certified Member certification. He is also a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), and is an IRS Registered Tax Preparer.

    “I am truly humbled and excited about the opportunity to serve in this new capacity. I look forward to continuing to do my part to make BTR the airport of choice, and to facilitate improvements in our community outreach efforts.”

    Greg grew up in the Baton Rouge Area, graduating from Scotlandville Magnet High School in Baton Rouge. He and his wife LaToya have three children, Alyvia, Dylan and Skylar.

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  • Jones named to North Baton Rouge Economic Development District

    North Baton Rouge Economic Development District’s Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed Jerry Jones Jr. as its executive director on Nov. The 35-year-old is the former economic development director for St. John Parish. He has 10 years of experience in business recruitment and retention, project development, and administration, management.

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    Grambling State approved to offer cybersecurity degree

    NNPA Newswire–Grambling State University has been approved to offer the state’s first Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity. The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors provided their approval and support for the university’s program, according to a news release. The next step in the process is approval from the Louisiana Board of Regents.

    Students will be eligible to begin enrolling in the program in fall 2019.

    “With the vision of your team and the support of this Board, we are confident Grambling is prepared to educate cybersecurity professionals the market is demanding,” said Board Chair Al Perkins. “These graduates will be equipped with highly sought-after skills to protect us as technology becomes more prevalent in our daily lives.”

    Grambling State faculty member, researcher and a member of the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission Yenumula B. Reddy, Ph.D., has been spearheading the new program’s development.

    “We are excited about the work of Dr. Reddy and his team,” said Grambling State President Rick Gallot. “Their continuous innovation in research and the classroom are paving the way for this program. We are excited for the impact their leadership and our system-level support will have on our state and economy.”

    The news comes on the heels of an October report issued by the University of Louisiana System that said Grambling State University has doubled its fiscal health score since FY 2016, increasing from a 1.30 to a 2.60 as of the most recent report.

    The fiscal health score, developed by the Louisiana Board of Regents, measures overall organizational health, factoring in important components including debt, revenue, and ability to operate.

    “It’s been a team-wide effort,” Gallot said. “As a part of our commitment to innovation, we’ve engaged new talent and alumni from across the U.S. who not only understand our charge but offer us expert perspectives and thought leadership.”

    Leading the University’s fiscal health initiatives team is Martin Lemelle Jr. the University’s Chief Operating Officer and Interim Vice-President of Finance. The initiative also includes team members who offer experience from higher education, Silicon Valley, and public accountancy.

    “We’re an example of what’s possible when we partner,” said Lemelle. “The key to our successes has been a university-wide combination of collaboration and commitment. We’ve seen innovative ideas from every area, from our controller’s office to our academic units.”

    The outputs of these collaborative teams are having a direct impact on the institution’s bottom-line. Some of those outputs include:

    $1.2 million in annual savings through participating in the Department of Education’s Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program;

    Overall expense reduction of more than $6 million;

    A 320 percent annual increase in grants from federal and state government initiatives; and

    Realizing new revenue opportunities that include an increase in third-party commissions and its “Look for the Label” program which focuses on increasing licensing royalties.

    “Grambling State University is experiencing a renaissance. Its vastly improved fiscal health is yet another indication of the effective leadership and hard work occurring at all levels of the institution,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson said. “From its enrollment numbers to its operations, it’s exciting to see the rapid and significant advancement of this historic institution.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Correspondent

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    Don’t rush into a December divorce for tax reasons

    Nobody likes to rush in a divorce, but frequently things happen that may make a couple want to get it done more quickly than usual.
    This year, the reason may be taxes for some couples.  Since 1942, the person paying alimony got to take payments off of their income and the person receiving it had to declare alimony as income. This all will change with any divorce finalized on or after Jan. 1, 2019. After this date, neither party’s income will be adjusted for paying or receiving alimony.Lawyers are expecting December to be a busy month for divorces due to the change.  Any case settled before the end of the year will continue to follow the old rule.

    But that is not as important as taking your time to make sure everything about the divorce is properly handled.
    “The few dollars somebody may or may not save on their tax bill is not a reason to rush a divorce proceeding,” said Pegotty Cooper, co-founder of Divorce Coaching Inc., (www.certifieddivorcecoach.com), which both provides divorce coaching and trains divorce coaches.  “Frequently, in complicated divorces, issues surface halfway through the proceeding that will take time to investigate.”
    Cooper, a co-author of Taking the High Road in Divorce – Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce, said it is in the best interest of both parties to focus on the divorce and make sure everything is done properly instead of trying to meet artificially induced deadlines.
    Cooper offers the following tips for those about to enter divorce proceedings:
    • Don’t forget who the decision makers are. The decision maker in the proceeding is not the judge or your attorney – it is you. More than 90 percent of cases never make it to trial, so don’t think the judge necessarily will set all the issues straight.
    • “My way or the highway” is the wrong attitude. Taking this attitude will be more costly, emotionally draining and time-consuming than you realize. The only one that will benefit is your attorney, who will rack up legal bills fighting tooth and nail for everything instead of negotiating.
    • Don’t throw in the towel. You may want to quit early in the divorce proceedings just to get it over with. This may result in forgetting about important things that you wanted to be resolved.
    • Don’t bet the farm on another relationship. Don’t give up on negotiating just because you have met somebody new and you want to end the divorce as quickly as possible.  Your focus should be on ironing out the details of an equitable agreement with your spouse, no matter how long it takes.
    “While it may be uncomfortable and even distressing to go through a divorce,” Cooper said, “it is rarely a good idea to try to speed up the process.”
    About Pegotty Cooper
    Pegotty Cooper (www.certifieddivorcecoach.com) is co-founder with her husband, Randall R. Cooper, of Divorce Coaching Inc., a firm that trains and certifies individuals to become personal divorce coaches. She is also a co-author of the recently released best-selling book Taking the High Road in Divorce – Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce and of Divorce: Overcome the Overwhelm and Avoid the Six Biggest Mistakes. Cooper started her own coaching practice in 2003, after 25 years working in executive positions in large organizations. She has an MBA from Rutgers University and a BA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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    Federal lawsuit accuses drug maker of intentionally withholding safer HIV drugs

    A new federal lawsuit against Gilead Sciences exposes how the pharmaceutical giant is putting profits over people, especially oppressed groups including Black and LGBT communities, said renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

    Crump, along with co-counsel at the Hilliard Martinez Gonzales, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, and Morgan & Morgan law firms, announced the lawsuit against Gilead Sciences, accusing the company of intentionally withholding a safer HIV drug from hundreds of thousands of patients in order to extend the profitability of the patent it held on an older, more risky drug. The tactic, Crump said, unjustly affected patients in the Black, minority, and LGBT communities.

    In the lawsuit, Crump and co-counsel Bob Hilliard and Steve Berman assert that Gilead withheld a second-generation HIV drug that was safer and produced fewer side effects and complications, in order to prevent competition with its harmful first-generation drug until its patent expires in 2021. Gilead’s first-generation drug, known as TDF, can cause life-threatening side effects such as bone demineralization and kidney toxicity. For a person already living with HIV/AIDS, these side effects and toxicities turn a manageable condition into one that is potentially life-threatening.

    The HIV epidemic is characterized by extraordinary disparity regarding minority groups. Despite representing less than 13% of the U.S. population, in 2017 Black and African-American residents made up 44% of those who were newly diagnosed with HIV. Similarly, while Hispanics and Latino Americans made up 17% of the U.S. population in 2015, they made up 22% of people living with HIV. African-Americans have the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses compared to other races and ethnicities. More than 70% of all new HIV diagnoses in 2017 were in gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender women, of all races.

    “Gilead’s chosen path of inaction is causing tremendous harm to persons with HIV, particularly black and LGBT minorities, by keeping drugs that would reduce deadly symptoms off the market and unavailable to those who need them the most,” said Crump. “This lawsuit is a major step in the right direction toward racial equity in communities unevenly affected by HIV and exploited by pharmaceutical Goliaths like Gilead.”

    Because Gilead willfully grips the market with its monopoly, it is able to charge exorbitant prices – more than $3,700 a month – at the expense of the populations who need it most.

    “This new lawsuit seeks justice for underrepresented communities, providing a voice to those who may not have ever received one otherwise,” Crump said. “As long as Gilead continues to cravenly value profits over people, people living with HIV/AIDS will suffer from a lower quality of life. This must stop.”

    ONLINE: http://www.tdflawsuit.com.

    Feature photo of Ben Crump taken by Mark Wallheiser

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    Plants for every room of your home

    Gardeners know the benefits of digging in the soil. It elevates a person’s mood, improves mental and physical well-being and the outcome is always good – added beauty or tasty nutritional food.  But many of us are stuck indoors for the winter, have a lack of space to garden outdoors or just can’t get enough of this healthful activity.  Adding greenery indoors expands our gardening opportunities and provides the many benefits of living with and tending plants.

    Let’s start with the kitchen. Boost the flavor and nutrition of winter meals by growing leafy greens and herbs in a sunny window or under a cabinet with the help of a Growbar LED light fixture.  Start plants from seeds or purchase transplants to grow indoors. Place your indoor kitchen garden in a brightly lit location, free of cold drafts and with easy access to harvest and use. Then enlist the whole family and even your guests into harvesting greens for their salad and herbs to season their meals. This is sure to turn family and friend gatherings into unique and memorable experiences.

    Include plants in your home or work office. Greenery helps reduce stress even when working at your desk or tackling homework at the end of a long day. Set a few plants on or near your desk or other workspace. And don’t let a lack of light stop you from growing a bit of green stress relief. Stylish energy efficient full spectrum plant lights, like the Felt Pendant Grow Light (modsprout.com), fit any décor, direct light where it is needed and promote healthy plant growth.

    Take advantage of your bathroom’s high humidity. Grow ferns, orchids, bromeliads and other humidity-loving plants in this space.  Consider these and other low light plants like cast iron, pothos and philodendron if natural light is limited. Imagine stepping out of the shower into a mini tropical zone. What a nice way to ease into your day.

    Get a good night’s sleep with a bit of homegrown aromatherapy in the bedroom. Grow lavender, rosemary, chamomile and other soothing herbs in your bedroom in front of a sunny window, on a shelf or other naturally or artificially lit, bright location. Just be sure to give the plants a tap to release their fragrance into the air before crawling into bed for a long restful sleep.

    Bring the garden to your living room. Create your own miniature tropical, moss or desert garden in a terrarium that serves as a focal point in any living space or centerpiece on the dining room table. Use an open terrarium for succulents and other plants that need airflow, lower humidity and space to grow. Enlist closed systems for moss and tropical plants that benefit from the high humidity and condensation that provides continual watering. Select systems like the Botanica Biodome that minimize maintenance and provide easy access for tending mini eco-systems.

    Now’s a great time to consider rethinking your home décor to include greenery in every space. You and your family will enjoy improved air quality, elevated moods, a reduction in stress and the many other benefits plants provide.

    By Melinda Myers
    Guest Columnist

    Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books and host of The Great Courses’ How to Grow Anything DVD series.
    ONLINE: www.MelindaMyers.com

    Grow herbs or other leafy greens indoors under a Growbar LED light fixture or near a sunny window. Photo courtesy of Modern Sprout

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    Uncle Chess and The Groove to perform at Pit-N-Peel

    Uncle Chess and The Groove will perform at the Pit-N-Peel on Friday, November 30 from 6pm to 9pm. The venue is located at 2101 Government Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70806. Venue phone is 225-421-1488. No Cover.

    Uncle Chess and the Groove, known for their smooth Southern soul songs have appeared at The Baton Rouge Blues Festival, the Baton Rouge Mardi Gras and Soul Food festivals, and at the Henry Turner, Jr. Day Music Festival.

    The band is Uncle Chess on vocals, Burnell Palmer on drums, Randy Hamilton on percussion, Dameron Bates on bass, Bob Johnson on keyboard, and Ron Griffin on lead guitar.

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  • SU Land-Grant Campus set to raise scholarship funds during annual gala

    Tickets are now available for the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’ Annual Scholarship Gala. The fundraising event will be held at the Raising Cane’s River Center, 275 River Road South, on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 6:30pm.

    All proceeds from the event will be used to provide scholarships; assistantships; internships; study abroad, campus-based research and professional development opportunities for students in the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    Last year’s Gala raised more than $22,000 that were used to support internships, book scholarships and study abroad opportunities.

    Tickets are $50 for general admission, $650 for reserved tables. The price, which includes dinner and live entertainment, will increase to $60 for general admission after November 30.

    To purchase tickets or make a tax-deductible donation visit, https://foundation.sus.edu/agcentergala/ or contact Jasmine Gibbs at 225-771-2719.

    The Southern University Land-Grant Campus is also seeking sponsors for the Scholarship Gala.  For information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Aymbriana Campbell-Pollard at 225-771-2275.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Land-Grant Campus.

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    ‘Ms. Meta’ on frontline, empowering others facing HIV in Baton Rouge

    Meta Smith-Davis, 62, remembers the time she would sit on the porch saying, “You know they say that girl got that gangsta’?”

    “Yeah, she got AIDS,” she would say.

    Now, “Mrs. Meta” is the girl with HIV and a beloved counselor to hundreds of residents in and near Baton Rouge who are HIV-positive.

    Her message to them is clear: “There is nothing you can say to stop me. Nothing. You cannot stop me from loving you, from being here for you, for doing all I can to help you. There’s not any thing that you can tell me that I have not experienced personally, and​ I can tell you this, you do recover!”

    She is insistent with newly diagnosed clients, telling them, “You don’t have to die! People are living longer and fuller lives with HIV. Nothing in your life has to change when you take your meds and remain undetectable.”

    meta davis on screen

    As the assistant director of prevention for HAART: HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Smith-Davis is usually the first professional counselor​ to tell a client that they are HIV-positive. And she’s also the person who helps them develop a plan so that they are less afraid of living with HIV.

    “I do anything and everything that I have to do and can do to enhance the lives of someone living with HIV,” she said. Her commitment starts​ the moment she meets a client—whether their results are positive or not. Facing the results of an HIV test is frightening for many people and the team at HAART is focused on supporting people living with HIV/AIDS immediately.

    “We don’t let a client get out the door without helping them,” she said.

    Tim young

    Tim Young, HAART CEO

    This type of commitment is a standard the executive director, Tim Young, established at HAART. “He’s by far one of the finest men I’ve ever worked with. He’s fine human being,” she said. The non-profit organization is the largest in the state that offers a continuum of services for people with HIV/AIDS including primary health care, medications, housing, employment assistance, testing, and prevention education.

    Just after Smith-Davis was diagnosed in 2001, she walked into the HAART office for case management. She didn’t know anyone with HIV and needed help and support. “There was nobody. I felt disconnected from the world. (HAART) felt like home,” she said.

    She returned to HAART for ongoing care and to volunteer facilitating a workshop for women living with HIV. “Those women made me realize a sisterhood far greater than I knew I could have.” And it is that type of support and love that Smith-Davis said she sets to give every client. She goes to their medical appointments and helps them plan how to live their new life, especially if the client has to do so in secret.

    “I don’t care if they have to hide 30 pills in 30 different places in order to take the medicine, we will figure out how to keep them safe and how to keep them virally suppressed,” she said.

    She also shares strategies for safe sex based on the individual’s situation including same-gender sex. For one client she’d encourage them to use a condom correctly every time, for another the more realistic goal was to increase condom use by picking one day a week when they would always use a condom, then add days.

    Meta davis and menSmith-Davis, who is also a great, grandmother,  takes particular care of clients who appear to be in violent relationships. “Disclosing an HIV-positive diagnosis to a partner can add to or even start a violent relationship. So we counsel our clients very carefully. We don’t want a situation to escalate because one partner believes they can harm the other who is HIV-positive.”

    Her job, then, becomes to get the client to be as honest with her as possible. Especially, since it is required by law to disclose HIV-positive status prior to having sex. “This is required for the rest of their lives or they will face criminal charges and be labled a sex offender.” (Read: Things to understand about living with HIV)

    The self-described to’ up from the flo’ up, ex-con, drug-addicted, homeless Black woman living with HIV, said there’s nothing they can tell her that she has not dealt with personally. “That is truly one of the gifts God left me with coming from where I came from: I have the ability to relate to people in a whole different way,” she said. She uses this relatability to get youth—including her grandchildren—to talk about sex and HIV/AIDS. “We have to keep an open dialog or the streets will tell them all the wrong things.” She said the truth is no one has to get HIV. There are ways to prevent it.

    Meta davis award

    As the state co-chair of the Positive Women’s Network USA, Smith-Davis has met with politicians to advocate for better health services.

    After several sessions—even years—together, Smith-Davis and many of her HAART clients are now friends who she has helped reclaim their lives by getting healthier, pursuing education goals, having families, moving into apartments, and living open with HIV. She has worked with the Baton Rouge Stigma Index Project, and was named a Most Amazing HIV-Positive People of 2016 by HIV Plus magazine.

    She’s often celebrated as a hero for her work, but she said, “All I did was clean their mirror so they could see what I saw… All I did was clean the mirror so that they could do the work.” The work, she said, is being able to come to terms with an HIV-positive diagnosis and doing everything necessary to live a whole, healthy life.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate writer

    More stories like this:
    Who Would’ve Thought?
    Fact: Eliminating stigmas can reduce the spread of HIV
    With HIV rates topping the nation, Baton Rouge needs HAART, Open Health, and PreP

    Read more »
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    Family favorite frozen treats brand Rita’s Italian Ice will host 4-day grand opening event

    Rita’s Italian Ice Creamery is excited to announce they will be hosting a four-day grand opening celebration for the recently opened location in Baton Rouge beginning Thursday, November 15, 2018.  This new location is owned and operated by Maria Finley.

    Regular size Italian Ice and Gelati will be served from Thursday, November 15th to Sunday, November 18th at reduced prices of $1 and $2, respectively.  Also, beginning at11AM on Saturday, November 17th, the first 50 families in line at the grand opening will receive coupons for a year’s worth of Rita’s Italian Ice. Ice Guy, Rita’s loveable mascot, a face painter and balloon twister will be present at the celebration. Drawings for special prizes including an autographed football and jersey by LSU Football Coach Ed Orgeron will occur throughout the weekend.

    Maria Finley

    Maria Finley

    Finley enjoyed Rita’s for the first time while visiting her son in Washington, D.C. when she thought she was opening a new chapter and leaving Louisiana behind to pursue her master of law at Georgetown University.

    “I tasted Rita’s for the first time and immediately called my realtor and told him to take my house off the market because I was coming back to Louisiana to open my own Rita’s Italian Ice franchise.  I said to myself ‘what is this stuff and why don’t we have it in Louisiana?’ It was that good. I am so excited to bring handmade frozen custard and Italian Ice made fresh daily to Louisianans,” said Finley.

    After the great flood in August 2016, plans to open were slowed, but Finley is happy to finally hold the grand opening celebration and invite the community to experience the same fresh Italian Ice she did while visiting her son.

    She has been a practicing attorney in Baton Rouge for more than 17 years and is excited to bring another passion of hers to the community.  She shared that the business has become a family affair with her son Douglas, managing the location’s website and social media accounts, her other son Branden, being her presence in the store when she is still practicing law, and her grandson’s mother, Tatyana, managing the store operations.

    Rita’s is partnering with the American Cancer Society in honor of her friend, Allison Kleinpeter Smith, by collecting monetary donations and travel size toiletries at the grand opening celebration to benefit the Hope Lodge in New Orleans.  Cancer patients traveling from outside of the city of New Orleans receiving life-saving treatment can stay at Hope Lodge for free.  Guests are encouraged to lend their support for the organization during the grand opening even and enjoy delicious Italian Ice at the new store while benefiting this great cause.

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    Barrow, Peacock named State Senators of the Year

    The Childcare Association of Louisiana recently named Senator Regina Barrow and Senator Barrow Peacock as its 2018 State Senators of the Year.

    District 15 State Senator Regina Barrow was honored for her support of important legislative reform issues promoted by the association and her many other significant contributions on behalf of early childhood education. The association also noted her tireless work in ensuring the safety and education of the state’s youngest learners and her passion about early childhood education. Senator Barrow is currently enrolled in the Tulane University Early Childhood Policy Leadership Institute and will graduate in November 2018.

    Barrow Peacock

    Barrow Peacock

    District 37 State Senator Barrow Peacock was also selected for the award. He promoted legislation during the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana legislature to lower the cost of childcare. The association also noted his consistent support of early childhood education when selecting him for the award.

    The Childcare Association of Louisiana is a professional organization serving the needs of licensed childcare centers and early childhood education across the state. Its mission is to educate, advocate and collaborate to build a premier, proactive early childhood education industry for Louisiana families.

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    Gov. Edwards Launches Council on the Success of Black Men and Boys

    IMG_9628This week, Gov. John Bel Edwards hosted a reception to launch the start of the Council on the Success of Black Men and Boys. Edwards signed legislation creating the Council, Act 103, during the 2018 Regular Legislative Session earlier this year. The bill was authored by State Rep. Ted James of Baton Rouge.

    State Rep. Ted James

    State Rep. Ted James

     

     

    “I am excited that we are beginning the important work before us because we understand all of our children need champions,” said Edwards. “These members have been charged with recommending ways in which we can grow pathways of opportunity for more of our children to pursue higher education, develop job skills that are in high demand, connect with careers that can sustain families for a lifetime and live lives that they can be proud of.”

    The Council held its first meeting this week and will issue its first report by February 2019.

    Members include the following:
    Rep. Ted James – Chair of the Council
    Rep. Barbara Norton
    Rep. Royce Duplessis
    Sen. Wesley Bishop
    Sen. Yvonne Colomb
    Rev. Edward Alexander – President, Louisiana Missionary Baptist State Convention
    Dr. Adren Wilson – Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor
    Kenneth Burrell – Deputy Secretary,Louisiana Workforce Commission
    Matthew Butler – Director of Sales, CSRS Incorporated
    Ryan Clark – LSU alumnus and ESPN analyst
    Rick Gallot – President, Grambling State University
    Rev. Raymond Jetson- Chief Executive Catalyst, MetroMorphosis
    Eric Williams – Pastor, Beacon Light Church Baton Rouge
    Dr. Walter Kimbrough – President, Dillard University
    Victor Lashley – Vice President of Global Trade and Sales, JP Morgan
    Reginald Devold – District C Vice President, Louisiana NAACP
    Dr. Roland Mitchell – Dean of the College of Human Sciences and Education at LSU
    Judy Reese Morse – President and CEO, Urban League of Louisiana
    Terri Ricks – Deputy Secretary, Louisiana Dept. of Children and Family Services
    James Windom – Executive Director, Capitol Area Reentry Program

    Click here to read Act 103.

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    Dawn Mellion-Patin receives Iowa State’s 2018 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award

    Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s Vice Chancellor for Extension and Outreach Dawn Mellion-Patin, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the 2018 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award by Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

    Patin has dedicated her career to educating and improving the lives of small farmers. In 2005, she developed the Southern University Ag Center’s Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Training Institute, an intensive leadership development program that guides small, minority, socially-disadvantaged and limited-resource farmers through the process of becoming competitive agricultural entrepreneurs.
    aa8d40d7369d9be54015ed6f722c4bb9
    Her work in the field of agriculture has also provided her with the opportunity to serve as a panel manager for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); chair of the Southern Region- Agricultural and Natural Resources Program Leaders Committee; grant committee member for the USDA’s  National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA); 1890 representative on the National Extension Disaster Education Network Executive Committee and historian for the National Society of Minorities in Agricultural, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization.

    She has received the SU Ag Center’s Outstanding Specialist Award, Tuskegee University’s Distinguished Service Award, the Association of Extension Administrators Excellence in Extension Award and USDA NIFA Cooperative Extension System Outstanding Leadership Award.

    Patin earned a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil sciences and a master’s degree in educational agriculture, both from Southern University, and a doctoral degree in Agricultural and Life Sciences Education from Iowa State University.

    The George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award was established in 2005. The award honors distinguished College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement or leadership by making significant, influential, or innovative contributions to society.

    Patin received the award during the annual Honors and Awards Ceremony on October 26.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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    Ponchatoula Student Outreach celebrates second year

    The City of Ponchatoula again participated in the national “Lights On Afterschool” event with its “Family & Friends Night” at the Ponchatoula Community Center for a time of celebrating the growth and positive results of its own after-school program.
    Called “Ponchatoula Student Outreach,” the program’s motto is “From Afterschool to Bright Futures” and according to reports on improvement in behavior and grades, the future is looking much brighter for some who have needed that extra encouraging nudge.
    It was more like Thanksgiving with all the appreciation expressed by each speaker from the microphone as well as family members around the tables.
    Program Director May Stilley and Mayor Bob Zabbia kicked off the evening with warm welcomes and thanks to students, parents, and guardians, City Council members, principals, teachers, volunteers and sponsors who have been generous in time and means to help the City make it all possible. School board members Mike Whitlow and Rose Dominguez were in attendance and acknowledged.
    Stilley also paid special tribute to the school bus drivers who do not charge extra to bring the students from their respective schools to the Community Center for their classes and to Transportation Coordinator, Tessa Hills. At one table, Key Club members from Ponchatoula High School were recognized for their volunteering to help give one-on-one help.
    After a meal, guest speaker Superintendent of Tangipahoa Parish School System, Melissa Stilley, continued in the same positive manner, offering her gratitude for the way the people of Ponchatoula have responded in so many ways to the student outreach. She said, “This is evidence of what partnership is all about,” adding her wish for every community to have an after-school program.
    Starting the program in time for the 2017 school year required a lot of preparatory work by Human Resources Director, Lisa Jones, and May Stilley, aiding Mayor Zabbia in realizing a dream come true and supported by him and the City Council.
    This school year, first and second grades were added bringing the total enrollment to 50 students and it is stressed this is not a babysitting program. Classroom teachers recommend the students that would profit most from the extra help. Ponchatoula Student Outreach teachers are available to meet with parents and guardians when picking up their children after classes.
    Staff for 2018-19 are 1st and 2nd grades: Daphne Griffin and Charlotte Gordon; 3rd and 4th: Kimberly James and Elisha Perry; and 7th and 8th: Windy Haist and Jennifer Daigle.
    Classroom assistants are Shirley Creel, Cathy Colkmire, Annette Tullier, Leigh Burnthorne, Jenea Magee, and Kacey Martin.
    The advisory board is comprised of members from each school participating. They are Amber Gardner, Tucker Elementary; Tamaria Whittington, D.C. Reeves; Rosalyn Heider and Melissa Ryan, Martha Vinyard; Mary Beth Crovetto, Ponchatoula Junior High; and Shelly Ernst and Danette Ragusa, St. Joseph School.
    The program uses community resources for youth to see and connect with positive role models.
    For those interested in being a sponsor, mentor or volunteer to invest in the long-term future success of the students and the community as a result, call her at 985-401-2210.

    By Kathryn J. Martin

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    Young ‘lawyers’ win in high school competition

    The Southern University Law Center Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project held its tenth annual Regional High School Moot Court Competition on November 2 and 3, 2018. Sixteen students from area high schools participated in the competition. The initial rounds of the competition were held at the Law Center.

    Four students advanced to the final round that was held at the First Circuit Court of Appeal. The finalists were Schyler Shelmire of McKinley High School (first place winner), Skyler Evans of McKinley High School (second place winner), Guevara Johnson of Southern University Laboratory High School (third place winner), and Myisha Hudson of Scotlandville Magnet High School (fourth place winner). The panel of judges that judged the final round was Trudy White, Judge, 19th Judicial District Court, Fred Crifasi, Judge, 19th Judicial District Court, and Wendy Shea, Professor of Law, Southern University Law Center.

    Pictured from left to right are Guevara Johnson, Myisha Hudson, Schyler Shelmire, Professor Wendy Shea, Skyler Evans, Judge Trudy White, and Judge Fred Crifasi.

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    Buddy Stewart Music Foundation honored during Henry Turner Jr Day Music Fest

    Henry Turner Jr. honored the Buddy Stewart Music Foundation’s Philliper Stewart, Sonia (Trudy) Stewart and Cardell Stewart with the 2018 Henry Turner Jr. Day Music Festival Community Award. A Certificate and Commemorative plaque of the “Baton Rouge Theme Song” were presented on Saturday, October 27 at the 2nd Annual Festival held at North Boulevard Town Square on the Galvez Plaza Crest Stage.African Queen Z Dance Troupe

    Henry Turner Jr.Day was established in 2017 to salute individuals, organizations and companies, in the greater Baton Rouge area, for their ongoing philanthropic efforts to improve the quality of life for people in the community.

    As a musician, bandleader, singer/songwriter, promoter, activist and musical entrepreneur Henry Turner Jr. is well known for mentoring musical talent. For his contributions both October 28, 2015, and October 28, 2017, were proclaimed Henry Turner Jr. Day by Mayor Presidents’ Kip Holden and Sharon Weston Broome. As a direct result of these honors Henry Turner Jr. Day now pays homage to others whose on-going efforts continue to make Baton Rouge a better place.

    The Buddy Stewart Music Foundation was chosen as it has served the Baton Rouge community for over 30 years. The former business was originally known as Buddy Stewart’s Rock Shop. It was, at one time, one of the largest minority family owned and operated music stores in South Louisiana. It came about as a result of Buddy’s passion for music. As a bandleader with a big band sound and the ability to sing, write, play and promote the art of music he understood the historical impact of music in people’s lives. Last year’s honoree was Families Helping Families.

    Lilli Lewis

    Lilli Lewis

    The festivals’ lineup included Louisiana Red Hot Records’ Lilli Lewis and featured Universal Music Groups Brett Barrow on guitar playing with Henry Turner, Jr. & Flavor. Additional performers included Clarence “Pieman” Williams and the Rouge Band along with Henry Turner Jr.s’ Listening Room All-Star’s April “Sexy Red” Jackson, Lee Tyme, Xavie Shorts, Uncle Chess and the Groove Band, Larry “LZ” Dillon, Dinki Mire and comedian Eddie Cool. Dance troupes included the Chinese Friendship Association of Baton Rouge, Yuan’s Dance Studio and African Queen Z. Famed drummer Joe Monk led a jam that closed the show and featured SmokeHouse Porter and Miss Mamie, Robert “The Juice” Lenore, Andrew Bernard of John Fred & his Playboy Band and 7 Goddess. Teddy “Lloyd” Johnson of Teddy Juke Joint served as Emcee.

    Feature photo: Henry Turner Jr. presenting the Buddy Stewart Music Foundation with the Henry Turner, Jr Day 2018 Community Award and Commemorative plaque of the “Baton Rouge Theme Song.”(L-R) Sonia (Trudy) Stewart, Philliper Steward, Cardell Stewart and Henry Turner, Jr.

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  • AKA, Lions Club partner to improve eye care

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter were guest speakers at the East Baton Rouge Lions Club International luncheon held on October 11, 2018. Candace Ford and Elle Virdure, Chairmen of the Gamma Eta Omega Chapter’s Lions Club International Committee, discussed Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s collaboration with the Lions Club International as part of the Global Impact Target. Gamma Eta Omega Chapter will coordinate with the Lions Club to implement activities and arrange for pick-up and delivery of donated eyeglasses. The Committee’s goal is to help decrease blindness, help to restore eyesight, and improve eye health and eye care for thousands of people around the world. Next, the Committee will work with the Louisiana Lions Eye Foundation by assisting with children’s eye screenings on October 30 and 31.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1908. It is the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American, college-educated women. Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of more than 300,000 members in approximately 1,000 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the United States, Liberia, the Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Germany, South Korea, Bermuda, Japan, Canada, South Africa, and the Middle East. Led by International President Dr. Glenda Glover, Alpha Kappa Alpha is often hailed as “America’s premier Greek-lettered organization for African-American women.” The President of the Gamma Eta Omega Chapter is Gwendolyn J. Thomas.

    ONLINE: www.aka1908.com.

    Submitted by LaMetrious Firven

     

    PHOTO: Elle Virdure, Zeke Dunaway, Tim LeBlanc, President of the local chapter of the Lions Club, and Candace Ford

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    E. Keith Cunningham of LHC earns Sterling Achievement Award

    The Council of State Community Development Agencies has recognized the Louisiana Housing Corporation for its efforts to house families displaced by the 2016 floods. The council recently presented LHC executive director E. Keith Cunningham Jr., with the Sterling Achievement Award during its Annual Meeting. “Receiving the Sterling Achievement Award is an incredible honor and accomplishment – one that recognizes our dedication to serving the citizens of Louisiana,” said Cunningham. “We have a dynamic team, who despite experiencing personal loss during the flood, demonstrated exemplary commitment and compassion for helping families impacted by the flood.” The Sterling Achievement Award recognizes state programs that demonstrate positive results in improving the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness or on the verge of being homeless. This award is presented annually to one state agency.

     

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    Baton Rouge leaders mix it up in Washington D.C.

    WASHINGTON DC—There is something to be said about leaders who push beyond boundaries to forge relationships and gain cooperation from others. For all intents and purposes, that’s what leaders from Baton Rouge are doing on a national scale following with a networking mixer held last month with leaders in Washington DC.

    A delegation of elected and appointed officials from Baton Rouge attended the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference to build allegiance around issues citizens face and find resources to bring to their Louisiana districts.

    Along with participating in many CBC conference activities, the Baton Rouge leaders attended the first “Baton Rouge Meets Washington D.C.” networking mixer hosted by the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s office, the Southern University System, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

    One goal was “to build on national relationships and use resources to develop and fund programs and projects for Baton Rouge and Louisiana,” said Cleve Dunn Jr., chairman of the airport commission.IMG_4351

    “In particular, for the Baton Rouge Metro Airport, it is our goal to leverage those relationships to develop the land surrounding the airport, fund capital improvements projects, and enhance our air service development by increasing the number of direct flights that we offer at BTR.” As an organizer of the mixer, Dunn said he believed the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference would be a great place to start the national relationship building process for the Baton Rouge leaders in attendance.

    “Not only did I feel that our leadership team should attend the conference, but I also felt that we should create and host a Baton Rouge signature event that would promote the city of Baton Rouge, the parish of East Baton Rouge and several of the cities economic drivers,” he said.

    More than 100 leaders attended the networking mixer.

    “Governmental officials, elected officials, developers, private equity professionals, and business owners; all focused on how we can help the city of Baton Rouge and the parish of East Baton Rouge reach its fullest potential,” Dunn said.

    The Baton Rouge Airport heavily relies on grants and federal dollars to expand runways and to complete capital improvement projects. Likewise, the city of Baton Rouge, the state transportation office, and the Southern University System pull most of their resources from federal dollars and grants. Leaders in attendance said the event gave them all a platform in the nation’s capital to present upcoming projects and programs to Congressional delegates and to potential funders and partners.

    We asked attendees to tell us about what they expected from the mixer and its outcome.

    Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport’s interim director of aviation Mike Edwards and Gregory D. Pierson, interim assistant director of aviation, said: “Support for infrastructure funding and our new air service initiatives is always at the forefront when meeting with delegates from any industry. However, one key expectation was to promote the diverse development opportunities available at BTR. Through doing so, we were also able to begin some preliminary dialogue about partnerships with other institutions from other industries that can further stimulate land development and business opportunities within the North Baton Rouge area.”

    President/CEO of the Indigo Engineering Group, LLC, Delicia N. Gunn, said, “My sole CBC Conference expectation was to meet with executives of the Baton Rouge Airport Authority and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.”

    State Rep. Edmond Jordan (BR—District 29), said, “My expectation was to network with other African-American leaders throughout the nation to compare ideas related to creating wealth and building businesses within African American communities. Additionally, I was there to promote the Baton Rouge region to other attendees who are located throughout the U.S.”

    What was the outcome for you and your agency in DC?

    Edwards and Pierson said, “The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport was able to establish some key contacts towards formulating a coalition for promoting targeted routes for direct air service. We were also able to promote our Aviation Business Park along with all the economic development incentives that accompany doing business at BTR.”

    Rep. Jordan said, “I was able to network with business owners and elected officials; as we shared ideas, strategies, and successes within our community. Specifically, there were seminars related to federal government contracting and accessing venture capital that were engaging and thought-provoking.”

    How were your outcomes met through the Baton Rouge Meets Washington DC Networking Mixer specifically and through other activities?

    Edwards and Pierson said, “Through our (BR airport’s) discussions with legislative officials and other government partners, the mixer afforded us with the platform to solicit support and funding for capital improvement projects that improve the safety, operation, and development opportunities at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. We were also able to meet and connect with Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprises from other regions which will help us to continue to grow our DBE resource pool and further our outreach efforts.”

    Veneeth Iyengar, assistant chief administrative officer, at the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, Office of Mayor-President, said, “From City-Parish’s perspective, any opportunity that we have to pitch and export “Baton Rouge and the Parish” is a huge win for the community. The event was very important for Mayor Broome’s administration to connect with organizations and groups, whether entrepreneurs, thought leaders, folks from non-profits and the Federal Government on how we collaborate and work together. The enthusiasm we saw based on the individual and group conversations at the mixer especially in wanting to help our community was great and we look forward to following up quickly on those offers for help.”

    Gunn said, “Although my Washington DC-based firm, Indigo Engineering, has had the privilege of providing engineering and construction management services for cities across my home state of Louisiana, my biggest desire was to work with my hometown city, Baton Rouge….The mixer’s presentation of its airport and city goals provided me with inspiration and information regarding upcoming business opportunities. The casual setting afforded me an opportunity to have in-depth industry conversations that are often stifled around a business table. The event was a perfect recipe for successful networking.”

    Rep. Jordan said, “Baton Rouge was represented in a positive light and promoted throughout DC. There is no doubt that the mixer will lead to business opportunities and an infusion of capital for the city; and hopefully, a direct flight from BTR to DC.”

    What’s next?

    Edwards and Pierson said, “As with most things, the follow-up and ongoing collaboration is critical. We must ensure we build upon the strategies discussed at the most recent event to leverage those relationships established at the mixer for all future initiatives.

    Gunn said, “My next steps are to build relationships and to create partnerships with Baton Rouge Airport Authority and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. It is my desire that my firm becomes a trusted advisor and business partner to these two agencies. I seek to achieve this goal by sharing my life, work and play experiences in the nation’s Capitol with city planners to provide a unique, urban perspective for our growing metropolitan city of Baton Rouge. I also seek to leverage my established business relationships and contacts with private and government sectors to help the Baton Rouge Airport Authority and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development meet its business and planning goals.”

    Rep. Jordan said, “As this was just the first step of many to come, we must continue to cultivate relationships while implementing some of the ideas gained from the conference. We can’t become complacent or lose the focus and energy gained from the conference. Otherwise, it will be lost opportunity. We are better than that. Baton Rouge is better than that. Now let’s prove it to the rest of the country.”

    Also in attendance were Baton Rouge Councilmembers Erika Green, LaMont Cole, Chauna Banks, and Donna Collins-Lewis;Metro Washington Airport Authority Vice Chairman Earl Adams, Jr. ; State Reps. Ted James, Rodney Lyons, and Randal Gaines; State Senator Ed Price; Metro Washington Airport Authority Rep. Kristin Clarkson;‎ Federal Aviation Administration Rep. Nick Giles;‎ US Department of Agriculture Rep. Danny Whitley;‎ BREC Commissioner Larry Selders; Makesha Judson with the ‎Mayor President’s Office; Louisana DOTD Chief Legal Counsel Josh Hollins; Former Southern University SGA President Armond Duncan; Perfect 10 Productions CEO T.J. Jackson; and Rise of the Rest Fund Partner David Hall.

    By A.G. Duvall II
    Drum Contributing Writer

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    Bell directs New Venture’s ‘Love, Whitney – A Choreoplay!’

    New Venture Theatre recently announced the cast of the upcoming Love, Whitney – A Choreoplay!, October 19-21 at the Hayden Hall at Southern University. An original production, conceived by Greg Williams Jr.,  as a way to pay honor and tribute to one of the great voices of our time. Performed only through dance, Love, Whitney is a celebration of one of America’s greatest talents, Whitney Houston! The show catalogs her career while expressing the themes behind her music and her story. The show features all her greatest hits, and will have you dancing in the aisles. The cast are: Trinity Star Alexander, Zaria Brown, Adaya Robertson, Aleriya Griffin, Ambre Porter, Dion Sideboard Jr., Elise Patin, Elisha Jenkins, Jamaal Edwards, Jamin Brock, Jasmine Elliott, Kali Jones, Karenna Mitchell, Kari Johnson, Kayla Mitchell, Kerrington Griffin, Kodie Danay Brown, Krystal Gomez, Kyle Smith, Mariyah Osborne, MiKesha Anderson, Navaeh Robertson, Omarion Jones, Queline Ketchens, Raymond Turner, Rontrevius Foreman, Shira Brown, Tameia Hayes, and Trinity Simmons. Dwight Bell is director and choreographer. ℜ

     

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    Dr. Joia Crear-Perry joins state commission for healthy babies

    Dr. Joia Crear-Perry of New Orleans, was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies Advisory Council. Crear-Perry is an obstetrician and gynecologist and the President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative. She will serve as a representative of a community-based organization that works to prevent maternal mortality. The Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies Advisory Council was created to address racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes and incorporate a community-engaged, equity-focused lens into current programs and campaigns which seek to prevent maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity. The council shall promote safe and equitable care for every mother and every birth in this state.

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    Health department schedules statewide flu vaccine clinics

     With flu season starting, the Louisiana Department of Health is scheduling flu vaccination days to be held throughout the state. These one-day clinics will allow people to come in and get a flu shot at little or no cost to the patient.The flu causes approximately 500 deaths and nearly 3,000 hospitalizations each year in Louisiana. However, in Louisiana last year, there were more than 15,000 hospitalizations and more than 1,600 deaths from the flu. Of those more than 1,600 deaths, five were pediatric deaths.

    “Getting vaccinated not only protects you from the flu, but it also protects those around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness,” said Dr. Frank Welch, immunization director for the Louisiana Department of Health. “A flu shot is your best defense in both reducing your chances of getting the flu and spreading it.”

    These community flu clinics are open to the public, and walk-ups are welcome. Wear short or loose-fitting sleeves and bring your private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare card with you. For those without insurance, the shot will cost $10.

    Click here for the listing of all clinics.

    Flu Shot Facts

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Louisiana Department of Health recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone over 6 months of age who does not have a complicating condition, such as a prior allergic reaction to the flu shot.

    A flu shot is especially crucial for people who may be at higher risk for serious complications. This includes babies and young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and people 65 years and older.

    The flu shot is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, who can pass on antibodies to their babies that will help protect them.

    The flu shot starts to offer partial protection immediately but takes about two weeks to offer full protection.

    Flu shots are also available at local pharmacies, clinics, doctor’s offices and federally qualified (community) health centers. Check flushot.healthmap.org for a flu shot provider near you.

    Visit www.ldh.la.gov/fighttheflu for more information and resources.

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    MLK III joins Urban Specialists, leaders in celebrating BR’s reduced violence

    On Sunday, October 14, 2018 a historic ceremony for the City of Baton Rouge will take place as community leaders, a host of celebrities and the entire community come together for a special CourseCon Baton Rouge “Thank You Baton Rouge” event. This first of its kind experience for the Louisiana city will take place at 6 p.m. at the Raising Cane’s River Center. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend, including students from Southern University, Louisiana State and other nearby universities, who will be brought in on chartered buses sponsored by Urban Specialists and Raising Cane’s. CourseCon Baton Rouge is free and open to the public who register at http://urbanspecialists.org/3c.

    CourseCon Baton Rouge will bring together to some of the most prominent activists, cultural influencers, corporate executives and celebrities to have a real conversation about Baton Rouge’s urban community, renewal opportunities and eradicating violence and poverty in neighborhoods. CourseCon Baton Rouge will also be an opportunity to thank and celebrate the citizens of Baton Rouge and strides that have been made in the area, particularly since Urban Specialists opened an office there and partnered with city leaders and law enforcement officials.

    CourseCon Baton Rouge will also be historic as the hearse that carried prominent civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr’s body, will be unveiled for the first time since his death more than 50 years ago. Todd Graves, owner and founder of Raising Cane’s, bought the hearse from the original owner and through its unveiling, wants to remind young people what Martin Luther King, Jr contributed to society. “It’s important that the next generation really understands how the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the world,” said Graves. “These kids did not get a chance to hear MLK during his lifetime, so I am hoping they will be able to appreciate him through this tribute to honor his life.” Dr. King’s son and namesake, Martin Luther King III, will be in attendance to speak and help pay tribute to his father with the dedication of the hearse.

    Featured panelists and speakers for CourseCon Baton Rouge include, Omar Jahwar, CEO and founder of Urban Specialists; Todd Graves, CEO and founder of Raising Cane’s; Murphy J. Paul Jr., Chief of Police, Baton Rouge; Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor of Baton Rouge; LaMont Cole, Baton Rouge City Council Member – District 7; Clay Young, marketing executive, radio show host and community activist; Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, former gang leader turned community advocate; Pastor Errol Dominique, senior pastor of Elm Grove Baptist Church; James Gilmore, Ph.D., city leader and former top aide to Baton Rouge Mayor; NFL Hall of Famer, Deion SandersCortez Bryant, COO, Young Money Entertainment and Co-CEO of The Blue Print Group; Antong Lucky, director of national invasion with Urban Specialists and former leader of the infamous Bloods gang in Dallas, Texas; and Andricka Williams, widow of Alton Sterling, who was killed in 2016 in a controversial shooting by two Baton Rouge police officers.
    The moderated forum, in partnership with Urban Specialists, Raising Cane’s and the City of Baton Rouge will provide an opportunity for residents, civic stakeholders and key influencers to gather for a civil discourse. The intention of CourseCon Baton Rouge is to facilitate an in-depth conversation about shared interests, ways to promote thriving communities and stop senseless violence. Omar Jahwar is just the right person to lead this critical conversation as he is widely known all over the world for his results-driven approach to ending violence and bringing about positive change in urban areas of high crime and poverty. In Dallas, Jahwar adopted sixteen streets in one of the most crime-ridden, impoverished neighborhoods in Dallas and through his leadership, there is a 58% decrease in crime in that area. He also adopted high schools in those neighborhoods and they have seen a 72% reduction in violent incidents in just one school year.

    “We are excited to bring this conversation to Baton Rouge,” said Omar Jahwar. “We opened an office in Baton Rouge in early 2018 and have already seen significant results. We have a proven method that has worked in other urban areas and look forward to continuing to implement those strategies to further decrease violence in Baton Rouge.”

    Omar Jahwar is an expert in urban culture and the leading voice around the country for eradicating senseless violence. His efforts to revive urban culture began over twenty years ago as the first state-appointed gang specialist in Texas. In this role, he negotiated peace terms between incarcerated rival gang members. He also brought over 400 gang members together and negotiated the first peace treaty between the infamous Blood and Crip gangs in Dallas.

    Urban Specialists is taking CourseCon around the country to help activate change in urban neighborhoods.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Fashion’s next big designers–Christopher John Rogers, Oonarissa Brown-Bernard–hail from Baton Rouge

    When it comes to fashion destinations Baton Rouge is city that could be at the bottom of the list, but Christopher John Rogers and Oonarissa Brown-Bernard are changing that.

    Besides dominating the charts this year?  What do Cardi B and Sza have in common? They turn to Rogers for his ‘80s glamour meets punk rock inspired designs to make sure their style, just like their music, reigns supreme.

    While Rogers, who made his New York Fashion Week debut this year, is poised o be this season’s breakout designer he said this collection’s inspiration comes from a number of sources rather than one single theme. “I really like to allow my mind to wander,” he said. This year’s collection had a variety of influences ranging from 1930s French couture to 1970s West African photography.

    Brown-Bernard, the designer behind the labels OonaNicole and DoubleOSeven, is already preparing for her fashion debut on both coasts in 2019.

    “What I hope to gain from the experience is to increase exposure for my brand and ultimately have my garments sold in retail stores and boutiques”, said Brown-Bernard

    As many will begin 2019 with resolutions, Brown-Bernard will beginning the new year with a debut both coasts at New York Fashion Week and in Los Angeles at Style Fashion Week.

    As Brown-Bernard resides in Austin and Rogers has put down roots in Brooklyn, the two designers take the time away from their studios to discuss, their inspirations, design processes and most importantly the effect a Louisiana upbringing had on their careers.

    10 OonaNicole

    What inspired you to pursue a career as a designer?

    ROGERS: All of the greats — Todd Oldham, Issac Mizrahi, John Galliano. Also anime, manga, cartoons — the idea of clothing being a transformative vehicle and allowing the wearer to tap into a certain power that they’ve always had.

    BROWN-BERNARD: My mom who taught me how to sew when I was 12 years old, however, my husband is the reason I am pursuing my career as a designer.  I started out as an actress and I was ultimately pursuing a career as an actress.

     

    Did you study fashion and if so where?

    ROGERS: I graduated from Baton Rouge Magnet High School and then I went to Savannah College of Art and Design

    BROWN-BERNARD: I graduated from Southern University Lab School and then I studied fashion at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, California

     

    What would you say is the biggest misconception people have about those who work in the fashion industry?

    ROGERS: That everyone’s super materialistic and doesn’t go deeper than face value.

    BROWN-BERNARD: The biggest misconception people have about those who work in the fashion industry is that anybody can be in the fashion industry.  Many people think that one style of fashion is suitable for everyone and that’s not true. Each person has his or her own individual style.  You have to have an eye for fashion to be able to decipher what will look good on each body type but also represent the individual’s personal style.  Not everyone has a full understanding of what it takes to create a garment from scratch.  They think its simple like 1, 2, 3 and for basic design it is, but once the garment gets detailed its a totally different ball game.

     

    You made your New York Fashion Week debut this year, what was that experience like and what do you hope to gain from it?

    ROGERS: Hah, super overwhelming! I learned a lot about sticking to time lines, being ridiculously organized, and how to directly communicate your vision with as much clarity as possible. We’re working on building an actual business; so increased visibility towards stores was the goal.

     

    Where do you find inspiration?

    ROGERS: Mostly through color, and the idea of treating it like an object as opposed to just an abstract concept placed onto other things.

    Brown-Bernard:  I am a retro, vintage type of designer.  I love classics so I get my inspiration from the costuming in certain films.  Jackie O, Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Christian Dior, and Alexander McQueen inspire me. I’m also inspired by the thought of being the first well-known African American female menswear designer.

     

    How do you see the fashion industry changing over the next few years?

    ROGERS: A sense of increased accountability and transparency that’s come with the proliferation of social media. I think it allows artists and brands to be more direct with what we say through our work and connect with people who actually understand what we’re trying to say.

     

    Brown-Bernard: I am not sure because fashion is forever changing as the world keeps evolving. It’s a cycle. What is old to us is new to the new generation with just a different name.  I would really like to see fashion return to a place where you don’t have to expose your body to be sexy.

     

    Did living in Louisiana have an influence on your designs? Is there anything you miss about it? 

    ROGERS: For sure! A sense of needing comfort in clothing (depending on the garment), and understanding that things have to function. I absolutely miss my family, 100%.

    Brown-Bernard: Living in Louisiana did not have an influence on my designs; however, it influenced me to be a great designer because of where I come from and always pushing to be better. I definitely miss my family and the good food.

     

    If an aspiring designer came to you from Baton Rouge and said they wanted to follow in your footsteps, what would be your advice?

    ROGERS: Work as hard as you possibly can, and then work harder than that. It’s all about the end game, so learn as much as you can and always say “yes”.

    Brown-Bernard: My advice would be intern or work under a reputable designer and learn as much as you can. This would be very difficult to accomplish in Louisiana, so my next bit of advice would be to travel and attend networking events so you can see what fashion looks like outside of Louisiana. Work on your craft and build your resume, and most importantly don’t give up. It’s a long and rough journey, but if you’re serious about fashion it’s worth it to see it through.ℜ

     By Cameron James
    Special to The Drum

     

    ONLINE:

    www.christopherjohnrogers.com

    @christopherjohnrogers

    @oonanicole007

     

    Read more »
  • Time again to shop for the best Medicare deal

    Now’s the time for Louisiana residents with Medicare to check their health and drug coverage for 2019.

    Medicare’s open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

    Open enrollment is the best time to make sure your health and drug plans still meet your individual needs, especially if you’ve had any changes in your health.

    By now insurers should have notified you of any adjustments in your health or drug plan coverage or any changes in your out-of-pocket costs for next year.

    Even if you’ve been satisfied with your health and drug coverage, you may benefit from reviewing all your options. Shopping around may save you money or improve your coverage.

    Medicare Advantage remains a strong alternative for people who prefer to receive care through a private insurer rather than through Medicare’s original fee-for-service program. Most plans include drug coverage.

    The number of people buying Medicare Advantage plans is expected to grow by 11.5 percent to 22.6 million nationwide in 2019. Thirty-four percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare now opt to get their health care benefits this way.

    Many Advantage plans charge a separate premium on top of the Part B premium you’ll pay for Medicare’s medical insurance. Nationally, the average monthly cost for that separate Medicare Advantage premium will be $28 in 2019 — $1.81 less than this year.

    Louisiana residents in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program who want to add prescription drug coverage can choose from 26 drug plans with monthly premiums ranging from $16.90 to $88.10 – about the same premium range as a year ago. Nationally, the average premium for a basic drug plan in 2019 will drop by $1.09 to $32.50 per month.

    Look beyond premiums, though. The only way to determine the true cost of your drug coverage is to consider other factors like deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance.

    Medicare’s website – www.medicare.gov – has the best tool for helping you narrow your search for a new health or drug plan. Just click on “Find Health and Drug Plans.”

    After entering your ZIP code and the list of your prescriptions, you can use the “Medicare Plan Finder” tool to compare your coverage and out-of-pocket costs under different plans.

    The quality of a health or drug plan’s customer service should be considered, too. To help you identify the best and worst, the Plan Finder provides star ratings for each plan. The ratings range from five stars (excellent) to one star (poor); three stars are average.

    Higher-rated plans deliver a higher level of care, such as managing chronic conditions efficiently, screening for and preventing illnesses, and making sure people get much-needed prescriptions. Higher-rated plans also have fewer complaints or long waits for care.

    Besides using Medicare.gov, you can call Medicare’s toll-free help line at 1-800-633-4227 or consult your “Medicare & You 2019 Handbook,” which you should have received in the mail in the last few weeks.

    One-on-one benefits counseling is also available through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. In Louisiana, you should call 1-800-259-5300.

    Medicare’s drug benefit continues to improve. You’ll enjoy more savings on your prescriptions. The “doughnut hole,” or coverage gap, will go away for brand-name drugs in 2019, which means you’ll receive a 75 percent break on those drugs after you pay your annual deductible and until you reach the threshold for catastrophic coverage, when you’ll pay substantially less.

    The coverage gap for generic drugs will remain for only one more year and will kick in for you once you and your drug plan have spent $3,820 in 2019. At that point, you’ll receive a 63 percent discount on your generics – a bigger discount than this past year.

    If you’re having difficulty affording your medications, you may qualify for extra help with your drug coverage premiums, deductibles and co-payments.

    The amount of help depends on your income and resources. But, generally, you’ll pay no more than $3.40 for each generic drug and $8.50 for each brand-name drug in 2019.

    Thirty-nine percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare’s drug coverage now get such a break.

    To learn more about whether you qualify for extra help, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

    There’s no better time to check your Medicare health and drug coverage. Any changes you make will take effect on Jan. 1.

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    State expands medical marijuana treatments

    Three years ago, the Louisiana Legislature approved medical marijuana as a treatment option for certain health conditions.

    The drug is expected to become available to patients this year.

    The number of people who could qualify has grown to about 100,000, after the Legislature expanded the program.

    A previous rule by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners limited doctors to recommending medical marijuana to just 100 patients each. But the state board voted  last month to eliminate that patient cap, out of concern that it would make the drug too difficult to access.

    Only a limited number of specially-licensed pharmacies will distribute medical marijuana  Louisiana has not legalized recreational marijuana.

    LSU and Southern University’s agriculture centers are growing the plant and will process the medicine into different forms, like oils, edibles or pills.

    Medical marijuana does not include the inhalation or vaping of cannabis. According to the law it cannot be in raw form or smoked.

    Around 30 physicians in Louisiana have been approved to recommend the drug.

    The list of debilitating conditions that will be eligible for treatment include:

    • Cancer
    • HIV+ status
    • AIDS
    • Wasting syndrome
    • Seizure disorders
    • Epilepsy
    • Spasticity
    • Crohn’s disease
    • Muscular dystrophy,
    • Glaucoma
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Severe muscle spasms
    • Intractable pain
    • Post traumatic disorder
    • Some conditions associated with autism spectrum disorder.

    ONLINE: ldh.la.gov

    Read more »
  • Black enrollment, faculty at public universities worse in La.

    Black citizens are underrepresented as undergraduates and on the faculties of America’s four-year public universities, according to a new report card by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center.

    Nowhere is the problem worse than in Louisiana. The report found that traditional-age (18-24) Black students are under-enrolled at three-fourths of public universities compared to their population in that state, and that graduation rates for Black students continue to lag behind other students. States were given an overall “equity index” grade based on how well Black students and faculty were represented public institutions. Louisiana’s was the lowest.

    According to Inside Higher Ed’s interview with Shaun Harper, the center’s executive director, said many institutions are “failing Black students.” “I think that this makes painstakingly clear that the failure is systemic. That it’s not just a handful of institutions,” he said, adding that blame around Black students’ shortcomings is often placed on the students, not universities.

    By The Louisiana Budget Project

    Read more »
  • ,

    Bone and Joint Health to be the focus of workshop, Oct 12

    The Southern University Ag Center’s Family and Human Development Unit will host a free personal health history workshop from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on October 12 at the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union, on Southern University’s campus.

    This workshop will feature sessions on managing rheumatoid arthritis and other bone and joint conditions, eating healthy for bones and joints, weatherizing your home and emergency preparedness.

    There will also be a fire extinguisher demonstration.

    This is the third personal health history workshop hosted by the SU Ag Center. The previous workshops focused on developing a health journal to keep track of an individual’s person health history, proper foot care, how blood pressure and blood sugar levels respond to dietary factors, and low impact exercises.

    Preregistration for the workshop is required no later than October 10. To request a registration form or to preregister, email Milissia_jbaptiste@suagcenter.com or delores_johnson@suagcenter.com, or call 225-771-2583 or 225-771-3704.

    The Southern University Ag Center and SU College of Agricultural Land-Grant Campus together are called the Southern University Land-Grant Campus.

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  • SPLC: ‘Racial profiling in law enforcement is widespread across Louisiana’

    Evidence suggests that racial profiling – the unconstitutional practice of law enforcement that targets people because of their skin color – is widespread in Louisiana, according to a report the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Further, the report states, law enforcement agencies across the state have failed to create policies and procedures to prevent or stop racial profiling.

    The report, “Racial Profiling in Louisiana: Unconstitutional and Counterproductive,” analyzes the lack of detailed racial profiling policies at law enforcement agencies across the state. The adverse effects of racial profiling are widely known and contribute to Louisiana’s high incarceration rate and disproportionate imprisonment of people of color.

    However, more than one-third of the state’s law enforcement agencies lack any policy on racial profiling at all, and existing policies at the other law-enforcement agencies generally fail to give officers and deputies the tools they need to understand what racial profiling is or what conduct is prohibited.

    “Racial profiling is pervasive and insidious. It creates profound distrust between over-policed communities and law enforcement, thereby endangering public safety,” said Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “Without in-depth racial profiling policies, law enforcement officers across Louisiana are missing a major tool to help them fairly and effectively protect and serve all communities. To ignore this problem is to condone it, and that has to stop.”

    There are two common types of racial profiling: unreasonable suspicion, in which a law enforcement officer assumes that a person is committing a crime based solely on that person’s race or ethnicity; and unequal enforcement, in which an officer stops a person for a minor infraction, even though he or she would not have stopped a person of another race or ethnicity for the same violation.

    The SPLC requested racial profiling policies from 331 law enforcement agencies throughout Louisiana; 310 responded. Of those, 109 agencies admitted to having no racial profiling policy at all. One of those agencies, the Bernice Police Department, provided a conclusory one-sentence response: “We have no written policies on racial profiling since we do not racially profile.”

    Policies provided by 89 law enforcement agencies across the state are not broad enough to prohibit both unreasonable suspicion and unequal enforcement, according to the report. Another 112 agencies provided policies that do cover both types of racial profiling, but many of those policies are short, vague, or fail to clearly explain what racial profiling is, and what actions are not permitted. A handful of agencies provided irrelevant documents, such as policies on workplace harassment and equal employment opportunities.

    “It is unacceptable that so many law enforcement agencies throughout Louisiana are operating with little to no guidance on racial profiling,” said Jamila Johnson, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC. “The absence of detailed racial profiling policies has almost certainly contributed to Louisiana’s high incarceration rate, and without question has resulted in disproportionate policing of people of color. The only way to hold law enforcement officials accountable and ensure that the laws are being enforced equally across all demographics is to implement comprehensive racial profiling policies and require detailed data collection.”

    The report states that Louisiana police officers’ unequal focus on people of color also means that they are disproportionately ticketed, arrested, prosecuted, and ultimately imprisoned. In 2016, Black adults comprised only 30.6 percent of the state’s adult population, but accounted for 53.7 percent of adults who were arrested. That same year, Black people were 2.9 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in Louisiana, even though Black adults are statistically less likely than white adults to use marijuana.

    In Gretna, Black people made up two-thirds of the city’s arrests in 2016 but only one-third of the city’s population. The Gretna Police Department does not have a racial profiling policy. It did provide the SPLC with its mission statement, code of ethics, workplace harassment policy and an arrest policy that states its legal obligations under federal and state non-discrimination laws to “treat all individuals equally and fairly without regard to race, religion, sex, nationality or handicap.”

    Between 2011 and 2017, the Baton Rouge Police Department made more than 1,600 traffic stops enforcing a local ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor to “disturb the peace” by playing loud music from a vehicle. A majority of those stops were in predominantly Black neighborhoods, raising the concern that officers may be using the ordinance to unfairly stop Black drivers. The Baton Rouge Police Department did provide the SPLC with its racial profiling policy, but the policy does not clearly state what conduct is prohibited under the policy.

    The SPLC’s report includes recommendations for law enforcement agencies, the state Legislature and the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice to help agencies maintain adequate policies, provide appropriate training, and record sufficient data to prevent racial profiling. Those recommendations include adopting policies that ban all forms of racial profiling. They also include mandating the collection and publication of data for all traffic and pedestrian stops, uses of force, arrests and complaints.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Floor of Hammond’s Historic St. James AME Church succumbs to termites

    HAMMOND—On March 26, of last year, the Greater St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church celebrated their 150th anniversary. St James was the first Black church in Hammond.
    During a funeral on September 10, the floor of the historical church foyer collapsed with about a dozen of people falling in the hole.
    “I was scared. My husband immediate jump in the hole helping seniors out,” said Stephanie Turner.
    “It was chaos for a short time, the young people panic and forgot about the older peoples,” said the Reverend Carl Turner. The Hammond Fire Department arrived and completed the rescue, he said.
    Later reports stated ternite damages was the cause.

    Hole in church floor

    Hole in church floor

    St. James was organized by Rev. Charles Daggs, who served the church faithfully until his death. As a coal burner after the Civil War in New Orleans, his work brought him to Hammond. Upon his arrival, he and a small band of worshippers went “from house to house holding prayer meetings.” After finding there was no place for Blacks to worship, he sought to organize a church for Blacks.

    Antoinette Harrell

    Antoinette Harrell

    After a period, they were given permission to worship in a small school house. According to historian Antoinette Harrell, the band then moved on a site that was donated by Charles Cates, a wealthy citizen of Hammond.
    Under the leadership of Daggs, the first church was erected.
    Naming the church was easy. It church was named in honor of Daggs’ home church in New Orleans. When, Daggs came to Hammond, that name was deeply rooted in his heart. He desired the same spirit in the newly erected Hammond church, said Harrell.
    According to Harrell, in 1923 the present site of the church, 311 East Michigan Street, was bought by two of the church members, Israel Carter and Albert Gibson, who mortgaged their homes. The architect,

    Alexander Cornelius Evans, and the builder, John Noble, were also church members. Church construction was completed in 1925. In August 2, 2017, St James was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Founding Publisher
    ONLINE: nuturingourroots.blogspot.com

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  • ,,,

    Paris McClain wins Louisiana National American Miss Jr. Preteen

    Nine-year-old Paris McClain has won the title of 2018 Louisiana National American Miss Jr Preteen.  She also won 1stRunner Up Actress and 3rdRunner Up Talent, Overall Best Resume, and Overall Best Thank You Letter in her age group. Her hobbies include volleyball, softball, dance, acting and arts. She also enjoys participating in the Destination Imagination STEM Club at Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts School. Paris also loves to volunteer at the food bank, feeding the homeless, and collecting clothing for girls in need.

    As the 2018 Louisiana National American Miss Jr Preteen, she received an $1,000 cash award, the official NAM crown and banner, a bouquet of roses, and air transportation to compete in the national pageant at Disneyland® in California the week of Thanksgiving. She will also be touring the famous streets of Hollywood while in California as part of her prize package.

    She said she plans to share her platform with girls all over the state. Paris wants to encourage young ladies to believe in themselves and always chase their dreams, just as she does.

    The National American Miss Pageant system is the largest in the nation. The focus of this organization is to create future leaders and to equip them with real-world skills to make their dream a reality.  The program is based on inner beauty, as well as poise and presentation, and offers an “All-American spirit of fun for family and friends.” Emphasis is placed on the importance of gaining self-confidence and learning new skills, such as good attitudes about competition, as well as setting and achieving personal goals. The Louisiana pageant was held June 2, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. National American Miss is a pageant system for girls ages four through 18. Contestants competed in four overall categories including Formal Wear Modeling, Personal Introduction, Interview, and Community Service Project.  National American Miss also offers optional contests such as the Top Model Search, Talent, and Actress.

     

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    School board selects Kenyetta Nelson-Smith to lead

    The seven-member East Baton Rouge Parish School Board unanimously selected Kenyetta Nelson-Smith Ph.D., as vice-president of the board following the resignation of Rep. Connie Bernard last month. Nelson-Smith has represented District 3 in North Baton Rouge since 2011. She is the assistant professor/program leader of child development at Southern University and an assistant specialist of community and economic development with the Ag Center. She will hold the vice president position through Nov. 6 when she seeks re-election.

     

    Read more »
  • Celebrating 80 years!

    The Drum’s founding publisher Mr. Eddie Ponds is 80 YEARS YOUNG and is publishing the 500th issue of The Drum this fall. Help us celebrate!

    Take over an eighth of a page or a half of a page within the print issue of The Drum and place your photo, company logo, and words of congratulations in color. Your congratulations will be posted on our website, Drum Beats eblast, and social media pages through December 31st We invite you to congratulate Mr. Ponds on his 80th birthday and for publishing 500 issues of The Drum.  Email for more.

     

    Reserve your space now in the November issue.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Fact: Eliminating stigmas can reduce the spread of HIV

    The fact remains: There are still many stigmas around HIV/AIDS which are critical barriers to preventing the disease from spreading. In a city like Baton Rouge where new HIV diagnoses register as some of the highest in the nation, prevention is critical to stopping the disease and saving lives, said Tim Young, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two Inc., or HAART.

    When HAART opened its doors more than 20 years ago, the organization could only hope to save the lives of residents who were HIV positive. Now, people are living longer—and in many cases— living healthier with the virus that causes AIDS.

    “It’s been an uphill challenge from the beginning,” said Young.

    A large percentage of that battle has stemmed from stigmas people hold about the disease, said Eugene Collins, director of prevention for HAART.

    According to Collins, minimizing and eliminating stigmas can contribute to slowing the spread of HIV.  Once sex is discussed in non-condemning manners, behaviors and practices that put people at risk can be talked about and addressed. In Baton Rouge, a large population of new diagnosis are men who have sex with men. This behavior may be open or in secret. “Needle sharing now has a lower impact” said Collins who said it’s important to have conversations “around the dinner table” about safe sex practices just like the nation has done around needle use. These conversations aren’t happening, he said, because families still do not want to address homosexuality, premarital sex, or promiscuity. “The attitude is that these behaviors are wrong so the risks around them aren’t talked about in homes or schools or churches,” Collins said.

    A March 2018 report from the Louisiana Department of Health showed 4,080 people living with HIV in Baton Rouge.

    “This is an epidemic,” said State Rep. Kenny Cox, (D-Natchitoches) earlier this year during the legislative session, “HIV/AIDS destroys families, homes, communities.”

    “As a nation and a community, many of us have been quick to judge those with HIV, saying their infection was some kind of retribution for certain behavior. But, we don’t say people with other kinds of viruses, a common cold for example, deserved their illness,” said Young.

    “We shun the things we fear, and in the beginning, there was a lot to fear from HIV.  At first, scientists weren’t even able to prove it was transmitted sexually. That’s why we employ people with HIV when we can, and train all of our employees on how they can’t acquire or transmit HIV to or from our patients or others.”

    “As a community, we should reduce stigma around HIV. Without education, we may fear someone with HIV.  Without that stigma, those who are undiagnosed would be less fearful about learning they may test positive and how others around them may react to that news. We harm our community when we create fear in people which prevents them from being tested and accessing treatment,” Young said.

    Collins insists that these discussions cannot only lead to prevention but can also lead people to primary care at younger ages.  Because HAART has established an extensive referral system, residents can be connected to a network of service providers to get support. And, if testing shows that the person is HIV-positive, HAART refers them to a provider and secures medical treatment at its Baton Rouge facility, Open Health Care Clinic at 3901 North Blvd.

    “Open Health Care Clinic believes that addressing adolescent healthcare needs is essential to promoting healthier behaviors into adulthood, thereby bridging the gap between pediatric and adult primary care,” stated Lori Lauve, Open Health’s director of development.

    Open Health is a federally qualified health center which provides provide advanced medical services for every phase of a person’s life regardless of their financial or insurance status, Lauve stated in a news release. The services include pediatrics, dental, behavioral health, infectious diseases, preventive care, and endocrinology. It has extended hours, and is open for weekend appointments and walk-ins.

    The clinic provides primary care services to the entire Baton Rouge community with special care for people who are HIV-positive or who have been diagnosed with AIDS. “It’s whole care for the whole community,” said Young.

    He and Collins agree that community education and frank discussions about sexual behaviors are key to decreasing stigmas around HIV/AIDS and ultimately preventing the spread of the disease. Another tool for prevention is a medication called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). It is known by its brand name Truvada and can prevent people who are at high risk of contracting HIV from getting infected. PrEP assistance is provided at Open Health, HAART, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Baton Rouge Black Alcoholism Council,  CareSouth, Planned Parenthood, and Emerging Care of Louisiana. They also provide free HIV testing.

    Advances in prevention and treatment are bringing us closer to ending HIV, said Young. “I foresee a future when (Baton Rouge) finally has zero HIV transmissions reported in a year. That will be something for all of us to celebrate.”

    ONLINE:  http://www.haartinc.org/
    www.ohcc.org

    By Candace j Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

    Read more »
  • Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana provides free training at Night Out Against Child Sexual Abuse

    Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana will offer the Stewards of Children workshop for free at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s Parenting Center, 1505 N. Florida St., in Covington, on Thursday, Oct. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. as part of their Night Out Against Child Sexual Abuse. Interested community members can register atwww.pcal.org.

    “We’ve all seen the headlines nationally and locally about children who have been sexually abused by someone they trust, and as an organization we wanted to offer this workshop for parents, grandparents and anyone who wants to learn more about how to keep children safe,” said Amanda Brunson, Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana executive director.

    Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children is a two-hour workshop that equips attendees first to recognize sexual abuse and respond appropriately, but also to prevent it by talking to children and minimizing opportunities for abuse to occur. The normal cost to attend is $10, but it is free for the Night Out Against Child Sexual Abuse thanks to a grant from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

    The workshop will be offered in nine cities across the state at the same time the evening of Oct. 11. Due to the sensitive nature of the material, the workshop is for adults only; child care is not provided.

    “I hope folks across the state take advantage of this chance to learn and be more empowered to protect the children in their lives,” noted Brunson. “We know that preventing child abuse and neglect before it occurs saves our state money, but more importantly it prevents future risks of societal ills such as human trafficking, substance abuse, depression, intimate partner violence and suicide.”

    Since 1986 Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana has been dedicated to preventing the abuse and neglect of children throughout Louisiana by focusing on programs and training, advocacy and engagement, and research and evaluation. As the local affiliate of Prevent Child Abuse America, PCAL is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. For more information, to donate or to volunteer, visit www.pcal.org.

    Read more »
  • Free bus driver training offered in October

    Responding to a critical need for qualified school bus drivers, Tangipahoa Parish School Superintendent Melissa Stilley announced this week that the district will offer free classes to train new drivers.

    The TPSS will offer a 30-hour pre-service training course to help potential drivers gain the skills needed to become certified Louisiana School Bus Operators. The class is free and open to anyone age 21 and up who holds a Louisiana driver’s license.

    “If you’ve ever thought about driving a school bus, our team is ready to help you complete the prerequisite 30-hour classroom portion of the program in just eight short days, starting next week,” Stilley said.

    Applicants should bring paper and pen/pencil to take notes and must attend all sessions of the course, which will be offered nightly October 1-4, from 4-8 p.m., and October 8-11, from 4-8 p.m., at the TPSS Technology Center, which is located at 795 S. Morrison Boulevard in Hammond.

    Candidates who successfully complete the course must also obtain a Class A or B commercial driver’s license with the “S” and “P” endorsements and air brake certification.

    “Tangipahoa Parish School System bus drivers earn health insurance and retirement benefits, get summers and legal holidays off, work a five hour work day, and gain on-going training year-round. If you’re at least 21-years-old, have received your high school diploma or GED, in good health, and of good character, we have a place for you  here at the TPSS. Give us a call and learn how you can become part of our team,” Stilley said

    Registration for the free bus driver training course is preferred but not required. For additional information, call (985) 748-2423.

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    Gotcha gets state support to launch first public bike share program

    Gotcha has been selected by Mayor Sharon Weston Broome to launch the first public bike share program in Baton Rouge early next year. Gotcha’s bike share services will include the siting, installation, operation, maintenance, and ongoing management of the program in partnership with the City-Parish. The system will encompass approved locations within the city, Louisiana State University, and Southern University.

    Launching in early 2019, the bike share program will include 500 GPS-enabled e-bikes and 50 hubs across the city. Riders can locate and reserve bikes through Gotcha’s app. The system promises to be an affordable, accessible, and sustainable form of transportation for the Baton Rouge community.

    “Launching bike share in Baton Rouge continues our commitment to expanding transportation alternatives for our citizens. Throughout this process, we were seeking a partner with the expertise to serve both the community and local universities with integrated, multi-modal forms of environmentally-friendly transportation,” said Mayor Broome. “I am excited that this system increases alternative forms of transportation, reduces parking issues, and promotes an active, vibrant City-Parish.”

    “We’re excited to partner with the City-Parish of Baton Rouge to provide convenient and efficient ways for residents to reduce vehicle usage. Gotcha is committed to enhancing the health, mobility, and landscape of our partner communities and the leaders of the city share this commitment,” said Sean Flood, CEO of Gotcha.

    Gotcha was selected after a competitive RFP process conducted by the City-Parish of Baton Rouge and a third-party partner, Bantam Strategy. Details about the bike share system including name, hub locations, pricing plans, and bike design will be unveiled in the coming months.

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    Bayou Classic TV agreement with NBCSN extended through 2021

    NBC Sports Group, Grambling State University, and Southern University have reached an agreement to extend their three-decade partnership for three more years, keeping the annual Bayou Classic on NBCSN through 2021.

    Since 1991, NBC Sports has served as the exclusive home of the Bayou Classic, an annual college football tradition featuring Grambling State University and Southern University that is played on Thanksgiving weekend at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. At the end of this new extension, NBC Sports will have televised 31 Bayou Classics.

    The 2018 game will mark the 45th consecutive meeting between the Tigers and Jaguars, a rivalry that originated in 1974. The first-ever Bayou Classic, won 21-0 by Grambling, was played in New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium.

    “The Bayou Classic is a college football staple, and one we’re proud to have broadcast for three decades at the end of this agreement,” said Gary Quinn, vice president of programming and owned properties with NBC Sports Group. “We look forward to showcasing this annual Thanksgiving tradition for the next three years to avid college football fans across the country on NBCSN.”

    The Grambling Tigers lead the overall series, 23-21, and have won three consecutive games, including seven of the past 10 meetings overall. Over the course of 44 years, the Bayou Classic has featured some of the most prominent figures in college football history, including NFL Hall of Fame defensive back and Southern alum Aeneas Williams, Super Bowl-winning quarterback and Grambling alum Doug Williams and former Tigers head coach Eddie Robinson, whose 408 career wins rank third all-time in NCAA Division I history.

    The annual telecast of the Bayou Classic is headlined by the renowned “Battle of the Bands” halftime show, which pits the marching bands of both Southern University and Grambling State against each other in a musical display of talent.

    The game is also streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

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    Council n Aging to distribute emergency kits Sept. 28

    The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging (EBRCOA) announced today that after the AARP and AARP Foundation emergency kit packing event, the agency will be distributing the prepared kits, Friday, September 28 at the EBRCOA Capital City Event Center  at 6955 Florida Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806. The agency would like to thank its partners: the AARP Foundation and the Louisiana Department of Health, Center for Community Preparedness for their donation of supplies.  The drive-thru event will begin at 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. while supplies last.

    Recipients must be 50 years of age or older, preferably low to moderate income and residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, in order to receive an emergency preparedness kit.

    With the peak of hurricane season upon us, the EBRCOA wants to remind seniors that staying “emergency-ready” is essential.  Keep essentials items such as: medicine, water, vital documents, flashlights, batteries and an overnight bag in case of an emergency evacuation.

    “This distribution of emergency preparedness kits is a part of our commitment to serve the seniors of East Baton Rouge Parish in every capacity.  We would like to thank AARP and AARP Foundation and the Office of Public Health for their support,” said COA chief executive officer Tasha Clark-Amar.

    “For vulnerable older adults, a natural disaster complicates the challenges they already experience. As storms surge, so do the hardships for those struggling to make ends meet. That’s why AARP and AARP Foundation are mobilizing volunteers to assemble thousands of bags filled with emergency preparedness supplies to seniors in Baton Rouge,” said Marc McDonald, VP grants and external initiatives, AARP Foundation.

    Read more »
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    COMMENTARY: Getting to the heart of America’s diabetes crisis

    About 30 million Americans have diabetes, and an estimated 1.5 million more are diagnosed each year. More than 25 percent of seniors have diabetes, and minority populations are at the greatest risk of developing this disease. African Americans, for instance, have a 77 percent higher risk of developing diabetes compared to White Americans. Hispanic Americans have a 66 percent higher risk.

    Most meticulously monitor their blood sugar, as they know that failing to keep diabetes in check can damage the kidneys, eyes, and feet. But even so, about 50,000 Americans start dialysis each year because of diabetes-induced kidney failure. More than three million Americans with diabetes experience partial vision loss. And over 70,000 undergo limb amputations due to diabetic ulcers.

    The disease also threatens the heart. People living with diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop a heart problem — and up to four times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Yet half of people living with diabetes aren’t aware of this risk.

    That needs to change. Educating doctors and patients about the connection between diabetes and heart disease could save millions of lives and billions of dollars.

    Type 2 diabetes changes how the body processes glucose — a sugar found in foods. This results in chronically high levels of blood sugar, which can lead to life-threatening health problems.

    People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to be hospitalized because of heart problems. And an estimated 68 percent of people with diabetes age 65 or older lose their lives to heart disease.

    People with diabetes also often develop high levels of bad cholesterol, low levels of good cholesterol, and high triglycerides — a situation that is often associated with coronary heart disease. And many struggling with diabetes are also obese, which puts the heart at greater risk.

    The combination of diabetes and cardiovascular disease is a major driver of healthcare spending. Diabetes alone costs our nation $245 billion a year in medical spending and lost productivity. Heart complications account for a quarter of the medical costs.

    Raising awareness of this diabetes-heart connection can motivate change that America needs to chip away at the increasing burden of chronic disease.

    Medical professionals play a crucial role in educating people about the diabetes-heart connection, recommending changes needed to manage diabetes, protect the heart, and following progress.

    People with diabetes and their families play a role, too — supporting healthier, active lifestyles, tracking and managing glucose levels, asking their healthcare providers about diabetes and heart health, and following through on treatment recommendations.

    Policymakers can also help. State and federal funds are used to educate the public about diabetes and heart disease. Making sure that efforts to address diabetes or cardiovascular disease effectively raise awareness of the linkage between them would spark impactful action.

    Getting to the heart of America’s diabetes crisis is long overdue. It’s time to make the diabetes-heart connection and save millions of lives and dollars in the process.

    By Ken Thorpe 
    Kenneth E. Thorpe is a professor of health policy at Emory University and chairman of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.

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  • ,,

    With HIV rates topping the charts, Baton Rouge needs HAART, PrEP, and Open Health

    The HIV AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Inc., or HAART, is the 19th largest nonprofit in the state, with a budget of more than $25 million. But with an HIV AIDS population of more than 5,000 people in the nine-parish Baton Rouge region, and more than 20,000 people in state, the need for HAART services far surpasses its budget.

    “We have been assisting those with HIV for nearly three decades and it’s been an uphill challenge from the beginning, said Tim Young, HAART CEO.

    In 1995 when HAART first opened its doors, the medical community was focused on keeping people with HIV alive. Since then, doctors and researchers have learned to treat HIV more effectively, which means fewer people are dying and people are living longer with their disease, said Young.

    “When I began working at HAART, new medications were literally getting people out of their death beds,” he said.

    Many people were seeing health improvements from the new medications that were becoming available, but many still were not, and even those who did often experienced serious side effects.  Today, the medications are so effective that someone who acquires HIV can have a normal life expectancy if they adhere to an effective medication regimen.

    “Now, we are learning how to assist people who have been living with HIV for as long as HAART has been in existence. That’s an amazing advancement. We assist many to cope with the challenges of helping to raise their grandchildren, something many thought would never be possible,” Young said.

    HAART’s original role was to anticipate the services people living with HIV needed and weren’t receiving and to serve as the fiscal agent for Ryan White funding in the Baton Rouge area with other organizations to provide direct services. “The first thing we did was to recognize the need for a larger network of providers to serve an increasing number of people who were living with HIV disease with the advent of new effective medications.  In the late ‘90s, we added Volunteers of America, Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge, and Care South to the network of Ryan White funded providers.”

    These relationships aid HAART in providing medical treatment, medication assistance, and case management to assist patients in navigating the health care system. HAART also provides medical transportation, dental services, and mental health services. HAART has established Baton Rouge’s Open Health Care Clinic, located at 3801 North Blvd., to expand medical services and serve the wider community. “Over the past three decades years we’ve built an enduring community asset and positioned it to become an integral part of the health care network for decades to come,” Young said.  “HAART has grown from a small organization, coordinating funding for a network of providers for a single disease, to one of the largest community health centers in the state, poised to grow its own network of clinics across the city, serving both children and adults from every walk of life.”

    “The day of novel treatments is actually already here. Early on, patients had a complex medication regimen that was difficult to achieve and often had side effects, some almost as serious as the disease itself.  Multiple pills, some with and some without food, every four hours meaning interrupted sleep and other complications were normal. Now, for most with HIV, treatment is one pill once a day. That’s remarkable when you consider how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time, although a lifetime for some and sadly too late for others.  And they achieve complete viral suppression, so no more damage can be done to themselves by the virus and they can’t transmit it to others,” Young said.

    But, in a city with the highest rates of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the nation, is HAART positioned to slow down the spread of the virus that cause AIDS? Young explained, “Despite the educational messages, many continue to participate in risky behaviors which expose themselves and others to HIV transmission.  We’ve always relied on people changing their behavior and now we have a biomedical preventative that can protect them even if they don’t take other measures to protect themselves.

    The newest weapon against HIV is a one-a-day pill called PrEP. This Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis pill is a daily dosage of the HIV medication Truvada.

    “It works a little like birth control (pills) where a person takes it everyday to stop the virus from attaching to the immune system if they become exposed,” said Eugene Collins, director of prevention for HAART.

    “HIV disease is not just a threat to those who acquire it, but to potentially much larger numbers of people if left unchecked. It’s our responsibility to assist persons with HIV, not only to improve their personal health, but to ensure they don’t pass it on to others,” Young said.

    After testing positive, Baton Rouge residents are provided services through HAART’s Red Carpet linkage program that gets them connected “immediately” with medical and mental health appointments, employment assistance, and housing. “We provide a total continuum of care, medically and socially,” said Collins.

    According to Young, the strongest tools for HAART are the dedication and commitments of the non-profit’s board and staff. “We bring strong technical skills in the areas of medicine, psychology, finance, and marketing to bring awareness about the epidemic in our community and the solutions to limit and reduce its growth. Our new PrEP program, our new opioid-abuse outreach program ,and the broad spectrum of health and wellness services we bring to our patients are our strengths, thereby strengthening the community,” he said.

    HAART has survived for 22 years despite the constantly changing health care environment, and HIV care changes even more than health care in general.

    “We’ve been successful as a health care resource because we’ve been guided by a strong community-based board of directors, made up of experienced professionals who help us to look ahead and chart a successful vision for the future. Health care will continue to evolve and HAART will adapt to change so we may continue to pursue our mission and commitment to our community.  I’m confident of that,” said Young who is also CEO of Open Health Clinic. ℜ

     By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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    Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair a success

    SUBMITTED NEWS–The 2018 Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair was a huge success in the Baton Rouge Community.  Four churches, one common goal.  Theme: “Behold I will bring it health and cure, I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” Jeremiah 33:6.

     

    Hosted and sponsored by Allen Chapel AME Church, Pastor Demetrese Phillips, Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, Pastor Elenora Mackey Cushenberry, Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church, Pastor Clee E. Lowe and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Pastor Thoma F. Clark, Sr., and congregation initiated, coordinated and planned the 2018 Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair.

    Representation from all four hosted churches served as committee members.  Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church located at 8742 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana was the site for the 2018 Health Fair held from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The Faith Walk was from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.  Several health care practitioners/providers, medical pharmacy were available.   Exhibits/Exhibitors; on- site examinations; educational information; blood pressure checks; cancer awareness; cardiovascular-heart healthy tips; immunizations; mental health counseling; diabetes tests and consultations; cholesterol-glucose screening; foot examinations (podiatry); hearing screenings; nutrition consultation; oral health; prescription medication management; vision; and tobacco use dangers.  Insurance cards were accepted for vaccinations.  Healthy snacks, fruit, nutrition bars, water was provided to all in attendance.

    Door prizes were giveaways.  The Children’s Village was at the Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church located at the Outreach Center adjacent to the church.  Mr. Robbyn Matthews, Chair, Dr. Dell Mars, Co-chair of the CMUMC Health and Welfare Ministries, CMUMC served as the 2018 Health Fair hosted church.  The host church of the 2019 Health Fair will be Allen Chapel AME Church.  All the 2018 Health Fair Committee Members worked very diligently and hard in making this endeavor a huge success.

    Written by Mada McDonald
    Submitted by Katrina Spottsville

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  • $4 million to go to Southern University’s science and engineering building

    Entergy has partnered with Southern University and A&M College to further support their mutual commitment to developing engineering talent for the future. A $2 million grant to Southern University from Entergy and the Entergy Charitable Foundation will support classroom and lab infrastructure improvements, as well as curriculum and faculty professional development for the university’s engineering program. During today’s grant press conference, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a $2 million match.

    This multi-year initiative will focus on enhancing Southern’s engineering curriculum and staff development as well as state of the art improvements to labs and classrooms to enable students to obtain hands-on experience.  In addition, the grant will also fund the creation of internship and mentoring programs to enhance and strengthen the relationship between Entergy and Southern University.

    “As a national leader in educating minority and women engineers and STEM professionals, Southern University is an ideal partner for Entergy to continue to build on our investments in growing a diverse workforce,” said Leo Denault, Entergy chairman and chief executive officer. “Entergy has a long history of working with universities within the Gulf South to develop the professional and technical employees that can support the continued economic development across the region as well as Entergy’s internal long-term workforce needs.”

    Entergy has an extensive track record of supporting the communities it serves, and the company believes that reinvesting in these cities and neighborhoods will enhance the quality of life for everyone. Entergy also works to attract talented, diverse employees through its college recruiting efforts and relationships with minority professional organizations. Having contributed more than $2.3 million over the past five years to historically black colleges and universities in the company’s service territory, Entergy hopes to continue to play a key role in keeping talented graduates employed in our region.

    41513676_2123512174326507_7127266127679324160_n“When we invest in our students, we are investing in their future and the future of Louisiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “As career opportunities continue to grow in the STEM fields, it is necessary that we prepare our students to meet the needs of employers and be competitive in the global market, which is exactly what Southern University is doing while also ensuring African-American students receive the high quality education necessary for developing a diverse workforce. The long standing partnership between Entergy and Southern University is a successful blueprint for both industry and higher education.”

    “Our ongoing partnership with Southern University is an example of how industries and universities can work together to advance common goals,” said Phillip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana. “Entergy Louisiana’s diverse and talented workforce includes some of the best and brightest engineers. We are committed to supporting programs that will help develop and enhance the next generation of engineering innovators.”

    “Southern University is one of the top producers of African-American engineers in the state of Louisiana and beyond,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president. “This partnership with Entergy will ensure that we not only continue this great legacy, but that we also expand opportunities so that students are poised to make valuable contributions to our global society through STEM disciplines.”

    Take a look at the event gallery here.

     

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    Who to Watch: Barbara W. Green

    Baton Rouge counselor Barbara Green said she discusses everything with Seniors, parents, and social workers. At 71, Green manages a full time practice, host trainings and seminars, teaches in ministry, and publishes children’s books along with spiritual reflections. A native of Shreveport, Green has spoken to audiences that number in the thousands and consistently fills them with wisdom, hope, and clear instructions to move forward in their lives. She has been married to Henry Green of Belle Chasse, Louisiana for 48 years.

    Green is a licensed professional Christian counselor and marriage and family therapist who has been in private practice since 1989. She established Inner Reflections Counseling for “the purpose of helping people to help themselves.”

    Barbara W. Green shares "The Great One" with excited fifth graders in Baton Rouge.

    Barbara W. Green shares “The Great One” with excited fifth graders in Baton Rouge.

    She has recently taken her teachings on God’s call of parenting and family dynamics to groups across the state and nation through online podcast interviews. These teachings are written in her books: The Parent Anointing and The Great One.

    “Evangelist Barbara W. Green’s story The Great One will inspire readers to ensure that each generation’s history is properly passed down to equip the next generation for life’s journey. Although, the characters are dogs, their humanistic approach to spirituality and community is one we can all relate to. In this beautiful story, you will find disparity, hope, inspiration, and a quest to salvage your own family history and hold on to the greatness of family histories,” wrote Ellen Sudderth, the host of ESPresents in Virginia.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017:  Sponsored workshops and a weekend retreat for women. Launched The Parent Anointing seminar for parents, guardians, and individuals who work with children. Conducted workshops for the EBR School System and area churches. Conducted weekly workshop for East Baton Rouge Council on Aging for the elderly citizens who were affected by The Great Flood in August 2016. Published my first children’s book, The Great One, with illustrator Antoine Mitchell.

    What to expect in 2018 from you: Trainings and webinars in emotional intelligence, married couples enrichment, and Sister-to-Sister.

    Personal resolution: To leave this natural world empty so that I might enter the spiritual world full.

    Life/business motto: “Helping Others to Help Themselves”

    Business resolution: To better my clients emotionally so that they might live their best lives.

    What is your #1 priority right now?  Service!

    Best advice you’ve ever received?  Live Your Best Life Now!

    Role Model: Maya Angelou

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward?
    A deciding moment always comes on the heels of challenge. With that being said I think many of my deciding moments  have come when I felt I had little choice other than to choose to try. During the times of sickness, fear of consequences or getting beyond challenges that would inadequately define me if I failed, or just plain pride are the unctions that made me move forward to conquer the challenge. After the victories I knew that it was God who presented the URGE to give the challenge my best shot at conquest. The results have produced much humility in the recognition that it is God who gets the glory for every victory, beginning with the decision to even attempt the conquest of the challenge in the first place.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Gospel

    What are you reading?  Butterfly Rising in my Soul by D. Renee Hamilton

    What’s entertaining you?  I go to the moves regularly. I like to watch “The Good Doctor” series.

    ONLINE: www.barbaragreenministries.org 

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    Searching for the Louisiana Young Heroes of 2019

    Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge are looking for the 2019 Louisiana Young Heroes. A Young Hero is an exceptional young person who has excelled in academics, given significantly of themselves through public service, overcome adversity, or inspired others through their deeds and strength of character.

    Nominations are now being accepted for the 24th annual Louisiana Young Heroes.

    Nominees must be Louisiana students enrolled in an academic institution or homeschool program, and cannot be older than 18 years of age. Nominations and supporting materials are submitted through the online form at lpb.org/heroes. Previous winners are not eligible. The deadline for entries is November 30, 2018. Louisiana Young Heroes Day will be Monday, April 15, 2019. This year’s honorees will receive a $1,000 tuition assistance grant and other special awards.

    Submit a nomination at lpb.org/heroes.

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  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: Teachers need more community, parental support

    The latest data from the Center for American Progress shows that the average salary for an attorney is more than two times that of elementary and middle school educators. The Washington Post reported last week that nearly 1 in 10 hosts who rent out their apartments, homes and spaces on Airbnb are teachers. Low salaries, compared with other college graduates, may inhibit highly-effective professionals from pursuing a career in education; specifically for people of color who currently make up just seven percent of public school teachers.

    I come from a family of educators. My mother, both of my grandmothers, and one of my sisters were teachers. However, the family tradition of educating children ended after me. None of my daughters, nieces, or nephews decided to pursue a career in education. Data comprised from surveys completed during the NNPA’s National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting echoed this sentiment. When asked what they believed is needed to close the academic achievement gap, respondents selected community participation and funding over the acquisition of highly-effective teachers.

    Many reasons have led to frustrations with teaching in the United States. Work-to-pay ratio, a lack of resources, and an increased focus on standardized testing has made it increasingly difficult for teachers to be highly-effective.

    This year, teacher strikes broke out in several states concerning school funding and teacher pay. Teachers in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia left the classroom for the state house to protest the lack of resources in the profession. NPR reported in April that teachers have begun to seek support outside of the educational bureaucracy; forming “supply shops” where teachers can swap educational materials for free or at a dramatically reduced cost.

    A first-year teacher who attended the National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting in Norfolk, VA, said that she stepped into the role of teaching, initially excited, but found by the end of the year she was extremely drained physically and emotionally. “I stepped into the role, mid-year, with no lesson plan. What can be done to keep teachers teaching and encourage new teachers coming into the program? I really want to teach, but there is very little support.”

    Highly-effective teachers require competitive pay, professional support, and access to innovative resources. President Barack Obama signed the current national education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015 with educators in mind. Title II of ESSA provides program grants to states and districts that can be used for teacher preparation, recruitment, support, and continued learning. ESSA also ends the requirement of states to set up teacher evaluation systems based significantly on students’ test scores which should reduce the pressure teachers feel to teach to the test. The Teacher and School Leader Innovation Program provides grants to districts that want to try out performance pay and other teacher quality improvement measures. ESSA became effective this 2018-2019 school year.

    With data compiled from 26 school districts, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) found that on average there were small differences in the effectiveness of teachers of high- and low-income students, hiring patterns and teacher transfer patterns were consistent, with only minor differences, between high- and low-income students, and that in 3 of the 26 chosen districts there was meaningful inequity in access to effective teachers in math. Data showed that access to highly-effective teachers was relatively equal across the board. Yet, inequities in educational outcomes between low-income students and students from wealthier families persist throughout the United States.

    As a new teacher, the constant challenge for me was parental engagement. A working parent’s schedule often left little time during school hours to participate in their child’s education and those who were free during school hours, failed to realize the importance of their presence and participation. Today, meaningful parental engagement remains a challenge for educators.

    So, this is a call to action for all parents. Let’s listen to teachers. They are calling for more support and increased pay. Let’s attend to school meetings to find out how to provide them additional support. Let’s attend city and the state meetings to advocate for competitive pay. Let’s vote for leaders who support the academic advancement of our children through access to additional resources.

    By Elizabeth Primas, Ph.D.

     

    Elizabeth Primas, Ph.D., is an educator, who spent more than 40 years working towards improving education for children of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. She is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow her @elizabethprimas.

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