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

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

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

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

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

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

    meta davis on screen

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

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

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

    Tim young

    Tim Young, HAART CEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Meta davis award

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

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

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

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate writer

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

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

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

    State Rep. Ted James

    State Rep. Ted James

     

     

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

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

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

    Click here to read Act 103.

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    Young ‘lawyers’ win in high school competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lilli Lewis

    Lilli Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More than 100 leaders attended the networking mixer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What’s next?

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

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

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

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

    By A.G. Duvall II
    Drum Contributing Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    10 OonaNicole

    What inspired you to pursue a career as a designer?

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

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

     

    Did you study fashion and if so where?

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

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

     

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

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

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

     

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

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

     

    Where do you find inspiration?

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

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

     

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

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

     By Cameron James
    Special to The Drum

     

    ONLINE:

    www.christopherjohnrogers.com

    @christopherjohnrogers

    @oonanicole007

     

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

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

    Hole in church floor

    Hole in church floor

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

    Antoinette Harrell

    Antoinette Harrell

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

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

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

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    Paris McClain wins Louisiana National American Miss Jr. Preteen

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

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

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

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

     

     

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  • Celebrating 80 years!

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

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

     

    Reserve your space now in the November issue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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  • ,,,,

    Study looks at whether exercise improves older African-Americans’ memory

    Scientists at LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center are recruiting participants for a study on dementia prevention in older African Americans.

    The project is unique because few studies to date specifically developed behavior change interventions for older African Americans that target preventing dementia, said Robert Newton Jr., who designed the project with Owen Carmichael, Ph.D.

    “The goal of Program for the African American Cognition and Exercise (PAACE) study is to increase our knowledge of the effects of behavior change programs on dementia prevention,” Newton said. Study participants will be randomly assigned (flip of a coin) to one of two behavior change programs:

    • A 12-week physical activity program, which includes weekly physical activity sessions; or
    • A 12-week successful aging program, which includes weekly small group seminars.

    Each program will take place in a community setting.

    Pennington

    Pennington

    “African Americans experience dementia, or severe problems with thinking skills that impact the ability to live independently at a higher rate than members of other ethnic and racial groups. Behavior change programs are safe, well-tolerated, and have shown some promise in reducing risk factors for dementia,” Newton said. “We hope to reduce people’s risk of developing dementia.”

    However, before Newton and Carmichael could study the effects of behavior change interventions, they first had to develop a program in which older African-American adults would participate. While there have been several interventions developed for African-American adults, those plans were not specifically designed for older African Americans.

    “Our first aim is to gather information directly from older African Americans, aged 65-85, about the kinds of activities they want to engage in and use this information to develop behavior-change programs,” Newton said. “Our next aim is to determine if the interventions will be effective in a group of older African Americans.”

    If the behavior change programs work as intended, Carmichael and Newton may be able to achieve their final aim – determining if the intervention affects participants’ thinking skills.

    Newton is an associate professor and director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical. His primary focus is examining how physical activity and exercise training interventions affect the health of African-American adults and children.

    Carmichael is an associate professor and director of biomedical imaging at Pennington Biomedical. His research focuses on brain aging.

    Funding for the study was provided by BrightFocus Foundation, a nonprofit supporting research on Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

    For more information about the study or to participate, visit here, call 225-763-3000 or email clinicaltrials@pbrc.edu.

     

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  • ,,,,

    Lashley means business in the Big Apple

    Growing up in Franklin, La., LSU graduate Victor Lashley may have come from a small town, but he’s making a name for himself in New York City.

    “My very first day in New York City was the day I moved here for my summer internship. I packed my bags, got in a cab and pretended to know the address that I gave my taxi driver,” said Lashley.

    Lashley said the internships and connections he made at LSU set him on a path for success.

    “The College of Business has a lot of good partnerships with a lot of different companies, so they would come into the Finance Club and with a lot of opportunities for internships or careers and JP Morgan was on my radar. I just worked with the Olinde Career Center to be a qualified candidate. I applied and started interning when I was a sophomore.”

    During Lashley’s first summer at JP Morgan, he worked in the prime brokerage operation within their investment bank. Lashley returned to JP Morgan for a second summer, this time working in treasury services. After graduating from LSU in 2012, he became an official employee of JP Morgan, working as a sales associate.

    “Every 6 months I went to a different role, so during my first two years I had four different jobs. And then after that program finished, I placed permanently in trade finance and that involves importing, exporting, and working capital transactions internationally.”

    Lashley has since worked his way up to vice president of global trade at JP Morgan.

    “The day-to-day responsibilities are connecting U.S. customers with either a buyer or seller in an international market. So, (working with) a U.S. manufacturer selling to an emerging market or a U.S. company that’s sourcing or purchasing somewhere overseas,” Lashley said.

    While a student at LSU, Lashley majored in business marketing with a minor in leadership development.

    “I did a program in the Honors College called LASAL (Louisiana Service and Leadership), which is all about partnering with Louisiana locally to address poverty and coastal land loss, so it was a combination of two unrelated topics that gave me a very diverse experience in terms of class and activities.”

    Lashley said that experience at LSU, along with everything he learned through his various internships, has helped him get where he is today. And he’s not the only LSU graduate who is enjoying success in New York City.

    “LSU gives you the world in South Louisiana. It’s definitely very cultural, very rich in spirit and the LSU brand will stay with you for the rest of your life. I meet people in New York City who may recognize my class ring, or maybe purple and gold when I wear it, and it’s a connection that’s always there.”

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    Historic Tangipahoa Parish Training School–nation’s first vocational school for Blacks–to be auctioned

    KENTWOOD, La–The Tangipahoa Parish desegregation lawsuit, filed over 51 years ago in the federal courts in New Orleans, has still not been resolved.

    In 1911, the Tangipahoa Parish Training School opened as the first Black training school in the nation. Vocational and industrial education offered students specialized training. The school provided teacher training so that the graduated could staff the Black schools in rural towns throughout the South. The training school was the beginning of secondary public education for Black in South.

    Professor Armstead Mitchell Strange was born in 1884 in Waterproof, Louisiana. He earned his college degree from Alcorn College, where he finished in 1902. Strange came to Tangipahoa Parish via Collins, Mississippi. He came to Kentwood, LA in 1910. Strange joined several local white businesses, and donated money to establish Kentwood Industrial School for Blacks. He raised the money, purchased land, and erected the building, one of which was named for him. The scholastic year 1911-12, marked the beginning of the Training School Movement as far the Slater Fund is concerned. Professor A.M. Strange wrote to Dr. James H. Dillard, general agent for the John F. Slater Fund (a philanthropic fund for the advancement of Negro education), soliciting aid for a Black school that would be located in Kentwood, Louisiana. Professor Strange established Kentwood’s first training school for Blacks.

    O.W. Diillon

    O.W. Diillon

    In 1917, Professor Oliver Wendell Dillon came to Kentwood to take charge of the one-room, one-teacher, two months a year school. That year Dillon received $1,000 from the Brooks Scanlon Lumber Co. and the Natalbany Lumber Co. in order to hire three other teachers and extend the school term to a full nine months for 200 students. In 1919 the school board appropriated $1,000 to construct a two-story, five-classroom building at the school. Another $1,200 was spent to purchase 85 acres adjoining the school.

    Professor Dillon appealed to the local board to buy a machine, and to make cement blocks. After securing the machine he implored Black people in the area to supply labor. They made 40,000 cement blocks, one at a time and erected a building for educating area children.

    According to the genealogy research of Leonard Smith III and local historian Antoinette Harrell, Professor Strange was one of seventeen children born to Tillman and Millie Hunter Strange. His brother Tillman moved to Chicago and became a physician. Professor Strange started other schools and colleges in the South. He helped many young Black students get their education.

    Harrell’s research revealed that the greatest gospel singer Mahalia Jackson performed at the school in the ’60s. Many of the students who attended the school were the children of sharecroppers and farmers who wanted their children to get an education. Having the school auction would create a massive void in the community.

    Deon Johnson, executive director of O.W. Dillon Preservation Organization, attended every meeting to address this situation with the Tangipahoa Parish School Board and hasn’t had much success. “How could they auction off our legacy?” He asked. “Our ancestor worked with the sweat, tears, and blood to build this school,” said Deon.

    Basketball star LeBron James opened the free “I Promise” school in Akon, Ohio. The school offers free uniforms, transportations, access to a food pantry for their family. Professor Strange and Professor Dillon did the same thing in Kentwood. They solicited the support of the community who gave their resources and labor to build the oldest Training School for Blacks in the Nation.

    “Today the school is up for auction and has caused a great deal of pain and heartaches for the African American community,” said  Johnson. “A lot of sweat and hard work built this school,” he said. “Professor Oliver Wendell Dillon and men of the community made the very bricks and mortar to build the school. Please help us to keep this historic school and preserve our legacy.”

    ONLINE: owdillonpreservation.org

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  • ,,

    Local campers visit Baton Rouge City Hall, Mayor Broome

    2018 Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. participants visiting Baton Rouge City Hall and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.  Standing on bottom row from left to right: Kayleigh Tran and Heaven Adams; Second row left to right:  McKenzie Milton and Madison Lathers; Third row left to right:  Aarionna Barg, Tyra Porter, and Haven Franklin (Teen Volunteer);  Fourth row left to right:  Brooke Butler, Nyrielle Davis, and Adelay Smith.

    2018 Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. participants visiting Baton Rouge City Hall and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome. Standing on bottom row from left to right: Kayleigh Tran and Heaven Adams; Second row left to right: McKenzie Milton and Madison Lathers; Third row left to right: Aarionna Barg, Tyra Porter, and Haven Franklin (Teen Volunteer); Fourth row left to right: Brooke Butler, Nyrielle Davis, and Adelay Smith.

    Several local campers spend a summertime of learning and fun by participating in a local program called, Camp U.N.I.T.E.D. over the past few weeks. Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. (Uplifted, Nurtured, and Inspired Together Each Day), they had the opportunity to participate in daily workshops that focused on leadership development, healthy nutrition and body image, time management skills, communication skills, internet safety, and community/public service.  The girls’ primary focus was on the three paths to empowerment as they start their journey into middle school.  Their unique journeys began with discovering their individual personal power or the power within.  Then, they moved to the power of team or the power of reaching across to work with others.  The final path was the power of community/public service or the power of reaching out.  The highlights of their camp were a 90 minute SKYPE session with girls their age in Migosi, Kenya, Africa and a field trip to City Hall to meet with Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, and Councilman Chandler Loupe.  Each girl received a certificate of commendation signed by Mayor Broome and was also given the opportunity to visit the new Metro-Council chambers where they were allowed to participate in a mock Metro-Council meeting.  These girls have experienced a unique summer filled with awesome opportunities.

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  • ,,

    New business comes to the Village of Tangipahoa

    Village of Tangipahoa Mayor Trashica Robinson along with the board of aldermen and special guests gathered July 17 to break ground on a Big Boss Travel Plaza and Bella Rose Estates, a combination convenience store and restaurant to be located off Highway 440.

    “We’ve worked hard for the past two years to bring new business to the Village of Tangipahoa,” said Robin son.

    “It’s been more than 20 years since a new business came to the Village. New business means more sales tax,” said Robinson. “In the process (the businesses)create some local jobs.”

    She said, “This is a good location, travelers can leave the interstate get a quick breakfast, gas up, and continue to work.”

    “When this project is completed it will bring economic benefit to the town, she said. ℜ

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    Baton Rouge native participates in world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise

    PEARL HARBOR – A 2017 Scotlandville Magnet High School graduate and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

    Seaman Apprentice Crystal Paul is a culinary specialist aboard USS Dewey, currently operating out of San Diego, California.

    A Navy culinary specialist is responsible for cooking for the entire crew.

    Paul said she applies the lessons she learned from Baton Rouge to her work in the Navy.

    “I learned how to deal with different people and not to overreact to everything which helps me in the Navy every day,” said Paul.

    As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

    The theme of RIMPAC 2018 is Capable, Adaptive, Partners. The participating nations and forces exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

    “I’m looking forward to meeting new people during this exercise,” said Paul.

    This is the first time Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC. Additional firsts include New Zealand serving as sea combat commander and Chile serving as combined force maritime component commander. This is the first time a non-founding RIMPAC nation (Chile) will hold a component commander leadership position.

    Twenty-six nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise. This year’s exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

    As a member of the U.S. Navy, Paul and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

    “I never saw myself as a risk taker, but being here showed me that I am,” said Paul.

    Additional information about RIMPAC is available at http://www.cpf.navy.mil

    By Electa Berassa
    Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
    Navy Office of Community Outreach
    Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Theodore Quintana

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  • ,,

    Facing the nation: Making inclusion a priority in Baton Rouge aviation

    Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and its commission chairman Cleve Dunn Jr. are facing two national nominations for being catalysts for diversity inclusion. This first-time praise comes from the Airport Minority Advisory Council, the only national, non-profit trade association dedicated to promoting the inclusion of minorities and women in contracting opportunities within aviation and aerospace industries. Dunn has been nominated for the AMAC Advocate of the Year Award and the AMAC Inclusive Leader Award. As a result, the airport earned the nominations as well. The advocate award recognizes an outstanding spokesperson, educator, innovator, advocate,  and strategic partner with AMAC for diversity inclusion. The leadership award honors an organization for demonstrating diversity inclusion within its corporate structure of procurement and employment.

    Earlier this week, Dunn discussed the nominations and the airport’s work with minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

    THE DRUMSince this is the first time you and the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport have been nominated, what does this nomination say for the BR Airport?

    DUNN: It simply says that the leadership has changed and the culture at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport is changing and becoming more inclusive.

    THE DRUM: What were the specific actions/programs you initiated or completed that encourages minority opportunities at the Baton Rouge airport?

    DUNN: During my time on the Baton Rouge Metro Airport board of commissioners there has been no new program rollout to encourage minority opportunities. What I chose to do as a commissioner for the past 5 years and now the chairman of the board is to aggressively advocate for inclusion and diversity in every thing that we do at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR). That includes assuring that minorities receive jobs and career advancement opportunities at the airport, making sure minority owned and disadvantaged businesses are in our pipeline for contracting opportunities, and making sure that we are exposing children from our community to the aviation industry. As a result, our administration is more culturally diverse than it was five years ago, BTR is much more visible in the community and BTR is supporting more North Baton Rouge businesses, organizations and non profits than ever before.

    Sean

    Sean Joffrion

    Sean Joffrion, director of fine arts at the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, said, “Because of Mr. Dunn’s passion for showcasing Baton Rouge and what it has to offer, he advocated for one of Baton Rouge’s premier schools, McKinley Middle Magnet, to have a wall space in Baton Rouge Metro Airport. This space allowed our diverse multi cultural population the opportunity to showcase art work which depicted the students interpretation of Louisiana and its culture. It also gave travelers the opportunity to get a first hand look of what our school and school district could offer to prospective students/parents. This amazing partnership between the school, district, and airport allowed McKinley the opportunity to recruit students to our program. Cleve is an amazing guy who knows the importance of having relationships between our community and business.”

    THE DRUM: What had been barriers for diversity inclusion at the airport when you arrived as a commissioner? How are you leading or assisting the commission and the airport leadership in removing those barriers?

    DUNN: In my opinion leadership sets the tone and creates the culture for any business or organization. The leadership team has to be passionate about an issue or project and get buy in from the rest of the staff and/or team members in order for that initiative to be implemented successfully.  Our barrier at BTR was that our leadership was not passionate enough about inclusion and diversity as we needed to be to bring about a culture of inclusion at BTR. That is why I lead the charge in advocating for a national search for us a new aviation director. I felt it was very important for us to evaluate the best and brightest aviation professionals around the country; who could develop the land surrounding the airport, grow our air service by adding airlines and destinations and work with our board of commissioners to create a culture of inclusion at the airport. The airport’s aviation director search committee, made up of three metro council members and myself as one of four airport board commissioners concluded our work on July 9. After vetting the group of 39 candidates, conducting video interviews, reviewing their resumes and  several in person interviews; we narrowed the group down to three candidates that the committee chose to recommend to the metro council. The metro council is scheduled to choose a director from the group of three finalists in the weeks to come.

    Baton Rouge Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    Baton Rouge Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    THE DRUM: You are now in your second term on the commission and first term as chair, how do you plan to continue building business capacity for the airport? Plans for supplier diversity?

    DUNN: Supplier diversity has been and will continue to be a top priority for me. One of the first things I proposed as chairman is a board retreat where the commission and the staff could meet and develop the annual mission and goals for the airport. During my previous five years on the commission we had not been given the opportunity to have this level of input prior to budget review. Our first retreat will happen in the next 30 days or so; it is during this retreat where we will create and assign action items to board members and staff that will help us to build business capacity and increase our supplier diversity numbers.

    THE DRUM: Do you or other commissioners help develop aviation or aerospace career interests among local students? K-12, technical school, or college students? If not are there plans to do so?

    DUNN: Yes, I do help to develop aviation career interests among local students. I often times bring young people to the airport, give them a tour of the airport and let them sit in on our commission meetings. I also work with Big Buddy and local colleges to give students internships at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport.

    Lauren Smith Marrioneaux

    Lauren Smith Marrioneaux

    The program operations director for Big Buddy’s LevelUp program, Lauren Smith Marrioneaux  said, “After finding out that Cleve served on the Baton Rouge Metro Airport Board, I contacted him about the airport becoming a host site for the Big Buddy Level UP! Summer Internship Program. He committed to making it happen and he did just that! He made it happen and helped increase the employability of the youth in our program. Because of Cleve’s help and support the Level UP! Summer Internship Program and the Baton Rouge Metro Airport has exposed several teenagers in the Baton Rouge area to the aviation industry. After this experience some of our students later gained employment in the aviation industry.”

    THE DRUM: What is the status of the airport  as a growth opportunity for businesses and North Baton Rouge?

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    DUNN: I’m a native of North Baton Rouge, and I’m very passionate about the areas growth and development, as well as the people of North Baton Rouge being benefactors of that growth and development by improving their quality of life through jobs and contracting opportunities. We have some 4,000 jobs at the airport and hundreds of contracting opportunities there as well. I will make sure that people living in and around North Baton Rouge are aware of the job and income opportunities and do what we can to help them get those opportunities.

    As director of programs and events for the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Black Chamber, Troy R. Lee, said, “it was imperative that I secured sponsorship for our Inaugural Minority Business Conference and Expo. I called Mr. Dunn and explained the need to have a successful expo and without hesitation he made sure we had sponsorship from the Baton Rouge Metro Airport. Without his timely assistance our expo would not have been the success that it was. BR Metro Black Chamber members and myself are eternally grateful for Mr. Dunn’s kindness and belief in the fact that it does take a village to make things happen especially in underserved communities.”

    THE DRUM: Who are you acknowledging as you receive this nomination?

    DUNN: I am honored to receive the Catalyst award nomination from such a prestigious organization like AMAC. I want to thank the AMAC Catalyst award nominating committee for valuing and recognizing the work that many of us do around the country to promote minority-owned businesses, increase contracting opportunities and professional advancement for minorities in the aviation industry. I do not accept this award nomination alone. I also accept it on the behalf of all the current and former Baton Rouge Metro Airport board of commissioners who have advocated for minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses while serving on our commission. Finally, I’d like to thank the Baton Rouge Metro Airport administration and numerous staff members who have been committed to inclusion and increasing the participation of minority owned and disadvantaged business enterprises.

    Winners of the AMAC awards will be announced during the 34th Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference in Seattle, Washington, Aug 21-25.

    ONLINE: http://amac-org.com
    ONLINE: www.flybtr.com

    By Zenobia Reed
    The Drum contributing writer

     

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    Trading Black Histories: Louisiana, California middle schoolers meet by chance while competing in national research contest

    SILVER SPRINGS, MD—In life, there are many times when things happen and very few words can convey what’s occurred. That’s exactly what happened when two studentsfrom opposite ends of the United States happened to cross paths while competing in the 2018 National History Day contest held at the University of Maryland, College Park.

    The young researchers had an interesting experience that will likely be etched in their memory for the rest of their lives when Condoleezza Semien, of Louisiana, and Thiana Aklikokou, of California,  met.

    Both women share a fervent love for Black history and research which led to them winning National History Day contests at their school, district, and state levels in order to advance to the semi-finals in Maryland.

    More than 3,000 students from across the nation and countries like Guam, Korea, and China advanced to the final competition, which was held June 10-14 to culminate a year-long academic program focused on historical research, interpretation and creative expression for 6th to 12th grade students. Of those students was Semien, a seventh grader, and Aklikokou, an eighth grader.

    In April, Semien placed first in the state NHD junior presentation division with the oral presentation, “But You Claim that I’m Violent: A Lesson on Influence and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense of 1966.”

    “I wanted to relay the truth about the Black Panther Party and how their actions turned into programs and policies for our nation,” Semien told national judges. “We’re not taught these things in school. When a group came to Baton Rouge to protest the Alton Sterling shooting, I wanted to know why they were trying to connect themselves to the Panthers when their messages where drastically different.”

    Founded in California during the racially-charged 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense galvanized as a response to police brutality in California. While the Black Panther Party maintained a focus on armed self-defense, the organization did not uphold resorting to violence to resolve issues, Semien explained.

    “Historical texts do not record this truth,” Semien said before explaining that the Black Panther Party’s relentless efforts ultimately impacted federal food and health policies.

    “They developed more than 30 social programs over the span of 10 years and are actually responsible for many of the federal food, head start, and sickle cell anemia programs still being utilized today,” she said.

    The Black Panthers thrived, expanding to more than 63 U.S. chapters that provided free clothing, grocery, and breakfast programs, community protection patrol to combat violence and police brutality, free health clinics, political education classes, ambulatory services, and screening people for sickle cell disease, free libraries that primarily housed works by Black authors, legal assistance and early education programs.

    “But you claim that they’re violent!” Semien said ending her presentation during the semi-finals. One judge responded, “You really did a great job dispelling myths surrounding the Black Panthers!”

    The 12-year-old was later told she’d earned National Honorable Mention and placed second in her class of competitors—just shy of reaching the final rounds, said Adam Foreman, NHD state representative and student programs specialist at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

    On the same day, Aklikokou, 14, presented a historical paper on the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott–Semien’s hometown.

    While touring the United States Capitol as guests of Congressman Garret Graves, Aklikokou and Semien met.

    “My grandmother remembered seeing (Thiana) on television talking about her research, and she introduced us to each other. She was excited, telling Thiana about my research and telling me about Thiana’s,” Semien said.

    There, the girls shared their amazement that so few people knew the history that they had researched about each other’s states. In 2015, Semien danced in the Manship Theatre’s production of “The Fading Line: A Commemoration of the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott.”

    “I wasn’t surprised that people in California didn’t know, but I came to Baton Rouge and people still had no clue what I was talking about; it was a little surprising,” said Aklikokou.

    Most history books only detail the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott which has often been regarded as the first large-scale United States demonstration against segregation. However, it actually wasn’t the first of its kind.

    In 1953, Blacks in Baton Rouge and the Reverend T. J. Jemison organized the first large-scale boycott of a southern city’s segregated bus system. Two and a half years later, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. conferred with Jemison about tactics used in Baton Rouge, and King applied those lessons when planning the bus boycott that ultimately defeated segregation.

    “I found it interesting that nobody talked about it at all. It was always the Montgomery (bus) boycott. But no one ever talked about what Baton Rouge did which was set it up for Montgomery,” she said.

    Earlier this month, Aklikokou traveled through Louisiana and Mississippi for more in-depth research on her topic of choice just before heading to Maryland.

    Aklikokou and Semien’s chance encounter in the nation’s capitol proves that spontaneous moments in life are often much sweeter than the ones strategically planned.

    By Meaghan Ellis
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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  • ,,,,

    Harris, first Black to walk in space, visits Baton Rouge

    On June 26, Dr. Bernard Harris, CEO of the National Math + Science Initiative (NMSI), visited Baton Rouge to kick off NMSI’s Laying the Foundation Teacher training at Woodlawn High School.  With ongoing support from ExxonMobil, the popular training program was recently expanded to an additional 400 teachers across the state, doubling the number of teachers from last year.  In addition to his role at NMSI, Dr. Harris is the founder of The Harris Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports math and science education programs for America’s youth.  Harris worked at NASA for 10 years, where he conducted research in musculoskeletal physiology and disuse osteoporosis.  During his career at NASA, Harris became the first Black person to walk in space.  A veteran astronaut for more than 18 years, he has logged more than 438 hours and traveled more than 7.2 million miles in space.

    Dr. Bernard Harris talks with Summer STEM Lab campers .

    Dr. Bernard Harris talks with Summer STEM Lab campers .

    Dr. Bernard Harris autographs a space mural in North Baton Rouge at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop.

    Dr. Bernard Harris autographs a space mural in North Baton Rouge at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop.

    While in town, Dr. Harris joined ExxonMobil for a tour of the local community.  He interacted with North Baton Rouge students at Summer STEM Lab, a BREC summer camp designed to curb effects of summer learning loss and to increase interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics topics and careers.  Campers were inspired by Harris to realize their potential through problem solving skills learned in STEM courses.

    Dr. Bernard Harris New Orleans artist, Lionel Milton, at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop stand in front of a space-themed mural in North Baton Rouge.

    Dr. Bernard Harris New Orleans artist, Lionel Milton, at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop stand in front of a space-themed mural in North Baton Rouge.

    Following the camp visit, he autographed a space-themed wall mural painted by New Orleans artist, Lionel Milton, at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop.  He wrapped up his tour of Baton Rouge at Knock Knock Children’s Museum where he participated in space related pop-up activities with museum guests.

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    Documentary explores controversial death of Victor White III while in New Iberia police custody

    Discovery Communication’s Investigation Discovery is exploring the controversial death of a New Iberia man who police say shot himself while handcuffed in the backseat of a patrol car.

    The show, “Sugar Town” will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Victor White III, who was 22, on March 2, 2014,

    Called the “Houdini Handcuff Case” by some in the state, White’s killing has brought simmering racial tensions to a boil in the small town known for its sugar cane production.

    New Iberia residents are separated by railroad tracks—residents to the north of the tracks are predominantly white, while largely Black neighborhoods lie to the south.

    Kimberly Nordyke reported in The Hollywood Reporter, “The tracks created a strong history of racial divide predating the American Civil War in New Iberia, and many residents would argue that a Jim Crow south is still very much alive.”

    “Sugar Town” will focus on the central mystery of what might have happened to White and chronicles the family’s search for justice for their son’s suspicious death while in police custody.

    The investigation also reveals “a larger story of power, corruption and racial injustice nestled within a divided southern town, with Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal — a man shrouded in controversy — at the center,” according to the network.

    “Victor White III was a father, a son, a brother — and sadly, I fear, a victim of injustices rooted in New Iberia,” said Henry Schleiff, group president for Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “Tragedies like these unfortunately catapult people into becoming activists, and we are humbled to share the White family’s crusade for answers in Sugar Town. We are reminded that corruption and racism exist in our society, today, and we hope that ID’s airing of this documentary will help spark informed dialogue about larger social injustices to ensure that White’s death was not in vain.”

    White’s family members, including his father, the Reverend Victor White; mother, Vanessa; and two of his eight siblings, sister Lakeisha and brother L.C. are featured in the documentary along with local radio journalist Tony Brown, The Daily Iberian journalist Dwayne Fatheree, and activist Donald Broussard. Anthony Daye, who said he experienced  brutality at the hands of New Iberia’s law enforcement, civil rights attorney Clayton Burgess, and the White family’s attorney, Carol Powell Lexing are interviewed in the documentary.

    The two-hour program premieres at 7pm CST on Monday, Aug. 6.

    ONLINE: Investigationdiscovery.com

     

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    Son shares father’s legacy of Cook’s Theatre

    The North Baton Rouge Blue Ribbon Commission hosted “Meet and Greet with Dr. James Cook Jr., son of Cook’s Theatre founder, the late James Cook Sr.​, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Scotlandville, June 10.
    Dr. Cook, a cardiologist in Medford, Oregon, discussed the history of his family, local community, and the theatre business. According to Councilwoman Chauna Banks, the event “brought back great memories of Cook’s Theatre and the legendary entrepreneurial spirit that was alive and well in the Scotlandville community.”
    Submitted by Rachel Emmanuel Ph.D.
    Feature photograph is of Myrtly Ricard, Lyle Mouton, Natalie Ricard, and Dr. James Cook
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    Judge Piper Griffin named Louisiana Judicial Council Chairperson

    Louisiana boasts the largest number of Black  judges per capita and the Louisiana Judicial Council/National Bar Association prides itself on being the voice of its membership.  The Council recently installed as the organization’s 10th chairperson was Judge Piper D. Griffin during its 20th annual meeting in Baton Rouge last month.

    Griffin has served as the organization’s secretary for many years and most recently as its Chair Elect. Judge Griffin currently serves on the Orleans Parish Civil District Court since her election in 2001. She also serves as Chair of the 4th and 5th Circuit Judges Association, Secretary of the Louisiana Judicial Council Foundation/NBA, Treasurer of the Louisiana District Judges Association, President of the St. Katharine Drexel Prep Board of Directors (formerly Xavier Prep) and President of the Crescent City Chapter of the Links, Inc.

    Other judges installed to new board included Judge June B. Darensburg as chair-elect, Judge Regina B. Woods as treasurer, Judge Rachael Johnson as secretary, Judge Angelique Reed and Judge Adrian Adams as district representatives, and Judge Madeline Jasmine, past chair.

    With a theme of “Advancing Judicial Competence,” organizers said the meeting saw meaningful continuing legal education and dialogue amongst the bench and bar. The Conference began with a community service activity and frank conversation with civil rights activist and attorney, 99-year-old Johnny Jones. A reception honoring retired Baton Family Court Judge Luke A. LaVergne took place at the home of former Congressman and State Senator Cleo and Debra Fields. The meeting was chaired by Judge Wilson Fields of the 19th Judicial District Court. Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson swore in the newly elected officers.

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    Southern University wins in NIS national oral and poster competitions

    Southern University and A&M College was well represented by 30 undergraduate and 5 graduate students who participated in the 75th Joint Annual Meeting of the National Institute of Science and Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honors Society, in Washington, DC.   This scientific conference, hosted by the University of the District of Columbia, aimed to provide young scientists the opportunity to disseminate their research findings and to network with students and peers of like minds.   This Diamond Anniversary Year represents the 75th one for the joint annual meetings of Beta Kappa Chi (BKX) and the National Institute of Science (NIS). Southern University students won several awards at the conference.

    Oral Presentations

    Irene Lewis   1st Place Agricultural Sciences undergraduate

    Kirstin Brooks 2nd Place Psychology undergraduate

    Gagandeep Kaur 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Poster Presentations

    Prathusha Bagam 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Demario Vallier 2nd Place Poster Biology graduate

    Students and faculty were elected to national offices as well.  Deadra James Mackie was elected as national executive secretary for the 18th year, student officer, Joenique Woods, was unanimously chosen as the Southcentral Regional Vice President for Beta Kappa Chi and secretary for the National Institute of Science.  Honors student, Ikea McKay, was elected president of the National Institute of Science and Darrell Harry was chosen as student secretary for Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society and Treasure for the National Institute of Sciences.  As expected, the Jaguar nation made an indelible mark on the conference.

    Beta Kappa Chi Honor Society was founded in Lincoln, Pennsylvania in 1921, and chartered in 1923.  BKX is a member of the certifying body, the National Association of College Honor Societies (www.achsnatl.org).

    Travel to this endeavor would not have been possible were it not for the financial support of the Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes Honors College and the Timbuktu Academy, both led by Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D., the Southern University Foundation, through the Office of Robert Easley, the College of Sciences and Engineering dean Patrick Carriere,Ph.D., and the Department of Biological Sciences.  Collective contributions from these units allowed the students to have scholarly and professional experiences. The students’ advisors were Eric Pugh, Deidra Atkins-Ball, Phyllis Okwan, and Deadra James Mackie. Bagayoko said “the Jaguar Nation is very proud of them for their intellectual and leadership accomplishments.”

     

    Pictured: (first row) Deadra J. Mackie, Dr. Deidra Atkins-Ball, Paige Mitchell, Wes Washington, Joenique Woods, Ashley Lewis, Irene Lewis, Eric Pugh, Chloe Washington, Tiara Johnson, Dr. Phyllis Okwan and Brandon Parker; (Second row) Terani Dillahunty, Kirstin Brooks, Kelvin Wells, Jacara Glover, Jonathan Sumbler, Ikea McKay Naila McCraney, Darrell Harry, Demario Vallier and Edgar Perez

     

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    SU Commencement speaker wants graduates to ‘be the change’

    “Will your degree serve you or will you use your degree to serve others.”

    Angela Rye, political commentator and social activist, was the keynote speaker for the Spring 2018 Commencement Exercises at Southern University, Friday, May 11, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. More than 650 candidates earned degrees.

    “My responsibility to you today is Truth,” said Rye, who can be seen regularly on several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC, and TV One. “My responsibility to you today is ensuring you are adequately equipped to survive in a 2018 America. And in the America we create together for the future.”
    web KaylaClancy13
    The political strategist went on to convey that she had a message for the graduates. Her message was to “wake them up” before they become bogged down by society’s obstacles.

    “We cannot keep talking about the problems, and not playing our respective parts to change them.”

    “Be the change. Be courageous. Be bold, like your lives, our lives, depend on it because they do.”

    “Create the community you know we can be. Create the country you deserve to see. Create the world in which you want to live.”

    With smiling faces and teary eyes, the candidates soaked up their final moments. As names were called, family and friends burst into excitement with screams, laughter, and sentiments. 

    _5118024

    The ceremony was presided by Ray L. Belton, president-chancellor of the Southern University System, and James Ammons, executive vice president/executive vice chancellor.

    The spring 2018 chief student marshal was Chicago native, Kayla Clancy. She graduated with a degree in psychology and a cumulative grade point average. 

    Through her strong support system, she has been pushed outside of her comfort zone in order to accomplish great things, especially being chosen chief student marshal for the commencement. The top grad plans onattending Louisiana State University to work towards a master of education in clinical mental health counseling.

    The SUBR spring graduating class included 419 undergraduate candidates and 198 graduate candidates. The class had 137 honor graduates, (one summa cum laude, eight magna cum laude, 27 cum laude, and 101 honorable mention).

    Along with the class, the university commissioned three Army and three Navy officers.

    The Golden Class of 1968 was celebrated and donned gold robes. More than 30 members represented the class and were ecstatic to be included in this momentous occasion. 

    Southern also awarded a doctor of humane letters to civil rights attorney Johnnie A. Jones Sr.

    Encouraging support system leads to Chicago native to become SU top grad

    “Hard-working” and “high-achieving” are adjectives that are not new to Kayla Clancy. Through her strong support system, she has been pushed outside of her comfort zone in order to accomplish great things, especially being chosen chief student marshal for the 2018 Southern University Spring Commencement.

    “Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without my support system. My mother has been my backbone through it all,” says the psychology major who will lead more than 700 grads during spring commencement, May 11, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. “Since losing my father at the age of nine, my mother was all that I had and she has truly been everything to me and more.”

    Clancy’s support team not only included her family, but mentors that made sure that she was headed for greatness. When choosing her next steps, Grambling State University was top on her list until a mentor, Frances Thibodeaux-Fox, told her to keep her options open and continue to research Southern University. Through constant communications with SU admissions representatives and being awarded a scholarship through the SU Alumni Federation Chicago Chapter, she chose to continue her next steps at Southern University in the fall of 2014.

    After coming to Baton Rouge, Clancy made herself at home and found support within friends and professors, such Reginald Rackley, a Southern University psychology professor, and Mark Gaines, a personal friend. They pushed her “outside of [her] comfort zones showing [her] that being uncomfortable promotes true growth.”

    This advice proved true for the top grad as she devoted herself to her studies and involving herself in extracurricular activities. She held various offices within Psi Chi: International Honor Society in Psychology, Collegiate 100 Black Women of Southern University, and the Beta Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. To prepare her for her future career, she participated as a research assistant in a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded research internship at University of Chicago during the summer of 2017.

    Looking back on her college journey, she is proud of the woman she has become. Being chosen as the chief student marshal was an accomplishment that was unexpected.

    “More than anything, I am truly honored. I didn’t think that I would be granted this opportunity, but I’m blessed to say that I am here,” she said. “I owe this to God because without him I am nothing and would not be here. I tell my little sisters all the time that everything I do is for them because I want them to see that the sky is the limit. So, for me, this large achievement is, also, for my little sisters,” says Clancy.

    As she prepares for her final exit, she feels her future is full of bright possibilities. In the fall, Clancy will be attending Louisiana State University to work towards a master of education in clinical mental health counseling. Also, to honor her father’s memory and assist students with having higher education resources, she has decided to start a scholarship in his name at his alma mater in Chicago.

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

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    COMMENTARY: Bishop Curry’s message could’ve blended Malcolm X’s message that love equals self defense’

    Yesterday’s pomp-filled royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was indeed a captivating, majestic, “heaven on earth” event. Despite the fact that it was held at the St. George church in Windsor, a vibrant American soul-stirring sermon on love stole the spotlight from the stars of the show. As millions of Americans witnessed history, the Most Reverend Bishop Michael Curry delivered a sermon that intertwined the power of love and the prophetic tradition.

    The first African-American Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church skillfully linked dynamic quotes of “The old slaves in the antebellum south who explained the dynamic power of love…,” “When love is the way , poverty will become history,” and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s quote, “We must discover the power of love , the redemptive power of love , and when we do that we will make of this old world a new world. For love is the only way.” The mentioning of Dr. King is what led me to write this opinion piece.

    Yesterday was also El Hajj Malik Shabazz’s birthday. Better known as Malcolm X, Shabazz was an African-American Muslim Minister who was an American icon who also preached the good news of love. He was a man who loved his people so much that he delivered a speech on Valentine ’s Day in 1965 at the Ford Auditorium in Detroit, Michigan after his house was firebombed the same day. America must begin to love the many contributions Malcolm X deposited into the spirit of the American narrative. After returning from his trip to Mecca, in this speech, he said, “And when I got back into this American society, I’m not in a society that practices brotherhood.” He also said, “Black people are victims of organized violence perpetuated upon us by the Klan, the Citizens Council and many other forms, we should defend ourselves.” His heart poured out much love when he mentions his observation of a Black woman in Selma, Alabama who was knocked down and dragged down the street while Black men just stood there.El Hajj Malik Shabazz Valentine

    He articulated love in another form: self-defense. His message was not of violence but of love or self-defense during a time of lynchings and brutal forces of discrimination terrorizing African-American communities. Even though he was an independent voter, if alive today he would probably join the ranks of those who staunchly support the second amendment of the United States constitution.

    Embarrassingly, in the year 2018, it is still considered by many Americans as a sign of heresy to openly quote the words of Malcolm X and this misguiding violent narrative of him must be revisited by all Americans. I’m pretty sure Bishop Curry thought of using a few quotes from perhaps another speech delivered by Malcolm X in honor of his birthday, but Curry probably knew he would have had to endure harsh consequences in the long run. I close by adjusting the closing words of Bishop Curry, “But if humanity ever captures the energy to love {Malcom X}, it will be a second time in history that we have discovered fire.”

    By Billy Washington
    Guest Columnist

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    New Orleans poet wins world title, uses platform to promote social change

    Kenyan-born New Orleans poet and activist, Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa, has made her voice her life’s work. She has been a writer and performer since middle school, with her activism-based poetry amassing almost two million online views, including an official TED talk titled “Black Life at the Intersection of Birth and Death” in 2017. She has received recognition as an activist in the Movement for Black Lives and in the Reproductive Justice field through her work as a founding co-chair of the New Orleans chapter of BYP100, and her work with Women With A Vision, Inc. Now as Poetry Slam, Inc.’s 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS) champion, FreeQuency intends to use her new platform to do even more.

    Most immediately, FreeQuency will travel to speak and perform at the Breaking down Borders African Youth Summit in Gauteng, South Africa, May 14-18. This performance and speaking engagement is perfectly aligned with her mission, as the summit’s theme is a call to action to African youth to start and continue taking steps and making strides in creating an Africa they imagine for themselves that can also be bequeathed to future generations. That visit will be followed by an intense summer working trip to Nairobi, Kenya, where she will continue co-creating a women’s activist poetry scene called Paza Sauti: Women of the Word. (Paza Sauti is Swahili for ‘Raise Your Voice’). The two upcoming visits to the African continent are not FreeQuency’s first travels abroad to elicit change, her activism track record consists of previous trips to South Africa, Kenya, and Brazil to connect, build and perform alongside local activists and artists, as well as her time working as a featured artist, workshop leader, and festival planning assistant for the 2017 Paza Sauti: Dar es Salaam Youth Poetry Festival, for which she is now partnering for her summer initiative.

    “I really want to use my WOWPS title to allow me to bring activist poetry into spaces that would not normally invite those kinds of poets,” FreeQuency said. “Similar to Darfur-born poet and activist Emi Mahmoud – who used her 2016 WOWPS title and platform to speak at the United Nations as a Somalian refugee and start a peace walking campaign – I view the title as less of an accolade and more as another piece of a platform. I plan to expand this platform for the antiracist, LGBTQ+ advocacy and decolonization work I do. It means something to be a Kenyan-born person winning this award too, and I hope it allows me to speak to more people back home as well.”

    FreeQuency often speaks to creating the world she wants to live in as she calls out this theme in her work, using what now seems to be the catchphrase: “Words Create Worlds.” Examples of such include the poetry she used to land her WOWPS title. Among these works are poems that address issues such as how Disney movies socialize girls into oppressive ways to exist, ways toxic masculinity shows itself on men with a happy resolution, black motherhood in the era of Black Lives Matter, ways religion has been used as a tool for colonization on the African continent, ways in which white supremacy manifests, and the lack of attention the deaths of black women murdered by the state receives.

    Through her poetry, activism and role as a youth worker, FreeQuency said she also hopes to inspire the young people that she works with from east Africa to New Orleans to use their voices as tools for social change. She is the coordinator of the New Orleans Youth Poetry Festival and a founding member of the New Orleans Youth Open Mic, and hopes to help cultivate this space into one focused on pushing community and societal change through writing, similar to the ways she was brought up in the tradition of poetry as protest. While she has been a change agent for much of her life, the 26-year-old finds that holding the highly-sought after poetry slam title will enable her to further her mission of utilizing her voice and words to promote social change. She will use her title to continue shedding light on various issues across the world.

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    Floyd Anthony Johns Jr. takes ‘Black Panther’ stunt role into ‘Avengers’

    Former Baton Rouge Community College student, Floyd Anthony Johns Jr., will appear in the upcoming film, “Avengers: Infinity War,” in a reprisal of his stunt role as a member of the Jabari Tribe from the Marvel Studios film, “Black Panther”. The Jabari Tribe served as members of Black Panther character, M’Baku’s (Winston Duke) army and were featured in the prominent fight scene that took place during the downfall of the film’s villain, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Details on how the Jabari Tribe will be featured in Avengers: Infinity War are not available.

    Johns appeared in his first major motion picture while he was a student at BRCC, with a stunt role in The Butler (2012). Since then, he has 48 film and television credits to his name, including the films Get Out as a stunt double for lead actor, Daniel Kaluuya, and Spiderman: Homecoming as a stunt double for both Bokeem Woodbine and Herman Schultz. In television, Johns has credits in two episodes of the popular ABC drama, Scandal, three episodes of the FOX musical drama, Empire, and two episodes of CBS’ action-adventure series, MacGyver, among many other roles that include individual stunts, stunt doubling, and driving.

    Floyd Anthony Johns Jr. as a stuntman on the set of Black Panther

    Floyd Anthony Johns Jr. as a stuntman on the set of Black Panther

    While at BRCC, Johns studied Criminal Justice. He also showed a high interest in writing and was a member of the I, Too, Am America club, as well as the film production club. Johns’ essay “Born in America: But, Jamaican by Blood” was featured in the BRCC student-produced journal, “America, The Beautiful In Spite of It All”.  He was later invited to present the essay at the 2014 National Association of African American Studies Conference. Johns credits his time and experiences at BRCC for preparing him for life after college.

    “BRCC really prepared me for the real world by getting me organized and giving me the ability to communicate with different people from different backgrounds,” Johns said. “It helped me become very efficient in networking, which is a key tool for the real world.”

    Johns said he gives back to BRCC every chance he gets. He was on campus this February donating his talents in film production to the I, Too Am America club for their annual Black History Month Celebration. He presented a series of videos that reflected the importance of earning a college education, along with those who inspire him from Black History. He also told the students how being casted in Black Panther impacted his life, and how appreciate he is of the many experiences he had as a BRCC student.  

    Johns is now filming a stunt role for the 2019 reboot of Shaft, titled Son of Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson. An additional Avengers film, set for a 2019 release, will feature Johns in a stunt role.  

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    Angela Rye to speak at Southern University Spring Commencement

    Political commentator and social activist Angela Rye will be the speaker for Southern University’s spring commencement. The ceremony will be held in the F.G. Clark Activity Center on May 11 at 10 a.m.

    A prominent strategist, Rye can be seen regularly on several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC and TV One. She has also been featured in publications such as Marie Claire, Ebony and the Washington Post. Her dialogue from political campaigns to legislation and administration policies that have long-term implications nationally and internationally.

    Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Rye says she learned the importance of advocacy through her family’s political and community activism. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law.

    Rye is principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. Her past appointments include serving as the executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress. In this role, Rye was tasked with developing the overall legislative and political strategy for the Caucus. Prior to working for the CBC, she served as senior adviser and counsel to the House Committee on Homeland Security under the leadership of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson. Upon moving to Washington, Rye co-founded IMPACT, a nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement.

    Rye serves on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (CBCPAC), the Seattle University School of Law Alumni, Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network, Inclusv, and Wilberforce University. She is a member of The Links Inc., National Bar Association, American Bar Association, and the Washington Government Relations Group.

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    COMMENTARY: Dr. King, Alton Sterling, and the Difficult Days Ahead

    Fifty years ago today Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was there on behalf of Memphis sanitation workers marching for higher wages and better working conditions. Their cause was central to King’s Poor People’s Campaign, the final phase of his movement for civil and human rights.  The King of 1968 had evolved considerably from the early years of the movement.  In a May 1967 report to the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King wrote:

    We have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights, an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We have been in a reform movement…But after Selma and the voting rights bill, we moved into a new era, which must be the era of revolution. We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.

    King’s assassination cut short his pursuit of this more radical vision.  In many ways it also marked the beginning of a new chapter in America’s sordid problem of the color line.

    chi-mlk26loot-20080228Amid the riots that followed King’s assassination, President Johnson signed the long delayed Fair Housing Act of 1968.  The Act promised to interrupt the processes of Black ghettoization and white suburban flight that were well underway by the end of the 1960s.  After decades of weak enforcement, however, cities today remain racially segregated. Moreover, the nation’s legacy of racist housing policy has led to an ever-widening racial wealth gap that has emerged as a defining feature of the much larger issue of growing economic inequality.  As an affordable housing crisis grips most American cities, the public is increasingly in tune with concerns over gentrification and the need for equitable redevelopment.  Said differently, there is a growing recognition that we must aggressively pursue the hard work of correcting for the failed urban policies that have long had as their chief objective the exclusion and marginalization of Black communities.

    As the urban redevelopment consensus grows, so too does our appreciation of the depths of the problem.  The determination to ensure Black social and economic subordination shaped twentieth century urban policy.  Consequently policing and incarceration emerged as the dominant policy responses to the government-mandated racial segregation that destabilized Black communities in the first place.  Decades of redlining, wage theft, dilapidated infrastructure, and the many other deliberate assaults on Black humanity were casually forgotten.  Black “culture” was deemed solely responsible for the condition of poor Black neighborhoods and marked them for the most draconian, inhumane, and extra judicial treatment.  The resulting tide of mass incarceration further destabilized those neighborhoods while taking a devastating toll on Black families and individual lives.

    These nationalized trends manifested themselves in a variety of locally-specific ways.  In Baton Rouge the record-setting 47-year fight over school integration effectively reshaped one city into two. It gave birth to “North Baton Rouge,” a local shorthand for the geography of Black poverty and social exclusion.  For those who have internalized the logic of racial stratification, having a geographically adjacent zone of racialized mass disinvestment was a small price to pay for the satisfaction of punishing the Black communities they were convinced deserved such contempt.

    Alton_Sterling_just_before_being_shotRacial tensions exploded in the summer of 2016 when cell phone video captured the killing of Alton Sterling while two Baton Rouge police officers pinned him against the pavement.  Last week the Baton Rouge Police Department finally released the body camera video from the fateful encounter. The video shows Officer Blane Salamoni –abandoning any semblance of police protocol or basic human decency– rush a confused Sterling, hurl expletives in an enraged tirade, threaten Sterling’s life before needlessly taking it, then cursing his dying corpse while callously rifling through his pockets for an alibi. It’s shocking and horrific. The tragedy follows a seemingly unending succession of similar tragedies around the nation and a growing consensus that decisive action is necessary.  In spite of all of this, neither the Department of Justice nor the Louisiana Attorney General could find probable cause to impanel a grand jury for a possible criminal indictment.

    The chorus of bigotry and hatred from those who populate the online comments sections of the city’s papers or those who have voiced their unyielding support of Salamoni – even in the face of the new video – is drowned out only by the silence of many, many more.  Part of the trauma many of us experience watching the Sterling videos and others like them is tied to the indifference of those who refuse to accept that something pathological, intentional and historically driven is at play.  It’s likely only a matter of time before we receive the next hashtag about a Black body racked with bullets after making some armed, trained officer fear for his life.

    This is America 50 years after King’s assassination.  The relative progress made in civil rights since April 4, 1968 is rife with tragic contradiction and complexity.  King likely did not dream that after climbing to the “mountaintop” our first words would not be “free at last” but rather “Black lives matter.”

    In his last speech King prophesied that we had some difficult days ahead.  That is as true in 2018 as it was in 1968.

    By Christopher Tyson
    Guest Columnist
    Christopher TysonChristopher J. Tyson is the Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Associate Professor of Law at LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, where he teaches property and local government law. He is also the son of former U.S. Chief District Court Judge Ralph Tyson. Follow him at @chrisjtyson.

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    ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival takes over Baton Rouge April 18-21; April 27-28

    Following its huge 2017 victory at the 20th Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival (BNV), Baton Rouge based arts nonprofit Forward Arts, Inc. is gearing up to select its 2018 All Star Team, by way of its 12th annual ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival, April 18-21; 27-28, downtown Baton Rouge. This year’s theme, “Defining Brilliance”, gives a nod to Baton Rouge’s youth poets who are setting a standard for what literary excellence is in their generation. All events, outside of opening ceremonies, are open to the public. A full schedule is available at Forwardarts.org.
    ALL CITY serves as both a community event, as well as an opportunity for area youth, ages 13-19, to experience performance poetry on a large scale, including a chance for six lucky young poets to represent Baton Rouge at the 21st Annual BNV to be held this year in Houston. The festival also includes workshops, panel discussions and specialty open mic events. At Grand Slam Finals, to be held April 28 at the Manship Theatre, the top ranked team of poets of the competition will be named ALL CITY champions and the six top ranked poets will become the 2018 Forward Arts All Star Team and represent the city at this year’s BNV this July. The 2017 Forward Arts All Star Team won BNV to become the top ranked youth poetry slam team in the world and the first team from the south to win the two decades old competition.
     Web ALL TEEN Poetry Slam
    More than just a competition, ALL CITY has been a springboard for many youth in Baton Rouge to take a career in the literary arts into serious consideration. Five of the festival’s former participants were accepted into the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave spoken word cohort – the only program of its kind in the nation. Of the students who already graduated, more than half have pursued careers as educators in the field of English. The festival also adequately prepares youth participants for larger competitions like Brave New Voices.
    “ALL CITY allowed me to perform my poetry in front of a huge audience,” said 2017 BNV champion and Forward Arts youth, Imani Sundiata. “Having ALL CITY also gave me a deadline to work towards and help with my time management, because if I wanted to get on the BNV team, I would have to work hard and push myself to finish poems and practice performing them. That training and opportunity gave me the stage experience I needed to feel confident in my poems and writing ability. Altogether, ALL CITY gave me the tools to make me a better performer.”
    A poetry slam is an Olympic-style spoken word poetry competition in which poets perform original writing within a three minute time limit. Originality, physicality and vulnerability are some the hallmarks of successful slam poems. The youth of Forward Arts are under the tutelage of internationally-acclaimed slam poets – executive director Chancelier ‘xero’ Skidmore, Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, 2013; program director Desireé Dallagiacomo, a multi-time international poetry slam finalist and viral video sensation; and Donney Rose, a 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. The staff of Forward Arts collectively has more than 15 years of experience as teaching artists and administrators of youth spoken word poetry.
     Anyone interested in volunteering at the festival may contact volunteer coordinator, Roe Lewis, at Roneshialewis@mybrcc.edu.
    The ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival began in 2007 and is the only festival of its kind in the region. It has hosted hundreds of youth poets in the Baton Rouge and surrounding areas.FA_SlamFlyer-Back_2018-edited
     Forward Arts, Inc. fosters personal and social transformation by providing arts instruction, literary education, and youth development in Southeastern Louisiana.
    Festival Schedule
    Wednesday, April 18thCYPHER NIGHT (competing participants only)

    5:30-8:30PM
    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, 427 Laurel St.
    Thursday, April 19th & Friday, April 20th
    PRELIMINARY BOUTS #1-6
    5:30-9:30PM
    Mid City Ballroom, 136 S. Acadian Thruway
    Saturday, April 21st
    POETRY + LIVE MUSIC Concert
    7:00-10:00PM
    Mid City Ballroom, 136 S. Acadian Thruway

    Friday, April 27th

    ReVision
    7-10PM
    The Parlor, 705 St. Joseph St.
    Saturday, April 28th
    GRAND SLAM FINALS hosted by Ebony Stewart
    6-9pm
    Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.
    *Tickets available at manshiptheatre.org*

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Nurses focus on ‘community medicine’ to restore healthcare desert

    There is a new healthcare provider in north Baton Rouge. That news alone should spark hope in many residents from Zachary, through Baker and Scotlandville, and on to Mid-City. But most residents do not know that the Champion Medical Center on Howell Blvd. now houses the Louisiana Healthcare Services and its three providers. Open every day, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the new clinic provides medical care for the entire family, a Medicaid application center, family planning services, as well as onsite lab services.

    Most importantly, Louisiana Healthcare Services provides these services in the middle of a healthcare desert in East Baton Rouge Parish. “We are a drop of water in this desert,” said registered nurse Nicole Thomas.  She and Leah Cullins, FNP, own Louisiana Healthcare Services which opened at 7855 Howell Blvd. in June 2017.

    exterior_460w-300x300

    Thomas said when she and Cullins began planning the clinic, they looked for an area with the greatest need. “The first thing both of us said was north Baton Rouge,” Thomas said. “Knowing that there were a lot of things that were going to fight against us. Lack of resources are in this area, and not just health resources but food resources; resources period are just scarce,” she said knew that those would be a battle for us, we decided to push through them.”

    In 2013, Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital was closed then later demolished in 2015 and replaced with the LSU Health Baton Rouge North Clinic with 15 treatment chairs. An ER was opened in 2017 as an 8,800-square foot addition built adjacent to the existing clinic. The facility includes an infusion clinic and services for primary care and oncology. It sits on Airline Hwy, 3 miles away from Louisiana Health Services. The Jewel Newman Community Center still houses the Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative Health Center at 2013 Central Road—nearly 5 miles north. And the Margaret Dumas Mental Health Center is open a mile away on 3843 Harding Blvd for mental health and substance abuse treatment. None of these facilities are designed for patients to regularly see the same health care provider in order to manage their health. Similarly, there are no other doctor offices or primary care facilities within the five surrounding zip codes.

    “There have been so many barriers to care for so long in the community,” said Thomas who grew up in the same community. As a student at Glen Oaks Medical Magnet High School, she was introduced to healthcare through the school’s medical training classes. She graduated from Southern University School of Nursing and worked as a nurse at what she called “the best hospital ever,” Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital, then to home health, and managed care with United Healthcare. It opened her eyes to the business of healthcare although she still had a “yearning for the clinical aspect.”

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    She said she began asking herself what more she could do to have an impact. “What legacy am I going to leave behind?” she asked. “For me coming back to open a clinic here was purposeful. I realized that every single step of my journey that I went through, every job, every up, and every down was to get me to prepare me to be here,” said Thomas.

    “Here” for both she and Cullins is in north Baton Rouge providing what they called “community medicine.”

    DSC_8414

    “This (at LHS) is where you come to establish a relationship with your doctor,” said Collins. “This is where you come for the personalized care.” As a child, Cullins watched this community medicine being practiced by Black doctors in South Baton Rouge. “I saw how these doctors cared for patients. Taking whatever they could afford to pay at the time. Sometimes it was some type of commodity or produce; most times patients paid in cash.”

    Thomas said she saw the same community medicine being practiced while she was a high schooler completing clinical rotations with nurses at Earl K. Long Hospital emergency room. “This nurse gave it literally her all. Seeing how she was able to truly provide care for the patient and make an impact,” she said. “You change the entire course of their lives.”

    As a result, Louisiana Healthcare Services allows patients to pay a minimal fee of $65 for visits without insurance and providers make house calls to care for established patients.

    “This is the type of care people deserve,” Cullins said. As a nurse practitioner, she is the primary care physician for hundreds of patients.

    Along with family care, the clinic offers wellness screenings, immunizations, HIV and chronic disease management, illness treatment, and family planning services. The extended hours of 8am to 8pm allow LHS to accept walk-ins. There are three providers—one bilingual—and an onsite lab. Medicaid application assistance are available. Cullins said they partner with specialists across the city who provide obstetrics, cardiac, dermatology, and pharmaceutical services for LHS patients. In the near future, LHS will house specialists “so that our patients won’t have to travel out of their communities — miles from their homes—to be cared for,” Cullins said.

    “We’ve hit many brick walls,” said Thomas. “We are writing our own blueprint as we go. We are doing what matters in order to impact this community the most.”

    For instance, in January, a team from LHS joined volunteers with LaMOM at the Baton Rouge Free Health Clinic and provided dental, medical, and vision care to more than 1,400 residents over three days. “This service was so needed, and with all the providers and medical staff there, we couldn’t assist everyone. There were so many,” said Thomas.

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    “People stood out in the freezing cold as early as 4am, lined up waiting for the doors to open,” said Cullins. Many of them had not been seen by doctors for years. Cullins remembered siting with one patient who need to received dental care but their blood pressure was too high. “They were hypertensive and had no medicine and no doctor,” she said. After sitting with them and explaining the severity of their health and its impact on their teeth, Cullins said she was surprised when the patient said, “You’re the first doctor to sit next to me and touch my hand.” After some time, Cullins said, they were able to lower the patient’s blood pressure so that the dentist could repair her teeth.

    IMG-4577“We’ve got to start seeing doctors who care about us,” said Cullins. One of their goals is to build on their partnerships with providers and specialists who will care for patients on site. “We (LHS) are needed,” she said.

    The surmounting HIV and AIDS cases in Baton Rouge is also a major concern for Collins and Thomas. The city is number one in the nation for new HIV cases. In 2015, more than 3,700 residents reported having the disease and the number is growing quickly. “We can prevent this and we can help our patients live longer with the disease,” said Cullins who specializes in HIV/AIDS management.

    “This is a vulnerable community, from hypertension, diabetes, HIV, and other conditions” said Thomas. “Their care starts with a primary care physician not in urgent care or the emergency room.”

    “We both know how it feels to be disadvantaged and being told no for services…This is a legacy we’re building here,” Cullins said.

     

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Photos by Hodge Media Group

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  • ,

    Southern rolls out Ag mobile during annual small farmer conference, hundreds in attendance

    More than three hundred small farmers from throughout Louisiana gathered at the Felton G. Clark Activity Center for the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’s 8th Annual Louisiana Small Farmer Conference. The three-day conference themed, “Transforming and Elevating Louisiana Small Family Farms,” was held March 15-17, 2018.

    Events kicked off on March 15 with a ribbon cutting for the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus’s Mobile Education and Technology Center.

    IMG_0770

    The mobile center will be used to provide educational training, bring Internet access, hands on testing and live instruction to low-to-moderate income families residing in the most marginalized areas and remote corners of the state.

    Sessions held during the day included grant writing, emergency preparedness, and integrated pest management.

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    La Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain DVM

    The second day of the conference began with an address from Louisiana’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM. The keynote address was delivered by Leonard Jordan, the acting chief of the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service.

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    Leonard Jordan

    Session included Programs for Veterans, Intensive Small Scale Farming, Agro-Tourism, Farm Liability Insurance, Social Media Marketing, Biodiversity on Your Farm, Estate Planning, Record-Keeping and Urban Farms.

    The Louisiana Living Legends Banquet was held on the evening of March 16 following the conference’s sessions. This banquet honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    The 2018 honorees were Winzer Andrews, retired county agent/ parish chairman with the LSU AgCenter’s Cooperative Extension Service in Caddo Parish; State Representative Barbara West Carpenter, Ph.D., dean of International Affairs and University Outreach at Southern University; and Veeraraghava R. Bachireddy, Ph.D., professor emeritus of plant and soil sciences at the SU College of Agricultural, Family, and Consumer Sciences.

    The three join 24 others who have been honored with this recognition since 2005.

    Anthony Reed, director of special projects for the School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences at Alcorn State University, served as the speaker for the banquet.

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    The conference concluded with a workshop on Managing Feral Hogs. During the workshop Gene Cavalier, a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry spoke to the attendees about the rules and regulations for feral hogs in Louisiana. Derrick Banks, extension agent at Prairie View A & M University also made a presentation on managing feral hogs.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens-Lusk
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    There’s a Juke Joint in West Baton Rouge

    The West Baton Rouge Museum is pleased to announce the grand opening of the Juke Joint exhibit on April 6th at 6:30PM. This new permanent exhibit will interpret the rich blues heritage of West Baton Rouge. It is one of the first projects of the museum’s new curator of exhibits Kathe Hambrick.

    Kathe Hambrick, Curator of Exhibits, West Baton Rouge Museum

    Kathe Hambrick, Curator of Exhibits, West Baton Rouge Museum

    The Juke Joint grand opening is a tribute to Slim Harpo with living legends Henry Gray and Carol Fran along with tomorrow’s legends Carter Wilkerson and the Riverside Blues Band and Rudy “Trey” Richard, III. We will be frying fish and serving up Juke Joint beer from Tin Roof and the all new “Baby Scratch My Back” cocktail invented just for us by Cane Land Distilling Company, said museum planners.
    A P1390039
    Juke joints have a history that is deeply rooted in small towns throughout the south. West Baton Rouge was famous for the juke joints that provided relief to the workers coming in from the sugarcane fields and long hard days of work on the Mississippi River. The night time establishments in West Baton Rouge Parish drew crowds as the Blue Laws of East Baton Rouge did not apply on the west side. You could hear live music playing all night through open windows across the canebrake. Ernest Gaines is quoted in his memoir, Mozart to Leadbelly, “Baton Rouge was a dry town on Sundays; so I…would go across the Mississippi River into Port Allen, into The White Eagle bar.” He wrote about hearing Bobby Rush, Bobby Blue Bland, and Ernie K-Doe in The White Eagle.

    Learn more of the juke joints and the Blues musicians that made West Baton Rouge famous. Be prepared to dance and share your juke joint stories from West Baton Rouge Parish.

    ONLINE: http://westbatonrougemuseum.com

    Photos by James Terry III

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  • ,,,

    SU Land-Grant Campus holds successful 75th Annual Livestock Show

    For 75 years, Southern University has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout Louisiana to gain valuable knowledge and skills at its Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show. The event was held March 1 – 3 at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena.

    “We are excited to celebrate 75 years of holding a livestock show. Southern is the only Historically Black College or University that currently holds a livestock show and we are very proud of that,” said Dawn Mellion-Patin, Ph.D., SU Land-Grant Campus vice chancellor for extension.

    To qualify for the state show, competitors had to have won first place at a parish livestock show.
    Thirty-nine young people from across the state were named state champions in various breeds of dairy and beef cattle, lamb, goat and poultry during the show.

    Southern provides a holistic experience for its participants, the community and college students enrolled in the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    “Our participants are learning about every aspect of the livestock industry,” said Patin. “They are responsible for feeding the animal, taking care of the animal and ultimately selling the animal and using the money from the show to purchase another animal and repeat the process over next year.”

    Patin also discussed the importance of this 75th anniversary.

    St. Joseph mayor and retired Tensas Parish Extension Agent, Elvadus Fields, has travelled with participants to Southern’s Livestock Show for 57 years.

    “I think it (SU Livestock Show) aids in the development of responsible womanhood and manhood,” said Fields. “Most of all that child is responsible for that animal. If the animal eats, the child has to feed it. If the animal gets sick, the child has make sure the animal gets well.   The child has to learn how to discipline the animal and be disciplined as well,” said Fields.

    Seventeen year-old Destinee Morris is an example of the development that Mayor Fields talked about. The West Feliciana Parish native has been showing steers at the Southern University Livestock Show since she was 11. She said participating in the Livestock Show has helped her learn to enjoy nature.

    “In the past I did not like being outside at all, but now I enjoy being around animals and different farm animals and taking care of them,” said Morris.

    She credits her sister for peaking her interest in showing steers after seeing pictures of her participating in Southern’s Livestock Show.

    This year is Morris’ last year participating in the Livestock Show. The high school senior plans to attend college out of the state in the Fall. For her final show she took home Reserve Champion in the Market Steer Division and placed 3rd in Showmanship.

    The Southern University Livestock Show is like no other show in the state. “Our show is unique in the fact that we offer guided school tours that include a petting zoo, gardening station and educational presentations while the participants are showing their animals,” said Harold Mellieon, Ph.D., director of Livestock Show Programs. “The tours provide an opportunity for many youth in the Baton Rouge area to see live farm animals in person for the first time. We also have college students from Southern’s College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences assisting with every part of the show. This gives our college students hands on experience in the field,” he said.

    Southern also holds a “Night with the Stars: Old Fashion Livestock Decorating Contest” on every Friday evening after all the animal have been judged.

    “We hold this event to give the participants an opportunity to have fun with their animal one last time because the Jr. Auction on Saturday morning,” said Mellieon.

    The “Night with the Stars’ winners are:
    Kyle and Wyatt Sonnier, both from Calcasieu Parish, dressed as the Cookie Monster with Borden’s milk and a cookie in 1stplace; Brady Hayes from Jefferson Davis Parish, dressed as Elvis & The King in second place and Zabadiah Ates from Union Parish, dressed as St. Patrick’s heifer in 3rd place.

    The first, second and third place winners received a $100 and a Ozark Trail 26 Quart High Performance Cooler, $50 and a EndZone Bubba Keg and $25 and a Coleman’s Oversized Quad Chair, respectively.

    The following is a list of additional winners in various livestock categories and their home parishes. Each winners received a premium, ribbon, rosette and trophy belt buckle.

    Registered Dairy
    Grand Champion – Wyatt Sonnier, Calcasieu Parish
    Reserve Champion – Kinsley Windom, St. Tammany Parish

    Commercial Dairy
    Grand Champion – Camille Sonnier, Calcasieu Parish
    Reserve Champion – Kyle Sonnier, Calcasieu Parish

    Dairy  Showmanship
    Grand Champion – Wyatt Sonnier, Calcasieu Parish
    Reserve Champion – Kinsley Windom, St. Tammany Parish

    Brahman Bull                                                           
    Grand Champion – Caplan Young, Winn Parish
    Reserve Champion – John Michael Pickett, Winn Parish

    Non Brahman Bull                                                   
    Champion Non-Brahman – Skylar Primm, Caddo Parish

    Brahman Heifers
    Champion Brahman – Jesse Sandel, Sabine Parish
    Reserve Champ Brahman – John Michael Pickett, Winn Parish

    Non Brahman Heifer                                    
    Champion Non-Brahman – Hailee Daigle, Ascension Parish
    Reserve Champ Non-Brahman – Zabadiah Ates, Union Parish

    Commercial Heifer
    Grand champion – Ashlyn Natali, Calcasieu Parish
    Reserve Champion – Trevor Mclendon, Sabine Parish

    Beef Showmanship
    Grand Champion – Tanner Browning, Sabine Parish
    Reserve Champion – Brenden Ford, Sabine Parish

    Market Steer
    Grand Champion – Brady Hayes, Jefferson Davis Parish
    Reserve Champion – Destinee Morris, West Feliciana Parish

    Market Lamb
    Grand Champion – Jacob Reyenga, Bossier Parish
    Reserve Champion – Caroline Dupree, Bossier Parish

    Market Lamb LA Bred
    LA Bred Champion – Jacob Reyenga, St. Martin Parish
    LA Bred Reserve Champion - John Adam FontenotBossier Parish

    Lamb Showmanship                                      
    Grand Champion – Tanner Browning, Sabine Parish
    Reserve Champion – Brenden Ford, Sabine Parish

    Market Goat                                         
    Grand Champion – George Chambers, Bossier Parish
    Reserve Champion – Katlyn Mathews, Bienville Parish

    Market Goat LA Bred                                     
    LA Bred Champion – Katlyn Mathews, Bienville Parish
    LA Bred Reserve Champion - Luke Padgett, Claiborne Parish

    Goat Showmanship                                     
    Grand Champion – Madison Green, Winn Parish
    Reserve Champion – Katlyn Mathews, Bienville Parish

    Market Hog                                          
    Grand Champion – Brady Hayes, Jefferson Davis Parish
    Reserve Champion – Jada St. Pierre, St. James Parish

    Hog Showmanship                                        
    Grand Champion – Palynn Fontenot, Cameron Parish
    Reserve Champion – Jada St. Pierre, St. James Parish

    Broiler                                                             
    Grand Champion – Jamie Kile, Rapides Parish
    Reserve Champion – Taylor Martin, Rapides Parish

    Broiler  Premier Exhibitor                           
    Grand Champion – Addisyn Robinson, St. Landry Parish
    Reserve Champion – Cedrick DeRouen, East Baton Rouge Parish

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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  • Rose selected for national recognition at The Kennedy Center

    Baton Rouge poet and teaching artist, Donney Rose, has been selected for the 2018-1019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow Recognition. The Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow Recognition is an award that highlights Citizen Artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities and who live up to the ideals of service, justice, freedom, courage and gratitude that are inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s legacy.

    As part of the recognition program, Rose will attend the 2018 Kennedy Center Arts Summit, “The Future States of America: Using the Arts to Take Us Where We Want to Go,”  April 15-16, held in Washington, D.C. He is also invited to collaborate, share practices, and receive mentorship from Kennedy Center artistic partners and staff at the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows Retreat, tentatively confirmed for Sept. 21-24. He will receive ongoing professional development opportunities with Kennedy Center staff and partners; information regarding national convenings to attend, potential grant applications, and other resources from top partners such as the Aspen Institute, National Endowment for the Arts, ArtChangeUS, and Citizen University. Rose is also invited to attend, present, and participate in Kennedy Center’s 2019 Arts Summit.

    Rose was nominated for the fellowship by Maida Owens, Louisiana Folklife Director, Louisiana Division of the Arts. The nomination process included recommendation letters from which Rose received high praise in varying areas of his work by attorney and LSU Law professor, Chris Tyson; former Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon; LSU English professor Sue Weinstein Ph.D.; Love Alive Church pastor Ronaldo Hardy; and Humanities Amped co-founder Anna West, Ph.D.

    Rose began his work as a poet through spoken word and competing nationally in poetry slams. A graduate of Scotlandville Magnet High School, Rose has always sought ways to better his hometown and as such, is invested in the city’s youth development scene. He began working in youth development in 2008 through Louisiana Delta Service Corps. He has worked full time as a teaching artist and marketing director for Forward Arts, Inc. for nearly a decade. He was named to The Drum‘s Men to Watch in 2015 and  Business Report’s Top Forty under 40 class in 2017. He was the recipient of the inaugural Making a Mark award at the 2017 Ink Festival (Tupelo, Miss.) and the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year award from New Venture Theatre. His writing has been featured on Button Poetry, All Def Digital, and in Nicholls State’s Gris Gris literary journal. Following the turmoil of Baton Rouge’s summer of 2016, Rose was a pivotal voice in the community and was interviewed by the BBC, Democracy Now, the New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Advocate.

     

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  • ,,,

    COMMENTARY: Teachers have Been Armed!

    A couple of days ago, I read a blog post from a sister who works within the public fool system. She stated emphatically that if white teachers were to be armed, she would immediately remove her Black son from the school.

    Trust me. I think that that’s a great idea.

    My only issue is that we are so reactive.

    If white folk do this, I’ll do that.

    If Dump becomes president, I’m moving to Afrika. (I wonder how many have actually repatriated.)

    Always reacting.arming-teachers-28166604_10108801548667945_659648788552076372_n-680x680

    The reality is that teachers have always been armed with the weapons of miseducation, cultural misorientation, and low expectations. They, Black and white teachers, have been dealers in mentacide for the longest. That “mental gun” has shattered more dreams and lives than we can ever calculate.

    We don’t need anything else to happen within the schools to know that the public, private, and charter fool system is no place for the young Afrikan mind.

    Let’s be proactive. The proactive posture fills us with power and puts us in control of our lives and our children’s education.

    This reactive stuff is LAME.

    With or without guns in the classroom, our Afrikan minds don’t survive in the contaminated soil of the Eurocentric educational system. But we can do something about that.

    Revolutionary Love,
    Baba Dr. Brotha Samori Camara
    from Accra, Ghana

    P.S. Mississippi has already begun the process of arming teachers. Now what? Read about it HERE.

    Samori Camara, Ph.D., is an Afrikan warrior scholar, director of Kamali Academy–which began in New Orleans, educational consultant, life coach, and motivational speaker. Follow his @SamoriSpeaks

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  • ,

    ANALYSIS: La’s non-unanimous jury law: an instrument of legal, political, social oppression

    While Louisiana fought the Civil War, Booker T. Washington was a child slave.  After the Civil War, both he and the state of Louisiana had a new course to charter. Louisiana, faced with the emancipation of approximately 331,000 slaves, had to confront issues including voting rights, education and criminal justice. Washington was tasked with shedding his identity as an object—a piece of property—and embracing the world as a human with rights, feelings, aspirations and a purpose. History records Washington as the victor.

    Washington, a great orator, writer and respected advisor to Presidents, founded a university and became one of the most influential Black intellectuals of the late 19th century. Instead of true transformation, Louisiana opted for cosmetic reform. It went from a state that trafficked people for their free labor in a financial and a social caste system to a state that criminalized and incarcerated people within the same caste-based structure.

    With high hopes, Washington pleafully penned an open letter to the Post-Civil War, 1898 Constitutional Convention:

     Since the war, no State has had such an opportunity to settle for all time the race question…as is now given to Louisiana…Will your Convention set an example to the world…?…It requires little… statesmanship to repress, to crush out, to retard  the hopes and aspirations of a people, but the highest and most profound statesmanship is shown in…stimulating a people so that every fibre in the body, mind and soul shall be made to contribute…to the usefulness and nobility of the State.

    His sagacious words met resistant ears. In reflection on their accomplishments, the Convention of all white males haughtily expressed: “Our mission was…to establish the supremacy of the white race…to the extent to which it could be legally and constitutionally done.…”

    Non-unanimous verdicts, used in non-capital, felony cases, made its way to the Constitution of 1898. They allow convictions on a vote of as few as ten jurors. Besides Louisiana and Oregon—the only free state admitted to the union with an exclusionary clause prohibiting African Americans from residing or owning property there and once an embracing home to the Ku Klux Klan—all other states have a unanimous jury system, requiring all twelve jurors to vote in favor of a conviction in these types of criminal cases.

    In 1803, when Louisiana became a territory, unanimous verdicts were required. The change from unanimity was to: (1) obtain quick convictions that would funnel people into Louisiana’s newly-created convict leasing system (as a replacement for free slave labor); and, (2) ensure Black jurors would not block convictions of other African Americans.

    This Jim Crow Era law was revisited during the 1973 Constitutional Convention.  A change from nine to ten of twelve was made.  “Efficiency” was cited as justification for maintaining the system.

    In the 1972 case of Apodaca v. Oregon, the United States Supreme Court endorsed this system. Citing Apodaca, Louisiana courts won’t consider challenges, despite over forty-five years of credible research establishing that unanimous verdicts are more reliable and more thorough.

    There’s evidence that non-unanimous juries contribute to wrongful convictions, mass incarceration and the marginalization of women and minorities. This law causes different Sixth Amendment standards between federal courts (which require unanimous verdicts in criminal cases), the other forty-eight state, criminal courts (which require unanimous verdicts) and the Louisiana and Oregon state courts. The impact is tantamount to a form of gerrymandering in that it dilutes a voting block within the jury.

    The law allows a prosecutor to circumvent jury discrimination rules preventing race from being justification not to seat a juror by simply silencing the voice of Black seated jurors after-the-fact. It shows flagrant disregard for the American Bar Association’s position that unanimous juries should be used in all state and federal criminal courts.  The law also promotes oppression and discrimination and undermines public trust in the Government.

    Courts are not the sole solution. The legislature could initiate or endorse a change in the law, which will ultimately have to be removed from the state constitution.

    Racism, oppression and discimination are sustained not only by humans, but also by laws, policies, and systems. Efforts to address one, but not all will produce outcomes instead of changes. Emancipation was not just about physical freedom. The Civil Rights Movement was not just about physical presence. The struggle has always been about social, legal and political equality. The 1898 Convention officials knew the consequence of denying these things.  They observed:

    Whatever is unjust carries in itself the seeds of defeat and decay. Justice is irrepressible. No matter how you may trample it…its voice is never silent. It clamors…with a force that is irresistible until at last its voice will be heard and the structure whose foundations rest upon its violation will crumble into ruin….

    The Sixth Amendment assures an impartial jury and the Framers envisioned that to be a unanimous vote of twelve.  It is our collective duty, “with a force that is irresistible, to crumble into ruin this unjust system.”  Washington did what he could.  Will you?

    Angela Allen-Bell

    Angela Allen-Bell

     By Angela A. Allen-Bell

    Angela A. Allen-Bell is an associate professor of legal writing and analysis and B.K. Agnihotri Endowed Professor at Southern University Law Center. Follow her @AngelaAllenBell

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Feature image from http://www.courts.oregon.gov/courts/lincoln/jury/Pages/default.aspx

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  • ,,

    Louisiana creatives flourish in light of Black Panther

    As the sun rises on the blockbuster Black Panther movie, it illuminates the work of Louisiana Black creatives including an English professor who writes and lectures on Afrofuturism, a comic creator who uses historic air legends to pen a new future, and an artist who embraces the imagery and passion of Afrofantasy in developing the culture for his labor of love.

    A recent Baton Rouge expo brought the three together. Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda was a launch party for the release of Marvel’s Black Panther. The micro-con had a Black Panther theme highlighting a range of comic styles and fandom groups. It featured discussion panels, a comics and arts marketplace, cosplay, workshops, film screenings, games, and competitions.

    The Black creative forces in attendance were quick to explain that Black Panther isn’t revealing the birth of impactful Black roles in the sci-fi, comic book world, but it is shining light on the efforts that have been at play for decades, if not centuries. LSU professor Isiah Lavender III is a latter-day scribe who melds race, science fiction and historic fact vs. fiction. He’s a New Yorker who attended Southern University, completed his master’s work at LSU, and returned to teach at LSU after earning a Ph.D.

    Isiah_Lavender

    Isiah Lavender III

    imageloader

    Lavender is the author of Race in American Science Fiction and Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction. Lavender studies American literature and popular culture with an emphasis on Black American literature. “I study race and ethnicity in speculative fiction, particularly Black writers in the science fiction genre,” he said. “I think the more important question is why study race in science fiction at all?”

    Consuming his theme, Afrofuturism, is no easy task. He explains that Afrofuturism involves the past, present and future of race in sci-fi. “Science fictional Blackness comes into being, dating back to the enlightenment era that remains as a part of the world into this contemporary age,” Lavender said. “I mean science fictional in a sense that these flights of fancy have used science to create a fiction of race as it is applied to Black people, indeed, all people of color.”

    “Now Afrofuturism has emerged to understand the science-fictional existence that Blacks have always experienced living in the new world, an unreality driven by economic demands, would-be science, and skin color.”

    Lavender uses a plethora of beautiful words that signify that he really “liked” Black Panther and is thrilled that this movie, with such a strong Black influence is seeing great success at the Box Office. “We want to see complex images of race and racism and we want to discuss the implications,” he said. “We want to see Black creators do their own thing.”

    Me

    Marcus Williams, comic artist

    Enter children’s book author Greg Burnham ready to do his own thing with Tuskegee Heirs. Burnham is a graduate of Bossier High School and Grambling State University. He and his co-creator Marcus Williams, comic artist and illustrator, have developed a fictional world based on the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, Black World War II pilots.

    Tuskegee Heirs is a futuristic sci-fi that takes place about 80 years from the present in a time when man-piloting is illegal. All air flight is remote or with the use of drones. “These five teen pilots are learning how to fly in the old P-51s that the Tuskegee Airmen flew,” Burnham explained.

    Tuskeegee_Heirs1

    Zachary Robinson enjoys meeting BlackCreatives of the Tuskegee Heirs during Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda at the Main Library in Baton Rouge.

    The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, that later became the U.S. Air Force. They received their training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama and flew more than 15,000 individual sorties in Europe and North Africa during World War II. Their performance earned them more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses and helped encourage the integration of the American military.

    The celebration of Black Panther was also the celebration of #BlackCreatives and the Tuskegee Heirs  creators showed no evidence of competition. In fact, Tuskegee Heirs hosted an exclusive Black Panther movie premier event for fans in Atlanta.

    Tuskegee Heirs stands with Black Panther in many ways including the use of strong female characters: Ayanna, a unit leader; Genesis, the mission briefer; and Jena, the mechanic. Tuskegee Heirs is a six-book series that the creators hope to push toward animation.

    Flying solo and not far behind is Baton Rouge visual artist Antoine “GHOST” Mitchell who has nurtured a stunningly beautiful collection and is moving toward a comic book release.

    Mitchell’s labor of love, Sankofa’s Eymbrace, is scheduled to be finished at the end of this year. He describes his concept as “Afrofantasy.” He employs fantasy settings, but the characters are Black people. “I’m taking elements of different African spiritualities and ways of life and building something imaginative from that much like what JRR Tolkien did with the Lord of the Rings, taking a lot of Norse mythology,” Mitchell said.

    Mitchell_comic_art

    Sankofa’s Eymbrace by Antoine “GHOST” Mitchell

    If differs from Afrofuturism, but his admiration and excitement for Afrofuturism is through the roof. Mitchell explained that Afrofuturism, as what is seen with Black Panther and Wakanda, does not mean the setting is in the future, but that it employs futuristic technology emerged in the current time setting. It is “a marriage of sci-fi and Black culture.”

    Mitchell’s art is vibrant, stunning and Afrocentric. He has not summarized his storyline, but the words released in conception reflect his background in poetry as well as art:

    In the beginning was the beat.
    The beat became the Dual Rhythm.
    The Dual Rhythm became Sankofa, the two Swans of Balance.

    They would become the A’she, or Magical Spiritual Energy,
    Wielded by the chosen Sankofa Children
    Who would stand against the reoccurring force of DysOrder
    .

    Mitchell sees a refreshing wind blowing as more embrace the hashtag #BlackCreatives. “They are anyone who is Black and creative working in creative industries like movies, comics, cosplays, jewelry making, artists, and more,” he said.

    Mitchell, growing up in a small rural town in East Feliciana Parish, sparked an imagination that helped him embrace worlds like Wakanda and realms now open for travel through Afrofuturism and Afrofantasy. “I’ve been doing this since I was 11 and always wanted to do comic books,” he said. “I had this idea of wanting to do super hero-type comic books, but after I got more into fantasy, I wanted to create something that tells an epic story and uses a lot of elements that I’ve mentioned.”

    Story and photos by Frances Y. Spencer
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    BONUS: Blerd-ish podcast–https://www.mixcloud.com/blerdish1/mid-city-micro-con-special/–promoting the Mid City Micro-Con! Guests include Samantha Belmont, organizer; TaLynn Kel, Cosplay Judge and Body Image in Comics & Cosplay Panelist; and Chenese Lewis, Body Image in Comics & Cosplay Panelist!

    Read more »
  • ,,,,,

    11-day Arts Fest features creative writing workshops, spoken word performances, art demos, showcases, live music

    Baton Rouge Community College will present its 10th Annual Arts Fest, March 12-23, throughout three of its locations – Mid City Campus, 201 Community College Drive; Acadian Site, 3250 N. Acadian Thruway E.; and Frazier Site, 555 Julia Street. The festival includes art demos, lectures, discussions, creative writing workshops, spoken word performances, student showcases, and live music.

    Sponsored by BRCC’s Division of Liberal Arts and the Student Government Association, this year’s festival will celebrate community, throughout a variety of morning, afternoon, and evening events and programming, presented by local and student artists, as well as nationally and internationally renowned visiting artists. All events, unless otherwise noted, are free and open to the public.

    The festival will kick off at BRCC Mid City on Monday, March 12 with a breakfast for BRCC students. Festival highlights include a variety of art and printmaking demonstrations by professional visiting artists and BRCC professors to be held at Frazier and Acadian; a series of creative writing workshops and spoken word performances by renowned writers including local talents, as well as internationally acclaimed visiting artists, Hanif Abdurraqib and Ebony Stewart; and the Mid City Jazz Festival, which is in its third year.
    Below is a schedule of events. A detailed schedule is available below.

    Monday, March 12

    Kick-Off Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Bienvenue Student Center, Mid City

    The BRCC Art Club will run ceramics and printmaking demonstrations, and music will be provided by BRCC’s own Dr. Charles Brooks

    Silk Screening Workshop/Textile Printing Demo with BRCC Instructor Jerome Rankins, noon to 2:30 p.m., Old Print Shop, Room 131, Acadian

    Students and guests will be able to screen print their own canvas bag and koozie can holder.

    Jerome Rankins, BRCC adjunct graphics instructor and former Istrouma High graphic arts teacher for 15 years will do a demonstration on textile printing. He will be talking about screens, screen preparation; materials needed and proper clean up to preserve your screen.

    Chronicling Community with anthropologist Malcolm Shuman, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Room 127, Louisiana, Mid City. Local writer and anthropologist Malcolm Shuman will this discussion of the material culture of three communities—prehistoric, African American, and European—at one site, over time. What can we understand about these communities from analyzing the artifacts they’ve left behind? What was the role of art in each community?

    Malcolm Shuman has been practicing archaeology for more than 40 years, and publishing fiction even longer. After serving in the US Army, he earned a doctorate in anthropology from Tulane University in 1974, and has traveled much of the world, carrying out archaeological and anthropological work in the U.S., France and Mexico. MysteriousPress.com has recently re-released fifteen of his novels published in the 1980s and 1990s, including the books in his three mystery series–the Micah Dunn mysteries, set in New Orleans (St. Martin’s Press), the Pete Brady mysteries, set in one of those small north Louisiana towns where murders never (and of course, always) happen (St. Martin’s Press), and the Alan Graham mysteries, featuring a Baton Rouge archaeologist who solves mysteries past and present (Avon Books).

    Tuesday, March 13

    “Voices of a People’s History of the United States” performed by students from East St. John High School (Reserve, La.), 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Voices of a People’s History of the United States brings to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people who built the movements that made the United States what it is today, ending slavery and Jim Crow, protesting war and the genocide of Native Americans, creating unions and the eight hour work day, advancing women’s rights and gay liberation, and struggling to right wrongs of the day.

    Performances of Voices are put on around the country; in schools and in places like Lincoln Center. It is a series of dramatic readings of letters, speeches, and diaries by groups of oppressed, marginalized, or forgotten figures in American history. Based on the work of historian Howard Zinn, Voices challenges a white cisgender, heteronormative, patriarchal narrative of history. Students and special guests will perform these readings as monologues, with narration before each.

    Narrative Creative Writing Workshop with Julie Wedding, Noon to 1:15 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Magnolia, Mid City. An Arts Fest favorite, Julie Wedding, returns this year with her popular narrative poem workshop.

    Creative Writing Workshop with former Baton Rouge Youth Poet Laureate, Brittany Marshall, 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Mid City. In this workshop, attendees will be asked to share aloud their thoughts on/experiences with community. They will collectively discuss aspect of their identities, interests, or hobbies in attempts to find ways to connect with each other and form a collective identity. The text “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks will also be explored.

    Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Brittany Marshall was Baton Rouge’s Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate (2016). She is now enrolled as a senior at Louisiana State University where she is studying English Secondary Education and Spanish. She has represented LSU at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (2017), and is the author of musings of a black girl (May 2017, Penmanship Books).

    ReVision Colorism Healing Creative Writing Workshop with Sarah Webb of Colorism Healing, 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Mid City. Colorism is the bias and discrimination against people of the same race based on their skin tone and other features like hair texture. Participants in the ReVision workshop will explore the topic of colorism from a multicultural perspective by engaging in a sequence of creative writing activities designed for writers at all experience levels.

    Sarah L. Webb is a Ph.D. candidate in English who studies intersections of race, gender, literacy, and technology. In 2013, Sarah founded the website Colorism Healing through which she hosts annual writing contests, publishes books, and provides information and resources related to colorism. She has been a professional writer, teacher, and mentor since 2007, working in a range of industries such as universities, non-profits, small businesses, K-12 public education, magazines, and TV news. Her writing has been published in numerous places online, such as For Harriet and Blavity, and in print books and magazines such as Teaching Tolerance and Dig. ColorismHealing.org

    Wednesday, March 14

    Etymology Creative Writing Workshop with Taylor Scott of Forward Arts, Inc., 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City

    In this 60 minute writing workshop, participants will create a poem from a saying or phrase that they hear so often – whether it stems from pop culture or a particular family member. Ultimately, each participant will take a phrase and create new meaning, turning the phrase on itself in such a way it is unrecognizable from its intended usage.

    Taylor Scott is a writer, performance artist, and director from Baton Rouge who works as a teaching artist through Forward Arts. She is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave program – the only collegiate hip hop and spoken word community of its kind in the country. She has graced many stages including the Little Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway, Contacting the World Theatre in Manchester, England, and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. She directed the Bellhops, a Madison-based blues and hip hop theatre ensemble. In 2014, the Bellhops premiered Honey In My Tea, a 45-minute production that centers the narratives of black women, at the Overture Center for the Arts. The following year, the Bellhops released a 6-track EP, Hero of My Own Tale, which is available on Bandcamp. Scott is now pursuing a master’s degree in English at Louisiana State University, where she has an individualized, interdisciplinary course plan that includes black diasporic literary and performance studies.

    Joy & The Elegy Creative Writing Workshop with Hanif Abdurraqib (5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The workshop will center on the elegy, and look to find ways to extract joy out of a form that is usually reserved for grief. We’ll look at different elegies before using the blueprint of the form to write elegies for living things, for things we find the potential to be hopeful in.

    Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much was released in 2016 and was nominated for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in fall 2017 by Two Dollar Radio.

    Spoken Word Showcase featuring Brittany Marshall, Taylor Scott, and Hanif Abdurraqib; Hosted by Donney Rose, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Magnolia Theatre, Mid City

    A showcase of spoken word poetry by some of today’s most gifted and accomplished writers. Readers/Performers include Brittany Marshall – Baton Rouge’s inaugural youth poet laureate (2016); Taylor Scott – alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave program, the only collegiate hip hop and spoken word community of its kind in the country; and Hanif Abdurraqib – renowned and internationally acclaimed poet, essayist, and cultural critic. The show is hosted by teaching artist and area poetry legend, Donney Rose.

    Thursday, March 15 (Frazier Day)

    Instant Zine Print Workshop with Hope Amico of Gutwrench Press, 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Print Shop, Frazier. At its simplest, this tiny folded book can be made with one sheet of paper, a pair of scissors and a pen. Once we master the basic form, the possibilities are endless. We will start by using a Vandercook Proofing Press to number the pages of your future zine. Then we will use drawing, collages, and other materials (all provided) to create one-of-a-kind books that can be photocopied and shared (or traded in true zine fashion). What is a zine? Short for fanzine, these photocopied booklets were once small magazines devoted to a certain subject. In the past years, book artists and zinesters have exploded the realm of possibility creating everything from books of basic instruction to complicated art books.

    Hope Amico founded Gutwrench Press in 2008. Gutwrench Press is dedicated to better correspondence through letterpress printed postcards, unique hand-bound books and zines exploring our connections to our hometowns. We re-purpose materials whenever possible and encourage you to write back through the Keep Writing Postcard Project. Hope has a BFA from Louisiana State University, focusing on printmaking and book arts. She has worked with letterpress printers in Louisiana and the Bay Area, is currently a member of the New Orleans based letterpress shop, Baskerville. In 2016 she returned to New Orleans where she now resides. In her other life, she teaches yoga to all sorts of people.

    Friday, March 16

    Student Art Showcase, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Winners announced at Noon, Magnolia Gallery, Mid City. Join us as we celebrate the student artists at BRCC, whose work will be featured in the Magnolia Gallery. The top placing artists and artworks will be announced at noon.

    Monster Mugs with Caroline Smith, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Ceramics Studio, Frazier. Ceramics Demo + Talk — come make your own MONSTER MUG!

    “STEAM Day” Event: “The History, Artistry, and Science of Brewing” by German-born brewmaster, Henry Orlik, 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Henryk Orlik is a German born Brewmaster. In his more than 40 years in the industry, Henryk has brewed in Germany, and all over North America. Although currently at Legal Draft in Arlington, Texas, Henryk has strong ties to Louisiana, having worked at Heiner Brau in Covington, Abita, and was also contracted to brew specialty beer for Chef Josh Besh and Zea’s. On Friday, March 16th, BRCC’s Art Fest in conjunction with the STEM department is proud to have Henrk Orlik speak on “The History, Artistry, and Science of Brewing”. This talk will examine the German roots of brewing as well as the current trend of the emerging microbrewing industry, explaining both the science behind brewing as well as the artistry.

    Monday, March 19

    Intro to SUMINAGASHI - Designing with a Dip with Petrouchka Moise of Mooi Labs, 3 p.m., Frazier. Have you ever wondered how do they get cool psychedelic swirl pattern on fabrics, nails, or paper surfaces? Have you seen the latest dip designs on Facebook or Pinterest and wanted to try it out for yourself? Now it’s the time for you to learn to swirl with your favorite colors. Come and unwind and as we teach you how to make colorful creations on silk with the use of dyes, and resists. No prior painting or art skills required. Suminagashi, Japanese for “floating ink”, is what we call is also known as “Marbling”. This is a technique used to create these surface designs that resemble the patterns found in water. It’s been used for many years to create book covers and endpapers, and now we are seeing in high-end nail salons, fashion brands, and home décor.

    Petrouchka Moise is the founder and artist/teacher of Mooi Lab. Mooi Lab is a creative pop-up concept for individuals and their friends to try out their inspirations and passions. Through Mooi Labs, Petrouchka promotes the importance of art, culture, and education across Louisiana and the Caribbean. Petrouchka is a creative driven by the “aha” moment. She is a first-generation Haitian-American from Brooklyn, New York, who’s been living in Baton Rouge for almost 20 years and is loving every minute of it. It’s all about the discovering what makes life more authentic, colorful, and priceless. Petrouchka believes in the power of art. After a severe car accident in 2012, she lost her ability to see colors, to connect with the world around her or even have the confidence to pick up a brush. As she learns to regain her life back, Petrouchka’s artwork has been the source of her healing. “My art helps me daily in learning how to cope with PTSD, communicate my thoughts to others, and find joy in redefining myself”. Silk painting has created a new chapter for Petrouchka. “The silk takes me on a journey of color and collaboration”. Through silk, she is currently working on a collection of art to share with others her process of being a survivor of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

    Tuesday, March 20

    Careers in the Arts Panel – Local Artists for Panel TBA (10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Recital Hall, Governors, Mid City. Members of the local artistic community share their experiences in making their way in their respective fields. There will be a moderated talk followed by a Q-n-A, time permitting.

    Speech and Theatre Showcase (noon to 1 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. BRCC’s stellar speech students share their work in a special performance.

    “Models of Diversity” Fashion Show spearheaded by Jada Titus, BRCC Liberal Arts student and fashion designer, and BRCC Art Professor and fashion designer Cynthia Giachetti 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Magnolia Gallery, Mid City. BRCC’s Inaugural Arts Fest Fashion Show. The theme is Models of Diversity and is spearheaded by Jada Titus, BRCC Liberal Arts student and fashion designer, and BRCC Art Professor and fashion designer Cynthia Giachetti. There will be fanciful fashion, music, and refreshments.

    Spoken Word Performance by 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, Ebony Stewart, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The performance will consist of a collection of poems centered on the theme of ‘community’. Ebony Stewart strives to speak her truth from a black woman in America’s point of view, undo systematic thinking, and inspire marginalized voices. Following the performance, Ebony Stewart will facilitate a Q&A period.

    Ebony Stewart is an international touring performance artist and slam poet. She is the 2017 Woman of the World Poetry Slam Champion (hosted by Poetry Slam, Inc., Dallas, Texas), and the only three-time adult woman slam champion in Austin, Texas. Ebony Stewart is the story of the black girl winning.

    Wednesday, March 21

    Voices from the Bayou, one year later discussion,  3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The student authors of the book, Voices from the Bayou will share their experiences during their book tour since the book’s publication last year.

    “Merchandising Museums: The Unanticipated Consequence of the American System of Cultural Patronage?” by LSU professor, Kevin Mulch, Ph.D., 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Mulcahy is the Sheldon Beychok Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Louisiana State University, where he has taught since 1980. Mulcahy is the author of numerous articles and books. On Wednesday, March 21st, Mulcahy will present his article “Merchandising Museums: The Unanticipated Consequence of the American System of Cultural Patronage?” at BRCC. This article is from his book Transforming Nostalgia into Novelty-The Merge of Museums and Creative Industry. In the talk Mulcahy will examine “Merchandising Museums”, the current trend of museums to cater to the wants and wishes of wealthy donors and corporate sponsors, and the negative effects this can have.

    Ceramics Demonstration with Osa Atoe, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Frazier. Functional Pottery and Ceramics Demonstration.

     

    Thursday, March 22 (Frazier Day part II – Self Portrait Cycle)

    Self-Portrait Photography Workshop with Heather Weathers, 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Design Room, Frazier. Self-Portrait Photography Workshop utilizing performance art methods. A camera phone is required.

    Self-Portrait Video Workshop with Bernadette Vielbig, 1:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Design Room, Frazier. Self-Portrait Video Workshop utilizing performance art methods. A video phone/smart phone is required.

     

    Friday, March 23

    Mid City Jazz Festival III, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (competition); 7 p.m. (concert), Magnolia Theatre, Mid City. The Mid City Jazz Festival is an annual event that fosters Jazz education and performance for middle school and high school students. They interact with each other and nationally recognized Jazz Artists in a friendly and competitive environment. The adjudicators will give constructive feedback to all participants to enhance their performance and interpretation of Jazz as an art form. This years’ judges will be local artist and international touring tubist, Michael Foster, Willis Delony Virginia Martin Howard Professor of Keyboard Studies & Professor of Jazz Studies at LSU, Yamaha recording and performance artist  Rex Richardson. That night, after the competition, the judges, and the festival founder, Charles Brooks, will give a free concert which is open to all participants, their families and the general public. For more information on the Mid City Jazz Festival go to thecharlesbrooks.com/MidCityJazzFestival.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Black mothers keep dying after giving birth, researchers blame racism

     Tennis superstar Serena Williams recently made international headlines after telling the harrowing story of how, after giving birth to her daughter, she had to demand life-saving treatment from hospital staff who didn’t take her seriously. Her story renewed public interest in a topic that needs more attention: Black women in the U.S. are nearly four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than White women.

    According to the CDC, a pregnancy-related death can occur not only during pregnancy but also within one year after the end of pregnancy. There has been a steady increase in U.S. pregnancy-related deaths, but Black mothers are disproportionately affected.

    In Louisiana, Black women are nearly four times as likely to die within one year of birth as White women, Louisiana obstetrician Dr. Joia Crear Perry, president of National Birth Equity Collaborative, wrote in an essay for The Root. The maternal mortality rate for the state is 19.6 per 100,000 live births, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.Joia PerryWhile chronic conditions like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes are usually said to be the main culprits, research shows that some other issue may be to blame for this disparity: racism.

     In a joint investigation, NPR and ProPublica collected more than 200 stories from Black mothers, and revealed that “the feeling of being devalued and disrespected by medical providers was a constant theme.”

    Black mothers from around the country told terrifying stories about how doctors wouldn’t believe them about health conditions until it was almost too late and even regularly dismissed their pain. These stories revealed how Black women are facing these issues regardless of education and income.

    20171207-shalon-in-uniform-inline

     

    The publications also highlighted the story of Shalon Irving, a 36-year-old mother and an epidemiologist from Atlanta who collapsed and died three weeks after giving birth. She insisted to nurses, “It just doesn’t feel right” and was sent home anyway with only a prescription.

    As reported by NPR, Irving was researcher working to eradicate disparities in health access and outcomes who has become a symbol of one of the most troublesome health disparities facing Black women in the U.S. today: disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality.

    Chronic stress caused by racism outside of the healthcare system also influences the health of Black mothers, reproductive justice advocate Elizabeth Dawes Gay, MPH, wrote for The Nation.

    “Black people experience chronic stress resulting from exposure to overt and covert racism and micro-aggression, which can range from something as basic as intentionally avoiding eye contact to the extreme of being harassed, abused, or killed by police,” Gay wrote.

    293884104_4358392094001_1280

    Erica Garner on Time.com

    Some believe this chronic stress contributed the tragic death of activist Erica Garner, daughter of the late Eric Garner. Vox reported that the stress of her father’s chokehold death by police, combined with her chronic health issues, could be the reason why the 27-year-old mother died just four months after giving birth to her second child.

    “The US has failed to deal with its high rates of maternal mortality on many fronts — particularly for women of color,” Vox staff writer P.R. Lockhart wrote.

    These grim statistics reveal that something needs to be done about pregnancy-related deaths among Black women. But what will the solution look like?

    Gay said the first step is acknowledging racism’s role.

    “We won’t go far in solving the American maternal-health problem without first acknowledging and then addressing how racism—both inside and outside the health-care setting—harms Black moms,” she said.

    By Anastasia L Semien
    Contributing writer
    Anastasia Semien is an award-winning digital journalist whose work has been published in publications across the country. This article was featured at WeBuyBlack.com. Follow her at @AnastasiaSemien
    Read more »
  • ,,

    Protect and Serve Louisiana First

    First Black State Trooper reflects on dealing with racism 
    On August 10, 1967, A.Z. Young, president of the Bogalusa Voters and Civic League (BVCL) began a 105-mile march from Bogalusa, Louisiana to Baton Rouge. The ten-day march began with 25 participants but grew to as many as 600 near its conclusion, as they successfully made it to the state capitol. Though the event was organized as a peaceful demonstration in an effort to bring attention to a number of local and state employment discrimination issues, over 2,200 National Guardsmen and policemen were ultimately required to protect the march participants. One of the issues that the BVCL sought to challenge then Governor John J. McKeithen on was integration of the Louisiana State Troopers law enforcement body.
    In response to that public challenge, McKeithen stated that he would agree to hire black personnel for the State Troopers, but was unaware of any capable candidates. After watching that statement on television Ernest Marcelle Jr., who had graduated from college with a degree in criminology, had served as a military policeman, and had a previous stint with the New Orleans Police Dept., called the governor and made him aware of his previous experience and a desire to take on a position with the State Troopers. After speaking with Governor McKeithen, Marcelle was told that he would put him in touch with a black attorney working with the governor who would process his information. Following that conversation the attorney told Marcelle that the governor’s office would make contact with him in a few days.

    AZ Young

    AZ Young

    “To be honest I thought that that would be the end of it. But a few days later I did get a letter from the Superintendent of the State Police,” Marcelle said in a recent interview with the Shreveport Sun about his time with the department. “He interviewed me and afterwards I was selected. That was in July (1967) and they gave me a notice to come back in November (training period). There were 39 whites and I was the only black, so of course being the only black in the class it was a little rough. They wanted us to sleep in the barracks together just like it was done in the military. They tried different things to discourage me. They gave a test every Saturday morning and if you failed one you were out of the academy. So one of their strategies was to get me frustrated where I would either fail one of my tests or just quit all together. During that time I did a lot of praying, and I was able to make it through successfully.”
    Reflecting on his first days actually serving with the State Troopers, Marcelle said, “They did not want to put me in an (official) uniform so they started me out as a detective working in the Wildlife and Fishery building in the French Quarters in New Orleans. I worked there for about a year and a half, but at the time I was working for a captain who sent me in to Homer, Louisiana to work undercover. I was building narcotics and prostitution cases. My cover involved working in an auto dealership at the time. Nobody (locally) was supposed to know who I was. After building up a bunch of cases over a few weeks, one of the drug dealers that I had built a case on came into a restaurant where I was one morning and called me out by my real name. I ignored him but he told me that he knew who I was. He told me that he knew that I was building a case against him and told me that if I didn’t get out of there in a hurry that I would be going back to New Orleans in a box. He then described the captain that I was working under to me … He (the captain) went to Homer and talked to some of the drug dealers telling them who I was and that I was building cases on them. He felt that the drug dealers would then wipe me out.”
    Maecelle said he quickly fled back to New Orleans and tried to contact the Superintendent for the State Troopers regarding what happened, but never was able to reach him. Shortly thereafter he utilized contacts he had with local media outlets in New Orleans and recounted how he was being set up. After gaining some attention with the subject, Maecelle then received a call from the Superintendent who advised him to relocate to Baton Rouge and serve in Troop B, where he remained throughout the rest of his time with the department.
    Ernest Marcelle Jr. Louisiana's First Black State Trooper

    Ernest Marcelle Jr.
    Louisiana’s First Black State Trooper

    “My very first day I walked in for roll call in Troop B, there was a Shift Lieutenant who walked up to me in front of everybody and told me that this was a white man’s job, ‘We don’t want any niggers here and we are going to get rid of you.’ He spent his whole career trying to get rid of me,” Marcelle recounted. He added that the Lieutenant made it a habit to look through the tickets or arrest reports made by Marcelle seeking out white offenders. If he found them the Shift Lieutenant would routinely contact them and get them to file false complaints reports against Maecelle, attempting to get him fired. The scheme ultimately failed.

    After seven years with the State Troopers, Marcelle was an active participant in the National Association of Black Police officers. He helped to organize his local chapter in 1973. During a convention that he attended in Louisville in 1975, Marcelle and three other black State Troopers that were hired later were approached by a representative from the U.S. Justice Dept. The representative made them aware of an opportunity for the four of them to file suits against the state regarding discriminatory practices. Ultimately Marcelle ended up being the only one of the four troopers to file a suit against Louisiana through the Justice Dept.
    After the process became public knowledge Marcelle recalls his time serving on a desolate patrol route during the late evening. Of particular note he felt very odd about a series of communications from his superiors eager to pinpoint his specific location. Feeling that he was being setup for some type of ambush he gave them inaccurate information.
    Additionally he recalls several other attempts to sully his official record and his reputation whereby his superiors would tell him that his work schedule had been changed and he would then be reprimanded later for failing to show up for work. Marcelle said that they used a similar scheme — giving him notice that he would be required to testify in court on a particular issue, but giving him the notice after the trial had ended. In conjunction with some other generally minor infractions on his record, for which he never saw his fellow white officers reprimanded, Marcelle was terminated from the Louisiana State Troopers in 1967. This occurred two months before he would be able to qualify for his retirement benefits.
    Marcelle recalls being frustrated by the move mostly because he was passionate about his role in the department. During his interview he stated that his time in the department was not always bad, and remembers serving with some decent and fair-minded white colleagues.
    Currently  Marcelle  serves as chaplain of the Disabled American Veterans Association. He also speaks about his time as a State Trooper to various audiences across the state.
    by Ronald Collins Jr.
    Shreveport Sun News
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  • ,,,

    We’re over the moon about ‘Hidden Figures’; Celebrate the One Book One Community selection

    It’s that time again – time to begin the 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a FREE, fun, family friendly LAUNCH PARTY at the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in honor of this year’s selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. The title was first announced at the annual Louisiana Book Festival downtown in October 2017.

    There’ll be FREE food, music, games, prizes, stargazing and even a Moon Walk (cake walk)! Our special guests include Tamiara Wade, Ph.D. former Learning Expert at the NASA Stennis Space Center, and Alyssa Carson, a 16-year-old aspiring astronaut who attended Space Camp seven times, Space Academy three times, Robotics Academy once, and is the youngest to graduate from the Advanced Space Academy! Learn more about Carson at www.nasablueberry.com. Partners Forum 35 also will be on hand to welcome the NASA STEM Team!

    There are various other events, programs, movie nights, book talks, crafts and more related to the book and OBOC that will be scheduled throughout the community all spring long. All the events are FREE. A schedule and related information, as well as an InfoGuide, is posted at www.ReadOneBook.org, and it will be updated with additional events periodically.

    Here are some upcoming related events:

    · Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda | FREE!
    10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, February 10, Main Library at Goodwood

    · LASM Discovery Dome Presents Magic Tree House: Space Mission & We Are Stars
    Presentations run March 5 – 28; For a full schedule, pick up a copy of the Library’s monthly newsletter The Source, or visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com.

    · Book Talk with Author of The Radium Girls Kate Moore
    7 p.m. Saturday, March 24, Main Library at Goodwood

    · Hidden Figures Movie Night on the BIG Screen
    7 p.m. Friday, April 6, Main Library at Goodwood

    · The World Behind Hidden Figures with Dr. Renee Horton
    2 p.m. Saturday, April 7, Main Library at Goodwood

    · History of Flight with Jim Slade & Katharine Wright
    2 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Main Library at Goodwood

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

     

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

    Read their individual stories:

    Chauna Banks office

    Chauna Banks

    Michael McClanahan

    Michael McClanahan 

    WHO TO WATCH James Gilmore headshot

    James Gilmore, Ph.D.

    Who To Watch Twahna Harris headshot

    Twahna Harris

    Lynn's Promo Photo016[6]

    Lynn Emery

    Read more »
  • ,,

    City sees community pharmacies expand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: parkersrx.com

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Study: Blacks work 30 jobs at high risk of automation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: jointcenter.org

    By Cora Lester
    The Drum reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Mission to help Baton Rouge kids move more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    TIGER Kids Study with Pennington Biomedical

    Study Purpose

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

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

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

    Study Qualifications

    To qualify, participants in this study should:

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

    Compensation

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

    Study Contact

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

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    John Gray to marshal Mid City Gras parade

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: midcitygras.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Freddie Allen 
    NNPA Editor-In-Chief

     

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

    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge sailor reflects on year of recruiting in America’s Navy

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

     

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    Grambling takes 44th Bayou Classic, heads to SWAC Championship

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

    See more photo highlights by Yusef Davis, photojournalist 

    Read more »
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    Our Glass wins Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read complete story at The Southern Digest.

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    Superintendent does not deserve all the blame

    Many I Have talked to are very dissatisfied with the performance of the current superintendent. We know that the next superintendent must be someone with a strong background and proven performance record in educating children (all children). Our current su- perintendent is well-versed in nance. Yes, this is what our board chose to lead our kids and schools over the past decade; a nance guy. This is perhaps where the notion that more money is the right answer to solve every educational problem comes into play. Maybe we should ask the districts in our country that spend less per pu- pil and yet outperform others. Or, we can ask those districts in places like New York that spend tens of thousands per pupil while performance still lacks. But, that’s another discussion for another time.

    In the superintendent’s defense, I do not think the current superintendent deserves all of the blame for district perfor- mance. For instance, currently Tangipahoa has an abundance of “magnet” schools. However, there exists absolutely no blueprint or school magnet plan illustrating to the public exactly how each magnet program should look and sound by full implementation. Nor, is there a timeline with performance benchmarks so that the indi- vidual responsible for imple- menting magnet programs District-wide can progress- monitor implementation. What kind of organization does not have these simple processes in place? Ours.

    What is the outcome of this? Well, for one, we have commu- nications magnet schools that have been in existence for over ve years without any real outlying educational experiences than those found in traditional schools. What is the blue print for the Medical Magnet at Amite? Is it just the state’s jumpstart CNA programs? Let’s get serious.
    We have kids dropping out of the high school’s IB program because they were not properly prepared for the Diploma Pro- gramme in K-8. There has been no success in securing the ac- tual Middle Years Programme despite attempts having been made since 2012 or earlier. There’s no wonder our kids are having trouble in high school; they are missing the o cial IB Middle Years. Let’s not even talk about the academic per- formance of the district’s mag- net schools. Basically, most of them are in decline.

    As for our high schools, a high school supervisor reportedly assigned e ective ratings to a high school administra- tor who was removed by the superintendent for basically being determined ine ective. How can such a discrepancy exist? Well, based on the lack of growth performance coupled with culture and climate issues that existed at this particular high school, the superinten- dent probably made the rightdecision. However, the individual who gave that particular school leader e ec- tive ratings should have also been repri- manded. The public must trust that indi- viduals are being held fairly accountable for how they perform with our children, and the ability to properly hold system leaders just as accountable as school lead- ers and teachers is a known weakness of the Tangipahoa Parish School System. This system has been known to place in- dividuals in district leadership roles who have not been proven to have been ef- fective leaders in schools based on, well, school performance. We must do better to win the public over.

    Lastly, Tangipahoa Parish Schools contain a reform measure known to help raise student achievement called the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP). The program involves the hiring of mas- ter and mentor teachers in TAP schools as well as a district Master teacher who supports TAP schools. At one point, the system had as many as nine TAP schools. Now, it has only one. Again, who holds the individual responsible for supporting these TAP schools (District TAP executive TAP Master teacher), and why is this individual still serving in this role when the district only has one TAP school? Who pays for this? How did the one school in which this individual was responsible for perform this past year? It declined.

    In conclusion, yes, the superinten- dent is ultimately responsible for district overall performance. However, the in- dividual responsible for district magnet programs, high school performance, and the individual responsible for the TAP should all be held accountable for the performance (or lack thereof) in these particular schools and programs overall. In addition, the board should request a copy of how the superintendent and/ r designee evaluated each and compare these evaluations with actual school/pro- gram performance. We do expect that, in the future, this superintendent as well as future superintendents do a better job at securing the most e ective individuals for these kinds of positions so that our entire district can be led in a more posi- tive direction, academically.

    By Patricia Morris
    President Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

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    Faking normal over 50

    Today’s life expectancy rate for United States citizens stands at 76.5 and 81.2 years for men and women, respectively, according to recent data provided by the world’s leader of medical research, Imperial College London.

    But before we celebrate, it’s important to note that these levels are among the lowest of the world’s richest countries — a list of “lows” that includes places like Croatia and Mexico.

    Why? Because, among other factors, America lacks universal health insurance and has the highest child, maternal, homicide and body-mass index rates of any high-income country.

    What’s more, many Americans 50 years of age or more have discovered that living longer often requires them to work longer in order to keep up with their financial obligations and personal desires.

    ‘Faking Normal’ Over 50

    That’s what one Washington, D.C., resident Elizabeth White, a former chief operating officer for a midsize nonprofit organization, once-celebrated entrepreneur and MBA graduate of Harvard Business School, learned while struggling on the edge of a financial precipice for years, despite her outward appearances.

    White, now in her 60s, chronicles the pain she experienced as her flourishing career and upper-middle class lifestyle came to a grinding halt in her 2017 self-published book, Fifty-Five, Unemployed and Faking Normal. She says that while she “pretended” that things were going great, in truth she feared the future — and soon discovered that she had a lot of company.

    “There’s a lot of pressure to act like you’re doing well. That’s why I describe my personal reflections as an act of ‘faking normal,’” she said while speaking to media at the World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in San Francisco last July.

    White admits that the townhouse she purchased years ago now has a rental rate that she couldn’t begin to afford today. Nor can she afford to pay the fee for private parking.

    Meanwhile, and in terms of how she reached her unexpected financial crisis, White says that after making her mark as one of only a handful of black women employed by the World Bank, she took a huge piece of her retirement savings to fund her own business. Her enterprise promoted African-inspired products — a venture that had tremendous potential but which eventually failed.

    “We were doing well, but I could see that we were not going to be able to grow the business into a national chain as we were already struggling with volume,” she said. “One day I just closed my stores.”

    From $200K a Year to $0

    For a while, White survived on receiving consistent consulting work. Then, as the 2008 economic crash occurred, she went from close to $200,000 a year to zero.

    “The jobs of the past weren’t there anymore,” she said. “And I found it harder to get hired than I did years earlier — probably due to age discrimination. It didn’t matter how great I may have looked. I learned that early; being in one’s 50s was no longer considered ‘young’ in the workplace. I realized I was in trouble.”

    Recent data from several social research organizations indicate that from ages 45 to 55, wages decline by nine percent or more — then dropping by an additional nine percent for those between 55 and 64. And most experts say age discrimination starts at around 35 with women bearing the brunt much sooner and more intensely than men.

    “Maybe it was too many bottled waters and too many visits to Starbucks,” White says with a laugh. “I was embarrassed to admit to my friends what was going on in my life. But it was those same friends who helped me make it. I realized I had to come to terms with my new reality and deal with life on new terms.”

    In her book, White provides over 100 online resources and offers ways to deal with the emotions she faced after landing in financial ruin.

    “We’re in the midst of a massive paradigm shift,” she states in the book’s conclusion. “Much of what we know has been turned on its head. We’re going to make mistakes. Learn from them. Forgive yourself. Focus on what is working. Throw the rest away.”

    By New America Media

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    ‘Buy the Block’ sets out to fund property development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Ignatious Carmouche is ‘The Voice’ winner

    OPELOUSAS–Ignatious Carmouche is “The Voice on Snapchat” winner of Season 12.

    Carmouche, who is from Houston and now lives in Opelousas, made it through the first round of blind auditions and secured a spot on Team Jennifer by singing “Latch.”

    In January, Carmouche submitted a video of himself singing “Pretty Wings” by Maxwell. Never in a million years did he think he’d make it, but out of 20,000 submissions he ended up winning with Team Adam. By winning, he was granted a chance to audition at the Season 13 Blind Auditions and ended up making it on Team Jennifer.

    Carmouchegrew up in a very religious household, which is why he grew up singing in church. Being a shy kid, he would sing with his back toward the congregation, but as he got older his confidence grew.

    He eventually started playing the piano, alto-saxophone and finally took singing seriously. Late last year, he got his ministry license and co-founded his own music ministry.
    Carmouche said he is ready to show the world the power of his voice outside of the church by being on “The Voice.”

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

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

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

    9 QUESTIONS FOR THE BREC COMMISSIONERS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    9 QUESTIONS BREC COMMISSIONERS SHOULD ASK TO SUPERINTENDENT :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Cora Lester
    Drum reporter

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    BRCC Foundation presents: Chancellor’s Evening with Ailey II

    Baton Rouge Community College and the BRCC Foundation will host Ailey II at 6:30pm on Nov. 5 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion, located on BRCC’s Mid City campus, 201 Community College Drive. Proceeds from the event will provide financial assistance for students, including scholarships; as well as professional development opportunities and programmatic grant awards for faculty.

    “It is an absolute honor to share such an enriching arts event with the Baton Rouge community as an extension of our commitment to serve the Capital Region, and provide an opportunity for patrons to support Louisiana’s future workforce and the advancement of BRCC’s students,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib.

    Founded in 1974 as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, the Ailey II company embodies its namesake’s pioneering mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training, and community programs for all people. Under the direction of Sylvia Waters from 1974 to 2012, Ailey II flourished into one of the most popular modern dance companies, combining a rigorous touring schedule with extensive community outreach programs. Current artistic director, Troy Powell, brings a fresh dimension to the company and contributes to its legacy of unmatched critical praise, honors, awards and proclamations.

    Ailey II continues to receive numerous honors and awards in recognition of its community outreach programs, which include going to local elementary, middle and high schools in the cities in which it performs. As part of its visit to Baton Rouge, Ailey II will also visit McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School for Visual and Performing Arts.

     

    dancer
    “We are delighted to host Ailey II and provide a great experience that all can enjoy, and an experience that brings beauty, light, and hope to our community,” said BRCC Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Foundation Philip L. Smith, Jr.Tickets for the Chancellor’s Evening with Ailey II and gala are available at www.brccf.org.

    The BRCC Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit corporation created for the purpose of securing philanthropic support to advance, promote, and benefit the mission of Baton Rouge Community College, its faculty and students.

    For more information, contact BRCC Director of Community Relations Gerri Hobdy at (225) 216-8401.Tickets for the Chancellor’s Evening with Ailey II and gala are available at www.brccf.org.

    Read more »
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    Capitol High School Class of 1957 celebrates with reunion

    The Capitol High School Class of 1957 celebrated their 60th year class reunion on Saturday, September 16, 2017, at Drusilla Seafood Restaurant. On Sunday, September 17, 2017, and the classmates fellowshipped at Living Faith Cathedral at the 10:15am worship service. Classmates travelled from California, Colorado, and Arkansas.

    The Class of Capitol High School/Class of 1957 meets every other month during the Christmas season they join the Class of 1958 for a festive and enjoyable occasion.  Former teacher and instructor Mrs. Elmer Davis, who is 97,  attended the 60th Celebration at Drusilla Restaurant. Committee members for the celebration were Beverly A. Vincent, chair and class president, Joseph Stampley, co-chair and vice-president, Glorius M. Wright, Gloria J. Hall, and Cordelia Antoine.

    Mrs. Elmer Davis, Teacher of the 1957 Class at Capitol Junior High School, and Beverly A. Vincent

    Mrs. Elmer Davis, Teacher of the 1957 Class at Capitol Junior High School, and Beverly A. Vincent

    Pictured on the front row (l to r) are: Beverly A. Vincent, Annette D. Foreman, Eloise B. Ricard, Rita C. Johnson, Leatrice G. Jackson, Bettie S. Dixon, Theda R. Burden, Cordelia Antoine, Bernadine Moore, Glorious M. Wright, Geraldine J. Guyse, Kathryn F. Simous, and Gloria J. Hall. At the back are Rose L. Preston, Samuel Preston, Marvin Foster, Norma F. Reed, Thomas Washington, Russell Morris, Joseph Stampley, and Roosevelt T. Brown who serves as chairman of the yearly Christmas event.

    Submitted By Katrina M. Spottsville

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    Recommended books for young readers

    Here’s a short list of recommended books for young readers to middle grade readers, selected by The Drum staff.

    • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
    • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
    • The Great One by Barbara W Green
    • Trust by Jodi Baker
    • Booked by Kwame Alexander
    • Counting by 7s by Holly Sloan
    • Ninth Ward by Jewel Parker Rhodes
    • Clubhouse Mysteries (series) by Sharon Draper
    • Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney
    • Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty By G. Neri
    • Children of Panther Burn by Roosevelt Wright Jr.
    • President of the Whole Sixth Grade by Sherri Winston
    Read more »
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    For Quintina Ricks, stronger girls create a stronger world

    Program designed to transform girls into leaders

    During the time where many messages for young girls seem to be conflicting, Baton Rouge teens are experiencing an influx of organizations and programs designed to show them how amazing and powerful they are in the world. From Black Girls Rock on a national scale to the local Womanhood101 initiative and the TransfHERmation program, the brilliance of teen girls are being magnified and strengthened.

    Quintina Ricks

    Quintina Ricks

    “I believe girls are a special gift from God and they should be nurtured as such,” said Quintina Ricks, founder of TransfHERmation, a summer enrichment program for girls.

    For two years, more than twenty girls have experienced TransfHERmation at T. Simmons and Company in Baton Rouge where they developed businesses, vision and mission statements, brand names, and taglines to reflect their value system. These values were explored during sessions on gratitude, respect, public behavior, and relationships.

    The girls created products for their business—most opting for cosmetics—using raw materials and scientific principles to manufacture lipsticks, lip gloss, soap, and candles. During an interactive, real-world stimulation, they took on adult responsibilities and purchased homes, cars, insurance, and childcare services.

    13876464_1767600440190901_603581414478951159_nAs part of their transformation experience, the girls learned strategies to improve and maintain healthy diets, relationships, hygiene, and finances. “Critical to their success and quality of life will be their ability to make healthy lifestyle choices relative to managing stress and friendships,” said Ricks. “We teach young ladies to prioritize their greatest asset which is their health.”

    TransfHERmation is Ricks’ brainchild which she started in 2014 as an exhilarating, multi-faceted summer program that she designed to help girls improve their self-awareness, self-love, and self-worth. Ricks is owner of Ten40 Solutions. She said she is an accountant by trade, event designer by passion, and youth developer by purpose. It is within the structure of her TransfHERmation program that Ricks is able to be most creative in reaching the girls.

    “When we invest in young people the return on that investment is immeasurable. We build the female leaders of the future,” she said. The Drum talked with Ricks to learn more.

    THE DRUM: How was this experience designed to be transformative?
    RICKS: Our goal is to build the female leaders of the future. There’s no denying that women are making huge contributions all across the globe in all walks of life. It’s also no secret that women face unique challenges relative to crushing stereotypes and breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling. Our desire for these girls is that they embrace their femininity, understand their power, harness their creativity, identify their strengths, and visualize their future.13653375_1767598700191075_5907672966460323250_o

    Why was this age group targeted?
    This year’s camp experience was developed specifically for teenage girls. Adolescence is an important time. These young ladies are making critical life decisions that will either serve a setbacks or set ups for long term success. We want to equip these young ladies with the information, tools, resources, and mentors to make solid life decisions.

    What life lessons did you want this experience to teach or be reveled to participants?
    Our curriculum is designed to expose these young ladies to lessons that focus on leadership, introduce the concept of entrepreneurship, teach principles of saving/investing, and also highlight STEM careers and women who are thriving in those fields. Self-esteem, self-love, and self-care is emphasized throughout the camp experience. We want these girls to walk away feeling powerful.

    13872960_1767548013529477_6476131997101244025_nHow did this year meet or exceed your expectations?
    This year exceeded our expectations despite some internal hurdles that we had to cross. Typically when we sponsor these types of programs we plan over 6-8 months. This year we pulled the camp together in less than a month. Our businesses were swamped with new clients, which is a good thing. But we didn’t know if we would have the time or the capacity to host the camp this year. We decided collectively that we had to make it a priority and we were able to pull it off. It was well attended. We worked with an amazing group of girls.

    What were the memorable transformative moments?
    The responses that we get from the parents are always telling for me. When you get an email celebrating academic or social growth that makes all the hard work and sacrifices well worth it. We had a diverse group of girls in attendance this year. Some were from upper middle class households, attending high performing schools, taking family vacations, etc. Other camp participants came from extreme poverty. One young lady in particular had not attended school regularly since the flood. Her mother was on the verge of eviction. They had no water or utilities in their apartment. Fortunately the young lady was comfortable enough to tell us what was going on. Our team was able to get her enrolled in school, purchase uniforms, connect her family with job placement assistance, and reconnect their utilities. Were it not for the camp this particular kid would’ve probably dropped out of school and eventually been homeless.

    How does this program fit within your company’s work or mission? Our company is obviously very diversified in terms of its divisions and the products and services that we offer. The common theme across the entire organization is our commitment to giving back to the communities that have contributed to our success. The way we choose to give back is through building human capital. Investing in young people feels good from an individual standpoint, and it’s smart from a business standpoint. The return on investment is so significant that it’s virtually immeasurable.

    ONLINE:www.TransfHERmation.com 

    By candacejsemien
    Jozef Syndicate

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    Youth experience nation’s capital during 4-H Citizenship program

    High school students from Southern University Laboratory School and Park Ridge Academic Magnet School learned about political processes in the vibrant, living classroom of the nation’s capital as part of Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF), an intensive 4-H civic engagement program for high-school youth held at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

    The six youth, Coby Pittman, Jaymya Joubert, and A’miya Thomas  Michael Boudreaux III, Tyliya Pitts, and Michael Wicker, along with Tiffany Franklin, Ph.D.,  4-H CWF coordinator at the Southern University Land-Grant Campus, and Tara Hollins, CWF chaperone, participated in the program from July 10 -14.

    While in DC, the students were given the opportunity to tour the United States Congress, where they met Representative Cedric Richmond, from Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District, and had a personal night tour of the Capital with Representative Garret Graves from Louisiana’s 6th District.

    “I enjoyed the CWF color workshops most because I connected with others from different states and we were able to work together,” said Pitts. “I will impact my community, using what I learned from CWF, by connecting with my people and creating a program that could help them with their problems. Being involved in the CWF program meant a lot to me and I would love to return.”

    For more than 50 years, the National 4-H Conference Center has invited thousands of young people from across the country to travel to Washington, DC and participate in civic workshops, committees and field trips before returning home to make positive changes in their own communities. CWF not only strengthens young people’s understanding of the government’s civic process, but it also boosts their leadership skills, communication skills and overall confidence.

    During CWF, youth get a behind-the-scenes look at the nation’s capital while meeting with members of Congress to learn more about how their government works. At the end of the program, youth draft step-by-step action plans to address important issues in their communities. Youth have developed a plan that will provide a hands-on, engaging seminar with community youth, while discussing the negative effects of underage drinking and smoking.

    “CWF is a great opportunity for young people to come together, talk about the problems they see in their communities, and identify solutions to make their communities stronger,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council. “The experiences these young people gain during CWF gives them the tools and confidence to grow and thrive as leaders.”

     

    Caption for photo titled ‘With Rep. Garret Graves’: Baton Rouge and Baker high school students, front row from left, Tyliya Pitts, Jaymya Joubert, A’miya Thomas, Louisiana State Representative Garret Graves, Michael Wicker and Coby Pittman. Standing on the second row are, from left, Michael Boudreaux III,  Tiffany Franklin, Ph.D., 4-H Citizen Washington Focus (CWF) Coordinator at the Southern University Land-Grant Campus, and Tara Hollins, CWF chaperone. The students visited the Nation’s Capital from July 10-14 to participant in the 4-H CWF program. (Photo courtesy of the SU Land-Grant Campus.)

     

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  • ,,

    A Different Kind of Saint

    Former cornerback puts 300 families into homes, opens the only Black-owned grocery store in Baton Rouge

    Spend five minutes with Tyrone Legette and you’ll instantly hear his passion to rejuvenate broken communities in Louisiana. The former NFL Player played many games in the Mercedes Benz Superdome but the touchdowns he is scoring today are worth much more than points on a scoreboard.

    Legette, a native of Colombia, South Carolina, embraced Louisiana as home as a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints in 1995. After his NFL career ended he decided to remain in the area. “I saw a need here and I wanted to help provide solutions,” said Leggett.

    “Sixty-four percent of the residents were renters and most of the jobs were service jobs. Without a realistic path, many of these hardworking people would never be able to own homes. They deserved to own their homes,” he said.

    “The opportunity to own your own home is the best part of the American Dream. It should be available to all people.”
    He began Legette Construction with a plan to build affordable homes for low income families but also help them qualify for the homes. “We have helped people who have never owned a home get the opportunity to buy homes for the first time,” he explained. Through the Community Reinvestment Act, he was able to share his ideas. Those ideas eventually attracted a partnership with Whitney Bank. With funds available through the Federal Government and the support of Whitney Bank, he became the liaison to bridge all entities together.

    Legette Construction’s homes are now occupied in Harvey (Westbank), the Lower 9th Ward, the Bywater District, Uptown New Orleans, and in Baton Rouge. The company has been a link to bringing other minority construction companies into the fold by contracting them to share the work opportunities. Legette is responsible for building hundreds of new homes and helping more than 300 families qualify to buy them.Tyrone-Legette

    “Mr. Legette is not just building homes. His commitment is much deeper than that. Working for him, I have learned his greater passion is rebuilding Black families,” said Joyce Burges, Legette Construction administrative assistant. “He gets it. The consequences of poverty and the stronghold of financial debt. He is on a mission to help people turn their lives around,” she said.

    Burges, a former city councilwoman in Baker, La., said Legette ’s ideas were so illustrated that she could see his vision to restore the community plain and clear. Rather than seek another council term, she vowed to work with Legette to rebuild her town. “He not only had the resources but he had a plan. A clear plan that would hire people, rejuvenate areas which were deteriorating, but he also had the tenacity to fight the kind of opposition that would surely come his way,” she said.

    Maybe that’s the reason he stepped out on faith and opened the only Black-owned grocery store in Baton Rouge, in an area that’s predominately Black and always overlooked in comparison to other thriving areas of the city. North Baton Rouge, which consists of Baker, Scotlandville, and Glen Oaks communities saw its landmark Winn-Dixie close two years ago. A tragedy that would require residents to drive an even further distance to buy groceries. “It wasn’t fair that these residents should continue feeling ostracized from the economic growth that other parts of the city have become used to,” said Legette . “So, I made up in my mind that I would do something about it.”

    He entertained the idea of several grocery chains but the Sav-A-Lot Corporation seemed to make the most sense. “It was the best fit for this community. Not only have we created jobs in the store but we continue to motivate our workers to think bigger than Save-A-Lot. This store should be a stepping stone. It should not be the final step.”

    Tyrone Leggett. Photo by BlackBoot News.

    Tyrone Leggett. Photo by BlackBoot News.


    The store is a way for residents to get affordable groceries while providing jobs to help produce stable work opportunities in an area that had become used to seeing businesses come and go. “We are here for the long haul. Our vision doesn’t stop with just this one location,” he said. “We plan to open two more stores.”

    When residents heard their new grocery store was Black-owned, it made them even more proud to shop there. One customer cried when the store opened, telling Legette , “I’ve never seen someone who looks like you doing the things you do.” Like other customers, she drives from other parts of the city just to shop in a Black-owned supermarket.

    Football helped shape Legette as a businessman. “There would be 80,000 people in the Superdome but you don’t really see any of them. You hear them, but you don’t really see them,” he explained. “You have to have tunnel vision to get the job done. You have to ignore everything around you and focus on what’s right in front of you. As a visionary, I have learned that same concept has to be applied to business.”
    img_1496942273154-400x300@2x
    He insists his mission has nothing to do with building homes and opening stores. “Those are great business endeavors but it really is more than that for me,” he said. “I am committed to rebuilding families by helping them consolidate debt. If you’re saving $200 per month by paying a mortgage instead of rent and saving another $100 a month or more by buying more affordable foods for your family it frees up money which can either be invested into entrepreneurship or into quality family activity.”

    “Debt breaks up marriages, families, and self esteem. We can rebuild the family by taking the elephant out of the room.”

    Legette has plans to build a quality senior living facility in the near future. While most people would worry about a location to break ground for such a needed facility, Legette won’t have that problem. He not only owns the Sav-A-Lot grocery store, he also owns the entire shopping plaza.

    This Save-A-Lot is not just the only Black-owned franchise in the city.  Legette owns the only franchise of the Save-A-Lot company in the entire state. All the other locations are owned by the corporation. In the ‘90s, Legette played on a football team as a Saint. For the people in South Louisiana, he has actually become one.

    ONLINE:www.blackboot.us/legett-grocery-br

    By Ro Wright
    Courtesy of BlackBoot News

    Photos by BlackBoot News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • ,,,,

    Rock N Rowe concert heads to Perkins Rowe Town Square, Sept 14

    Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor, known for their upbeat dance tunes and romantic ballads with lyrical twists perform for the “Rock N Rowe” Concert Series on Thursday, September 14, 6pm – 9pm,  at Perkins Rowe Town Square, 10202 Perkins Rowe, Baton Rouge.

    The jam-packed performance also features some of Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room All-Stars that include blues rapper Lee Tyme, southern soul singer Uncle Chess, gospel/jazz singer Wyanda Paul and singer/songwriter Larry “LZ” Dillon.

    The band is Henry Turner Jr. on guitar, background vocalists Jenessa Nelson and Miss Molly, Patrick Joffrion on bass, Larry Bradford on percussion, Dinki Mire on keys with Joe Monk on drums and Andrew Bernard on saxophone.

    Some of the fan’s favorite songs include “Ugly Man,” I Might Just Let You Go” and an homage to his hometown, “The Baton Rouge Theme Song.” Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor are well known for developing a syncopated style of music that includes blues, soul, reggae and funk rhythms.

    ONLINE: http://www.henryturnerjr.COM

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  • ,,,

    COMMENTARY: We owe our children the best education possible

    I am a native Washingtonian. I still live on the same street that my parents brought me home to 50 plus years ago. I am a product of D.C. public schools. I began my education prior to integration. I was taught by, in my opinion, the best-prepared teachers in the city. I remember that most of my teachers had masters’ or doctorate degrees and they taught in the field in which they earned their degree. They were highly qualified, dedicated, and allowed no child to be left behind. The principal knew every student by name. She knew our strengths and weaknesses. She made sure that her teachers addressed the individual challenges of each student. I left public school well prepared to face the world.

    Through the years, I have witnessed many changes in both education and community. I have watched my neighborhood demographic change from middle class Black families, to a neighborhood where drug use, unemployment, and the lack of marketable skills has resulted in random acts of violence. Today, my neighborhood is nearly unrecognizable due to gentrification. However, my immediate concern is not growing property taxes or well-intentioned, but ill-informed redevelopment projects. My immediate concern is for the children in my neighborhood, right now; the children struggling to succeed in a rapidly changing environment and an ineffective education system; children who are taught by teachers, who do not relate to their personal struggles and lack the skill set to respond to their individualized needs.

    The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) addressed many of my concerns in education. The NNPA continues to echo the message that giving parents a voice in how the school system operates is vital to closing the achievement gap. It’s critical that parents engage with educational leaders and demand equal access to high quality teachers. Unfortunately, high-poverty schools are disproportionally staffed by unprepared, substitute, and out-of-field teachers. Although there are numerous causes for this phenomenon, the fact remains that, ill-prepared teachers undermine student achievement.

    According to an article by Emma Garcia published by the Economic Policy Institute, about eight in 10 poor Black students attend high poverty schools. Garcia found that 81 percent of poor, Black children attend high poverty schools compared to 53.5 percent of their poor White peers. It is also noted that attending a high-poverty school lowers math and reading achievement for students in all racial and ethnic groups. These discrepancies in access to adequate education expand into discrepancies in economic prospects and social mobility.

    ESSA requires states and districts to ensure that low-income students and students of color are not disproportionally taught by ineffective, inexperienced, and out-of-field teachers. ESSA requires state and school district report cards to include the percentage of inexperienced teachers, principals, and other school leaders; teachers with emergency or provisional credentials; and out-of-field teachers. Reporting this data provides states with the comparative data necessary to examine the root causes of inequities. Title II of ESSA provides program grants to states and districts that can be used for teacher preparation, recruitment, support, and continued learning. ESSA changes the distribution formula for funds by requiring that any increase in funding is prioritized to states with high rates of students living in poverty. ESSA has ended the requirement of states to set up teacher evaluation systems based significantly on students’ test scores. Growing evidence suggests that using student test scores to determine teacher effectiveness is misguided and does not improve instructional practices. ESSA includes a Teacher and School Leader Innovation Program that will provide grants to districts that want to try out performance pay and other teacher quality improvement measures.

    At some point, we must stop treating our children like widgets. They won’t all fit into a round hole; some of them are square pegs. They all have gifts and talents, but it is difficult to realize potential with a rotating door of teachers and school leaders. The cuts in the federal education budget have targeted teacher training and professional development. We owe our children the best education possible. They are our future.

    Together, we can fulfill the promise of ESSA and ensure that every student succeeds.

    By Lynette Monroe
    NNPA columnist

    Lynette Monroe is a master’s student at Howard University. Her research area is public policy and national development.
    ONLINE: nnpa.org/essa

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    Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church senior ushers celebrate 80th anniversary

    The Senior Usher board of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church celebrated their 80th Anniversary on Sunday, July 23, 2017, with a powerful message delivered by the associate pastor Tiffanie Postell. The theme “A Journey of Eighty Years of Ushering Ministry As Servants of God.”

    Usher Edith Cox presided for this special celebration. The morning prayer was offered by Esau Wright and the Occasion/Tribute to deceased members (A Rose Garden of Love) was given by usher Geraldine Simms. President Barbara Daigre and Usher Wanda Henderson shared certificates with all Senior Ushers. They also recognized and presented trophies to Ushers with the longest years of service.

    Esau Wright – 43 years of service
    Audrey Palmer – 42 years of service
    Willie Johnson – 41 years of service

    An 80th Anniversary Bible book mark as a keepsake for Senior Ushers was a donation from the Historians. The 80th Anniversary Celebration ended with a wonderful Fellowship Fish Fry held at Camphor’s Outreach Center. The Senior Usher Board of Camphor Memorial Methodist Church was organized in 1937, under the pastorate of Reverend George Zilton. Charter Members were: Oliver Chambers, Bertha Lands, Carrie Alexander, Juanita Grant, Bernice Robertson, John Jefferson, Tula Allen, Kelly Greene, Della R. Thomas and Willie Rowley. Bertha Lands served as the first president, followed by Oliver Chambers, Carrie Alexander, Alphonse Thomas, Lou Audrey Mathews and Mae Francis Wade.

    Barbara Daigre was elected president in 1998 under the pastorate of Reverend Roger Lathan and Pastor Darlene Moore. She continues to serve under the present leadership of Pastor Clifton C. Conrad, Sr. and Associate Pastor Tiffanie Postal.

    The first president and charter members mission and vision was to build a strong foundation for ushering ministry at Camphor. Records have been kept as far back as 1973 of minutes, programs, pictures, certificates, etc. which were compiled by the late reporter/secretary Usher Leveria L. Watson. Prior to 1973 other historical information/records were destroyed by a church fire. They are now being contained by present Historians Geraldine Simms and Mary Emerson.

    Through the years, the Senior Usher Board Legacy membership have provided services to Camphor and the Scotlandville community through special needs of the church, community outreach needs, volunteer donations, special events of the church, monetary donations, recognition gifts and offering and fulfilling other services as servants of God.
    2017 Senior Ushers of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church: Barbara Daigre, Luella Johnson, Edith Cox, Audrey Palmer, Robbyn Matthews, Willie Johnson, Geraldine Simms, Mary Emerson, Alton Bates, Alton Bates II, Alex Coleman Jr., Renard Compton, Luttrell Cox, Herman Daigre Sr., Larry Palmer, Jackie Hamilton, John Hammond, Wander Henderson, Diane Henry, Gwendolyn Herson, Henry Knox Jr., Mattie Robinson, Josh McDaniels Jr., Gail McKay, Sandra Sterling, Lurlean W. Woods, Esau Wright, Michelle Johnson, Ceasar Wilson and Jennifer Patterson.

    Camphor is proud and blessed to have two other active ushering groups: The Young Adult Ushers and the Junior Ushers who are aspiring to become Senior Ushers.

    The Ushers have dedicated themselves to God’s work, focusing on evangelism, preparation for worship services and promoting growth and development through Christianity. A Journey of Eighty Years of Ushering Ministry as Servants of God.

    Submitted by P. Johnson

    First row: (L-R) Alton Bates, Alton Bates II, Larry Palmer, Esau Wright, Herman Daigre Sr., Barbara Daigre, Luella Johnson, Gwendolyn Herson, Edith Cox, Audrey Palmer, Jackie Hamilton, Geraldine Simms, Lurlean Wade, Mary Emerson, Diane Henry, and Wanda Henderson. Back Row: (L-R) Luttrell Cox, Alex Coleman Jr., Ceasar Wilson, Renard Compton and Robbyn Mathews. Picture by Ernise Singleton

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  • ,,

    Broome provides status report on BRAVE grant

    As promised last week, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome provided a status report on the BRAVE grant and recent contracts issued. She said:

    The report released today by my office details developments pertaining to the BRAVE program since its inception. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the program and documents the problems incurred in 2016 that led to the program being sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In addition, this report presents the efforts of this administration to correct those problems. The objectives of BRAVE were and will remain important. My administration will continue to address those issues that have a significant impact on the Baton Rouge community. We will also continue to be committed to transparency, and continue to move forward and work towards creating a better future for the citizens of Baton Rouge.

    The four-page report :o llows

    STATUS REPORT ON THE
    BATON ROUGE AREA VIOLENCE ELIMINATION (BRAVE) PROJECT
    FEDERAL AWARD NO. 2012-PB-FX-K001

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    The Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Program, or B.R.A.V.E., is a partnership between the City of Baton Rouge and the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office to address violent crime in the 70802 and 70805 zip codes in Baton Rouge. B.R.A.V.E. is funded through a U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program (USDOJ-OJJDP) grant, Federal grant number 2012-PB-FX-K001, that began on October 1, 2012. In addition to the Mayor’s Office and District Attorney, the B.R.A.V.E. program also coordinated with the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, Louisiana State University’s Office of Social Service Research and Development, local service providers, faith-based representatives and community leaders.

    BRAVE was originally funded by USDOJ-OJJDP in the amount $1,499,993. Subsequent supplemental awards in the amounts of $1,458,231 and $70,000 increased the total funding of the BRAVE project to $3,028,224 by 2015.

    Early in the administration of Mayor-President Broome the Mayor’s Office (OM) was informed that the BRAVE grant was being suspended due to reporting and compliance deficiencies occurring in 2016 during the administration of Mayor-President Holden. The OM attempted to address the deficiencies with the USDOJ-OJJDP and requested a reauthorization and extension of the grant. This request was denied. The OM subsequently sought to spend the remaining grant funds in fulfillment of original grant aims that were never pursued or fulfilled. On July 26 the OM suspended the program pending further review after concerns were expressed by members of the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Metropolitan Council regarding BRAVE grant recipients and the status of Louisiana State University’s (LSU) request for additional funding. Mayor-President Broome requested the completion of this report to review past performance and present status.

    PROGRAM OVERVIEW and GRANT HISTORY
    The B.R.A.V.E. project description in the original grant application is as follows:
    The Baton Rogue Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program will address the displacement of violent juvenile crime occurring in the 70805 and 70802 zip codes, to a successful implementation of a Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) locally called the BRAVE program. The program will reduce and eliminate violent crime being committed by a small number of juvenile offenders. The program will be implemented under the guidance of the Mayor and the District Attorney to target violent youth offenders, ages 12-17, and their associates. BRAVE seeks to (1) change the community norms toward gang and group violence; (2) provide alternatives to criminal offending by the targeted group; and (3) alter the perception of youth regarding risks and sanctions associated with violent offending. These will be accomplished through engagement and educational opportunities to increase the social cohesion of the community and development of an authentic police-community relationship; through the coordination of local service and educational providers who will offer help to youth and implementation of a focused deterrence strategy to community based policing.
    From October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2016, the Holden Administration engaged the following local entities for services under the B.R.A.V.E. grant:

    • Capital Area Human Services was contracted to provide abuse and health treatment to its program participants, provide police mentoring, and collect performance measures. ($187,500/380,916)
    • Healing Place Services was contracted to provide case management, educational career, and job assistance to participants in the program. ($201,870/222,721.74)
    • LSU was contracted to evaluate activities based on the grant goals and objectives, and analyze data related to BRAVE. ($558,692/645,145.37)
    • The Louisiana Sports Network was contracted to provide sports mentoring to referred program participants, provide program evaluation and collect performance measures. ($42,000)
    • Hope Ministries was contracted to provide job assessment to participants in the program and provide career and family mentoring to program participants. ($75,000)
    • Fealy and Sumner Policing Solutions were contracted to be technical advisors to aid BRAVE in advice, training, and performance evaluation of their strategies. ($5,000)
    • Family Youth Service Center was contracted ($330,342)
    • Tonja Myles was contracted to formulate, coordinate, and execute plans to safely arrest juvenile offenders that violated their conditions of supervision as appointed by the Juvenile Court Judge. In addition, she collaborates with law enforcement and the judicial system to monitor juvenile offenders and advocate for BRAVE in the public sphere. ($195,000)
    • Garrison & Associates were contracted to uphold the goals of BRAVE through engagement and educational activities intended to increase informal social control and police effectiveness. ($1,050.00)
    • EBR Truancy was contracted to provide case management and other social services to BRAVE participants. ($330,342)
    • Printing tech was contracted to provide push cards for the City of BR Mayor’s Office. ($110.50)
    • TJM Promotions were contracted to provide wristbands for high school students. ($310.00)

    Conservative Total: $ 1927216.5
    Since the summer of 2017, there have been a number of smaller vendors issued contracts under $10,000, for skills training in the field of cosmetology, mentorship, arts, and sports networks, amongst other community services. Some of these companies were vendors previously for the city, many years prior to Mayor Broome taking office.

    STATUS REPORT AT TRANSITION OF MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION
    On February 14 2017 the Department of Justice notified the Office of the Mayor-President that the BRAVE grant funds were frozen due to an overdue progress report, which was due January 30, 2017. That delayed report followed earlier reports that were submitted in June 2016 and December 2016 that requested data on performance measures that were not being collected by the LSU Office of Social Research and, therefore, were not reported. Those measures related to youth served and the statistics involving youth and crime in the area. The June 30, 2017 report contained the data requested.

    On March 1 2017 the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer and the Federal and State Grants Coordinator, conducted a telephone conference call with DOJ to discuss the requirements for lifting the freeze on the remaining funds which totaled $1.6 million. A request for an extension was also discussed.

    The OM was informed that the grant would likely not be extended because of poor programmatic performance, lack of enough youth and adults being served, two extension requests having already been approved and funding still had not been spent, and other findings from a previous audit. (Attachment “B”) The SPM also specifically mentioned the need for transportation services as she was aware that transportation services for clients was a huge challenge to program success.

    Additionally, the OM and the SPM discussed using the remaining grant funds for various interventions that did not appear to have been met in the BRAVE Project Narrative goals/outcomes or could improve performance outcomes. For example, call-ins, more programs that engage youth across the parish and within the targeted zip codes, as well as reporting requirements and the lack of reports submitted in the past. The OM suggested spending these funds in community programming related to the arts, sports, and other activities. The OM was informed that expenditures would be acceptable as long as they aligned with the grant. When the OM asked the SPM how the remaining $1.6 million could be spent when there were currently only eight (8) BRAVE clients, the SPM explained that the funds could be used to serve BRAVE clients, their families and affiliates of BRAVE clients, and any resident in the t zip codes. The OM inquired about turning away youth or adults who attend BRAVE programs and request assistance but do not live in the targeted zip codes. The SPM explained that as long as 50% of the participants were from the targeted zip code, the OM could host activities parish-wide.

    The new FSGC hired under Mayor-President Broome worked diligently between the months of March, April, and May 2017 to collect data and access OJJDP systems. The OM undertook the completion of the extension request, attended BRAVE Core meetings, processed invoices for independent contractors, and held individual conferences with BRAVE clients and their families.

    On May 5, 2017, the current OM submitted the revised overdue semi-annual report successfully into the GMS. The OM also submitted a draft contract of the Courier Transportation Service.

    On May 5, 2017 the OM received a response from the SPM thanking us for submitting the overdue report and asked specifically what was being done about the need for transportation services for BRAVE. (Attachment “C”) The SPM indicated that she recalled the OM working on a proposal for transportation services and wanted a status update. She was referring to the OM’s previous commitment on the March 1, 2017 conference call that transportation services will be provided to grant participants.

    On May 8, 2017, the OM was notified that the progress report had been approved, the request for Release Funds GAN for 2012-PB-FX-K001 (BRAVE Funding) was approved, and the hold on $1.7 million in BRAVE funding had been lifted. (Attachment “D”)

    In response to the SPM’s reference to unmet BRAVE goals, it was observed that one of the enumerated goals identified by the BRAVE Project Narrative stated:
    Goal 2: Provide Alternatives To Violent Criminal Offending To Targeted Youth.
    Output Measure 2a(1) – Approximately Twenty (20) community service providers will be organized to plan services for youth opting out.
    Output Measure 2a(2) – Twenty-seven (27) clergy, churches, and faith- based institutions will be organized to communicate the message to youth that there is help for those who want to leave their violent lifestyle.
    Output Measure 2b(1) – Approximately 25 youth annually will receive street outreach, case management and relevant transportation for services. Services will also include assessment, counseling, access to intensive additive and mental health intervention, mentoring, educational, job/career prep assessment and planning, parental support groups and referral to area youth recreation and development programs.
    Output Measure 2b(3) – Twenty-five (25) youth participants will receive membership to the Louisiana Youth Sports Network to go along with additional scholarships that are donated for 70805 targeted youth. This agency uses sports to attract youth into character development situations, education on good citizenship values and practice in using conflict resolution strategies. [This budget line item was never utilized.]
    Objective 2a: To coordinate BRAVE community providers to address the needs of 20- 40 targeted youth annually (25 average) who opt out of violent behavior and accept offers for help from community and law enforcement. Strategies included:

    • Coordinating existing agencies and providers to address needs of youth who choose a non- violent lifestyle.
    • Establishing an array of evidence- based services and activities to attract youth and provide the intervention they need.
    • Market ‘process” for opting out to clergy, providers, residents so they can provide information to violent youth.
    • To develop and offer multiple services aimed at the crimogenic needs of 20-40 youth.
    • Strategies included:
      • Provide entry level case management and assessment of needs.
      • Access to intensive addiction and mental health intervention, mentoring, counseling, parental support and any services as needed.
      • Create a focused approach on job/ career assessment and planning, educational assistance, placement in one of vo-tech training programs.
      • Promote nonviolent behavior/ character development through use of sports and recreation.

    The OM began to strategize about ways to reach the targeted goals enumerated in the grant narrative and identify the means to meet those goals.

    REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING BY LSU
    In February 15, 2017 email, the former FSGC sent an email to the City-Parish Grants Review Committee (GRC) requesting the need to delete the amendment to the LSU agreement for BRAVE from the GRC agenda. This amendment requested $125,000 in new money out of the grant for LSU to conduct research and evaluation of BRAVE project activities. The former FSGC also alerted the Mayor Pro-tem.

    The OM requested from LSU a more detailed explanation for the use of the requested $125,000, as well as, a synopsis of any BRAVE expenditures and outstanding invoices. LSU acknowledged that the additional funds would be used for continued evaluation, crime data tracking services, and performance reporting. The OM responded to LSU that there was only $36,000 remaining in the budget earmarked for LSU to provide those services, and $645,000 of a total of $681,000 had been expended.

    The City and LSU came to an agreement that the request for an additional $125,000 would be contingent upon approval of the grant extension request. In a March 6, 2017 email the new FSGC (hired under Mayor-President Broome) made a request to LSU for copies of all BRAVE annual reports, and any updates on the successes and challenges of the BRAVE Program. The OM sent an email to the BRAVE Core team requesting all outstanding invoices be sent to the OM for processing, and to ensure an accurate picture of the budget, with any recommendations to improve the program.

    At the request of the OM, a meeting was held with the BRAVE Core team to discuss successes and challenges of the Brave program, and outstanding invoices and budget matters.

    REQUEST FOR NO-COST EXTENSION
    The OM alerted LSU and the District Attorney that the City would be submitting another extension request, despite the chances of the extension not being approved. The OM hosted a meeting with representatives from the BRAVE Core team to exchange ideas in developing the extension request. Suggestions were made related to transportation, increased programming around the implementation of programs that had not been addressed including alternatives to criminal activity such as the arts and sports, the need to increase the number of case managers, street workers and surveillance, and the requirements for program evaluation and research.

    In April 2017 the Office of the Mayor President officially requested an extension of the grant through August 31 2018. That request was denied on June 8 2017 and the following reasons were cited by the DOJ for the denial:

    1. $257,370 was listed as allocated to personnel, however, the Program Coordinator was funded by the City.
    2. A grantee reported $5460 for Project BRAVE Director and City financial management training in Washington, DC. However, it appeared that only one training had been completed online.
    3. $380,916 was listed for a contract with Capital Area Human Services District for mental health and substance abuse treatment for 150 youth and 600 case conference meetings, yet only 64 youth were served and it is unclear how many, if any, case conference meetings were held.
    4. $408,000 is listed for a contract with Family Youth Service Center for case management, transportation and community outreach, yet that grantee had not provided documentation of how many youths received those serves and what kind of services were being funded by the grant.

    MOVING FORWARD
    The OM sent the SPM an email accepting the denial and indicating that the BRAVE program would continue its efforts and provision of services until the end of the grant period. The email confirmed that the OM would implement community programs, services and interventions throughout the summer, including transportation services until September 17th. The OM also reaffirmed the conversation via telephone with the SPM that since we could not spend $1.6 million in three to four months, the OM would award contracts under the $17,500 threshold in a good faith effort to serve the community until the end of the grant.

    Realizing the abbreviated time frame in which to work, the OM undertook to review the outstanding goals and output measures which had not been accomplished, and began to hold meetings with community stakeholders and potential service providers.

    The FSGC requested OJJDP clarify in writing federal procurement requirements for contracts $5000 and above because the OM anticipated spending dollars on smaller contracts for services because of the limited time before the grant would end, and to allow for a more expedited process for getting services to the community. The OM specifically mentioned the transportation service as an example, within the email. The OM was informed that all contracts below $150,000 should follow city procurement procedures. Contracts over $150,000 would be required to follow federal procurement procedures. Those procedures were provided for review.
    At the request of the OM, the Parish Attorney provided a template for a Professional Services Agreement. The Parish Attorney explained that the OM would be responsible for drafting the professional service agreements, which would be reviewed by the Parish Attorney.

    The OM asked the Chair of the Grants Review Committee (GRC) to explain the grants review process because the OM anticipated utilizing mini contracts to meet the outstanding goals of BRAVE during the last ninety days of the grant period.

    The OM alerted the GRC that the OM would be submitting professional service agreements below $17,500 to the GRC for review in its commitment to the SPM. This maximum amount of the contracts were set so that the contracts could be expedited. Council approval would create a significant time delay and jeopardize the opportunity to provide the services in the time remaining on the grant.

    The services and compensation, excluding the canceled contract for Arthur Reed, were as follows:

    • Todd Sterling of Alpha Media and Public Relations was contracted to provide audio/visual seminars for trauma training. In addition, public relations tools were to be developed. ($9,950)
    • Joseph Hines was contracted to provide a four-week summer program to improves youth’s capacity for leadership, business, and entrepreneurship through self-discovery in the arts. Health, wellness, and art exposure were also to be provided. ($9,600)
    • Walter McLaughlin was contracted to provide a four week creative arts program that targeted mentorship, event production, talent development, and community outreach. ($9,800)
    • Donney Rose was contracted to provide a four week creative arts program for teenagers that targeted mentorship, poetry workshops, performance coaching, and improvisation techniques. ($7,600)
    • Desiree Bewley was contracted to provide a four week creative arts program for teenagers that targeted mentorship, poetry workshops, performance coaching, and improvisation techniques. ($7,600)
    • Chancelier Skidmore was contracted to provide a four week creative arts program for teenagers that targeted mentorship, poetry workshops, performance coaching, and improvisation techniques. ($7,600)
    • Christopher Patrick Turner was contracted to provide a four-week summer program to improves youth’s capacity for leadership, business, and entrepreneurship through self-discovery in the arts. Health, wellness, and art exposure were also to be provided. ($9,600)
    • New Hope Outreach Ministries was contracted to assess, evaluate and counsel those suffering [addiction], abuse, and related mental health issues. Job readiness, retention, parenting skills, and case management were also in their realm of duties. ($17,000)
    • Pink Blossom Alliance was contracted to perform community outreach events in an effort to expose young women to professional women in their community, exposing them to careers in STEM , social services, criminal justice, etc. ($9,900)
    • Isaiah Marshall was contracted to serve as a facilitator/ host of community sporting events to cultivate community and establish skills that sports enhance such as teamwork, responsibility leadership, and pride. ($9,500)
    • Zuri Sanchez was contracted to serve as a facilitator/ host of community sporting events to cultivate community and establish skills that sports enhance such as teamwork, responsibility leadership, and pride. ($9,500)
    • Runner’s Courier Services was contracted to provide transportation services to BRAVE program participants to court appearances, medical, and social service appointments. ($17,500)
    • Willie Payne was contracted to provide employment and skills training in the field of cosmetology, barbering, and hair styling to BRAVE participants. ($9,900)
    • Elm Grove Church was contracted to provide a summer youth academy focused on youth violence reduction and prevention. They agreed to utilize the curriculum designed and provided by the City-Parish. ($16,000)
    • Joseph Bean was contracted to serve as a facilitator/ host of community sporting events to cultivate community and establish skills that sports enhance such as teamwork, responsibility leadership, and pride. ($9,500)

    Total: $160,550

    The GRC was informed that the OM would bring a minimal number of contracts through the review process for approval, and that specifically the OM no longer needed the larger funding for the courier service since the request for a no-cost extension had been denied. It was decided to execute an agreement reflecting the need for transportation services for a shorter period of time.
    The OM requested a proposal from Runner’s Courier Service. This firm has done business with the City of Baton Rouge, and would be an immediate solution to the transportation problem acknowledged both by the BRAVE Core team and the SPM.

    From mid-June until the present, it has been the sole intent of the OM to fulfil the goals of the BRAVE project narrative, and salvage the use of remaining funds to the greatest extent possible in the limited time remaining in the grant period. All of the Professional Service Agreements entered into by the OM align with the goals and strategies identified in the approved BRAVE program narrative.
    All contracts were encumbered by the Finance Department of the City, and signed by the Purchasing Department.

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    Celebrity Chef Ryan Rondeno launched new line of Spice Rubs

    Celebrity Chef Ryan Rondeno specializes in French Creole Cuisine and has leaned on his Louisiana upbringing as the foundation for his signature Spice Rub. The ‘Ryan Rondeno Spice Collection’ is a mixture of spices that’s perfect for various cooking techniques. As the spring and summer approaches, grilling is a popular cooking technique that’s well used. It can be used to enhance the flavor of chicken, fish, meats and even veggies. The delicious spices not only add the perfect kick to all your favorite dishes, but are also gluten and preservative free.

    The Metairie, Louisiana born chef’s inspiration was to create a collection of rubs that will turn every day recipes into a fine-dining experience. Chef Ryan Rondeno plans to empower people with great spices and recipes to help them prepare meals that the entire family will enjoy. On his website, RondenoCulinaryDesigns.com, he shares some easy recipes to create with the ‘Spice It Up Rub It Down’ ebook. His ‘Ryan Rondeno Spice Collection’ is also now available for purchase via the web site.

    ONLINE: www.RondenoCulinaryDesigns.com

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    Baton Rouge youth dominate, claim World Championship

    Baton Rouge youth poetry slam team, the Forward Arts All Stars, are now world poetry slam champions after having won the 2017 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in San Francisco.

    The team of teens, ages 16-19, emerged victorious after two days of competition consisting of 60 youth teams from around the world. A poetry slam is a spoken word competition in which poets are scored by five randomly-selected judges on a scale of 0-10 based on the written and performative quality of their work. Baton Rouge edged out teams from Boston, Atlanta and Philadelphia at the BNV finals.

    This victory comes on the one year anniversary of the death of former All Star slam team member, Kaiya Smith, who competed last year when the team ranked fifth at the 2016 BNV. Smith passed away one week after the 2016 festival. The 2017 team opened their final stage performance with a tribute to Smith, followed by witty and funny poems that showed range and creativity.

    This is the 11th year Baton Rouge has sent a team to BNV, and its first final stage appearance. The winning team members are Imani Sundiata, Chazzi Hayes, Jazmyne Smith, Kalvin Morris, Olivia Williams and Imani McCullam. They were coached by Forward Arts program director, Desireé Dallagiacomo.
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    Forward Arts fosters personal and social transformation by providing arts instruction, literary education and youth development in southeastern Louisiana. This year’s 20th anniversary festival took place July 19-22 and hosted more than 600 teenage poets from around the world at events held across the Bay Area.

    The Drum asked the Forward Arts All Stars about their experience:
    “Brave New Voices was a fantastic experience. I got the opportunity to speak my mind and be supported every step of the way, not only when I was on stage but when I was in town halls and workshops also. It’s always great to be surrounded by artists and people who have similar interests, but at Brave New Voices the other poets are actually interested in your work. It’s not about the competition, it’s about sharing stories. The highlight of Brave New Voices was having other teams tell us how much our poems meant to them personally. Brave New Voices was a beautiful experience.”
    Jazmyne Smith, 19
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    “Going to Brave New Voices was the most invaluable experience of my life so far. I had always been exposed to a number of things thanks to my parents, but BNV brought so many different cultures I had only seen on television screens together. We were all so different but we were also under the same sun, the one that burns over quirky teen artists. You don’t meet many people like that in Baton Rouge simply because being an artist isn’t really encouraged here or incentivized for youth. It meant a lot to me to meet people who were so brave and willing to share their stories on a world showcase. A distinctive moment was when someone asked where I was from. I told them I was from Baton Rouge, and they asked if that was a city in New Orleans. I felt a little shame, but in the end, winning and putting our small city on the map was the greatest reward. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.”
    Olivia Williams, 16

    Going to Brave New Voices is an experience that I will never forget! Meeting hundreds of beautiful and inspiring poets and people who respect the art of poetry is something that I have never experienced and I thank BNV for that. Being there with my team bettered me as a poet and as a person; alongside of bringing back a bunch of inside jokes and wild, but hilarious memories. The support and love that we had from everyone at home and from poets at BNV made me forget that it was even a competition and I truly respected that. I loved knowing that my truth made someone feel good about themselves and I also loved being moved by other poets’ truth. The best part about being at BNV was connecting closer with my teammates and connecting with other poets across the world who made me see the ultimate power behind words and how words can truly bring people together.”
    Imani McCullam, 16

    “BNV was so magical. It was the one place I could be myself and not have to worry about the backlash… I didn’t have to worry if I was being weird or anything because I have found that everyone is and poets just happen to be extra weird. There was so much love and support coming from competing team. I have found that BNV is the only competition where you support the people you are competing against. There are no words in which can explain the extraordinary time I have and no words to explain how grateful I am to Forward Arts for giving me this opportunity.”

    Imani Sundiata, 18

    “By attending Brave New Voices, I stepped into a world filled with love and support I did not know existed. Being around other youth who care so much about growing as poets and performers inspired me to grow as an artist. Engaging in dialogues with other poets and hearing how my team and I have inspired them is so humbling and makes me want to continue to improve my craft to be worthy of their respect and present them with my best art and best self. The community and family I’ve found due to Brave New Voices is something I will always cherish. The support and love I experienced at the festival is something I will always value and work hard to preserve.”

    Kalvin Morris, 17

    Chazzi Hayes

    Chazzi Hayes

    “Brave New Voices was like coming home for me. Meeting so many poets from all over that had so much in common with me was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. You could feel the love and acceptance in every room you entered as well as when you went on stage to perform. A great part of Brave New Voices was knowing that our voices were being heard by both our peers and the adults there. It felt like we were all coming together to listen, learn, and make change. At final stage it didn’t even feel like we were there to compete it just felt like a gigantic open mic where everyone could share their truths. The best part was when the last poem was said on final stage and all the poets went backstage and hugged each other and told each other which poems they really liked.”
    Chazzi Hayes, 17

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    Historians celebrate, share Buffalo Soldiers’ Louisiana legacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Trooper McElwee answered more questions:

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

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

    How did they get the names LNG and BS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How was the chapter formed? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Founding Publisher

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    Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church celebrates 100 years

    Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church One-Hundred Years Centennial Celebration was held on Sunday, June 25, at the 10:55am worship service. The theme was “God’s Grace and Witnessing for Jesus Christ.  Founding dates 1917-2017.  

    The centennial message was given by Pastor Stephen Emmanuel Handy, of McKendree United Methodist Church located in Nashville, Tennessee.  He graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana with a bachelors degree in business administration.  He has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Tennessee State University, a master’s degree in divinity from Vanderbilt University and is currently working on his doctorate in divinity from Wesley Seminary.  In 2009, Stephen was appointed by the Bishop to become the first African-American Pastor at McKendree United Methodist Church.  His father, Bishop W.T. Handy, served on the United Methodist Ministry for many years and was former minster of the St. Mark United Methodist Church located in Baton Rouge.  

    Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church Centennial Celebration, January-June 2017 Schedule of Events
    Activities and Fellowship, “A Moment of Camphor History”, Black History Sunday, Ecumenical Service, Gospelfest, Writing Essay Contest, Church Outside the Wall, “When Camphor was in Vogue”, Centennial Banquet, Centennial Concert, Prayer Breakfast, Old Fashioned Basket Family Picnic, and the Centennial Celebration Praise and Worship Services. A reception was held after the worship services in the Moses T. Jackson Fellowship Hall.

    The twelve founders and former ministers were recognized.  The Centennial Celebration was very well attended.  Rev. Clifton Conrad Sr., Senior Pastor, Rev. Tiffanie Postell, Associate Pastor, Rev. Ken Irby, Baton Rouge District Superintendent and Rev. Cynthia Harvey,  Bishop, Louisiana Annual Conference.  Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church is located at 8742 Scenic Highway in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

    By Mada McDonald Clark
    Contributing Writer

    Photographed above are: Julia B. Moore, Claude Tellis DTh., Mada McDonald Clark, Mary Emerson, Rev. Stephen Emmanuel Handy, Associate Pastor Tiffanie C. Postell, Pastor Clifton C. Conrad Sr., Press L. Robinson, Sr. EdD, Marilyn Ray-Jones DTH, Wesley J. Belton, Blanche P. Smith, and Mary T. Charles. Photo by: Tina Bernard. Submitted by: Katrina Spottsville

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

     

     

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

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    Tangipahoa’s African American heritage center brings second year of flight camp

    HAMMOND – -The Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum in Hammond completed the second science, technology, engineering, and math summer camp where area youth learned robotics from engineers, pilots, and scientists.

    Dozens of area youth participated in the center’s annual Flight Training Summer Camp program, held throughout the month of June.

    “Technology is one the leading factor in creating tomorrow’s workforce,” said Delmas A. Dunn Sr., museum director. “We strive to inspire young people to be scientist and technology leaders by engaging them in mentor-based programs with engineers, like electrical engineer Kristie Landrew, who work for General Electric for 13 years, retired mechanical engineer Lee West, pilot James Johnson, and Lt. Colonel Erin Williams, who retired from the US Army.”

    The students were introduced to radio control model airplanes, helicopters, model rockets, electronic components, and circuit designs. They also built a robotic arm.

    “The camp was a success and we are making plans for next summer,” said Dunn.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Summer reading program kicks off in Tangipahoa

    Tangi Library will kick-off its summer reading program following the theme of building and construction using the slogan, “Build a Better World.” Through the program, the library aims to combat summer learning loss by offering dynamic, entertaining and educational programs for children, teens, and adults.

    The program is open to all ages, separated into age categories from birth to 7 years old, 7-12 years old, 12-18 years old, and adults. Everyone that signs up for the program will have a chance to win prizes based on the number of minutes read throughout the summer. The process includes reading yourself or reading to your child, going online and logging minutes, then receiving prizes every time a new benchmark has been reached.

    Along with all of these great prizes, the library will also host entertaining guests to come in and perform. “For our summer kick-off parties, we will have “Lady Chops,” percussionist Elizabeth Vidos sure to bring music to your ears at all of our library locations. Lady Chops is a former STOMP percussionist that provides a quality show with information about different instruments , techniques of playing music, and little bit of a background about her life as a performer. All library locations will have new guests every week in June and July including a petting zoo, a trained dance troupe, stage productions of Beauty and the Beast and Pinocchio, a balloon artist extraordinaire, a magician, and more,” said Laura Brooks Thomas, M.A., community relations coordinator, Tangipahoa Parish Library.

    All of these performances are free and open to the public.

    thumbnail_SRP - Photo ChallengeTo get everyone really engaged in the Summer Reading Program, Tangi library invites the public to participate in our social media challenge. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and share photos every day for the month of June that fit into the theme, BUILD A BETTER WORLD! With the key below, check and see what the theme of the day is and capture a picture that illustrates the theme. Remember, when doing the challenge, be sure to tag the library and use the hashtag #TangiReadTeam and share all of the amazing things going on at your local library. Join us in building a better world through reading at Tangi Library!

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    Southern’s college government to offer additional international studies in policy, finance and business

    Southern University’s newly formed Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences will introduce a new curriculum, programs and international opportunities this summer. Previously known as the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, the school was upgraded at the beginning of 2017, and it is the only college of government in the state.

    “Our goal is to become more expansive and create additional opportunities for our student body and faculty,” said Damien Ejigiri, PhD, dean of the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences. “The curriculum now extends beyond foreign government relationships and presents recruitment and academic connections with African countries.”

    In addition to international opportunities, the new curriculum will have a stronger emphasis on government issues and relationships within the state and southern region. The college has also formed a partnership with the Southern University College of Business to introduce a new Ph.D. program with a concentration in finance and business. Students from the College of Business will be able to earn dual degrees from the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences.

    Mninwa J. Mahlangu

    Mninwa J. Mahlangu

    Ejigiri has established a relationship with the South African Ambassador to the United States, Mninwa J. Mahlangu, who has openly declared the forging of a connection between the College and South African government. The South African diplomat rededicated the college on behalf of the late Nelson Mandela on the campus of Southern University in May. After the ceremony, Mahlangu and Ejigiri discussed leading efforts to establish exchange programs and training opportunities within multiple South African universities. The relationship will also connect the college to South African companies to establish recruitment efforts for graduates. Furthermore, faculty will be encouraged to visit the country to discuss best practices and further develop valuable connections.

    “The mission of the College is to attract and educate men and women from across the globe who will matriculate with the spirit of service, superb competence and employability skills needed in the market, and who further will acquire the uncompromising spirit to fight for justice and equality,” said Jocelyn Freeman, Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences professor.

    ONLINE: www.subr.edu.

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    Young Investors plan for future financial growth with local bank

    Fourth grade students at Glen Oaks Park Elementary School and their parents will soon learn the value of using even small savings to invest in tomorrow’s goals. These 66 Baton Rouge students are the in the inaugural class of Young Investors Children Savings Account Pilot Project class of LABEST.

    “As I crossed the threshold, I overheard a suited man talking to some students clad in their collared uniform shirts and holding brightly colored plastic piggy banks. He said, ‘Feed the pig and we’ll put interest on that…free money! Now, that’s what I’m talking about!’,” said Carmen Green, a policy fellow with the Louisiana Budget Project.

    The Children Savings Account is an initiative of The Middleburg Institute in collaboration with LABEST, a statewide coalition of organizations seeking to influence public polices and improve the lives of low wealth communities over a lifetime. TMI established the Young Investors elementary school savings project with support and research provided by Howard University Center on Race & Wealth, Washington University in St Louis, CFED and the Ford Foundation Building Economic Security over a Lifetime Initiative (BESOL). The Project teaches students the importance of savings and how to develop habits of making money, saving money, and spending wisely.

    Young Investors will raise money to deposit into the accounts. In addition to the personal deposits that students and their parents can make, the Young Investors will try their hand at entrepreneurship. They will engage in monthly fundraising activities for regular deposits so they can witness their accounts grow.

    The Young Investor’s program is partnering with Rhonda Jefferson and Lorraine Oubre, owners of Grandma Tootsie’s Creole Pralines. They plan to make and assist in selling pralines to raise money. In house, Young Investors may be “hired” as tellers in the school bank, and oversee daily accounting.

    The program features financial literacy coaches, professionals, and advisors including those from Edward Jones, Junior Achievement, and local banks who are available to students and parents during monthly learning opportunities.

    Alarian Brown, 10, already has ideas on money management. “With all the money I get, I want to save more,” she said. “I’ll keep it in the bank and when it comes to stuff I need, I’ll get it out.”

    Alarian, who has plans to be an orthodontist, is looking forward to the fundraising aspects of the program, including selling lemonade and pralines.

    That “free money” did not grow on some special cash tree. Financial advocacy group LABEST, The Middleburg Institute, and Gulf Coast Bank partnered to set the students up with a real savings account; each with $40 seed money. State Rep. Rick Edmonds ‘pledged a donation to the Young Investors program increasing the seed money for each enrolled student.

    As a member of the legislative education committee, Edmonds is well aware of the disinvestment in education and equality in the state and took his commitment to another level, said James. He plans to bring the students to the capital for a Young Investors Day this spring. This will give them exposure to state government.

    “As children and parents learn more about money management, it is our hope that this will influence change in behaviors as it relates to investing,” said Joyce James, LABEST state director. “Families may create workable budgets and start an emergency fund. We are able to say we changed behavior and increased the financial future for our children.”

    Green explained that these students will be able to grow into young adulthood with a little investment which they can use in high school or college for the ever-increasing tuition and dissipating scholarship opportunities. “Students will start to make the connection between production, cash and government, through exposure to entrepreneurs and local representatives,” she said.

    “I cannot determine the long-term effect on the city of Baton Rouge or on the lives of the students, but I see the potential. It feels like the Black community is brushing off the dust and moving forward,” Green said.

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    ‘I am that next legacy’

    When Cameron Sterling speaks, the nation watches. In July of 2016, he grabbed the attention of protestors, political leaders, television programs, and the President of the United States with his determined words of peace and quiet demeanor. The 16-year-old admonished protestors to stay peaceful and he explained to the world why his father’s life and those lives of other unarmed, Black men killed by police were valuable. 

    On May 3, Baton Rouge watched Cameron, again, with anticipation when he stepped up to the microphone for another press conference.  His family and local officials met with the U.S Department of Justice attorneys who were investigating the July 5, 2016, shooting death of his father, Alton Sterling, by two Baton Rouge police officers.

    _90302733_alton_sterling_fb

    Alton Sterling

    To the world watching, the soft-spoken young man said, “Everyday, I wake up and miss my dad, and everyday God is with us,” he said with assurance. “No matter what goes on behind those closed doors in that court; it doesn’t matter…God is there for me. I have my brothers and sisters to look after—11 of them. But guess what, I am that next legacy. I am here after my dad.”

    He paused. His voice was steady. “God is with me. God is with all of us.” 

    His calmness was met by the family’s attorney Chris Stewart who said, “We didn’t leave the meeting defeated…We will not let rage run. It is not over! The family walked away after assuring the community that “the fight for justice would not be stopped by the DOJ inaction.”

    Questions quickly rose asking what would justice look like. 

    Justice would be having these officers fired and the state of Louisiana charge them with murder or second-degree murder. However, according the Urban League of Louisiana, charges are filed in only one percent of fatal shootings involving police.

    “There simply is not enough sufficient evidence to proceed,” said acting US Attorney Corey Amundson, but he also said the officer’s behavior—although reckless—may have been in violation of state code which Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office would have to determine. Amundson said use of force experts reviewed the case against BRPD officers Blaine Salamoni and Howie Lake II and, although they criticized the officers’ techniques, the experts still determined they could not prove that the officers behaved unreasonably and willfully. 

    “Being reckless is not a basis under the law for a federal civil rights prosecution,” Amundson said. Other attorneys said the officers’ use of force was beyond reasonable. 

    “They (DOJ officials) hands down agreed that the action of the police officers that night were outrageous were inappropriate, were not following procedure, were unexplainable but that meets the threashold of the attorney generals office which is where this case is going,” Stewart said, “In my opinion attorney general Jeff Landry has a phenomenal case against these officers. Not strong, phenomenal case. There can’t be any inaction from Jeff Landry. If you follow his history, he tries to do the right thing.” 

    Stewart said they learned in the meeting that Salamoni pointed a gun to Sterling’s head and said, “I will kill you, b***h.” 

    “We heard from them that Officer Salamoni kept instigating the situation,” Stewart said. “No police officer should conduct themselves like that…We demand that the A.G. proves that the department here has a higher standard and disapproves of the actions of the officers on that day.” He said, pointing out that Landry had persecuted other officers for excessive force earlier this year.

    The Sterling case has been turned over to the Landry’s office who will evaluate all evidence, interview witnesses, and conduct internal investigation of the BRPD. 

    State Rep. Edward  Ted James has sent letters to Landry asking him to appoint a special prosecutor. In the 10-month span, U.S. District Attorney Walt Green resigned at the request of the Trump Administration and Louisiana State Police head Mike Edmundson retired. 

    Their involvement in the investigation is unknown.

    “We are a long way away from getting this resolved,” said Baton Rouge NAACP president Mike McClanahan. “We have got to stay vigilant; we have got to stay in constant pursuit of justice.”

    According to Fatal Encounters, a national project documenting the number of deaths following incidents with police, 451 people had been killed by police since 2003. 

    Alexandria journalist Tony Brown, has record 13 incidents since 2003 where Black men who were unarmed were killed during incidents with local police. To him, the DOJ’s response is a pattern of systemic decision protect officers over innocent, nonviolent citizens. “This would turn out differently if the officers had been Black and the victims white,” Brown said. 

    For 13 years, he has been a central contact for the families of victims and has used his morning talk show “Eyes Open with Tony Brown” to vet emotions and get facts around 

    3910554

    Tony Brown

    incidents with police. 

    “It keeps boiling down to the officer’s use of force and whether or not they value that person’s life. We have to remember that the premise of use of force is buried in a system that thrives on inequality. Racial inequality predominately,” he said.

    “What these officers did to Mr. Sterling was provocative to say the least and they should be prosecuted,” “Unfortunately, we in Louisiana have seen officers walk away too many times even when they are blatantly violent towards citizens,” Brown said, referring to his list of victims. “We can not forget the history here,” he said. According to Brown’s records, these unarmed Black men have died in Louisiana: 

    • Marquise Hudspeth, 25, March 15, 2003, in Shreveport. 
    • Edward Ned Jr, 48, Nov. 11, 2004, in Lake Charles.
    • George Temple II, 24,  Feb.17, 2006, in Baton Rouge
    • Baron “Scooter” Pikes Jr, 21,  Jan. 17, 2008, in Winnfield.
    • Bernard Monroe Sr, 72, Feb. 20, 2009, in Homer.
    • Richard Goss, 36,  Nov. 26, 2008, in Alexandria
    • Harold Phillips, 54, July 2009, in Colfax 
    • Robert Ricks, 23, Feb. 5, 2011, in Alexadnria. 
    • Victor White III, 22, March 3, 2014, in New Iberia
    • Cameron Tillman, 14, Feb, 23, in Houma
    • Keenan Ardoin, 24, Dec. 4, 2014, in Ville Platte. 
    • Michael Noel, 32, Dec 21, 2015 in St. Martin

    “All of the victims were Black, all were unarmed, all were killed by police,” Brown said, who reported exclusively on six of these killings.

    “With the exception of the Harold Phillips murder in Colfax, all of the killer cops were exonerated. No charges were filed,” said Brown .

    Alton Sterling, 37, was shot six times at close range while held down on the ground by two Baton Rouge police officers. Sterling was selling CDs in front of a convenience store. Police were calledby someone reporting that a man was selling CDs and threatening people with a gun. Although the store manager said he did not see a gun, the officers shouted “gun” before killing Sterling.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate
     

    OTHER RELATED STORIES

     

     

     

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  • ,

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

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

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

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

    Overview

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

    Applicable Law

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

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

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

    Factual Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Discussion

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

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

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

    Only two witnesses reported to the FBI that they could see Sterling’s right hand, and they indicated that his hand was not in his pocket. However, because of other inconsistencies in their statements, and because of the fact that parts of their accounts are materially contradicted by the videos, their accounts are insufficient to prove the position of Sterling’s right hand/arm beyond a reasonable doubt at the time the shots were fired. Although the Department found no reason to doubt the sincerity of the witnesses’ accounts, this incident happened in an instant, and the witnesses may have had no reason to be specifically watching for the precise location of Sterling’s right hand at the time of the shooting. Given the inconsistencies in the civilian witnesses’ perspectives and recollections and the fact that the video establishes that Officer Salamoni did not have control over Sterling’s right hand just before the shots were fired, the evidence simply cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt the position of Sterling’s right hand at the exact time of the shooting, a split-second later. The Department therefore cannot disprove the officers’ claim beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The investigators also consulted with two independent, nationally recognized use-of-force experts with whom the Civil Rights Division has previously consulted in civil rights cases. While both experts criticized aspects of the officers’ techniques, they also concluded that the officers’ actions were reasonable under the circumstances and thus met constitutional standards. The experts emphasized that the officers were responding to a call that someone matching Sterling’s description had brandished a weapon and threatened another person; that Sterling was large and strong; and that Sterling was failing to follow orders and was struggling with the officers. The experts noted that the officers also attempted to control Sterling through multiple less-than-lethal techniques before ultimately using lethal force in response to Officer Salamoni’s perception that Sterling was attempting to use a gun.

    The investigators’ review of BRPD files revealed no prior incidents involving substantiated allegations of misconduct by Officers Salamoni or Lake.

    In light of these facts, the evidence gathered during this investigation is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the use of force leading up to and including the shooting violated the Fourth Amendment.

    The federal investigators also considered whether the evidence proved the distinct statutory element of willfulness. To establish that the officers acted willfully, the government would be required both to disprove the reason the officers gave for the shooting and to affirmatively establish that the officers instead acted with the specific intent to violate Sterling’s rights—meaning that, in shooting Sterling, the officers knew that what they were doing was unreasonable or prohibited, and chose to do it anyway.

    For many of the same reasons described above, the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers’ actions were a willful violation of the Fourth Amendment. When Officer Salamoni first reported that Sterling was going for the gun, he said, “Going for his pocket, he’s got a gun! Gun!” Significantly, Officer Salamoni did not shoot Sterling at this point, and, instead, attempted to gain control of Sterling’s right hand. Officer Lake also warned Sterling not to move. Seconds later, Officer Salamoni yelled again that Sterling was “going for the gun!” and only then did he fire his own weapon. This evidence suggests that Officer Salamoni fired his weapon when he believed that Sterling was going for his gun a second time, after Officer Lake had warned Sterling not to move. In order to prosecute this matter, the government would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt not only that Sterling was not reaching for his gun, but also that, despite Officer Salamoni’s contemporaneous statements to the contrary, he did not believe that Sterling was reaching for his gun after being warned not to move. The Department lacks the evidence to prove either of those propositions beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The investigators also considered whether Officer Salamoni’s second series of shots was a prosecutable Fourth Amendment violation. Although the videos show that Sterling’s right hand was not in or near his right pocket, Sterling was continuing to move, even after being shot three times and being told again not to move by Officer Lake. Meanwhile, the officers were behind Sterling, and Officer Salamoni was lying on the ground, facing Sterling’s back. Given these circumstances, the evidence cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt that it did not appear to Officer Salamoni that Sterling was reaching for his pocket. Nor could the Department prove that the officer’s conduct was willful.

    Conclusion

    In sum, after extensive investigation into this tragic event, career Justice Department prosecutors have concluded that the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officers Salamoni and Lake willfully violated Sterling’s civil rights. Given the totality of the circumstances – that the officers had been fighting with Sterling and had attempted less-than-lethal methods of control; that they knew Sterling had a weapon; that Sterling had reportedly brandished a gun at another person; and that Sterling was much larger and stronger than either officer – the Department cannot prove either that the shots were unconstitutional or that they were willful. Moreover, two different, independent experts opined that this shooting was not unreasonable given the circumstances. With respect to the first series of shots, the experts assessed that it was not unreasonable for Officer Salamoni to use lethal force, in light of all of the circumstances referenced above. With respect to the second series of shots, both experts emphasized that officers are trained to eliminate a threat, and that Sterling appeared to pose a threat because he was still moving and his right hand was not visible to Officer Salamoni. Accordingly, the federal investigation into this incident has been closed without prosecution. Federal officials intend to provide the investigative file to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which intends to conduct its own investigation into whether the conduct at issue in this investigation violated state law.

    In this case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the FBI each devoted significant time and resources to investigating the circumstances surrounding Sterling’s death and to completing a thorough analysis of the evidence gathered. The Justice Department remains committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to devote the resources required to ensure that all serious allegations of civil rights violations are thoroughly examined. The Department aggressively prosecutes criminal civil rights violations whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so.

    Civil Rights Division
    Civil Rights – Criminal Section
    Community Relations Service
    Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    USAO – Louisiana, Middle

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  • ,,

    Farm to Work program enrollment extended

    Farm to Work program participants receive fresh, locally grown and seasonal produce delivered directly to the work site during the 10-week spring/summer and fall/winter growing seasons. In addition to the produce, participants receive reminder emails, recipes, tips and storage guidelines to get the most from their produce.

    The Farm to Work Program will be offered at the Dow Westside YMCA, Paula G. Manship YMCA, A.C. Lewis YMCA and Southside YMCA. The program will run from May-June during the summer season, and again from October-December during the winter season.

    Those wishing to participate in the program should enroll by April 21st in order to receive your fresh produce in time.

    Cost:
    One time per season $5 enrollment fee, plus:
    5 Box Plan: $25/box x 5 boxes = $125 total cost, every other week delivery
    10 Box Plan: $25/box x 10 boxes = $250 total cost, every week delivery

    ONLINE, click here.

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  • ,,

    Two-day celebration planned to honor Malcolm X, May 19-20

    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.

    ONLINE: MalcolmsDay.org

    THECEOMIND.org

     

     

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  • ,,

    Youth culminate traumatic year through poems of resilience

    “Here Still” was the mantra of this year’s ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival, a theme imagined from a season of tragedy that both publicly and personally affected festival participants. Held over two weekends in April throughout downtown Baton Rouge, the festival’s culminating event on April 8, punctuated the youths’ tribute to the resilience of the city in the aftermath of a turbulent summer, which included the sudden passing of 2016 festival participant and McKinley High School graduate Kaiya Smith.

    “The theme of this year’s festival saw our students examining the tragedies of last summer from both a critical and cathartic lens,” said Donney Rose, marketing director and events coordinator at Forward Arts. “About half of our festival participants wrote poems that carefully examined what it was to live in a city engulfed in civil unrest and natural disaster. The other half wrote a great deal about what it was to process the loss of a friend with whom they had shared a festival stage just last year.”

    To further tribute Smith, festival coordinators, joined by Smith’s mother, Petrouchka Moise, infused her words and images throughout festival displays, even presenting the first-ever Kaiya Smith Award for WordCrew Excellence to Tyler Scott – a member of Forward Arts’ afterschool poetry writing collective and festival participant. The award gifts the recipient an all-expense paid trip to the 20th annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival (BNV) to be held in July in San Francisco, where the top ranked poets of ALL CITY grand slam finals will compete. Smith was a member of the 2016 team that ranked 5th in the world.

    Olivia Williams, Chazzi Hayes

    Olivia Williams and Chazzi Hayes perform tribute poem in honor of Kaiya Smith. Photo by Leslie D. Rose.

    “This year has been bittersweet. Every moment with our team is a painful reminder of what we’ve lost – My Kaiya. Our Kaiya,” said Chelsea Schilling, English teacher at McKinley High School and co-coach of its poetry slam team. “Although it hurts, we are still here. We will continue to write, continue to perform, continue to be heard, for us, and for her. I am truly amazed at what these students can do and I am so thankful that Forward Arts gives them a space where their voices will be heard.”

    McKinley High School placed second, following a team from Baton Rouge Magnet High School who won the title of 2017 ALL CITY Champions. Finalists also included a second BRMHS team and a team from Port Allen High School. All poets who performed individually had the chance to earn a spot on the 2017 Forward Arts All Stars slam team to compete at BNV – this year they are Jazmyne Smith, Olivia Williams, Chazzi Hayes, Kalvin Morris, Imani Sundiata, and Imani McCullam.

    3

    2017 ALL CITY champions Baton Rouge Magnet High School poets Donovan Thomas, Jayda Jefferson, Rikki Willis (coach), Chazzi Hayes, Kalvin Morris, and Olivia Williams. Photo by Leslie D. Rose.

    Forward Arts has sent a team to BNV since 2006. The first ALL CITY festival was held in 2007 and remains the only festival of its kind in the region, having hosted hundreds of youth poets, ages 13 to 19. It was created to provide an elevated platform to youth voices, while also appealing to Louisiana’s storied festival culture. Throughout its 12 year history, youth from Baton Rouge and surrounding rural communities have found an outlet through Forward Arts’ programming.

     

    “Students were able to express this year’s theme through acceptance, support, and encouragement for all participants,” said Michael Hilton, assistant principal at Donaldsonville High School and coach of its poetry slam team. “We all were able to connect to the theme: flood victims, rural community students who tend to be forgotten, minorities, and those with preferences different than the majority of us – we are all connected; we are all vitally important to our future; we are all Here Still.”

    Hilton was the recipient of the 2017 ALL CITY Coaches Award that honors coaches who showcase exemplary dedication to their team.

    4

    2017 Forward Arts All Stars slam team Imani McCullam, Kalvin Morris, Chazzi Hayes, Imani Sundiata, Jazmyne Smith and Olivia Williams. Photo by Leslie D. Rose.

    The Spirit of the Slam award was presented to the Louisiana School for the Deaf for displaying noteworthy sportsmanship throughout the festival. This year the school had so many students interested in participating for the ALL CITY that they sent two teams to compete.

    “This event affords each of our students the opportunity to share with others their life experiences as young deaf people, as well as their own heartfelt issues, and we can’t thank Forward Arts enough for providing such a venue,” said Lisa Cook, instructor of high school language and theatre at Louisiana School for the Deaf and coach of its poetry slam team. “The support of the other teams, as well as the validation of their ‘voice,’ is invaluable.”

    A poetry slam is an Olympic-style spoken word poetry competition in which poets perform original writing within a three minute time limit. Originality, physicality and vulnerability are some the hallmarks of successful slam poems.

    The youth of Forward Arts are under the tutelage of internationally-acclaimed slam poets, such as executive director Chancelier ‘xero’ Skidmore, a former world poetry slam champion, and program director Desireé Dallagiacomo, a multi-time international poetry slam finalist and viral video sensation. The staff of Forward Arts collectively has more than 15 years experience as teaching artists and administrators of youth spoken word poetry.

    Forward Arts, Inc. fosters personal and social transformation by providing arts instruction, literary education, and youth development in Southeastern Louisiana.

     

     

    By Leslie D. Rose
    Special to The Drum

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  • ,,,

    The Roosevelt seeks the most deserving mom for giveaway

     The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, is offering everyone the opportunity to take their Mother’s Day gift to the next level this year with an over-the-top luxurious weekend for mom. The iconic Crescent City hotel is excited to award the Mother’s Day surprise of a lifetime to the “Most Deserving Mom.” Everyone is called to nominate a mom to win an overnight stay at The Roosevelt New Orleans, as well as a luxurious spa treatment at the Waldorf Astoria Spa and full breakfast with the family in the hotel.

    “At The Roosevelt New Orleans, we see first-hand that mothers are the ones making plans and taking care of their family members every minute of the day,” said The Roosevelt New Orleans Resident Manager Sebastian Stutz. “This Mother’s Day, we are thrilled to provide the ultimate luxurious experience to the mom who truly deserves relaxing and care-free family time.”

    To make a nomination, visit this link and explain why your nominee is the most deserving mom. All are asked to share their favorite story or heart-warming examples of the many ways their nominee has been a devoted and selfless light in someone’s life. Upon receipt of all nominations by the closing date of Wednesday, April 19, The Roosevelt New Orleans team will select the winner and bestow the gift of a lifetime to the “Most Deserving Mom.” The Roosevelt New Orleans will publically announce the “Most Deserving Mom” on April 26,  on the hotel’s Facebook page.

    This is one of two awards The Roosevelt New Orleans proudly honors local women with throughout the year. The Reigning Spirit of the Sazerac, honored by the hotel during its annual Stormin’ of the Sazerac event in September, is a woman embodying strength, determination and courageousness who makes an indelible impact in her community.

    The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, is one of America’s most luxurious and revered properties in one of the world’s greatest cities. This iconic hotel offers 504 rooms, including 125 suites, along with ballrooms and meeting space for every event from elaborate galas to private groups, weddings and more. Built in 1893 and boasting its signature block-long golden lobby with dozens of sparkling chandeliers, The Roosevelt has created its own history with the renowned Blue Room, Sazerac Bar, Waldorf Astoria Spa, fitness center, Rooftop Bar, Teddy’s Café, Fountain Lounge, Emporium Gift Shop and its true Waldorf world-class service. Located steps from the history and excitement of the French Quarter, The Roosevelt New Orleans is the crown jewel of New Orleans luxury.

    ONLINE: www.waldorfastoria.com/theroosevelt

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    Omarosa shocks, angers publishers as she walks out of ‘Black Press Week’ breakfast

    Omarosa Manigault, President Donald Trump’s director of communications for public liaison, walked out of a breakfast meeting she had requested to attend, hosted by the National Newspaper Publishers Association last week.

    The sudden move by the minister and reality star clearly shocked NNPA members and their guests in the March 23 meeting; especially since Manigault had called the chair of the historic group the night before and “asked to attend”, according to NNPA Chair Denise Rolark Barnes. During opening remarks, Manigault had praised Black journalists for historically asking “the tough questions”.

    Manigault became agitated after a reporter asked a question following up on a story published by the Trice Edney News Wire Jan. 8. The story quoted civil rights lawyer Barbara Arnwine as stating that Manigault promised the “first interview” with Trump to NNPA President Benjamin Chavis during a Jan. 4 Trump transition team meeting with Black leaders.

    Manigault doesn’t dispute having promised the interview. However, she was incensed because the story said she promised Chavis “the first” interview.

    The Jan. 8 story reports:

    ‘”Manigault’s promise of the interview was disclosed after a representative of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) stressed the importance of Black reporters interfacing with the president. Both Chavis and NABJ representatives participated in the closed door meeting held Jan. 4 at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in North West DC.
    Trump aide Omarosa Manigault listens to question from reporter Hazel Trice Edney. Photo: Shevry Lassiter

    ‘”When NABJ said we need to make sure that somebody Black interviews the President first, [Omarosa] said, ‘Oh no.  Ben Chavis and I have already spoken and he’s going to be the first interview,’” recounted Arnwine, president/CEO of the Transformative Justice Coalition, in an interview. Arnwine said Chavis then “acknowledged that that was correct – that they had already been in touch with him about it.’”

    Hearing of Manigault’s denial this week, Arnwine seemed puzzled.  “It was to me a highlight. I had hoped that it really meant that African-American journalists were being repositioned into a higher priority for the incoming administration,” she said. “And I am surprised that this representation is unfortunately being dropped or not followed through. I was in the room and it was not said once. It was said twice.”

    It is not clear whether the Trump staff recorded the meeting since it was off the record. Since the meeting, some have speculated that perhaps Manigault meant Chavis would be the first Black Press representative to interview Trump rather than the first journalist.

    After seeing one White media reporter after another interview the President, this reporter, a former NNPA editor-in-chief invited to the breakfast by Barnes, followed up on the Jan. 8 story:

    The first question pertains to “the promise that Ben Chavis would get the first interview with the president; then I have another question,” this reporter said after being acknowledged by Manigault.
    Manigault strongly responded, “Ben Chavis was never promised the first interview. He was promised an interview, but not the first. And I was very surprised because we’ve always had a great working relationship, Hazel, that you wrote such a dishonest story about a closed off the record meeting that I invited NNPA to to make sure that we had a great relationship, that we started early. I was really surprised that you made that a press story because that was inaccurate. And moreover, you weren’t in the room.”
    The publishers were in Washington observing NNPA’s annual Black Press Week, this year celebrating the 190th anniversary of the Black Press. The exchange, during a breakfast meeting at the Dupont Circle Hotel, quickly went downhill with both professionals clearly agitated.
    “It was not inaccurate, and I have my sources right here. The question is when is the interview going to take place? That’s the question,” this reporter insisted.
    Manigault responded, “We’ve been working for months because we have that kind of relationship…We had been working very closely to make sure that NNPA was on the front row and at the forefront of what happened. Your article did more damage to NNPA and their relationship with the White House because it’s not just me. So you attack me, they circle the wagons. So you can keep attacking me and they will continue to circle the wagons, but that does not advance the agenda of what NNPA is doing,” Manigault said. “I’m going to continue to work with Ben Chavis, who I adore, to make sure that we do what we said we were going to do. Interestingly enough, we were just talking about this privately over here. And so, if you want to make another headline or do another story about it, I think that is really not professional journalism.”
    This reporter responded, “It’s professional journalism.”
    Actually, the Jan. 8 story did not attack Manigault. In fact it quoted Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church as calling her a “great leader” and NAACP Vice President Hilary Shelton as saying, “I have a lot of respect for her.”
    Chavis, in the Jan. 8 story, had made it clear that the meeting was off the record for him and the other dozens of organizational leaders in the room Jan. 4, including several non-working journalists.
    This reporter and CNN’s Betsy Klein staked out the Jan. 4 meeting for more than three hours standing in winter weather outside the building on the sidewalk. Some organizational leaders spoke guardedly after the meeting that day while most, including Chavis, declined comment.
    Neither Manigault – nor any of her colleagues – would speak on the record Jan. 4 and this reporter has not been able to reach Manigault for comment since. Also, until the March 23 breakfast, Manigault had said nothing to this reporter about disagreeing with the article.
    At one point during the breakfast back and forth, Manigault turned to Chavis saying, “He’s right here. The source is here.”
    This reporter said she would not divulge her sources; then asked Chavis to recount what he had “told me”. He repeated, “What I told you was it was an off the record meeting.” He told Manigault that she had promised him an interview. She stressed that she had not said “the first.”
    This reporter’s question was not isolated as it pertained to Black Press access.
    Stacy Brown, a reporter for the Washington Informer and NNPA contributor had actually asked the first question at the breakfast, noting Manigault’s opening words about the importance of Black Press coverage. “Just as important for us is access,” Brown stated, “What kind of access can we expect from this administration? When I say we, I’m talking about the Black Press,” Brown asked.
    Manigault responded, “I know that [White House Press Secretary] Sean Spicer and the rest of the press team are working to make sure that the NNPA gets access so I think it is important that they stay engaged.”
    Referring to President Trump’s March 22 meeting with Congressional Black Caucus leaders, Manigault said she believed the White House “had a historical number of African-American journalists covering it and given access to that particular event.”
    But, Washington Informer photographer Shevry Lassiter, quickly responded, “Except us.” Lassiter said she was told that too many people had signed up for coverage, giving her the impression that “We were too late.”
    When Manigault responded, “Your paper work has got to be right,” Lassiter clarified, “It was right. We got notice and sent it in; then couldn’t get in. She said they had too many,” Lassiter said, referring to a staffer.
    “Are you bashing my young staffer?” Manigault asked. “I’m not going to let you do that. I’m not going to let you do that. I’m not going to let you do that.”
    That exchange was just before this reporter’s question and the brouhaha that followed. When this reporter asked to move on to the second question, Manigault abruptly walked out with staffers in tow a little more than 10 minutes after arriving.
    Publishers were aghast.
    “Did she just walk out? Did she leave?” someone in the audience said quietly.
    “How is she going to come in here and just walk out?” asked Chicago Crusader Publisher Dorothy Leavell, standing. The former NNPA president and NABJ Hall of Fame Inductee said, “And any other Black Press person ought to be insulted by what she did,” said Leavell. “It was totally disrespectful.”
    A man’s voice called out, “We are insulted!”
    “That’s how the Trump people act. This is Trumpism! This is Trumpism!” said another publisher.
    The criticism was not just aimed at Manigault. Some in the room said this reporter was as much at fault in the way the question was posed.
    GOP political commentator and consultant Paris Dennard, also present at the breakfast meeting, said in an interview that the question was adversarial.
    “With all due respect to you Hazel, it came off as a bit confrontational,” Dennard said. “It came off as being a little bit on the attack.”
    Dennard continued, “What I know is it was a priority for Omarosa to be here…I know that it was not her intention to come in and leave. No one gets up, comes to NNPA with people that she’s known and worked with to make a scene and leave. That wasn’t her intention.”
    Barnes had given Manigault a glowing introduction, calling her a “top strategist” who helped get Trump elected.
    “There’s so many things that I could say about Rev. Omarosa Manigault and I just want to say that some of us really do consider her a great friend. I know that she’s a supporter of NNPA. And that is why she asked to come to speak to us this morning.”
    Chavis sought to calm the group after Manigault walked out, stating that he believes the interview is still on.
    “Let’s collect ourselves,” he said. “It’s in our interest to have an interview with the President of the United States. And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish and I believe we will accomplish…If Omarosa can help us facilitate that engagement, I think it’s in our interest. But as journalists, I know you have to ask your questions.”
    Barnes, clarifying that she was speaking momentarily as publisher of the Washington Informer instead of NNPA chair, concluded that Manigault’s conduct was unacceptable.  “That was totally unnecessarily. She doesn’t start a conversation saying ask the ‘tough questions’ and then run away from the tough questions…And so we’re going to have to bypass her. She’s not the only person in the White House if we want to deal with the White House.”
    Later, in an interview speaking as NNPA chair, Barnes said, “To me, I almost feel as if we were baited…I expected a different presentation from her, which would have led us into asking a different set of questions about the issues she was going to raise and not get into this personal confrontation with a journalist. So, I’m disappointed that she didn’t – in my opinion – come in and speak on the President’s and on the administrations’ behalf about things that are important to this administration that the Black Press should be focusing on. That didn’t happen. It was a lost opportunity for the President. And it was definitely a waste of time for NNPA.”
    By Hazel Trice Edney
    TriceEdneyWire.com
    Photo by Shevry Lassiter. NNPA President Ben Chavis discusses prospective interview with Manigault during heated exchange. 
    Read more »
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    Madam Mayor: Meet Louisiana’s Black Female Mayors

    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.

    Louisiana's first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    Louisiana’s first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    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.

    Meet some of the current Black, female mayors of Louisiana.

    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.

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    Meet the Players; Louisiana’s longest known married couple

    Since January 27, 1935, Lawrence and Varrie Player, of Benton, La., have been together, making them Louisiana’s longest-known married couple. They have been married 82 years. Last year they were honored by the Louisiana Family Forum during a reception at their home.. The second-longest married couple is Will Henry and Virgina Teasley, of Bryceland, who have been married for 80 years.

    State Rep. Mike Johnson presents Lawrence and Varrie Player with an award as the Louisiana Family Forum's longest married couple during a special reception in their honor on Feb 12, 2016. Mike Johnson photo.

    State Rep. Mike Johnson presents Lawrence and Varrie Player with an award as the Louisiana Family Forum’s longest married couple during a special reception in their honor on Feb 12, 2016. Mike Johnson photo.

    “It is a true delight to honor these two great couples for their examples and their commitment,” State Rep. Mike Johnson said.  “In a day when the stability of so many marriages and families is in jeopardy, these folks stand out as exceptional models for all of us.”

    The longest-known married couples are honored by Louisiana Family Forum to encourage individual marriages, build a stronger marriage culture and to remind those in the state that lifelong marriages benefit everyone. Each couple was presented an official statement of special recognition from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. Their names also are entered into Louisiana Family Forum’s Marriage Hall of Fame.

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    ‘Bloodline’ earns Kenny Neal Grammy nomination

    Louisiana’s swamp blues master and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Neal’s latest album “Bloodline” has clinched a 2017 Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues album.

    Born in 1957 in New Orleans and raised in Baton Rouge, Neal began playing music at a very young age, learning the basics from his father, singer and blues harmonica player, Raful Neal. Family friends like Lazy Lester, Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo contributed to Kenny’s early musical education. At 13, he joined his father’s band and, four years later, he was recruited and toured extensively as Buddy Guy’s bass player.

    image

    Kenny Neal horizontal by James Terry III.jpg

    A member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and a multi-award winning talent, Neal has shared the stage or worked with a who’s-who list of blues and R&B greats, including B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters, Aaron Neville, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker. Since signing with Alligator Records in 1988, Neal has released a series of consistently lauded albums featuring his laid-back, Baton Rouge blues, with a modern spin on the Louisiana sound he grew up with.

    “One of a mere handful of truly inventive young contemporary guitarists, Neal has something fresh to say and the chops with which to say it,” wrote The Chicago Tribune.

    Blues Revue agreed, calling Kenny “one of the brightest young stars on the blues horizon, and a gifted artist.”

    According to Cleopatra Records, Neal has never sounded better than he does on ‘Bloodline,’ offering some of the most moving songwriting and electric performances of his incredible career. Eight members of the Neal clan lend their musical talents to the album, making it a true family affair and proving beyond doubt that the blues is most definitely in Neal’s Bloodline.

    ONLINE: http://kennyneal.net

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    Elementary schools, Kids Orchestra create harmony

    15 Kids Orchestra Trumpets

    Baton Rouge’s Kids Orchestra is the largest elementary-age after school music program in the country. Last month, elementary students from Brownfields Magnet, Ryan Elementary, and J.K. Haynes Charter ensembles of wind and percussion instruments during their combined Neighborhood Concert.

    Now in its fifth year, Kids’ Orchestra provides opportunities for 800 kindergarten through fifth graders to study instrument and perform in an orchestra or sing in a choir. Students are given instruments on loan for the school year after paying a modest tuition.

    In group settings, kindergarten and first graders are introduced to musical concepts in the Foundations class. Second through fifth graders choose and study instruments in brass, percussion, strings and woodwinds. Vocal education and theory are essential in the K-6 choir program.
    15 Kids Orchestra main photo

    Kids’Orchestra offers mentorship, tutoring and homework help, and a healthy snack at each session to ensure each child is prepared for success regardless if they pursue music once graduating from our program.

    Each student has the opportunity to perform in Neighborhood Concert Series, while honors level students perform during Kids’ Orchestra three orchestras, two choirs, and special community performances.

    Kids’ Orchestra’s mission is to bring children of all cultures and backgrounds together using music education as a vehicle to foster teamwork, develop understanding and emphasize excellence.

    The program is modeled after the principles of El Sistema: fostering teamwork and understanding, crossing economic barriers, emphasizing excellence, and learning instrumental skills and brotherhood within the orchestral system.

    15 Kids Orchestra FlutesRecent research has shown that quality music instruction impacts academic achievement. Kids’ Orchestra offers high quality, standards-based music education designed to improve lifelong learning.

    Photos by Yusef Davis

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    Celebrating Down Syndrome State Conference scheduled Jan. 21

    Blessed by Downs will host the first Celebrating Down Syndrome State Conference and Celebration on January 21, 2017. This conference was created to serve as a day of education, awareness and advocacy for individuals with Down Syndrome.

    This event will be held at 400 East 1st Street in Thibodaux, LA. The conference will take place from 8 a. m. to 3 p.m., and the celebration will take place from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. This event will feature guest speakers Sara Hart Weir and Dr. Brian Skotko.

    To register please email: Blessedbydowns@yahoo.com. 

    Photo from http://imgarcade.com/1/black-kids-with-down-syndrome/

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    Historians rank President Obama’s legacy highly

    Supporters and critics alike may eventually come to view President Barack Obama’s two-term White House tenure the same way.

    His determination for change never appeared to cause him to stumble on his goals, be it Obamacare or commuting the sentences of so many who were imprisoned for so long — primarily because of antiquated laws that punished mostly low-level minority drug offenders.

    Even as Obama is set to leave office, he took unprecedented steps to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Obama labeled Russia’s action as significant, malicious and cyber-enabled and sanctioned six Russian individuals and five Russian entities while ordering dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country.

    The president also gave them and their families just three days to pack up and leave.

    “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said in the statement released by the White House.

    It’s the kind of action that some said will make them miss the progress of the past eight years and critics will come to realize that Obama’s place in history will be a lofty one.

    “The biggest tragedy of the Obama presidency was the relentless and often irrational unwillingness of Republican lawmakers to work with him to achieve meaningful objectives,” said Mario Almonte, a public relations specialist who also blogs about politics and social issues. “Even so, many years from now, when the history of his presidency comes into better focus, our society will come to recognize the enormous impact Barack Obama had on American culture and possibly world culture as the first Black president of the United States.”

    And, as Kevin Drum a writer for Mother Jones wrote, Obama has moved forward on eight substantial executive actions over the past month – aside from the Russian sanctions – including enacting a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard; he’s refused to veto a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank; designated two new national monuments totaling more than 1.6 million acres – Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada; and he’s instructed the Department of Homeland Security to formally end the long-discussed NSEERs database.

    Obama has also instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to deny final permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline where it crosses the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and he’s issued a final rule that bans the practice among some red states of withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that provide abortions.

    Also, the outgoing president completed rules to determine whether schools were succeeding or failing under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    “He was most effective as a normal president, and he helped put the presidency back on a human scale,” said Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “He was a devoted and involved father, a loving husband, a man with acknowledged – albeit – vices, and someone who made it clear that he did not regard himself as omniscient.”

    “As president, he showed that effective governing requires careful deliberation, discipline, and the willingness to make hard and imperfect decisions, and he let us all watch him do just that.” Walt said future historians will give President Obama “full marks” for never acting impulsively or cavalier.

    Daniel Rodgers, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, emeritus and historian of American ideas and culture who taught at Princeton University, wrote that what buoyed Obama’s aspirations was not a program, but a dream that in his person, the people might come together and shape politics to their will and common aspirations.

    “That was what the ‘we’ in the brilliant ‘Yes We Can’ slogan in the 2008 campaign was essentially about,” Rodgers said. “He has not called the nation to new feats of courage — ala Kennedy — to make war on poverty — as Johnson did — even to dream more freely than ever before — as stated by Reagan. What Obama’s words have called for is for Americans to be the people they already are.”

    The single, biggest impact on Obama’s presidency has been the shattering of psychological obstacles in the American psyche toward electing a non-White president, Almonte said.

    “When Hillary Clinton first ran for president, her gender was a major issue among voters. The second time around, it was not,” Almonte said. “With this psychological barrier removed, in future elections, we will see candidates from all walks of life, genders, nationalities, and possibly even lifestyles pursue the presidency with greater ease than they could have before.”

    Even as Donald Trump and other Republicans promise to do all they can to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obama’s signature piece of legislation, historians wrote in New York magazine that it has been the president’s greatest accomplishment.

    They noted that presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton failed to accomplish a passable affordable health care law.

    “Obamacare is easily the signal accomplishment of this president, assuming current efforts to unravel it will be defeated,” said Thomas Holt, the James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African-American History at the University of Chicago.

    “It’s an achievement that will put Obama in the ranks of [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt] with social security and Lyndon B. Johnson with Medicare because of its enduring impact on the average American’s well-being,” Holt said. “He won’t need bridges and airports named after him since opponents already did him the favor of naming it ‘Obamacare.’”

    The Affordable Care Act’s progressivism stands out as the embodiment of Obama’s best intentions, said Nell Painter, an American historian notable for her works on southern history of the nineteenth century and a retired professor at Princeton University.

    “Some three million poor people have gained access to health care, thanks to the extension of Medicaid. But those people will not be in deep-southern states where poor people are numerous, but Republicans rule,” Painter said. “I see this convergence as a consequence of watermelon politics, as unsavory a legacy of Obama’s time as Obamacare is fine.”

    Finally, one historic trend-break that occurred during Obama’s presidency that has major significance for the well-being of African-Americans has been the beginnings of a decline in the national prison population, after decades of expansion, said Gavin Wright, professor of American Economic History at Stanford University.

    “The Obama Administration deserves a fair share of credit,” Wright said. “In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, reducing prison time for convictions involving crack cocaine.”

    Wright said, “Under Attorney General Eric Holder, sentencing guidelines were made retroactive, leading to the release of thousands. To date, the reductions have been small compared to the total incarcerated population, but the reversal is historic, and its disproportionate significance for African-Americans is evident.”

     

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA News Wire Contributor

    Read more »
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    New Orleans native Adam Rodney ranked #1 Epee Fencer in the US

    NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans native Adam Rodney will represent the United States and his hometown of New Orleans, La. at the World Fencing Cup in Heidenhiem, Germany.  According to a recent announcement by the United States Fencing Association, Rodney is the #1 ranked Epee Fencer in the United States following his accomplishments at the December North America Cup in Richmond, Virginia this past weekend.

    After earning a bye in the first two rounds, 

    Rodney recorded three victories in the third round of pool play action and in the table of 64 he upset the No. 3 seed Yeisser Ramirez in a tightly contested 14-13 bout. He then cruised past his next two opponents to advance to the quarterfinals to set up a showdown with Zeyad Elashry. 

    In a back-and-forth bout on the strip, Rodney won the final touch to take a 15-14 triumph and moved to the semifinals. Next up, he defeated Lewis Weiss, 14-9, to advance to the championship, before falling to Jacob Hoyle in the finals to take home a silver medal.

    Rodney is a member of The Peter Westbrook Foundation in New York, a not-for-profit organization that uses the sport of fencing to enrich the lives of young people from underserved communities in the New York metropolitan area. Founded in 1991 by legendary sabre fencer and Olympic bronze medalist Peter Westbrook, the foundation is committed to empowering participants with essential life skills. The St. John’s alum competes as a member of the New York Fencer’s Club.

    Rodney, who was a close call to make the 2016 Olympic Team, has since represented the United States in the World Cup in Bern, Switzerland.   Rodney also roared to a Silver Medal finish in the North American Cup Championship in Detroit Michigan in November.  He is a graduate of the famed St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, and St. John’s University. Many of his matches are featured on you tube and fencing promotions. 

    Rodney, who always identifies himself as a New Orleanian, but fences with the Olympian Peter Westbrook in New York and as a member of the New York Fencer’s Club, was a close call for the 2016 Olympic Team. He has been selected to represent the United States in the World Cup in Bern, Switzerland later this month.  He is also scheduled to visit Cuba in an exhibition.

    Read more »
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    Broome announces transition committees, community input teams

    Mayor-President Elect Sharon Weston Broome and her transition co-chairs, Christopher Tyson and Donna Fraiche, announced that the transition will occur under operational review committees and community input transition teams. The operational review committees will evaluate and report on the inner-workings of City government. Each committee will be responsible for conducting an in-depth assessment of departmental functions and performance, including issues such as organization structure, personnel, budget and overall effectives.

    The Community Input Transition Teams have been established to anchor a wide-ranging public engagement effort Mayor-Elect Broome deems critical for the transition effort.

    The committees and co-chairs are as follows:

    1. Finance –  Jacqui Vines-Wyatt, Dr. Jim Llorens
    2. Public Works (Building & Grounds, Environmental Services, Transportation and Drainage, City Garage, Dev., Maintenance) – Co-Chairs: Justin Haydell, Matthew Butler
    3. Public Safety (Fire, Police, DPW Subteams) – Rep. Ted James, Don Cazayoux
    4. Office of Community Development – Darryl Gissel, Brian Lafleur
    5. Human Development and Services – Johnny Anderson, Pat LeDuff
    6. Homeland Security – General Russel Honore, Paul Rainwater
    7. Information Services – Curtis Heromann, Sonia Perez, Padma Vatsavai
    8. Purchasing – Monique Spalding, Ronald L. Smith
    9. Internal Organization – Christel Slaughter, Dennis Blunt
    10. Arts, Culture and Leisure – Fairleigh Jackson, Walter “Geno” McLaughlin
    11. Flood Recovery – Perry Franklin, Bryan Jones
    12. Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility – Scott Kirkpatrick, Ann Trappey
    13. Economic Development & Enterprise – Rolfe McCollister, Donald Andrews
    14. North Baton Rouge Revitalization – Cleve Dunn, Jr.; Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas
    15. Healthcare, Social Services and Mental Health – Alma Stewart, Dr. Stephen Kelley
    16. Housing and Land Use – Candace Parker, Keith Cunningham
    17. Metropolitan Organization – Mary Olive Pierson, Domoine Rutledge
    18. The Millennial Agenda – Courtney Scott, Matt Adams
    19. Women’s Issues – Rachel Hebert, Tawahna Harris
    20. Race Relations – Dr. Albert Samuel
    21. Education – Sherry Brock, Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D.

    Co-chair information, as well as, future updates on committee member assignments on the official transition website, BRtranistion.com.

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    The Genius of Ted Ellis

    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.

    16 civilfight ted ellis feature photo“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.

    Ted Ellis

    Ted Ellis

    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

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    Youth to Watch in 2017

    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:

     

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    Master P to host flood benefit concert

    Master P is on a mission to help the victims of the recent deadly Louisiana floods.

    During the annual NBA All Star Weekend celebration on February 18, 2017, which will take place in his hometown of New Orleans, the music mogul is hosting a benefit concert and fundraiser in the city to help displaced families in Baton Rouge get back into their homes.

    “Together we will entertain and give fans a great show but the real mission is to help get families back into their homes,” Master P wrote on the event’s website. “In Baton Rouge, there is still a lot of pollution in the air, water damages and mildew.”

    Since Aug. 12, more than 112,000 Baton Rouge residents have been affected by flooding, which also destroyed approximately 40,000 homes, and left 13 people dead ― making it America’s worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, according to the Red Cross.

    “I want all the athletes to come out, we are going to have all the top celebrities there from Usher to Lil Wayne,” he told Vibe on the event’s mission.

    “When people look at the floods and a lot of victims, they are not back in their homes yet in Baton Rouge, and I feel like for All Star Weekend, even though this will be a fun event, It will be a way for everyone to do their part, so this concert will be great for our people and Baton Rouge.”

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    Legislators say they will closely monitor Joe McKnight killing

    Louisiana Senators Troy Carter and JP Morrell, along with State Rep. Rodney Lyons, who all represent Jefferson Parish, released this statement on killing of Joe McKnight during a road rage incident earlier thi

    s week.

    In this divisive, racially-charged environment, which is in no way unique to our community, we fully appreciate and share in the public’s concern over the killing of Joe McKnight.

    We are monitoring the investigation closely to see that it is thorough and transparent, and ultimately, that justice is done in accordance with the law. We are working closely with local law enforcement, state law enforcement, and oversight agencies.

    We will continue to advocate for all of the people of Jefferson Parish who we represent. Our prayers are with the family of Joe McKnight, because violence is never the answer. The laws of the land shall prevail and the Jefferson Parish Delegation of the Louisiana Legislature will be monitoring this matter closely.

    State Senator JP Morrell, District 3
    State Senator Troy Carter, District 7
    State Representative Rodney Lyons, District 87

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    Rep. Richmond Elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 115th Congress

    Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have elected Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) to lead them over the next two years as chair. When the next Congress convenes January 3, 2017, Richmond will lead the largest CBC in history, as victories in the last election have grown the caucus to 49 members.

    “I’m honored and humbled by the confidence my colleagues have placed in me to serve as the chair of this revered Caucus, the conscience and intellect of the Congress,” said Richmond. “As we move into a new Congress and the onset of a new Administration, our Caucus will remain committed to the values that have made the CBC among the most influential institutions in the nation.”

    Also elected were: Andre’ Carson (IN-07), 1st vice chair; Karen Bass (CA-37), 2nd vice chair; Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Secretary; and Gwen Moore (WI-04), Whip.

    “As we face the challenges before us ─ from economic justice and upward mobility, to voting rights, policing, and criminal justice reform ─ we will approach each of them with vigilance. We will strive to harness the energy of our constituencies to enact policies that will have the greatest positive impact,” Richmond said. “I look forward to working with our membership, as we embark on an ambitious agenda. I stand on the shoulders of a choir of brave African-American women and men whose struggles made way for our progress. I will work every day to make them proud.”

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    National 100 Black Women charters Baton Rouge chapter, installs officers

    The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. proudly chartered the 100 Black Women of Metropolitan Baton Rouge on November 6, 2016 at the Bell of Baton Rouge with more than 200 guests to witness organization’s official formation.

    Chartering officers elected during the ceremony were: Dr. Leah Cullins, president;  Tamiara Wade Ph.D., 1st vice president of membership; Raushanah Hunter, Esq., 2nd vice president of programs;  Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D., 3rd vice president of finance and fund development; Sonya Murray, treasurer; DeShone Smith, financial secretary; Nicole Grimes, recording Secretary; Alsie Dunbar, corresponding secretary; Cheria Lane, Ph.D., parlimentarian; and Rokeya Morris, Esq., historian.

    The 100 Black Women is an organization that advocates an enhanced quality of life for individuals and families of color by facilitating programs that address their needs and unites the public and private sector of Baton Rouge to ensure progress of Black women.

    While establishing a sisterly bond, these programs foster leadership, educational opportunities, economic partnerships, women’s health issues and political strength.

    The mission of the coalition is to advocate on behalf of Black women and girls in order to promote leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment

    The 100 Black Women believe in gender equity, inclusion, respect, racial and social justice, integrity and accountability, economic empowerment, and collaboration.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., Michele McNiel-Emery,  Dr. Leah Cullins, and Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., Michele McNiel-Emery, Dr. Leah Cullins, and Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D.

    The organization’s agenda includes health, education, economic empowerment, strategic alliances, and civic engagement. According to the website, the 100 Black Women’s purpose is to:

    • Foster principles of equal rights and opportunities;
    • Promote the awareness of Black culture;
    • Develop the potential of the membership for effective leadership and participation in civic affairs;
    • Take action on specific issues of national and international importance, and
    • Cooperate with other persons and organizations to achieve mutual goals.

    “We are looking to select an eclectic group of women that are “movers and shakers” in the greater Baton Rouge area with a desire to meet the mission of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Membership is open to individuals who possess demonstrated leadership experience with evidence of participation in local community, government, service, business or political affairs,” organizers said.

    The organization meets monthly and can be followed on Twitter @100BlackWomenBR, Facebook at /100BlackWomenBatonRouge, and on Instagram: @100BlackWomenBR

    ONLINE: www.100blackwomenbr.com/

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    Tina, Solange, Kelly, Beyoncé to ‘Love on Louisiana’ Nov 20 in Baton Rouge

    Holiday event aims to raise $1 million for Louisiana flood relief


    The state of Louisiana is set to receive much needed relief following August’s devastating flood.  Tina Knowles-Lawson, Solange Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé  will partner with Essence to raise $1 million for those affected by the flood in Baton Rouge.

    On Sunday, November 20, they will host Love on Louisiana: An Essence Hometown Heroes Tribute celebrating the resilience of the Baton Rouge community.

    “Louisiana is a special place in my family’s history and we are committed as a family to never forget the city and the people of Baton Rouge,” said Tina Knowles-Lawson. “It breaks my heart to see the unimaginable disaster and destruction caused by the flooding, and we will stand and support every effort in place to help the people most affected.”

    The holiday dinner and awards ceremony, set at Raising Cane’s River Center, will honor standout students and teachers for their commitment to serving and rebuilding their communities. With support from the City of Baton Rouge and the State of Louisiana, the event will serve as a call to action to raise $1 million to help families recover in the wake of this summer’s catastrophic flooding, which produced seven trillion gallons of water—three times the rainfall total of Hurricane Katrina.

    In addition to the award recognition, gift baskets containing donated goods will be distributed to students, teachers and families who are still largely affected by the severe flooding. The event will also galvanize citizens from around the world to support Louisiana by donating here to fund new homes for local families via Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge.

    “I extend my deepest appreciation to Ms. Tina Lawson, Essence and Time Inc. for their commitment to helping the people of Louisiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The Essence family has a long and rich history with our state and the ‘Love on Louisiana Tribute,’ which celebrates the strength of our families and students, is especially meaningful. This is the time of year when families, friends and communities come together. Our people have endured many setbacks over the last several months, but they are resilient and determined to come back stronger. But we cannot do it alone and that is why it is so gratifying to know that you support us and that your hearts are with Louisiana.”

    “Baton Rouge is especially proud to host this event that not only recognizes students and teachers who have contributed to rebuilding our community, but will also raise much needed funds to help families recover,” said Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden. “The power that these amazing sponsors bring to this event means it will be a tremendous success, and they have our deepest appreciation.”

    Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #LoveOnLouisiana and by directing supporters to donate here. Follow Essence on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more.

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