Friday, April 27th
Friday, April 27th
Words from two favorite old hymns best describe the recent 150th anniversary celebration at Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Ponchatoula.
Written after Tasker was organized in 1867 and, like the church, both songs have stood the tests of time: “O what a foretaste of glory divine” (“Blessed Assurance” 1873) and “What a day of rejoicing that will be” (“When We All Get to Heaven” 1898.)
Indeed, the rejoicing by the congregation was just a sampling of the future awaiting Christians everywhere.
Former City Councilman Wayne F. Foster was master of ceremonies and two choirs participated, Tasker’s and visiting Amite Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion.
The choirs led and were sometimes joined by the congregation in singing as well as solos by Barbara Dixon and Clifford Guy Walker. Songs heard: “He is Lord”, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”, “I’ll Go if I Have to Go by Myself”, “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand”, and “How Great is My God.”
One song, “He’s an On-Time God,” reminded everyone of God’s timing: “He may not come when you want Him to, but He’ll be right there on time!”
During the service Jacqueline Brumfield extended a welcome, Debbie Brown gave history and Virginia Jeanpierre and Yvonne Elzy gave reflections.
Pastor Rev. John E. Hurst Jr., welcomed everyone, introducing Mayor Bob Zabbia who thanked the church for the invitation, expressing what the church and its members mean to the community. He recognized Community Center Director Lynnette Jackson Allen who grew up in the church and introduced Kathryn Martin as the writer of the proclamation.
Gwen Bankston, read with great feeling its words, some of which are:
Whereas, Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church stands at the corner of South Sixth and West Ash Streets in Ponchatoula as a permanent monument and testimonial to the toil and sacrifice of its faithful leaders and members across the years; and
Whereas, the church has always been of great historical importance to the City of Ponchatoula since its organization October 12, 1867; and
Whereas, the leaders, members and friends who come and go from the place of the Holy on a regular basis help meet the needs of the church family as well as those of the community and many others through their support of home and foreign missions; and
Whereas, the church and its family serve as a beacon to the feet and light to the path to lead the way for countless men, women, boys and girls to know our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ;
Whereas, it is a privilege to extend the expression of our esteem and best wishes to Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church on its 150th anniversary;
Now, therefore, I, Robert Zabbia, Mayor of the City of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, hereby proclaim this day as Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church Day.
Rev. Dr. John Wesley Forbes III, pastor of Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion, brought a rousing timely sermon.
Those working behind the scenes to bring the special day about were the program committee: Helena Brown, Jacqueline Brumfield, Barbara Dixon, Wayne F. Foster, and Joyce Roberts; finance committee: Debbie Brown, Charles Dixon, Wayne F. Foster, M. Nathaniel Kelly, and Joyce Roberts; music committee: Linda Hodges and Lawrence Greely.
The service was followed by a time of feast and fellowship and this blessed and wonderful day will long live on in the minds and hearts of everyone attending.
By Kathryn J. Martin
Baton Rouge Community College will present its 10th Annual Arts Fest, March 12-23, throughout three of its locations – Mid City Campus, 201 Community College Drive; Acadian Site, 3250 N. Acadian Thruway E.; and Frazier Site, 555 Julia Street. The festival includes art demos, lectures, discussions, creative writing workshops, spoken word performances, student showcases, and live music.
Sponsored by BRCC’s Division of Liberal Arts and the Student Government Association, this year’s festival will celebrate community, throughout a variety of morning, afternoon, and evening events and programming, presented by local and student artists, as well as nationally and internationally renowned visiting artists. All events, unless otherwise noted, are free and open to the public.
The festival will kick off at BRCC Mid City on Monday, March 12 with a breakfast for BRCC students. Festival highlights include a variety of art and printmaking demonstrations by professional visiting artists and BRCC professors to be held at Frazier and Acadian; a series of creative writing workshops and spoken word performances by renowned writers including local talents, as well as internationally acclaimed visiting artists, Hanif Abdurraqib and Ebony Stewart; and the Mid City Jazz Festival, which is in its third year.
Below is a schedule of events. A detailed schedule is available below.
Kick-Off Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Bienvenue Student Center, Mid City
The BRCC Art Club will run ceramics and printmaking demonstrations, and music will be provided by BRCC’s own Dr. Charles Brooks
Silk Screening Workshop/Textile Printing Demo with BRCC Instructor Jerome Rankins, noon to 2:30 p.m., Old Print Shop, Room 131, Acadian
Students and guests will be able to screen print their own canvas bag and koozie can holder.
Jerome Rankins, BRCC adjunct graphics instructor and former Istrouma High graphic arts teacher for 15 years will do a demonstration on textile printing. He will be talking about screens, screen preparation; materials needed and proper clean up to preserve your screen.
Chronicling Community with anthropologist Malcolm Shuman, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Room 127, Louisiana, Mid City. Local writer and anthropologist Malcolm Shuman will this discussion of the material culture of three communities—prehistoric, African American, and European—at one site, over time. What can we understand about these communities from analyzing the artifacts they’ve left behind? What was the role of art in each community?
Malcolm Shuman has been practicing archaeology for more than 40 years, and publishing fiction even longer. After serving in the US Army, he earned a doctorate in anthropology from Tulane University in 1974, and has traveled much of the world, carrying out archaeological and anthropological work in the U.S., France and Mexico. MysteriousPress.com has recently re-released fifteen of his novels published in the 1980s and 1990s, including the books in his three mystery series–the Micah Dunn mysteries, set in New Orleans (St. Martin’s Press), the Pete Brady mysteries, set in one of those small north Louisiana towns where murders never (and of course, always) happen (St. Martin’s Press), and the Alan Graham mysteries, featuring a Baton Rouge archaeologist who solves mysteries past and present (Avon Books).
“Voices of a People’s History of the United States” performed by students from East St. John High School (Reserve, La.), 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Voices of a People’s History of the United States brings to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people who built the movements that made the United States what it is today, ending slavery and Jim Crow, protesting war and the genocide of Native Americans, creating unions and the eight hour work day, advancing women’s rights and gay liberation, and struggling to right wrongs of the day.
Performances of Voices are put on around the country; in schools and in places like Lincoln Center. It is a series of dramatic readings of letters, speeches, and diaries by groups of oppressed, marginalized, or forgotten figures in American history. Based on the work of historian Howard Zinn, Voices challenges a white cisgender, heteronormative, patriarchal narrative of history. Students and special guests will perform these readings as monologues, with narration before each.
Narrative Creative Writing Workshop with Julie Wedding, Noon to 1:15 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Magnolia, Mid City. An Arts Fest favorite, Julie Wedding, returns this year with her popular narrative poem workshop.
Creative Writing Workshop with former Baton Rouge Youth Poet Laureate, Brittany Marshall, 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Mid City. In this workshop, attendees will be asked to share aloud their thoughts on/experiences with community. They will collectively discuss aspect of their identities, interests, or hobbies in attempts to find ways to connect with each other and form a collective identity. The text “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks will also be explored.
Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Brittany Marshall was Baton Rouge’s Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate (2016). She is now enrolled as a senior at Louisiana State University where she is studying English Secondary Education and Spanish. She has represented LSU at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (2017), and is the author of musings of a black girl (May 2017, Penmanship Books).
ReVision Colorism Healing Creative Writing Workshop with Sarah Webb of Colorism Healing, 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Mid City. Colorism is the bias and discrimination against people of the same race based on their skin tone and other features like hair texture. Participants in the ReVision workshop will explore the topic of colorism from a multicultural perspective by engaging in a sequence of creative writing activities designed for writers at all experience levels.
Sarah L. Webb is a Ph.D. candidate in English who studies intersections of race, gender, literacy, and technology. In 2013, Sarah founded the website Colorism Healing through which she hosts annual writing contests, publishes books, and provides information and resources related to colorism. She has been a professional writer, teacher, and mentor since 2007, working in a range of industries such as universities, non-profits, small businesses, K-12 public education, magazines, and TV news. Her writing has been published in numerous places online, such as For Harriet and Blavity, and in print books and magazines such as Teaching Tolerance and Dig. ColorismHealing.org
Etymology Creative Writing Workshop with Taylor Scott of Forward Arts, Inc., 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City
In this 60 minute writing workshop, participants will create a poem from a saying or phrase that they hear so often – whether it stems from pop culture or a particular family member. Ultimately, each participant will take a phrase and create new meaning, turning the phrase on itself in such a way it is unrecognizable from its intended usage.
Taylor Scott is a writer, performance artist, and director from Baton Rouge who works as a teaching artist through Forward Arts. She is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave program – the only collegiate hip hop and spoken word community of its kind in the country. She has graced many stages including the Little Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway, Contacting the World Theatre in Manchester, England, and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. She directed the Bellhops, a Madison-based blues and hip hop theatre ensemble. In 2014, the Bellhops premiered Honey In My Tea, a 45-minute production that centers the narratives of black women, at the Overture Center for the Arts. The following year, the Bellhops released a 6-track EP, Hero of My Own Tale, which is available on Bandcamp. Scott is now pursuing a master’s degree in English at Louisiana State University, where she has an individualized, interdisciplinary course plan that includes black diasporic literary and performance studies.
Joy & The Elegy Creative Writing Workshop with Hanif Abdurraqib (5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The workshop will center on the elegy, and look to find ways to extract joy out of a form that is usually reserved for grief. We’ll look at different elegies before using the blueprint of the form to write elegies for living things, for things we find the potential to be hopeful in.
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much was released in 2016 and was nominated for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in fall 2017 by Two Dollar Radio.
Spoken Word Showcase featuring Brittany Marshall, Taylor Scott, and Hanif Abdurraqib; Hosted by Donney Rose, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Magnolia Theatre, Mid City
A showcase of spoken word poetry by some of today’s most gifted and accomplished writers. Readers/Performers include Brittany Marshall – Baton Rouge’s inaugural youth poet laureate (2016); Taylor Scott – alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave program, the only collegiate hip hop and spoken word community of its kind in the country; and Hanif Abdurraqib – renowned and internationally acclaimed poet, essayist, and cultural critic. The show is hosted by teaching artist and area poetry legend, Donney Rose.
Instant Zine Print Workshop with Hope Amico of Gutwrench Press, 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Print Shop, Frazier. At its simplest, this tiny folded book can be made with one sheet of paper, a pair of scissors and a pen. Once we master the basic form, the possibilities are endless. We will start by using a Vandercook Proofing Press to number the pages of your future zine. Then we will use drawing, collages, and other materials (all provided) to create one-of-a-kind books that can be photocopied and shared (or traded in true zine fashion). What is a zine? Short for fanzine, these photocopied booklets were once small magazines devoted to a certain subject. In the past years, book artists and zinesters have exploded the realm of possibility creating everything from books of basic instruction to complicated art books.
Hope Amico founded Gutwrench Press in 2008. Gutwrench Press is dedicated to better correspondence through letterpress printed postcards, unique hand-bound books and zines exploring our connections to our hometowns. We re-purpose materials whenever possible and encourage you to write back through the Keep Writing Postcard Project. Hope has a BFA from Louisiana State University, focusing on printmaking and book arts. She has worked with letterpress printers in Louisiana and the Bay Area, is currently a member of the New Orleans based letterpress shop, Baskerville. In 2016 she returned to New Orleans where she now resides. In her other life, she teaches yoga to all sorts of people.
Student Art Showcase, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Winners announced at Noon, Magnolia Gallery, Mid City. Join us as we celebrate the student artists at BRCC, whose work will be featured in the Magnolia Gallery. The top placing artists and artworks will be announced at noon.
Monster Mugs with Caroline Smith, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Ceramics Studio, Frazier. Ceramics Demo + Talk — come make your own MONSTER MUG!
“STEAM Day” Event: “The History, Artistry, and Science of Brewing” by German-born brewmaster, Henry Orlik, 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Henryk Orlik is a German born Brewmaster. In his more than 40 years in the industry, Henryk has brewed in Germany, and all over North America. Although currently at Legal Draft in Arlington, Texas, Henryk has strong ties to Louisiana, having worked at Heiner Brau in Covington, Abita, and was also contracted to brew specialty beer for Chef Josh Besh and Zea’s. On Friday, March 16th, BRCC’s Art Fest in conjunction with the STEM department is proud to have Henrk Orlik speak on “The History, Artistry, and Science of Brewing”. This talk will examine the German roots of brewing as well as the current trend of the emerging microbrewing industry, explaining both the science behind brewing as well as the artistry.
Intro to SUMINAGASHI - Designing with a Dip with Petrouchka Moise of Mooi Labs, 3 p.m., Frazier. Have you ever wondered how do they get cool psychedelic swirl pattern on fabrics, nails, or paper surfaces? Have you seen the latest dip designs on Facebook or Pinterest and wanted to try it out for yourself? Now it’s the time for you to learn to swirl with your favorite colors. Come and unwind and as we teach you how to make colorful creations on silk with the use of dyes, and resists. No prior painting or art skills required. Suminagashi, Japanese for “floating ink”, is what we call is also known as “Marbling”. This is a technique used to create these surface designs that resemble the patterns found in water. It’s been used for many years to create book covers and endpapers, and now we are seeing in high-end nail salons, fashion brands, and home décor.
Petrouchka Moise is the founder and artist/teacher of Mooi Lab. Mooi Lab is a creative pop-up concept for individuals and their friends to try out their inspirations and passions. Through Mooi Labs, Petrouchka promotes the importance of art, culture, and education across Louisiana and the Caribbean. Petrouchka is a creative driven by the “aha” moment. She is a first-generation Haitian-American from Brooklyn, New York, who’s been living in Baton Rouge for almost 20 years and is loving every minute of it. It’s all about the discovering what makes life more authentic, colorful, and priceless. Petrouchka believes in the power of art. After a severe car accident in 2012, she lost her ability to see colors, to connect with the world around her or even have the confidence to pick up a brush. As she learns to regain her life back, Petrouchka’s artwork has been the source of her healing. “My art helps me daily in learning how to cope with PTSD, communicate my thoughts to others, and find joy in redefining myself”. Silk painting has created a new chapter for Petrouchka. “The silk takes me on a journey of color and collaboration”. Through silk, she is currently working on a collection of art to share with others her process of being a survivor of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Careers in the Arts Panel – Local Artists for Panel TBA (10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Recital Hall, Governors, Mid City. Members of the local artistic community share their experiences in making their way in their respective fields. There will be a moderated talk followed by a Q-n-A, time permitting.
Speech and Theatre Showcase (noon to 1 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. BRCC’s stellar speech students share their work in a special performance.
“Models of Diversity” Fashion Show spearheaded by Jada Titus, BRCC Liberal Arts student and fashion designer, and BRCC Art Professor and fashion designer Cynthia Giachetti 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Magnolia Gallery, Mid City. BRCC’s Inaugural Arts Fest Fashion Show. The theme is Models of Diversity and is spearheaded by Jada Titus, BRCC Liberal Arts student and fashion designer, and BRCC Art Professor and fashion designer Cynthia Giachetti. There will be fanciful fashion, music, and refreshments.
Spoken Word Performance by 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, Ebony Stewart, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The performance will consist of a collection of poems centered on the theme of ‘community’. Ebony Stewart strives to speak her truth from a black woman in America’s point of view, undo systematic thinking, and inspire marginalized voices. Following the performance, Ebony Stewart will facilitate a Q&A period.
Ebony Stewart is an international touring performance artist and slam poet. She is the 2017 Woman of the World Poetry Slam Champion (hosted by Poetry Slam, Inc., Dallas, Texas), and the only three-time adult woman slam champion in Austin, Texas. Ebony Stewart is the story of the black girl winning.
Voices from the Bayou, one year later discussion, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The student authors of the book, Voices from the Bayou will share their experiences during their book tour since the book’s publication last year.
“Merchandising Museums: The Unanticipated Consequence of the American System of Cultural Patronage?” by LSU professor, Kevin Mulch, Ph.D., 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Mulcahy is the Sheldon Beychok Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Louisiana State University, where he has taught since 1980. Mulcahy is the author of numerous articles and books. On Wednesday, March 21st, Mulcahy will present his article “Merchandising Museums: The Unanticipated Consequence of the American System of Cultural Patronage?” at BRCC. This article is from his book Transforming Nostalgia into Novelty-The Merge of Museums and Creative Industry. In the talk Mulcahy will examine “Merchandising Museums”, the current trend of museums to cater to the wants and wishes of wealthy donors and corporate sponsors, and the negative effects this can have.
Ceramics Demonstration with Osa Atoe, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Frazier. Functional Pottery and Ceramics Demonstration.
Self-Portrait Photography Workshop with Heather Weathers, 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Design Room, Frazier. Self-Portrait Photography Workshop utilizing performance art methods. A camera phone is required.
Self-Portrait Video Workshop with Bernadette Vielbig, 1:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Design Room, Frazier. Self-Portrait Video Workshop utilizing performance art methods. A video phone/smart phone is required.
Mid City Jazz Festival III, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (competition); 7 p.m. (concert), Magnolia Theatre, Mid City. The Mid City Jazz Festival is an annual event that fosters Jazz education and performance for middle school and high school students. They interact with each other and nationally recognized Jazz Artists in a friendly and competitive environment. The adjudicators will give constructive feedback to all participants to enhance their performance and interpretation of Jazz as an art form. This years’ judges will be local artist and international touring tubist, Michael Foster, Willis Delony Virginia Martin Howard Professor of Keyboard Studies & Professor of Jazz Studies at LSU, Yamaha recording and performance artist Rex Richardson. That night, after the competition, the judges, and the festival founder, Charles Brooks, will give a free concert which is open to all participants, their families and the general public. For more information on the Mid City Jazz Festival go to thecharlesbrooks.com/MidCityJazzFestival.Read more »
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Capitol Elementary School’s gymnasium provided a bright and inviting atmosphere for Baton Rouge Speaks: A Conversation about Jobs, Health, and Social Justice in Our Community. The word ‘Harambee’ plastered on the wall reminded attendees of the Kenyan principle to “pull together”. Nearly 100 people attended the event which, for me, evoked the spirit of Louisiana-born civil rights leader Kwame Ture who once said, “The knowledge I have now is not the knowledge I had then.” Ture would also say, that “unity is the greatest power of a community”.
On June 29, organizers of Baton Rouge Speaks echoed the same message, shared valuable community resources, and honored four men who have been proven to be outstanding community leaders and mentors to young men.
Hurst, of Elite Sports, mentors and builds up children through team sports and other activities. Elite Sports offers programmatic mainstays like tutoring, camps, college campus tours, and community service projects that highlight the importance of giving back. Elite Sports is an umbrella organization that partners with professional athletes who have a Baton Rouge connection such as basketball players Garrett Temple and Terrel Martin. The year-old organization, has sponsored 150 kids in their football camp with another 150 on the wait list. Hurst said his greatest joy is to be a positive role model and see the kids, whose life he impacted, go on to college and beyond to be great leaders”.
Sims is owner of Sims and Son, BDS Motors, and Big Boys Car Wash. Sims has been doing construction for more than 16 years, completing small construction work, foreman work, paving, and debris cleanup. He was recognized for taking chances on at-risk youth, showing them how to work hard and provide for themselves. He says, “We all get together and look out for each other. If you need a service, come see me at work. If your son needs a job and he doesn’t mind working in the heat, I don’t mind giving it to you.” For fun, Sims leads an ATV riding group called Mud Mafia along with Jeremy Smith, owner of The Spot Barbershop.
Johnson was honored for his dedication to leading youth through the Baton Rouge Rising Stars Boxing Team. As a trainer, he has discovered and developed the natural skills within young boxers turning fledgling competitors into professionals. He has lead the boxing team for five years, competing in several state tournaments, and a National tournament. Johnson said, “The youth is where it is!” His joy for helping young athletes is genuinely felt. One of his star boxers said, “Johnson is a ‘man’s man’.He is one of those guys that, if you have it in you, he will get the best of you.”
Augustus was acknowledged for providing jobs to members within the community from his real estate and heating/cooling businesses. For his dedication, Augustus Properties LLC and Marvin’s Heating and Air Enterprise LLC are flourishing, He says he isn’t a “boss”. “He leads a team and everyone is important”. After being imprisoned in his youth, he was stuck working temporary jobs with grueling labor. His wife found an opening for a maintenance job that put him on the path to a lifelong career. He used those skills to open his own business, which has seen 17 successful years. “There is no such thing as poverty. You do well and increase productivity, your pay comes up as well,” he said. He is an active member of Living Faith Christian Center. He has been married for 31 years and has fathered three children. Augustus said, “He is proud of the reputation that he has built for himself and his businesses”.
Speakers at the event; such as personal trainer and wellness coach Gary Ausbon, told the audience that health comes from the inside out. There are small changes that can be made to start feeling and looking better. “Pay me now or pay me later,” he said, explaining that it is important to be mindful of health on the front end means the rest will take care of itself later. “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great” he said, encouraging everyone to put information to action and get past the starting line.
Dr. Rani Whitfield reiterated that diet is everything. Many foods are genetically modified, containing steroids and compounds that do more harm than good. His rule of thumb, “If it has more than five ingredients, it probably isn’t good for you.” Whitfield also described the difference between a community and a hood. A community is one where its residents own businesses and establishments; where everyone is responsible for the mental, spiritual and financial wellness of the collective.
The Reverend Reginald Pitcher brought that message home. He spoke on issues within the Black community, stressing that whatever problems we have, we are the solution. He touched on “home training”, the education system, community policing, and more. We have idle power that needs to be awakened, gone stale in the time since we were fighting for basic civil rights. A dose of real talk and old school examples from this seasoned activist and leader was met with affirming “Mmhmm”s and “Amen”s from the audience. Pitcher urges those who are scared to sit down, and for those who are sitting down to stop complaining; “Can’t nobody save us for us, but us”. He ended on a positive note, that a change in our environment takes nothing but creativity to build and shape it.
Terry Simmons of T. Simmons and Company built and shaped his own change. T. Simmons is a brand development, talent optimization, and new business development firm in Baton Rouge that works with novice and large-scale clients. Part of his motivation stems from seeing the need to build a competitive workforce throughout Louisiana. He said, “Developing our potential is top priority especially since this state keeps most of its workers”. He schooled the audience on the importance of hard skills, soft skills, industries in demand, and how your social media page isn’t just for fun. He encouraged each of us to be competitive and share resources on how to get a leg up.
The Baton Rouge Speaks Event was a sight to behold. The positive energy reverberated in every guest as they walked out of the Capitol Elementary School’s doors and returned to their own neighborhood more knowledgeable and empowered. It was great to see the collaboration of community leaders, agencies, and residents gathered to discuss the critical issues that have not be addressed within our communities.
Representatives from the Louisiana Urban League, Metromorphosis’ Urban Congress, Baton Rouge AIDS Society, Employ BR, The CEO Mind Foundation, Southern University Ag Center’s Communities of Color Network, and United Healthcare shared resources. Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis and State Representative Edmond Jordan were also present. Catering was provided by Boil & Roux Southern Kitchen.
By Carmen Green
Louisiana is full of rich, cultural landmarks that capture the lives of Black and Creole people. Before you take the trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, take a trip to these sites right here at home. Pick up the Juneteenth 2017 issue of The Drum at one of these locations to have this museum travel sheet in hand.Read more »
It’s been more than two years since Bill Cosby has spoken out publicly.
The legendary comedian has patiently — and quietly — awaited trial on sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania while seeing those who defend him face libel lawsuits — many of which have been tossed out of court.
Now he’s decided: It’s time to talk.
Cosby and spokesman Andrew Wyatt of the Purpose PR Firm in Birmingham, Alabama, said they grew comfortable that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) would be more interested in “facts over sensationalism.”
Persistence by the Black Press — NNPA reporters had repeatedly requested interviews — also proved a factor in Cosby’s decision to speak out in a two-part exclusive interview, Wyatt said.
While the superstar declined to address his legal case, his youngest daughter, Evin did.
In a statement, Evin, 40, proclaimed her father’s innocence.
“The harsh and hurtful accusations … that supposedly happened 40 or 50 years ago, before I was born, in another lifetime, and that have been carelessly repeated as truth without allowing my dad to defend himself and without requiring proof, has punished not just my dad but every one of us,” Evin said.
Perhaps the closest Cosby came to addressing the allegations was his response to questions about his love of the arts.
His supporters have argued that Cosby’s the victim of propaganda and many have had their views skewed because they haven’t taken time to do research.
“The history about African-Americans is a history of the United States — but the true histories, not the propaganda that is standard in our nation’s history books,” Cosby said. “The great writer, James Baldwin, said, ‘If you lie about me, then you lie about yourself.’ The revolution is in the home. There is something about someone saying, ‘I didn’t know that,’ that could cause a change in that person’s thinking.”
The legend did shed insight on his life and a career that he’s eager to resume.
Stunningly, Cosby, 79, revealed his “total lack of vision.”
Waking one morning about two years ago, he nervously called out to Camille, his wife of more than 50 years, “I can’t see.”
His doctors confirmed that he’s blind.
“When he would perform, we’d draw a wide straight yellow line from backstage to the chair on the stage and he’d rehearse the walk hours before the show,” said Wyatt, whose worked for years with Cosby.
Otherwise, Cosby insisted he’s well.
“I’m fine,” he said.
Few have achieved the legendary status enjoyed by Cosby. His career has spanned more than six decades and includes a host of best-selling comedy albums, gold and platinum records, five Grammy Awards and even best-selling books.
With his role in “I Spy” in the 1960s, Cosby became the first African-American co-star in a dramatic series, breaking TV’s color barrier and winning three Emmy Awards.
After starring opposite Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier in the 1970s trilogy “Uptown Saturday Night,” “Let’s Do It Again” and “A Piece of the Action,” Cosby’s star soared even higher in the 1980s when he single-handedly revived the family sitcom — and, some argue, saved NBC — with “The Cosby Show.”
“Bill Cosby and crew should be allowed to have their careers intact,” said Devin T. Robinson X, an actor and renowned poet who’s been featured on MTV, NBC, CBS and BET. “He represents the finest example of guilty in the court of public opinion, yet Bill O’Reilly’s image isn’t tarnished. Punishing people before they’re convicted in court only seems accurate when it serves a media narrative that doesn’t hurt a specific demographic.”
Cosby said he thinks about his illustrious career that, at least for now, has been placed on hold because of the court case.
“Darn right,” he said when asked if he missed performing. “I miss it all and I hope that day will come. I have some routines and storytelling that I am working on. I think about walking out on stage somewhere in the United States of American and sitting down in a chair and giving the performance that will be the beginning of the next chapter of my career.”
He finds laughter “in the same house where the revolution is,” he said, a nod to his mother’s home where he learned the importance of a good education.
“My mother was a domestic employee and she fixed breakfast for us and lunch and then she went off to work,” Cosby said. “She made $8 a day, I believe. When she came home, she cooked us dinner.
“As soon as Camille and I had a home and hired someone to help us to do the cleaning, and other things, we made sure of two things that were very important to us: We always paid a generous salary to people working in our home and whether male or female, they would be addressed by us and our children not as Annie or Barbara or whatever, but as Mr., Miss or Mrs. — all of them in that manner. That there is a respect,” Cosby said.
It’s all part of a legacy that many said shouldn’t be destroyed by allegations.
“If the president of the United States can go on working in the White House after he has confessed to and bragged about doing gross sexually explicit and abusive things to women without their permission, justice requires that Bill Cosby should not be punished unless he is convicted of crimes,” said Dr. E. Faye Williams, president and CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. “He has been charged, but not convicted, and the charges came only after his expressed interest in purchasing a network that somebody obviously didn’t want him to have.”
Tanisha Jones, 28, a fashion designer who works in New York, lamented the “absolute murder” of Cosby’s legacy and accomplishments
“That’s what’s happened over the past couple of years,” Jones said. “I’m a woman who feels for any woman who has been raped, assaulted or demeaned in any way. But, realistically, we have seen no evidence that any of this is true … yet we elect a president who campaigns on and is elected on grabbing women by their private parts.”Read more »
Although, May 19 is not an official holiday, organizers in Baton Rouge are inviting residents to a two-day celebration honoring civil rights activist Malcom X.
Called Malcolm X Day, the May 19-20, event is the brain child of Jasiri Basel of JB Digital Ventures and organized through a partnership with THE CEO MIND Foundation and East Baton Rouge Councilman Lamont Cole.
The event celebrates Malcolm X’s birth and work for national change.
“All citizens can celebrate which ever holiday we deem to celebrate; it is not necessary to be given permission to do so. Malcolm X Day is one of those days that definitely needs to be celebrated; his life, his thoughts, his change and his impact are things that we should pay tribute to despite what the ‘official’ calendar says,” said Basel.
“So, on this day May 19th, we celebrate intelligence, wisdom, unity, strength, and forward progress as a community. On this day we work toward making a real effort to do better , to have more impact and to improve the conditions of our community. We do so for our future and in honor of Malcolm X!”
Basel answered more questions about the Day.
Who are the supporters of Malcolm X Day?
Some key supporters of the event include: Jeremy Jackson of State Farm; State Representative C. Denise Marcelle; Ma’at Adorned
Ray Automotive; Attorney Jerrard Young; and James Gilmore, PhD., Assistant Chief Administrative Officer to the Mayor. Most importantly the Streetz and the people of Baton Rouge who want to see real positive change. These are not all of the supporters and the list is growing everyday. So we welcome all who support positive unity within our community to solve and change things , to reach out and connect.
How did the idea originate?
For the past couple of years I’ve thought about doing something to celebrate the hero Malcolm X , but usually due to me being too busy or out of the country, it didn’t take place. This year we decided to make the event a priority.
Why host a Malcolm X Day?
It’s needed to celebrate the life, accomplishments, and legacy of Malcolm X. It’s needed to communicate the message that we don’t have to be told who to celebrate and why. It’s need to unify our community for forward progress. It’s needed for our future.
What are all the activities for the two days?
Friday May 19th - Mixer and Listening Event at Club Culture, 450 Oklahoma Street, Baton Rouge. This is where we bring together members of our community who want to see progress for us as a people. There we will be a uniquely choose sound track that will be the focal point of the evenings event. Those in attendance will get to network with others of like minds as step forward in building something that has not been done before. There will be light refreshments served.
Saturday May 20th – Malcolm X Community Cookout. This event is about unifying our community and our people. A coming together to provide some simple steps that those in the community can do to help with progress for themselves. This event is about empowering our community. This event will make a statement that we will pick and celebrate our heroes and we don’t need permission or day designated by them to do so. We will provide food for the community, games for the kids, and will replay the sound track. (Other details are to come)
Are there any rainy day plans?
Yes, this event will take place despite the weather.
As of now what other groups or people involved in the activities?
We are attempting to get every organization that is doing work for positive change in the community involved. We have and are reaching out to every organization we can think of, and if by chance we haven’t reached them yet and they want to get involved, we are totally open to have them. So please reach out. Visit the site www.MalcolmsDay.org for more information. There are a lot of moving parts to an event of this nature, a lot of mental power, planning, manpower, and resources are needed. Those involved are doing their part in support.
Is this an annual event?
Yes, this is the first of an annual celebration that we expect to see become more impactful every year. We are planning with other partners to ensure that the holiday will be officially celebrated in several cities across the nation next year.
What do you expect to be the result?
Various leaders coming together to do work towards long term objectives that benefit the community and the youth. The community taking to take more responsibility for the outcomes that directly impact their kids, their community, and their lives.
Is this event connected to the Manhood 101 event and Saturday in the park that your organization hosts?
Yes, everything we do is connected in one way or another because all of our programs and outreach have a common goal of empowering, impacting, and providing real, tangible pathways to strengthen individuals and the community as a whole. The Malcolm X Day events are directly in alignment with that purpose.
Is registration required to participate?
It’s not specifically required, but it is suggested as it will help us prepare for the amount of people that will be attendance. Those who have registered may receive some surprises and benefits that those who have not might not. We ask that everyone check the site www.MalcolmsDay.org on a regular basis as it will stay updated with information regarding the event, pre contest, supporters, etc. Be sure to check out the FAQs on the website as well
Basel is founder of THE CEO MIND Foundation focuses on engagement, empowerment, education and pathways for individual and collective progress of the community. The foundation hosts manood courses, provides meals on Saturdays in the Gus Young community of Baton Rouge, through its Grill & Connect initiative, and host community dialogues on technology and opportunities for community sustainability.
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While a healthy lifestyle requires a balanced diet and exercise, sleep is another pillar of overall wellness that is both essential to your health and success, and often overlooked.
By simply making small changes to your daily routine you can improve your quality of sleep. Follow these tips from Dr. Sujay Kansagra, Mattress Firm’s sleep health consultant and director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program, and get on your way to better rest and a healthier life.
Find more resources to help improve your sleep, including tips on how to purchase a new mattress, at DailyDoze.com.
By Family Features
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
The Futures Fund began their Spring semester with new and returning students, almost doubling attendance from last year. Organizer said the word is clearly getting out. “If a student between sixth and 12th grade wants to learn photography or coding, this is the place to go, especially if economic barriers would normally keep them from such classes.”
Each Saturday for eight weeks, students, of either a digital or visual arts discipline, attend early morning workshops lead by some of Baton Rouge’s highest-ranked industry professionals. These teachers not only pass the skills they’ve learned throughout their careers, additionally they become mentors to students who could be labeled as “at risk.”
“Since the group was together last semester, they came in ready to roll. Some of them already do freelance and brought their freelance questions to the start of class,” said instructor Quinton Jason. This sense of entrepreneurialism is sparked and encouraged throughout the classes. Every skill taught is meant to empower young minds into pursuing their passions.
“Every Saturday morning, [our] mission is to educate, enrich and empower the young minds that soon will be leading our neighborhoods, cities, and state for years to come,” said program manager Luke St. John McKnight.
The Spring semester will conclude on May 13 with a student showcase at the BRCC Cypress Building and Magnolia Theatre. Student coding projects will be shown as well as an unveiling of a print gallery created and curated by the photography students.
ABOUT THE WALLS PROJECT
The Walls Project is a unique collaborative effort involving local Baton Rouge groundshakers in business, creative arts, and community development. Although The Walls Project had grassroots beginnings, our core values continue to persevere. Fueled by our mission set in 2012 and by the generous donations gifted to us, The Walls Project has been able to bring social and economical resurgence in underserved areas by delivering community-driven services via staged clean-ups, mural paintings and industry-lead professional classes for students of the community.
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Village of Mansfield mayor Dessie Lee Patterson was known across Louisiana as a lone ranger in her fight for universal civil rights. On March 14, 1971, she became the first Black female to serve as mayor in the state when she was appointed to fill an unexpired term in the Village of South Mansfield. Prior to becoming Mayor she was involved in politics and community activism decades earlier. Patterson was one of the pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement in the local area. She joined federal officials in the 1950s and 1960s to encourage Blacks to vote since elections in South Mansfield were hampered by the lack of registered voters.
Patterson was murdered Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Born July 6, 1919, the 88-year-old community servant was brutally stabbed to death by suspected killer, Bobby Harris for $200 in $1 bills. “The small amount of money he took makes it even more senseless and tragic,” family said to reporters at the time. Her term was set to expire in December 2008. Patterson was described as a sweet-spirited person who gave her life for this community and worked tirelessly in her role as mayor.
“The story of how she got into office and what has happen to her since provides a classic illustration of trials and tribulation suffered by African Americans in some parts of the country when they aspire to be an elected officials,” wrote her grandson, Kerwan Reed, in a tribute. “As we look forward to our future we must not loose sight of those who paved the way for us.” Because of Patterson, the state now has 17, Black female mayors serving in large cities, villages, and towns.
The mayors are: Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Lori Ann Bell of the Town of Clinton, Irma Gordon of the Town of Kentwood, Erana Mayes of Melville, Trashier Keysha Robinson of the Village of Tangipahoa, Ollie Tyler of Shreveport, Shaterral Johnson of Grand Coteau, Demi Vorise of Maringouin, Jennifer Vidrine of Ville Platte, Johnnie Taylor of Powhatan, Josephine Taylor-Washington of Clayton, Rose Humphrey of Natchez, Alma Moore of the Town of Boyce, April Foulard of Jeanerette, Donna Lewis Lancelin of Baldwin, Dorothy Satcher of Saline, and Wanda McCoy of Rosalind.
“This class of Black women mayors represents the single largest group to serve the state simultaneously,” said Vernon “Step” Martin, president of the Louisiana Municipal Black Caucus Association who, along with The Network Coalition, honored the mayors. They gathered at Star Hill Baptist Church, Feb. 23, for a special Black History Month salute.
Photo: Mayors Irma Gordon, Lori Bell, Shaterral Johnson, Sharon Weston Broome, Erana Mayes, and Trashier Keysha Robinson are among the 17 Black, female mayors of Louisiana, the largest group in the state’s history. Photo by Sailor Jackson.Read more »
New Orleans native deserves exhibit in national museum
There needs to be something shared worldwide about the works of Ted Ellis, New Orleans-born visual artist. He uses the stroke of his brush on canvas to present again the scenes, emotions, and story of the lives of the most beautiful Americans. From a scene of Baptist children wading in murky waters, donning white robes, scarfs, headscarfs and struggling under the grip of an elderly man’s hand as they head to the minister whose hand is raised clutching a white handkerchief to a canvas donning the sideview of a tiny girl bowing a violin with her eyes half opened and her spirit wrapped into her own sound.
Ellis captivates art critics who have called his work “genius.”
“Ellis creates much more than images. He creates a mood…an atmosphere…and an awareness that one is actually on the scene…in the scene,” write curators at The Sylvan Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina.
He memorizes the novice who stands enthralled at his Houston studio full of emotions of connectedness to the eyes of an elderly man with African features but whose face is full of blues, greens, purples, and crimson. “He’s the Colored Man,” Ellis said. That’s understood by all the colors beaming from the 3-foot-by-6-foot canvas, but it is also understood by his eyes. So much like the great grandfather on the porch or the old man sweeping away dirt outside the Alabama country store. Ellis’ hand, his eye, his imagination grabs it all and delivers it in his work—work that he says he was born to do. His work—his life’s work is apparent: to create the artistic account of history.
“I was put here to record history—all aspects of American culture and heritage. My sole purpose has always been to educate through my art,” he said. With each piece, he makes it a point to leverage the importance of visual literacy and preservation of culture and history.
Ellis said one goal was—and is—for him to to be a cultural, artistic historian. And he has done so for 30 years. His work has been commissioned by Walt Disney Studios, United Negro College Fund, Avon, the City of Selma, Alabama, Arts Council of New Orleans, and United Way.
Although it doesn’t hang there now, a following of curators and supporters are petitioning the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to establish a Ted Ellis collection within the museum. His work has hung in the Congress Heights Arts and Culture Center, the Russell Rotunda of the Richard Russell U.S. Senate Building, and appears in the movie “Almost Christmas.”
“I paint subjects that are representative of the many faces of American life as I know it,” Ellis said.
A self-taught artist, Ellis has published a limited edition collection of his work, Pride, Dignity and Courage: A Survey of Art of Ted Ellis, and a collective calendar. His blend of realism and impressionism captures glory of a rich American heritage. His business, T. Ellis Art, has sold more than 10 million prints and posters from his Houston, Texas studio.
“This is a culture business and my culture is priceless.”
Ellis, who is a former chemist, said his work is designed to “build you up consciously and subconsciously of yourself by speaking to your importance everyday.” And he has done so repeatedly and remarkably.
Since he began in 1996, Ellis has since become, by many accounts, an artistic historian. In 2005 he captured the Deltas 100th year commemoration, the Obamas in 2008, and the Juneteenth 150th year commemoration in 2015. These are the pieces, he said, would be some of the first offered to the museum as they archive the most critical bends in Black life of this century.
Ellis has amassed an impressive body of work, remarkably over the years. He has also established a platform and mechanism for other artist that will give them value.
“I am giving medicine—a dose of cultural nutrition,” he said.
By Candace J. Semien
Jozef Syndicate reporter
Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”
Read more »
Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”
Meet Alexandria “Chef Alex” Bellanger, 9
School: Central Intermediate
Parents: Al and Dorsey Bellanger
College and career choice: I want to be top in my class like my grandmother. My ultimate dream is to become a doctor who also cooks. So I want to own my own hospitals, yes hospitals and I would like to own a bakery.
Biggest accomplishments: Oh goodness! Where do I start? I have several. Some of my biggest accomplishments are cooking for and serving the homeless for Thanksgiving, donating my hair to the “Locks of Love” foundation, being live on air with Graham Ulkins on WAFB, cooking live in my home on NBC 33, and achieving A B Honor Roll.
Why was this “big” for you? I would have to say that cooking and serving the homeless for Thanksgiving made me really happy. It felt good to show others that people do care. I love putting a smile on others’ faces and I loved to hear them talk about my cooking and how good it was. Donating my hair to the Locks of Love foundation was BIG for me, because I knew it would make someone smile again and that brings me joy knowing that little me could do that for someone. Being on WAFB & NBC 33 was really big… I mean what average 8 year old at the time can say that they had camera crews setup in their home while they cook. It was an awesome experience. Achieving A B Honor Roll was a big deal to me because it means that all of my hard work is paying off.
Life aspirations: I want to be known as the little girl with a big heart. I want to become a doctor and help people all over the world, as well as being known as a famous chef.
What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote? Everyone that knows me knows my motto is “The magic always starts in the kitchen”. For my helping this is where it all begins, family time and good eating.
Mentors: My parents are my biggest mentors. They both tell me that I can be whatever I want to be and if possible help me to achieve it. My dad has helped me build my grilling skills, along with whipping up a scrumptious bowl of grits. My mom mentors me by not only sharing her love for cooking by teaching me cooking skills but teaching me to love the unique young lady God has created me to be.
Goals for 2017: My number one goal of 2017 is to release my debut cookbook Spring 2017 and have a Spring and Summer book tour.
What are you reading? “No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic,” “Beforever,” and “American Girl”. I am really enjoying this book. It covers the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
What music are you listening to? Since Christmas is my favorite holiday. I listen to Christmas music year round. There’s something about it that just makes me happy. Right now Mariah Carey’s holiday channel on Pandora is on repeat.
Hobbies: What do you do for fun? I love cooking and working on new recipes, attending the theatre, traveling, swimming, dancing, reading, antique shopping and arts and crafts.Read more »
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Flournoy, a native of Alexandria, Louisiana, was selected as the Senior Sailor of the Year by Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) in Norfolk, Virginia. Flournoy is a 2002 Alexandria Senior High School graduate and has served in the Navy for 14 years.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be selected as Sailor of the Year,” said Flournoy. “It’s great to be recognized for your hard work and it’s also a great example to your junior Sailors to help them stay focused and keep pushing because anything you want to achieve is achievable through determination and hard work. I’m incredibly humbled and ready to help others reach their goals.”
The Senior Sailor of the Year (SSOY) award is part of a program established in the interest of recognizing superior performance of enlisted personnel with emphasis on outstanding achievements, exemplary personal conduct and military bearing, and demonstrated initiative in the performance of duty.
The SSOY award, in addition to recognizing outstanding performance, motivates personnel to strive for improvement in their assigned duties, military behavior, appearance, and leadership.
Flournoy serves as the Food Service Leading Petty Officer. He is responsible for receiving, stowage, and issuing of galley supplies, and ordering management and delivery of materials to nine regional galleys as well as support of two northern galleys. He manages an inventory valued at $1.5 million for nine shore galleys that guarantees seamless and uninterrupted high quality meals to Sailors and Marines.
Flournoy also serves as an assistant command fitness leader, command assessment team member, regional watch officer watchbill coordinator, and First Class Petty Officers Association president. Furthermore, he volunteers with the Newport News, Virginia, Crisis Management Center and Little Creek, Virginia, Elementary School.
“The Navy definitely develops disciplined and well-rounded individuals,” said Flournoy..” I joined when I was 18, on my own, and with no real sense of being and in no time I was functioning as if I had been living on my own for a long time. The responsibility and sense of pride and ownership that is instilled in you, stays with you and it shows in your job accomplishments, taking care of friends and family, and completing goals.”
“Congratulations to Petty Officer Flournoy for his selection as Senior Sailor of the Year,” said Rear Adm. Jack Scorby, Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. “With his history of sustained superior performance, command impact, mission contribution, dedication to self-improvement, and outstanding professionalism, Petty Officer Flournoy continues to represent the many highly dedicated professionals who ensure the success of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.”
CNRMA is regional coordinator for all shore-based naval personnel and shore activities in the mid-Atlantic region, encompassing 20 states, 14 installations, 50 naval operational support centers, and 168 special areas.
As the naval shore installation management headquarters for the mid-Atlantic region, CNRMA provides coordination of base operating support functions for operating forces throughout the region in support of the Fleet, Fighter, and Family.
“I thank my family for being very supportive over the years and creating the foundation that I was able to build upon when I entered the Navy; to my daughter for being brave and supporting me, and her patience and understanding through all the deployments – I’m incredibly grateful and I love you; and, to my fiancé for pushing me when I needed to be pushed and motivating me to exceed expectations,” said Flournoy. “I thank my Navy leadership and chain of command for having faith in me, guiding and mentoring me, and chewing me out when I needed to be kept in line. Finally, I thank my junior Sailors for their followership and support. I am a product of those I lead and it’s been a great pleasure to serve with some incredible Sailors here.”Read more »
Opelousas Mayor Reggie Tatum presents SULC Chancellor John Pierre with the Hometown Hero Award and key to the city during the Southern University Law Center’s 30th Year Commemoration of Clark and Chislom Cases, October 21. Photo by Otis Henry.Read more »
Growing up in a small, close-knit community in Bastrop, Louisiana, taught Derrick Warren the importance of relationships and results.
“From a young age, I understood that education was key and that you can learn something from everyone you meet,” he said. Now, this self-described “Global Life Learner” drives positive transformation for the Southern University System utilizing engagement, analytic research, science, strong communication strategies and innovation.
This analytic research, grounded in technology/Big Data, unlocks new possibilities that Warren said will help Southern and Southerns’ stakeholders rapidly succeed, thus leading to more informed, predictive and accurate decisions. Warren advises alumni on the University, targeted initiatives, new ways of working, speed to market concepts and creative strategies to differentiate themselves in today’s highly competitive marketplace resulting in accelerated business value and growth.
His specialty is stakeholder engagement, services productization and helping Southern alumni, administration, faculty, staff, students and stakeholders tap into leading practices, techniques and talent.
Over the course of his 32-plus year corporate career at IBM, Warren was responsible for the overall client satisfaction, financials, and delivery execution of large accounts ranging in size from several hundred million to multi-billions in total contract value. This included developing compelling value propositions, creating innovative tactical/strategic plans, executing the roadmaps for effective execution, resolving complex escalated issues/disputes as well as guiding the participation of all IBM Lines of Business. He also served as a member of the IBM Technical Leadership Team and was featured in the company’s’ “On Demand” Thinker Ad Campaign which appeared globally in business publications including Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, The Economist, Money Magazine, Barron’s, CIO, CFO as well as other international business publications.
In recent years, Warren achieved success living abroad leading teams that provided complex technology solutions for corporations in Asia Pacific and Africa including Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa, Nigeria and other countries across Africa and The Middle East. While overseas, he established IBM’s Project Executive Competency improved certifications by more thab 300%, rapidly drove positive double digit grew C-Suite references and engineered a marked enhancement to client satisfaction year to year. He has also published articles in industry magazines and is an accomplished speaker at business symposiums, conferences, and universities around the world.
Warren is a cum laude honor graduate of Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, with a bachelor of science degree in computer science. While on campus, he served as Student Government Association President, Junior Class President and a member of the University’s Famed “Human Jukebox” Marching Band. He is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity, Kappa Phi Kappa Fraternity and a Charter member of the John G. Lewis Masonic Lodge.
Warren was also honored to deliver Southern’s Fall 2011 Commencement Address. He earned an MBA from the University of South Florida in Tampa as part of the school’s Executive MBA Program. He and his wife, Anita, currently reside in Roswell, Georgia. They are the proud parents of two sons, Derrick II and Dillon, daughter, Dhalyn, and granddaughter Emersyn.Read more »
PONCHATOULA–Eunice Harris, Entergy customer service representative, recently presented Delmas Dunn Sr., president of the Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum & Veterans Archives (TAAHM&VA), with a $1,000 check. The funds will be used toward a joint community development project whereby the board members will partner with community volunteers to landscape the grounds of the TAAHM&VA. They will purchase live oak trees, stakes, fertilizer, mulching soil, garden hose, etc., and develop the area along the 1600 block of Phoenix Sq.
The mission of the TAAHM&VA is to preserve, maintain, and educate the public about the history of Black ancestors in the State of Louisiana and the U.S.; to collaborate with other organizations with a common vision, both nationally and internationally, through artistic endeavors.
The TAAHM&VA welcomed/hosted 3,890 visitors in 2014 and 2,530 visitors in 2015 from Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, St. Helena, Livingston, East and West Baton Rouge, Jefferson, and Orleans parishes. The halls are lined with nearly wall-sized, colorful paintings and murals depicting Black American history, inventors, entrepreneurs, culture, musicians, war heroes, pioneers, slavery, leaders, historians, buffalo soldiers, civil rights activists, underground railroad, family, and kings and queens of Africa. It also has on display Black American and African artifacts and inventions such as the butter churn, traffic light, smoothing iron, cow bell, ice scraper, meat tenderizer, kerosene lamp, brownie camera, to name just a few.
“Entergy is proud to reinvest in its vast diversity of cultures within the communities it serves,” said Harris. “And it’s always a good thing when volunteers come out and participate in community development projects – it shows joint ownership” Harris continued.
To schedule a class, group, or individual tour, please call 985-542-4259. ONLINE: http://www.taahm.org/Read more »
NORFOLK–A 2014 McKinley Senior High School graduate and Baton Rouge native is serving in the U.S. Navy with Naval Beach Group TWO (NBG 2). Seaman Tyran’e Gauthier is working with the beach group operating out of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
A Navy seaman is responsible for training other new personnel and handling check-in for incoming personnel.
“I like being able to welcome new sailors and get them started on the right track to success,” said Gauthier. “I also like being responsible for training because I feel it is important.”
Commissioned in 1948, NBG 2 is designed to organize, man, train and equip forces to execute, combat support, and combat service support missions. NBG 2 is made of four commands, Assault Craft Unit TWO (ACU 2), Assault Craft Unit FOUR (ACU 4), Amphibious Construction Battalion TWO, and Beach Master Unit TWO (BMU 2); who have their own individual missions that assist to ensure the overall mission of NBG 2 is complete.
Gauthier serves with ACU 2 who operate the Landing Craft Air Cushion and provide combat ready craft that fully meet operational tasking worldwide, on time, every time.
“I like that this command does not see rank,” said Gauthier. “They give you responsibility regardless of rank.”
Approximately 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the beach group. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the command running smoothly. The jobs range from operating boats to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
“The sailors here never cease to impress me with the effort they put into their daily work,” said Capt. Jeffrey Hayhurst, commodore commander of NBG 2.”Their dedication and hard work make me proud to be in command of Naval Beach Group Two.”
Although NBG 2 is made up of four separate commands, they all work together to complete their mission of providing the Navy personnel and equipment to support an amphibious operation or exercise.
These exercises can include evacuation of American citizens from a hostile territory, delivery of food and medical supplies after a natural disaster, the bulk delivery of fuel or fresh water from a ship anchored off the coast through a pipeline to a shore facility, and nearly any other task that involves moving from ships offshore to the beach.
“Since joining the Navy, I have matured a bit more,” said Gauthier. “I have always been a leader but now I am a bit more organized.”
As a member of the one of the U.S. Navy’s most unique commands, Gauthier and other NBG 2 Sailors understand that they need to have the ability to complete a variety of missions to help keep America safe from enemies foreign and domestic.
In one section of the city residents gathered to remember the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott with the dedication of a memorial bench by The Toni Morrison Society.
In another section of the city confederate flags were waving and a float was preparing to parade down public roadways mocking the killings of unarmed Black men and women.
As shocking as the images were for some—and as predictable as they were to others—what was even more disturbing and revealing were the efforts by some people to justify and rationalize the presence of confederate flags, but especially the float as mere satire.
Furthermore, descriptions of the float as a joke that may have gone too far and dismissals of the negative reactions that followed revealed what many people have already known; the idea that we are living in a post-racial or colorblind society is a big fat lie. Race matters as much today as it did more than 60 years ago when blacks were legally forbidden from owning their own buses lines, saddled with a bus fare increase, and forced to stand while seats reserved for whites remained empty. Through collective action, the community forced changed. The change was not necessarily the type everyone in the community envisioned, but it helped move hundreds of thousands of people to renew or establish a commitment to social justice.
Now more than ever there is a similar need for people of all walks of life to demand more of their friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues. Remaining silent about things that matter cannot be a viable option in the face of such offensive and unjust actions. Mocking a contemporary iteration of a struggle as old as the nation itself is no laughing matter. We should all feel a sense of righteous indignation when unarmed mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters are killed not on foreign battlefields, but on American streets. In far too many cases, the victims’ families are left to not only mourn but in the case of the shooting of a young man in Chicago and his neighbor, now they also have to ward off l
awsuits from the very person who pulled the trigger.
Sadly, the float during the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade that displayed a brutalized pink flamingo and baton meant to resemble one carried by a law enforcement officer, and bearing the moniker, “Pink Lives Matter,” points to the sad truism that throughout our nation’s history the lives of people of African ancestry have mattered less to some people than animals or even beloved cultural symbols.
Mardi Gras season is a time for celebration. Sadly, the season is also a time when big fat lies about race and racism are on parade.
By Lori Latrice Martin, PhD
Lori Martin is an LSU associate professor of sociology and African & African American studiesRead more »
If you’re driving down a highway, street or tunnel anywhere in North America and you see the shimmering new headlights on the latest Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC or Buick approaching you, there’s a good chance you’re seeing the work of Martin Davis, a talented, young African American designer who works for General Motors.
Since 2012, Davis has led the exterior lighting and design studio for the automaker’s North American division, the team responsible for the exterior lighting for every brand under the General Motors’ umbrella.
Davis traces his love for design and innovation back to elementary school. He didn’t like Hot Wheels and the Lego sets that he owned weren’t intricate enough to hold his attention even at 5 years old. He found that he didn’t like any of the toys sold in the stores, so he started making his own.
The Detroit-area native started collecting empty cardboard boxes that were used for transporting fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, bring them home and just start cutting. He molded shapes with glue, tape and construction paper. There was a small closet in the entryway of his parents’ house, just big enough for a chair and his creations: interior designs for a car including a dashboard and center console. Then he invited all of his friends over to “test drive” the car. He rolled out a new model about once a month.
His father, then an employee at Ford Motor Company’s stamping plant in Dearborn, Mich., shut down young Martin’s burgeoning auto operation fearing that letting the neighborhood kids play with cardboard in their closet presented a safety hazard.
That didn’t stop him from sharing his talent for design with others, including his father’s employer.
“One day I decided to send my sketches into Ford. I was still in middle school. I found an address to Ford in some magazine and put a few of my drawings in an envelope and put it in the mail,” Davis explained. “I didn’t tell my parents anything.”
A few months went by, and the young designer began to lose hope and figured that nothing would come of his letter. Then one day after school when he got home, his brother was waving a piece of paper at him.
“’This guy from Ford called you here’s his number and he wants to call you back,’” Davis recalled his older brother saying.
So Davis anxiously dialed the number and the Ford employee who answered, thanked him for his interests and told him that he sent the drawings over to the design department, and that someone would get in contact with him.
He received a follow-up letter from the design department with some career advice and a list of schools.
The list of schools included his eventual choice. Following the advice that he received from Ford, while still in middle school he set his mind to attending the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in downtown Detroit.
After he graduated from CCS, he applied to a number of companies. At one point he believed that he would follow in his father’s footsteps at Ford, but despite earlier interest in the middle schooler’s work, he never got an offer from the company.
But he did get an offer from GM.
“My time at GM has been amazing,” said Davis. “I couldn’t have imagined it being better.”
Davis admitted his first day on the job was nerve-racking, and it took him awhile to find his way around the mammoth General Motors complex.
“I remembered sitting at my desk that first day looking around at all designers thinking, ‘How am I going to compete with all of them?” said Davis.
But the young designer did compete, gaining confidence with every completed sketch. Davis’ work began to catch eyes of the design managers and they started selecting his sketches among dozens plastered on the 20-foot wall in his studio at GM.
“The early days were a lot of fun,” said Davis. “There was a freeness. I remember doing sketches for the 2004 Oldsmobile show car, the last show car they did.”
One of his sketches was selected as the theme sketch for the car. That Oldsmobile show car would be built at the world-famous, now defunct Gruppo Bertone design house in Italy.
Even though Davis wasn’t selected to join GM designers in Italy, he didn’t sit on the sidelines for long.
A few months later, as the end of his first year with GM approached, the auto company gave him the opportunity to travel to Birmingham, England to work at an advanced design studio that primarily focused on Cadillacs. There he worked on the Cadillac Cien, a two-seater, mid-engine concept car.
The assignment, originally scheduled for two months stretched into two years.
“It was a really great experience to work on such a high-profile concept car,” said Davis.
After the two-year stint in Birmingham, the Detroit area native worked on a number of production programs, including the GMC Acadia and the auto company’s Cadillac group in China.
When Davis returned to the United States, company executives were having ongoing discussions about General Motors’ exterior lighting designs compared to some of their competitors.
Davis said that as the conversations were happening about the direction of the new project wholly-focused on exterior lighting, he jumped at the opportunity and volunteered to do it.
“It was almost like a huge experiment,” said Davis. “We never had a dedicated, exterior lighting design studio, but we wanted better lights, so we said, “Let’s see how this work.’”
Davis and his team took on the exterior lighting responsibilities for three well-known “programs”: the GMC Acadia Chevy Traverse and the Buick Enclave. Management immediately recognized how valuable having dedicated focus on lighting could be.
“Not long after that they made it an official studio and made me the first manager of that studio in 2012,” said Davis. “That was really cool.”
Davis said that he still loves to draw, but in his current position he’s more like the conductor of an orchestra than an individual musician.
“I don’t have an instrument. My team has all of the instruments they need and I have to remember that,” said Davis. “Now my job is to make sure that my team knows where each brand is going and understands how to use technology to create a design that is appropriately styled to the character of each vehicle.”
At first some designers of General Motors other brands were apprehensive about giving up that much control of a central element in the cars overall style, now Davis said all of them want his team’s designs.
Ed Welburn, General Motors’ vice president of Global Design, praised Davis and his team for their creativity.
“Martin is doing a phenomenal job,” said Welburn. “Lighting on that [Cadillac CTS] is so striking. It wasn’t too many years ago that every headlight was either round or rectangular. Now lighting is so much a character of the car. It really is the eyes of the vehicle. Our organization is really dependent on Martin.”
Davis said educators, parents and support groups first have to raise awareness among students of color about opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers and then help them to understand that they can also excel in those professions.
The GM design manager mentors children in the Detroit metro area and recommended that all students get focused at a young age and seek educational and career development programs that can assist them with achieving their goals. Davis added that his presence in the automotive design field shows students, especially students who look like him, that they can also be successful in that field.
“I think that goes a long way,” he said.
And Davis has come a long way, too.
“It almost feels like a dream that I have this responsibility,” said Davis. “You think of [General Motors'] history, this 100-year-old company that’s been making cars forever and now there’s this opportunity to shift focus to another part of the vehicle, a part of the vehicle’s face, the face of each brand. It’s a humbling experience. I really do appreciate the privilege and the opportunity to fulfill this role.”
By Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent
Erika Green prides herself on hanging her shingle out fairly quickly as a lawyer, community activist, and juvenile justice advocate, but she still faces the daunting challenge of balancing a burning desire for community and the demands of private practice.
“I intentionally try to provide as many resources, programs, and events to my community (in) the north Baton Rouge area,” she said. In fact, Green has led thousands of participants for the MLK Day of Service, BREC’s Black History Program, and political forums. “I use each organization I am in to promote inclusion and encourage youth. I think that’s the hard part of my life—juggling speaking engagements, community organizing and full time business.”
After sitting under great mentors and working in two law offices while she was a student at Belaire High school and Southern University Law Center, Green credits her abilities as a successful lawyer and organizer to the consistent training she received throughout her time at Southern.
She has volunteered in private law firms, the East Baton Rouge Public Defenders Office and gained a strong connection with Juvenile Court. She is a board member of Gloryland Educational Resource Center, The Butterfly Society, LLC. (A domestic violence nonprofit), and JK Haynes Charter Schools.
She can be seen actively advocating for justice and equality of services for residents. “I love the city and that’s why I do what I do,” Green said.
The Baton Rouge native is a family lawyer who doesn’t back down from high-profile criminal juvenile cases or hot-button issues. For that, she is a Woman to Watch.
Meet Erika Green, 30:
Juvenile Criminal Conflict Attorney for the East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court, family law attorney at the Office of Erika Green, LLC, and Child in Need of Care Attorney with Southeast Legal Services.
Moves made: Recipient of the Daniel Ellis Byrd Community Service Award by the Louisiana State NAACP Conference; chaired the 3rd Annual MLK Day of Service with more than 1,500 volunteers in the Scotlandville area; organized a high school lecture series on racial profiling, voting, conflict resolution, and the juvenile justice system along with the NAACP Baton Rouge Branch
What to expect in 2015: Continuing to be an advocate for children in the juvenile system; connecting the North Baton Rouge Community with more programs and services; and co-chairing a city-wide Black Lives Matter Summit Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. on August 22.
Personal resolution: To use my position—whether it is as an officer in an organization, committee member, or board member—to help produce tangible results and programming that will ultimately effectuate change in this city.
Life/business motto: “Passion Drives Greatness”
Business resolution: I desire to grow the consulting portion of my business for nonprofit and faith-based organizations, and do more speaking engagements especially to young people.
Role Models: Stephanie Brown James. She is young, tapped into community needs and issues, and committed to empowering young women.
What are you dancing to? Mali Music “Yahweh”; and India Arie “Just Do You”
What are you reading? “Hard Choices” by Hillary Clinton and “Black Robes, White Justice” by Bruce Wright
Read more »
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.
This year tell the Easter Bunny to hop to it and avoid those same old Easter basket ideas kids have been getting for decades. By filling your children’s baskets with personalized surprises, you can make the day extra special.
Don’t just fill baskets with boring seasonal sweets and a stuffed bunny. Baskets are more fun when they are personalized to the interests of each recipient. (Read this story about Lee Hardy of Florida who is preparing 700 baskets to give away).
Barbara Jeha Arnondin, co-founder of MetroMom Events, has the insider scoop on what kids want this season. “Your children will be delighted to unwrap baskets that they feel were made specifically for them,” said Arnondin. “Kids love anything that is geared toward their own interests but also has some surprises. And these days, unexpected twists can even be found in the sweet treats you choose.”
One new Easter item that will help surprise kids of all ages are premium Swiss milk chocolate eggs with a toy surprise inside from Choco Treasure. These chocolate eggs have themes that you can match to a child’s interests, including Hello Kitty, Penguins of Madagascar, and Sports Balls. All of the Choco Treasure themed collections are comprised of 15 to 18 different toy surprises, such as 3-D puzzles, water squirters, figurines, and even a deck of mini playing cards.
Here are a few ideas from Arnondin to get started on personalizing kids’ Easter baskets:
For kids who love to listen to the latest hits, fill their baskets with a new pair of headphones, a gift card for downloading their favorite tunes, a portable speaker, a blow-up guitar, or any type of small instrument to make their own music.
For kids who love sports, Easter baskets filled with sports surprises could include team trading cards, league sticker books, team branded mobile device cases, tickets to a game and Choco Treasure Sports Balls which come in the shape of baseballs, footballs, and soccer balls.
There were many big box office hits for kids over the past year. And whether your child’s favorite was “The Lego Movie,” “Big Hero 6,” or “Penguins of Madagascar,” an Easter basket filled with movie favorites like popcorn, posters, soundtracks, their own 3-D glasses, licensed toys or newly released DVDs will help you get two thumbs up.
Hello Kitty is consistently popular among girls of all ages. Consider a basket filled with themed craft activities, dress-up accessories and Hello Kitty Choco Treasure toy-filled eggs, which include a variety of Hello Kitty figurines, 3-D puzzles, mini playing cards and more. This basket will have little ladies playing for hours.
Digging for treasure is easy when you create a themed basket for your mini-paleontologist. Include a fossil excavation kit, a magnifying glass, and a coupon for a trip to see the dinosaurs at a local museum. By thinking outside of the basket this Easter you can create egg-stra special experiences kids will remember for years.
By StatePointRead more »
MY JOURNEY OF competing in the Miss USA/ Universe Organization as an African- American woman did not begin as such, and is not laced with adolescent experiences of tiaras and sequins.
Being raised in south Baton Rouge, my ultimate objective as a child was to fortify my dreams and potential and to not fall prey to the same statistics as my peers. It wasn’t until early adulthood that I was inspired to compete in the Miss USA/Universe Organization in 2008 when CrystleStewart won the coveted title, Miss USA.
However, being overweight and in an abusive relationship, I was greatly discouraged from pursuing the newfound dream. With a compilation of faith, heartache and God’s divine order I was able to successfully lose more than 60 pounds, lose the jerk, start an event-planning firm, return to college and launch a career in film, music and stage.
While recovering from an injury last summer, I was encouraged by my 13-year- old sister to compete as she, her friends and I watched the national pageant from my home. I applied later that week and to my surprise would soon hold the title of Miss Capital City USA 2014.
Already an active member in my community as a mentor and philanthropist in the arts, I was partaking in the activities of a dutiful beauty queen prior to my affiliation with the organization, however I was pleasantly surprised to find how many young women were inspired to see a woman of their ethnicity, from their community join such an elite sorority of women. It was at that moment that I realized that my ethnicity did matter, but only because it was resounding proof to many women that now it no longer does not.
I’ve learned in mentoring and with my philanthropic work that people only do better when they know better and they only pursue better when they are aware that the possibility of attainment exists.
I can say without reservation that my ethnicity did not play a factor in competing in the 2014 Miss Loui- siana USA Pageant, but I’m sure it played a factor in the positive self-image of women when I beamed with pride after being an- nounced as a finalist.
This journey called life has been an eventful one but what I can impart from are two things: there is nothing more anti-climatic than opening a beautifully presented gift box to find that it holds nothing…hold something and have an opinion about it; and if you ever want to make God laugh, just tell Him what your plans are and He will show you that His are better whether you like it or not.
BY Shanna Burris
Miss Capital City USA Shanna Marie Burris is a professional performer in stage, film, music, and dance. She is a Baton Rouge native.
Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. The staff and publisher of The Drum Newspaper have identified the people to watch in the new year. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow them along with us as we report on how they impact Ponchatoula, Baton Rouge, and the state. These are leaders in entertainment, business, education, and public policy—watch them.
Senior Pastor, New Gideon Baptist Church Executive Director, PICO Louisiana
Hometown: Maringouin, La
Moves made in 2013: 2013 was a very busy year. In the ValleyPark community, we cleared three vacant lots, painted and planted
fresh plants around the community entrance sign on Bawell, built entry ramps for two senior citizens and cleared trash from the street. We also started a free after-schoolstudy hall and a free summer enrichment program that offered a breakfast, lunch and a snack. We fed more than 500 people. Our men’s ministry is mentoring five teenagers.In 2013, PICO Louisiana worked across the state to bring awareness to Governor Jindal’s unfair tax plan of which he chose not to pursue because of PICO’s applied pressure, as well as other groups like ours.
What to expect in 2014: For New Gideon and the Valley Park community, we are offering more assistance to seniors, doubling the number of families we reach during community fellowships, and expanding our tutoring and summer enrichment programs. With PICO, we are raising a statewide campaign focusing on mass- incarceration and sentencing reform in 2014.*
Personal Resolution for 2014: Striving for excellence. Business/Company Resolution for 2014: Don’t lose focus on the mission.
Life/business motto: Striving for excellence.
What are you listening to? I have Maze featuring Frankie Beverly Live in New Orleans and Ty Tribbett in my CD changer now.
What are you reading? The Bible and The New Jim Crow Law by Michelle Alexander.
THROUGHOUT FEBRUARY, THE NATION PAYS HOMAGE to the great legends of Black history and reﬂects on the hardships these pioneers endured in order to blaze a trail through the thorny and violent jungle of American racism. There are lessons on Black pioneers in politics, science, medicine, entertainment, and sports. For the trails that they individually blazed, America has become a different society and many Blacks hold to a responsibility to extend the trail forward. In opera, there was Marian Anderson. In dance, there was Alvin Ailey and Katherine Dunham. And in comedy, there was Redd Foxx and Jackie “Moms” Mabley. Five exceptionally gifted Louisianans are keeping the trails blazed by these pioneers. In New Orleans, there’s OperaCréole founder Givonna Joseph and in Monroe, comedian Robert Powell III. In Baton Rouge, there’s businessman Cleve Dunn Jr., stand-up comedienne Tiffany Dickerson, and choreographer Winter McCray. They are our modern day keepers of the trail. Here are their stories.
Comedy Trailblazer: Jackie “Moms” Mabley
Comedy Trail: keeper Tiffany Dickerson
At the age of 14, Loretta Aiken left home for a career in show business, where she would sing and entertain before joining the Chitlin’ Circuit. As Jackie ‘Moms” Mabley, Aiken become the “funniest woman in the world” during the early 1900s, making audiences laugh through her raunchy, yet warm stand up routines. At the height of her career, Moms had produced more than 20 albums of comedy and earned $10,000 performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
She was known to use her humor to tackle edgy topics like racism and lesbianism. As the ﬁ rst Black comedienne, Mabley became “Moms” to future stand-up performers including Redd Foxx. As her popularity grew, she began performing in Carnegie Hall and on mainstream TV where a young Tiffany Dickerson would sneak to watch her.Dickerson is one of about a dozen female comediennes in Louisiana, including Anjelah Johnson, Carissa Mabry, and Jinny Henson.
“Moms is legendary,” she said. “Whoopie (Goldberg) is about the only person comparable. I look to pioneers who were doing comedy when it wasn’t the norm.” And the industry is still male-dominated.
“There still just isn’t enough of us,” said Dickerson who is a local communications professional and national motivational speaker. She has wholly embraced her comedic side and began an aggressive stand-up career as the “Mic Chick”. “It’s been a whirlwind with the comedy,” she said.
Dickerson performs original stand-up and improv that combines lip-syncing, jokes, and acting. “I like to interact with the audience…I do a lot of other work, so I’m not just doing stand-up. It’s a combination and a true performance,” she said.
For her, stand-up comedy is about presenting real life and “having the guts to be able to share it…We are never out of shortage of topics to talk about but it’s about stepping out… My intent is to make the audience laugh at the end of the night.”
Like Moms, Dickerson said, “everything in life I have experienced—whether the happy or the painful things—have truly prepared me for the stage.”
A self-deﬁned introvert, Dickerson said she wrestles with the professional image and the parts of her that is also extrovert. “When I am preparing, I, focused and tucked away. When I’m out on stage, I’m at 110! I’m turned up!” she said. “My material incorporates little nuggets of knowledge in the performance.”
She said she lives a very purpose-driven life and when she hears someone say “I haven’t laughed this hard in so long, then it make me feels like everything I’m doing is worthwhile.”
“I want to be a legacy for when my kids reﬂ ect back, I want them to know that every day I was trying to bring laughter and happiness to people.” For that, comedian Tiffany Dickerson is keeper of Moms Mabley trail.
Read more »
Dickerson will host her” I’m about to Pop” comedy show this Friday, March 28th. Find out more information here.
State Representative Regina Barrow presented Gospel singer Jerris Cade with a Resolution and Proclamation making March 21 a day of Rebirth for Baton Rouge.
Not only has today been claimed one for new beginnings, but Rebirth is also the title of Cade’s second album.
“I hope people take away from this album that no matter what life has thrown your way, your course is still set for you to win. God can give you a rebirthing experience (fresh start) if you just call on his name,” said Cade
To celebrate the official day of Rebirth in the capital city Cade will be recording the album live, this evening, at United Christian Faith Ministry.
“I want capture a gumbo pot of people from different backgrounds, ethnic groups, beliefs all in one room declaring a rebirth through God on their behalf”, said Cade.
Cade’s live recording Rebirth is free and open to the public, will be hosted by Lady D, and feature a performance from Sunday’s Best finalist Martha Buries. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m.
For more information and to reserve seats click here.
Read more »
NEW ORLEANS– One thing can be certain about when Baton Rouge rapper Torrence “Lil Boosie” Hatch was incarcerated: he never got complacent.
In fact Hatch -released from prison Wednesday- wrote 1,018 songs, a movie script and a book during his four and a half years incarcerated for drug charges. Hatch put all rumors to rest at his “Boosie Speaks” press conference held Monday, March 10, at the W Hotel in New Orleans.
“They said I had more release dates than Jordans,” he joked with the crowd. Hatch told media about how the first thing he did upon his release was go pick up his seven children to spend some time with them. He’s also been surrounding himself by other family and friends- and making headlines for doing some major shopping.
“It improved me,” Hatch said about his time incarcerated. “I went through some stuff while I was in prison.”
Hatch, whose larger physical stature hinted that he’s in better shape, said the time in prison also made him stronger and wiser.
A lot of things have changed since Hatch went to prison, including the appearance of social site Instagram. He said part of how it works still surprises him, and he plans to go on it soon “straight flexin,’” as rapper Trinidad James rhymes.
The hip-hop industry was there in full effect to support Hatch. Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy called Monday “a big day for hip-hop.”
Jeezy has been a big supporter of Hatch for a while now. He talked about being inspired by what all he overcame.
“I never heard him sound like the system broke him,” Jeezy said.
Legendary Texas rapper and Hatch’s mentor Bun B echoed those sentiments and said that a lot of people did not want to see a young black man make it.
“Boosie is home,” he said to an excited crowd.
With Hatch’s growing fan base and buzz surrounding his release from prison, Bun B said it won’t take long for his career to reach the next level.
“All Boosie has to do right now is be Boosie. We don’t want him to come home and sound like this person,” Bun B said after the press conference.
“He doesn’t need to do a song featuring that person. He doesn’t need beats by so and so. He doesn’t need a video directed by anybody,” he added. “All Boosie has to do is be Boosie.”
Hatch’s friend and musical partner Lil Webbie had the crowd laughing as he went up and sat on stage with moderator Angela Yee of The Breakfast Club and told people how God told him Hatch would be getting out of prison soon.
“I said, ‘I talked to God bruh. You coming home bruh,” he said.
Hatch’s attorneys said he’s in complete compliance with his release stipulations and might be on probation for four more years.
And don’t worry Lil Boosie fans, he should be cleared to travel and perform by the end of March. He already has shows appearing on Ticketmaster, including an April 13 date in Birmingham. He is also scheduled to perform in Lafayette April 19 at the Cajundome, according to the arena’s website.
By Anastasia Semien
The Drum Newspaper Contributing Reporter
Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. The staff and publisher of The Drum Newspaper have identiﬁed the people to watch in the New Year. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow them along with us as we report on how they impact Ponchatoula, Baton Rouge, and the state. These are leaders in entertainment, business, education, and public policy—watch them.
Full Name: LaTangela Fay Sherman
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Professional title: Singer/Songwriter; On-Air talent and Production Director of Cumulus Media and Talk Show Host of The LaTangela Show, CEO 430Status
Moves made in 2013/Accomplishments: Completed Mixed Emotions – Album dedicated to L.O.V.E. available on iTunes, rhapsody and cdbaby
Recruited families within the community to join the movement with “Walking Through With Family And Friends” on behalf of the American Heart and Stroke Association in efforts to lower the number of strokes amongst our peers.
Personal Resolution for 2014: To be better today than I was yesterday.
Business/Company Resolution for 2014: To keep stepping until we step into our dreams. Nothing is too much as long as it used to acquire positive knowledge.
Life/business motto: To remember the 3 R’ of life… 1. Respect for God 2. Respect for self 3. Respect for others.
What are you listening to? Noel Gourdin’s The River is on repeat at the moment….
What are you reading? The final proof of A-Z, Lord let it define Me by LaTangela Sherman due to hit shelves Spring 2014, shameless plug. lol
Read more »
Judge, 19th Judicial District Court
Age: Over 40
Hometown: Baton Rouge
Moves made in 2013/Accomplishments:Elected “Chief Judge” by colleagues,Graduating 2013 Louisiana Judicial Leadership Class, and recieving numerous awards and recognitions for judicial outreach activities.
What to expect in 2014: Expect to see more judicial youth outreach programs in the community.
Personal Resolution:I will continue to motivate children about the value of education through mentoring activities and leading by example. I will strive to ensure that everyone has access to justice, due process and equal protection under the law at our court.
Business/Company Resolution for 2014: The Court will be fair and impartial in the application of the law without regard to race, color, creed, politics or economic status.
What are you listening to? Generally, I listen to classic soul and jazz. I really like the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Periodically I listen to rap music to know what our children listen to.
What are you reading? To be Popular or Smart by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu. It is a book about peer pressure and how the peer group can be used to reinforce academic achievement in African-American young men.
Read more »
Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. The staff and publisher of The Drum Newspaper have identiﬁed the people to watch in the new year. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow them along with us as we report on how they impact Ponchatoula, Baton Rouge, and the state. These are leaders in entertainment, business, education, and public policy—watch them.
Joyce C. Burges,55
Baker City Council President
Hometown: Baker, Louisiana
Life Motto: “Treat people the way you
would like them to treat you.”
Business Motto: “The customer is alwaysright” and “Execute, Execute, Execute”
2013 Accomplishments: Served with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. I had a chance to showcase my book, “Would Someone Please Teach me How to TeachMy Child.” My husband and I were recognized by the Exodus Mandate and Frontline Ministries and presented with the Robert DreyfusAward, an award given annually to people who exemplify high services to humanity in this country.
Personal Resolution for 2014: To continue to pursue excellent health including a 4-day exercise plan, a regiment of eating 80% raw foods, and drinking 72-80 ounces of water every day. I feel amazing and have more energy.
What to expect in 2014: Efforts to set up K-4 and K-5 learning centers for our children in Baker; fundraising projects to honor young adults for their hard work in school with the Academics List of Excellence in Education Book Scholarship Fund; create a Food Bank for families, form positive partnership with area cities; discussions that lead to the formation of a Youth Center.
Business resolution for 2014: To continue to honor God by serving my family and the citizens of District 3, children, churches, etc. in a way that makes all of them proud to know me. Everything in my life that’s valuable I want to share with others. I am so thrilled to know that God has chosen me to do His work….serving people and loving them unconditionally.
What are you reading: Who was Rosa Parks by Yona Zeldis Mc-Donough and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff McKinny
What are you listening to: Marian Anderson’s Deep River; TheCommodores’ “Zoom”; and The Measure of a Man (audiobook) by Sidney Poitier.Read more »
John G. Daniel , 56
Executive director Boys Hope Girls Hope Baton Rouge and President/founder JGDProductions and Daniel Karate Group
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
2013 Accomplishments: Executive Director, Boys Hope Girls Hope, JohnG.Daniel Productions–Opening A Black History Time Capsule with Tony Brown, Unity Day/Daniel Karate Group Events e.g.Unity Day Exxon Mobil YMCA 2013, The Advocate Video, “John Daniel, A Sensei,Teaching with A Purpose”
What to expect in 2014: Residential girls service, Boys Hope GirlsHope, one-hour documentary on the elements of life success; UnityDay; and Daniel Karate Group expansion to Los Angeles and Philadelphia Personal Resolution for 2014: Keep moving forward!
Business resolution for 2014: Reach out to more youth and families
Life/business motto: Struggle, Perseverance, Character and Hope What are you listening to? Marvin Gaye’s ”What’s Going On”, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”, and McFadden & Whitehead
What are you reading? The Book of Five Rings/ Go Rin No Sho, by Miyamoto Musashi
Read more »
President, NAACP Baton Rouge Branch
2013 Accomplishments: Became president of the Baton Rouge Branch of the NAACP, took the ﬁght for equality and inclusion for all and especially Blacks to the streets. We marched and ﬁle a suit against Turner Industries; supported a suit against City Court; and openly spoke out against discrimination at the State Ofﬁce of Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
What to expect in 2014: NAACP taking an active role in the educational system and the direction it is headed; taking an active role in the breaking up of the City and annexation of other parts; ensuring the consent decree of the BR police department are fully implemented and shine a spot light on evil and wickedness in and around the Greater Baton Rouge area and hold those accountable who choose to practice and uphold it.
Personal resolution for 2014: live healthier; do more evangelizing
Life motto: “If I can help someone as I pass this way through word, thought or deed then my living won’t be in vain.”–Dorothy Clay
What are you listening to? Richard SmallwoodRead more »
State policy fellow and policy analyst at the Louisiana Budget Project
Hometown: New Orleans
2013Accomplishments: Coordinated the Louisiana Coalition for Responsible Lending, which is a group of citizens, faith-based organizations, non-proﬁ ts and banks that are dedicated to protecting families from predatory payday loans;. produced fact-based research that helped defeat a bill from Gov. Bobby Jindal that would have raised taxes on low and middle-class families; and appointed to the East Baton Rouge Parish Food Access Policy Commission by Mayor-President Kip Holden.
What to expect in 2014: Launch of a statewide network of community advocates dedicated to protecting the economic interest of the millennial generation and creation of loan products that offer families’ short-term credit at responsible interest rates and fees. Personal Resolution for 2014: Carve out time each day to grow mentally, physically and spiritually.
Business resolution for 2014: Continue to provide sound research and analysis of state ﬁscal issues to promote economic prosperity, a rising standard of living, and the opportunity for all citizens to reach their highest potential.
Life motto: “Give to the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you.” — my late grandmother, Isabella Gasper.
What are you listening to? A mix of Israel & New Breed, Gregory Porter, Maxwell, J. Cole, Trombone Shorty, Maze & Frankie Beverley, Luther Vandross, Drake, The Fugees, Nina Simone, and Wale.
What are you reading? The Bible, Life Entrepreneurs by Gergen and Vanourek, and 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup; Something Like the Truth blog by Bob Mann, Louisiana Voice blog by Tim Aswell
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Dr. Rani Whitfield,44
Board Certified Family Practice Physician, FAAFP, CAQ in Sports Medicine
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
2013 Accomplishments: Received YMCA Legions Award; discussed the Affordable Care Act on several MSNBC TV, including The Ed Show, Al Sharpton’s Politics Nation; Disrupt with Karen Finney, and Melissa Harris Perry show; featured in the documentary “Soul Food Junkies” by Byron Hurt; served as medical director for the National Association of Free Clinics-Communities Are Responding Everywhere (C.A.R.E.) Clinic in New Orleans where more than 900 individuals without access to affordable, quality healthcare treated by volunteers; released “Get On Tha Bus”, a music project and collaboration with artist Love-N-Pain; featured guest on LPB’s The State We’re In with a monthly segment “Prescription for Health” that addresses health issues and health disparities.
What to expect in 2014: Shhhh, it’s a secret, but let’s just say it could be a very good year.
Personal resolution for 2014: 2014 will be bigger and better both personally and professionally. However, I don’t place a lot of stock in New Year’s resolutions. I set goals and work towards them. I choose to live by making decisions every single day. I do not wait for the year to end in order to make them.
Business resolution for 2014: Better communication and delegating of task .With all the changes in medicine lately, it’s fast and furious—organized chaos. In 2014, I need to make sure everyone is on the same page. We’ll do this by ensuring everyone in the practice feels motivated towards the same business goals, participates in setting goals, and takes accountability for their department.
Life motto: “All things are possible to him who believes!”
What are you listening to: Ian Von’s “Love, Beats, and Guitars”; Dee-1’s “Psalms of David II”; Odissee’s “Tangible Dream”; Taurus RiBoard Certiﬁed Family Practice Physician, FAAFP, CAQ in Sports Medicine
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Occupation: Lead Pastor at Elevate Church
Hometown: Baton Rouge
2013 Accomplishments: Received MLK Leadership Award
What to expect in 2014: Strategizing for the opening of a homeless shelter and resource center
Personal resolution for 2014: To be a better vessel to be used for the glory of God
Business resolution for 2014: No clichés or catch phrases…Just Action.
Life motto: Loving God deeply, makes loving people easy What are you listening to? Jazz
What are you reading? Apostolic Fathers by Apostle Burnell WilliamsRead more »
Occupation:Owner and chief higher education consultant for E_Source Learning Solutions, LLC
Hometown: Amite, LA
2013 Accomplishments: Delivering higher education presentations at national conferences across the country.
What to expect in 2014: Broader impact of E_Source Learning Solutions on the educational success of students in the tri-parish area.
Personal Resolution for 2014: To dream big and ignore the limits.
Business resolution for 2014: Collaborate with other emerging businesses to help them reach their goals. Do for others what you want to happen for yourself.
Life: “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others strength; mastering yourself is true power.” –Lao Tzu
What are you listening to? Electric Lady by Janelle Monae
What are you reading? Power of Habit by Charles DuhiggRead more »
Community Against Drugs and Violence hosted its 19th annual Miss Banks Holiday Pageant.
In front of a crowd of 100 at the new North Banks Middle School, formerly Banks Elementary, Dashira Raby, Amirah Montgomery and Jacquell Hoyt were crowned Ms. Banks, Ms. Banks Jr and Little Ms. Banks.
The judging and tallying consisted of a three part scoring. The girls were scored on: sportswear, dress wear, and their response to the essay topic “What I like about my neighborhood and what I would like to do to make a change.”
This judges were Janae Boothe, former Ms. Louisiana. Evelyn Bickham, Monica Bertrand, Helen Toliver Isaiah Marshall. Photos were compliments of Eric Singleton. Mascot, Bailey Monet Galloway.
Ms. Banks 2012 – 2013, Ciera Fogan, crowned this years winners and Cash prizes were awarded to each of the winners.
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The Southern University community laid to rest Cecil L. Houston at Greater King David Baptist Church on Saturday, Jan. 18. Houston a native of Ventress and resident of Baton Rouge who , passed away , at the age of 49, on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014.
He worked at Southern University as the the longtime assistant to the registrar on the Baton Rouge campus. He is survived by his mother, Annette B. Houston; two godsons, Terrence Houston and Cedric Bell; two sisters, Tara Houston (James) Jackson and Nicki Houston (Russell) Davis; brother, Roland (Jacqueline) Houston, III; godmother, Geraldine Battley; and sister-in-law, Vicki Houston.
He was preceded in death by his father, Roland Houston, Jr.; brother, Kenneth Houston, Sr.; and grandparents, Roland, Sr. and Zeal Houston and Lazin and Alena Battley. Pallbearers will be Cerwin Fleming, Kenneth, Daryl, Roland IV and Terrence Houston, Ecknozzio Jr. and Jordan Jackson, Syvaris Selvage and Rodney Coates. Honorary pallbearers will be Henry, Oliver, Roland III, Timothy, Leo, Robert and Roy Houston, John Battley, Willie R. Davis, Jr., Cedric Bell, James Demoulin and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity. He was a graduate of Glen Oaks High, class of 1982.
He received a Bachelor of Music, 2001, M.E.D. in Administration Supervision, 2004 and a M.A. in Counselor Education, 2010 all of Southern University. He was also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity.
Cecil loved the Lord! He was on the music staff at Greater King David Baptist Church. Also, his ministry of music has been a blessing in many church ministries, choirs and all around the U.S.A., far too many musical artist to name and in the surrounding Baton Rouge Area.Read more »
The true meaning of Christmas resounded loudly, Monday, December 16 at the Interdenominational Faith Assembly Church, during State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow’s 8th annual “District 29 – The Gift of Christmas Giveaway, wheremore than 275 children and their parents stood wide-eyed with excitement awaiting the arrival of Santa. This years’ giveaway was held in honor of Trevor Sims, the young boy who passed away in October of cancer, who even through his sickness made it his last dying wish to feed the hungry in the area.
Trevor’s mother, Allison Sims, was also honored and presented with a commendation from the Louisiana House of Representatives for Trevor’s life’s work. “It amazes me that everyone is so touched by Trevor’s legacy, and his heart for people,” said Allison Sims. “That’s the way he lived his life and that’s who he was; he was selfless and thinking of others so it’s always like a reminder of him to see other people help each other.”
Representative Barrow said, “There’s no doubt that Trevor lived a life that represented a true spirit of giving. It meant so much to me to honor him and his last wish, in giving to others in need.” U.S. Senator Landrieu also acknowledged Trevor’s contribution by letter and the Metro Council recently re-named a bridge in his honor.
In an outpouring of seasonal generosity, individuals and organizations in the community donated financial resources and new toys in the weeks leading up to this holiday event. These sponsors were: Glen Oaks Security Dads; Interdenominational Faith Assembly, who hosted the event; Alejandro Perkins, Esq.; Coca Cola; Table is Bread; Wal-Mart; Albertsons; Young Educated Males Against Drugs and Violence; AFL-CIO; and the Redevelopment Authority.
Several exhibitors were also on hand to provide valuable information to participants. They were: Volunteers of America; Metro Health; BREC; Anna Jones of State Farms Insurance; Angels of Empowerment; and Family Roads of Greater Baton Rouge.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we looked into our own industry to find the presence of Black women in news. Today, there are 13 Black female journalists and news producers in Baton Rouge who have followed the path chartered by three phenomenal pioneers. Here are their stories:
During the same span of five years in the late 1970s, Yvonne Campbell, Genevieve Stewart, and Maxine Crump were on the path to becoming the first Black women of news-even though that wasn’t their intentions. Crump, a native of Maringouin, was a graduate of LSU’s office administration program and working as a secretary at a Baton Rouge chemical plant. Campbell had left the city and began teaching journalism in Tensaw parish. And Stewart, a Fisk graduate, was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Development at Dillard University in New Orleans. By the end of the decade, they would be pioneers in the news and control rooms of the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, Citadel Broadcasting, and WAFB Channel 9.
“I wasn’t thinking about being the first or being a pioneer,” said Crump “I was focused on doing my job and doing it well.” Stewart said she was interested in radio and news but never thought to pursue it as a career. But, Campbell was enamored with writing and newspapers as young as six years old. “I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” said Campbell Born to politically active parents, both Stewart and Crump remembers family discussions centered on current events and national issues especially about the escalating civil rights movement.
With regular house guests like professors from Oberlin College, Zelma George who was an alternate delegate to the United Nations, and NAACP National Director Walter White, Stewart saw firsthand the value of questioning international and local issues. “I grew up in an adult household where things like these were discussed all the time,” she said. Much like Stewart’s parents, Crump’s mother and father hosted many lively conversations mostly centered on politics and news. “I was always interested in people’s conversations,” she said. “My entire family is full of great storytellers.”
It is her storytelling-and voice-that most Baton Rouge residents found dynamic when Crump first begin hosting Channel 9′s morning show. Robert Rene who was a photojournalist with Channel 9 at the time recommended her for the job. Crump said Rene and the late Ed Buggs who worked at Channel 2 encouraged her to take the job at Channel 9-and ultimately becoming the first Black female reporter there.
‘This is Jazz’
At 24, Maxine Crump was independent, bold, and working in what had been seen as a highly successful career for women. “During those times, you were encouraged to be a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary.” Crump-who taught herself to type-was a secretary, but on Sunday nights her voice piped through Greater Baton Rouge’s radio waves through the city’s number 1 Urban Station Q106.5FM. “This is Maxine Crump. And. This is jazz,” became her opening billboard. A
fter a year hosting a Sunday jazz show on Q106FM, she moved to at WFMF, playing hard rock, blues, and British rock. Managers with Channel 9 offered Crump a job in the newsroom. “At this time a lot of the media outlets were looking for diversity,” she said. “I was very much reluctant.” Although she was well-known because of radio work, she said she was still hesitant to take the job because she enjoyed being “incognito”. ” I really didn’t want to go to television at all.” “I knew I could deliver it but I didn’t think I could write it,” said this pioneer who pushed her way from secretarial duties of filing film to doing stand-up reporting and anchoring the station’s morning show-while facing racism and sexism. “I was out to prove I could cut it,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking (about being a) pioneer at all.” The ratings showed she was the most popular reporter in the newsroom. “At that time you also had to be reporter, the writer, and the producer,” said Rene who recalls Crump handling all facets of news production. “She was the very first, and she was dynamic all around,” he said. One hallmark of success came when she realized that Black viewers were proud to have her representing them on television. After 13 years in the newsroom, Crump moved into public affairs, producing video projects on life issues ranging from poverty and racism to town meetings, festivals, and continuing education. She also worked with BET and interviewed David Duke during his run for governor.
Her reputation as a great storyteller has followed her for four decades of news reporting and video production. Today, the city’s first Black woman of television news owns Success Communication and is executive director of the YWCA’s Dialogue on Race, which pushes an open discussion on institution racism. “I was very blessed to have had the opportunity to reach the community profile and status through television. It’s definitely empowered me to knock on doors and move this thing forward,” she said.
Her message to Black journalists: “Get the truth about the history,” she said. “When you really know the truth, it really does make you free. Free to act in a right and principled manner.”
Starting with Debates
“For some reason, I was drawn to radio,” said Genevieve Stewart, Baton Rouge’s first Black female in talk radio. With no journalism degree or experience, she would take a career path through institutional fundraising and motherhood before landing her first job in television-then came her passion: radio. A fearless and skilled debater in college, Stewart won awards for spontaneous and extemporaneous speaking at Lorraine Community College, beating Case Western and Oberlin before winning second in national championships. “I had those skills, those interests of current events, (beginning) when I was old enough to read,” she said. “My dad made us read Time magazine every week and discuss it at the dinner table. It was requisite.”
After attending Lorraine, Stewart went on to complete a degree in political science at Fisk before marrying and moving to Louisiana. Turned away from a NBC-affiliate for a broadcasting job inNashville (she was told to come back after she removed her braces), Stewart began working in fundraising as a Ford Foundation Fellow in Development at Fisk, then Vanderbilt and Dillard universities. She and husband, Louis, moved to Baton Rouge to start and work in his anesthesiology practice. She was invited to participate in the annual LPB telethon. That led to her later being asked to be a co-producer and host of LPB’s “Folks” show, a one-hour weekly broadcast of state news. “I said ‘I can’t do that!” she said. “I can stand up and ask for money but I can’t do that.” But she did do the show and did it well for nearly five years. “I did enjoy TV. I enjoyed being able to tell as story in pictures. And to be able to go around the state and interview people who I felt had something to contribute to the critical masses to getting a message out,” she said.
A lover of history, Stewart said she found the stories of Louisianans fascinating, including the history of the Freed People of Color, sociology of Patwah, creole language and dialects of French-speaking people. She left LPB to pursue a master’s degree in communications at Southern University. While there, she produced short documentaries and an instructional series for LPB on Louisiana Black history called “North Star”.
Even with the vibrant stories and the imagery television and video offered, Stewart said she was still hooked to radio. Her entrance into radio came after she was vocal at lunch hosted by the Baton Rouge Chamber that included an audience of mostly Black leaders. “I was tired of being placated and being talked down to,” she said. “And I stood up and said so.” Unknowing to her, an owner of Citadel Broadcasting who owned three radio stations at that time, was listening. Peter Moncrieff called Stewart and invited her to the station to host Hank Spann’s “Question of the Day” morning show. She took the job and within weeks she was number one in the morning drive and her show had national and local advertisements. The ad rates doubled in the first year and sold out three months in advance. “Guy Brody was on 94.1FM and was number 1 in the 18-25 market and I was number 2 in that market.” she said. In her demographics, 25-55 year-old listeners, she was consistently number one.
“We had the morning drive!” even with the competition of nationally syndicate radio show broadcasting on the station. She said she saw herself as an advocate and a journalist which was easier for her in talk radio than in television. “I was an advocate who could follow the rules of journalism,” she said. There were issues, however, that she would find herself distinctly in the role of advocate. For example, she was one of eight plaintiffs in the Glasper Civil Right Suit that called for the metro council to bail out the city’s bus system. She knew from studying history that her advocacy, especially through media, was dangerous. “I knew about the coercion that can take place,” she said. As a result, she very carefully handled sources’ privacy and anonymity when necessary.
She registered as an independent voter and cleared any financial debts. “I wanted to be free to tackle any topics without anyone pulling my strings,” she said. “The Question of The Day with Genevieve Stewart” became a powerful voice for Blacks in the city. “The spontaneity of it; the immediacy of the moment; the fact that you could tackle more controversial issues; and The fact that you are on the air five to seven hours a week,” she said were reasons why she was hooked and why, unfortunately, she literally worked herself “in the ground”. In May 1999, moments after her live show, she began feeling symptoms of heart problems. Her husband sent an ambulance for her at the station and waited her arrival at the hospital; she had suffered a mild stroke and was now off the air indefinitely. Shauna Sanford, who had begun co-hosting the “Question of the Day with Genevieve Stewart”, took over the show for years before leaving for a job in television.
Stewart said it is as important for Black journalists today to make a very conscious decision to distinguish themselves as “Black journalists” or “journalist” only. Now that she has recovered, Stewart said she is looking at opportunities to return to advocacy. “There’s a lot to be done,” she said.
First graduate, twice first reporter
Writing was an everyday activity for Yvonne Campbell. Starting at a very young age, she penned poetry, stories, letters, and speeches for church. “I was fascinated by newspapers. It’s how I learned to read.” “Since elementary school, I wanted to be a writer,” she said. “I had written all my life.” In sixth grade, her poetry was selected for the graduation reading. For every group or club she participated in, she became the reporter or historian. She’d been writing speeches for church, was a teen editor for theBaton Rouge News Leader, and became editor of McKinley High School’s newspaper and yearbook, then, became the first journalism graduate from Grambling State University.
With degree and clips in hand, Campbell went to the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate to apply for a reporter’s position. “They weren’t looking for (reporters) of my color at the time,” she said. (The only Black person in the newsroom at the time was photographer John Williams, who worked part time.) She went on to teach journalism in Tensaw parish and publish the local school board’s monthly newsletter. Her heart was still set on writing for a newspaper even with her mother, Charlotte Anderson, asking “how many Black people do you know who are reporters?…Why can’t you do something sensible?” But the time, Campbell left Grambling, there were more civil rights uprisings that news outlets needed Black reporters to cover stories.
“At that time, there was starting to be an influx of Black journalists,” she said and she was hired as a general assignment reporter at the Tallahassee Democrat-becoming the first Black female reporter hired at the daily paper. One year she was visiting family in Baton Rouge and the Morning Advocatecame calling and offered a better salary and the opportunity to return home. “I never got into it for the money,” she said. “I decided I wanted to show them what they had missed.” She took the job and became the first Black female reporter for the Baton Rouge morning paper. In less than a year, she moved from general assignment to court reporting, covering, city, supreme, and appellate courts, DA’s and coroner’s offices, and major cases, began writing 20 -23 stories a day for the paper. To do less, meant she wasn’t doing her job, she said. But, her editor’s thought differently. “They would say I had diarrhea of the typewriter,” she said. For 12 years, she worked at the Morning Advocate along with Black journalists Ed Pratt and Cleo Allen. Journalism required more than 14 hours many days for Campbell.
She put in eight to 10 hours following court cases, completing interviews, and investigating leads, then returned to the newsroom to complete stories before heading home to young children-one who has Asperger’s syndrome. “I worked really hard to be fair and just in my writing,” said Campbell who has retired from Southern University, “I wanted to make sure both sides were covered.” She said she loved working as a journalist and being a part of breaking and current news. “It’s a taxing job and very hard to cover that much.” Her investigative reporting earned her numerous awards and recognitions from journalism associations and the state bar association, but by 1988, “I was burned out,” she said. By then, her reputation for being fair had preceding her and opened an opportunity to chair the state parole board-a four-year job under then-Governor Buddy Roemer. By the time the job ended, Allen invited Campbell to apply at Southern University’s mass communications department as an adjunct professor. “I got an opportunity to transfer the knowledge I gained in reporting to the students,” she said. And, she did so in the classroom, as a mentor, and as adviser to the Southern Digest.
A true journalist, Campbell could not get away from the newsroom. She also worked as managing editor for the Baton Rouge Tribune, a monthly Black newsmagazine published by the McKenna Family in New Orleans, for two years. “I miss it,” she said. “I realize that the younger generation need to step up.” During the era that she was reporting, it was important to be Black first, then a journalist, she said. “Although you kept your feelings out of it, there were some stories I could affect as a Black female. That is more true then, than now.” She remembers pushing against stories that unnecessarily identified criminals as Black and photographs of Blacks in the Advocate that were racist.
She also had to defend a few of her stories, but never thought she was making history as a journalism pioneer. “It never crossed my mind,” she said. She frequently looks through newspapers with “a jaundice eye, dissecting articles right away.” For now, she said, that’s enough journalism for her. She has retired from the university after leaving for medical reason but plans to continue writing and hopes that she has left a legacy for being a fair and impartial reporter.
Blazing the trail
Campbell, Stewart, and Crump tilled the path of exceptional journalism and set the bar for Black women anchors, personalities, and reporters in Baton Rouge.
Today, there are more than two dozen Black women journalists and news producers who have followed their paths. Although there is currently no Black female reporter at the Baton Rouge Advocate, Cleo Allen, Leah Bennett, Frances Spencer, and Chante Warren have worked full time for the paper. In television, Dorothy Kendrick is the Black female producer and Shauna Sanford is a reporter at Louisiana Public Broadcasting. At WAFB Channel 9 are Michelle McCalope, reporter and web producer, and reporters Kelsey Davis and Tyana Williams. WBRZ Channel 2 has morning show producer Cheryl Story, producer Michelle Harrington, 2une In planning producer Jillian Washington, anchor Sylvia Weatherspoon, and reporter Olivia LaBorde. The Black female radio producers are LaTangela Sherman of Cumulus Radio, Jacqui Griffin of WTQT 94.9FM, Missy Gordon of MissyRadio.com. WJBO 1150AM’s talk news host is Karen Henderson, formerly of WRKF 89.3FM. In print, Francheska Felder is editor of Swagher magazine. (Read more about these women at www.jozefsyndicate.wordpress.com)
Even with the growth of Blacks in journalism, these pioneers agree there need to be more Black news reporters covering the pulse of the community; and where there are none, “Demand it,” said Stewart.Read more »
The Village of Tangipahoa received a new face lift just in time for the holiday season.
Tangipahoa resident Randy Nelson wanted to make a different in the town. He and Terry Martin trimmed trees along Hwy 51 to provide a better view, he said.
“The ball begins to roll when other volunteers join in to help make a difference in the town,” said Nelson. “We’re very thankful to our loyal businesses who donated the necessary material for the completion of the landscaping project.”
The bricks were donated by Kentwood Brick, Kentwood, Leroy Garrett and Perino’s Garden Center, New Orleans, donated the mums. Hedge bushes, flower bushes were donated by Brumfield’s Nursery of Folsom, and Kentwood Hardware donated paint to brighten up the tables throughout the park.
Tangipahoa Mayor Brenda Nevels and staff said they are elated with the great job the volunteers did to beautify the town and make a difference.
The volunteers also inspired the community to come together and get involved in preparing for the Christmas holidays by donating Christmas lights and flags to assist in the downtown decoration.
This year’s Christmas Theme is “Christmas in the Village” and the annual Christmas parade will be December 14, at noon. For information, call the Dorothy Lewis at the City Hall, (985) 229-8300 M-F 3pm-5pm.
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