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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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    Rhone attends White House summit

    SHREVEPORT, LA — Cheredith Rhone ’17 has taken Centenary College’s motto “Do More” and run with it all the way to the White House. This summer, she was nominated as a change maker and was invited to attend The United State of Women Summit this summer. She also had the privilege of serving as the youngest secretary ever on the Shreveport Mayor’s Women’s Commission, a committee dedicated to supporting women by addressing citywide concerns and implementing programs to alleviate them.

    No stranger to the political arena, Rhone started getting involved in politics and in her community while still in junior high. At the age of 13, she worked on State Representative Cedric B. Glover’s campaign when he ran for Mayor. Since then, she has earned several prestigious internships and joined organizations that have helped her form connections and further her involvement.

    At the Summit, which was the first of its kind, Rhone had the opportunity to hear from speakers such as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, and several other world leaders. The conference provided a platform for political leaders to celebrate their successful steps towards gender equality and also to discuss ways to keep improving it. Speakers covered issues on a wide variety of topics such as education, economics, health, and violence.

    “My most memorable experience was sitting and talking with Ms. Wanda Durant, NBA’s Kevin Durant’s mother,” said Rhone. “She talked about the difficulties she had living and raising Kevin in an underprivileged community and how she overcame those challenges.”

    After the summit, Rhone returned to Shreveport and continued working for Mayor Ollie Tyler as part of both her 2016 Summer Internship Program and the Shreveport Women’s Commission. As the commission’s secretary, she contributes by recording the board meetings that take place and logging their minutes.
    “Working for Mayor Ollie Tyler is an honor and a blessing,” says Rhone. “Working alongside her and many other qualified and influential women, helping to promote and further economic status, health, education, and leadership opportunities for women and youth in the city is a rewarding experience.”

    It is no coincidence that Rhone has involved herself in projects and organizations centered around the progression of women. She said she feels a strong calling to support those who are struggling and to be a force of positive change in their lives.

    “I believe that gender equality is necessary for the advancement of our society as a whole,” said Rhone. “Secretary Tom Perez said it best at the White House Summit, ‘When you educate a woman, you educate a generation.’”

    Studying at Centenary has played a large role in Rhone’s career choices, giving her unique opportunities and allowing her to make lasting connections. As a business major, she has not only become adept at financing and accounting, but has also picked up invaluable abilities such as networking and communication skills.

    “Attending Centenary has been a remarkable experience,” said Rhone. “I’m truly grateful for all of the opportunities that I’ve encountered by attending Centenary, from working in the president’s office to traveling across the world to Paris, France. My advice for my fellow peers is to always remain humble as you elevate in your career and life and remember to thank and appreciate the people that help you along the way. Never forget to pay it forward and help others along the way.”

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    Capital Area CASA selects Brown to chair board

    Reginald Brown has been selected to chair the Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocate Association 2016 board of directors. Also selected were Kristen Hogan as vice chair, Katie Ruiz as secretary, and Allyson Sadler as treasurer. Newly elected to the board are Joy Michelle Boyd, Ryan Curtis, Joana Hernandez Edwards, Carlton Jones, Paulette Porter LaBostrie, Munzer Qaddourah, Lea Seelbach and Robin Toups. Returning members include David Faulk, Shirley Lewis, Jennifer Racca McDonough, Nicki Skelton, Holly Sides, Amanda Stout, Mary Thompson, Stephen Whalen and Robert Woosley. CASA volunteers speak up for abused and neglected children in need of safe, permanent homes.

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    Terrance Osborne brings ‘Mardi Barq’s’ to Baton Rouge, Feb. 3

    Parades, costumes, beads, king cake and more mark Mardi Gras, the culmination of the Carnival season. Barq’s Root Beer has partnered with Terrance Osborne, an artist inspired by the culturally diverse Gulf Coast, to bring the spirit of the Brand to life
    through his “Mardi Barq’s” piece.

    The artwork is on an eight-foot wood panel and  depicts a colorful Mardi Gras celebration seen in communities across the Gulf Coast during the Carnival season, reflecting the culture and heritage of Barq’s Root Beer.
    Osborne attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from Xavier University of Louisiana.

    He taught elementary school for five years before the life-changing events of Hurricane Katrina spurred him to pursue a new career path.

    “Art is my passion and I enjoy capturing moments like Mardi Gras in action,” Osborne said. “Barq’s Root Beer Terrance Osborne brings ‘Mardi Barq’s’ was part of my childhood, so the beverage is connected with positive family memories and my community.” Leading up to Mardi Gras, Terrance will visit the Baton Rouge area to sign free posters of the original artwork for the public.

    Wednesday, February 3
    Location: Matherne’s Downtown
    440 N 3rd Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802
    Time: 11am – 1pm

    Location: Calandro’s Seigen
    12732 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70810
    Time: 4pm – 6pm

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    Savings Strategies for Millennials

    Ask any financial expert what the ideal age is to start saving money and you’re likely to get the same response: “now.” Even at an entry-level salary, it is critical to start 2016 on the right foot and begin paving the way to financial freedom by setting aside money for short–term needs such as a vacation or an emergency, or longer-term goals like retirement.

    “Having a savings strategy is crucial to a person’s overall financial well-being,” said Diane Morais, chief executive officer and president of Ally Bank, member FDIC. “There are simple steps Millennials can take to ensure that they are not only saving, but maximizing the earnings potential of their nest eggs.”

    When it comes to designing a savings plan, Millennials should consider the following tips.

    Choose Your Bank Wisely

    Look for a savings account that doesn’t require a minimum deposit to open, doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees, offers a competitive interest rate, and ideally, compounds interest daily. These features will help your money grow faster.

    Your bank should offer both checking and savings products, since having one bank with both types of accounts makes it easier to transfer funds from one account to another depending on your immediate circumstances. For example, Ally Bank’s Money Market and Interest Checking accounts are interest-bearing, charge no monthly maintenance fees and come with free debit cards and checks.

    Pay Yourself First

    A lot of people think saving is about putting away money that is left over after other expenditures. To build savings consistently and faster, treat savings as a mandatory expense in your overall budget.

    Consider opening an online account to “automate” saving money and take advantage of rates that tend to be more competitive than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

    Specify Savings

    Once you’ve found a bank with no maintenance fees or minimum deposit requirements, you can establish separate accounts for your special goals. Some banks will even allow you to assign nicknames to these accounts, such as “new car” or “vacation fund”.

    Use Technology

    Tracking your money on-the-go can make you more aware of your spending and saving habits. One iPhone app option is Ally Bank’s “Ally Assist,” a voice activated assistant that responds to inquiries, and analyzes savings and spending patterns.

    The benefits of online banking include bill pay, click-to-chat assistance, online transfers and the ability to access your accounts anywhere and anytime.

    Think Retirement Now

    Beginning to save at a young age is essential to ensure a comfortable retirement. It’s important to choose the IRA that is right for your circumstances. Traditional IRAs may give investors a tax deduction for the year the contribution is made, while a Roth IRA offers tax-free growth, meaning you owe no tax when you make withdrawals in retirement.

    While you may feel the pinch now by putting some of your hard-earned money away, developing good savings habits while you’re young will pay big rewards over the long term, helping you enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle.

    By StatePoint

     

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    St. Tammany Parish Government awarded excellence in financial reporting

    The St. Tammany Parish Department of Finance was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, for the 12th consecutive year. This is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. The comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, is evaluated every year and the award is given based on standards reached in the report. These include, demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story, and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

    Leslie Long, director of finance, Laura Reine Lyons, senior accounting manager, and Annie Perkins, assistant director of finance are the recipients named on the award.

    “This award is validation for St. Tammany Parish Government, as well as the taxpayers of our Parish, that we continue to exercise best practices when investing tax dollars,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “We once again applaud our finance department for their impeccable record-keeping and for their work as a cohesive team.”

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    SU to honor state, city leaders, Feb. 6

    In celebration of Black History month, the Southern University Alumni Federation Home Chapter and the Southern University Alumni Federation are hosting a reception to honor state and city leaders. The reception will be held at the AW Mumford Fieldhouse,
    Feb. 3, 6pm. The event is free, but RSVPs are required by Jan. 27. Email the Home Chapter at www.suhomechapter@gmail.com or call (225) 443-2167.

    Invited guests include:
    •Department of Transportation & Development Secretary Shawn Wilson
    •Department of Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson
    •Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Chuck Carr Brown
    •Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie
    •Planning & Programming- Deputy Chief of Staff Johnny Anderson
    •Special Counsel Office of the Governor Erin Monroe Wesley
    •Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Administration Desiree’ Honore Thomas
    •State Representative Edward “Ted” James
    •Director of Constituent Services Kim Farris LaCour
    According to organizers, these leaders are being recognized
    for their accomplishments and efforts to help make Louisiana
    “a great state and Baton Rouge a better place for everyone.”

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  • West Baton Rouge Museum to air ‘The Abolitionists’ for MLK Day, Jan 18

    On Monday, Jan. 18, a day when many institutions will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, West Baton Rouge Museum will be open with free admission, 10am – 4:30pm.

    Visitors are welcome to a screening of the documentary, “The Abolitionists” at 10:30 a.m. that day.

    “The Abolitionists” is a documentary that focuses on the 19th century abolitionist struggle that has been noted as America’s first Civil Rights struggle. Abolitionist allies Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimké turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation. The documentary was made available to the West Baton Rouge Museum as part of the “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” series, a Bridging Cultures initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s Civil Rights history.

    The public is invited to visit the last day of the exhibition, “The Portrait, The Artist, and the Patron: 19th Century Portraiture.”

    This exhibit, features masterworks from the Historic New Orleans Collection, Louisiana State Museum, the Paul and Lulu Hilliard Museum, as well as private collections, and includes American and European artists such as Thomas Sully, Jean Joseph Vaudechamps, Jacques Amans, Adolph Rinck, Jules Lion, George Harrison Hite, and George Peter Alexander Healy. Photography from the 19th century is also included in the exhibit. The 19th century photographed portraits emulate the style and composition of the painted portraits, which became increasingly important to families with the outbreak of the American Civil War.

    West Baton Rouge Museum is located at 845 North Jefferson Avenue in Port Allen.

    ONLINE: www.westbatonrougemuseum.com

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    BUSINESS EVENT: Become a licensed claims adjuster, Jan. 23

    The Louisiana Department of Insurance and Small Business Development Center at Southern University are jointly sponsoring a seminar on how to become a licensed claims adjuster. The seminar will be held on Saturday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 313 in T. T. Allain Hall (College of Business) on the Baton Rouge Campus of Southern University.

     

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    Louisiana’s new SCLC president announces 7-point plan for social justice

    Charles Steele Jr., president of the National Southern Christian Leadership Conference announced the official return of the historic civil rights organization to Louisiana on January 4 in New Orleans.

    Louisiana has met all of the requirements to have its charter reinstated under the leadership of the Rev. Reginald Pitcher who the organizing state chair and Baton Rouge Chapter president.

    Steele, national and state officers, and SCLC members met at New Zion Baptist Church in New Orleans. The church is the historic site where the national organization–established by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr–began more than 60 years ago. of the beginnings of SCLC.

    During the ceremony, Pitcher shared this seven Point Plan for Social Justice through Nonviolent Direct Action:

    1. We will continue to embrace the doctrine of the beloved community. We will work to bring about the creation of a truly multi-racial, multicultural democracy, where individual human rights are protected and the dignity and worth of human personality is respected.
    2. We reject the doctrine of modern-day lynching. We will continue to combat and resist the vigilante actions of rouge police officers who continue to commit hate crimes on the streets of our cities by murdering unarmed black and poor people without fear of retribution. We will also continue to address the black on black murders that cannibalizes our communities
      and deprives them of vital human resources through the school-to-prison pipeline.
    3. We reject the doctrine of unequal justice. We will continue to protest against the racial disparities that impose harsher and unequal penalties on Black and poor people on a routine basis in the court systems throughout this state. And until this system is changed, we will continue to embrace the age old cry of “No Justice, No Peace!”
    4. We reject the doctrine of the new Plessey vs. Ferguson. We will continue to fight against the hypocritical opportunists both black and white, who are bent on the destruction of Public Education, who under the guise of Charter Schools have raped and pillaged public school systems throughout this state.
    5. We reject the doctrine of the New Jim Crow. We will continue to resist any attempt to abuse the 13th Amendment as it relates to the school-to-prison pipeline and the mass incarceration of Black and poor people in this state. We will actively lobby our legislature to design and implement alternatives to incarceration, especially as it relates to our youth.
    6. We reject the doctrine of guilty until proven innocent. We will continue to resist any attempt to violate the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as it relates to due process under the law. We are tired of our people being arrested, charged, tried and executed on the streets of our cities throughout this nation. They are being lynched by those who have been commissioned to protect and to serve. This practice has got to stop and it’s got to stop now, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, not next year, but now!
    7. We reject the doctrine of No Vote, No Voice. We will continue to resist any attempt to water down or violate the 15th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as it relates to voter nullification and voter suppression. We will continue to organize our people through voter education, registration and participation drives, and we will continue to aid and assist Black and poor people in understanding and utilizing the power of the vote.
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    Community Event: Ribbon Cutting and Movie in the Park, Nov. 6

    BAKER–BREC will dedicate the new Pilot Senior Playground on Friday, Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. at Greenwood Community Park! Exercise and physical activity are very important to our senior community and it is BREC’s mission to contribute to a healthier, more vibrant community by providing exceptional parks, open spaces and recreation experiences for all of East Baton Rouge Parish.

    Submitted by Monica Dugas

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  • Lacy receives award for work with abused and neglected children

    Leslie Lacy, an attorney with the Child Advocacy Program of Louisiana Mental Health Advocacy Services, received the Catherine Lafleur Legal Advocacy for Children & Families Award at the Together We Can Conference, Oct. 13-15 in Lafayette, La.

    Orleans Parish Juvenile Judge Ernestine Gray, left, presents attorney Leslie Lacy with the Catherine Lafleur Legal Advocacy for Children & Families Award

    Orleans Parish Juvenile Judge Ernestine Gray, left, presents attorney Leslie Lacy with the Catherine Lafleur Legal Advocacy for Children & Families Award

    Lacy’s long-term commitment to improving the lives of children is evident in her seven years representing abused and neglected children in foster care in East Baton Rouge Parish. She zealously advocates for her clients’ best interests, ensures their voices are heard and goes above and beyond to help them reach safe, permanent homes.

    The staff of Capital Area CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Association nominated Lacy for the award. CASA recruits, trains and supervises volunteers who serve as advocates for children in foster care. Lacy often works with Capital Area CASA’s staff and volunteers to strategize and further advance her clients’ best interests.

    The award was created in memory of Catherine Lafleur, an attorney and law professor who worked to protect abused and neglected children in Louisiana. She lost her battle with cancer in 2006.

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  • United Negro Election Fund video not parody; vote selling continues

    BEFORE THE PASSING OF 1965 VOTING Rights Act Blacks living in the South could not vote. That fact was made perfectly clear with the famous march from Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, when Alabama state troopers beat marchers on their way to the state capital to demand their right to vote.

    After the passage of the 1965 Civil Right Act Blacks continued to have to to protests, riots and some was killed trying to gain the right to vote. In Tangipahoa Parish, Blacks had to sue the clerk of court in federal court to gain the right to vote.

    Today, restrictions that prevented Blacks from voting have been removed, but we still have a problem when it
    comes to voting.

    According to research, most Black voters don’t turn out to polls in mass number during a general election like the upcoming Oct. 24 election. Arden Wells a candidate for sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish has posted a series of YouTube videos.

    In one video that he has called the “United Negro Election Fund,” Wells says he will set up donation buckets and will use the funds raise to buy “some good used Negro” to get to the polls Oct. 24 to vote for him.

    Wells’ term “good use Negroes” refers to Blacks who are “used” to elect a certain candidate. In the video, he claims 7,000 Black voters were paid and driven to the polls during the last general election, which, he said, was the largest vote hauling event of the parish.

    Pat Morris president of the Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP has been speaking out about vote buying. She has asked all pastors to stop taking money to and to begin educating their members about the danger of selling votes.

    Some pastors don’t need to be reminded to teach their members about the importance of voting. The Rev. Bruce Graves, pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in Ponchatoula, constantly reminds his congregants about voting and allows them to register to vote at the church.

    “People died for us to vote our choice, if we are going to sell our vote for $20.00, there was no point of our people dying,” said Morris. “Our ancestors are crying from the grave, and I don’t like the sound.”

    BY Eddie Ponds
    THE DRUM Founding Publisher

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    Ag Twitter Town Hall planned for Oct. 14

    The Southern University Ag Center will participate in the Ag Is America Twitter Town Hall on Oct. 14 from 9:30 a.m. – 10 a.m.

    Researchers and extension experts from the Southern University Ag Center, along with the University of the District of Columbia, Kansas State University and North Dakota State University will be available to answer questions about various programs during the Town Hall.

    The SU Ag Center will specifically discuss its “Fast Track Gardening Program,” which provides agricultural training to incarcerated and adjudicated youth, during the meeting.

    The general public is invited to tweet questions about the program to @AgisAmerica and include the hashtag #AGisChat in your tweet. For additional information about the SU Ag Center’s Fast Track Gardening Program, visit http://www.suagcenter.com

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    Black Lives Matter Summit scheduled for Aug. 22

    The Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter, Planned Parenthood, and the Southern University Law Center will host a Black Lives Matter summit, Saturday, Aug. 22, at 8am at the Southern University Law Center’s AA Lenior Building.

    Organizers said the summit will address and discuss issues such as high incarceration rate, Black-on-Black crime, problematic relationships with law enforcement, disparity in educational opportunities for poverty-stricken areas, funding restraints of Historically Black Colleges and the breakdown of nuclear family.

    The summit is free and open to the public and CLE credits will be offered to all attorneys.. A lite breakfast and lunch will be served. Registration at www.eventbrite.com is requested.

    “There is strength in numbers and we believe in order to make a true impact and address these issues that have plagued our community for years, we must make this a total community  effort to provide positive solutions for these concerns,” said Karmen R. Davis, Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter president.

    Panel discussions will cover family matters, the judicial system and Black America, community involvement, and education.

    Speakers include Juvenile Court Judge Pam Taylor Johnson; Tasha Clark Amar, executive director of East Baton Rouge Council on Aging; Lamont Cole, CEO of ColeGroup; Ron Gathe, assistant district attorney for the 19th Judicial District; Louisiana State Trooper James Jefferson; Jacqueline Mims,Ph.D., clinical director, Eclectic Cognitive Behavioral Center; Kim Hunter Reed,Ph.D., senior associate, HCM Strategists; Walter Tillman Jr., Ph.D., Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals; attorney Charles Toney; Family Court Chief Judge Lisa Woodruff White; and assistant Southern Universaity New Orleans professor Carey YazeedPh.D.

     

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    Scotlandville area elementary schools come together for Back-to-School Bash, Aug. 3

    The East Baton Rouge Parish School System elementary schools serving the students of the Scotlandville area are coming together on Monday, August 3, noon – 2 pm for a Back-to-School Bash, at Progress Elementary School, 855 Progress Road.

    To get students excited and prepared for the 2015-16 school year. Families of students currently enrolled or interested in enrolling in Crestworth, Ryan and Progress Elementary Schools are invited to participate in the Back-to-School Bash from noon to 2 p.m. at Progress Elementary.

    The event is designed to bring together the Scotlandville community for a time to learn more about the community partnerships and the three elementary schools. Students and parents will have an opportunity to meet school staffs, register onsite, and receive free school supplies. Community partners will be on hand to provide information on adult educational opportunities and career options. There will also be health care information available.

    The celebration will include a DJ, face painting, BREC on the Geaux mobile recess activities, as well as refreshments, inflatables and other fun for the entire family. More than 10 area barbers and hair stylists will be providing free basic services to students as they get set to go back to school.

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    Brookstown residents invited to play in the street Aug. 1

    Broadway street in North Baton Rouge will be blocked off Saturday, Aug. 1, 10am – 2pm for neighborhood residents to come out and play as part of a new program hosted by Pennington Biomedical Center and ExxonMobil.

    Here’s how it works: neighborhoods come together to close off a street or a section of a street on a regular basis to allow children to get outside and play in spaces where they may not normally be able to play, said Pennington officials.

    This program affords children and families in a local neighborhood increased space to play outside and engage in physical activity.

    Caught You Playing web

    “That’s why researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center are working to re-imagine the neighborhood street as a playground of sorts to benefit area children and increase their options for physical activity.”

    Pennington Biomedical’s Dr. Stephanie Broyles and Dr. Robert L. Newton Jr. study community health and helped bring the Play Streets concept to Baton Rouge. “Efforts like this one are really critical in ensuring the health of our city’s children, considering that one in two of Louisiana’s children is currently overweight or obese,” said Dr. Broyles.

    “Playing outside is a fantastic opportunity to get away from the television, phones and other screens that can consume our time. Play Streets incorporates physical activity into life so that children are having fun while they exercise,” added Dr. Newton.

    Modeled after successful programs in cities such as New York and Chicago, Pennington Biomedical is leading the local effort in partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation and the BREC Foundation. Enthusiastic support from area leaders such as Baton Rouge District 5 City Council Member Ronnie Edwards also helps to make these events possible.

    “Coming together with other impactful community partners and neighbors to bring this innovative program to North Baton Rouge is just one example of how collectively we can make a difference. Our neighbors have embraced the Play Streets model, and ExxonMobil is glad to sponsor this pilot program, which we hope will find great success,” said Stephanie Cargile, spokesperson for ExxonMobil.

    PlayStreets_HalfPage

    “The opportunity to study new ways to encourage individuals to become more active is a way to create change in this segment of the quality of life in our community. The BREC Foundation, through its “Charting A New Course” campaign, is happy to support this initiative,” said BREC executive director Carl Stages.

    “The pilot program event in Brookstown is collaborative and it has been designed by their community members to fit their unique needs and resources,” Broyles said. “Programs like this have the potential to transform communities into healthier places for children to grow up, which is what Play Streets is all about.”

    (Photos provided by Pennington Biomedical Center)

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    Surprising signs you’re suffering from allergies and tips to manage them

    When you think of seasonal allergies, sneezing may come to mind first. But there’s a lot more to allergies than “achoo,” say experts.

    According to allergist Dr. Myron Zitt, there are many ways allergies can manifest. Here are a few less obvious signs that you may be suffering from allergies:

    • You can’t concentrate: You wake up with a runny nose and can’t stop sneezing but still head into work and struggle through the day. This situation often leads to a present but unproductive employee — something known as “presenteeism” — and unfortunately it’s very common for allergy sufferers.

    • Your nose is extra sensitive: Allergy sufferers may experience a heightened response to non-allergic conditions, such as wind, air pollution and dry weather. This occurs when the nasal passages and throat are inflamed from existing allergies, making them more sensitive.

    • You feel tired: Allergy symptoms can disrupt sleep, especially for people whose symptoms make it difficult to breathe through the nose. But even a full night’s rest may not ease that feeling of tiredness for some allergy sufferers.

    • You’re grumpy: The discomfort of allergy symptoms can interfere with people’s daily lives and lead to irritability.

    Do any of the above sound familiar? For those that are suffering from allergies, Dr. Zitt recommends the following allergy survival tips to better manage symptoms.

    • Know your triggers: Document your symptoms to get a better sense of your individual allergies. Visit your health care provider, preferably an allergist, to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

    • Avoid allergens: Avoid outdoor activities in the morning or plan ahead by wearing a hat and sunglasses to keep pollen away from your face.

    • Kick pollen to the curb: Pollen can stick to clothing and shoes. Invest in a good doormat and wipe down your shoes each time you enter. It’s also helpful to shower and change into fresh clothes to completely rid yourself of outdoor pollen.

    • Beware of bouquets: If you’re bringing flowers or plants into your home, choose them carefully. For example, sunflowers and chrysanthemums might offer a sweet floral aroma, but they’re known to bother people with ragweed allergies.

    • Don’t carpool with pollen: Keep car windows rolled up. Instead of opening windows turn on the air conditioning, or set your ventilation to “re-circulate” to avoid outdoor allergens and irritants.

    Additionally, over-the-counter antihistamines can offer relief from symptoms like itchy and watery eyes and a runny nose. One option is Allegra Allergy 24-Hour — now available in gelcap form. It can offer adults fast, non-drowsy relief starting in one hour and staying strong for 24. More information can be found at www.Allegra.com.

    Think beyond the runny nose. Allergies can take a toll on your entire quality of life. Take care of yourself by avoiding your triggers when possible and seeking relief when necessary.

    By State Point

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SUS Million Dollar March kicks off

    The Southern University System Foundation kicked-off its second annual Million Dollar March campaign July 23, 2015, at the Donald C. Wade House on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    The 90-day viral campaign endeavors to bring campaign volunteers and the business community together via email, text, and social media posts in effort to secure philanthropic contributions to support the five campuses of the Southern University System.

    Southern University System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton Ph.D. said, “I am overwhelmed to have the opportunity to be in the midst of the Southern University supporters who give unselfishly of themselves to the Million Dollar March, and I am excited to be among those who make sure the University has the infrastructure to support the goals and aspirations of the Southern University System.”

    SUSF Foundation Board Chairman Domoine D. Rutledge said the success of the Million Dollar March means the University will continue to grow and remain stable. Rutledge reminded the audience that, “as we work for Southern we must remember that we are remnants of the legacy of Southern and with that comes the great obligation to stand and confront the challenges and overcome those challenges to embrace the future of our University.”

    Agricultural sciences and animal science major, Robert Easly Jr. echoed the sentiments of Rutledge, as he stated his experiences as a SU student and his gratitude to the SUSF donors who support students like him. SU student Robert Easly Jr. The Opelousas native is a testament of the positive impact of philanthropy, and says that he is proud to serve his University as a SUSF Jag Talker. “As a first-generation college student, I was afraid of the challenge I was about to face. Today, I can say that Southern University not only paved the path that led me to my highest potential, but also did the same for countless of other students. I learned about resilience, tradition, and pride. Most importantly, I learned that the true purpose of living is to take what you have received and give it back,” said Easly.

    Last year, the MDM generated $1.2 million in cash. That success stemmed from the dedication of volunteers who contributed their time and loyalty to the cause to support SU. “People give to people for good causes, and the success of the Million Dollar March will be based on the work that we do as volunteers,” said Alfred E. Harrell III, chief executive officer for the SUSF. Harrell adds that, “The impact of that success can be seen from the work of the SU family.”
    SUSF Chief Executive Officer Alfred E. Harrell III

    The MDM Campaign will end on October 1, 2015, with a one-day giving blitz. The amount raised will be announced on Saturday, October 17, 2015, during the homecoming football game halftime show.

    The Mission of the Southern University System Foundation is to promote the educational and cultural welfare of the SU System by generating annual reoccurring financial support for its five campuses.

    ONLINE: milliondollarmarch for more details.

    Read more »
  • Community Events: July 19 – 31

    Here are your upcoming community events, meetings, and workshops in and around the Ponchatoula, Hammond, and Baton Rouge area. Complete this form to share your upcoming events: Drum Community Events or email information to news at thedrumnewspaper dot info.

     

    July 18, 24, and August 1

    Play Streets, 10am-2pm, 5820 Evangeline Street. Several streets in the Brookstown neighborhood will be closed to traffic to allow children to play as part of Pennington Biomedical Center’s Play STreets program. This program affords children and families in a local neighborhood increased space to play outside and engage in physical activity.

     

     

     

    July 19 – 25

    18711_1037290276282420_153500926229307357_n
    SPIRIT OF PENTECOST APPREHENDED, 7pm nightly, World Link of Churches and Ministries, 2103 S. Philippe Ave., Gonzales, featuring 10 guest ministers and Apostle Lloyd Benson Sr. Youth Fresh will be held Tuesday, July 21 with Prophet Richard Horace of Houston Texas.

     

     

     

    July 21
    Ponchatoula Mayor’s Court
    , 5:30PM, Ponchatoula City Hall,125 W. Hickory Street. Click HERE to pay fines online. For information regarding Mayor’s Court please call (985) 370-7500.

    July 22
    Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council Meeting, 
    1pm,Thomas Jefferson Room, Claiborne Building, 1201 N. 3rd Street.The Louisiana Department of Education will present the major proposed improvements to the eligibility and funding rates for the Louisiana Child Care Assistance Program. One proposed change is for families to remain eligible for at least one year regardless of life changes. ONLINE: http://bese.louisiana.gov/home

    July 25

    save_our_cities_now_15adg001001Save Our Cities Prayer Initiative, 8am, prayer march from the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge to the La. State Capitol Building. According to organizers, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Charles Steele Jr., the Rev. Jessie Jackson of the Rainbow Push Coalition, and the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network will join in the march led by Chief Apostle Lloyd Benson Sr. ONLINE: saveourcitiesnow.org or www.wlcm.org

     

     

     

    July 30

    The July Meeting of The Diabetic Kitchen. 5pm, First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 119 Jefferson St, New Iberia. Guest speaker will be Dr. Shelley Smith of Audibel Hearing Healthcare in New Iberia and Abbeville. Smith’s focus and specialty include adult and pediatric diagnostic testing, adult and pediatric amplification and tinnitus management. Contact: Nathaniel Mitchell Sr., Nateyes@bellsouth.net or The Diabetic Kitchen on Facebook.

     

    Invite us out!
    Complete this form to share your upcoming events: Drum Community Events or email information to news at thedrumnewspaper dot info

    Join the show!
    If you would like to be a guest on Let’s Talk About it; The Ed Show on WSTY in Hammond, La. Complete the form with all details or call the show producer, Eddie Ponds, at (985) 351-0813.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Family walks and 3,100 petition for justice

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson holds “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge

    On Monday, July 6, the family and friends of Lamar Alexander Johnson, led a peaceful protest in downtown Baton Rouge in response to the controversy surrounding Johnson’s death while in police custody.

    The 27-year-old’s death has sparked controversy about the series of events that led to his passing while being held at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson to “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge. (From Facebook page)[/caption]While the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has claimed Johnson hung himself from his isolated jail cell, Johnson’s family and friends have insisted that this could not have been the case, especially considering Johnson believed he was being held for minor offense.

    IMG_2404Johnson, a father of three who was engaged to be married, was arrested on May 26 after an officer pulled him over for a window tint violation. According to the family, Johnson admitted to the officer that he had an outstanding 2011 warrant for what he believed, at the time, was a failure to appear for a traffic violation. On May 30, when the family tried to inquire about Johnson’s status, they were informed he was in the hospital, after prison officials said they discovered him hanging from his bed sheet in his cell. Johnson’s family said Lamar had no history of mental illness or depression.

    “Throughout the process, I stayed in touch with my son,” said Linda Johnson Franks, Lamar Johnson’s mother. “He kept assuring me that this was small potatoes and he’d either serve a few days or figure out how to pay whatever fines might be levied. This wouldn’t make sense in any situation, but especially if you knew Lamar. No way.”

    Johnson passed away on Sunday, June 10 from a total brain injury due to lack of oxygen.

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson to “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge. (From Facebook page)

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson to “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge. (From Facebook page)

    While the EBRSO said it conducted an internal review of the incident that confirmed their original story, the family has called for EBR city-parish officials to sanction an “uninterested, third-party investigation” into the series of events that led to Johnson’s injury. An online, Change.org petition started late last week calling for the same had 3,078 signatures at the time of this story.

    “We’re not making any accusations, we just want answers,” said Karl Franks, Lamar’s father. “And to get them, the investigated shouldn’t be conducting the investigation. That’s just common sense.”

    ONLINE: Change.org
    TWITTER: #JusticeforLamar
    FACEBOOK:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-Lamar-Johnson/1116391165045014?fref=ts

    Read more »
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    Urban Ag Farm opens for tours

    The Southern University Ag Center’s Sustainable Urban Agriculture Demonstration Farm has launched its farm tours. The show-and-tell garden provides information on vegetable varieties, planting instruction, composting techniques, and other relevant information. The farm tours will be available throughout the year.  To schedule a tour, please contact Dawn Mellion-Patin or Zanetta Augustine at the SU Ag Center by calling 225-771-2242.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    COMMENTARY: When different is the same in EBR schools

    Our Schools Our Excellence, an initiative of MetroMorphosis, which the Rev. Raymond Jetson created in Baton Rouge, is a great example of a different approach to addressing the educational needs of our children. The initiative was founded on the principle that every child deserves an excellent education.

    Sadly, every child is not getting an excellent education. Students within the same school districts-even students in the same building-are not receiving an excellent education. This is especially the case in magnet and charter schools in districts where many of the traditional public schools are considered “failing.”

    In the East Baton Rouge School District, most of the majority minority schools in North Baton Rouge are considered failing. At the same time, new charter schools are cropping up across the parish. There is a highly sought after magnet school, Baton Rouge Magnet High School, in the district that is popular, in part, because of the many advanced placement course offerings. The school is 38 percent White and about 43 percent Black. About 34% of students receive free or reduced lunch. The school district is about 45 precent Black and over 80 percent of students qualified for free or reduced lunch as if October 2014, before recent changes making all students in the district eligible.

    Another magnet school, Lee High Magnet School, which is in year two of transiting from a failed traditional public school to a magnet school, is increasing in popularity because of a focus on science, engineering, and math, and dual enrollment courses with the state’s flagship institution, among other reasons. Traditional public schools either offer no such classes or dual enrollment classes with Baton Rouge Community College.

    As Lee High Magnet continues to transition, many minority students who survived the turbulent first year may get to the mountain top, but seeing the promised land is doubtful. They are in a “different” situation than many in their cohort who were ill-prepared to maintain the required grade point average and were ultimately sentenced to serving out the remainder of their high school careers in failing neighborhood schools. The students who survived will not have access to all the promised technological changes, internships, additional course offerings, etc. as these will be phased in for new cohorts. For example, new cohorts are scheduled to enjoy Chrome Books with e-versions of all required textbooks and older cohorts will continue to haul around heavy and costly textbooks in new aged buildings that don’t have lockers or desks where books can be stored.

    EBR schools are not alone in these regards. Administrators of magnet and charter schools in districts with “failing” schools across the country apparently read from the same script, which requires the repeated use of the term, “different.” Magnet and charter schools, the administrators often contend, will have “different” curriculum, or produce “different” results, when compared with traditional public schools, when in fact, many of these schools represent more of the “same.”

    The schools represent the perpetuation of an unjust system that privileges some people, and is at the same time a continued source of misery and despair for others, especially people of color and the poor. The celebration of “difference” is in many ways an indictment of the quality of education available to communities of color and the poor. It is also an acknowledgement of the existence of a two-tiered system, which prepares some for success and citizenship while simultaneously reminding others of their place in a social institution, and in the broader society, that perpetuates inequality all the while extolling the virtues of fairness and justice.

    It’s time to take off the blindfolds and throw out the pacifier that is privilege.

    According to these administrators of choice schools, considered by some the mouthpieces of a misguided movement to use public schools as a profit generating machine, parents with children in their schools should feel grateful that their children have the opportunity to enjoy a “different” academic experience. On the contrary, parents, community leaders, school administrators, teachers, elected officials, etc. everywhere should all feel the “same” moral outrage. Our Schools Our Excellence got it right. “Every” child deserves an excellent education and no one should turn a blind eye to the injustices that are preventing the initiative’s rallying cry from becoming a reality.

    Lori Martin, Ph.D.

    Lori Martin, Ph.D.

    By Lori Latrice Martin
    Guest Columnist


    Lori Latrice Martin, Ph.D., is associate professor of sociology and African American Studies. She is the author of Big Box Schools: Race, Education, and the Danger of the Wal-Martization of Public Schools in America.

    Read more »
  • CONSUMER ALERT: Don’t pay for a vacation to nowhere

    With school out and summer in, many Louisiana residents may be itching to get out of town for vacation. As consumers search for their perfect getaways, they may come across good-looking vacation rental deals that seem amazing.

    In an instance where a deal sounds too good to be true, that may be exactly the case. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell cautions consumers to beware of the vacation to nowhere.

    “Unfortunately, some ‘deals’ are advertised by scammers trying to steal your money,” Caldwell said. “They may offer unbelievable vacation destinations at what appear to be unbelievable prices, except that vacation to paradise may turn out to be a vacation to nowhere. It’s important to avoid wiring money, and to always research travel offers.”

    Scammers may create fake websites that look legitimate, using names and logos of real hotels. They might post gorgeous photos of homes and condos — real and fake — on property sharing sites. And they know they’ll get a consumer’s attention with super low rental prices.

    They might ask you to wire money to hold the rental — either a deposit or the full amount. But when you show up for your vacation, suitcases in hand, there’s a problem. Sometimes the rental property doesn’t exist. In other scams, the place you thought you booked wasn’t actually available. Either way, your money is gone, along with the hopes of a stress-free vacation.

    Here are some tips to help you avoid a vacation rental scam:

    • S
    • earch online for the owner and listing with words like review, scam, or complaint. You may find comments from others who have identified this listing as a rip-off. Another clue it may be a scam? If you find the same ad listedunder a different name or with different contact information.
    • Check that the address of the property really exists. And get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm specific details about the location and the contract.
    • Consider using a credit card to book your rental. If there are any problems, you’ll get better protections that way. But whatever you do, don’t be pressured into wiring money. If a property owner requires payment via MoneyGram, Western Union or Green Dot cards, chances are, it’s a scam.

     

    Do you think you sent money to someone for a fake vacation rental? Report it by contacting the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889 or www.AGBuddyCaldwell.com. If you paid by credit card, get in touch with that company as soon as you can. And contact the fraud department of the website where you found the posting. You might not get your money back, but you can help others by getting the post removed.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    1,500 petition to keep Gus Young pool

    Plans are underway to permanently close the community pool at the BREC Gus Young Avenue Park in East Baton Rouge on August 1. Public opposition is increasing, but is it enough to convince the BREC board or  superintendent Carol McKnight  to reconsider closure and re-allocate $400,000  from BREC’s $69 million annual budget to preserve the historic pool and clubhouse?

    Community leaders and residents said they want a pool and are not interested in other option–not even a splashpad that would require $500,000 in donations. Longtime activist Elwin “Bobby” Burns said he has collected more than 1,500 signatures petitioning to restore and open the pool. He will submit the petition to the Mayor’s office and Metro Councilmembers. Burns is concerned that the children have swimming opportunities within walking distance of their homes. “BREC has four dog parks!” Burns wrote in an email to The Drum asking if funds that were once identified for Gus Young park renovations had been transferred to fund the parish’s new dog parks.

    The pool was closed three summers ago for repairs about the same time the Liberty Water Park was built in Independence Park. When the pool was closed the 39 kids who signed up for swimming lessons were referred to other pools which were 2 miles away. Then, the cost of swimming in the Gus Young pool was $1.25 per person. The cost of Liberty Waterpark was $8 for people shorter than 4 feet and $10 for taller people. Today, the Gus Young residents have are given the option to learn to swim at the nearby A.C Lewis YMCA pool on South Foster Drive, which is located about 2 miles away. BREC said 103 people have signed up for the swimming lessons.

    Residents also have the option of swimming at BREC’s Howell Community Park Pool on Winnborne Ave., which is also 2 miles away, or at BREC’s Anna T. Jordan pool which is located farther in North Baton Rouge.

    For many Gus Young residents, this is not a viable option said Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle who represents the area. According to the Rev. Richard Andrus, pastor of St. Paul Apostle Catholic Church on Gus Young, his congregation overwhelmingly supports keeping the pool instead of permanently closing it or replacing it with a splashpad. He will join Marcelle in meeting with BREC leaders.

    Read more »
  • Belton, Hatches, Tolson named finalists for SUS president

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors’ President/Chancellor Search Committee announced on May 28,  three finalists for the position of president/chancellor. The finalists have been invited to the Baton Rouge campus on Thursday, June 11, for interviews with faculty, staff, students, alumni and stakeholders.They will be interviewed by the SU Board of Supervisors during its regular meeting, Friday, June 12.

    After interviewing six applicants during its final meeting today at the Hilton Garden Inn in Baton Rouge, the 15-member search team narrowed the list for the next SU System leader to the following three candidates who will be recommended to the SU Board of Supervisors:

    Ray Belton, chancellor, Southern University Shreveport (SUSLA), a graduate of SUSLA and Southern University Baton Rouge. He has a master of arts in counseling from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a doctor of philosophy in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

    Barrett Hatches, president and CEO Chicago Family Heath Center, received his undergraduate degree in political science from Jackson State University, a M.A. in management from Webster University, and a Ph.D. in urban higher education from Jackson State University.

    Ivory Toldson, deputy director, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Louisiana State University, a M.Ed. in counselor education from The Pennsylvania State University, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Temple University.

    “We are pleased with the committee’s work and with the experience and quality of the candidates for the Southern University president/chancellor’s position,” said Albert Sam, M.D., chairman of the search committee.

    “The future of this historic university system will be in accomplished hands with either of the finalists vetted through the process,” Sam added.

    The finalists will be invited to Southern University Baton Rouge Thursday, June 11 for interviews with faculty, staff, students, alumni and stakeholders.

    The SU Board of Supervisors will interview the finalists during its regular meeting Friday, June 12.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Elm Grove leads community to anti-crime action

    “Protesting is our most powerful weapon against the atrocities of our day,” said the Rev. Errol Domingue, pastor of Elm Grove Baptist Church. “Things will not change unless we (the community) use our prophetic voice to bring about action.”

    For Domingue and his congregation, “action” meant holding a gun buyback program, a neighborhood march, and a community-wide rally against violence in the Eden Park community where more than 100 people, including officers with the East Baton Rouge BRAVE program, participated throughout February.

    The church sits mid-city Baton Rouge in the 70802 zip code where neighborhoods are riddled with mostly violent crimes.
    “Today is a new day and the violence has to stop,” said Jane Walker, Elm Grove Baptist Church rally organizer. “I’m for what is right. If protesting is needed to get the point across, I’m for it,” she said.

    Many of the violent crimes in the area are due to acts of senseless killings, participants said.

    Community activist Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed and members of the Nation of Islam spoke to the crowd along with BRAVE officers. Reed encouraged other churches in the community to rally against violence while BRAVE officials said to also focus on broadening the discussion of violence into homes.

    A crowd of about 60 marchers took to North 38th street to protest and make a bold statement against violence in their community. The weather appeared gloomy but it didn’t affect the rally. Baton Rouge City Police assisted with escorting the protestors which included toddlers and senior citizens to the park.

    Lennard Hawkins and Yvonne Sutton, relatives of Jermaine Jackson

    Lennard Hawkins and Yvonne Sutton, relatives of Jermaine Jackson

    Members of Jeremy Costley’s family were present along with family members of Jermaine Jackson. Both were victims of gun violence and no one has been identified as the shooter in both cases.

    “When standing against the wrong thing we are being leaders and maybe people will start following behind the right people to change the bad things that are happening in our communities,” said Armani Pitts, relative of Jeremy Costley.
    Harold Melvin and the Blue Note’s “ Wake up Everybody” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” played during the intermission portions of the rally.

    “It is very disappointing to hear on the daily news that someone has perished due to a bullet and no one has been arrested for the crime,” said Keisha Moore, organizer and emcee of the rally. “I remember when people settled their differences with words or even fists, not guns or a ‘shoot and run’ move. Families are now left with a disappointment, unanswered questions, and hurt,” said Moore.

    By Billy Washington
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,

    “Springing into Health” to demonstrate holistic treatment of cancer

    Join Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter, area physicians, cancer survivors and a host of educators, pharmaceutical representatives, community vendors and public service agencies for “Springing into Health” Saturday, April 18, 9am, at the Charles R. Kelly Community Center, 3535 Riley Street.
    “I am excited to help bring attention to a unique panel discussion happening at 10am on holistic (spirit, soul and body) treatment of cancer through a partnership with the Center and stakeholders involved in wellness education, prevention, intervention, traditional treatment as well as alternative medicine. Since beginning my own battle against treatment for pancreatic cancer, I have been encouraged and inspired by their stories and tenacity to live against the odds. Their dramatic testimonials are quite compelling and offer hope to patients, families and friends of survivors with a focus on their unique journey (i.e., the medical diagnosis, their treatment plan, how family and friends helped them and what was their daily regime to get victory,” said Edwards.
    The general public is invited to take advantage of free health screenings for blood pressure, blood glucose and body mass Index (BMI). Included are free workshops and panel discussions regarding fitness and nutrition and stress management.
    To register, call 225.389.4831 or (225) 389-5464.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Fonzworth Bentley visits LSU, April 16

    Derek “Fonzworth Bentley” Watkins, a philanthropist, actor and producer who was named GQ magazine’s “First Gentleman of Hip Hop.” will keynote LSU’s second First Impression event,Thursday, April 16, 6:30pm, at The Club at Union Square.

    First Impressions is hosted by LSU’s College of Engineering Diversity Programs and the Black Male Leadership Initiative. The event presents business and casual styles for young men who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.

    “We know nationally that there is a shortage of African-American professionals in the STEM fields,” said Vincent Harris, LSU BMLI graduate coordinator.”This event will benefit Black LSU males by providing a venue that demonstrates the value of a strong first impression when interacting in the professional world.”

    ONLINE: LSU’s Black Male Leadership Initiative

    Read more »
  • ,

    FEMA says ‘Get ready now for potential severe weather’

    People living in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas are urged to get ready now for potential severe weather that could strike over the next few days in the form of possible severe thunderstorms, hail, strong winds, flash flooding, tornadoes and wildfires.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region 6 office continues to monitor the situation and stands ready to support state and local partners as needed and requested in any affected areas.

    “We encourage people to keep listening to their local and state officials for updated instructions and information. The safety of people is the first priority,” said FEMA Region 6 Administrator Tony Robinson. “We encourage people to have an individual or family emergency plan in place, practice that plan and put together an emergency kit.”

    Become familiar with the terms used to identify a severe weather hazard including:
    Watch: Meteorologists are monitoring an area or region for the formation of a specific type of threat (e.g. flooding, severe thunderstorms, or tornadoes); and
    Warning: Specific life and property threatening conditions are occurring and imminent. Take appropriate safety precautions. www.getagameplan.org. The Get a Game Plan App is available for download to your smart phones or tablets.
    .
    More tools and resources are available online to help prepare for, respond to and recover from any type of disaster. Visit www.Ready.gov.

    Read more »
  • ,

    LeBas seeks to ease substitute teacher shortage

    Legislation filed by State Rep. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte, is aimed at relieving school systems’ shortage of qualified substitute teachers and helping retired teachers supplement their income.

    “This is for the students,” LeBas said. “It’s best for students to have qualified teachers everywhere,” but current law limits how much time retired teachers can spend in classrooms without affecting their retirement income.

    LeBas’ House Bill 43 seeks to increase the number of days retired teachers can work as substitute teachers without decreasing the size of their retirement checks.

    Former teachers collecting benefits through the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana are prohibited from continuing to receive retirement pay if they return to fulltime teaching. Current law allows them to work as substitute teachers and collect salaries up to 25 percent of their retirement checks, but any pay above that amount results in an equivalent reduction in retirement benefits.

    HB43 would raise the salary cap to 50 percent of benefits, so a teacher who’s eligible to teach 50 days would be able to teach 100 days as a substitute without affecting retirement pay.

    “School board members and superintendents have expressed interest in this because they can’t find qualified teachers to substitute when a regular teacher is out of the classroom,” LeBas said. “Also, many retired teachers have approached me wanting to be substitute teachers.

    “Everyone is saying they have a problem. The whole idea is to offer our students the best possible education,” he said.

    Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said school systems are having “big problems” finding qualified teachers to work as substitutes, especially when a regular teacher is taking extended medical leave, maternity leave or sabbatical.

    Because of the salary limitation, substitutes often can work only short-term and “We want to make sure that when a classroom teacher (takes leave), students are not having to change teachers three or four times because they’re reaching the salary cap,” Meaux said.

    “If we have to hire substitute teachers, why not have the best teachers for our students?” LeBas said. HB43 is awaiting a hearing in the House Education Committee. The 2015 legislative session begins at noon Monday and must conclude no later than 6 p.m. June 11.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Bagayoko secures $500k for SU research

    Southern University System’s Distinguished Professor of Physics Diola Bagayoko,Ph.D., has received a three-year, $503,931 federal research grant to help develop new methods and processes in the field of materials and energy science.

    The grant is from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration. The newly funded project is a major component of the Consortium for Materials and Energies Studies (CMaES) led by Florida A&M University.

    The first year funding for Southern University at Baton Rouge is $153,931 and the funding for each of the following two years is $175,000 for a total of $503,931.

    CMaES is a collaborative effort among seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and two national laboratories of the DOE. Some of the other key objectives include the production of new knowledge, and the training of the next generation of scientists and engineers in areas of interest to DOE.

    Besides SUBR and FAMU, other collaborating organizations include: Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee University, Tennessee State University, Benedict College, Morehouse College, Allen University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

    Tommy Rockward, who received his Bachelor of Science and master’s degrees in Physics from SUBR, is the lead scientist for the collaboration at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Read more »
  • FBI accepting applications for special agent candidates

    The FBI will accept applications for Special Agent candidates through March 16. All interested candidates must apply viawww.FBIJobs.gov by 11:59pm, March 16, according to the time zone of the applicant’s local field office. Specific skills and backgrounds being sought include:

    • Cyber Security
    • Intelligence
    • Computer Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Computer Forensics
    • Network Administration
    • Information Technology
    • Laboratory Sciences
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Certified Public Accountants
    • Bar Certified Attorneys
    • Police/Detectives
    • Military
    • Pilots

    Speakers of foreign languages are also highly sought, with a priority for Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Maghreb (Moroccan/Algerian), Yemeni, Afghani, Pakistani, Somali, Uighur, Chinese (all dialects), and Uzbek.

    • To qualify, each Special Agent applicant must:
    • Be a U.S. citizen
    • Be at least 23 years of age, but younger than 37 at the time of hiring; exceptions are given for:

    Federal Law Enforcement Officers (1811s)Veterans eligible for Veterans Preference

    • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
    • Have lived in the U.S. for three out of the last five years unless directly deployed overseas by the U.S. government or military (this includes military spouses)
    • Have a valid driver’s license and at least six months of driving experience

    Applicants must also have three years of full-time (at least 36 hours per week) professional work experience. Exceptions to this requirement include:

    • Applicants with eligible computer science or IT backgrounds
    • Preferred foreign language speakers who score 3 or higher on an FBI language test
    • Former FBI Honors Interns with at least a 3.0 GPA are eligible for Phase I testing and then must complete three years of work experience before advancing to Phase II
    • Applicants with a Juris Doctor degree
    • Applicants with master’s and/or doctoral degrees can qualify with only two years of full-time professional work experience

    For more information about the Special Agent application process, visit www.fbijobs.gov.

    Read more »
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    March 12th meeting to discuss potential uses for EKL site

    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION  NEEDED

    East Baton Rouge parish residents, business owners, and other interested stakeholders are invited to a public charrette, Thursday, March 12, to help establish a framework and share ideas to develop the former Earl K Long Hospital site on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge.

    The charrette is a hands-on planning session and design exercise where community members, designers, business and property owners and other stakeholders collaborate on a vision for development uses of the former hospital site, which will be demolished during late 2015. The charrette will begin at 6pm, Thursday, March 12, at the S.E. Mackey Community Center, 6543 Ford Street.

    The charrette will include various breakout sessions. Some of those breakout sessions will focus on economic development efforts while others will be geared toward discussing the needs of children and families.

    Local project management firm Franklin Associates will facilitate the charrette. Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., ASLA, DesignJones LLC; Jason Lockhart, Sinektiks, LLC; and Sit Wong, Domain Design, will join Franklin Associates. Representatives from Southern University College of Business, including dean Donald Andrews, and the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning and Commission Office will also be contributing to the discussion.

    Sharon Weston-Broome State Senator and President Pro Tempore, District 15.

    Sharon Weston-Broome State Senator, District 15.

    The charette is hosted by District 15 State Senator Sharon Weston Broome, District 29 State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow, District 5 Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards and other community leaders.

    For more information, visit www.5825airline.org 

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  • Briggs, Packer to lead Opera Louisiane’s ‘Madama Butterfly’

    Opera Louisiane will the world’s most beloved opera, “Madama Butterfly,” where soprano Hope Briggs and tenor Chauncey Packer will perform lead roles, 3pm, March 8, at the Baton Rouge River Center Theater.

    Soprano Hope Briggs performs the title role of a young Japanese woman whose uncompromising love results in her greatest joy and greatest sacrifice. Tenor Chauncey Packer stars as Lt. B.F. Pinkerton, an American naval officer who woos Madama Butterfly and ultimately deserts her.

    Hope Briggs is a New Jersey native who has sung leading soprano roles through the US and in Europe with such companies as San Francisco Opera, New Orleans Opera, El Paso Opera, Sacramento Opera, Opera San Jose, Nevada Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Frankfurt Opera and Staatstheater Stuttgart. Briggs is also an ABC KGO-TV 2012 African American Salutes Honoree, Marian Anderson Historical Society Scholar and a 2013 Heritage Keeper Award Recipient from Friends of Negro Spirituals.

    Hope Briggs

    Hope Briggs

    Tenor Chauncey Packer is a New Orleans native who is known internationally for his portrayal of Sportin’ Life in “Porgy and Bess.” He has performed the role with San Francisco Opera, New Orleans Opera, Atlanta Opera, Opera Birmingham, Mobile Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, Pensacola Opera, Tulsa Opera and in many major European cities with the Munich-based New York Harlem Productions tour. He has also performed leading tenor roles with Utah Festival Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Shreveport Opera and Nashville Opera, to name a few. Packer’s future engagements include concerts with Boston Symphony Orchestra and the premiere of an opera commissioned about the historic 1960s civil rights bus rides to New Orleans entitled FREEDOM RIDES in New Orleans.

    Tickets are available at www.operalouisiane.com, by phone at 800-745-3000 and at the Baton Rouge River Center Box Office at 275 S. River Road, Baton Rouge.

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  • Nation Saw Record Number of Exonerations in 2014

    Report from National Registry of Exonerations Documents More than 100 Exonerations in a Single Year for the First Time

    The National Registry of Exonerations recorded 125 exonerations of innocent criminal defendants in 2014, the first time the Registry found more than 100 exonerations in one year, according to a report released today that analyzes trends in exonerations and details the work of the nation’s 15 prosecutorial Conviction Integrity Units.

    “The big story for the year is that more prosecutors are working hard to identify and investigate claims of innocence. And many more innocent defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,” said Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations and the author of the report.

    The states with the most exonerations in 2014 are Texas (39), New York (17), Illinois (7), Michigan (7), Ohio (6), North Carolina (4), Louisiana (3), Maryland (3), Oregon (3), Pennsylvania (3), and Tennessee (3). The states with the most recorded exonerations are not necessarily those where most false convictions have occurred.

    The Registry credits Conviction Integrity Units for contributing to the spike in exonerations: 34 more than the previous record of 91 exonerations in 2013.

    Read the report, Exonerations in 2014, at http://bit.ly/1C4YwIk

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  • Lela offering free FAFSA workshops, scholarships throughout March

    The Louisiana Education Loan Authority is gearing up to assist high school students and their parents in checking a major item off of their lists as they near high school graduation — completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as “FAFSA.”

    Lela will conduct FAFSA completion workshops, upon request, at high schools throughout the state and will continue to offer one-on-one counseling by appointment to students at its College Planning Center on Acadian Thruway in Baton Rouge. The team will also host a free, statewide FAFSA completion online webinar at noon on Wednesday, March 18, that is geared to parents and a hands-on FAFSA completion workshop in Baton Rouge on Saturday, March 21.

    To register for the statewide webinar or Baton Rouge workshop, to request a workshop in your area, to make an appointment, or for more information, contact Lela staff at info@lela.org or (800) 228-4755 or visit the Lela website at www.AskLela.org.

    Students and parents can learn more about the FAFSA and complete the free form by logging onto http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. The page contains links to YouTube videos and other resources that help walk students and parents through the process of applying for aid.

    Lela is also offering $5,000 in college scholarships through its “Cash for College Scholarship Contest,” with grand-prize winners each taking home a $1,000 scholarship for the best essay and video. The second-prize winners in each category will each win $750 scholarships. The theme is “What’s Your College Game Plan?”

    Three seniors will win $500 scholarships through random drawings, which they can enter in three ways: by attending a Lela workshop, registering at http://www.AskLela.org or by submitting an Instagram photo. Details for the scholarship contest and drawings are available at http://www.GoFAAM.com. The deadline is March 31.

    Read more »
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    MARCH INTO SUCCESS – Workshop presents matching funds for business’ growth

    Baton Rouge businesses located in and serving clients in the 70801, 70805, 70806, or 70807 zip code areas will receive information on obtaining matching funds from $2,000 to $10,000 to support business growth. The total reimbursable matching fund is $40,000. Representatives will answer questions on the use of the funds. The number of approved businesses depends on the size of individual awards. Applications will be available at the presentation.

    The workshop is Saturday, Feb. 28, 10am  – 11:30am, at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, 616 Harding Boulevard.

    This program is sponsored by the Southern University Center for Social Research, Housing and Urban Development-HUD, and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center-SUBR.

    REGISTRATION INFORMATION
    This seminar is open to the general public; however, advanced registration is required due to limited class size. To register for this seminar, you may call the Louisiana SBDC at (225) 774-9213 or visit the LSBDC website at www.lsbdc.org. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University-Baton Rouge (LSBDC-SUBR) is a partnership program funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Louisiana Economic Development, and Southern University-Baton Rouge.

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    Student chemists advance to state competition

    PLAQUEMINE–More than 200 parents, teachers, students and community members assembled at the Math, Science & Arts Academy West in Plaquemine for the second annual Dow Westside You Be the Chemist Challenge® on Feb. 11.

    Thirty-three 6th – 8th grade students from Iberville and West Baton Rouge Parishes competed against one another through numerous rounds of multiple-choice questions that tested their knowledge of chemistry concepts, important discoveries, and chemical safety awareness.

    Sponsored locally and nationally by Dow, the Challenge is an academic competition created by the Chemical Education Foundation (CEF). The Challenge aims to engage middle school students in chemistry through a dynamic event that partners members of the chemical industry with schools and organizations in the communities in which they operate.

    “At Dow we are committed to supporting the next generation of scientists, engineers, chemists and innovators for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields,” said Abby Cook, Public Affairs Manager, Dow Louisiana Operations. “We are proud to collaborate with organizations like the Chemical Education Foundation to do the important work of changing lives through quality education.”

    After six rounds of competition at the Dow Westside Challenge, the Champion, First Runner-Up, Second Runner-Up and Third Runner-up from both West Baton Rouge and Iberville Parishes were decided. Alex Gautreaux, student in Cynthia West’s class at Devall Middle, took first place for the second consecutive year! Erin Stephens of Janell Albarez’s class at Brusly Middle achieved First Runner-Up. Hanna Prather, also a student of Cynthia West’s class at Devall Middle, placed Second Runner-Up and Naturi Scott of Delky Arbuckle’s class achieved Third Runner-Up for West Baton Rouge Parish.

    Kristopher Cayette, a student in Tanya Taylor’s class at MSA West achieved Champion for Iberville Parish. Lucas Sanchez, a student from Tyne Courville’s class at MSA West took First Runner-Up. Second Runner-Up was achieved by Emily Deslatte of Pam Mechana’s class at St. John and Alixes Bouvay of Dorothy Trusclair’s class at Plaquemine High received Third Runner-Up.

    Champion, First Runner-Up, and Second Runner-Up recipients from both Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes will advance to the You Be the Chemist State Challenge, April 25 at Louisiana State University. The winner of the state competition will move on to compete in the National Challenge held Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June.

    Participating schools in the local Dow Westside Challenge included: Devall Middle, Port Allen Middle, Holy Family, Brusly Middle, MSA West, MSA East, St. John School, Plaquemine High, and White Castle High.

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    Edwards announces Dist. 5 community meetings

    East Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards invites the public to air grievances, speak directly to department officials, and learn about community programs at her district meetings on the following dates at 10 am.

    Saturday, Feb. 28
    Maplewood BREC Park
    8200 Maplewood

    Saturday, April 4
    N. Sherwood Forest BREC
    3140 North Sherwood Forest Dr.

    Saturday,June 6
    Times of Refreshing Ministries
    3745 Mohican Street

    Saturday, August 1
    Delmont Gardens Library
    3351 Lorraine Street

    Saturday,  October 1
    Greenwell Springs Library
    11300 Greenwell Springs Road




     

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  • Mitchell S. Jackson wins Ernest Gaines award

    THE BATON ROUGE AREA Foundation has named Mitchell S. Jackson winner of the 2014 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for his novel The Residue Years.

    Now in its eighth year, the Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed, $10,000 annual prize created by foundation donors to honor outstanding work from rising Black fiction writers while honoring Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world. The Residue Years, published in 2013 by Bloomsbury Books, is a semi-autobiographical novel based on Jackson’s experience growing up in Portland, Ore., in a neighborhood ravaged by violence and drug use. The novel follows a former addict trying to steer her three sons away from drugs.

    Mitchell S. Jackson earned a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and a master’s in creative writing from New York University, where he now teaches. He also earned fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Urban Artists Initiative and The Center for Fiction.His previous honors include the Hurston Wright Foundation award for college writers.In 2012, he published the e-book “Oversoul: Stories and Essays.”

    Previous winners of the Ernest J. Gaines award include Attica Locke for “The Cutting Season”, Stephanie Powell Watts for “We Are Taking Only What We Need” and Dinaw Mengestu for How to Read the Air.

    Gaines is a native of Pointe Coupee Parish, La. and became a literary legend and infl uential American author. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of publication of his first novel, Catherine Carmier and the 40th anniversary of the adaptation of his critically acclaimed novel,The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, into a madefor-TV movie in 1974 that won nine Emmy awards. Gaines novel, A Lesson Before Dying, published in 1993, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

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    LSU to host MLK Commemorative Celebration Week

    Martin Luther King Jr. once said that life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing to help others?”

    Every year, the LSU community comes together to answer that question with LSU’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration Week, where the highlights and memorialization of the work, accomplishments and legacy of one of the greatest Civil Rights and African American leaders in modern history are honored.

    The Commemorative Celebration kicks off at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 19, where LSU and Baton Rouge community members come together for “MLK Day of Service.” Approximately 200 registered volunteers from LSU’s students, faculty, staff and administrators, as well as other community partners will participate in revitalizing multiple Baton Rouge programs and their facilities to better the community. Students, faculty, staff and community members participating in events can share their #MLK week experiences with LSU on Twitter @LSU or Instagram @snapLSU.

    Following the Day of Service, a candlelight vigil and march sponsored by National Pan-Hellenic Council will be held to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The vigil will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a short program beginning at the Memorial Tower in honor and remembrance of King’s work.

    On Wednesday, Jan. 21, the Student Union Theater will host the MLK Performing Arts Night, where people can celebrate the life and legacy of King through the arts, poetry, dance and musical expression. The event will begin at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

    The signature program is the MLK & Black History Month Commemorative Celebration, which will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22, in the Student Union Theater. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month Committees will host journalist, scholar, author and activist Marc Lamont Hill as the keynote speaker for the celebration.

    Marc Lamont Hill

    Marc Lamont Hill

    Hill is one of the leading intellectual voices in the country and is the host of HuffPost Live and BET News; commentator on Our World with Black Enterprise; and political contributor to CNN and Fox News. A distinguished professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College, Hill is also an award-winning journalist, receiving several prestigious awards from the National Association of Black Journalist, GLAAD and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

    Throughout the month of January, the MLK Committee will host a food drive to aid in LSU’s Food Pantry. Drop-off locations include the Office of Multicultural Affairs, located in room 335 of the Student Union, and the African American Cultural Center, located behind the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at 3 Union Square.

    The 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration is coordinated by the LSU Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee and the Black History Month Committee.

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  • West Baton Rouge Museum open for King holiday

    On Monday, January 19, a day when many institutions will be closed in observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr holiday, the West Baton Rouge Museum will be open with free admission, 10am – 4:30pm, to commemorate the life’s work of King.

    There will be a moderated film discussion at noon presented by Aaron Sheehan-Dean, LSU History Department’s Fred C. Frey Professor of Southern Studies. The film discussion will focus on the 19th century abolitionist struggle that has been noted as America’s first Civil Rights struggle. As part of his presentation, Sheehan-Dean will share clips from the documentary film, The Abolitionists featuring brave men and women who risked their lives to end slavery.“Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” series, a Bridging Cultures initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities

    Throughout the day, the public is invited to walk through Brave Steps: The Louisiana Native Guard. This exhibit, curated by West Baton Rouge Museum’s Angelique Bergeron and guest curator, Emmitt Glynn, illustrates the history of the Louisiana Native Guard, the first Black troops to be mustered into the Union Army during the American Civil War and the brave first steps toward life out of slavery and working toward equality.

    West Baton Rouge Museum is located at 845 North Jefferson Avenue in Port Allen. For more information, visit www.westbatonrougemuseum.com or call 225-336-2422 Ext. 15.

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    SU Board elects Tarver, Braxton for 2015

    NEW ORLEANS–The Southern University Board of Supervisors elected Leon R. Tarver II as chairman and Calvin W. Braxton Sr. as vice chairmen for 2015, during it’s regular meeting held in New Orleans, Nov. 28.

    Tarver, a Shreveport native and resident of Baton Rouge, is SU System president emeritus and is the retired executive administrator of the Center of Cultural Heritage and International Programs at the Southern University System. Governor Bobby Jindal appointed Tarver to the SU Board in January 2013. He serves as an at-large member.

    “Thanks to my colleagues for their support. I want to do a lot to make Southern a finer institution for all,” said Tarver.

    The newly elected chairman holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Southern University Baton Rouge, a master’s of public administration from Harvard University (John K. Kennedy School of Government), and a doctor of philosophy from The Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Tarver has held academic and administrative positions at the national, state, and local levels.

    The former SU System president has conducted international development activities in Egypt, England, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Haiti, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa, and founded two museums on African and African-American art within the Southern University System.

    Braxton, of Natchitoches, is the president and chief executive officer of Braxton Land Company and president of Natchitoches Ford-Lincoln-Mercury.  Governor Jindal appointed Braxton in June 2011.

    Calvin W Braxton Sr

    Calvin W Braxton Sr

    “SU is my heart. I want to do what we need to do to move forward to make a better SU,” said Braxton.

    The new officers will replace Bridget A. Dinvant, chairwoman for the past two years, and the Rev. Joe R. Gant, vice chairman for the past year, who both continue to serve on the board.  The Board of Supervisors of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College serve to manage and supervise the Southern University System.

     

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  • Nominations accepted for the 2015 Humanities Award

    Dec 18 deadline; Honorees recognized at April 23, 2015 dinner in Baton Rouge

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities,  is now accepting nominations for the 2015 Humanities Awards for outstanding achievement in and contributions to the humanities. Awardees will be honored at the 2015 Bright Lights Awards Dinner on April 23, 2015, at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge.

    Individuals, institutions or organizations may submit nominations. Individuals, however, may not nominate themselves. Letters of nomination should not exceed two pages, and should detail specific accomplishments that qualify the nominee for the award. A curriculum vita for the nominee and other letters of support should accompany the letter of nomination.

    Nominations must be received in the LEH office no later than 5 p.m. December 15, and should be addressed to: Chair, Humanities Awards Committee, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 938 Lafayette St., Suite 300, New Orleans, LA  70113. Nominations also may be faxed to LEH (attention to Chair, Humanities Awards Committee) at 504-529-2358 or emailed to restovic@leh.org.

    Award categories include:

    • Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities
    • Humanities Documentary Film of the Year
    • Michael P. Smith Documentary Photography
    • Humanities Book of the Year
    • “Light Up for Literacy”

    The “humanities,” as defined by Congress, include the study of literature, history, philosophy, modern and classical languages, linguistics, archaeology, jurisprudence, art history and criticism, ethics, comparative religion, and those disciplines of the social sciences employing historical or philosophical approaches such as cultural anthropology or social theory.

    The LEH Board of Directors will select nominees who best exemplify one or more of the above categories. No single humanities area will receive primary consideration, but the nominees’ activities must reflect one or more disciplines in the humanities.

    Awards criteria include:

    • Lifetime Contributions: Honors citizens who have supported and been involved in public appreciation of issues central to the humanities. The 2014 winner of this award was journalist and documentary filmmaker Peggy Scott Laborde, whose contributions to the cultural life of Louisiana provide an ever-growing audience with intimate portraits of subjects ranging from the history of Mardi Gras to the evolution of jazz.
    • Michael P. Smith Documentary Photography: Honors documentary photographers whose subject matter exemplifies Louisiana topics and aesthetics. Nominations may be for a complete body of work or for a single project. The 2014 winner was photographer Richard Sexton of New Orleans.
    • Humanities Documentary Film of the Year: Awarded to the documentary film that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana documentary filmmakers. Last year, this award went to Bayou Maharajah, by Lily Keber of New Orleans.
    • Humanities Book of the Year: Awarded to the book that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana writers. Receiving awards in 2014 award were A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies, by Marc-Antoine Caillot, edited by Erin M. Greenwald and Livestock Brands & Marks: An Unexpected Bayou Country History, by Christopher Everette Cenac, Sr., M.D., F.A.C.S.
    • Light Up for Literacy (Inaugural award):  Honors individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to literacy efforts in the state. The award is presented in partnership with the State Library of Louisiana and the Library of Congress.

    For additional information about the annual humanities awards, contact LEH Interim President Miranda Restovic at restovic@leh.org or visit the LEH website www.leh.org.

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    BR NAACP recognizes leaders

    NAACP Annual AwardThe Baton Rouge Chapter of the NAACP hosted its annual Freedom Fund Brunch, Oct. 4, honoring four community leaders and public servants. Chapter president Michael McClanahan (pictured at left) and chapter members recognized Markita Sweet with the President’s Award, Ronald Marshall with the Public Sevice Award, State Senator Sharon Weston Broome with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Howard White with the Entrepreneurship Award. The event took place at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church and Darrin Goss, president of the Capital United Way was the keynote speaker.

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  • Rutledge to lead SUS Foundation

    domoine rutledgeAttorney Domoine D. Rutledge, general counsel for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and former National President of the Southern University Alumni Federation, has been elected president and chairman Southern University System Foundation during the Foundation’s annual meeting on October 23. He will replace Anna M. Jones, owner and operator of State Farm Insurance Agency located in Baton Rouge, as president. During her tenure, Jones increased the Foundation’s revenue by 44 percent and the awards to system campuses by 35 percent.

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    True BLUE campaign exceeds SU goal

    October 1, 2014, marked the successful completion of the Southern University System Foundation’s TrueBLUE 90-day viral fundraising campaign.

    The campaign raised $1,186,059.60 in cash contributions to assist Southern University System campuses. The success of the campaign is due to the more than 930 donors who gave an average of $1,275 since its launch on July 1, 2014, and to 68 volunteer campaign captains who used email and social media as primary methods of engagement. NFL Hall of Famer and SU alumnus Aeneas Williams joined campaign volunteers to celebrate the during University’s halftime homecoming festivities on October 4, at A.W. Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge.1 true blue

    SUSF president Anna Jones and SUSF treasurer Domoine Rutledge presented the $1 million check to SU System chancellors Flandus McClinton, SU Baton Rouge (interim); Victor Ukpolo, SU New Orleans; Leodry Williams, SU Agricultural Research and Extention Center; Ray Belton, SU Shreveport; and Freddie Pitcher Jr., SU Law Center.

    “A dedicated team of volunteers made this endeavor successful. The students, faculty, and staff of our campuses will be the beneficiary of their efforts,” said Alfred E. Harrell III, executive director, Southern University System Foundation. Contributions made during the campaign will provide direct support for student scholarships, faculty research projects, and important campus initiatives. Laquitta Thomas, Southern University Alumni Federation first vice president said, “Thanks to all who supported the Million Dollar March. The funds raised will give the next generation of young people the opportunity to be a part of SU’s next 100 years. Donor support allows us to focus on the most critical mission for our campuses to increase student recruitment and enrollment.”

    The Southern University System Foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation securing financial support for each of the five campuses of the Southern University System since 1968. The Foundation bridges relationships with faculty, students, alumni, friends, corporations, and other foundations interested in academic excellence for the University System. The SUSF is a voluntary institute of business and professional leaders, proudly incorporated to establish program enhancements for Southern University students, faculty, and the community at large.

    By Shonda Y. Wessinger
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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  • BLACK MANHOOD: Who’s afraid of a large Black man?

    Who’s afraid of a large Black man?
    No, that isn’t just a book authored by basketball great Charles Barkley, it’s an almost rhetorical question in America, a concept that woes the hearts of Black parents throughout the country.

    Since the days of American slavery Black families questioned whether their sons would be sold away, treated more harshly or killed by slavers. The Civil Rights era found broken hearted parents fearful that their sons would fall victim to civilian and police brutality during equality battles. And in 2014, parents mourn the untimely deaths of unarmed, young Black men who were likely murdered because of the trigger puller’s fear based solely off of the victim’s appearance. And in these fears, history has become a skipped disc – from comparisons of hanged slaves, to the beating death of Emmett Till to the slaying of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and countless others. Black fathers say they are unable to simply have talks with their sons about the birds and the bees without also warning them about the triggers and the fears.

    This, they say, is what being a Black man in America is… The following is what two Baton Rouge area musicians, who are fathers of Black sons, say being a Black man in the American south is.

    The Children

    Marcel and Amari

    Marcel and Amari


    Amari Jabril, son of area emcee Marcel P. Black – whose real name is Marcel Williams – is a 40 pound two-year-old who already stands at two feet, six inches. At 6’3” and over 300 pounds, Williams is not a small man, neither is his father Malcolm who is 6’6”. Sean Griffin Jr. will be 18 years old this month. He’s 5’9” with a slender build of just over 150 pounds. His father, guitarist Sean Griffin, said Sean Jr. wants to study kinesiology and become an athletic trainer or physical therapist.

    The Fear
    With Amari’s size expectations, most parents would be excitedly planning athletic scholarships, but Williams worries that his now stubborn, yet affectionately sweet baby boy will grow into a fearful person’s nightmare. “People like us scare the living daylight out of white people, and we’re guilty till proven guilty by law enforcement,” Williams said. “My son will be the perfect size for a grown ass man with a badge, firearm and system on his side to say he feared for his life so he had to use deadly force.” Griffin is wary that he and his son will be primarily identified by racial identity and not human identity. “The problem with being racially categorized is that too many people have too narrow of a view of what the races are or are supposed to be,” Griffin added.

    The Talk
    Griffin doesn’t talk to Sean Jr. about race. “I tell my son that there is a delicate balance between respect for authority and respect for self,” Griffin said. “Choose your fights wisely. You can escalate or de-escalate a situation based on your own attitude.” “I simply teach him to be a man,” Griffin continued. “I don’t attempt to define who he is, but I let it be known that other people, unfortunately will and he should stay true to who he defines himself to be.”

    Sean Griffin Jr and Sean Griffin Sr

    Sean Griffin Jr and Sean Griffin Sr

    Williams would agree, but with Amari still too young to talk and fully comprehend anything, he tearfully admits that he is conflicted in the concepts he might someday speak with Amari. “I would love to tell him like my dad showed me, just do what’s right, and you don’t have to worry about anyone messing with you,” Williams said. “But realistically, that doesn’t guarantee safety. I’ll tell him to not break any laws, be a good, hardworking respectable man; I’ll tell him none of this matters when you’re in police targets though, because he’s a Black man, white men/the system will see him as a threat, especially if he’s an activist like his father.” “So while I don’t want my son to cower to the powers that be, I want my baby to live forever,” Williams continued. “I’ll teach him to comply so he can survive. But, why the hell am I teaching my baby to survive when encountering people my taxes pay to protect him?”

    The ‘Future
    Amari and Sean Jr. are the future, but there are not alone there, there is also promise. “I believe there has been much progress for Black men in America,” Griffin said. “However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t much more progress left to be made on all sides of the racial equation. The unfortunate recent killings are more of a hybrid of slavery homicides and civil rights homicides in that they seem to have arisen from a mind of superiority and distrust of Black people that has been around since slavery and was pervasive throughout the Civil Rights era.” While Williams said he hopes for promise, he doesn’t believe it as feasible. “Farrakhan said there are white men and a system that doesn’t like that a Black man is POTUS, so while he can’t kill Obama, he’s taking his disdain out on young Black males,” he said based on a prediction of American Islamic leader Minister Louis Farrakhan. However with varying views on rearing Black sons in the American south, Griffin and Williams seem to agree that being a Black man is unpredictable.

    “Being a Black man in the American South is riding a rollercoaster with eyes closed – you never know what to expect,” Griffin said.

    By Leslie D. Rose
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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    Housing listening tour comes to Baton Rouge

    Louisiana Housing Alliance (LHA) will host the Annual Listening Tour in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on August 29, 2014. The Listening Tour is a week-long road trip during which LHA visits each of Louisiana’s 9 regions to listen to the concerns and successes of housing providers, advocates, working, families, local officials and policy makers.

    The information obtained enables LHA to set its legislative and advocacy agenda for the following year, and work collectively with local regions to promote housing opportunity and strong communities for all. LHA also uses these conversations to learn about technical assistance and capacity-building needs of housing providers and advocates, so that it can design a series of workshops programs to address the needs identified.

    The Baton Rouge Listening Tour meeting will be held at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, 402 N. Fourth Street, 9:30am–11:30am. To register, visit www.lahousingalliance.org or call 225-381-0041.

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    Public to gather against St. George incorporation, Feb. 4

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    Several hundred people are expected to attend the first public assembly of the Better Together Campaign, a citizen-led movement to oppose the St. George incorporation.

    The assembly will take place Feb. 4, 6:30pm, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 12424 Brogdon Lane.

    The event will include the debut of a new public information presentation about the effects the St. George incorporation would have on our economy, taxes, public services and our schools.

    The event will launch a grassroots strategy of action to oppose the breakaway effort.

    “The silent majority on this issue has been silent for too long,” said Kathleen Randall, a resident of the proposed breakaway area and a leader in the effort. “It is time for us do the work we need to do to hold this city-parish together.”

    The Better Together campaign started organizing just a few weeks ago, under the leadership of Residents Against the Breakaway, a newly incorporated non-profit organization.

    Already, the campaign has a Facebook page with 3,000 followers, a website with information about the effects of the breakaway and hundreds of  grassroots leaders who are dedicated to holding our city-parish together. 

    ONLINE: www.bettertogetherbr.org.

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  • ESPN Magazine features Grambling band

    ESPN, the world leader in sports and sports and sports entertainment, needed a band that would complete ESPN The Magazine’s music issue the editors reached out the Grambling State University’s marching band to make the issue complete. One week before December graduation, ESPN requested ten band members to travel to New Orleans on Dec. 23 for a turn around photo shoot at Tipitina’s. ESPN provided band members and two faculty with a tour bus for the trip. The issue hits the stands tomorrow, Feb. 3. ONLINE: insider.espn.go.com

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    Wealth Watchers: 13 solutions for your money resolutions

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    It’s the beginning of the year and time for you to think about money. You have been told for years how to handle your money. You’ve been told:

      • “Live within your means”
      • “Pay yourself first”
      • “Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul”
      • “Save for a rainy day”
      • “Don’t bite off more than you can chew”
      • “Pinch your pennies”
      • “Start on your golden parachute”

      The reality is that you must live every day. For most of you, you owe, you owe, you owe, and your credit needs work. For some, your money is tight. You are living “right,” and you just need guidance to the financial light.

      The New Year money solution you seek is known as personal budgeting, and it begins now with some great New Year money tips.

      1. Visit your local credit union or bank and open a Holiday Savings account. Set up for a small amount to be taken out of your account each pay period for 2014 holidays. Use the amount you spent this year and divide by the number of pay periods to determine the amount to save.

      2. Use a portion of your tax returns to get a secured credit card from your local credit union to improve your credit.

      3. If you are a homeowner, visit your local HUD Certified Counseling agency for a mortgage checkup to determine if   you qualify for lower rates or mortgage modification.

      4. Open a vacation account along with your Holiday Savings account. Determine where you want to go and when and start saving towards the travel.

      5. Use a portion of your tax returns to pay off a pay day loan to break the cycle.

      6. Use a portion of your tax returns to catch up your child support payments.
      Decide to pay Peter and Paul on time to avoid late fees.

      7. Live within your means. Try to move to cash only transactions. The less you put on your credit card the closer you get to living within your means.

      8. Pay yourself first. Paying off debt and not making more debt is a modified version of paying yourself first.

      9. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul. Make every effort to pay off your payday loan and identify a less costly product for quick cash. Check with your local credit union.

      10. Save for a rainy day. Every day is a rainy day for some. Do your best to create an emergency fund.

      11. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. You don’t need the biggest television and the most current cell phone.

      12. Pinch penny. Roll the loose change that you find around the house and make it a point to deposit them each month.

      13. Start on your golden parachute. Some people believe that life starts at 65. Meet with someone this year to learn the truth about retirement.

      By Ed Gaston
      Wealth Watchers

      Ed Gaston is vice president of community development for Wealth Watchers Inc. in Jacksonville, Fl. His column is distributed by the Jozef Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter @edsvision. ONLINE:wealthwatchersfl.com

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    • Civil Rights attorney to speak at LSU, Star Hill

      Civil Rights Attorney Constance Slaughter-Harvey will speak at LSU on Friday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m. in the African American Culture Center Multipurpose Room.

      Slaughter-Harvey will speak on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. at Star Hill. Star Hill is located at 1400 North Foster Drive, Baton Rouge. Her appearance is part of the church’s Black History Month celebration.

      Slaughter-Harvey is the first Black female to receive a law degree from the University of Mississippi. She was the first Black female to serve as student government president at Tougaloo College (1967); to be appointed to serve as judge in Mississippi (1976); to be the president (first female) of the National Association of State Elections Directors (1991); executive director of the Governor’s Office of Human Development (1980-1984); and to serve as assistant secretary of state for elections, public lands and general Counsel for the State of Mississippi (1984-1995). Slaughter-Harvey’s commitment to social justice spans many decades and continues today.
       

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      Globetrotter says ‘expect magic’ in Baton Rouge, Jan. 18

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      Red, white, and blue basketballs spinning behind backs, between legs, and bouncing off the opposing players’ backs.

      Players showing off high-flying dunk shots.

      The world’s fastest dribbler trying to break another record.

      Ballers chasing each other with water bottles, taunting referees, and pulling down the opposition’s shorts.

      Even, players dancing on the rim of the goal.

      Take these tricks in any combination and Baton Rouge is in for basketball wizardry, Saturday, January 18, when the Harlem Globetrotters  bring “magic” to the court, said the team’s 12th female baller, Joyce “Sweet J” Ekworomadu, 27. She shares the female star title with fellow Globetrotters TNT Maddox and T-Time Brawner.

      The world renown Globetrotters are known for their combination of basketball skills, tricks, dancing—and a lot of personality. “You can’t miss out on this,” she said. “We are wizards of basketball.”

      But don’t get lost in the entertainment of it all. Basketball is serious business for these players who were All-Stars college standouts. 

      Sweet J, who is currently a rookie, hailed from Texas State University of San Marcus as the Southland Conference Player of the Year and third place winner of the 2008 College 3-Point Championship. She now plays professionally for the Globetrotters and the Nigerian National Team. She was given the name Sweet J by the Globetrotters because of her sweet jump shot—and her first name is Joyce.

      She said the Globetrotters plan to bring their best, high energy, thrilling game with a message of empowerment for Baton Rouge families.  “They will be inspired and feel nothing but positive energy,” she said. “They will take home a lifetime of memories.”

      The Globetrotters have played for more than 88 years around the world. This year, in the United States alone, the players will compete in as many as 300 games in 250 cities during the 4-month Fans Rule Tour. Then, they will take the game around the world to places like Germany, the United Kingdom, and France for the remaining of the year.

      At 2pm and 7pm, the Globetrotters will face off against Select at the Baton Rouge River Center.

      “There really is no off season. We play 12 months and do a lot of community outreach,” said Sweet J. But that type of commitment isn’t hard for 5’10” point guard. She has played basketball daily since age 10 and has a passion and “calling to be around kids through the (basketball) court.”

      “Every time I did something different, God brought me right back to the court,” she said. “Now, I’m impacting children on a bigger scale,” she said.

      “This is the dream job. I get to play ball, display my personality, and work with children, all together in one package.”

      After graduating with a marketing degree, Sweet J taught at Granbury High School briefly. She also played basketball overseas professionally before trying out for the Globetrotters last year. (She was encouraged to do so by current teammate Freddie Bush.)

      “I am privileged to be in position to inspire others. The Harlem Globetrotters is such a positive brand,” said Sweet J. “You have to be energetic to play and have personality, and keep a positive image.”

      Sweet J frequently plays for Nigeria’s basketball team when schedule permits.  Although she’s a Dallas, Tx, native, she qualifies to play in her parents’ native country. This gives her the opportunity to see family and parts of the country she said she would not have seen otherwise.

      “From a young age, I’ve always wanted to have a prolonged basketball career,” she said. Now 27 years old, Sweet J said, “My court time will be until I can’t walk.”

      The Globetrotters have a 2pm game Sunday (Jan. 19) in the Lafayette Cajun Dome.

      ONLINE: www.harlemglobetrotters.com

      By Candace J. Semien
      Jozef Syndicate reporter
      @jozefsyndicate

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