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    First cousins make history as valedictorian and salutatorian

    Two Landry-Walker High School seniors made history in New Orleans, becoming the first male students and first cousins to graduate from the school as the valedictorian and salutatorian on June 12, 2020.
    Keisean Garnier and Shane Sterling, also known as best friends, have been inseparable since birth and throughout their school career, and they do not plan to separate anytime soon. The cousins will be recognized as the first male students to be honored as Landry-Walker’s valedictorian and salutatorian since the establishment of Lord Beaconsfield Landry-Oliver Perry Walker High School in 2013.
    “Kiesean and Shane’s story is a great representation of the vision we plan to achieve within our organization and that includes setting the tone for all of our students to reach higher heights, break barriers and lead with excellence so that others will follow,” said Algiers Charter CEO Tale’ Lockett. “We’re so proud of their achievements at Landry-Walker High School, and we know they have a bright future ahead.”
    “Being cousins and the top two of our class is an honor because of the rarity of the feat,” said Salutatorian Shane Sterling. “We never thought that we would make history in the Landry-Walker books, but I’m glad that we could set the foundation for more young men to graduate at the top of their class. I’m fortunate for this milestone and very thankful to God for guiding us through our high school journey.”
    Both students have been with Algiers Charter since kindergarten, attending Martin Behrman Charter School throughout their elementary and junior high school years. They both started attending Landry-Walker High School in their 10th-grade year and will be attending LSU in the Fall.
    “Shane and I have common interests in a lot of things since our moms are sisters,” said valedictorian Keisean Garnier. “Although we’re not competitive, we definitely push each other to succeed in school and certain activities.”
    In addition to ranking number one and two in their class, both students served as student-athletes on Landry-Walker’s cross country, track and field, and soccer teams. They are both members of the National Society of High School Scholars.
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    State accepting public comments on 2016 floods action plan

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development is accepting public comments on Action Plan Amendment 14, which modifies program budgets to help stabilize housing stock and provide critical assistance in areas impacted by the Great Floods of 2016. The formal public comment period for APA 14 begins today, Wednesday, June 10, and ends at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

    APA 14 moves more than $80 million in funding from undersubscribed programs into those with greater demand, while maintaining sufficient funds in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program to serve all active participants.

    View the plan at doa.la.gov/ActionPlans or request a copy by calling 225.219.9600. The plan is considered substantial, as it involves the movement of program funds and changes program beneficiaries. Substantial amendments are required to undergo a public comment period.

    Members of the public can submit comments in several ways:

    • Use the form at doa.la.gov/ActionPlans;
    • Email them to ocd@la.gov;
    • Mail them to Louisiana Office of Community Development, P.O. Box 94095, Baton Rouge, LA, 70804-9095, Attn: Janice Lovett; or
    • Fax them to the attention of Janice Lovett at 225.219.9605.

    After accepting public comments, the state will submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for final federal approval. The funds represented in APA 14 are part of $1.708 billion in Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery dollars allocated by HUD to Louisiana for recovery from the Great Floods of 2016.

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    P-EBT cards arriving in plain white envelopes; Don’t toss!

    As the first round of Louisiana Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) cards arrive this week, recipients should be on alert for plain white envelopes with an Austin, Texas, return address. The envelope will include the household’s P-EBT card along with instructions for activating and using the card. Photos of the envelope and its contents can be viewed at www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/pebt-mail.

    If parents who successfully applied for P-EBT benefits do not receive their P-EBT card in the mail within one week of the below estimated delivery dates, they should call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 to report their card missing and have a new one mailed to them.  Estimated delivery dates are as follows:

    • For most who applied before May 25 at 4:30 p.m. and were approved, the card(s) should arrive in the mail the week of June 8.
    • Those who applied between May 25 at 4:30 p.m. and June 1 at 4:30 p.m. and were approved can expect to receive their card(s) by June 13.
    • Those who applied between June 1 at 4:30 p.m. and June 8 at 4:30 p.m. and were approved can expect to receive their card(s) by June 19.
    • Those who apply between June 8 at 4:30 p.m. and the new deadline of June 15 at 4:30 p.m. and are approved can expect to receive their card(s) by June 26.
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    Nominate your Essential Dad

    Dads are essential! Nominate a dad who has been working throughout the COVID-19 crisis for him to be a part of our ESSENTIAL DADS feature. Share his name and email, then he will receive an invitation to participate. Send a message to thedrumnewspaper@gmail.com with DAD as the subject. Follow @thedrumnews on social media for highlights.

    #TheDrumEssentialDads #LouisianaFathers

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    Free COVID-19 testing, supplies at Living Faith on June 9

    CareSouth Medical and Dental and other community partners are hosting a COVID-19 Drive-thru Community Testing and Household Supplies and Mask Giveaway at Living Faith Christian Center, 6375 Winbourne Avenue, in Baton Rouge on Saturday, June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    The testing is open to anyone ages 12 and up with or without symptoms and with and without insurance. Pre-registration is required online at caresouth.org or by calling (225) 650-2000. No doctor’s order required. There are no out-of-pocket expenses. If you have insurance, your insurance will be billed. If you don’t have insurance, CareSouth will cover the cost.
    You must be tested first in order to receive the supplies.  Residents will stay in their cars for the testing and the supplies. No walkups are allowed. No more than 4 people per car for testing. Testing will be done on a first-come, first-serve basis for up to 300 people.
    Volunteers from Big Simon Trucking and upCHILD Mentoring Services as well as other organizations will be assisting in the effort.
    The event is being co-sponsored by Attorney Gordon McKernan, community activist Jamie Robinson, Living Faith, and the Southern University Ag Center. Rep. C. Denise Marcelle. McKernan and Robinson are donating the supplies and masks.
    ONLINE:caresouth.org
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    Open Health Care Clinic, Runner’s Courier bring mobile COVID-19 testing to unserved residents

    COVID-19 testing expands into North Baton Rouge neighborhoods thanks to partnerships between Open Health Care Clinic, community leaders, businesses, and churches.

    Early on in March, when the city of Baton Rouge began testing the public for COVID-19, Cleve Dunn Jr., owner of Runner’s Courier Service, said he saw that coronavirus testing was not made available in many urban communities where residents lacked transportation. “At that time the COVID-19 testing site on Florida Blvd was drive-through only and patients needed a doctor’s referral to be tested…That created many barriers to access to testing and left a lot of people unaccounted for when evaluating the spread of the virus,” Dunn said. As a result, he reached out to several healthcare organizations about partnering to provide mobile testing with Runner’s Courier providing the mobile unit that would allow the healthcare organization’s medical staff to test people remotely.

    Tim Young CEO of Open Health Care Clinic was the first to commit to the project, Dunn said. They partnered along with churches, elected officials and community stakeholders to increase access to testing in underserved communities and among Black residents. Nationwide, health officials have said conducting COVID-19 testing in Black communities is critical. That sentiment is a fact here in Louisiana’s where Black residents represent one-third of the state’s population, but make up two-thirds of Louisiana’s COVID-19 deaths.

    For two months, Young and Dunn worked on the COVID-19 Mobile Testing project prior to announcing the first host sites at Capital Missionary Baptist Church in North Baton Rouge on May 12 and the MLK Community Center in Gus Young on May 14. This effort brought mobile testing to residents of North Baton Rouge neighborhoods including Glen Oaks and Eden Park. The mobile unit also provided testing to homeless citizens at the St. Vincent de Paul Center in mid-city on May 19.

    According to Open Health, more than 200 tests were conducted with less than 8 percent testing positive. The mobile unit will continue testing throughout the city with stops in Zion City and Scotlandville during the last week in May. To be tested, residents must have an ID and have symptoms or be asymptomatic but have been near someone who tested positive. All test results are reported to the state department of health.

    Open Health is funded to provide testing to uninsured residents at no out-of-pocket costs. Insured residents also pay no out-of-pocket costs although their insurance may be billed.

     

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    2020 Youth Peace Olympics goes virtual

    2020 Youth Peace Olympics Goes Virtual
    The First Virtual Opening Ceremony Coming May 30th

    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity (LCHE), along with the Together We Are More Adolescent Health Collaborative, is excited to announce our 7th year of hosting the annual Youth Peace Olympics (YPO). The YPO Opening Ceremony will begin promptly at 11 AM on Saturday, May 30, 2020, via Zoom on any smart device or computer.

    Join in at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_89jMAwWqShOetwW5JLte5w. Everyone is invited to enjoy free musical performances and other entertainment. Michael A.V. Mitchell will host this family-friendly online event. A.V. is a mogul in the making, dream coach, entrepreneur, author, artist, and highly sought after motivational speaker. Speaking to small and large audiences, Mitchell “shares his story of vision, faith, and determination in a real way.”

    Joining Mitchell, among others, is local Christian and Gospel rap artist, Carlos Vaughn, formally known as, “Thug Addict.” Led by the Spirit of God, he became a new creature and now goes by his first and middle name, “Carlos Vaughn.” As founder and CEO of Christlike Music and Ministries, LLC, he “is seeking to penetrate the youth population of the urban community to begin the process of changing mindsets.”

    Seven years ago, LCHE launched YPO with a monthly day camp where youth ages 10-17 benefitted from an innovative coaching model and personal enrichment/skills-building activities geared toward promoting healthy living and curbing youth violence. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 YPO is going virtual. As such, a few changes have been made as follows:
    • Weekly online activities replacing monthly day camps
    • Weekly activities will be scheduled for shorter time periods for online platforms
    • More Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) activities

    The weekly “virtual” camps will take place every Saturday at 11:00 AM starting June 6th – August 1st. Baton Rouge Youth, ages 10 through 17, are invited to register using the following link https://form.jotform.com/92394892338168. Parental consent is required. Hurry as space is limited.

    Coaches and volunteers are being recruited now. Coaches may serve as a buddy or mentor to the youth. They must be caring, have achieved personal success, have self-confidence, and a desire to share his or her experiences with youth by offering support, accountability, and encouragement to help enhance communication and problem solving to help youth in achieving their goals. The registration process for mentors and coaches is underway. Visit our website at www.youthpeaceolympics.org/volunteer for more information.

    Important links below:

    Link to register for Opening Ceremony: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_89jMAwWqShOetwW5JLte5w
    Link to register for 2020 YPO summer program:

    https://form.jotform.com/92394892338168

    Link to apply to become a volunteer:

    http://www.youthpeaceolympics.org/volunteer

    On Facebook:
    www.facebook.com/YouthPeaceOlympics/
    Twitter:
    www.twitter.com/ypo_br
    Instagram:
    www.instagram.com/youthpeaceolympics

    About Louisiana Center for Health Equity
    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity (LCHE) is a nonpartisan 501 (c) (3) public charity non-profit organization established in January 2010. LCHE’s purpose is to promote better health outcomes for Louisiana residents who face significant barriers to being healthy with a focus on wellness and community health.

     

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    Two hour COVID-19 drive-thru testing site opens Wed., May 6 in Baker; No doctor’s order required

    A COVID19 drive-through testing facility in the City of Baker will open Wednesday, May 6, to test anyone who has symptoms of COVID19. All healthcare providers and first responders are encouraged to utilize the testing site regardless if they currently have symptoms.

    Testing will continue on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7am to 9am, weather permitting. Testing will be located at the Baker Walmart Parking Lot, 14507 Plank Rd, Baker.

    Details:

    • There is no out-of-pocket cost for individuals
    • A doctor’s order is not required to receive the test, but patients will need to make an appointment
    • There is no testing inside Walmart stores
    • The testing site requires an appointment through Quest’s MyQuestTM online portal and app. You will receive an appointment confirmation that you will need to have on hand when you arrive onsite.
    •  No walk-ups will be seen
    •  Persons wishing to obtain testing at this site should go to www.MyQuestCOVIDTest.com in order to complete the Quest scheduling process
    •  If you do not have access to a computer or smartphone onsite registration will be available at the Quest mobile site.
    • Please make sure to bring a valid photo ID for proof of identity
    • Please arrive no more than 10 minutes before your appointment time
    • Those being tested will need to wear a mask stay in their cars for verification of eligibility criteria, ID check and sample self-collection.
    • Individuals being tested will perform a self-administered nasal swab in their car with a healthcare provider observing them. Directions will be provided in the confirmation email after scheduling the appointment and on-site. If you do not believe you will be able to self-administer the nasal swab, please bring someone with you who can assist you
    • It is important to take care of yourself and monitor your symptoms closely. If your symptoms do not improve or you develop new or worsening symptoms, seek medical attention right away. Do not wait to receive your results
    • Results: Individuals being tested will receive their COVID-19 test results through the secure MyQuest online portal or app and may receive a call from our telehealth partner PWN to review results. The average turnaround time to report results is 2 – 3 days from the day of collection
    • While individuals awaiting results, please follow CDC guidelines and take steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community

    “It is critical that we are able to perform mass testing of the population.” Mayor Darnell Waites has advised the public previously. “We urge anyone who suspects they may be ill and who are exhibiting symptoms to utilize this testing site while following all prescribed safety precautions while in public. We are grateful to our community partners for coming together with us, so as leaders we may ensure the
    health and welfare of our most precious asset, the people of our community. It is an honor to be able to
    serve our community with like-minded leaders in good faith to our people.” The testing is in coordination with Walmart, Quest Diagnostics, parish, and state officials.

    **NO INFORMATION RELATIVE TO PATIENTS, TEST RESULTS OR APPOINTMENTS WILL BE MANAGED OR DISCLOSED TO THE CITY OF BAKER.**

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  • Mobile testing begins at Cortana Mall parking lot without doctor’s notice

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Senator Regina Barrow announced that a new COVID-19 drive-thru testing site will open near the Cortana Mall in the Walmart parking lot on Monday, May 4, 2020.
    The site will accept anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19, but they must make an appointment first. All health care providers and first responders will be able to get tested. The site will not allow walk-ups.

    Those getting tested must wear a mask and stay inside their vehicle while staff verifies their eligibility.

    Testing requires an appointment through Quest Diagnostic’s online portal
    The site is open each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., weather permitting

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  • SLU professor wins $265K national grant

    Ponchatoula resident and Southeastern Louisiana University professor of organic chemistry Jean Fotie, Ph.D., was awarded a $265,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Fotie plans to develop greener and sustainable catalytic methods to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. High school students enrolled in Southeastern’s Math-Science Upward Bound program, Southeastern undergraduate students, and Southeastern integrated science and technology master’s students will participate in Fotie’s research. “Hopefully, this amazing group of researchers will be able to develop a new catalytic system that can enable the conversion of CO2 into important chemicals, a method that could eventually find application in continuous flow industrial processes,” he said.

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    Professional Beauty Association launches COVID-19 Relief Fund

    The Professional Beauty Association, the largest and most inclusive membership association representing the professional beauty industry by connecting, educating, celebrating and fighting for the community it serves, has announced the creation of the PBA COVID-19 Relief Fund under its Disaster Relief Fund umbrella.
    
    The fund is designed to help support the licensed beauty professionals who have not been able to work and/or are experiencing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Funds distributed are intended to be used as emergency cash for short-term immediate needs such as food, bills, and supplies.

    The PBA is calling on salon industry suppliers, consumers, and the industry itself to participate in the tax-deductible fundraising efforts for this fund.

    “These funds will help pay bills, put food on the table, buy supplies, and while not necessarily large in size, will be another important part of their financial support during this crisis,” shares PBA’s executive director Steve Sleeper. “Perhaps most importantly is that this fund signifies that the industry is rallying, uniting and doing whatever it can to support our own.”

    ONLINE: PRO BEAUTY FUND

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    Stretches in bed may calm coronavirus worries and anxieties

    Anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus is leading to sleepless nights for some people – and that can result in even more health problems.

    Studies have shown that a lack of sleep weakens the immune system, the last thing anyone needs when a potentially deadly virus is making the rounds.

    The question many bleary-eyed people face is how they can remedy their insomnia without resorting to medication, anything else that they have to take orally, or a significant lifestyle change. One answer: stretches done on the bed that relax the body and mind, allowing them to drift into slumber and be better prepared for the next day – and keep that immune system humming as well, said Larry Piller (www.larrypiller.com), a certified massage practitioner and author of Stretching Your Way: A Unique & Leisurely Muscle Stretching System.

    “I consider these the crown jewels of stretches for sleep because everyone who tries them falls asleep,” Piller said. “Just by knowing that these stretches are waiting for you anytime you want them, day or night, it will give you a feeling of tranquility as opposed to a night of anxiousness. Stretching has many benefits, and one of those is that it can help you wind down and ease the tension at the end of the day.”

    So, for those struggling to rid themselves of their coronavirus worries, Piller offers a few examples of what he calls “superstar stretches for sleeping”:

    Stretch 1. While lying on your back, extend your shoulder out as is comfortable and lift your hand up as though you are trying to stop traffic. Then turn your arm and your hand backward, letting your little finger be your guide. Let your little finger land where roughly the No. 7 would be on a clock. Just extend your shoulder out as is comfortable and bring your fingers back as is comfortable.

    Stretch 2. While lying on your back on the bed, put your arm in a position as if showing your muscle to someone. Just extend your elbow out to the side as is comfortable for a tricep stretch. From that position, open your hand up all the way, extend your elbow to the side as is comfortable while bringing your thumb down toward you as is comfortable.

    Stretch 3. While you lie on your back, just extend your shoulder and arm out as is comfortable, Piller said.

    Stretch 4. While you lie on your back, bring your toes and the inner side of your foot inward to get a stretch on the side of the foot. These stretches for the side of your feet can be done lying on your side as well, as long as you have room to bring your foot or feet down or inward. You also can use a pillow between your legs to raise your foot so you can bring your foot or feet down, or hang your feet over the edge. “This by itself, or in combination with other stretches, has a high chance to put you to sleep like a little baby,” said Piller.

    A recent article in Psychology Today explored how a good night’s sleep is necessary for a person’s immune system to run as efficiently as possible. A good, healthy immune system is one of the major things that may reduce the risk of the coronavirus. That makes it extremely important that people find simple and easy ways to relax at night, rather than lie staring at the ceiling as brooding fears about the coronavirus swirl around in their minds, he said.

    “Life can be a job in itself, especially right now with all the concerns about the coronavirus,” Piller said. “Most people do not want all the difficulties that every insomnia treatment is riddled with. They don’t want to do all kinds of lifestyle changes that don’t offer solutions or guarantees, and that have minimal results at best. These superstar stretches for sleeping are the world’s easiest and safest. For me, muscle stretching is magic. You get total relief just knowing this effortless system is waiting for you at bedtime.”

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    Stay-at-home order continues until May 15

    Everyone in Louisiana should wear masks when in public; Next announcement will be May 11

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Louisiana’s Stay at Home order will extend until May 15 to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. Louisiana does not currently meet the White House criteria for entering Phase One of reopening.

    While Louisiana has seen positive, improving trends statewide in terms of new case growth and new hospitalizations, in several regions across the state, new cases and hospitalizations continue to increase or to plateau, according to data from the Louisiana Department of Health. The White House criteria calls for declining numbers of new cases and hospitalizations, among other things.

    “Thanks to the commitment of the people of Louisiana, our state has made progress in flattening the curve and reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, we still have a little work to do before we meet the criteria to safely move to the next phase of reopening, so I will extend the state’s Stay at Home order until May 15, with a few minor changes,” Edwards said Monday, April 27. “While this is not the announcement I want to make, I am hopeful, and all of Louisiana should be hopeful, that we will enter into the next phase of reopening soon, in mid-May. I am anxious to get all areas of our economy reopened, but if we accelerate too quickly, we may have to slam on the brakes. That will be bad for public health and for businesses, bad for our people and bad for our state.”Unknown

    Edwards’ decision is based on regional data that shows that while overall new cases and hospitalizations have decreased, this is not the case in several regions. In the Baton Rouge and Monroe regions, both new cases and new hospitalizations have increased. Some increases are also being seen in terms of new cases in Acadiana and a plateau for hospitalizations in Southwest Louisiana and a plateau of new cases on the Northshore.

    Click here to view the Governor’s presentation on regional data trends.
    Under the extended order, which will be issued on Friday, May 1, businesses that previously were directed to be closed will remain closed, including salons, barber shops, bars and casinos, among other things. Businesses that are deemed essential under the third phase of federal CISA guidance may still be open. Non-essential retail businesses in Louisiana continue to be able to open with fewer than 10 people total inside.

    Three major changes in the new Stay at Home order include:

    • Malls will remain closed to the public, but stores may open for curbside delivery.
    • Restaurants will be allowed to open their outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without tableside service.
    • All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.
    • Additionally, both the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly urge everyone to wear masks when in public.

    “Wearing cloth masks or protective face coverings is part of the new normal,” Gov. Edwards said. “Wearing a mask is being a good neighbor and in Louisiana, we pride ourselves on being good neighbors. Your mask protects me and other people and my mask protects you.”

    Hopefully, Louisiana will meet the White House criteria and move to Phase 1 on May 15, provided symptoms, new case counts and hospitalizations decrease and the state continues to surge testing and contact tracing capacity. Phase 1 lifts the Stay at Home order and eases restrictions on some public spaces like houses of worship and restaurants and opens other businesses that have been closed such as barber shops and salons, but with restrictions on occupancy and strict requirements for personal distancing and masks to keep everyone safe. Phase One occupancy for these businesses will be limited to 25 percent.

    As Louisiana prepares for its next phase of reopening, business owners and faith leaders are encouraged to plan as well, including understanding their building’s maximum occupancy limits, which may require contacting local government or the State Fire Marshal’s office. They should also plan on ensuring their employees have masks.

    Edwards intends to make his next announcement on moving to Phase 1 in Louisiana on or by May 11. Members of the public can continue to get information from the Governor’s office on coronavirus.la.gov and by texting LACOVID to 67283.

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    Grambling, Southern to receive $1M from National Park Service

    Grambling State and Southern University will receive a combined $1 million from the National Park Service, according to Senator Bill Cassidy’s Office.

    The money, according to a release, will be used to preserve historic structures on the two campuses.

    Funds will be used to renovate the health center, part of Grambling’s Historic Village and the Southern University archives building.

    Cassidy’s Office says that funding is made available through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF).

    “Grambling and Southern are two of the most historic campuses in our state,” said Cassidy. “This funding will help preserve buildings that make them unique so that they remain for generations to come.”

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    Mayor collaborates with local poet for stay-at-home message

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome partnered with Baton Rouge poet Donney Rose to release a spoken word poem about the coronavirus pandemic. Rose is a writer, essayist, poet, teaching artist, and activist.

    Broome and Rose encourage the community to, “slow our roll,” and, “imagine us banning together by staying apart.” To watch the video, visit: https://youtu.be/L1IbPL-9uDI

    “As someone who is a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, a community advocate and someone who is identified as being immunocompromised from pre-existing conditions, it is important to me to offer words of inspiration and caution to my fellow Baton Rougeans,” said Rose. “COVID-19 is indiscriminate of who it attacks but it is especially damaging to marginalized communities, and so I feel it is a part of my obligation as a trusted voice for many to speak truth to power about the times we’re in and how we move beyond this.”

    Broome encourages influencers in the Baton Rouge community to emphasize the importance of physical distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

    “Donney Rose is more than just a poet; he is someone who can connect with our community and advocate for the importance of adhering to mitigation efforts,” said  Broome.

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    Eight Southern University leaders assigned to Governor’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

    Southern University System will have seven representatives on Governor John Bel Edwards Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. The task force will focus on research and actions to improve health outcomes and equity for the state’s residents. The group’s progress will be monitored by a statewide Health Equity Dashboard.

    From Southern are:

    Sandra Brown, Ph.D., dean of the Southern University College of Nursing and Allied Health, will serve as co-chair of the task force

    Southern University System president-chancellor Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. and chief of staff Katara Williams, Ph.D., will serve on the task force’s administration along with SU alum and Commissioner of the Louisiana Board of Regents, Kim Hunter-Reed, Ph.D.

    Orlando F. McMeans, Ph.D.,, chancellor-dean of the Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    Dr. Rani G. Whitfield, Southern University System Board Member and family practice physician.

    Deleso A. Alford, professor of law at the Southern University Law Center and expert on marginalized people in American healthcare, and Damien Ejigiri,Ph.D, dean and professor of the Nelson Mandela School of Government and Social Sciences will serve on the task force’s public and regulatory policy subcommittee and focus on policies and laws that impact health disparities.

    The task force is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Friday, April 24. For additional information about the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and a complete list of members, click here.

     

     

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    NFL, Players Coalition commit $3 Million+ to support COVID-19 relief; six La. organizations included in aid

    The NFL, through its Inspire Change platform and the Players Coalition,  announced a donation of $3,050,000 to seven markets that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

    Recipients of the funds include health systems, individual hospitals, and non-profit organizations in Atlanta, Ga., Baltimore, Md., Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Mich., Florida, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C.

    While the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our communities nationwide, reports show that communities of color, specifically African American communities, have seen disproportionately high rates of devastating impacts. As part of the multi-year, ongoing collaboration of NFL players, clubs, and owners to address racial inequality and social injustice, the Players Coalition recommended the organizations which were then approved by the broader Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group. These emergency donations come from the NFL’s dedicated social justice investment. Beneficiaries were selected based on rates of impact and community needs.

    “We know that during this difficult time, our minority and low-income communities are struggling disproportionately with the impact of COVID-19,” said Players Coalition co-founder and Working Group member Anquan Boldin. “Communities in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore and more are getting hit hard right now, and we want to do our part in ensuring these areas have even the basic needs. We are glad we can partner with the NFL to support the organizations that are on the ground providing for these families.”

    “This is a difficult time for our nation, and it is important for us to continue to find ways to support those that need it most,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We have an opportunity to direct financial resources to the hardest hit populations. This pandemic is having a tragic effect on communities of color and through Inspire Change and our relationship with the Players Coalition, we are pleased to be able to help where we can.”

    “It’s especially critical to provide extra support for our minority communities who don’t always have access to the basic necessities,” said Players Coalition Task Force member and Working Group member Kelvin Beachum. “We are thankful we can give to the hospitals and organizations in COVID-19 hot spots that are supporting our minority communities and fighting to save lives during this pandemic.”

    More than $50 million has been donated to date in support of COVID-19 relief by the greater NFL family, now including the NFL’s Inspire Change social justice contribution. Inspire Change supports NFL players, clubs, and non-profit grant partners in their efforts to reduce barriers to opportunity with a focus on education and economic advancement, police-community relations, and criminal justice reform.

    Please see below for the full list of beneficiary organizations. The NFL’s COVID-19 relief efforts will continue with this week’s Draft-A-Thon during the NFL Draft on ESPN, NFL Network and ABC starting April 23, 2020 at 8 p.m. ET.

    The following Louisiana organizations will receive COVID-relief funding from the NFL’s social justice initiative:

    Louisiana

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    COVID-19 testing begins 3pm-5pm, Mon – Thurs in north Baton Rouge

    Community testing for the coronavirus has begun at the LSU Health Baton Rouge North Clinic at 5439 Airline Hwy, nearest the population that has been most impacted. Nurses are conducting tests in three drive-up, outdoor tents Monday through Thursday from 3pm – 5pm.

    Although North Baton Rouge has not been identified as a coronavirus cluster area, state data indicates that the city’s African American population is most adversely impacted by the coronavirus and are dying at higher rates from its complications than any other group. Opening this site brings testing closer to neighborhoods with majority African-American residents.

    According to COVID-19 guidelines from the Department of Health and Hospitals, residents must contact their doctors or healthcare provider to be referred for testing. They can then select to test at the Airline site. The healthcare provider must fax orders to the site and the patient will receive a time for their COVID test. Anyone without written orders will be turned away. No oversized vehicles will be admitted.

    This is not a walk-up site. However, if a patient does not have a primary care doctor or if they have symptoms of COVID, they can be seen by doctors at the LSU Urgent Care Center (which is also at the Airline Highway location) before being referred for testing. Identification is required.

    When individuals arrive at their appointed time for COVID-19 testing, they will stay in their vehicle where they will be swabbed. Their doctor or healthcare provider will be notified that they were tested and the results.

    This is the second, drive-up community testing site. It is an initiative led by the Mayor’s Office and healthcare providers, specifically: Baton Rouge Clinic, Baton Rouge General, Ochsner-Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Lake, and Woman’s Hospital. It is staffed by doctors from those hospitals and clinics. The test kits needed to operate the site are donated by those hospitals and clinics. Testing sites have relieved pressure on hospitals, clinics, and emergency rooms, which are also administering COVID-19 tests.

    By Cora Lester
    The Drum reporter

    @thedrumnews

    Read more »
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    Louisiana Lupus Foundation continues to support people living with lupus through COVID fears

    The Louisiana Lupus Foundation invites everyone living with lupus in the state to participate in a needs survey and virtual support group. The needs survey, which is confidential, is available online at www.louisianalupusfoundation.org/survey or at https://forms.gle/zoS1gf2v7L3hqjK39.

    Results will be used to adjust programs and levels of support to people living with lupus as the community prevents the spread of COVID19. Surveys should be completed before the virtual support group meeting on Saturday, April 25 at 12:30pm. The meeting will be conducted through Zoom.com in meeting ID 745-171-568.

    LLF is a charitable, nonprofit focused on supporting people impacted by lupus, an chronic, incurable autoimmune disease.  The local organization as well as lupus groups around the world are working to ensure lupus patients can continue to have access to hydroxychloroquine, a critical medication that they need which have been delayed due to it being prescribed for COVID patients. The novel coronavirus can have a deadly impact on these patients whose bodies are already under attack.

    The support group meets monthly and anyone living with lupus are encouraged to attend.

    ONLINE: Www.louisianalupusfoundation.org

    Read more »
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    Black Momma Vodka pivots business from vodka to hand sanitizer

    Black Momma Vodka CEO/President Vanessa Braxton is lending her manufacturing and distilling expertise to quickly produce urgently needed hand sanitizer for healthcare workers, first responders, patients, and community members fighting the coronavirus. Hand sanitizer has been selling out nationwide due to the pandemic and continues to be much needed in the fight to flatten the curve.

    The pandemic has caught many businesses and their owners by surprise, causing them to react quickly and efficiently to meet consumer needs. Braxton serves as an example of a businesswoman who knows how to adapt during such a critical time in the world, utilizing this opportunity to help the community-at-large and do her part to combat COVID-19.

    “We are changing with the times and we have to be ready to shift how we are serving our community and consumers in the midst of this crisis,” said Braxton. “If I didn’’t own a distillery and manufacturing facility I would not have been able to pivot so quickly from producing vodka to making hand sanitizer. We are ready to evolve and reinvent our business to work with government agencies and hospitals, to protect those on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic.”

    Braxton is the first Black female distiller and master blender in the U.S. She created Black Momma Tea & Cafe (BMTC) as an extension of Black Momma Vodka after a strong demand from her customers wanting to invest in her business.

    By utilizing the 2016 Obama Jump Start Our Business Act, Braxton is the first Black female founder in global history to raise $2.1 million from a crowdfunding platform. This type of fundraising instrument allows companies to secure investment from the general public, both accredited and non-accredited, which is outside of the traditional fundraising route that most start-ups take.

    “In challenging times like these it is important as a business owner who makes products to have control over your manufacturing and equipment,” said Braxton. “If I didn’t own and operate a distillery, I would not have been able to take the reins in this time of need so quickly.”

    Read more »
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    Jade Brown-Russell named to Resilient Louisiana Commission.

    Urban League of Louisiana Board Chair Jade Brown-Russell was named to Governor John Bel Edward’s Resilient Louisiana Commission. Ms. Brown-Russell is also principal of J.D. Russell Consulting.
    Resilient Louisiana is a state commission, made up of an 18 member panel, that is charged with examining Louisiana’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic and making recommendations for more resilient business-related activities and commerce in the coming months. The 18-member panel includes Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, and will be co-chaired by Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson and health care leader Terrie Sterling, a Baton Rouge consultant and retired Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System executive.

    The commission will include a task force structure dedicated to strengthening specific sectors of Louisiana’s economy. Task forces will be focused on solutions for such critical sectors as Energy and Manufacturing; Health Care, including improved delivery of medical care, health equity and enhanced facilities; Tourism, including hotels, gaming and related hospitality entities; Rural Development; Education and Workforce, with attention given to the training needs of displaced workers; and Economic and Community Development, including strategies for making regions and communities more resilient in the face of future health care threats and other risks.

    Joining the commission will be:

    • State Sen. Ronnie Johns, Senate Commerce chair, designee of Louisiana Senate President Page Cortez.
    • State Rep. Paula Davis, House Commerce chair, designee of Louisiana House Speaker Clay Schexnayder.
    • Scott Hensgens, PAR chairman; managing partner, Breazeala, Sachse & Wilson.
    • Tyron Picard, CABL chairman; founding principal, The Picard Group.
    • Tim Temple, C100 Louisiana vice chair; president and CEO, Temptan LLC.
    • Bill Hogan, representing Louisiana bankers; president and CEO, Century Next Bank.
    • Louis Reine, representing labor unions; Louisiana AFL-CIO president.
    • Michael R. LaFitte II, representing small businesses; owner, Shreveport Haberdashery.
    • Walt Leger III, representing tourism; senior vice president, general counsel, New Orleans & Company.
    • Ti Martin, representing restaurants; co-proprietor, Commander’s Palace.
    • Jade Brown-Russell, Urban League of Louisiana chair; principal, J.D. Russell Consulting.
    • Sonia Perez, representing Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency-essential industry; president, AT&T Louisiana.
    • Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne (ex-officio member).
    • Secretary Kimberly Robinson, Louisiana Department of Revenue (ex-officio member).
    • Dr. Jim Richardson, John Rhea Alumni Professor of Economics, LSU (ex-officio member).

    Leaders who are named later to chair the task forces also will serve as ex-officio members of Resilient Louisiana. For more information about the commission and updates about its work, visitOpportunityLouisiana.com/ResilientLouisiana. Additional details about commission plans and meetings will be forthcoming in the near future.

    Read more »
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    Domestic violence may increase during COVID closures, help exists

    Domestic violence issues may increase in frequency, intensity and case number as a result of the closure of workplaces and schools in our area. “Spending days or weeks with an abusive partner or family member opens the door for immense physical and emotional trauma,” said Mayor-President Sharon Broome. “Unfortunately, this is the reality that COVID-19 presents to many of our neighbors, family, and friends.”

    Here are resources:

    Emergency Shelter

    • Iris Domestic Violence Center http://www.stopdv.org (225) 389-3001
    • State Hotline 1-888-411-1333
    • National Hotline 1-800-799-7233
    • The Butterfly Society (225) 347-7725; thebutterflysociety@gmail.com

    Individual Counseling Services

    • Free individual counseling services through Catholic Charities (225) 389-4736
    • Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge (225) 924-0123
    • Children’s Advocacy Center (225) 343-1984

    Primary Care and Behavioral Health

    •  Capital Area Human Services (225) 288-1044

    Support Groups

    • Domestic Violence Community Group Counseling (225) 389-4736
    • Hope & Healing Homicide Survivors Support Group (225) 389-4736

    Food

    • Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank (225) 359-9940
    • Southeast Ministries Association Inc. (225) 924-5122

    Clothing

    •  St. Vincent de Paul (any location)
    • Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge (225) 355-4483

    Financial Services

    • Crime Victims Reparations (225) 239-7850
    • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (225) 336-8700
    • Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge (225) 355-4483

    Legal Aid

    •  Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (225) 448-0080

    Employment Services

    • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (225) 336-8700

    Childcare Assistance

    • Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) (877) 453-2721
    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge native develops antiviral drug with potential to fight coronavirus

    Baton Rouge native Darnisha Harrison, founder and CEO of Ennaid Therapeutics, is advancing the development of an antiviral drug that may potentially fight coronavirus cases, and which would be more easily administered to those afflicted by the disease.

    Harrison’s Georgia-based pharmaceutical company filed a patent for a therapeutic called ENU200 that could treat as much as 80 percent of asymptomatic, mild to moderate COVID-19 infections.

    “Our science strongly suggests that ENU200, a repurposed drug with a well-established clinical and safety profile, has the potential to be a broad solution to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Harrison in a statement from the company. “Unlike other COVID-19 drugs in development, which must be administered via injection or intravenously under the care of a physician, ENU200 can be administered orally, thus enabling in-home treatment for COVID-19 infections.”caxvji9a0d-1459395772470-3000s3

    Harris graduated from Baton Rouge Magnet High School and LSU before moving to Georgia. Harrison began researching therapeutics for zika, dengue, chikungunya virus, and hepatitis C viruses. The company has a pipeline of about 10 drugs. “When no one paid much attention to these viruses, we certainly did,” Harrison said. In 2014, she was featured in Newsweek as one of 13 Entrepreneurs to bet on.

    ENU200 had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a different purpose and is no longer prescribed, but scientific modeling shows that it can deliver antiviral activity to the proteins that make up coronavirus.  “We focus on finding that early science that can be beneficial,” she told interviewers at ISNDT in 2016.

    Harrison said they are hoping the FDA will fast track the drug through its emergency process and will run a clinical trial before bringing it to market. According to the corporate website, Ennaid Therapeutics “brings innovative cures to rare and seemingly incurable diseases, thus improving the health and saving the lives of humans and animals all over the world.”

     

    maxresdefault

    Darnisha Harrison, CEO, Ennaid Therapeutics

     

    Read more »
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    Faith leaders urge Gov. Edwards to use emergency powers to release detainees

    More than  50 faith leaders from a wide range of locations and denominations signed on to a letter this week urging Governor John Bel Edwards to immediately release elderly and vulnerable detainees in Department of Corrections and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. There are more than 18,000 cases of and over 700 deaths from the highly contagious and deadly virus COVID-19 in Louisiana. Positive tests have been confirmed at almost every DOC facility and at least two ICE facilities. Without the ability to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for social distancing, quarantine, and hygiene that prevent the spread of COVID-19, loved ones, advocates, and faith leaders fear that uncontrollable outbreaks will cause a catastrophic loss of life among those incarcerated and employed in detention facilities, as well as the surrounding communities across the state.

    The request calls upon Governor Edwards to utilize emergency powers for release provided to his office under the constitution.

    The letter states, “We fear those in detention are being sentenced to death despite your power to release them. We fear for those who work as correctional officers, medical staff, chaplains, mental health providers, and all personnel. We are concerned for their families and communities as well. This virus does not know the boundaries of confinement.”

    “For people of the Christian faith, this holy week from Palm Sunday leading up to Easter is about entering into the suffering of the world and deciding how we will respond.  The most vulnerable in the United States are the more than two million people sitting in prisons, jails, and detention centers with no protection and no place to go to stay safe from being infected by and dying of CoViD-19. This most sacred time of the year is a stark reminder of the choices we make. Our actions will reflect and our society will be measured by how we treat the most vulnerable during this time,” said Sister Alison McCrary, SFCC, Esq.

    “As an advocate and a minister, I appeal to Governor John Bel Edwards, as well as our state Legislature, to reduce the inmate population in Louisiana’s overcrowded prisons and jails. Louisiana incarcerates more people per capita than any other state in the country. In Angola alone, over half the inmates are morethan 60 years old or live with chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes, and obesity. Medical experts say that people with these conditions are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who do not have these pre-existing health concerns. The experts also recommend social distancing as the most effective way to avoid spreading the virus.  Reduction of the prison population is not just a medical necessity based on these expert opinions, but necessary to uphold the State’s moral obligation to protect its most vulnerable citizens,” said Minister Leo Jackson, Second Zion Prison Ministry.

    Read the letter to Governor Edwards from Faith Leaders here.

    Read more »
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    Congressional Black Caucus, civil rights organizations challenge CDC to provide reports on rate of infections

    With evidence growing that shows African Americans disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus, just nine states and the District of Columbia have released a racial breakdown of those diagnosed with the disease.

    Concerned health experts, members of the U.S. Congress, and civil rights organizations have ramped up their call for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide a detailed report.

    “We know that there’s a disproportionate rate of infections and death nationwide,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) stated in a conference call with the Black Press of America represented by the National Newspaper Publishers Association on Tuesday, April 7.

    “It’s happening in all of our [African American] communities nationwide. We feel that it’s an emergency that needs to be addressed right away, and, importantly, we need data, and the CDC is not compiling data,” Bass added.

    Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, agreed that statistics along racial lines are vital. “The data already released shows troubling trends for African Americans that must be addressed to ensure public health,” Kelly said.

    African Americans make up about 18 percent of the population in Michigan but account for approximately 40 percent of coronavirus-related deaths, according to Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-Michigan).

    “I am speaking as just one part of the major piece of concern, and that’s the alarming way in how this pandemic is having an impact on our Black community,” Lawrence said.

    “We are the number one target for this disease. We have pre-existing conditions, and yet we’re told to go home when we visit the emergency room. We know that there must be some form of regulation in place for testing and getting testing sites and equipment into the community,” Lawrence said.

    The Louisiana Department of Health revealed that 70 percent of coronavirus deaths in the state are African American, despite Black people making up just 32 percent of the population. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, African Americans reportedly accounted for nearly half of coronavirus cases and more than 80 percent of deaths related to the disease.

    “I have seen in my waiting room mostly Black and Brown patients who are essential workers and service workers who can’t afford to stay home,” Uche Blackstone, the CEO of Advancing Health Equity, told The Hill.

    “These are the ones that I see presenting to the clinic with COVID-19 symptoms,” Blackstone said.

    Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) led a group from congress recently in demanding that the federal government release data about racial disparities in America’s response to the pandemic. Pressley said she and her colleagues made clear in the letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that the government is failing to collect and publicly report on the racial and ethnic demographic information for coronavirus tests and patients.

    “Without demographic data, policymakers and researchers will have no way to identify and address ongoing disparities and health inequities that risk accelerating the impact of the novel coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes,” the letter stated.

    “Although COVID-19 does not discriminate along racial or ethnic lines, existing racial disparities and inequities in health outcomes and health care access may mean that the nation’s response to preventing and mitigating its harms will not be felt equally in every community.”

    Dr. Ebony Hilton and Dr. Taison Bell, of the Virginia Medical School, have publicly demanded the release of racial data surrounding the virus.

    “Release the data,” said Hilton, who continuously posts that message on social media sites.

    “We see in states that aren’t reporting on racial demographics that there’s been a surge in patients dying from respiratory distress and respiratory failure,” Bell said.

    The NNPA and its Coronavirus Task Force was the first media-related entity in the U.S. to declare a “State of Emergency for Black America” as the fatalities among Black Americans continue to rise across the nation. Using social media to increase public awareness about COVID-19, the NNPA is encouraging the use of the following hashtags: #SaveBlackLives and #NNPACoronavirusTaskForce.

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

    Read more »
  • Gerber releases exceptional portraits of NO women

    New Orleans native Cheryl Gerber captures the vibrancy and diversity of New Orleans women in Cherchez la Femme: New Orleans Women.

    Inspired by the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC, Gerber’s book includes over two hundred photographs of the city’s most well-known women and the everyday women who make New Orleans so rich and diverse. Drawing from her own archives as well as new works, Gerber’s selection of photographs in Cherchez la Femme highlights the contributions of women to the city, making it one of the only photographic histories of modern New Orleans women.

    Alongside Gerber’s photographs are twelve essays written by female writers about New Orleans women including Leah Chase, Irma Thomas, Mignon Faget, and Trixie Minx. Also featured are prominent groups of women that have made their mark on the city, like the Mardi Gras Indians, Baby Dolls, and the Krewe of Muses, among others. The book is divided into eleven chapters, each celebrating the women who add to New Orleans’s uniqueness, including entertainers, socialites, activists, musicians, chefs, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders, and burlesque artists.

    Read more »
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    Gov. Edwards announces creation of COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the creation of the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, which will look at how health inequities are affecting communities that are most impacted by the coronavirus.

    “We know that right now 70 percent of our deaths in Louisiana from coronavirus are African Americans. This is a disturbing trend and one that deserves our attention, which is why we are engaging a group of leaders right now while the crisis is still ongoing,” Gov. Edwards said. “When we talk about health equity, we mean everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. The great thing is that the findings and recommendations made by this Task Force will help everyone better access quality care and improve health outcomes. It will also leverage our research capabilities and intellectual brainpower in a collective manner to tackle this daunting issue.  I am asking our universities and research institutions to lead this effort.”

    Groups that will participate in the task force include:

    • Southern University’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy
    • Xavier University’s Department of Public Health Sciences
    • Health Science Centers at LSU and Tulane
    • LDH Office of Public Health
    • LDH Bureau of Minority Health Access
    • Pennington Biomedical Research Center
    • Schools of Nursing at all of Louisiana’s universities

    The immediate assignment is to make sure communities with health disparities are blanketed with good information on COVID-19 safety and prevention; provide the medical community with best practices and protocols for treating communities with underlying medical conditions and health disparities; and ensure testing availability and ease of access for all communities. This Task Force will begin its work immediately and their research will result in the creation of a Dashboard on Health Equity.

    Read more »
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    REVOLT TV presents ‘State of Emergency’ town hall meeting

    On Thursday April 10,  REVOLT’s YouTube channel presented “State Of Emergency: The State of Black America & Coronavirus” virtual town hall that tackled healthcare, the economy, and the role of influencers and young people during the crisis. The conversation included Van Jones, Big Sean, Yara Shahidi, Angela Rye, YBN Cordae, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Killer Mike, Reverend Al Sharpton, and others.

    “We have a pandemic jumping on top of multiple epidemics already in our community. Somebody needed to step up and sound the alarm,” said Van Jones who thanked Diddy for organizing the town hall.

    “This coronavirus gives us a unique opportunity to come together and solve for things just like our community always has. [It] gives an opportunity to teach the masses what we mean when we talk about disparate outcomes in healthcare. When we talk about the ways of which we are oppressed economically. When we talk about racism, structural racism, and systemic oppression; coronavirus gives you exhibit A through Z,” said attorney Angela Rye.

    Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “We all have to do more than we’ve ever done before. All of us have the power to do that. We all have the power to convene our family, our community or even around policy.” She said a community plan is as important as a government plan. “We need to apply pressure and make sure they are responsive, but we can act right now. Go out into your building, knock on every door … find which apartments have elders and maybe you can go to the grocery store for them. Find out what people need, develop a plan and actively build community, so we can look out for each other.”

    Watch Diddy’s “State Of Emergency: The State of Black America & Coronavirus” town hall here Read more »

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    State of emergency declared for Black America as public health experts reveal coronavirus is airborne

    WASHINGTON DC (NNPA)–While many medical doctors maintain that the novel coronavirus is transmitted through droplets from coughs or sneezes, more and more medical experts and officials who work primarily with infectious respiratory illnesses and aerosols are convinced that the disease is airborne.

    Today, as a result of recent medical research and data, The National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. has issued a solemn national public warning and alert to nearly 50 million African Americans. “Black America is now in a state of emergency as a result of the disproportionately deadly impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our families and communities across the United States,” Chavis stated. “The coronavirus is now airborne. That means that the coronavirus can be in the air that we breathe.”

    “Black Americans should stay at home and only leave home for critical life-essential reasons,” Chavis emphasized. “In fact, all Americans should stay at home to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. But I must emphasize that because before the spread of the coronavirus, Black Americans were already disproportionately burdened with multiple preexisting health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, our communities are more vulnerable to the impact of the coronavirus, including higher rates of fatalities.”

    A Pro Publica report revealed that African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81 percent of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is only 26 percent Black.

    Milwaukee is one of the few places in the United States that is tracking the racial breakdown of people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus, offering a glimpse at the disproportionate destruction it is inflicting on Black communities nationwide.

    In Michigan, where the state’s population is 14 percent Black, African Americans made up 35 percent of cases and 40 percent of deaths as of Friday, April 3.

    Detroit, where a majority of residents are Black, has emerged as a hot spot with a high death toll. As has New Orleans, according to Pro Publica.

    Louisiana has not published case breakdowns by race, but 40 percent of the state’s deaths have happened in Orleans Parish, where the majority of residents are Black.

    Illinois and North Carolina are two of the few areas publishing statistics on COVID-19 cases by race, and their data shows a disproportionate number of African Americans were infected, according to the report.

    “We know in the US that there are great discrepancies in not only the diagnosis but the treatment that African Americans and other minorities are afforded,” stated Dr. Ebony Hilton, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia Health Systems.

    “So, I want to make sure that in this pandemic, that Black and brown people are treated in the same way and that these tests are made available in the same pattern as for white people,” Dr. Hilton said.

    Medical experts have also sounded the alarm that the virus could well be transmitted through the air.

    “Currently available research supports the possibility that (COVID-19) could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation,” Harvey Fineberg, who heads a standing committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, wrote in an April 1, 2020 letter to Kelvin Droegemeier, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

    “One must be cautious in imputing the findings with one respiratory virus to another respiratory virus, as each virus may have its own effective infectious inoculum and distinct aerosolization characteristics,” Fineberg wrote.

    “Studies that rely on PCR to detect the presence of viral RNA may not represent virus in sufficient amounts to produce infection. Nevertheless, the presence of viral RNA in air droplets and aerosols indicates the possibility of viral transmission via these routes.”

    Fineberg penned the letter in response to a request from the White House OSTP. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a standing committee of experts to help inform OSTP on critical science and policy issues related to emerging infectious diseases and other public health threats.

    The standing committee includes members with expertise in emerging infectious diseases, public health, public health preparedness and response, biological sciences, clinical care and crisis standards of care, risk communication, and regulatory issues.

    “The results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing,” Fineberg wrote.

    He noted an airflow modeling study that followed a coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong in the early 2000s supports the potential for transmission via bioaerosols.

    In that study, the significantly increased risk of infection to residents on higher floors of a building that was home to an infected individual indicated to the researchers a pattern of disease consistent with a rising plume of contaminated warm air.

    “In the mind of scientists working on this, there’s absolutely no doubt that the virus spreads in the air. This is a no-brainer.” Lidia Morawska, at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, told the medical website, nature.com.

    A March 2020 Cambridge Research study of those with influenza revealed that 39 percent of individuals exhaled infectious aerosols, which experts noted that, as long as an airspace is shared with someone else, breathing in the air they exhale, it’s possible for airborne transmission of the coronavirus.

    “It’s airborne,” Dr. Angela Guerrera, an emergency medicine specialist in New Jersey, told NNPA Newswire.

    “If someone has the disease, they don’t have to cough and sneeze or spit. If you then go into their space, you can probably get it,”  Guerrera said.

    Some experts said they are convinced that a primary reason that governments and organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have shied away from stating that the virus is in the air is to prevent panic and because it could take years and cost hundreds of millions of lives before indisputable evidence can be presented.

    “We shouldn’t let perfect be the enemy of convincing,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota.

    A spokeswoman for the WHO told NNPA Newswire that the organization is focused solely on treatment and trials.

    “As far as treatment for COVID-19 is concerned, so far, we have no evidence that any particular drug is effective, but researchers around the world are working hard on this. More than 20 vaccines are in development globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials,” said WHO spokeswoman Ashley Baldwin.

    By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

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    U.S. Senator says Coronavirus Act will provide a critical $1 billion in emergency funding to HBCUs

    U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D- Ala.) said the $1.05 billion in emergency funding to HBCUs is critically needed to help these schools and the communities in which they’re located, according to an exclusive interview with Thomas Joyner Jr., founder and host of The New HBCUbiquity Podcast, produced by the PodoTron Network.

    Jones, Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ), the United Negro College Fund and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund jointly worked together to lobby to get the funds included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed last week, which also will help tribal colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. Jones said that he hopes the funds will be made available within the next few weeks, primarily for capital projects to help these schools continue to make improvements on these campuses.

    “The goal is getting this money to these schools that need it,” Jones said. “[HBCUs] are going to get hit harder than bigger schools who can tap into their endowments, and [these funds] will be a way to help the communities they serve.”

    Jones also sponsored The Future Act, passed last year, which simplifies the FAFSA form and provides funding for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or better known as FAFSA program. Every year, HBCUs receive $255 million, but this allocation was subject to review every year, Jones said. The act permanently guarantees the funding for this aid. Jones said the bill simplifies the form, eliminating about 22 questions, to make it more accessible to more families. In Alabama alone, Jones said only half of the high school seniors completed forms, leaving some unused $57 million. “This is another way to get students into HBCUs and other minority serving institutions,” Jones explained. “If they want to go to college, then a stupid government form won’t get in their way.”

    Jones told Joyner that HBCUs are “amazing”.

    “They are the real fabric of their communities,” Jones said. “They provide so many opportunities for those who would not have gotten those opportunities. So many doctors, lawyers, engineers and professionals who come out of HBCUs that started their education, maybe on a PELL Grant, came out of these schools.”

    Jones explained that the funding provides two important things: An economic driver for the state and those communities in which they’re located because they as a tremendous source of pride. “Beyond the sporting events, there is such a deeply held feeling for these HBCUs among those who’ve graduated from there,” Jones said. “It’s given minority populations the ability to build generational wealth that they might not otherwise get. It’s just so important we continue all we can do at the federal and state level to support them. But also, to encourage kids to look at these HBCUs, to go and attend because it’s an incredible, incredible experience.”

    To learn more about the interview or talk to Joyner, contact Neil Foote of Foote Communications at neil@neilfoote.com or 214-448-3765

    Read more »
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    NAACP urges Gov. Edwards to ensure school meals, distance learning during school closures

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. sent a letter to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to express concern about the lack of school meals and educational instruction provided to schoolchildren since schools closed on March 13, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. These failures have a disproportionate impact on Black schoolchildren, many of whom rely on school meals for their daily nutrition and do not have access to online resources. The letter urges Governor Edwards to require all school districts to provide meals and distance learning that is reasonably accessible, especially to the most vulnerable students.

    “We call upon Governor Edwards to take immediate action to ensure that no child in Louisiana is deprived of food or an education,” said LDF Senior Counsel Michaele N. Turnage Young. “Even in the midst of unprecedented challenges, we must ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow and learn. The strains of this pandemic are felt by everyone, but most especially by disadvantaged children that now, more than ever, face economic and educational insecurity.”

    For many children, school breakfasts and lunches are the only meals they can reliably expect to eat each weekday. Yet, since the schools have closed, access to school meals has been uneven. Some children do not have access to meals at all, while others cannot sign up remotely for meal delivery due to a lack of internet access, and others must walk more than an hour to retrieve a meal from pick-up site that may be open for as little as 90 minutes.

    Nearly half of Louisiana school districts have yet to offer any distance learning at all even though the pandemic may cause students to miss nearly a quarter of the school year. Where distance learning is offered, it is often inaccessible to children who do not have internet service.

    LDF represents thousands of Black schoolchildren and their parents in school desegregation cases across Louisiana. For decades, such families have taken the lead in advancing solutions that will improve conditions for all. LDF’s letter offers recommendations for overcoming today’s unprecedented challenges and asks Governor Edwards to implement them.

    Read the full letter here.

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    BabyVend CEO launches ‘How to start your own vending business’ live trainings

     Jasmin Smith, founder of BabyVend, is launching an online series of live trainings on “How to Start and Grow Your Vending Business” during the month of April. The mompreneur with two young children develops custom vending machines stocked with baby products.

    Each training will stream live on Zoom on Tuesdays and Saturdays with an option of three times. Classes will run for four weeks and will be facilitated by Smith. As an award-winning nationally-known entrepreneur, Smith is also the founder and CEO of the annual Alaska Black Business Expo in Anchorage.

    Her live training sessions are designed to assist other entrepreneurs who want to capitalize on the vending machine business, which are expected to increase in massive numbers this year. Vending machines allow for business transactions to take place and for items to be purchased with no human-to-human interaction, which reduces the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

    Guest speakers during the training sessions will include Cindy Tiwah, the founder of Divah By Cindy who created the first automated vending machine that sells natural hair care products in Maryland; and Timothy Island, the founder of Island Cannabis Co. who has developed a self-service cannabis vending machine in Los Angeles.

    Do you have an idea for something you want to see in a vending machine? Do you want to learn what is currently in vending machines worldwide? Do you want make supplemental income by securing your own vending machine or route? If you answered ‘yes,’ this training is perfect for you.

    To register for this online live training, sign up now here.

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    Chief Justice Johnson issues guidance to reduce prison population, increase public safety during COVID-19

    Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson issued guidance to Louisiana District Judges on Thursday, April 2, urging to them conduct a comprehensive review to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and release incarcerated people under certain circumstances. The letter comes after a week of evolving news developments about COVID-19 positive cases in state corrections facilities.

    The Louisiana Department of Corrections has reported that 14 employees and five incarcerated people have confirmed cases COVID-19. A third individual incarcerated at a federal prison in Oakdale has also succumbed to the disease. Orleans Parish Prison, East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, and Jefferson Parish Prison all have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    In order to reduce risk to staff, decrease the number of cases overall, and protect public health, Chief Justice Johnson urged that all district courts “conduct a comprehensive and heightened risk-based assessment of all detainees” and take the following actions:

    1. For those charged with misdemeanor crimes, other than domestic abuse battery, favor a nominal bail amount, or a release on recognizance order – with, of course, a notice to appear on a future date;
    2. For those convicted of a misdemeanor crime, consider a modification to a release and supervised probation or simply time-served;
    3. For those charged with a non-violent offense, consider a reduced bail obligation or a release on recognizance order with, of course, a notice to appear on a future date;
    4. For those charged in other criminal matters, re-examine the nature of the offense and criminal history, if any, to determine if any bail revisions are appropriate;

    By comparison, Louisiana has taken very few steps to reduce the population in corrections facilities as a response to COVID-19 threat in prisons. A chart that shows what other states have done to protect public health by reducing prison populations is linked here.

    Federal funding was made available a few days ago through Bureau of Justice Assistance formula grants that can be drawn down during this emergency to support justice system responses to COVID-19, including home confinement, pretrial release, and other jail alternatives. Louisiana is allocated $9.7 million for this purpose and would have to apply for the funding by May 29th.  Cities, townships, and parishes could apply for an additional $5 million in funding (allocations ranging in size from $33,000 to $1 million depending on population).

    ONLINE: https://www.lasc.org/COVID19/2020-04-02-LASC-ChiefLetterReCOVID-19andjailpopulation.pdf

     

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    Saluting our Sailor: Nicholas Lee of Baton Rouge

    Landing Signalman, Enlisted U.S. Navy Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Nicholas Lee, of Baton Rouge, La., is on the East China Sea directing an MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to the “Warlords” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51. The unit takes off on the flight deck aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) during a vertical replenishment training. On the McCampbell, Lee is underway conducting operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda

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    FrogTutoring opens live, online classes with instructors; free for K-12 students

    Frog Tutoring, LLC now offers free online K-12 classes in math, English Language Arts, and science led live by an instructor to help students across the country continue their educational pursuits while the country faces the COVID-19 pandemic. Highly qualified tutors will lead classes for students in the foundational subjects as many schools throughout the country are not able to offer online classes to their students or have suspended school until the fall.

    Frog Tutoring will be utilizing a structured curriculum from CK-12.org Education Foundation and offering over 290 classes targeting different subjects and grades. CK-12.org is one of the leaders in providing online grade-specific educational content and often used by students who are homeschooled. Registration begins Monday, March 30th and classes are scheduled to run through May. Students can register for classes at https://frogtutoring.com/elessons.

    Classes will be held 1-3 times per week for a minimum of an hour utilizing Zoom, which allows for teacher and student communication, content and screen sharing facilitating an interactive learning experience for the students.  Instructors of the online classes will be tutors employed by Frog Tutoring who have been carefully vetted, maintained a 3.5 grade point average and passed a background check. All tutors are volunteering their time to make sure no student is left behind. Families will receive an email after each online session from the tutor summarizing educational content allowing parents to know the concepts that are being covered.

    “As leaders in the tutoring industry, I wanted us to play a role to ensure that all families can offer their children the ability to continue their education; this is something our families should not have to worry about.  I reached out to our amazing tutors to see if they were willing to volunteer their time to teach pro bono classes and I was stunned that over 200 of our employees answered the call to service for our communities and country within 48 hours.  I am proud of our tutors and the impact they will have in making a difference in children’s lives as we all face COVID-19,” said Roland Omene, CEO of Frog Tutoring,.

     Frog Tutoring is an educational technology platform that facilitates college admissions coaching and one-on-one customized in-home and online tutoring, offering services on a full range of academic courses, test preparation, and computer summer camps for K-12 and college students. Frog Tutors are college students and recent graduates from top local universities with an average GPA of 3.5 or higher in their areas of tutoring specialization who serve as mentors to their students. Frog Tutoring was founded by Omene in 2009. The company’s headquarters are in Fort Worth, Texas, with current operations in more than 50 major cities in the US and growing. For more information on Frog Tutoring, visit http://frogtutoring.com/.

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    CareSouth offering curbside WIC services during COVID-19

    CareSouth Medical and Dental  is offering curbside service for its WIC program to ensure that families still receive nutritious food during the quarantine.

    Due to COVID-19, the USDA recently waived certain requirements for participants to receive WIC benefits. Appointments can be made over the phone and curbside services are offered at various CareSouth locations. Curbside services include providing required information to staff over the phone. Staff will then load benefits to your card from the clinic. Please remember to bring your ID and current WIC EBT card if you already have one.

    “We’re happy to be able to continue to provide healthy food for our families, while practicing social distancing,” said CareSouth CEO Matthew Valliere. “We’ve been offering curbside service since March 23 and it’s going really good.”

    Valliere said the clinic has been receiving more inquiries lately due to residents losing their jobs or being furloughed.

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children also known as the WIC program provides healthy food for women and infants and children up to five years old.   Participants receive eggs, juice, cheese, fruits and vegetables, beans, and infant formula among other things. The program also offers breastfeeding support, nutrition education and referrals to other social services.

    Women who are pregnant, just had a baby or breastfeeding as well as those who have infants and children up to five years old are eligible for the program. To apply, you must have a picture ID, show proof of Louisiana residency and income or currently receive Medicaid, SNAP, or TANF.

     

    CareSouth WIC locations:

    CareSouth WIC @MLK

    4142 Gus Young Ave
    Baton Rouge, LA – 70802
    8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Monday – Thursday

    8 a.m. to noon Friday 

    (225) 388-5861

     

    Baton Rouge 

    Suite A

    3111 Florida Street
    Baton Rouge, LA  70806
    8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday – Thursday 

    8 a.m. to noon  Friday 

    (225) 650-2093 or (225) 650-2019

     

    Donaldsonville Clinic

    904 Catalpa Street
    Donaldsonville, Louisiana 70346
    9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday – Thursday 

    8 a.m. to noon Friday 

    (225) 264-6800  

     

    For more information or to apply, call (225) 650-2093 or (225) 650-2019.

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    5 tips to fight sleep deprivation

    Despite a desire for perfect sleep, Americans are not even close to getting the recommended eight hours a night, and 1 in 4 Americans believes the sleep they are getting isn’t the quality rest they want and need.

    “To put sleep deprivation into perspective, 37% of Americans report they have fallen asleep behind the wheel,” said Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a sleep health expert for Mattress Firm. “About 5% report falling asleep while driving on a monthly basis. Clearly, sleep deprivation is wide-spread and a risk factor for overall well-being.”

    With chronic sleep deprivation, the brain’s ability to maintain attention and focus continues to decline over time. In addition to impairing mental function, lack of sleep has been associated with a host of risks to overall health.

    Prevent sleep deprivation and take charge of your mental and physical health with these tips from Kansagra:

    Nap responsibly. When you’re feeling tired, it’s no surprise the best solution may be sleep. Some research suggests a quick power nap can actually give you a stronger boost than caffeine. However, too much rest during the day can throw off your nighttime sleep pattern. Aim for no more than 20 minutes so you don’t wake up groggy, and time your nap for the mid-point of your wake cycle (halfway between when you wake up and go to sleep).

    Limit screen time. If you turn to your phone to help wind down while you’re in bed, you’re not alone, but you may be doing more harm than good. According to a survey conducted by Mattress Firm on sleep habits, the average person scrolls on his or her phone while lying in bed for more than 12 minutes before shutting down for the night. What’s more, the light from the screen serves as a stimulant, as does the digital content you’re viewing. That means you’re making it physically harder to fall asleep than if you put down your devices at least 30 minutes before bed.

    Stick to a sleep schedule. The average person gets less than six hours of sleep per night, according to the survey – a far cry from the eight hours most experts recommend. One way to buck this trend is to make it a point to turn in and wake up at the same time every day so you synchronize your sleep time with your internal clock. While eight hours is the standard, you may need to adjust up or down to find the amount of sleep that lets you wake feeling rested.

    Develop a pre-bedtime routine. You can train your body to prepare for sleep by creating a pattern or a routine that eases you toward sleep.

    “Even something as simple as putting on a sleep mask each night, reading in bed for 20 minutes or practicing the same shower routine at the same time every night signals to your brain it’s time to hit the hay,” Kansagra said. “Creating a bedtime routine that lasts 20-30 minutes and sticking to that routine can make all the difference in your energy, productivity and mood.”

    Find the right sleep position. If you’re looking for the secret to a good night’s sleep, comfort may be the key. According to the survey, those who sleep on their backs at night are most likely to report they slept “perfectly well.” The most common sleeping position, on your side, correlates with the worst sleep reports. It may take some trial and error to find the right position that keeps your spine aligned, allows you to breathe freely and evenly distributes your weight.

    Top 5 Bedtime Rituals
    A consistent bedtime routine, including these common rituals disclosed by respondents in a Mattress Firm survey, can help ease your way toward better rest.
    1. Reading (42%)
    2. Watching TV (42%)
    3. Taking vitamins (36%)
    4. Taking a shower or bath (36%)
    5. Drinking warm milk (36%)

    Find more tips for getting better sleep at dailydoze.com.

    By Family Features
    Photos courtesy of Getty Images
    Source: Mattress Firm

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  • Outstanding Mature Girlz Organization launches virtual club meetings during quarantine

    As schools are closed around the nation, and the world is being encouraged to practice social distancing in the wake of COVID-19, many youth organizations are being tasked to find innovative ways to keep youth engaged.  On March 17, the Outstanding Mature Girlz (OMG) Organizations launched its first virtual OMG Club Meeting.  These face-to-face meetings which were previously held in-school and out-of-school, with community service projects on the weekends have now found an innovative way to maximize their “Digital Footprint,” while still making “Social Change.”

    “It’s amazing how this moment has come full circle,” said SU Ag Center’s Assistant Area Agent, Nicolette Gordon. “Previously, during our quarterly advisory meetings community stakeholders discussed ways to engage our youth groups through technology before this pandemic was even a thought,” she said.

    In December of 2019, the Outstanding Mature Girlz Organization was awarded the Cox Charities Grant for $2,000 to use for OMG emPOWERed.  This grant, which is solely funded by Cox Communications employees, is intended to help keep all OMG Club members in South Louisiana connected.

    “We’ve launched our OMG emPOWERed Sessions virtually online, and we are still keeping our young ladies motivated, encouraged, and ready to take over the world,” said OMG Organization’s founder Sashika Baunchand. “We want them to bloom right where they are planted.”

    Nearly 25 girls have joined in virtually through Blackboard every Tuesday, at 7 p.m. to practice leadership skills through the use of Parliamentary Procedure, and discuss monthly iValues such as Choice and Accountability. Moving forward Baunchaund stated that the organization will do everything that needs to be done to ensure that all club members remain safe throughout the duration of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  She also said she is very thankful for the many parents that have worked behind the scene to make the OMG emPOWERed launch successfully.

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    North Baton Rouge AIM Grant applications due April 10

    In an effort to increase community support at public schools in North Baton Rouge,Volunteers In Public Schools invites all faith-based organizations to participate in the North Baton Rouge AIM Grant.

    AIM Grant FlyerVIPS will award four faith entities with stipends to invest in a designated North Baton Rouge school for the purposes of expanding student resources and improving academic strides in reading and math. This application is open to ALL faith-based organizations in the Baton Rouge area that can commit to providing volunteers in North Baton Rouge public schools. This opportunity establishes a strategic faith-based volunteer commitment.

    To receive an application, email dpoplus@ebrschools.org or through the VIPS website at www.vipsbr.org. Applications are due April 10 by 11:59 pm.

    VIPS’s mission strives to foster student success and build support for public schools through strengthening math and reading skills.

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  • With 565 activated, La. National Guard assistance continues to grow, now at food banks

    The Louisiana National Guard, as directed by Governor John Bel Edwards, has activated more than 565 Soldiers and Airmen so far, not to include full-time Guardsmen, to assist with the COVID-19 response, March 24. The number of Guardsmen activated and equipment utilized is anticipated to increase until the situation is stabilized.

    One of the most recent missions of the LANG is to assist local food banks in preparing food boxes in Baton Rouge, Orleans and Jefferson Parish, Grant Parish, and central Louisiana.

    “With a limited number of volunteers coming to our food bank to help, the Louisiana National Guard soldiers have been a tremendous resource and significant force multiplier to assist us in the preparation of boxes for distribution to support our normal operations, as well as the increased demand from Covid-19,” said Michael G. Manning, president and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.La. Guard assists New Orleans drive-through testing sites

    The Louisiana National Guard has mobilized Guardsmen throughout the state to support current operations, including medical support, engineering assessment support, shelter security, traffic control point and drive-through testing site support, assistance at food banks, and to provide liaison officer teams to Parish Emergency Operations Centers.

    In order to assist civil authorities, the LANG is ensuring the health and safety of its Soldiers and Airmen. The LANG is actively taking steps to support health protection in order to maintain mission readiness, such as: limiting non mission-specific travel, educating and enforcing strict CDC-recommended hygiene measures, and monitoring Guardsmen’s temperature readings and overall health on a daily basis.

    Louisiana Army National Guard Soldiers with the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team help package and distribute food to the local community at the Food Bank of Central Louisiana in Alexandria, La., March 24, 2020. Soldiers are assisting the food bank to ensure the supply of food for the needy is maintained and distributed during the increased demand due to the COVID-19 crisis. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Thea James)

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    EBR Mayor appeals to White House for COVID-19 assistance

    EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome sent a letter Tuesday, March 24, to the White House requesting the federal government support East Baton Rouge Parish during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Broome appealed to the Trump Administration to express the resources needed in the City-Parish.

    “Local government budgets were not designed for a pandemic like this. We need the full weight of every federal department to support us through this crisis,” said Broome. “In Louisiana, our State is accustomed to responding to disasters of multiple types and magnitudes; however, this global pandemic has overwhelmed even the most meticulous and proactive planning we have implemented.”

    The letter requests the Trump Administration invoke the Defense Protection Act, which would increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment. It also requests the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocate additional Emergency Solutions Grant funding to state and local governments.

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  • Jaguar Nation partners to help on-campus students move amid coronavirus concerns

    The Southern University Division of Student Affairs, Southern University Foundation and Southern University Alumni Federation Monday, March 23, announced an initiative to aid students who may have difficulty transitioning from residential housing to their homes or other non-communal spaces as the university continues to monitor and address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    This emergency fund aims to provide nominal assistance such as gas money for students to travel home.

    “We understand that there are many moving parts in this uncertain time as we face a global coronavirus pandemic,” stated Student Affairs officials in a notice sent to students. “Out of an abundance of caution and to keep our students safe, we have been strongly encouraging residential students to move off campus as soon as possible. We realize that this is not an easy feat for some students as this creates a financial emergency. With this in mind, the Division of Student Affairs is working with our Southern University Foundation and Southern University Alumni Federation to assist those who need some help to move off campus during this time. We thank you all for being the most important part of Southern University. It is our pleasure to continue to serve you.”

    Students who are in need of nominal financial assistance for this type of move should contact the Housing Support Line at 225-771-4083  or studentaffairs@subr.edu. Their situations will then be assessed and remedied accordingly if possible.

    Students who are still on campus continue to receive regular services such as meals. For all student notices and information regarding the coronavirus epidemic and its effects on the Southern University campus, go to www.sus.edu/coronavirus.

     

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    Students lose grab and go meals with Governor’s stay-at-home order

    Sunday, March 22, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statewide stay-at-home order that requires all Louisianans to shelter at home except for essential tasks beginning at 5 pm on Monday, March 23. As a result, Caddo, Bossier, Acadia parish school districts have discontinued its much needed grab-n-go meals for students.

    Meals will be served tomorrow and end until further notice. According to Bossier Schools, 43% of its students rely on free and reduced lunch.

    “Our district takes the safety of our students and staff seriously and has agreed to only provide food services as long as the safety of participants could be guaranteed,” Charnae McDonald, asst. director of communications for the Caddo Parish School District told KTAL/KMSS.

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    Hammondee Green served in World War II, then beaten and murdered in Amite, La.

    Hammondee Green was a World War II veteran who put his life on the line for his country. After he was honorably discharged in 1946, he was murdered in Amite, La., in 1956 while in custody of the Amite Police Department for reasons unknown according to his family. His family never saw justice for his untimely death, and his grandchildren never got the opportunity to meet their grandfather.

    For decades the family heard the oral history of the terrible atrocities of what happened to their grandfather and great-grandfather. Robert Jackson said that many people seek history from movies and things of that nature, but how many African-Americans sit down and engage in their family history, he said? Jackson asked genealogist and local historian, Dr. Antoinette Harrell to help him research his family history in honor of Black History Month. Harrell started conducting genealogical research on the Green family of St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. St. Helena is one of the eight Louisiana Florida Parishes.

    87936975_10216522242108143_6431755749583486976_oLife for Blacks was challenging during the era of Civil Rights and Jim Crow. St. Helena Parish was a large slaveholding parish during the slavery era. Hammondee Green left Louisiana in the around 1936 and moved up north to escape the harsh treatments of racism and Jim Crow.

    When he returned back to Louisiana on furlough, it all started when he went to the cleaners to pick up his clothes, and he didn’t say “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” to the white lady employed there.” Later, when he went back to get his clothes out the cleaners, the white lady said that’s that biggity some of a “b****,” says his only living sister Bertha Green Coleman. The two exchanged words, and that was the beginning of trouble for Green. Bertha was twenty-five years old at the time when her brother was brutally murdered. Sixty-three years later, the Green family wants answers.

    They beat him, they castrated him, and they shot him. After they castrated him, they stuffed his testicles in his mouth, said, several family members. They moved his body around for five days, and they couldn’t locate his body. When they brought him back to Amite, Louisiana, his mother, Ella Jackson Green, wasn’t strong enough to identify her son’s body. She sent her two sons, Percy and Roosevelt, to identify the body. His eleven-year-old nephew Adolphus went to the funeral home with his uncles; he recalled looking at his uncle lying on the table covered by a white sheet with only his head visible. “I remember seeing a hole in his head that had a gunshot and burned marks on his skin,” says Adolphus.

    Sixty-three years later, the family finally gathered to discuss what happened to their deceased loved one, with each other. The family organized a gravesite vigil and laid white Carnations on his grave in memory of him. His sister, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other family members are searching for answers. After doing research, it was discovered on the death certificate from the Louisiana State Archives the cause of death was “unknown” due to “drunk and fighting,” leaving the family with more questions.

    To follow their quest, join their Facebook group - Justice For Hammondee Green

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    New Orleans residents respond to the spread of the coronavirus

    DATA NEWS WEEKLY — Over the span of January to March, in response to the worldwide spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), U.S. citizens say they are now increasing their awareness about the virus and finding ways to prevent its spreading. World health officials place the total number of infected persons at more than 100,000 people with more than 3,802 deaths. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported around 400 cases in 33 states, with 21 deaths. The states with the most cases reported are Washington State, New York, and California. As of the first week of March, no known cases have been reported in Louisiana, however, in neighboring Texas, there have been eight reported cases of positive testing.

    (NOTE: At the time of this posting, March 20, Louisiana officials reported 14 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Louisiana. There are more than 380 known cases across the state.)

    “The coronavirus is honestly scary. There is no telling how and when the virus can be spread to our city,” said Christina Williams, an Uptown, New Orleans resident and youth mentor. “Nor is there a way to know what has caused this virus,” Williams said, adding that: “The fact that this virus could come, and people not know about it is nerve-wrecking.”

    Workers in the city said that many workplaces have restricted travel for employees, and schools have sent notifications to parents of the possible threat that the virus poses, and to encourage enhanced hygiene.

    “We just finished Mardi Gras season with hundreds of thousands of people visiting our city. I pray that no one has brought the virus here,” said Tyler Townsend, a senior biology major at Xavier University of Louisiana, who is a native of Los Angeles, Calif. “It’s like we were an open target for the coronavirus,” Townsend said, given the city’s many festivals and events that attract tourists from all over the world. “I am ready for the coronavirus, but it is no secret that I am still nervous about it as well,” he added.

    The increase in concern about the spread of the virus to each state has led to a shortage of face masks, hand sanitizers and household cleaning products at major retail outlets in the city, residents noted.

    “The coronavirus is real and spreading, but I don’t really know what more there is for me to do except playing my part by washing my hands and being mindful of my daily activity in terms of hygiene,” said Shania Campbell, a Dillard University student. “People are afraid of this virus, but in reality, there are so many other dangers at hand. Everything needs awareness, not just this,” Campbell said.

    While some residents said they are taking new precautions, others said they are used to preparedness and disruptions to the routine that come with other hazards the city faces each year.

    “Being the normally hygienically aware individual that I always am, any other efforts are speculative at best,” said Percy Marchand, a Mid-City resident and business owner. “Also, I am stocked up on goods just in case, but again, living in New Orleans, we are always stocked up and prepared for a disaster,” Marchand said.

    Residents said they felt some attention has been taken away from yearly viruses such as the flu, which is the more prominent virus of the two. For Louisiana, while there have not been any reported cases of the coronavirus, the virus is still being spread in the midst of influenza season, which runs from October to April. Last year, state officials reported that there were 14,000 hospitalizations and around 1,400 deaths from the flu.

    “Honestly, I’m not really worried about the virus. To me, it’s just another running case of something to be worried about,” said Ernest Lumpkins, an Uptown New Orleans resident. “Every year, it’s something different. Before it was the Swine Flu (H1N1), now it’s this. This doesn’t bother me at all,” said Lumpkins.

    Still residents said they will continue to take steps to protect themselves and their families.

    “All measures of safety are appreciated. This is a serious time and nothing to play with,” said Marianne Alexis, a New Orleans East resident. “You can never be too safe. I take precautions every day by washing my hands and being aware of my surroundings,” Alexis said.

    By Jordan Deloch
    Data News Weekly Contributor

    This article originally appeared in New Orleans Data News Weekly

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    Truckers need help delivering essentials to Louisianans

    As the State endures the COVID-19 crisis, Louisiana trucking companies are working around the clock to provide essential supplies to medical facilities, retail stores, plants, and homes. The Louisiana Motor Transport Association is seeking assistance in maintaining these essential services.

    “In crisis, the people of Louisiana can take comfort in knowing that thousands of Louisiana truck drivers are working hard to maintain the supply chain,” said LMTA executive director Chance McNeely. “We are experiencing challenges, though, and we need support from governments, businesses, and the public in order to keep doing our job.”

    As governments place restrictions on businesses and people, it is becoming more difficult for the truck driver who needs food, parking, and restroom facilities along Louisiana’s highways.

    “We know everyone is hurting during this time and also rightfully trying to comply with government orders. We are asking that restaurants think outside the box on how they could provide services to our truck drivers, rather than turning them away,” said McNeely.

    The trucking industry is thankful for the truck stop and rest area staff and leadership who remain open for its drivers. If you or your business has the ability to provide services to our drivers during this time, please email lmta@lmta.la to let us know so we can steer drivers your direction.

    “We are thankful that both the state and federal governments continue to provide regulatory relief so that we can meet the needs of the supply chain. What we need right now is support for our drivers who are on the road,” said McNeely.

    If you would like to contact the Louisiana Motor Transport Association, please email lmta@lmta.la. LMTA has also created a web-page with trucking resources related to COVID-19 that can be accessed by clicking here, including information on  regulatory relief.

    Photo by Lê Minh from Pexels
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    EBR Head Start programs to distribute meals starting March 23

    As a result of COVID-19, East Baton Rouge Parish Head Start Program will begin distributing breakfast and lunch to Head Start families beginning Monday, March 23rd, at the following Head Start Center locations from 10am-1pm.

    CHARLIE THOMAS HEAD START 
    8686 Pecan Tree Drive
    Baton Rouge, LA  70810

    CHILDREN’S WORLD EARLY HEAD START
    7200 Maplewood Drive
    Baton Rouge, LA  70812

    FREEMAN-MATTHEWS HEAD START
    1383 Napoleon Street
    Baton Rouge, LA  70802

    LABELLE AIRE HEAD START
    1919 N. Christy Drive
    Baton Rouge, LA  70815

    NEW HORIZON HEAD START
    1111 N. 28th Street
    Baton Rouge, LA  70802

    PROGRESS I HEAD START
    1881 Progress Road
    Baton Rouge, LA  70807

    PROGRESS II HEAD START
    1881 Progress Road
    Baton Rouge, LA  70807

    WONDERLAND HEAD START
    1500 Oleander Street
    Baton Rouge, LA  70802

     

    The Division of Human Development & Services (DHDS) will close to the general public as of 3:00 pm effective March 18, 2020 until it is deemed appropriate to re-open. This decision was made based on the guidance issued by the CDC regarding large gatherings of no more than ten people. Our main goal is the safety of our community and staff. Our customers are at the heart of what we do at DHDS, and this decision was not made without proper consideration of those we serve.

    Staff at DHDS will be available to answer any questions from our existing customers. To contact our departments:

    EmployBR​​​​                                        225-358-4579
    Office of Social Service                  225-358-4561
    Head Start                                       ​​​​225-358-4504
    Ryan White                                     ​​​​225-358-1956

    Once a re-opening date is determined we will inform our community.

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  • ,

    State waives fees for digital drivers license

    Governor John Bel Edwards announced he will waive the fee to obtain Louisiana’s official digital drivers license, ‘LA Wallet,’ in response to coronavirus.

    The LA Wallet app is now free of charge for residents and OMV, Office of Motor Vehicles, are still open in Baton Rouge as of Wed. March 18.

    “Since the beginning of our partnership, LA Wallet has always kept the people of Louisiana at the forefront of what they do and this latest action is no different,”  Edwards said. “There have been many disruptions to our daily lives as we try to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, and I want to thank LA Wallet for doing their part to make life a little easier for the people of our great state. Louisianans are resilient and we will get through this together.”

    The digital license is valid for the life of the user’s license issuance. Once a user’s physical license expires, they must renew their license with the OMV and purchase a new digital license through LA Wallet.

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  • ,

    Baton Rouge City Court ends normal hours until April 20

    Normal court operations at Baton Rouge City Court has been suspended until April 20, 2020. The court will be open to the public to take civil filings and to pay fines and fees.

    However, city officials are encouraging the public to pay fines and fees online or by telephone and to utilize fax filing for civil cases. Our fax filing number is (225)389-5260. All prescriptive periods will remain unaffected at this time.

    All cases will be reassigned and the court will send notice to the last address that was provided on file. It is your responsibility to ensure that the court has a current address.

    Make online payments here:
    https://hdweb.brgov.com/apps/courts/default.asp?Perform=Main

    For any payment questions please call (225)389-5279.

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    Tangipahoa schools start meal plans today

    Starting on Wednesday, March 18th, Tangipahoa Parish Schools will be serving breakfast and lunch to students who are 18 and younger.

    The district has designated 12 convenient school-based sites where families can pick up two meals per child per weekday.

    At each site, a driver will be asked to proceed to the pickup area. The driver will be asked to present a form that is available on the TangiSchools.org website. The form asks for the driver’s name and the names of the children for whom they are collecting meals. The students do not need to be in the vehicle at the meal distribution site to receive their meals.

    All meals will be distributed in a drive-thru type line. Drivers will turn in their forms, then move up through the line and someone will distribute the number of meals needed. Drivers who do not have the required form will be given one at the distribution site. No one will be turned away from receiving meals.

    Under the district’s meal plan, every child will receive a bag lunch for that day and a packaged breakfast for the following day.

    School Superintendent Melissa Stilley said some families may rely on elderly family and neighbors who are caring for their children. She said authorities encourage residents to look after this older population, and she said friends or neighbors can pick up meals for families facing this challenge. No ID is required.

    Grab and go meal sites are open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Locations include Champ Cooper, Ponchatoula Jr. High, Ponchatoula High, Hammond Eastside, Hammond Westside, Greenville Park, Midway Elementary, Independence Leadership, Loranger Elementary, Amite High, Sumner High, and OW Dillon. You may pick up at any location that is most convenient for your current situation. Also, please know that Catholic school and private school students may pick up meals as well.

     

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  • ,

    Fourth COVID-19 related death reported in Louisiana

    The State of Louisiana reports a fourth death related to COVID-19. The Orleans Parish resident was an 80-year-old individual who lived at Lambeth House in New Orleans.  There are currently 171 coronavirus cases reported across the state. The highest number of cases is concentrated in the New Orleans area, where there are 116 coronavirus cases.

    A third death was reported on Monday, March 16. This was an 84-year-old individual who also lived at Lambeth House.

    While older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions are at greater risk, everyone can become exposed to COVID-19 and must be vigilant to protect their health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the serious chronic health conditions include heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

    For updates on positive cases and deaths, visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 webpage.

    Here’s the latest:

    • There are more than 184,000 coronavirus cases in 159 countries and territories, according to the World Health Organization.
    • More than 7,500 people have died worldwide.
    • In the United States, there are at least 5,130 cases in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington D.C.
    • The U.S. death toll has climbed to at least 100, with more than half of the dead from Washington state.
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  • ,,,

    What therapists tell patients who are anxious about Coronavirus

    It’s hard not to be anxious right now given all of the uncertainty and upheaval the novel coronavirus pandemic has brought to our everyday lives.

    Worries about contracting the virus, loved ones (especially older people or those with compromised immune systems) getting sick, losing income, figuring out child care, feeling socially isolated or not having enough groceries or other household provisions can be unsettling, to say the least.

    Therapists, many of whom are now holding sessions via phone or video calls instead of in-person, are working through these concerns and others with their clients. The Huffington Post asked mental health professionals how they’re approaching the anxiety around COVID-19 with their patients. Hopefully, their advice will provide some peace of mind during an overwhelming time.

    1. Find new ways to connect with co-workers, friends, and family.
    2. Keep your daily routine as consistent as possible.
    3. Focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t.
    4. Be extra gentle with yourself.
    5. Cut back on your media exposure.
    6. Keep things in perspective.
    7. Make sure you have enough of any medications you take.
    8. Know that a little bit of anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

    Here are resources for mental health:

    •  2-1-1 is a free confidential service that connects callers to information and services in times of need. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even during disasters. Louisiana 211 works to link people and resources for a better Louisiana through collaboration and partnership between nonprofit organizations providing 211 services, funding United Ways and the State of Louisiana Public Service Commission. Louisiana Association of United Way https://www.louisiana211.org  To access 211: Simply dial 211 or text your zip code to 898-211 For COVID-19 information: Simply dial 211 or text LACOVID to 898-211
    • ICARE will provide support to parents and employees through this difficult time. They will address concerns at icare@ebrschools.org and reply within 24 hours with resources for support.

     

    wpid-IMG_20200316_165140.jpg

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  • Libraries close today due to public health concerns

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Library will close all locations to public access beginning at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, and remain temporarily closed until further notice. Digital library services will remain open. The library has extended the expiration dates on all current library cards, and late fees or fines will be accepted by credit card online.

    The Digital Library is open 24/7, and its robust collection of resources are all freely available to any patron with a current East Baton Rouge Parish Library card. Visit https://www.ebrpl.com/digital.html to get started! Browse and enjoy thousands of digital items like e-books, e-magazines, and e-audiobooks, plus streaming media including music, films, documentaries, and concerts. Stay in the know with online newspapers, magazines; acquire a new skill or broaden your knowledge with a variety of learning tools and platforms. Learn a new language with Mango and Pronunciator, and discover many other options for adults including fun resources such as CreativeBug, AtoZ World Foods, BrainHQ and so more.

    Don’t have a Library card? Temporary virtual cards allow access to most digital products; see the “Library Services” tab atwww.ebrpl.com for more information.

    Telephone reference and assistance with renewals and holds will be offered at each location, through 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and through 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Visit https://www.ebrpl.com/LocationsandHours/LocationsandHours.html for telephone numbers and hours.

    Library staff are prepared to give assistance via telephone or email to eref@ebrpl.com, on the operation of mobile devices and downloading of content such as e-books, e-audiobooks, e-magazines, and streaming media. The Library website also contains many Infoguides that describe how to access downloadable media on a variety of mobile devices.

    Library cards may also be used to check out books, magazines, audiobooks, BluRays and DVDs, CDs, WonderBooks, Playaways, Playaway Views, Playaway LaunchPads, and Arduino Kits. Library due dates and renewals have been adjusted to allow patrons longer loan periods.

    Drive-through Pickup/Drop Off windows are available at the Main Library on Goodwood located at 7711 Goodwood Blvd., and the Fairwood Branch located at 12910 Old Hammond Hwy., with these hours:

    Main Library at Goodwood

    • 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday
    • 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Friday & Saturday
    • 2-6 p.m. Sunday

    Fairwood Branch

    • 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday
    • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Friday & Saturday
    • 2-6 p.m. Sunday

    Announcements related to establishing temporary curbside service at the remaining 12 locations will be made on the Library’s website. Library administration will periodically reassess closures in accordance with governmental and healthcare guidelines.

    All Library programs and events have been canceled. Tools and resources on the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on the Infoguide athttp://ebrpl.libguides.com/coronavirus. To learn more about the Library and any of its free programs, events and resources, call (225) 231-3750, or visit us online at www.ebrpl.com.

    “This was an extremely difficult decision. We realize many people rely heavily on the Library and its services. We will be continually reassessing the public health situation as it evolves over the next several weeks. We will still deliver services by phone, remotely, and via the drive-through/pickup windows, and plan to develop new approaches to help our community during this difficult time,” said library director Spencer Watts.

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  • ,,

    Misconceptions Blacks have about Coronavirus

    BlackNews.com reports the top 11 most common misconceptions that many in the Black community have:

    #1 – Black People Can’t Get It: This is simply not true. To date, at least three African American NBA players have contracted the virus. In addition, several African nations including Rwanda, Nigeria, and Kenya have all reported individuals who have tested positive for the viral. Therefore, Black people are not immune to the virus.

    #2 – Vodka Kills the Virus: Most vodka brands are only 40 percent alcohol, and that is not high enough to effectively kill microbes. The CDC recommends using handsaniter that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

    #3 - You Need Health Insurance to Be Tested: Definitely not true. The U.S. government has mandated free testing to all individuals who have the symptoms of Coronavirus. All hospitals are required to comply, but not all hospitals may have enough test kits. In addition, there may be a long waiting line to get tested.

    #3 – You Should Call 911 If You Have the Symptoms: Unless you are suffering from an immediate life-threatening emergency, you should not call 911. You should, however, call your doctor and/or visit your local hospital’s emergency room if you are not feeling well. Those who have questions or confusion about the virus can also visit CoronaVirusHelpline.org or call the toll-free Coronavirus Helpline at (888) 581-5029 for more information.

    #4 – The Flu is More Dangerous: This also is not true. Although it is true that last year more than 60,000 people died from the flu. The Coronavirus has been proven to be more contagious, more deadly, and also more misunderstand. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), less than 1% of people who typically contract the flu die from it, but so far, about 3.4% of those who have contracted Coronavirus have died.

    #6 – You Must Have Multiple Symptoms: This also is not correct. Many individuals who have tested positive for the Coronavirus have only been found to have just one of the major symptoms. According to the Washington State Dept of Health, those symptoms are shortness of breath, cough OR fever.

    #7 – Only Elderly People Die From It: While it is true that people age 60 and over are more likely to contract and die from the virus, younger people must also exercise plenty of caution. The truth is that many patients that are age 22-59 are also being affected. South Korea reported 2,718 cases among patients under the age of 30.

    #8 – All Chinese People Have the Coronavirus: Again, not true. It is true that the virus originated in China, but this does not mean that all Chinese people are infected nor does it justify any type of racial discrimination against people from China or Chinese-owned businesses. Remember that many Chinese Americans have never even been to China.

    #9 – There is a Cure: Currently, there is no cure or medical treatment available for those who contract the virus. Depending on the location, if a person tests positive for the virus, he or she will be quarantined and/or sent home and encouraged to self-quarantine. Drinking plenty of water, eating healthy foods with high nutrients, and taking immune-building vitamins are encouraged.

    #10 – You Should Stock Up on Water and Toilet Tissue: No government agency has ever made this suggestion. This is a panic reaction from the general population. The truth is that by being inside a grocery store or big box retailer trying to hoard items like this, you are only increasing the chances of being exposed to someone who could be infected and may not even know it.

    #11 – All Travel Has Been Banned: As of March 16, 2020, no type of domestic travel has been restricted. However, the U.S. government has initiated several international travel bans to many countries in Asia and Europe. Most of these travel bans, however, do not affect American citizens but affect non-U.S. citizens.

    Those with more questions about the virus are encouraged to visit black boy w women and medicineCoronaVirusHelpline.org or call the toll-free Coronavirus Helpline at (888) 581-5029 for more information.

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  • ,,

    Conference helps teens JOLT their voice

    Local teens can discover the power of their voice Saturday, March 28 at JOLTcon, at Goodwood Library. First of its kind in Baton Rouge, this conference is planned and hosted by the young adults of The Futures Fund and The Walls Project.

    This event is for youth to discover, through stories and workshops, how to take charge and JOLT their voices into existence. Six peer speakers will introduce attendees to the journey of finding the power of their voice and defining who they are.

    After a catered lunch break, teens are able to take the inspiration from the speakers and put it into concrete outlets. Teens are able to discover their voice through learning a tech hackathon, a workshop on phone photography, or various workshops on self-care from a teenage perspective. These workshops, while led by adult mentors, are partnered with a teen host, allowing for true collaboration between youth and adults.

    This event was made possible through the support of the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund, Foundation for Louisiana, Sparkhound Foundation, Louisiana Tech Park, Lamar Advertising and many others.

    Those wanting to register for a free JOLTcon ticket can do so by going to bit.ly/joltcon. Tickets are limited and workshops are first come first serve, so register early!

    ONLINE: wallsproject.org/joltcon

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  • LLBC, Gov. Edwards calls on 23rd Judicial District Judge Jessie LeBlanc to Resign

    The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and Gov. John Bel Edwards today called on 23rd Judicial Judge Jessie LeBlanc to resign after she admitted to using racial slurs in reference to an Ascension parish deputy and a court employee.

    Gov. Edwards said:

    “The admitted and repeated use of racial slurs by a judge who has taken an oath to administer justice fairly and impartially is wrong, period. There is never any circumstance or context in which such derogatory and degrading language is okay.

    Sadly, inequities still exist in society and in our judicial system. Judge LeBlanc has compromised her ability to preside as a judge, and she has damaged the judiciary. She should resign. The people of the 23rd Judicial District and our state deserve better.”

    Here is the statement from the LLBC:
    87468601_3006265502731325_3711661353669230592_n

    Additionally, the NAACP released this statement, Feb. 26:

    We are dismayed and extremely disappointed that Judge Jessie LeBlanc, through her attorney Jill Craft who has communicated multiple versions of what occurred, is using the cloak of a private conversation to justify the use of intentional racial discourse to refer to various Officers of the Court. It is well known that the N-Word is a profoundly hurtful racial slur meant to stigmatize African Americans and should not be used at any time or in any circumstance.

    Judge LeBlanc has served on the Louisiana Sentencing Commission for several years and has decided thousands of cases, many involving the welfare and freedoms of African Americans. It is impossible to reconcile the possibility that Judge LeBlanc was fair and impartial while serving on this Commission or as magistrate while serving the 23rd Judicial District Court in light of her recent disturbing unsolicited racist remarks to another Officer of the Court.

    Judge LeBlanc has demonstrated that she is racially biased against African Americans, and it is only fair that all of the cases for which she served as a District Court Judge and Hearing Officer be reviewed.

    We applaud Governor John Bell Edwards, The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, and leaders, locally, statewide, nationally and internationally for taking a stand to uphold the integrity of the Judicial System. Judge Leblanc’s attempt to double down on the context and forum for which these harmful words were said is shameful.

    Sincerely,

    President. Eugene Collins, BR NAACP Branch
    President. Michael McClanahan, NAACP Convention

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  • ,,

    Ponchatoula Council on Aging Hosts Tea

    A smiling, happy crowd of senior adults dressed in their best (some ladies with hats) recently met at the Ponchatoula Community Center earlier than the regular lunchtime to enjoy the fellowship and food of a Tea party given just for them.

    Hosting the occasion were Ponchatoula Area Supervisor Paula Dunn, Office Assistant Sheryl Achord, and Site Manager Janice Jackson.

    The colorful decorations made it a celebration of Valentine’s Day along with Mardi Gras.

    Delectable goodies added even more color to the tables ranging from veggies and dip to sandwiches, from cookies to iced cupcakes — not to mention plenty of tea, of course.

    As if all those weren’t tempting enough, Community Center Director Lynette Allen came waltzing in with two beautiful King Cakes.

    City Public Relations Writer Kathryn Martin extended a welcome followed by Director of Student Outreach May Stilley.

    Because Seniors have joined forces with the after-school children in the new Pen Pal exercise, Stilley gave the history of Student Outreach.

    From the sounds of surprise and response, it was obvious most Seniors had not known that Mayor Bob Zabbia and the City Council were responsible for providing the program as well as the meeting spaces available for both groups.

    Stilley explained the help coming from after-school efforts boosts some students who need to catch up or even get ahead in their studies.

    She said, “In addition to their studies, we try to include as many community resources we can for the children to have well-balanced lives. What better resource can we have than you Seniors with your experiences to share with them!”

    Stilley went on to say, “You won’t believe how excited the children are after roll call when I yell ‘Mail Call’ and they have a letter from you all.”

    It was apparent the Seniors shared the excitement as the room brightened even more when she held up the “mail box” and delivered mail from students to them!

    Next, Director of Tangipahoa Council on Aging Debi Fleming welcomed those present and commended the local staff for their on-going work and caring.

    An audience member recalled that Fleming and the City worked together to get the city bus which provides transportation five days a week for Seniors and others.

    Soon afterward, Seniors made short work of getting in the food line, and, leaving no evidence behind, joined their friends for fellowship and games to complete the morning and get ready for lunch to come later.

    Submitted News

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  • ,,,

    Mabry elected NAHRO Southwest Regional Council President

    Tonya Mabry of Amite, La., has been elected to serve a two-year term as president of the Southwest Regional Council of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.

    Mabry is the executive director of the Tangipahoa Parish Government Housing Choice Voucher Program in Amite, Louisiana. Her job duties are overseeing the daily operations of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG), and Rapid Re-Housing Programs. During natural disasters, she oversees all shelters in the parish.

    She is very active at the State Level of NAHRO. As a member of the Louisiana Housing Council, she serves on various committees and served as President from 2015-2017. She is very active at the Regional and National Levels of NAHRO where she serves on various committees and recently served as the Senior Vice President of the Southwest Region of NAHRO which includes the following states: Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, and Kansas.

    Mabry is a member of the North Tangipahoa Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. where she serves as treasurer. She spends a lot of time volunteering with her Sorority to meet the needs of the community. Also, she is a past board member of the Tangipahoa Parish Council on Aging, a member of the PTA at Roseland Montessori, past PTA President of Amite High School, and is currently the Justice of the Peace, Third Ward, Tangipahoa Parish. She is a member of the Beacon Light Baptist Church of Hammond, Bishop Dennis R. Hebert Jr., pastor.

    “NAHRO’s eight regions are its strength, and we’re thrilled to have Tonya leading the Southwest Region,” said Sunny Shaw, incoming NAHRO President. “Her leadership and dedication are a credit to the region, and we look forward to working with her to meet the region’s local needs and to achieve our shared national priorities.”

    The Southwest Regional Council is one of NAHRO’s eight regional councils. These organizations provide access to a local network of industry professionals, opportunities for leadership development, training, conferences, and focus for the special and local interests of the members. Each of the regional councils has its own dues structure and bylaws.

    NAHRO, established in 1933, is a membership organization of nearly 20,000 housing and community development agencies and professionals throughout the United States whose mission is to create affordable housing and safe, viable communities that enhances the quality of life for all Americans, especially those of low-moderate income. NAHRO’s membership administers more than 3 million housing units for 7.6 million people.

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  • ,,

    High schoolers invited to CNA Institute

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation is accepting applications for the College & Career Ready Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Institute, which is available to high school students in greater Baton Rouge with a GPA of 2.5 of higher and ages 16 and older. The CNA Institute is designed for youth who are interested in health care careers. The deadline to apply is March 16, 2020. Click here to apply.

    Participants who successfully complete the program will graduate as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Students should be at least 16 years old by the first day of the institute, which is April 6, 2020, to be eligible for the program.

    During the institute, participants will:

    • Complete classroom and clinical instruction necessary for certification in 12 weeks
    • Prepare for employment in long-term care facilities, home health agencies, hospitals and private medical agencies
    • Train to take vital signs and develop patient sensitivity skills
    • Assist with physical exams and obtain cultures
    • Develop communication skills to interact with patients and their families.

    The EMR Institute will take place April 6 – June 25, 2020. The deadline to apply is March 16, 2020. Learn more here.

    Click here to apply.

    For more information, contact Kathryn Robinson, UREC Youth Program Director, at (225) 356-8871 ext. 204 or krobinson@urecbr.com.

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  • ,,,,

    Southern University alumna earns Ship Handler of the Year

    Lt. j.g. Monique Jefferson earned the Ship Handler of the Year award, which is given to Surface Warfare Officers who demonstrate superior performance while standing Officer of The Deck Underway onboard the Navy’s newest platform, the Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship.

    Jefferson is from Katy, Texas and earned her commission from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her qualifications include Surface Warfare, Officer of the Deck, and Anti-terrorism Tactical Watch Officer. She recently completed a seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean Ocean when she was previously stationed onboard the USS James E. Williams (DDG 95).

    Surface Warfare Officers are Naval officers whose training and primary duties focus on the operation of Navy ships at sea, leading Sailors and managing the various shipboard systems and programs. The SWO community offers a wide variety of assignments and duty stations across the world.

    Jefferson is currently the Weapons Officer onboard the USS Indianapolis Blue crew and is the expert for all weapons systems onboard the LCS Platform. Her responsibilities include daily verification that all weapons systems are fully operational and combat-ready. Additionally, she is responsible for ensuring her sailors are fully qualified trained and are developing personally and professionally.

    When asked what her favorite thing is about her ship she eagerly answers, “multiple jobs.” All of the personnel stationed onboard the Indianapolis are required to train and demonstrate proficiency in areas outside their assigned billet. This inter-departmental experience allows everyone aboard LCS to cross-train and be a major player aboard the ship.

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  • ,

    Southern University Law Center receives federal funding for legal education teleconference studio

    The Southern University Law Center continues to be a champion for innovation and access for all. Recently, the Law Center was selected to receive funding through a United States Department of Agriculture Distance Learning and Telemedicine (USDA-DLT) grant for a new high-definition teleconference studio. The news comes as a part of a recent partnership with North Carolina Central University‘s Virtual Justice Project.

    “We are excited to partner with the Law Center on this new USDA grant,” said Gregory Clinton Sr., director of information technology and facilities at NCCU. “Equipping SULC with an Immersive Telepresence Studio will facilitate their ability to provide expert legal information in a new manner, as well as assist our programming in federal law.”

    The Virtual Justice Project is an initiative that provides virtual pre-law courses and high definition teleconference systems to churches and libraries. Through this project, NCCU has received six USDA-DLT grants. The grant allows the Virtual Justice Project to create the Southeast Expansion Service Area, which includes Louisiana.

    “Our partnership with NCCU and the Virtual Justice Project furthers our goal of being a progressive, innovative institution,” said John Pierre, chancellor of the Southern University Law Center. “With this new addition and partnership, legal education can become more accessible.”

    The Law Center will receive a Polycom RealPresence Immersive Studio, which will create a visual, audio, and collaboration experience. Faculty, students, and staff will be able to connect to webinars, clients, and the community. The studio seats up to twenty-one individuals.

    As the two institutions join together, the partnership will provide legal access to marginalized and rural communities in Louisiana and North Carolina.

     

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  • ,

    LSU Women’s Center announces 2020 Esprit de Femme Award Recipients

    The LSU Women’s Center will recognize the outstanding achievements of the 2020 Esprit de Femme honorees at 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 30, at the eighth annual Esprit de Femme Sunrise Celebration and the 25th anniversary of the LSU Women’s Center. This year’s awards ceremony will be held at Boudreaux’s Banquet Hall in Baton Rouge. All proceeds will support the mission and initiatives of the LSU Women’s Center.

    Established in 2009, the Esprit de Femme award is an annual acknowledgement of a person who has made exceptional efforts toward the advancement of women in Louisiana. This award honors individuals who elevate the status of women in the community through their contributions to the arts, education, healthcare, business and industry, charity and civic engagement.

    This year also marks the fifth year that the Esprit de Femme Student Leadership Award will be given. This award will honor and recognize LSU students who exemplify the ideals and principles of the Esprit de Femme Award. Esprit de Femme Student Award recipients will receive financial support to further their academic pursuits. The award recipients will be selected in February and will be recognized at the Sunrise Celebration.

    “We are excited about all of our honorees and look forward to the opportunity to recognize their phenomenal contributions at the eighth annual Esprit de Femme Sunrise Celebration,” said Summer Steib, LSU Women’s Center director. “These women and men have made lasting impacts on the lives of countless women in our state and blazed trails for other women. Our 2020 honorees represent diverse backgrounds and accomplishments — our honorees are leaders and trail-blazers in government, the arts, the business sector, nonprofits, academics, and civic engagement.”’

    In 2020, the Esprit de Femme award will be presented to eight deserving recipients. The recipients are Kia Bickham, Morgan Lamandre, Michelle A. Massé, Karen Stagg, Alma C. Stewart, Beverly Brooks Thompson, Iam Christian Tucker and Erin Monroe Wesley. The 2020 Men Who Champion Women honoree is Roderic F. Teamer Sr.

    Kia Bickham

    Bickham is a strategic community engagement specialist. She served as political director for Gov. John Bel Edwards’ successful reelection campaign and is currently serving as the political director for the Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign in Louisiana. She has held numerous positions in state government and has been recognized as a 40 Under 40 honoree.

    Morgan Lamandre

    Lamandre is the legal director of Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response, a local nonprofit sexual assault center. She has served on various task forces to address sexual assault in Louisiana and has drafted and testified in support of several bills that address sexual violence before the Louisiana Legislature.

    Michelle A. Massé

    Massé is the founding director of Women’s and Gender Studies at LSU, president of the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages and represents higher education on the Governor’s Commission on Women’s Policy and Research Commission. Her scholarship focuses upon the many intersections among gender, psychoanalysis, and fiction, and she has received many grants for furthering research in these areas.

    Karen Stagg

    Stagg has served as the executive director of Connections For Life for 13 years. Connections is a non-profit, prison reentry program for formerly incarcerated women. Stagg is an LSU graduate and spent her first career as a healthcare operation executive. She serves on several boards supporting reentry for women.

    Alma C. Stewart

    Stewart is the founder and president of the Louisiana Center for Health Equity, a nonprofit organization she established in 2010 to address disparities in health and health care, with a focus on wellness and community health. She is a registered nurse, former career state civil servant, an entrepreneur, and avid advocate.

    Beverly Brooks Thompson

    Thompson is the managing director for Cater Global-Global – an international fundraising advising and philanthropic management consulting firm. She is a published academic and practitioner in the field of philanthropic leadership. Beverly was the director for Forever LSU: The Campaign for Louisiana State University, raising more than $798 million

    Iam Christian Tucker

    Tucker is the president and CEO of Integrated Logistical Support Inc., or ILSI Engineering. ILSI Engineering is a 100 percent female, minority-owned, civil engineering firm. Tucker is a passionate advocate for New Orleans and its people. She is a member of the non-partisan advocacy group African American Women of Purpose and Power

    Erin Monroe Wesley

    Wesley is the southeast vice president of government and public affairs at Cox Communications, overseeing governmental and public affairs efforts in Louisiana, Florida and Georgia. Prior to joining Cox, she served as special counsel for Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

    Roderic F. Teamer Sr

    Teamer is the director of diversity programs and business development at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. He is also a member of LSU’s National Diversity Advisory Board. He is active in supporting civic and community organizations in both the Baton Rouge and New Orleans communities.

    Online registration for the Eighth Annual Esprit de Femme Sunrise Celebration will be available Wednesday, Feb 5, at www.lsufoundation.org/edf. Tickets, tables, sponsorships, and honoree recognitions can be secured through the registration portal.

    The LSU Women’s Center is part of the LSU Office of Diversity and provides support, referral, and information to students, faculty and staff on issues and concerns related to women. The center also promotes the advancement of gender equity issues and wellbeing through its services, educational programs and advocacy efforts.

    For additional information about the programs and initiatives of the Women’s Center, visit our website at,http://www.lsu.edu/diversity/womens_center/.

     

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  • ,

    Hundreds planned for SU Ag Center’s 10th annual Louisiana Small Farmer Conference  

    For a decade, the Southern University Ag Center’s Louisiana Small Farmers Conference has provided the state’s small agricultural producers with strategies and information on the latest educational tools and resources to help them stay in business.   This year’s conference themed, “Investing In Your Small Farm Business,” will be held at Southern University’s Felton G. Clark Activity Center from March 18-21.   Two pre-conference sessions will be held on Wednesday, March 18.

    Participants will have the option of attending either a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training or a Louisiana HEMP Summit on this day. The conference will officially begin on Thursday, March 19.

    Natalie Baszile, author of the Louisiana-based novel “Queen Sugar” will be the keynote speaker on Friday, March 20th.   Baszile is an award-winning author whose works have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine; The Rumpus.net; the Lenny Letter; and The Best Women’s Travel Writing, Volume 9. She is best known for her book, Queen Sugar, which writer/director Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey have adapted into a television series for Winfrey’s television network, OWN. The book was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, was listed on the Crooks Corner Southern Book Prize and was named one of the Best Books of 2014 by the San Francisco Chronicle.   Natalie has an M.A. in Afro-American Studies from UCLA and is a graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers.

    The conference will also include a grant writing panel, networking opportunities, an exhibit hall, and the Louisiana Living Legends Luncheon, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    Limited complimentary registration for small farmers is available until February 28, 2020. After this date, the registration fee for the conference will be $75 for small farmers.   The fee for agricultural professionals is $100. All fees should be made payable to the Southern University Foundation – ANR Programs in the form of a check or money order.

    On-site registration will begin at 8 a.m. daily during the conference.  Agricultural exhibitors are welcome to participate.   To register online, visit http://www.suagcenter.com/form/smallfarms. Exhibitors can register at http://www.suagcenter.com/form/exhibitor-registration-for-the-10th-annual-louisiana-small-farmer-conference.  For additional information contact Zanetta Augustine at 225-771-2591 or via e-mail at zanetta_augustine@suagcenter.com.    ###   http://www.suagcenter.com/

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

    Contributing Writer

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  • Pre-Law institute scholars selected for SU Law Center courses

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation, in partnership with Southern University Law Center recently announced the 2020 College & Career Ready Pre-Law Institute scholars.
    Established in 2017, the Pre-Law Institute introduces high school students to civics, law and criminal justice at SULC. This year’s institute is under the guidance of Program Instructor and third-year SULC student, Angela Jackson, and UREC Program Coordinator and Site Coordinator, Trenecia Smith. As a new feature of this year’s institute, scholars will participate in a book club that focuses on truth, racial healing, and transformation. They will read books such as the award-winning novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which will allow them to analyze and discuss the law and current issues through the lens of youth and young adults. Pre-law scholars will also facilitate the signature mock-trial at SULC’s moot courtroom and network with Baton Rouge attorneys and judges.
    The 2020 Pre-Law Scholars are:
    • Jalaya Carter
    • Aubrey Populars
    • Ronald Randall
    • Christopher Selders
    • Michael Simpson
    • Alex Taylor
    • Serenity Williams
    • Michael Wicker
    • Jayda Woods (2nd year participant)
    • Nijah Raby
    According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics occupational forecast, the number of attorneys will increase by 6% by 2028. This Pre-Law Institute cohort aspires to attain careers in family, corporate, civil rights and entertainment law, government, or politics.
     “UREC’s College & Career Ready Pre-Law institute is designed to give Baton Rouge youth the foundation and preparation needed to pursue legal studies and careers in this growing field of opportunities,” said UREC Youth Program Director Kathryn Robinson.
    “The Southern University Law Center is delighted to partner with UREC’s Pre-Law institute for the third consecutive year, as we work collaboratively to develop the next generation of legal professionals and leaders,” said Southern University Law Center Chancellor John Pierre.
    UREC’s College & Career Ready Pre-Law Institute is a 21st Century Community Learning Center that provides after-school learning. Community partners include Southern University Law Center, the City of Baton Rouge, Huey & Angelina Wilson Foundation, Kean Miller, LLP, and Louisiana Department of Education.
    ONLINE: www.urecbr.org
    Photo: Seated (L-R), Jayda Woods, Nijah Raby, Serenity Williams, Aubrey Populars and Jalaya Carter. Standing (L-R), UREC Program Coordinator Trenecia Smith, Christopher Selders, Alex Taylor, Michael Wicker, Michael Simpson, Ronald Randall, and Program Instructor Angela Jackson.
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  • SU Ag Center set to host its 77th Annual State Livestock Show

    Meat purchases are available

    Nearly 120 youth from 26 parishes will come to the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena with the hopes of having their animals named state champion during the Southern University Ag Center’s 77th Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show.

    The event will be held on February 27 – 29 in Baton Rouge, LA. This annual show 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.

    Local schools are also invited to participate in the show’s guided tours on February 28. The tours will include a mini petting zoo, hands-on plant, tobacco-free living, and nutrition exhibits.

    The Livestock Show Office is currently accepting pre-orders of non-processed meat. 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.

    The general public is also welcome to attend and purchase meat during the show’s ‘Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, February 29 beginning at 10:30 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.

    Since 1943, Southern University has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout the state to gain valuable knowledge and skills at its 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.

    Southern University is the only 1890 Land-Grant University that currently holds an annual Livestock Show.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to purchase meat or register a school for a guided tour, visit Livestock Show, call 225-771-6208 or email decobea_butler@suagcenter.com.

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    Southern University becomes the first HBCU to produce CBD products

    The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center along with its medical marijuana partner, Ilera Holistic Healthcare, has launched its hemp-derived CBD product line, Alafia Healthcare.

    “This is a historic milestone for the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center in that today, we have become the first HBCU, in partnership with Ilera Holistic Healthcare, to release CBD products to be sold to licensed pharmacies throughout the state of Louisiana,” said Orlando F. McMeans, Ph.D., Chancellor-Dean of the SU Ag Center and the College of Ag.

    The event was held at the New Orleans area H&W Drug Store Dispensary, one of the state’s nine marijuana licensed pharmacies. The over-the-counter CBD products will be sold in eight of Louisiana’s nine licensed pharmacies as well as to pharmacies throughout the nation.

    Alafia, which means ‘inner peace’ in the Yoruba language, is lab tested, pesticide-free and scientifically formulated. There are currently two formulated PURE CBD tinctures available: Isolate CBD with 500mg ($40) and 1,000mg ($80) and Full Spectrum CBD with 500mg ($40) and 1,000mg ($80).  Additional CBD products will be released soon.

    CBD was legalized for sale and distribution in all 50 states in the 2018 Farm Bill. Ilera’s products contain 0.3% or less of the THC component. This means users will not obtain a “high” from using the products.

    “This program aims at improving the quality of lives for the individuals served via the vehicles of education, research, and outreach, all of which are in line with the mission of the Southern University Ag Center,” said McMeans.

    The products are expected to be on the shelves of local and national retailers and distributors by the end of February 2020.

    ONLINE: www.alafiahealthcare.com.

    Alafia Healthcare is currently available at the following locations:

    H&W Drug Store
    1667 Tchoupitoulas Street
    New Orleans, LA 70130

    Capitol Wellness Solutions
    7491 Picardy Avenue
    Baton Rouge, LA 70809

    Green Leaf Dispensary
    6048 W. Park Avenue
    Houma, LA 70364

    The Apothecary Shoppe
    620 Guilbeau Road, Suite A
    Lafayette, LA 70506

    Medicis
    1727 Imperial Blvd., Building 4
    Lake Charles, LA 70605

    The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy
    403 Bolton Avenue
    Alexandria, LA 71301

    Hope Pharmacy
    1410 Kings Highway, Suite A
    Shreveport, LA 71103

    Willow Pharmacy
    1519 Highway 22 West, Suite 5
    Madisonville, LA 70447

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Communications Coordinator

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  • ,

    Walter Daniels sworn in as Amite mayor

    Amite politico Walter Daniels returned from a trip to the Secretary of State’s Office in Baton Rouge as the newly-sworn in mayor of his hometown.

    After being appointed acting mayor on Friday night in a 3-2 vote of the Amite Council, Daniels said he went to Baton Rouge Monday to file the appropriate paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office. While there, he took his oath of office and assumed duties as Amite’s mayor just two weeks after Mayor Buddy Bel passed away following a fall in his home.

    Daniels, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor against Bel twice, lamented the loss of the longtime public servant, remembering Bel as a colleague on the Amite Council.

    The newly-installed mayor said he will rely on his experience on the city council and as a former Tangipahoa Parish School Board member to prove to his hometown that he will be a good and fair mayor. He plans to run for a full term this fall and hopes the time between now and Election Day will give him a chance to prove himself to this diverse community.

    Daniels said a special gathering will be scheduled next week so he can take his oath of office again among friends and family. He said that ceremony is being planned for Monday night at City Hall.

    Action17 News

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    South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk focused on ‘saving a life’

    The 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk was held on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at at the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center on East Washington Street.

    The half-day event commenced with opening remarks from State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith. The welcome was given by Theta M. Williams, and Mada McDonald, Chair and Co-Chair.  The opening prayer was led by the Reverend Dale Flowers of New Sunlight Baptist Church.  Warm-up exercises were conducted by Theresa Townsend and the Sensational Seniors.  The Walk was led by Grand Marshal Helen Turner Rutledge and the Michael Foster Project.  Different arrangements of music were played, leading the crowd in Second Line renditions.

    first pic

    After the Walk, it was time to Talk.  The Program began with Greetings, offered by Jeffery Corbin, assistant director of the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center.  Delores Newman gave a soul-stirring prayer, and a beautiful song was sung by Candace Addison, soloist.  The Walkers were then welcomed by Jared Hymowitz, as a representative of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s Office, and also by Theta M. Williams and Mada McDonald, Chair and Co-Chair of the SBR Wellness Committee.

     

    Acknowledgments of the 2019 SBR Walk and Talk Committee were made.  Grand Marshall and Committee Honorary Chair was Helen Turner Rutledge. She conceived of the 2018 South Baton Rouge Breast Cancer Walk and Health Fair.  In her honor, she led the Walk riding in a fully decorated white Mercedes Benz. It was also her idea to host the 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk. All of the SBR Wellness Committee members were introduced.

    Jeffery Corbin introduced the Keynote Speaker and the Panelists taking part in the discussion about various health concerns.  The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Cordel Parris of Parris Cardiologist, CIS. The panel consisted of Dr. Rani “The Hip-Hop Doc” Whitfield, who served as the panel facilitator; Shirley Lolis, executive director of Metro Health Education; Dr. Burke Brooks, of the Ochsner Health Care System; and Randy Fontenot, speaking about Mental Health.  Following the panel discussion, the attendees participated in a Q and A session.nine

    Lunch was prepared and served by SBR Wellness Committee member Ann Brown Harris and her Supporting Angels. The meal was healthy and delicious.

    There were 18 vendors on-site from numerous and various groups and organizations giving out valuable information.  Booths and tents were set up to meet and greet all attendees.

    Outside, several mobile units were present: Cancer screenings – breast, prostate, and colorectal – were conducted by Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center/Prevention On-the-Go Program; Mobile Mammography was done by Woman’s Hospital; HIV testing was provided by Metro Health in their clinic within the Leo Butler Community Center.

    The East Baton Rouge Police Department provided on-site security.  The walk began at the Leo Butler Community Center and proceeded up East Washington Street to Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, up to Louise Street, passing McKinley Middle Magnet School, leading to Thomas Delpit Drive, left in front of the McKinley Alumni Center, and back down to East Washington Street, to the Leo Butler Community Center where the walk ended.

    In 2018, the focus of the South Baton Rouge event was Breast Cancer, which was an outstanding event.  In 2019, the goal was to introduce healthy initiatives, health awareness tips and techniques to the participants.  The primary concentrations of this year’s event were heart health, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS and mental health.

    On May 18, 2019, a testimony that touched many touched and saved one life after a female had her mammogram screening.  Immediately she was sent to one of the local hospitals for further testing, after having an abnormal screening result.  Talk about “saving a life”.

    Joseph London of “A Family Blessing” was the photographer for the event and captured all aspects of the Walk and Talk.

    The South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk Committee members are: Jacqueline Addison, Marian Addison, Jeffery D. Corbin, Jr., Jennifer Cortes, Linda Daniel, Jonathan Dearborn, Sandra Elbert, Ann Brown Harris, Jared Hymowitz, Cynthia Jones, Glinda Lang, Mada McDonald (Co-Chair), Dynnishea Miller, Helen Turner Rutledge, DeTrecia Singleton, Christine Sparrow, Rene Smith, Dr. Susan Thornton and Theta M. Williams (Chair).

    All of the attendees and participants received a gift bag full of assorted items.  Special thank you to all individuals, businesses, and organizations that provided the items for the bags in support of the event, and to the Baton Rouge Community for their support of the 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk.

    By Mada McDonald
    Community Writer

    Photographs by Joseph London
    A Family Blessing

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  • ,,

    Whitney Plantation: A tour of truth appropriate for Juneteenth

    EDGAR, La—On June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned they were free from the United States institution of slavery. It was a great time of celebration and great trepidation. Thousands of the newly freed people had nowhere to go so they stayed on the plantations or near it, maintained the crops, and kept the plantation operational. Some lived as freed people. Some unknowingly continued living and being treated as slaves. This was the case of more than 300 African Americans living at the Haydel plantation from the late 1860s until 1975. To understand their stories and their brilliance within the confines of slavery and sharecropping, one would need to visit the Whitney Plantation in Edgar, Louisiana.

    “Use this time of Juneteenth to reflect on our individual families and their lives following slavery,” said genealogist and historian Antoinette Harrell who has followed family lineages in South Louisiana. According to a series of interviews published by Vice, Harrell has uncovered long-hidden cases of Black people who were still living as slaves a century past the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. She even interviewed a St. Charles, La. family who had been enslaved through the 1960s.

    Antoinette Harrell

    Antoinette Harrell

    “This is a time of celebration but it is also time to challenge ourselves to know more about our own families, to research and find out what happened to them at freedom, in slavery, and before then,” she said.

    This reflection and research has been done for the Haydel family who were the original owners of the Whitney Plantation. (It is now the nation’s sole plantation that tells the story of slavery through the eyes of the enslaved children who lived there.) This reflection is also being done by visitors—like the Semien family from Baton Rouge—who walked the grounds earlier this month.

    Here are the children’s thoughts:

    I really enjoyed the Whitney Plantation and loved how the guide made Black brilliance and intelligence a main part of the tour. She pointed out many times how knowledgeable the enslaved people were and that they were selected because of their intelligence and strength. Hearing that about my ancestors made me remember that I should always work hard and strive to do my best. It also made me wonder where my family is from. I believe that we are from Senegal or the Senegambia region of Africa like she explained because most of the Africans stolen and brought to Louisiana plantations as slaves were from that area. I also liked learning that these Blacks were actually powerful and brilliant and we saw that they created everything the white people needed and everything the plantation needed to make money with sugar cane. Another big thing that I took away from this experience was if my ancestors didn’t have anything but their intellect and still found a way to be successful, why can’t I strive for excellence with everything, too?

    —Yulani, 11

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    The guide at Whitley Plantation told about the legacy that was stripped from history books until now. We toured through concrete memorials with thousands of names and dates of slave purchases, births, and deaths etched in each. We were told about the horrors of living on the plantation and of slavery and the brutal ways people were treated and punished; and even after slavery was over, how they continued to disenfranchise Blacks to keep their minds, money, and bodies enslaved. Slaves were shackled around their necks and ankles as a way of punishment. Some were being buried alive. She shared how Catholicism and religious leaders were predators who benefited off the institute of slavery here and in France. However, slaves fought back in subtle ways. Breaking tools, pretending to be sick, working slowly, stealing small items or treats, and sneaking off into the bayou were examples of resistance. The guide said the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery New Year’s Day 1863 but the Whitney Plantation was up and running with the same families until 1975! That was only 44 years ago. When the slaves found out they were free, they had nowhere to go so they ended up sharecropping—which was still a form of slavery—until the closing of the plantation.

    This experience made me see the relationship between modern behavior and previous practices towards Blacks. The most impactful part was when the guide explained how Blacks were kidnapped for their intellectual skills and physical characteristics. She explained how the Africans’ knowledge was used to make the plantation profitable. In school we are taught this land we are living in is the land of the free, home of the brave even though the truth of the bravest people have been omitted or watered down in textbooks. Whitney Plantation told us the truth in many ways. What sticks with me the most is the fact that the enslaved people were brilliant architects and agriculturalists, great musicians, and amazingly strong. If they could do all that while in bondage, then there is much more that I could do.

    - Condoleezza, 13

    web whitney chains

     

    After discussing with the tour guide the different ways Africans built and worked around the plantation we realized some of the traits presented by the Africans on the plantation are also represented by their descendants today. The tour guide discussed the way that rice growing technique was enhanced by Blacks who never grew rice Africa but knew agriculture so well they could cultivate it in Louisiana better than their owners. She also explained how they were smart architects and carpenters who built the big house at Whitney without nails and placed it where air could circulate in the house based on the location. Some slaves were good at building and construction and were making houses or blacksmithing while others would harvest crops and manage the master’s home. Slaves with special talents—like playing instruments or singing— would work in at the plantation, then the overseers or masters would rent them out for their talent so he could make more money off the slave and his friends be entertained. This tour has stressed the importance of self-confidence and education. It helps us to see where we came from and some of us are shown that we have potential and can complete any task.

    - Collin, 14

    ONLINE: WhitneyPlantation.com

     By Cora Lester
    The Drum Managing Editor

    Read more with The Drum

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  • Jackson’s anti-abortion bill moves forward; Edwards says he will sign ‘heartbeat’ bill

    During his monthly radio show, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will sign a bill banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, if the legislation arrives on his desk.

    Lawmakers are nearing the final passage of a another bill that would ask voters to rewrite the state constitution to ensure it offers no protections for the procedure. The constitutional change could ban the procedure as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

    The Senate voted 31-4  for the proposal by Democratic Rep. Katrina Jackson, of Monroe, asking voters to add language into the state constitution declaring that it doesn’t protect abortion rights. The proposal has been called the ” “Love Life Amendment” by one group and as anti-abortion legislation by others. The House already has approved it, but must take another vote to send it to the fall ballot. As it is written now, if the bill moves forward to voters, the ballot will read:

    “Do you support an amendment to add a provision to the Louisiana Constitution stating that nothing in the constitution shall secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion?”

    It will ensure that state courts cannot establish a “right to abortion” or the tax funding of abortion in Louisiana.

    The heart-beat bill legislation is sponsored by state Sen. John Milkovich, one of several measures that lawmakers are advancing to add new restrictions on abortion. It would come into play if the U.S. Supreme Court ever reverses the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. “We believe children are a gift from God,” said Milkovich, a Democrat from Keithville. He said his proposal provides that “once a heartbeat is detected, the baby can’t be killed.”

    The bill still needs approval by the House. If enacted into law, it would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks into pregnancy. Similar laws have been passed in several other states this year, including Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and Ohio.

    “My inclination is to sign it,” said Edwards. “It’s consistent with my unblemished pro-life record in my years as a legislator and governor,” he said earlier this month.

    While the national Democratic platform is clear in its support for legal abortion, Edwards said on his radio show that his views align with many members of his party in Louisiana.FV6FJOXZP5AJBIULJYG5E4U6JY

    “I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that’s not a good fit. But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

     

    Feature photo (c) Associated Press.

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    Invisible illnesses to be highlighted at ‘The Picture of Health’ exhibit, May 29

    A photography exhibit highlighting invisible illnesses will be unveiled on Wednesday, May 29 at The Healthcare Galley, 3488 Brentwood Drive, Suites 102 & 103, Baton Rouge. The Picture of Health exhibit is produced by Leslie D. Rose, a Baton Rouge based photographer and writer who suffers with fibromyalgia. The exhibit features more than one dozen Baton Rougeans representing illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, autism, psoriatic arthritis, high blood pressure, and more.

    Through the art of photography, The Picture of Health, shows people in the manner in which they present themselves daily. Using a mixture of head shots, full body shots, and shots of the individual’s hands holding up a sign detailing their illness, the exhibit focuses on the perceived normalcy of people housed in ill bodies. The mission is to highlight invisible illness, elicit compassion, and promote education on a variety of health issues. The Picture of Health  (4)_edit

    Inspired by her own diagnosis journey with invisible illness, Rose wanted to create something that would help non-ill people better understand what “sick” really looks like. In 2014, she was misdiagnosed with anxiety disorder. A diagnosis she believed as her husband had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After three years of trying to yoga and meditate the pain and fatigue away, she was hit with neuropathy so bad that she could not walk on her own for a full week. This began a yearlong second opinion process. During which, she began counseling sessions to cope with the unknown chronic pain and other associated symptoms, which was later revealed to be fibromyalgia. All of this has always been met with a huge lack of compassion, because rarely does she “look sick.”

    Being so closely touched by a variety of invisible illnesses and having been misdiagnosed, shining light on invisible illnesses of all kinds became a passion project for Rose. This is why she started an online support group for women of color suffering with chronic pain. But this wouldn’t be enough – she had to find a way to help other people understand invisible illnesses. At the top of September 2017, it was a simple Facebook post that asked people to comment with a selfie if they have invisible illnesses. Some 100 plus photos later, she knew the project in her head was much bigger than she could imagine, and so The Picture of Health was conceived.

    The one night only exhibit kickoff to be held on May 29 is sponsored by Rose’s activism-based arts organization, CreActiv, LLC, in partnership with Dr. Leone Elliott and The Healthcare Gallery. The exhibit is curated by April Baham. The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will feature brief remarks from invisible illness warriors and medical professionals.

    ABOUT CreActiv, LLC

    CreActiv, LLC is an activism-based arts organization with the mission of promoting and producing programming that heightens awareness, raises funds, and/or supports important issues through the use of the arts and partnerships. The organization currently houses two programs Louisiana Artists for Puerto Rico and The Picture of Health.  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram@Picofhealthbr.

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  • Southern University students awarded scholarship to pursue eco-friendly studies

    Three students at Southern University Baton Rouge have been awarded the Rockefeller State Wildlife Scholarship. The scholarship is for students pursuing a degree in forestry, wildlife, or marine science at a Louisiana public college or university.

    Last year, 22 students from LSU, Louisiana Tech, UL-Lafayette, Nicholls State University and Northwestern State University were awarded the Rockefeller State Wildlife Scholarship. This is the first time in several years that students were awarded from Southern University.

    “Certainly, their academic financial need is lessened or has dissipated with this award. It is a milestone in their forestry career path,” said C. Reuben Walker, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor to Strategic Initiatives, Auxiliary Services, and External Engagements.

    Walker encouraged several students at Southern University to apply.

    “Gratitude goes to the Honorable Ann Smith (Southern University Board of Supervisors) and Mrs. Deborah Paul (Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance) for their total commitment to students. Ann Smith often says ‘it is all about the students’. My efforting could not have been done without these two individuals sharing the opportunity and benefits for forestry students at Southern University to apply for this award,” Dr. Walker said.

    Undergraduate students who receive the scholarship are awarded $2,000 annually; graduate students receive $3,000 annually. The cumulative maximum award is $12,000 for three years of undergraduate study and two years of graduate study.

    To be eligible to receive the scholarship, undergraduate students must have at least 60 earned college credit hours and at least a 2.50 cumulative college GPA. Graduate students need at least a 3.00 cumulative GPA on all credits earned in grad school.

    “I am absolutely honored and blessed to have received this scholarship,” said Asija Rice, a senior urban forestry major. “This encourages me to continue my education by pursuing a masters in horticulture entomology.”

    Rice hopes to open a botanical garden and engage the community to make a more eco-friendly and sustainable environment.

    Simbrey Majors and Wilbert Thomas, both graduate students at Southern University Baton Rouge, also received the scholarship.

    “This means the stress of finding extra funding for school will be eased and I can focus all my attention on my studies,” said Majors, who intends to pursue a PhD in agriculture and natural resources.

    Thomas, a non-traditional student, has a goal of becoming part of the faculty at Southern University once he earns a PhD in urban forestry.

    “This scholarship will help me with my self-confidence, as I am over 60 years old and at times intimidated by matriculating with students much younger than I am,” Thomas said. “My dream keeps me motivated.”

    Interested students should complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Rockefeller State Wildlife scholarship application available on the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) website.

    Photographed: Asija Rice, Wilbert Thomas and Simbrey Majors. Photo Credit: John Oubre III – SUBR Photographer
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    Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance holds inaugural meeting at the SU Ag Center

    The Southern University Land-Grant Campus hosted the inaugural meeting of the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance (LIHA) on Monday, January 14.

    The meeting, which was held in Fisher Hall on Southern University’s Campus, was convened to address new legislation regarding Industrial Hemp.

    “Industrial Hemp has been around for millennia,” said Arthur Walker, Chair of the LIHA. “It is a grain in the family of Cannabis Sativa L. The difference between it and other versions of the cannabis plant is in the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels. It has a level of .3% and below. Marijuana, its cousin, has THC levels of 5 and above,” he said.

    THC is the psychotropic component of the plant that can cause individuals to experience a “high.” Making it virtually impossible to get high from the Industrial Hemp plant.

    However, it was still classified as a schedule I drug, along with marijuana, by the Nixon administration in the ’70s. Making it illegal to be grown in the United States, but, the purchase of imported raw materials to manufacture products from the plant was legal.

    Many of these products include clothes, soap, fiberboard and insulation.

    “For a number of years the US has spent morethan $150 million per year on importing Industrial Hemp products just from China alone,” said Joe Lavigne, LIHA member. “We feel that Louisiana is the perfect safe space to take a fraction of that market and really drive the Industrial Hemp economy.”

    “The small farmers and the small business owners of Louisiana need that infusion of opportunity,” said Walker.

    The 2018 Farm Bill officially removed Industrial Hemp from the schedule I classification. Industrial Hemp is now classified as a commercial commodity like corn, sugarcane, and rice.

    “Now farmers can get crop insurance and receive financing opportunities from the federal government to start growing Industrial Hemp,” said Walker. “The whole commodity designation and moving Industrial Hemp from the Department of Justice, where it was a schedule I drug, to the control of the Department of Agriculture is a game changer.” 

    As of the end of December 2018, 40 states had passed legislation that allowed their farmers and business owners to get involved with Industrial Hemp. Louisiana is among the last 10 states to have no legislation for the commodity.

    “With the passage of the Farm Bill, those 40 states that have passed legislation are now ready to go to commercialization, as long as their laws are modified to fit under the federal umbrella,” said Walker. “Louisiana has to have something established from ground zero.”

    The Alliance hopes to influence legislation in the state of Louisiana to allow the state’s small farmers and business owners to involve themselves in the commercial end of Industrial Hemp.

    If legislation is passed, the Southern University Land-Grant Campus plans to assist small farmers in the propagation of the crop.

    “Part of the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’s mission is to work with small, limited resource farmers throughout the state. We will assist the LIHA in helping to teach small farmers how to grow, cultivate and prepare this commodity as a value-added crop that can be exported throughout the world,” said Bobby R. Phills, Ph.D., Chancellor-Dean of the Southern University Land-Grant Campus. “It is our hope that this crop will enable small farmers to remain on their farms and be able to earn a decent living by growing Industrial Hemp.”

    The Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance’s mission is to aid in the acceptance of the free marketing of Industrial Hemp as an agricultural crop in Louisiana. The organization is dedicated to a free market of Industrial Hemp, Low-THC varieties of Cannabis, and to change current laws to allow Louisiana farmers to grow this crop and Louisiana processors to process this crop on a commercial scale.

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

    For additional information about the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance, contact Arthur Walker at artw@communicationsone.com.

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  • Meetings held for public input on zoo, park master plan

    BREC officials have begun master planning processes for the Baton Rouge Zoo and Greenwood Community Park. Two nationally-acclaimed design consultants have been selected through a competitive bid process and kickoff meetings were held late last year, allowing the consultants to gain a better understanding of the sites and scope of the projects. The team is eager to hear what the surrounding communities have to say about these public amenities.

    A pair of open-house style public meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, January 29th, where the consultants will introduce themselves to you, share preliminary findings, and invite you to share your ideas and suggestions for these projects. The two meetings are:

    11 am – 1 pm Tuesday, January 29 at the Baton Rouge Garden Club in Independence Park Botanical Garden
    7950 Independence Blvd., Baton Rouge

    6 – 8 pm Tuesday, January 29 at The Waterfront Theater in Greenwood Community Park
    13350 LA Hwy. 19, Baker

    A web page within brec.org is being developed for these projects to provide more information and online engagement tools. We anticipate launching that next week, so watch your email for a notification and graphic-rich promotional materials.

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    EBR Councilwoman to host second meeting on acquiring adjudicated property

    East Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks is hosting a second series pathways to acquire property in East Baton Rouge Parish. The event is free and open to the public. The meeting will include details on getting title insurance and paying the outstanding taxes.
    The second session will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2019, 5:30 p.m., Louisiana Leadership Institute, 5763 Hooper Road, Baton Rouge, LA  70811
    The goal is to help bring new life to blighted, abandoned or tax-foreclosed properties.  Agency representatives will present five unconventional pathways to acquire these properties.   Both residential and commercial investors will learn how to purchase tax-delinquent assets by attending these informational.
    A list of invited agencies and programs:
    • East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office “sheriff sale”, a public auction of property repossessed to satisfy an unpaid obligation.
    Parish Attorney’s Office, which handles the sale of adjudicated properties through public bids and donations.
    Civic Source, a company partnered with the City-Parish to offer an online process for the sale of adjudicated property in excess of 5 years.
    Mow to Own Program,  allows certain parties to avoid the public bidding and receive a preference in making an offer to purchase adjudicated properties  in excess of 3 years;
    East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority has the ability to acquire and quickly clear title to tax sale and adjudicated properties.
    For more information, contact the District 2 Office at (225) 389-8331 or email cbanks@brla.gov.
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    ‘Nature’ recognizes LSU chemistry professor Isiah Warner for mentorship

    Nature, the leading, international weekly journal of science has selected LSU Boyd Professor Isiah Warner for the Nature Award for Mentoring in Science. The Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science were founded in 2005 to celebrate mentorship, a crucial component of scientific career development that too often goes overlooked and unrewarded. Through Warner’s leadership and mentorship, the LSU Department of Chemistry has become the leading producer of doctoral degrees in chemistry for African Americans in the U.S. Under his direction, the LSU Office of Strategic Initiatives has mentored countless numbers of students across eight programs from the high school to doctoral levels.

    “I am delighted at the achievements of our awards winners, including Dr. Warner, and I am especially delighted this year at the diversity of their experiences and of their commitments to mentoring. I know that the judges had a strong field of applicants. It’s terrific for Nature to be able to celebrate researchers who have been so outstanding in their encouragement of a strong scientific ethos in those who come after them,” said Sir Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Springer Nature.

    Warner is considered one of the world’s experts in analytical applications of fluorescence spectroscopy. His research aims to develop and apply chemical, instrumental and mathematical measurements to solve fundamental questions in chemistry.

    Warner has recently been recognized as the 2016 SEC Professor of the Year, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry and American Association for Advancement of the Sciences. He also received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from President Clinton and the American Chemical Society Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into the Sciences.

    “Dr. Warner’s dedication to teaching, service and research embodies the LSU mission. We congratulate him on this international recognition,” said LSU President F. King Alexander.

    Warner is also the Phillip W. West Professor of Chemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at LSU and has achieved the highest professorial rank in the LSU system — LSU Boyd Professor.

    Each year, Nature gives the awards in a different geographical region, and this year’s awards honor excellent mentors in the South of the United States. Awardees are nominated by a group of their former trainees, from different stages of the mentor’s professional life; and the winners of the awards have demonstrated outstanding mentorship throughout their careers.

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    SU Land-Grant Campus to host Back-to-School Summit, August 3

    Students in 6th – 12th grade are invited to participate in the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’ Back-to-School Summit,  August 3, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

    The free event, which is themed “Youth Empowerment and Community Stewardship: Cultivating the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders: Plant, Grow, Nurture, Harvest, Sustain,” in the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    The summit will feature comedian Tony King, social media sensation Raynell “Supa” Steward and educational workshops on the topics of:

    • Youth Empowerment & Community Stewardship
    • Active Shooter Preparedness
    • DIY Bike Repairs
    • Social Media Safety
    • LYFE
    • No Smoke
    • Exploring Careers in Ag
    • Eating “Gods” Way
    • $mart Snacks
    • Safe Sitter

    Youth will also have an opportunity to visit several vendor booths during the Summit.

    City of Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniels will serve as the keynote speaker for the summit.

    In 2014, the Baton Rouge native created the Jewel J. Newman Community Center (JJNCC) Advisory Board. Under Banks-Daniels leadership, the JJNCC has increased its funding from the City-Parish and has made several building and playground upgrades.

    The center has also been awarded several grants that have been used to improve the quality of life for her constituents.

    Banks-Daniels earned a Master’s degree in Education, Leadership and Counseling and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, both from Southern University. She is also a graduate of the Southern University Laboratory School.

    Youth groups interested in attending the Back-to-School Summit must pre-register by emailing the name of the child(ren), their age(s), parent(s) name, mailing address, phone number and email address to: suagyouthdevelopment@gmail.com.

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

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    First Louisiana charter school for children with autism opens August 16

    The Emerge School for Autism will welcome its first class of students on August 16, 2018, as the first tuition-free school for children with autism spectrum disorder in the state of Louisiana.

    The school’s mission is to educate students with ASD using therapeutically focused evidence-based strategies grounded in the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and Universal Design for Learning enabling children to reach their full potential and transform their lives.

    The highly integrative curriculum will be tailored to each child’s individual needs and provide special education instruction using ABA, speech-language, and occupational therapy to children to prepare them for future education settings with a functional communication system, improved independence, self-help skills, and essential learner readiness skills. Socio-emotional learning will enhance the academic performance of the students and their ability to integrate into society or back to their home school. Data-driven decision-making will be an integral part of The Emerge School, as the team will collect data daily, and analyze data weekly for each student.

    Since its inception in 1960, The Emerge Center, an independent 501c3, has undergone a natural, organizational evolution into the educational realm in response to community needs. The Emerge Kindergarten began in 2014 and provided academic instruction in alignment with Louisiana Student Standards and was composed of a combination of therapies, including speech-language, occupational, and applied behavior analysis to students ages five to six years of age. It was a BESE-approved, tuition-based program following a traditional school year calendar.

    When Emerge students began transitioning out of the center’s program and into traditional schools settings, students who had been successful within Emerge programs became significantly challenged by new environments, which lacked educational and therapeutic tools they needed to achieve success. In 2016, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation unveiled findings from a study of Autism Spectrum Disorder resources in the Capital Region, in which they found that educational opportunities for children with autism are limited by the small number of private and public school classroom resources, as schools largely often opted out of offering curricula featuring applied behavior analysis.

    In 2017, the Board of Directors and executive leadership of The Emerge Center completed a three-year Strategic Plan to position the non-profit organization for sustainable growth in its services for children with autism and communication challenges. By implementing the strategic plan, Emerge expanded its educational offerings with the creation of The Emerge School for Autism.

    Beginning with twenty children in kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year, The Emerge School plans to serve children ages five to eleven and grow to serve up to 120 students over time. In its first year, the school will operate out of two existing classrooms at The Emerge Center, with plans to identify a larger space to accommodate more students in the future.

    Leigh Bozard is the principal of The Emerge School for Autism.

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    Seeking information on Alvin Ray Washington

    The Drum seeks information on former Hammond City Councilman Alvin Ray Washington. If any relatives, friends, or constituents have newspaper clippings, documents, letters, or pictures involving or including Washington, please share them with The Drum. These documents will not leave your home. Call Eddie Ponds at (225)927-3717 or email to news (at) thedrumnewspaper (dot) info.

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    APPLY NOW: Fellows Program in Louisiana Government

    Gov. John Bel Edwards has launched the Governor’s Fellows Program in Louisiana Government, which provides an opportunity for Louisiana’s college and university students to experience policy making in action through participation in the state’s governing process.

    Fellows will be assigned to cabinet-level agencies, and they will have the opportunity to observe first-hand how the governor leads and how policies are developed and advanced. Fellows will also participate in a weekly speaker series and field trips designed to enhance the overall experience and understanding of Louisiana government and current affairs.

    “Through the fellowship program, we will cultivate a new generation of leaders in Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said. “I encourage all college-aged students with an interest in Louisiana and a desire to make a positive change in our state to apply. The fellows will bring insight and fresh perspectives to the work that will mold the future of our great state.”

    The application process is now open and available here: http://www.gov.louisiana.gov/fellows

    The fellowships are open to all students attending a Louisiana public higher education institution and Louisiana residents enrolled in out-of-state public higher education institutions. Fellows will be chosen based on the students’ commitment to leadership, public service and good government.

    “LSU is excited to partner with the Governor’s Office in launching the Governor’s Fellows Program,” said Dr. Jared Llorens, director and associate professor at the LSU Public Administration Institute. “Fellows will have an excellent opportunity to learn how public policies are shaped and implemented across a wide spectrum of state agencies.”

    Participating students will receive housing on LSU’s campus for the duration of the fellowship, a stipend up to $1,500 and three credit hours through the LSU Public Administration Institute.

    “Southern University has a longstanding tradition of contributions to the politics and governmental affairs of Louisiana,” said Southern University President Ray Belton. “This collaboration with the governor’s office, LSU and others will ensure that students continue this legacy throughout our great state and beyond.”

    The Governor’s Fellows Program in Louisiana Government is a partnership with the Office of the Governor, Louisiana State University, Southern University and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. The program will be funded entirely through philanthropic contributions managed by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

    For information about requirements for participation and application procedures, click here. The application process is now open and available here: http://www.gov.louisiana.gov/fellows

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    Alumni host annual crawfish boil, music festival, May 5

    The Southern University Alumni Federation Home Chapter is hosting its 6th Annual Crawfish Boil and Music Festival on Saturday, May 5 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at BREC’s Greenwood Community Park in Baker.

    Guests will enjoy boiled crawfish or fried catfish, a live performance by Stephanie McDee, games for the kids, vendors, a Stroll-off, a Cook-off and the Southern University Human Jukebox band.  The park also features a hiking trail and splash pad.

    “I’m so excited to give our alumni, friends, and supporters another great opportunity to come together, eat some great food and support our great university,” said Home Chapter President Cortny Jarrell.

    Proceeds will help fund scholarships and alumni recruitment. Early bird tickets are $25 per person until May 2. After May 2, tickets are $35 per person.

    To purchase tickets, go to www.suhomechapter.com or call (225) 443-2167.

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    COMMENTARY: What about the grandparents raising children?

    According to the U.S. 2010 Census, there were more than 2.7 million households with grandparents raising their grandchildren. Census Bureau reported that 67,000 Louisiana grandparents are responsible for meeting the needs of grandchildren. The reasons why are varied.

    There are cases where the parents are unable to care for the children because of drug abuse. Or the parents themself are struggling financially and grandparents have stepped in to help raise the child. And sadly some are raising their grandchildren due to domestic violence. Many were not prepared to do this all over again as they enter retirement age.Believe it or not, some grandparents are still in the workforce.

    The toll taking on the role of parent can be great. Increased household expenses, mental stress of the realities of raising children again.Not to mention having the energy to keep the children involved in extracurricular activities.

    What is also not realized is the legal and financial realities. There are grandparents who go through the process of getting guardianship of their grandchildren or the parent will sign a power of attorney. Doing this will allow them to make more decisions for the children while the parent still retains parental rights.

    What about life insurance ?

    In the middle of raising grandchildren grandparents can easily overlook having life insurance coverage for themselves and the grandchildren. According to LIMRA 2016 Facts About Life, only 44 percent of U.S. households have individual life insurance. That includes the grandparents raising their children.

    Thankfully life insurance rates are not as expensive as some would have you to believe.For grandparents over 50 who do not have life insurance they have options available to them for coverage.In addition there are policies that will not require medical exams.

    One would be a final expense burial life insurance policy. These are small face whole life insurance policies that will take care of their final expenses. Another option would a guaranteed universal life policy. This policy acts like a cross between term and whole life insurance. The death benefit is guaranteed up to certain age, while the policy accumulates cash value. An option younger grandparents may like.

    Then finally we have term life insurance.A term policy will terminate after a set number of years up to 30. It will provide pure life insurance for a grandparent. However the price of term life insurance can be pricey for individuals in their late 50′s into the 60′s. Some policies have questions that will automatically decline older clients. In addition the amount of coverage allowable decreases around age 64.

    Coverage for grandchildren ?

    In each example I cited above, grandparent can purchase a term rider to put their grandchildren on the policy. A rider is simply an add-on allowed to the policy at the time of applying. The term rider will put term coverage on the grandchildren until they are either married. Or they age out of the term coverage. The exact age varies by company. By the way a grandparent has another option at their disposal.

    Companies do sell whole life insurance policies for children ages 14 days old up 17. For the most part they are very inexpensive. Not to mention, the child can keep this policy well into adulthood. One carrier I personally use will you to purchase as much as $50,000 of life insurance on a child.

    Grandparents are being called to duty again as parents. They are answering the call with love and attention. At the same time we should make certain they have knowledge and access to affordable life insurance. Not only for them, but also the grandchildren they are raising.

    Submitted by Thomas Dickson

    Thomas Dickson is a licensed independent life insurance agent in Baton Rouge, La. His company is Acadian Insurance Group. Specializing in senior life insurance. He can be reached at thomas @ acadianinsurancegroup.com

     

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    Middle schoolers participate in Southern University’s Black History Quiz Bowl Championship

    Six teams of eager middle school students from McKinley Middle Magnet, Westdale Middle School and Scotlandville Middle Pre-Engineering Academy competed in the SU Land-Grant Campus’s Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition on Feb. 28.

    Thoughout February, Southern University Land-Grant Campus professor emeritus and Black History Quiz Bowl organizer Owusu Bandele, Ph.D., conducted quiz bowls at the three area schools. The first and second place teams from each school were invited to participant in the championship competition at the SU Ag Center.

    During the championship,  Dawn Mellion Patin, Ph.D., SU Land-Grant Campus vice chancellor for extension provided the opening remarks, and Bandele served as moderator. Awards were presented to the winners by research associate Erica Williams Mitchell.

    The competition covered a variety of topics including current events, politics, history, sports and entertainment.

    Westdale Middle School’s Wakanda Team won 1st place during the Championship Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    Westdale Middle School’s Wakanda Team won 1st place during the Championship Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    Westdale Middle School’s Team Wakanda took first place. Team members were: Kahlil Bandele, Elijah Doomes, Condoleezza Semien, Lailah Collins, and Khamerin Edmonds.

    McKinley Middle Magnet School's Imhotep Team won 2nd place in the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    McKinley Middle Magnet School’s Imhotep Team won 2nd place in the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    McKinley Middle Magnet School’s Team Imhotep town second place. Members were Justin Thompson, Michael Shin, Sean Murphy, and Victoria Williams.

    Westdale Middle School's Freedom Riders Team took home 3rd place during the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition

    Westdale Middle School’s Freedom Riders Team took home 3rd place during the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition

    In third place was Westdale’s Team Freedom Riders with Micah Dunn, Caelen Broussard, Pamela Davis, Marshall Seymour, and Phillip Antoine.

    Members earned place medals. Every participant received a book by or about some aspect of the Black American experience.

    The event ended with SU Land-Grant Campus Chancellor-Dean Bobby R. Phills, Ph.D., encouraging the young students to pursue a college education.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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    WhoToWatch 2018: Michael McClanahan

    One of the first things Michael McClanahan will let you know about him is that he’s from a “little town called Zwolle in Northwest Louisiana.” Quickly after that, you’ll realize his love of people, the state of Louisiana, and justice. A perfect combination for the new leader of the Louisiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

    McClanahan, 53, is employed as a home manager at Harmony II with Harmony Center Incorporated. In this role, he provides supervision and direct care to mentally challenged adult males. Much of this experience was obtained when he co-founded M & T Outpatient Rehab Center for the treatment of alcohol and drugs. A gifted handyman, he also spends time renovating floors, bathrooms, and kitchens with his home repair company, M&T Corner. He and his wife, Patricia, have two children, Ymine and Torin.

    As the former head of the Baton Rouge NAACP, McClanahan has been vocal in pushing the attorney generals office for answers in the investigation of the Alton Sterling shooting, demanding changes in city police policies, requesting equitable business contracts for minority companies seeking to work city government, and standing with laborers for better pay. For this, he is a person to watch in 2018.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017: In Sept. 2017, I was elected as President of the La State Conference of the NAACP. I serve as a chairman of the deacon board, chair of the men’s ministry and governing board member Church of Life Fellowship BC. I sit as a board member of Black Wall Street Louisiana.

    What to expect in 2018 from you: 2018 will be an exciting year. From the State NAACP perspective, we will increase voter participation in all elections, increase NAACP memberships and active branches, increase diversity in city and state contracts, issue a report card for elected officials and changing the plan of government in Baton Rouge. Finally, get the resolution for the murder of Alton Sterling.

    Personal resolution: I am personally going to work on my time spent praying and meditating with the Lord and reading his word.

    Life/business motto: For an honest day’s work, you should expect an honest day’s pay.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Become more efficient in the delivery of goods and services. My number one priority now is my mother’s health.

    Best advice you have ever received: Plan your work and work your plan

    Role Models: my mother Dorothy Clay and my stepdad Tommy Clay

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward? I would always try to be a behind the scenes type of guy and the Lord would find a way to put me in the forefront. And he told me “I prepared you for a time such as this.”

    What’s entertaining you? Listening to Christmas music, watching football and basketball

    What are you reading? Love reading any news

    Website/Email: mwmcclanahan @ yahoo.com

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

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    ‘Buy the Block’ sets out to fund property development

    Real estate crowd investing platform hopes to raise millions for property development in Black communities

    Entrepreneur Lynn P. Smith is the founder and CEO at Buy The Block – one of the only Black-owned platforms in the country that is dedicated to making investments in real estate as a group more accessible. The movement is presently on its way to recording massive success in funding for diverse development projects across Black communities in the US.

    This enviable initiative offers every Black American an opportunity to invest as little as $100, and connect with other investors – with an added advantage of helping every member buy a piece of their first block. Having a growing database of BlockVestors and Block Developers, all it takes to be a member is by signing up on their website.
    With the platform, acquiring property or block of choice in one’s local area is achievable. Getting the funds to make such a big difference can also be without hassles. All that is required of a member is to; find a property, make an offer, bring the property to Buy The Block, get the needed funding from other investors if they so desire, and then purchase the block.

    The ability to share wealth depending on each person’s investment makes it a win-win situation for all block investors. Buy The Block can manage any project from concept to end, and they aim to develop a large number of construction projects, in areas such as; residential, manufacturing, retail, multi-family, medical, religious, and pre-engineered building construction.

    With the focus on the Black communities in America, Buy The Block is on track to raise millions of dollars in funding for development projects in these communities. Having the capacity to take on more significant projects and contracts, they project that they will soon change the face of crowdfunding real estate investing in the country.

    They intend to do this by committing their time to getting great projects and making it a win-win for all sponsored projects. Their mission as stated on their website is to “change investing from confusing and frustrating, to an accessible and enjoyable social experience.”

    Speaking excitedly, Lynn said; “Indeed, we have loads of challenges, but I am determined to educate our community and make this work… thanks to the everyone out there, that united as one to embrace and support this unique concept.”

    Check out all of Buy the Block’s community sponsors: www.buytheblock.com/community-businesses

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    Questions for zoo keepers: EBR residents pose 18 questions to BREC Commissioners

    Since 2015, BREC superintendent Carolyn McKnight has followed the lead of a private foundation to encourage BREC Commissioners to approve the relocation of the zoo from Hwy 19 in north Baton Rouge to an undisclosed location within the parish. The relocation proposal has been met with resistance from each mayor surrounding the zoo: Junior Shelton of Central, David Amrhein of Zachary, Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, and Darnell Waitts of Baker. They said the current location has had posi- tive impact on their cities and renovations or remodeling the zoo would increase the impact greatly. Each of these mayors joined Broome in the creation of a resolution in support of keeping the zoo in its current location.

    City council leaders and organizations including North Baton Rouge Now Blue Ribbon Commission and Keep the Baton Rouge Zoo at Greenwood Park have pushed for BREC and commissioners to consider renovations instead of relocation. Following multiple public meetings, community forums, and social media commentaries, East Baton Rouge parish residents still have significant questions for BREC Commissioners who will ultimately determine if the city’s zoo should be relocated. Residents and community leaders were asked to share questions they have for commissioners about the zoo. They were also asked to give questions they believe commissioners should ask BREC officials, the private foundation, and McKnight. The questions were combined into the following sets of nine.

    9 QUESTIONS FOR THE BREC COMMISSIONERS:

    1 Who really is the keeper of the zoo? BREC Superinten- dent? BREC Commissioners?

    2 What research have the BREC Commissioners indi- vidually completed to validate what has been proposed to them by the BREC executives? What are their thoughts on the ndings? Why do they seem to be “mum” on if the proposal is

    valid? Why do we have a 180- park system for a city of this size? Could the reduction of our park system be a part of the funding and operation strategy?

    3 How could interviewees in uence a decision to relocate the Baton Rouge Zoo which was created and paid for by the city’s total population?

    4 Why have Commissioners not discussed the validity of the Baker Recreation Hub Report? Aren’t there are many similarities between their report and BREC’s Reimagine Greenwood Park’s proposal?

    5 What will be the public’s contributions in the develop- ment and operation of the zoo if it is moved?

    6 Why is it feasible to use public funds for what appears to be a privately-initiated project?

    7 Are Commissioners ig- noring the concerns of four mayors who have indicated their desire to have the zoo remain in its current location?

    8 Under what speci c con- ditions are commissioners will- ing to consider in order for the zoo remain in it’s current location?

    9 What will be the public’s contributions in the develop- ment and operation of the zoo if it is moved?

    9 QUESTIONS BREC COMMISSIONERS SHOULD ASK TO SUPERINTENDENT :

    1 Why is BREC seeking new land for the relocation of the zoo when the current lo- cation sits on more than 660 acres of land located in one of the highest elevations of the parish?

    2 Who are the philanthro- pists that are stating that they are willing to invest in the zoo if the zoo is moved? How much support are these philanthro- pists committed to investing into this zoo with or without relocating?

    3 Who was actually sur- veyed and polled? What ef- forts were made to reach and get input from everyone? Why is there a lack of ethnic and economic diversity of the interviewees from the S&W study?

    4 Why was the only op- tion presented by BREC to the public the Reimagine Greenwood and the relocation of the zoo?

    5 How will interviewees of the private-survey directly or indirectly bene t from the relocation that they are so ada- mantly in favor of?

    6 Why was BREC represen- tatives absent at public meetings that were held by others from the community?

    7 Should demand that the superintendent provide information about potential reloca- tion sites and detail the selection criteria for those sites.

    8 What’s the potential impact and costs to the community that may become the home of the Baton Rouge Zoo i.e. increased tra c congestion, noise pollution, environmental hazards such as water runo , sewage treatment, etc.? What are the costs for road and traffic infrastructure for relocating the zoo?

    9 Why would it take 15 years to develop the zoo in its current location? Could animal and attractions be developed si- multaneously, thus stimulating public interest and increased foot traffic?

    By Cora Lester
    Drum reporter

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    COMMENTARY: Not every child is going to be a scientist or doctor. Educate them still.

    I am a former teacher. I taught for 25 years in the public school system and have held various titles in the field of education throughout my 40-year career. I have always had a passion for education. My family and I joke that I have been teaching since the first day of kindergarten. My older sister also wanted to be a teacher. So, we would spend our evenings “playing school” with our many siblings and neighbors. Because of our productive “pretend play” I began school already reading and writing. I remember printing the alphabet with pride. By the time I reached third grade I was reading everything I could get my hands on and helping my classmates read as well. In fact, the only time I was reprimanded was when I tried to help a classmate pronounce names during her social studies report on current events.

    I shared that time during my childhood, because it is important for educators to understand that children begin school on various levels. Children develop and retain information differently. Some students begin school ahead of the pack. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure all children, irrespective of their initial academic level continue to make progress.

    Unfortunately, most students are not progressing at an appropriate pace. The reauthorized, national education law, Every Student Succeeds Act, grants states the freedom to develop their own academic standards and measures of accountability so long as those standards prepare students for college and career readiness. State academic standards can include a wide range of subject areas; in contrast to the previous emphasis on reading and mathematics. To support the academic achievement of students with varied academic ability, background, and socioeconomic status, it is vital that educators refrain from the one-size-fits-all model of instruction promoted during No Child Left Behind.

    To improve academic achievement, we must reflect on our stated mission: to educate all children. Not every child is going to be a mathematician. Not every child is going to be a scientist or doctor. However, every child is born with specific gifts and talents. It is up to us, as parents and educators, to help each child develop those specific talents. In a family of six children, each of my siblings had a different area of interest. One became a medical doctor, another a mathematician, still another, an engineer; there are two former teachers, and a law enforcement officer. We were all expected to excel in our respective fields, and we did.

    Success comes in many forms. A successful student is allowed to pursue his/her natural talents and encouraged to learn the skills needed to be a productive citizen. Had my siblings and I been limited to reading and mathematics, we probably wouldn’t have been as successful; not in our careers or personal lives. To improve academic achievement, let’s first equip teachers with the skills to recognize the natural talents that support and encourage academic achievement. School systems must realize that tests only measure a finite set of skills and that skills do exist outside of those measured. Academic achievement is improved when we recognize the differences in children and embrace them rather than trying to put every child in the same, square box. Academic achievement is improved when parents take the initiative to advocate for their child’s needs from the womb all the way through college graduation and the start of their careers.

    Who is responsible for improving academic achievement? All of us. Get engaged, go to the meetings, participate in the professional development, take part in the free webinars, read the articles on education in your local newspapers, and be a voice in your child’s education.

    If you are looking for tips on how to get involved, or where to go to attend meetings, visit www.nnpa.org/essa.

    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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    Southern volleyball falls to McNeese, Houston during day two of invitational

    Southern University junior setter Vaterra Calais earned 2017 UTA Volleyball Invitational All-Tournament Team honors as the Jaguars fell to Houston and McNeese State in straight sets on the final day of the tournament.

    Calais recorded 27 assists and three service aces in three matches for Southern, who opened the 2017 season with a 3-0 (17-25, 11-25, 18-25) loss to tournament host UT Arlington Friday night.

    During Day 2 action, SU (0-3) dropped the opening set to Houston 25-13 before responding with gutsy efforts in Set 2 and 3 which resulted in a pair of 25-20 defeats.

    In their tournament finale, Paige Hall’s eight kills and Calais’ eight assists were not enough to overturn a strong McNeese State performance which lead to a 3-0 (13-25, 16-25, 14-25) Cowgirl win.

    Southern will face McNeese State in a rematch in Lake Charles on August 30. First serve is set for 7 p.m.

    For more information on Southern University Volleyball log on to GoJagSports.com for the latest news, scores, and updates. Fans can also access the latest information on the Lady Jaguars through social media by following @SoutherU_VB on Twitter and Instagram or liking the Facebook page at Facebook.com/SouthernUVolleyball

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  • High school juniors, senior invited to ACT prep

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    Covington native serves in Japan aboard USS Germantown

    SASEBO, Japan – A 2016 Covington High School graduate and Covington native is serving in Japan in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Germantown.

    Seaman Recruit Nicholas Brumfield is an operations specialist aboard the ship operating out of Sasebo, Japan.

    A seaman recruit is the Navy’s entry-level enlisted position following graduation from boot camp. Brumfield graduated from the Navy’s Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes, Illinois in July and has begun his apprenticeship training on the Germantown.

    “I decided to become an operations specialist because it sounded cool,” Brumfield said. “It sounded like I would be actually doing something, playing an active role in protecting the ship and my shipmates.”

    With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the U.S. has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world.

    “Our alliance is rooted in shared interests and shared values,” said Adm. Harry Harris, U.S. Pacific Command Commander. “It’s not hyperbole to say that the entire world has benefited from the U.S.-Japan alliance. While our alliance helped stabilize the region after the Second World War, it also enabled the Japanese people to bring about an era of unprecedented economic growth. And for the last six decades, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have worked side by side with the Japan Self Defense Force to protect and advance peace and freedom.”

    Commissioned in 1986, Germantown is the second Navy ship named after the Revolutionary War Battle of Germantown. With a crew of more than 900 sailors and Marines, Germantown is 609 feet long and weighs approximately 16,000 tons. Designed specifically to operate landing craft air cushion small craft vessels, Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships have the largest capacity for these landing craft out of any U.S. Navy amphibious ship.

    “I like my chain of command, they really focus on us as junior sailors, helping us build up not only Navy-wise but far into the future about what we want to do when we leave the service. They genuinely care about us,” said Brumfield.

    Sea duty is inherently arduous and challenging but it builds strong fellowship and esprit de corps among members of the crew. The crew is highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

    “Serving in the Navy, not only does it have benefits for me but I’m doing something greater than myself,” Brumfield said. “Nothing is given to us, you have to work for everything you accomplish.”

    The Navy’s presence in Sasebo is part a long-standing commitment.

    “The U.S.-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone for peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” said Harris.

    By Chief Petty Officer Bill Steele
    Navy Office of Community Outreach

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    SU Lab coach Rebecca Marshall honored

    The Louisiana High School Athletic Association Coaches Convention recently honored Southern University Laboratory School head track coach Rebecca Marshall.

    Marshall has helped to cultivate a rich athletic history for the Southern University Laboratory School Kittens. She has a bountiful tradition of producing track stars who have ranked amongst the states top track leaders. Many former team members under her leadership have gone on to become elite athletes.

    She has won 21 Class 1-A State Championships and 15 of them were consecutive. She currently holds the position as Athletic Director but has worn many hats over the past years. During her 30 years at Southern University Laboratory School she has served as SGA Sponsor, Assistant Volleyball Coach, Cheerleader Coach, Dancing Doll Coach and Dean of Students.

    Submitted by Rene Marshall-Williams

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    Historians celebrate, share Buffalo Soldiers’ Louisiana legacy

    Donning original Buffalo Soldiers uniforms, Ponchatoula historians Melvin McElwee and Bobby Marten took to the stage of Zion Outreach Center to tell eager listeners of the role Louisiana slaves and freed Blacks played in  the Civil War.

    They spoke to a large number of students on June 19.

    “I’m going to introduce you to another perspective of history, it very important to know where we came from. History is sometime positive and sometime negative,” McElwee said. “Louisiana has a rich history. We are talking about the Buffalo Soldiers.”

    McElwee, who is president of the Louisiana Native Guard Association, said, “The 9th and 10th Horse Cavalry was formed in New Orleans in the Greenville subsection of New Orleans where Audubon Park and Audubon Gulf Course is located today. The men of the Louisiana Native Guards came from New Orleans. Most free men of mixed race bloodline.

    On July 28, 1866, there was massacre in New Orleans at Mechanic Hall on Canal Street as a retaliation against the Civil War and against rights for Blacks.

    The Louisiana Native Guard was used to restore order and later used by the military to expand the Western Front. This laid the foundation for the birth of the Buffalo Soldiers.

    He said when the white officers left New Orleans, the Native Guard was left behind under the command of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler. Butler burned New Orleans and marched toward a little important railroad town of Ponchatoula.

    The Union forces captured and burned Ponchatoula in March 1863 and the soldiers marched toward Camp Moore in Tangipahoa.

    Trooper McElwee answered more questions:

    Is the Louisiana Native Guard the same as the Buffalo Soldiers?

    Civil War veterans were among the first enlisted soldiers to be a part of the organization of the 9th (Horse) Cavalry Unit founded in Greenville, LA (At Audubon Parks golf course).

    How did they get the names LNG and BS?

    Louisiana Governor Thomas D. Moore, in which Camp Moore is named after in Tangipahoa, LA, issued a resolution to organize an African American unit during the Civil War.  The resolution was named “Defenders of the Native Land.” After the Civil War, the 9th (Horse) Cavalry along with 10th (Horse) cavalry were used by the Federal government to occupy lands in the west.  The Cheyenne Indians observed the Negro soldier’s coarse hair, calm demeanor, and agile fighting abilities and stated that they resembled the buffalo’s mane and protection instincts, thus naming the Negro Soldier, :Buffalo Soldier.”

    In Louisiana were more escaped slaves Buffalo Soldiers or free Blacks?

    The Civil War fighting efforts were comprised of both slaves and free Blacks.  The statistics of composition is unknown to me. Refer to The Louisiana Native Guards written by James G. Hollandsworth Jr., produced by Louisiana State University Press.

    Since the soldiers were allies of the Union, did this mean victory in burning Ponchatoula?

    It aided in the continuation of efforts to bring civil rights to white women, and the Negro race.  Victory has never been reached.  Racism still continues this day.

    Did Louisiana soldiers go on to enlist in the United States Colored Troops?

    The United States Colored Troops was the name given to the United States new effort to grow the number of colored units.  It was comprised of former slaves, and free people of color.

    Is the 9th and 10th Horse Calvary a division of the Louisiana Native Guard, the Union, or the Buffalo Soldiers?

    The Louisiana Native Guard is one of, if not the first, Negro unit of soldiers organized during the Civil War.  It was in existence before the 54th Massachusetts regiment.  General Benjamin Butler, a lawyer from Massachusetts, was responsible for waging arguments that aided the Union in enlisting slaves into the Union’s war effort. The Buffalo Soldiers were remnants of the Civil War effort, and beneficiaries of the newly formed United States.

    How was the chapter formed? 

    Trooper McElwee, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant, is also a member of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association.  As president he is leading the Louisiana Native Guard Association’s request to become an official chapter of the 9th & 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association.  The Louisiana Native Guard Association came into existence as non-profit in the State of Louisiana on July 22, 2016. The 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association has at least 41 active chapters across the United States.

    Does the chapter focus on the 9th and 10th Troop only?

    No.  The Louisiana Native Guard Association focuses on all elements of its role that aided in the development of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association. Each chapter compiles historical education for its particular area.

    Why is this group—and the history of the soldiers– valuable to our community a century later?

    The study of American History aids in understanding the relationships of the present day. Understanding is the principal thing.  With understanding comes tolerance for coexistence.

    How can the history and legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers be continued from a military standpoint?

    It has and will continue.  It is the United States Military that has lead the way in creating understanding. The mission has always b­een to create an understanding for coexistence.

    ONLINE:dccbuffalosoldiers.wix.com/9th-10th-bs

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Founding Publisher

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    Seven additional community meetings announced on the Zoo

    The community is strongly encouraged to attend 13 community meeting on the Zoo at Greenwood Park. BREC announced six meetings last week. The Keep the Zoo at Greenwood Park Committee are adding seven additional community meetings. BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight has been invited to attend all of the additional meetings; however, the Keep the Zoo at Greenwood Park will be on hand for all 13 meetings.

    “Every citizen has a role to play in building community and creating sustainable community investment across our East Baton Rouge parish. The vitality of our Baton Rouge Zoo at Greenwood Park and democracy relies upon the active participation of every person,” said committee member, Becky Bond.

    According to a written statement, the group saw the need for additional meetings to offer a balance in diversity; reaching across lines of race, culture, class, and location to gather participants.

    Meetings planned:

    • July 11 – Perkins Road Community Park, 7122 Perkins Road, 6pm
    • July 11 – City of Baker Council Meeting, Baker Municipal Center, 3325 Groom Road, Baker, LA 6pm
    • July 12 – City Center Development District, Piccadilly Cafeteria, 6406 Florida Blvd., 8:00 am
    • July 13 – Highland Road Community Park, 14024 Highland Road, 6pm
    • July 22 – Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 185 Eddie Robinson Sr., Dr., 9:00 am
    • July 25 – CADAV Community Meeting, Scotlandville Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy., 6:00 pm
    • August 1 – Central Library, 11260 Joor Road, Central, LA, 6pm
    • August 01 – Baton Rouge Airport, Conference Room, 2nd Floor, 3:30 pm
    • August 3 – Zachary Library, 1900 Church Street, Zachary, LA ; 6pm
    • August 8 – Independence Park Theatre, 7500 Independence Blvd, 6pm
    • August 10 – Federation of GBR Civic Associations, Goodwood Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., 6:00 pm
    • August 14 – Greenwood Waterfront Theater, 13350 Hwy. 19, 6pm
    • August 24 –Visit Baton Rouge Board Meeting, 359 3rd Street, 12 noon
    For more information, contact Metro District 2 at (225) 389-8331

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    Before you head to the NAAHC, Louisiana’s cultural museums are as grand

     

     

    6 THE DRUM 2017 CENTER SPREADLouisiana is full of rich, cultural landmarks that capture the lives of Black and Creole people. Before you take the trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, take a trip to these sites right here at home. Pick up the Juneteenth 2017 issue of The Drum at one of these locations to have this museum travel sheet in hand.

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    COMMENTARY: New healthcare bill the wrong choice for African Americans

    In 1954, Thurgood Marshall and a team of NAACP attorneys argued the landmark civil rights case, Brown v. Board, before the Supreme Court. They demonstrated to the Justices that segregated schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause — that separate was and would always be unequal.
    Our representatives are on the brink of instating a health care plan that epitomizes separate and unequal. Thirteen U.S. Senators — all white men — sat behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. and crafted a replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    Their proposed bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), based off of the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), would only benefit people like themselves — healthy, wealthy white men — and quarantine the rest of the country into the confines of high cost, low quality health care.
    The Senate’s inequitable protection plan would disproportionately hurt the sick, the poor, the elderly, women, and people of color. It would make healthcare more expensive for seniors and people who are already sick, increase out-of-pocket costs for doctor’s visits, slash subsidies to help low-income people pay for health insurance, and cut Medicaid support to states by three-quarters of a trillion dollars.
    In more than twenty years as a health and social policy professional, I have witnessed the dire consequences of African Americans living without health care, and I have watched the ACA repair some of the most egregious inequities in our health care system. If the Senate bill passes, the impact will be devastating, and, in many cases, lethal.
    The current version of the Senate’s health care plan is projected to cause some 22 million people to lose their coverage by 2026, including 15 million next year. It also proposes to cut more than $772 billion from the Medicaid program over ten years and phase out additional funding for its expansion. At the same time, the bill proposes tax cuts of $700 billion that will largely benefit high-income individuals and big businesses — especially profiting the top one percent of earners. In effect, cuts to Medicaid for the poor and to premium subsidies for low-income people will serve to refund the rich.
    The Senate’s plan grants several allowances to states that hold the potential for serious harm. The plan permits states to opt out of providing essential health benefits that made coverage under the ACA more comprehensive, such as maternity and mental health care. States that opt out of providing these essential benefits would receive their share of $112 billion over ten years to help offset the states’ cost for covering those who need care most and likely set up high-risk insurance groupings. This provision would incentivize states to mark up the cost of coverage for people with certain needs, ostracizing them to their own costly risk pool.
    But the sick are not the only ones that the Senate plan puts at risk: under the new bill, low-income families and individuals would also be significantly hurt by the cuts to Medicaid. Proposed changes to Medicaid would make it more likely that states will reduce much-needed services or cut back enrollment. The resulting increased cost of care would be hurtful to elderly Americans, most of whom experience a decline in income, but they would be especially crippling to African-American seniors, who experience poverty at twice the rate of their white counterparts.
    The ACA cut the uninsured rate for African-American adults by almost half between 2010 to 2015 and eliminated the inequity in uninsured rates between African-American and white children. For the first time in history, thanks to the ACA, a Black child is no longer more likely to be uninsured than a white child. The new bill threatens to undo all of this progress. Suddenly, health care and insurance will once again be out of reach for many African Americans, nearly a quarter of whom were living below the poverty line in 2015.
    Further, the BCRA is an assault on the health of women of all races. The bill would prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding for at least one year, including Medicaid and Title X, despite its status as a source of care for services that women need, such as contraception and screenings for cancers and STDs.
    Our nation does not need a new health reform law. The ACA is the most comprehensive legislative effort to improve and democratize health care access in our nation’s history. We need to bolster the ACA’s promises of progress, not regress to conditions that were unacceptable then and are indefensible now. We need Congress to develop policies that help prevent illness, better manage disease, and facilitate health and well-being in our society overall. Our government’s focus should be on repairing and strengthening the ACA, not replacing it–much less with a dangerous, divisive alternative. It is time to put all of America first.
    By Marjorie Innocent
    Guest Columnist
    Join the NAACP on social media with the hashtag #BeInTheRoom. Dr. Marjorie Innocent is senior director, NAACP Health Programs. Contact: Malik Russell, director of communications, mrussell@naacpnet.org, 410-580-5761 (office)
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    Legislators send multiple bills to Gov. Edwards to signs, vetoes

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he signed several bills into law and vetoed a number of bills either entirely or partially using his line-item veto authority.The following bills were signed into law:

    ACT 365 – HB 20:  Provides relative to exemptions from the requirements for school instructional time under certain circumstances

    ACT 366 – HB 33: Provides relative to legislative staff attendance at executive sessions of the boards of trustees of state and statewide retirement systems

    ACT 367 – HB 211: Provides relative to business filings with the secretary of state

    ACT 368 – HB 304: Expands definition of “racketeering activity” to include armed robbery and armed robbery or attempted armed robbery committed with a firearm

    ACT 369 – HB 341: Amends laws relative to behavioral health and mental health to provide for current practice and appropriate terminology

    ACT 370 – HB 395: Amends the procedures for involuntary mental health treatment

    ACT 371 – HB 423: Authorizes the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to establish and administer a water quality trading program

    ACT 372 – HB 450: Provides relative to the Upper Audubon Security District in Orleans Parish

    ACT 373 – HB 483: Provides relative to disclosure of data maintained by the Louisiana Tumor Registry and for a cancer investigation initiative

    ACT 374 – SB 1: Renames the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts as the Jimmy D. Long, Sr. Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.

    ACT 375 – SB 25:  Sunsets the individual income tax education credit.

    ACT 376 – SB 54: Provides relative to exploited children.

    ACT 377 – SB 95: Changes the rebate for donations to certain school tuition organizations to a nonrefundable income tax credit.

    ACT 378 – SB 97:  Provides relative to the sales and use tax exemption for feed, seed, and fertilizer used by commercial farmers.

    ACT 379 – SB 102: Creates and provides for Louisiana Educational Workforce Training Fund to provide opportunities for educational training in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

    ACT 380 – SB 117: Requires certain insurance producers to maintain professional liability insurance

    ACT 381 – SB 121: Provides relative to terminology of court-ordered and other mandatory examinations in civil and administrative matters and claims.

    ACT 382 – SB 148: Creates the Waterway Dredging and Deepening Priorty Program.

    ACT 383 – SB 170:  Provides relative to the use of student assessment data for school accountability purposes for the 2016-17 school year for parishes in declared disaster areas.

    ACT 384 – SB 177:  Provides relative to the Motion Picture Tax Credit Program for the withholding of income tax for performance of services on a state-certified production.

    ACT 385 – SB 182: Provides for the tax credit for ad valorem taxes paid on inventory by taxpayers included in one consolidated federal income tax return.

    ACT 386 – SB 183: Provides termination dates for certain tax incentive and rebate programs.

    ACT 387 – SB 187: Provides for establishment of a pilot evidence-based budget proposal process for mental health programs administered by the Louisiana Department of Health.

    ACT 388 – SB 189: Provides for ethical standards for public servants.

     

    Edwards vetoed the following bills for various reasons. Click each bill number to read the corresponding veto letter.

    HB 598 was amended in a fashion that would prevent the Department of Transportation and Development from meeting the infrastructure needs of the state.

    HB 269 would be unnecessary and overly burdensome to Louisiana colleges and universities as the freedoms this bill attempts to protect are already well-established by the bedrock principles declared in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 7 of the Louisiana Constitution.

    HB 568 would create legal inconsistency among civil and criminal penalties incurred in the case of a violation of authorized uses of student information collected.

    HB 132 would create overly burdensome red tape in administrative reporting to the Joint Legislative Committee on the budget where current practice is sufficiently transparent and responsive.

    Edwards line-item vetoed portions of HB 1, which passed during the 2017 Second Special Session. Click here to read the veto letter.

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    Read the entire Department of Justice statement on the Alton Sterling investigation

    The Justice Department announced on May 3 that the independent federal investigation into the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling on July 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges against Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II. Career prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Middle District of Louisiana and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, along with officials from the FBI and the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, met May 3 with Sterling’s family and their representatives to inform them of the findings of the investigation and the decision.

    Attorney General John Landry said his office will start reviewing the case with state police. Community leaders and organizations–including The Urban League of Louisiana, Together Baton Rouge, Congressman Garrett Graves, The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, and others–have released statements surrounding this finding.

    Here’s the complete report from the Department of Justice as presented by acting US attorney Corey R. Amundsen on May 3.

    Overview

    The Department conducted a ten-month, comprehensive, and independent investigation of the events surrounding Sterling’s death. Federal agents and career prosecutors examined evidence from multiple independent sources, including all available footage from police vehicles that responded to the scene and the body-worn cameras from responding officers; cell-phone videos of the incident; interior and exterior surveillance video footage from the store where the shooting occurred; evidence gathered by the BRPD’s crime lab; BRPD documents related to the shooting; personnel files and background material for both involved officers, including prior use-of-force incidents; BRPD policies and training materials; all relevant dispatch recordings between and among local law enforcement, including the originating 911 calls; forensic evidence reports; the autopsy report; photographs of the crime scene; toxicology reports; EMS reports; and extensive additional electronically-stored evidence. As part of the investigation, the FBI laboratory conducted an expert forensic analysis of the video footage capturing the incident between Sterling and the officers. The FBI also interviewed dozens of witnesses, including civilian witnesses who were present at the scene and officers who responded to the scene after the shooting. The Department also consulted with two independent use-of-force experts whom the Civil Rights Division has previously used as government witnesses in criminal prosecutions of civil rights violations.

    Applicable Law

    The Department examined the facts in this case under all relevant federal criminal statutes. The federal criminal statute applicable to these facts is Title 18, United States Code, Section 242, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law. In order to proceed with a prosecution under Section 242, prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a law enforcement officer acted willfully to deprive an individual of a federally protected right. The right implicated in this matter is the Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable seizure. This right includes the right to be free from unreasonable physical force by police. To prove that a police shooting violated the Fourth Amendment, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force was objectively unreasonable based on all of the surrounding circumstances. The law requires that the reasonableness of an officer’s use of force on an arrestee be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with added perspective of hindsight. The law set forth by the Supreme Court requires that allowances must be made for the fact that law enforcement officers are often forced to make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.

    Additionally, to prove that a shooting violated section 242, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers acted willfully. This high legal standard – one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law – requires proof that the officer acted with the specific intent to do something the law forbids. It is not enough to show that the officer made a mistake, acted negligently, acted by accident or mistake, or even exercised bad judgment.

    Although Sterling’s death is tragic, the evidence does not meet these substantial evidentiary requirements. In light of this, and for the reasons explained below, the federal investigation concluded that this matter is not a prosecutable violation of the federal statutes.

    Factual Summary

    While this summary is based on, and consistent with, all facts known to the government after a thorough investigation, it does not include or discuss all facts known to federal law enforcement officials or gathered through this investigation. Many of the facts gathered through the federal investigation are not permitted to be disclosed, and other particularly sensitive facts and evidence are not being disclosed in order to protect the integrity of the State Attorney General’s inquiry into whether any state statutes were violated.

    The investigation revealed that at approximately 12:30 a.m. on July 5, 2016, an individual called 911 from a location near the Triple S Food Mart (“Triple S”) and reported that he had been threatened outside of a store by a black man wearing a red shirt and selling CDs. The caller reported that the man had pulled out a gun and had the gun in his pocket. The caller’s first call disconnected, but he called back a few moments later and reiterated his report. Dispatch relayed that information to Officers Lake and Salamoni, who responded to the Triple S, where they saw Sterling, wearing a red shirt and standing by a table with a stack of CDs.

    The subsequent exchange between Sterling and the officers happened very quickly, with the events – from the officers’ initial approach to a struggle on the ground to the shooting – happening in rapid succession. From the moment when Officer Lake gave his first order to Sterling, through the firing of the final shot, the entire encounter lasted less than 90 seconds. More specifically, from the start of the officers’ physical struggle with Sterling on the ground, through the firing of the final shot, the encounter lasted less than 30 seconds.

    Multiple videos captured portions or the entirety of the officers’ interaction with Sterling. These include cell-phone videos, surveillance video from the store, and video from the officers’ body cameras and a police vehicle. FBI video forensic experts also provided enhancements of relevant videos for the portion of the struggle that immediately preceded the shooting.

    The videos show the officers as they arrived on scene and engaged with Sterling. The videos show that the officers directed Sterling to put his hands on the hood of a car. When Sterling did not comply, the officers placed their hands on Sterling, and he struggled with the officers. Officer Salamoni then pulled out his gun and pointed it at Sterling’s head, at which point Sterling placed his hands on the hood. After Sterling briefly attempted to move his hands from the hood, Officer Lake then used a Taser on Sterling, who fell to his knees, but then began to get back up. The officers ordered him to get down, and Officer Lake attempted unsuccessfully to use his Taser on Sterling again. Officer Salamoni holstered his weapon, and then tackled Sterling; both went to the ground, with Officer Salamoni on top of Sterling, who was on his back with his right hand and shoulder partially under the hood of a car. Officer Lake joined them on the ground, kneeling on Sterling’s left arm while Officer Salamoni attempted to gain control over Sterling’s right arm. Officer Salamoni then yelled, “Going for his pocket. He’s got a gun! Gun!” Officer Salamoni then unsuccessfully attempted to gain control of Sterling’s right hand, while Officer Lake drew his weapon and yelled at Sterling, again directing him not to move. Less than one second later, during a point at which the location of Sterling’s right hand was not visible to the cameras, Officer Salamoni again yelled that Sterling was “going for the gun!” Officer Salamoni then fired three shots into Sterling’s chest.

    After the first three shots were fired, Officer Salamoni rolled onto on his back, facing Sterling’s back, with his weapon still drawn. Officer Lake stood behind both of them with his weapon drawn and pointed at Sterling. Sterling began to sit up and roll to his left, with his back to the officers. Sterling brought his right arm across his body toward the ground, and Officer Lake yelled at Sterling to “get on the ground.” As Sterling continued to move, Officer Salamoni fired three more rounds into Sterling’s back. Within a few seconds, Officer Lake reached into Sterling’s right pocket and pulled out a .38 caliber revolver. Investigators later confirmed that Sterling’s gun was loaded with six bullets at the time of this exchange.

    Following the shooting, Officers Salamoni and Lake each provided a detailed statement offering his version of how and why this shooting happened. According to the officers, Sterling was large and very strong, and from the very beginning resisted their commands. The officers reported that they responded with multiple different compliance techniques and that Sterling resisted the entire time. Both officers reported that when they were on the ground, they saw Sterling’s right hand in his pocket, with his hand on a gun. Officer Salamoni reported that he saw the gun coming out and attempted to grab it, but Sterling jerked away and attempted to grab the gun again. Officer Salamoni then saw “silver” and knew that he had seen a gun, so he began firing. Both officers reported that after the first three shots, they believed that Sterling was attempting to reach into his right pocket again, so Officer Salamoni fired three more times into Sterling’s back.

    Discussion

    In light of the officers’ explanations of the shooting, the government, in order to prove a Fourth Amendment violation, would be required to (1) disprove the officers’ accounts, (2) prove an alternative account that demonstrates that the officers’ actions were objectively unreasonable; and (3) prove that the officers knew that their actions were unreasonable and took them anyway. The evidence in this case is insufficient to bear the heavy burden of proof under federal criminal civil rights law.

    To fully assess whether this shooting constituted an unreasonable use of force, federal investigators closely examined, among other things, all of the evidence concerning the location of Sterling’s right hand prior to the first set of shots. As mentioned, although the videos do not show Sterling’s right hand at the time those shots were fired, they show that Sterling’s right hand was not under Officer Salamoni’s control. The evidence also cannot establish that Sterling was not reaching for a gun when Officer Salamoni yelled that Sterling was doing so.

    Federal investigators interviewed numerous civilian witnesses to determine whether they could provide additional relevant information on the question of whether Sterling reached for a gun.

    Only two witnesses reported to the FBI that they could see Sterling’s right hand, and they indicated that his hand was not in his pocket. However, because of other inconsistencies in their statements, and because of the fact that parts of their accounts are materially contradicted by the videos, their accounts are insufficient to prove the position of Sterling’s right hand/arm beyond a reasonable doubt at the time the shots were fired. Although the Department found no reason to doubt the sincerity of the witnesses’ accounts, this incident happened in an instant, and the witnesses may have had no reason to be specifically watching for the precise location of Sterling’s right hand at the time of the shooting. Given the inconsistencies in the civilian witnesses’ perspectives and recollections and the fact that the video establishes that Officer Salamoni did not have control over Sterling’s right hand just before the shots were fired, the evidence simply cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt the position of Sterling’s right hand at the exact time of the shooting, a split-second later. The Department therefore cannot disprove the officers’ claim beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The investigators also consulted with two independent, nationally recognized use-of-force experts with whom the Civil Rights Division has previously consulted in civil rights cases. While both experts criticized aspects of the officers’ techniques, they also concluded that the officers’ actions were reasonable under the circumstances and thus met constitutional standards. The experts emphasized that the officers were responding to a call that someone matching Sterling’s description had brandished a weapon and threatened another person; that Sterling was large and strong; and that Sterling was failing to follow orders and was struggling with the officers. The experts noted that the officers also attempted to control Sterling through multiple less-than-lethal techniques before ultimately using lethal force in response to Officer Salamoni’s perception that Sterling was attempting to use a gun.

    The investigators’ review of BRPD files revealed no prior incidents involving substantiated allegations of misconduct by Officers Salamoni or Lake.

    In light of these facts, the evidence gathered during this investigation is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the use of force leading up to and including the shooting violated the Fourth Amendment.

    The federal investigators also considered whether the evidence proved the distinct statutory element of willfulness. To establish that the officers acted willfully, the government would be required both to disprove the reason the officers gave for the shooting and to affirmatively establish that the officers instead acted with the specific intent to violate Sterling’s rights—meaning that, in shooting Sterling, the officers knew that what they were doing was unreasonable or prohibited, and chose to do it anyway.

    For many of the same reasons described above, the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers’ actions were a willful violation of the Fourth Amendment. When Officer Salamoni first reported that Sterling was going for the gun, he said, “Going for his pocket, he’s got a gun! Gun!” Significantly, Officer Salamoni did not shoot Sterling at this point, and, instead, attempted to gain control of Sterling’s right hand. Officer Lake also warned Sterling not to move. Seconds later, Officer Salamoni yelled again that Sterling was “going for the gun!” and only then did he fire his own weapon. This evidence suggests that Officer Salamoni fired his weapon when he believed that Sterling was going for his gun a second time, after Officer Lake had warned Sterling not to move. In order to prosecute this matter, the government would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt not only that Sterling was not reaching for his gun, but also that, despite Officer Salamoni’s contemporaneous statements to the contrary, he did not believe that Sterling was reaching for his gun after being warned not to move. The Department lacks the evidence to prove either of those propositions beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The investigators also considered whether Officer Salamoni’s second series of shots was a prosecutable Fourth Amendment violation. Although the videos show that Sterling’s right hand was not in or near his right pocket, Sterling was continuing to move, even after being shot three times and being told again not to move by Officer Lake. Meanwhile, the officers were behind Sterling, and Officer Salamoni was lying on the ground, facing Sterling’s back. Given these circumstances, the evidence cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt that it did not appear to Officer Salamoni that Sterling was reaching for his pocket. Nor could the Department prove that the officer’s conduct was willful.

    Conclusion

    In sum, after extensive investigation into this tragic event, career Justice Department prosecutors have concluded that the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officers Salamoni and Lake willfully violated Sterling’s civil rights. Given the totality of the circumstances – that the officers had been fighting with Sterling and had attempted less-than-lethal methods of control; that they knew Sterling had a weapon; that Sterling had reportedly brandished a gun at another person; and that Sterling was much larger and stronger than either officer – the Department cannot prove either that the shots were unconstitutional or that they were willful. Moreover, two different, independent experts opined that this shooting was not unreasonable given the circumstances. With respect to the first series of shots, the experts assessed that it was not unreasonable for Officer Salamoni to use lethal force, in light of all of the circumstances referenced above. With respect to the second series of shots, both experts emphasized that officers are trained to eliminate a threat, and that Sterling appeared to pose a threat because he was still moving and his right hand was not visible to Officer Salamoni. Accordingly, the federal investigation into this incident has been closed without prosecution. Federal officials intend to provide the investigative file to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which intends to conduct its own investigation into whether the conduct at issue in this investigation violated state law.

    In this case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the FBI each devoted significant time and resources to investigating the circumstances surrounding Sterling’s death and to completing a thorough analysis of the evidence gathered. The Justice Department remains committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to devote the resources required to ensure that all serious allegations of civil rights violations are thoroughly examined. The Department aggressively prosecutes criminal civil rights violations whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so.

    Civil Rights Division
    Civil Rights – Criminal Section
    Community Relations Service
    Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    USAO – Louisiana, Middle

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  • ,,

    Youth culminate traumatic year through poems of resilience

    “Here Still” was the mantra of this year’s ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival, a theme imagined from a season of tragedy that both publicly and personally affected festival participants. Held over two weekends in April throughout downtown Baton Rouge, the festival’s culminating event on April 8, punctuated the youths’ tribute to the resilience of the city in the aftermath of a turbulent summer, which included the sudden passing of 2016 festival participant and McKinley High School graduate Kaiya Smith.

    “The theme of this year’s festival saw our students examining the tragedies of last summer from both a critical and cathartic lens,” said Donney Rose, marketing director and events coordinator at Forward Arts. “About half of our festival participants wrote poems that carefully examined what it was to live in a city engulfed in civil unrest and natural disaster. The other half wrote a great deal about what it was to process the loss of a friend with whom they had shared a festival stage just last year.”

    To further tribute Smith, festival coordinators, joined by Smith’s mother, Petrouchka Moise, infused her words and images throughout festival displays, even presenting the first-ever Kaiya Smith Award for WordCrew Excellence to Tyler Scott – a member of Forward Arts’ afterschool poetry writing collective and festival participant. The award gifts the recipient an all-expense paid trip to the 20th annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival (BNV) to be held in July in San Francisco, where the top ranked poets of ALL CITY grand slam finals will compete. Smith was a member of the 2016 team that ranked 5th in the world.

    Olivia Williams, Chazzi Hayes

    Olivia Williams and Chazzi Hayes perform tribute poem in honor of Kaiya Smith. Photo by Leslie D. Rose.

    “This year has been bittersweet. Every moment with our team is a painful reminder of what we’ve lost – My Kaiya. Our Kaiya,” said Chelsea Schilling, English teacher at McKinley High School and co-coach of its poetry slam team. “Although it hurts, we are still here. We will continue to write, continue to perform, continue to be heard, for us, and for her. I am truly amazed at what these students can do and I am so thankful that Forward Arts gives them a space where their voices will be heard.”

    McKinley High School placed second, following a team from Baton Rouge Magnet High School who won the title of 2017 ALL CITY Champions. Finalists also included a second BRMHS team and a team from Port Allen High School. All poets who performed individually had the chance to earn a spot on the 2017 Forward Arts All Stars slam team to compete at BNV – this year they are Jazmyne Smith, Olivia Williams, Chazzi Hayes, Kalvin Morris, Imani Sundiata, and Imani McCullam.

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    2017 ALL CITY champions Baton Rouge Magnet High School poets Donovan Thomas, Jayda Jefferson, Rikki Willis (coach), Chazzi Hayes, Kalvin Morris, and Olivia Williams. Photo by Leslie D. Rose.

    Forward Arts has sent a team to BNV since 2006. The first ALL CITY festival was held in 2007 and remains the only festival of its kind in the region, having hosted hundreds of youth poets, ages 13 to 19. It was created to provide an elevated platform to youth voices, while also appealing to Louisiana’s storied festival culture. Throughout its 12 year history, youth from Baton Rouge and surrounding rural communities have found an outlet through Forward Arts’ programming.

     

    “Students were able to express this year’s theme through acceptance, support, and encouragement for all participants,” said Michael Hilton, assistant principal at Donaldsonville High School and coach of its poetry slam team. “We all were able to connect to the theme: flood victims, rural community students who tend to be forgotten, minorities, and those with preferences different than the majority of us – we are all connected; we are all vitally important to our future; we are all Here Still.”

    Hilton was the recipient of the 2017 ALL CITY Coaches Award that honors coaches who showcase exemplary dedication to their team.

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    2017 Forward Arts All Stars slam team Imani McCullam, Kalvin Morris, Chazzi Hayes, Imani Sundiata, Jazmyne Smith and Olivia Williams. Photo by Leslie D. Rose.

    The Spirit of the Slam award was presented to the Louisiana School for the Deaf for displaying noteworthy sportsmanship throughout the festival. This year the school had so many students interested in participating for the ALL CITY that they sent two teams to compete.

    “This event affords each of our students the opportunity to share with others their life experiences as young deaf people, as well as their own heartfelt issues, and we can’t thank Forward Arts enough for providing such a venue,” said Lisa Cook, instructor of high school language and theatre at Louisiana School for the Deaf and coach of its poetry slam team. “The support of the other teams, as well as the validation of their ‘voice,’ is invaluable.”

    A poetry slam is an Olympic-style spoken word poetry competition in which poets perform original writing within a three minute time limit. Originality, physicality and vulnerability are some the hallmarks of successful slam poems.

    The youth of Forward Arts are under the tutelage of internationally-acclaimed slam poets, such as executive director Chancelier ‘xero’ Skidmore, a former world poetry slam champion, and program director Desireé Dallagiacomo, a multi-time international poetry slam finalist and viral video sensation. The staff of Forward Arts collectively has more than 15 years experience as teaching artists and administrators of youth spoken word poetry.

    Forward Arts, Inc. fosters personal and social transformation by providing arts instruction, literary education, and youth development in Southeastern Louisiana.

     

     

    By Leslie D. Rose
    Special to The Drum

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  • Molaison, Holt appointed to state judiciary commission

    Jefferson Parish Judge John J. Molaison Jr. and former labor union leader Sibal S. Holt were appointed by the state Supreme Court to serve four-year terms on the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana.

    Molaison has served as judge for Division E of the 24th Judicial District Court and is president of the Louisiana District Judges Association. He also worked for the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office and with two private law firms.

    Holt, a citizen member, was nominated by the Louisiana District Judges Association. She is the former president of the Louisiana AFL- CIO and the first Black woman in the nation to be elected president of a state labor federation. After retiring, she become a licensed commercial general contractor and established S. Holt Construction Co., LLC, leading her to be the first Black female general contractor in Rapides Parish. She is co-owner of the We Care Residential Therapeutic Home, a facility which houses young men with limited cognitive skills and extreme behaviors.

    The commission is the nine-member body that examines allegations of judicial misconduct in Louisiana and recommends to the high court when it finds it appropriate that sanctions should be imposed on a judge.

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