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    Ambassador Chad Barnes Jr. raises funds for OLOL Children’s Hospital, patients

    Every year, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals chose a champion to serve as the ambassador for their local hospital.

    For Baton Rouge, that champion is Chad Barnes Jr, the 2020-2021 CMN Ambassador for Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

    He is the spokesperson for the children’s hospital and helps host events and raise money for kids who live with illnesses.

    The seventh grader appears on OLOL commercials, posters, and websites. He has participated in the hospital’s media-thons, events, fundraisers, and the grand opening for the new children’s hospital on Essen Lane.

    Chad Barnes Jr appears on donation posters in Walmart and Costco to benefit Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital.

    Chad Barnes Jr appears on donation posters in Walmart and Costco to benefit Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

    “I think my favorite part in what I do is letting kids know that they aren’t alone,” Barnes said.

    In June 2017, he began experiencing stomach pains and bloody stools. His health worsened, activating symptoms and leading to medication, hospitalization, anxiety, and more pain. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a condition that causes inflammation in the intestines.

    It is an invisible illness and rarely does Barnes look as bad as he may feel. At times, this could make it difficult for his parents, Donna and Chad Sr., to care for him.

    “I was experiencing appetite loss, nausea, stomach aches, and pain. Ultimately it was traumatic. I was admitted into the hospital for about two weeks which was horrible not being able to do the things I’ve done before. I was originally put on 10 plus medications in the beginning,” he said.

    Even while living with this disease, the gifted and talented student enjoys playing the trumpet, bullet journaling, writing calligraphy, and drawing. He says he wants to attend Stanford University and become a lawyer or social justice activist. He manages an Instagram page–@IBD.Teens–that helps inspire other kids with similar digestive diseases. The page helps young patients stay safe, find comfort, have fun, be positive, and help find natural remedies to help soothe inflammation.

    Earlier this October, the Dance Marathon at LSU hosted its annual Miles for Miracles Walk featuring Barnes and his fascination with the Tesla Company. The 5k walk was dubbed “Charging with Chad,” and he was granted a ride through Baton Rouge in a tesla.

    Even before becoming an amabssador, Barnes has been friendly and supportive of others. He invites teens and children to tour the new kid-friendly facility. “It’s a better place now that we have our own hospital designed just for us,” he said. ℜ

    ONLINE: @IBD.Teens

    By Yulani Semien
    The Drum Youth reporter

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    KaMauri Harrison, 9, takes fight to stay in school to the state legislature

    Sitting on Governor John Bel Edwards desk is a historic act that creates school policies for virtual learning in Louisiana and allows students who have been punished by their schools to appeal their school’s decision. The Act, which was written State Rep. Troy Romero’s (R-District 57) and co-authored by 70 legislators, earned unprecedented unanimous support (97-0) across the House and Senate during this second extraordinary session. And it all began with the parents and supporters of KaMauri Harrison fighting to appeal an elementary school’s decision to expel him.

    KaMauri’s BB Gun

    When the Nyron Harrison and Thelma Williams of Harvey, La., made the decision to keep their five children in virtual learning throughout the coronavirus pandemic, they did not realize that they were opening their home to the review of the Jefferson Parish School System.

    Rep. Troy Romero

    Rep. Troy Romero

    Nine-year-old Ka’Mauri Harrison was expelled  for having a BB gun visible in his bedroom while he attended virtual classes. According to his teacher’s report, Harrison was completing a test during a virtual class when his younger brother tripped over the toy near him. He picked it up and placed it near his laptop and the teacher saw the barrel of the toy gun. She reported it to school officials who suspended the boy and recommended him for expulsion. Louisiana has a zero tolerance law for weapons on school grounds and the Jefferson Parish School System upholds a “Weapons on Campus” policy.

    At his school hearing, an official declined to expel Harrison but still upheld his six-day suspension. Harrison was upset.

    “They are treating it as if he brought a weapon to school,” said his father.

    His parents said the school violated their privacy rights and denied them due process. They are suing the school system and is seeking damages for “mental pain, suffering, anguish and embarrassment, humiliation and loss of self-esteem, future counseling and tutoring and lost income,” according to the suit.

    The incident has garnered national and international attention from mainstream media, gun association magazines, legal blogs, and Black media.

    KaMauri’s Supporters

    dr-walter-kimbrough-dillard-univ-400

    Walter Kimbrough, Ph.D

    On the day the story was published in the New Orleans Advocate newspaper, Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough PhD penned a letter to the school district and media. He questioned if the school system had adequate policies to address incidents like this to determine where school functions or school grounds end during virtual learning. He admonished the Jefferson Parish public schools superintendent to revoke the punishment, update school policies to reflect changes to virtual environments, and apologize to Harris. School Board member Simeon Dickerson said the punishment didn’t fit the offense and also urged the superintendent to reconsider. As of today, Superintendent James Gray has not reconsidered.

    Kimbrough often speaks against the over criminalization of Black boys so it is consistent of this HBCU leader to spot this situation and proactively attempt to prevent a long-term effect on the fourth grader and his family.

    Attorney General Jeff Landry launched an investigation into the situation on the same day of the story. “I have begun investigating this matter and plan to take action in defense of this young man and his family and all families who could suffer the same invasion of their homes and constitutional rights…“It is ludicrous for this All-American kid to be punished for taking responsible actions,” wrote Landry.

    Rep. Jason Hughes

    Rep. Jason Hughes

    Likewise, The ACLU of Louisiana also condemned the school system’s decision.

    State Rep Jason Hughes (D-New Orleans) shared Harrison’s story on Facebook and posted, “During the 2020 Regular Legislative Session, I filed a bill that would completely overhaul Louisiana’s School Discipline Code….The bottom line is we suspend and expel far too many kids in the State of Louisiana, including students in Pre-K and Kindergarten. This is not accomplishing anything meaningful. Rather, these actions are causing our kids to fall further behind and placing them on a destructive path, rather than a path to prosperity. Louisiana MUST do better! I invite any parents, teachers, students, and members of the public to join me in addressing this problem and working toward a meaningful solution!” The Harrison family has done just that.

    KaMauri’s Victory

    On Oct. 6, a judge signed a temporary restraining order enjoining the Jefferson Parish School System from performing a social work assessment on Harrison or any other acts of retaliation, his family stated on their GoFundMe page. The Harrison Family said they hope raise enough money for Ka’Mauri’s legal defense to appeal the school’s decision, clear his record of an “on-campus weapons violation, and support the family as needed.

    Because of an over-reactive school expulsion, the Harrison family has become active advocates for fair education policies even in the midst of their own financial challenges.  They have been caught in a whirlwind of rules and policies, even while KaMauri returns to virtual instruction.

    Chelsea

    Chelsea Cusimano

    With the help of New Orleans attorney Chelsea Berner Cusimano, the Harrison family went to the State Legislature on October 7 to encourage the Louisiana House Education Committee to pass House Bill 83 and review student disciplinary laws and policies especially considering the new virtual learning environment. Representatives applauded Harrison before unanimously voting to advance the bill which they renamed the “The Ka’Mauri Harrison Act.”

    In an open letter to legislators, the Jefferson Parish School superintendent and board members urged legislators to reject the bill stating that the bill will have serious and wide-reaching implications for school districts. They said school boards statewide would be overwhelmed with suspension appeals.

    “From what I’m looking at — just by reading and what I know — it seems like this was way overboard and this thing should have never even gotten to this point.. “This kid should have never been recommended for expulsion over something like this with a BB gun,” said Sen. Kirk Talbot .

    On Oct. 19, the Senate Education Committee also unanimously voted to advance the Act to the full Senate for final passage which it received with  35 votes, unanimously, on Oct. 20.

    “We have the legislature on our side…Had this not happened these children would have been left with no recourse,” said Cusimano.

    KaMauri’s Act

    If signed by the Governor before the legislative session ends on Oct. 27, the KaMauri Harrison Act will become a law in Louisiana and school districts will have to write policies specifically for online learning.

    The law would allow Ka’Mauri Harrison, and every student punished since schools shut down in March, to appeal all the way to District Court. It gives families more options to appeal disciplinary decisions, including a secondary review if they’re recommended for expulsion. This will allow students the opportunities to clear their school records as a result of a second appeal.

    “He (Ka’Mauri) doesn’t understand the seriousness of what’s going on right now, but he’s making history and I’m a very proud father,” Nyron Harrison told WDSU news. ℜ

    By Candace J. Semien

    Jozef Syndicate

     

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    Don’t make another mistake, Snoop Dogg, read the ballot

    Intense get-out-the-vote momentum is growing for November third, the day we Americans will cast our votes and “claim” who we want to serve as our 46th president. For first time voters like rapper Snoop Dogg who mistakenly believed he was not eligible to vote, the day has more significance than many media are reporting since many states have multiple races on their ballots. In Louisiana, each vote will critically impact city councils, judgeships, and the state constitution. First time voters will make a difference. But, do they understand that? And will they read the ballot?

    Organizations like the Baker-Zachary Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and PAR Louisiana have released voter info and are hosting forums to help voters understand amendments.

    Read more from the Jozef Syndicate

     

    SWB_Digital_TheDrum_250x250_V2_Hires

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    Zetas honor breast cancer survivors with yearly celebration and wig collection

    The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Omicron Sigma Zeta chapter in Baton Rouge has scheduled its Blutiful In Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Program for Thursday, October 29 at 6 p.m. Due to the pandemic, it will take place virtually via Zoom.

    “Over the past five years, we have been able to impact the lives of hundreds of warriors and survivors of this illness,” said Christina Carter, chair of the Zetas Helping Other People Excel (Z-HOPE) committee. “The more we can educate ourselves on prevention and early detection as well as take better care of ourselves the more we can change the statistics impacting our communities.”

    The purpose of this program is to bring about awareness to breast cancer as well as to inform and discuss prevention and healthy lifestyles. As part of this program each year, the chapter collects new wigs for the Cancer Center of Baton Rouge. The community will have two opportunities to drop-off wigs: Friday, October 16 from 3pm-5pm. at Sherwood Middle Magnet and Saturday, October 24 from 10 a.m.-noon at Independence Park.

    The Blutiful In Pink program is free and open to the public; however, registration is required. Participants can register at http://bit.ly/blutifulinpink.

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    Dr. J.L. Garrett, Hammond’s first Black veterinarian dies

    Dr. Johnnie Lee “J.L.” Garrett, the oldest civil rights and community leader in Hammond, died on August 30, 2020.

    The veteran civil right leader was born in Newton County Texas on November 24, 1925. He earned an early education in the public schools of Newton County Texas and Liberty High school. In his senior year of high school, he was the valedictorian of his class and on track to give the valedictorian address. However, when his appendix ruptured, he was hospitalized and expected to die because Blacks were not given priority in surgical procedures. He was headed for death until his mother’s employer, a white lumber mill owner, told the hospital staff to save him with an operation. He gave this man credit for saving his life at the age of 16.

    After graduating from Prairie View A&M University Garrett enlisted in the United States military. He served overseas during WWII and rose to the rank of captain. After returning home, he enrolled in the Tuskegee Institute School of Veterinary Medicine. He returned home to Texas and began practicing veterinary medicine. There he met the late Alma Jean McDonald. They married in 1955 and had three children, Sherree, Donald, and Theron. Garrett was encouraged to move to Hammond by his Tuskegee University roommate Dr. Percy Walker, a veterinarian in Amite, told Garrett there was a great need for veterinarians.  In 1960, Garrett moved his family to Hammond from Milwaukee Wisconsin where he was a meat inspector.

    He opened Garrett Veterinarian Clinic, becoming the first Black veterinarian in the city of Hammond. He also worked as a meat inspector for the state of Louisiana.

    Garrett was one of the most prominent and influential community leaders. For six decades, he served on local boards geared toward the betterment of the Tangipahoa parish. He participated in activism, working to make the community a more equitable place. In 2012, his service earned him the Wilbert L. Dangerfield Award of Excellence from the Hammond City Council.

    He worked to establish the First Annual Interracial Church Service and was a founding member of the Second Saturday Breakfast Committee, chairman of the Charter Committee to develop the laws of Tangipahoa Parish, and the originator of the very successful Macedonia Baptist Church Scholarship Banquet.

    He actively assisted many students with obtaining employment.

    He was the first Black faculty member at Southeastern Louisiana University  and an unofficial advisor to five  university’s presidents. He was a member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.ℜ

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Founding Publisher

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    Zachary student, Kyra Griffin, wins Ronnie Edwards scholarship

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation recently selected Kyra Griffin as the 2020 Ronnie Edwards Scholarship recipient. Griffin is a recent graduate of Zachary High School where she earned a 3.6. grade point average. She is an alumna of UREC’s College and Career Ready Pre-Law Institute and IGNITE Fellowship and recently started her undergraduate career at Southern University.

    “I’m excited to begin the next phase of my journey at Southern University, where I will study criminal justice and psychology. I plan to utilize the skills I have learned to better myself and my community by giving back financially, through leadership and in service,” said Griffin.

    The Ronnie Edwards Scholarship honors the legacy and contributions of UREC founder Ronnie Edwards. She founded UREC in 1992, pioneered our youth development initiatives, and championed education, while advancing the organization’s purpose of “Building Today’s Communities for Tomorrow.” UREC is honored to present this scholarship in her memory. Learn more at URECBR.com.

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    Brandon Common named LSU associate vice president for student affairs, dean of students

    LSU has named Brandon Common as the university’s new associate vice president for student affairs & dean of students. Common, who currently serves as assistant vice president of student affairs for campus life at Illinois Wesleyan University, will serve as LSU’s principle student advocate and provide strategic leadership for programs, services, events and experiences that enhance the LSU student experience.

    “During his candidacy, Dr. Common distinguished himself as a roll-up-his-sleeves, creative problem-solver who is focused on what we can do to improve the lives and experiences of students,” said Jeremiah Shinn, LSU vice president of student affairs. Throughout his career, he has consistently earned the confidence of students, staff, and faculty alike. I believe LSU will benefit mightily from his leadership.”

    Common’s wealth of experience will enable him to fulfill key responsibilities including  developing a comprehensive framework for the LSU co-curricular experience, serving as Deputy Title IX Coordinator, and providing leadership and support for Campus Life, Greek Life, the William A. Brookshire Military and Veterans Student Center, Student Advocacy and Accountability, and Student Government.

    “I am truly thankful for the opportunity to join an institution that is committed to innovation and to providing a world-class education to the individuals of this community, state, and country,” Common said. “I look forward to working alongside gifted and dedicated professionals in helping LSU students thrive throughout the entirety of their time while on campus.”

    Common earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Missouri-Columbia, a master’s degree from Ohio University, and a Ph.D. in educational organization and leadership – higher education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is expected to begin as LSU associate vice president & dean of students on Dec. 7, pending approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.

     

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    BRCC, EBR Schools sign proclamation to launch Early College Academy

    Officials from Baton Rouge Community College and East Baton Rouge Parish School System formally signed a proclamation to launch the Early College Academy. Baton Rouge Community College Chancellor Dr. Willie Smith and EBR Schools Associate Superintendent Ben Necaise signed the proclamation, surrounded by Early College Academy students, community leaders and supporters.

    The Early College Academy is being piloted with freshmen and sophomore students from Broadmoor High School. The degrees offered during the first year are in information technology with either application developer or networking and vehicle maintenance technology.

    Plans to expand the Early College Academy in the types of degrees offered and the number of high schools will be determined and implemented through the 2020-21 school year. The agreement between EBR Schools and BRCC to create the Early College Academy was officially signed in March, just prior to the shutdown of the region due to COVID-19.

    Early College Academy students from Broadmoor High School participated in the signing ceremony between Baton Rouge Community College and the East Baton Rouge Parish School System on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Pictured (L to R) are CTEC Director Daphne Hughes-Alex, EBR School Board Member Evelyn Ware-Jackson, EBRPSS Associate Superintendent Ben Necaise, Broadmoor student Sha’Lisa Paul, Broadmoor student Marcus Turner, Broadmoor Principal Stacy Bradford, Broadmoor student Alvin Scott, BRCC Chancellor Dr. Willie E. Smith, and CTEC Executive Director Summer Dann.

    Early College Academy students from Broadmoor High School participated in the signing ceremony between Baton Rouge Community College and the East Baton Rouge Parish School System on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Pictured (L to R) are CTEC Director Daphne Hughes-Alex, EBR School Board Member Evelyn Ware-Jackson, EBRPSS Associate Superintendent Ben Necaise, Broadmoor student Sha’Lisa Paul, Broadmoor student Marcus Turner, Broadmoor Principal Stacy Bradford, Broadmoor student Alvin Scott, BRCC Chancellor Dr. Willie E. Smith, and CTEC Executive Director Summer Dann.

    “When we think of the future of our community, it’s incredibly important to consider the ways in which we can truly invest in our young people as early as possible,” said BRCC Chancellor Dr. Willie E. Smith. “This partnership and proclamation will allow Baton Rouge Community College to make a necessary educational investment in high school students, affording them the remarkable opportunity to work towards extremely relevant professional certifications and degrees while pursuing their high school studies. We are grateful to be able to serve our community in this way and very much look forward to continuing to expand this program as we learn from our pilot year. We are incredibly thankful to the EBR School System, along with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Career and Technical Education Center for partnering with us for this program.”

    “Over the past two years, the EBR Career and Technical Education Center has provided high school students with high-wage, high-demand career training opportunities that allow them to directly enter the workforce or continue with post-secondary education,” said EBR Associate Superintendent Ben Necaise. “In addition, the students have also gained valuable internship experiences and long-term employment with our community partners. Our district is grateful for the collaborative partnership with LCTCS, BRCC, BRAC, BRAF and our CTEC Board of Directors as we expand our programing to incorporate the Early College Academy piloted at Broadmoor High School.”

    Additional supporters participating in today’s signing ceremony included Baton Rouge Area Foundation Executive Vice President John Spain who offered a brief history on the collaboration, and Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp, who discussed the economic impact of the Academy and program on the region.

    In 2005 a collaboration among EBR Schools, BRCC, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and leading business, industry and healthcare organizations developed the idea of the EBR Career & Technical Education Center (CTEC). This program and its building were specifically designed to offer high school students the opportunity to earn advanced credentials and dual enrolled college courses in the high-wage, high-demand workforce needs of the Capital region. CTEC opened in 2018 with a vision to expand the college course offerings to allow students to earn their Associate’s degree while in high school. To make this vision a reality, leaders in EBR Schools and BRCC began working through the details to develop the Early College Academy.

    For more information about the Early College Academy visit www.ebrctec.com. For more information about Baton Rouge Community College visit www.mybrcc.edu.

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    Southern creates official varsity esports team, Christopher Turner named head coach

    The University becomes the first higher learning institution with an esports pipeline servicing K-12 through graduate school students.

    Southern University and A&M College is creating an official varsity esports team, joining more than 300 colleges and universities to compete nationally in the fast-growing digital sport.

    Esports, short for “electronic sports,” is defined as competitive multiplayer video gaming. While new and developing at the collegiate level, esports has grown exponentially among amateur and professional gamers around the world.

    The Southern University esports program has plans to join esports organizations, which include the SWAC, HBCU Esports, Tespa, National Association of Collegiate Esports, and Collegiate Star League. Students will have the opportunity to compete online against other universities.

    Southern University has named Christopher Turner general manager and head coach.  Turner is also the Southern University Laboratory School esports general manager and head coach. He has recently received a national championship through the development of its Esports Program.

    “I’m excited to head up esports for Southern University. We will be the only program to reach students from Pre K to Ph.D.  Our goal is to increase student involvement in STEM-related careers, compete for scholarships, and create internship opportunities,” said Turner.

    Spring season competition will be in NBA 2K21, Call of Duty, and Fortnite. Titles being considered for the fall are Rocket League, Super Smash Bros., Madden NFL, and FIFA.

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    Shell Louisiana invests $300,000 in River Road African American Museum Rosenwald School

    Shell Louisiana has presented a $300,000 grant to the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville, to support the restoration of the Museum’s historic Rosenwald School building. When completed, the structure will house the RRAAM Rosenwald School for Education, Culture and History, which will provide a modern space for museum visitors and school groups to explore the important role of Blacks in the region’s history.

    Planned for a summer 2021 openning, the facility will also enhance the museum’s ability to serve as a center for genealogical research as well as provide science, technology, engineering, art, and math programing; healthy eating healthy living seminars; and culture and history events.

    “The River Road African American Museum is truly excited about the gift Shell is contributing to our work,” said Todd L. Sterling, RRAAM’s board president. “Many children, members of the community, and patrons from around the world will be the beneficiary of the programming, and events that the Rosenwald School for Education, Culture, and History will execute once the building is renovated and available for use.”

    River Road African American Museum's Rosenwald School

    River Road African American Museum’s Rosenwald School

    The RRAAM Rosenwald School building is one of only a few remaining in the region, originally serving as an educational facility for Black children in St. James Parish in the early 1930s. It was moved to Donaldsonville in 2001 in an effort to save the building from demolition. The building, located at 511 Williams St., is being renovated and historically restored to become part of the Museum’s growing campus in downtown Donaldsonville.

    “Shell’s relationship with the River Road African American Museum goes back more than 20 years,” said Rhoman Hardy, vice president U.S. Gulf Coast for Shell Louisiana. “The Rosenwald School will bring new resources and opportunity to our region while assisting the Museum in advancing its mission; one we believe deeply in. This partnership echoes Shell’s commitment to diversity and inclusion both with our employees and in the communities in which we operate.”

     

    ONLINE: www.africanamericanmuseum.org.

    ONLINE: Shell Louisiana .

     

    Photo Caption: (l to r) Tyrone Smith, Shell Convent Refinery Operator and RRAAM Board Member; Emanuel Mitchell, RRAAM Board Member; Allen Pertuit, Shell Convent Refinery General Manager; Darryl Hambrick, RRAAM Executive Director; Todd L. Sterling, RRAAM Board President; Rhoman Hardy, Shell Vice President U.S. Gulf Coast.

     

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    COVID-19 is third-leading cause of death for Black Americans

    New data suggests the novel coronavirus is the third leading cause of death for Black Americans.

    A report from the Brookings Institution examined how Black families were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and found it has become a leading cause of death. Only cancer and heart disease are deadlier. Black people are twice as likely to die from the virus when compared against white and Asian people.

    “In 2020 more Black Americans will die of COVID-19 than will succumb to diabetes, strokes, accidents, or pneumonia,” the report stated.

    The pandemic is the latest example of health disparities that affect Black Americans because of institutional racism, the report authors suggest.

    “If I told you on Jan. 1 that a new virus that we did not even know about would, in August, be the third-leading cause of death for Black Americans our hair should have been set on fire and we would have an extensive public policy response to this unprecedented pandemic,” report co-author Trevon Logan, an economics professor at The Ohio State University, told WTOP.

    The study also looked at the economic ramifications of COVID-19 for the Black community.

    Bradley Hardy, another member of the research team, told WTOP 50 percent of Black people live in households that have lost income since the pandemic started. Additionally, 20 percent of Black families experience some form of food insecurity.

    “There’s not just well-documented income gaps, but there’s also really yawning wealth gaps,” Hardy said. “[Black] households don’t necessarily have that resource or that cushion to lean on.”

    The study recommended “reliable fiscal policy responses” to help families cope.

    “Inadequate additional federal economic relief — such as legislation that does not provide enough unemployment assistance and supplements to the safety net — potentially threatens the economic security of Black families,” the authors warned.

    The Brookings study comes days after a report backed by the National Urban League found Black people are becoming infected at rates three times higher than those for white people. The report, titled “State of Black America Unmasked,” cited findings from American Public Media Research that showed Black people are twice as likely to die from COVID-19. Black people, along with Latinos, are four times more likely to be hospitalized compared to white patients. Part of the report’s findings is based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

    The researchers also highlighted problems with access to coronavirus tests and racial bias.

    “Black people with COVID-19 symptoms in February and March were less likely to get tested or treated than white patients,” National Urban League CEO Marc Morial wrote in a blog post.

    “Studies showed that doctors downplayed Black patients’ complaints of pain, prescribed weaker pain medication and withheld cardiac treatments from Black patients who needed them.”

    By The Atlanta Black Star

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  • Kamala Harris’ Louisiana campaign chairs celebrate VP selection

    Kamala Harris Louisiana Campaign Chairs Councilmember Helena Moreno and State Representative Ted James Release Statements on the Historic Selection for VPOTUS, Aug. 12.
    “This is the right choice for the Biden team. Kamala Harris has the ability to energize and bring people together. She’s also battle-tested and has the tenacity to be a strong running mate. This is major for the people of Louisiana and the city I represent, New Orleans. She’s visited several times and will be a tremendous ally. I know that she is deeply concerned about the constant struggles faced by Americans today, but she and Joe Biden will get us out of this crisis. I’m excited and prepared to help in any way to get them both elected,” said New Orleans City Councilmember Helena Moreno.

    “This is a historic pick for a Vice-Presidential running mate, but most importantly this is the best pick to unite and excite our party. Kamala is a fighter, a fighter for the people of America. She is not scared to take on Trump or his administration and has been combating their destructive policies. I am incredibly proud to have been an early supporter and been part of her campaign. Now it’s time for all of us to get to work to ensure that the Biden/Harris team makes it all the way to the White House,” said State Representative Ted James of Baton Rouge.

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    Bar association honors Angela White-Bazile with a Hidden Figures Award

    Angela White-Bazile received the Hidden Figure Award from the National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division. She is executive counsel for Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson. The award recognizes a woman lawyer who’s made significant contributions to the legal profession that are not widely known.

    White-Bazile is the first Black woman to hold the position of executive counsel at the Louisiana Supreme Court and has been in the role since March 2014. She has worked to champion diversity and inclusion and foster the advancement of women in the legal profession over the past 24 years, while highlighting the importance of community service and mentoring.

    Nominees for the award have broken barriers or new ground; showed resilience to change the projections of her success, or the success of others; removed obstacles to aid in pursuing career goals or the goals of others; or used her privilege or power to empower another lawyer.

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    Parenting during this pandemic requires an ‘anointing,’ says Baton Rouge counselor

    With today’s coronavirus pandemic, parents and grandparents are facing a crisis never before seen. From dealing with health fears, sharp shifts to virtual learning, job losses, and political protests, parenting youth today–in a world that’s vastly changing–has become more challenging and overwhelming.

    Nearly half of parents of children under age 18 said their stress levels related to the coronavirus pandemic are high, according to a new survey by the American Psychological Association.

    “For many parents, it can feel overwhelming to face competing demands at home and work along with possible financial challenges during this unprecedented crisis,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “Children are keen observers and often notice and react to stress or anxiety in their parents, caregivers, peers, and community. Parents should prioritize their self-care and try their best to model healthy ways of coping with stress and anxiety.”

    barbara w green

    Louisiana-based family counselor barbara w green said one way to deal with the crisis is to recognize God’s gift to parents.

    “A crisis comes for the purpose of reflection, re-turning, and restoring,” said Green. “It takes the Anointing to recognize what to do in a crisis. This anointing is a parent anointing. It is the special, God-given ability to parent that many people already have,” she said.

    In 2013, Green published the second edition of The Parent Anointing which clarifies the unique position God establishes to help adults parent and rear children. Green offers this advice for those seeking solutions and strategies through this pandemic. “The parent who moves in the anointing follows God, the Heavenly Father,” she said.

    Within the pages of The Parent Anointing and during private sessions,  Green urges parents to reflect on God as the ultimate parent and become that reflection.

    “The parent anointing is the ‘reflection’ of love of the Father God upon His children. When a parent operates in the anointing (calling and instruction) of the Heavenly Father, the child sees the goodness of God reflected in the love which the parent has for the child,” she said.

    She used John 17:22-23 to explain. It states, “And the glory which You gave me, I have given them, that they may be one, just as we are one. {Unity} I in them, and You in me .{Reflection} and that the world may know that You sent me {Representation} and have loved them as You have loved me {reflective mirroring}.”

    The Parent Anointing by barbara w green

    The parent anointing is not reserved for biological parents only, Green said. A parent is also a nonbiological adult who cares for and guides a child or teen. For all parents, the anointing is reflective from God through the parent to the child and it is present in three significant ways: faith, purpose, and significance.

    The way to survive any crisis is to resist the temptation to become selfish, Green said “If a family is to get through a crisis it is through unified effort in looking out for one another. Not survival of the fittest, but fitting all to survive.  And, if the family is to survive, it must be done through one accord, not discord. The family that strives together, remains together, in purpose. And (when) the purpose is to glorify God, the family has achieved added value on earth, and in Heaven, to survive the crisis.”

    Green also tells parents to hold on to faith. “It is the one, sure way to please God. More than 2,000 years ago, the Glory that was given to family was oneness in faith. It is the major supplier of anointing.”

    She reminds parents that God watched over His son to “perfect the things that concerned Him and, in turn, the Son never did anything without consulting His Father, first. ‘I do the will of the Father who sent Me,’ Christ said.”

    The anointing gives parents the power to be like Christ and consult the Father in every decision and do God’s will, especially through this pandemic,  she said.

    For families to endure, grow, and defeat stagnation during this time of crisis, these three things are needed:

    1. Purpose Singularity where one person may have the same purpose as another but remains singular in how they achieve their purpose.
    2. Unity in the agreement of the importance of strengthening the family structure.
    3. Glory and credit for overcoming obstacles the family members may face during these trying times.

    Circling back to John 17, Green said, “It is then, that the child will say, ‘the lessons my parents gave me I have given my children that they may be one just as God and I are one. And I have loved them in the same manner as my parents and God loved me’.”

    From her Inner Reflections’ office in Baton Rouge, Green counsels individuals, families, and groups in person and virtually. The Parent Anointing is available in her office and through independent book stores, AmazonBarnes and Noble. She is also the author of a children’s book on generational prayers ( The Great One) and a collection of life-affirming short stories (a charge to keep)

    ONLINE: barbara green books

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
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  • Antione Mitchell uses fan art, alchemy to honor George Floyd

    Art-Alchemy is the technique of using traditional art methods to transform an individual into another figure. When a digital painting depicts someone as a known superhero, the art becomes fan-art. All together, art alchemy is one part of the multifaceted artistry of Antione GHOST Mitchell. He has alchemized dozens of clients and featured females in his SuperHERo collection that includes former First Lady Michelle Obama.

    From his studio in Baton Rouge, La., Mitchell masters art alchemy and fan art somewhere between working a fulltime job, completing art commissions, and creating the second issue of an ongoing Afro-fantasy series titled Sankofa’s Eymbrace.

    Artist Antione Mitchell

    Artist Antione Mitchell

    He is also the illustrator of three children’s books: My Name is Queen, The Great One, and Summer Saves Summer. He recently launched a Black Geek Point of View YouTube series on his PoeARTry Media channel.

    Following the murder of George Floyd, Mitchell sought an outlet to express an array of emotions triggered by the continuous murders and injustices that prevail in American society.

    He took to his art and alchemized George Floyd as Superman. We caught up with Mitchell to discuss his most recent rendering.

    On May 25, a Minnesota police kneeled on Floyd’s neck during a non-violent arrest, killing him. Floyd’s death erupted international outcry against police violence and for the protection of Black lives across the world. How did you choose Superman as the portal instead of another “hero”?

    MITCHELL: One of the family members during the televised funeral said, “I thank God for giving me my own personal Superman.”  I wanted to eventually create a work of art dedicated to him (and others) but I didn’t want to do anything too intense.  Comic book art is something that has always made me feel happy and less stressed. When I kept seeing that quote from the family of George Floyd the idea of manifesting him as Superman was cultivated.

    Superfloydflatdrum

    Did drawing this help you process the death and protest?
    MITCHELL: YES. If this horrible incident of what happened with George Floyd had occurred about ten or more years ago I would have been really fired up and ready to create some very intense art.  I would have probably been in some of the local protests as well. …And I would have become exhausted.  I learned a while ago that I really have to be careful how I use my art because if I’m exhausted then so will my art..and I LOVE ART.

    I have the most fun creating comic book and fantasy art so taking that same approach with such a serious and heartbreaking incident actually made it much easier to manifest. The intense art DOES touch folks and can create interesting and phenomenal teaching moments, but at the expense of my own sanity.  However, when I create art of the same situation but with a different and less intense approach, I’ve found that it touches the heart instead of rage in people.  Rage is important, but I want to be on the healing side of justice via art.

    This helped me in dealing with the pain of what happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many recent others.  I was very upset but tried hard to keep my anger away from social media.  But it was when watching “trump” live in Washington DC when he unleashed the police upon peaceful protestors who were NOT violating curfew, just so he could have a photo op in front of the nearby church. That’s when I lost it.  All the anger and sadness came to a head and I found myself crying in my wife-queen’s arms. (Mitchell and wife, Erica, are creative partners.)

    You’ve said that you want to share the power of art and present aspects of life as it is lived. What does this art give in that way?
    MITCHELL:  Well, in the case of the fan art of George Floyd as Superman, it’s a dynamic metaphor to pay homage to how his loved ones viewed him. I actually slightly battled even creating it because I didn’t want to give the wrong idea. Superman is known as being indestructible, bulletproof, super fast, and can fly. I think ANY Black person facing racist police would love to have these abilities. What if George Floyd had those abilities to escape the clutches of death by folks who are supposed to act accordingly to the oath of protect and serve? But then I thought, Superman CAN be killed, however, his spirit of hope will always live on through others. Superman’s very existence—and him being the first superhero—is something that has transcended all mediums of entertainment and beyond. So it was perfect to manifest George Floyd as Superman.

    What would you like to say to the Floyd family?
    MITCHELL: I would, like anyone, express my condolences to them.  I would want to hug and embrace them. I would most definitely give them a framed 18 x 24 inch print of the digital painting of George Floyd as Superman. I’m not making any prints to sell to anyone. I don’t want to profit off this image. The only print I want to make of it is the one I would give to the family of George Floyd.

    Mitchell is a graduate of College of Fine Arts at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge and the Art Institute of Houston.  PoeARTry Creative Movement, LLC is his official brand. Follow his work at @antoineghostmitchell and @sankofaseymbrace. Facebook.com/AntoineGHOST. Youtube: PoeArtry Media www.sankofaseymbrace.com.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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    Southern University launches THC line of medical cannabis products

    The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, part of the Southern University System, together with Ilera Holistic Healthcare (Ilera Holistic), became the nation’s first historically Black university to launch its own THC medical cannabis products. The university and Ilera share one of two cannabis licenses in the state of Louisiana. The launch of this historic brand, called AYO, comes on the heels of Louisiana’s unprecedented extension in June of its own medical marijuana program.

    SU Ag Center chancellor Orlando McMeans PhD

    SU Ag Center chancellor Orlando McMeans PhD

    “This is yet another great and historic day for the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center,” said Orlando McMeans, chancellor of the Ag Center, during a press conference July 1. “The goal of this program is to provide quality medicine for the citizens of the state of Louisiana through education, research and outreach, all of which are included in the mission of the Ag Center. The release of AYO, along with our CBD products, will enable us to help patients better manage their medical issues and improve their quality of life.”

    The AYO line joins the ALAFIA product brand, a hemp-derived tincture developed by Southern and Ilera.  ALAFIA launched on January 25 in the Louisiana market, making Southern University the first HBCU producer in both cannabis and hemp.  ALAFIA will be available online nationwide later this summer.

    “With the launch of both CBD and THC medical marijuana products, Southern continues to set precedents in innovation,” said Ray L. Belton,PhD. president of the Southern University System. “In addition to providing healthcare options for Louisiana residents, our valued partner, Ilera, is able to hire local talent. All of this impacts our state’s economy directly while expanding the Southern University brand.”

    Southern’s medical marijuana program is part of the Ag Center’s Southern Institute for Medicinal Plants led by Janana Snowden,PhD, the institute’s director and an assistant professor of agriculture at Southern University Baton Rouge. The institute and Ag Center have long researched plants such as hibiscus in addition to cannabis.

    “The very important research we conduct on medicinal plants helps us to address health problems that affect communities,” Snowden said. “Our products derived from medicinal plants offer patients another way to alleviate symptoms. We are proud that we can be part of many potential solutions.”

    AYO has been launched at a time that Louisiana has expanded laws to potentially allow more patients to choose medical marijuana for treatment. On June 11, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law ACT No 286, allowing any state-licensed physician to recommend medical marijuana to any of their patients to find relief for any condition.

    Chanda Macias

    Chanda Macias

    “ACT No 286 makes clear that Louisiana residents want full access to medical cannabis and the right to discuss alternative healthcare options with their doctors,” said Chanda Macias, chief executive officer for Ilera Holistic Healthcare. “We are grateful to the entire state legislature in welcoming our input throughout the long history of this bill and listening to the voices of our patients, advocates, doctors and industry colleagues. We had one common goal, which was to bring greater access to medicine for all patients in our great state.”

    AYO is scientifically formulated, lab-tested, pesticide-free, and only available in the state of Louisiana. To learn more about AYO and cannabis medicine, please visit www.ileraholistichealthcare.com.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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  • ,,

    Baker, BR commemorate 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott on Juneteenth

    The 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, the first boycott of the segregated southern bus system which inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott was commemorated on Juneteenth by Baker Mayor Darnell Waites and Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome at the CATS facility in Baton Rouge.

    wwj-0124_crop

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome

    The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott was a defining moment in the Civil Rights movement and proved to be a catalyst of great influence; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his book Stride Toward Freedom, that a detailed “description of the Baton Rouge experience was invaluable” in the early stages of the Montgomery boycott. Rosa Parks’ biographer and Signpost scholar Douglas Brinkley says Mrs. Parks and other NAACP activists throughout the South monitored the developments in the Baton Rouge boycott very closely at the time.

    According to internationally known civil rights historian and Signpost advisor Adam Fairclough, “the Baton Rouge protest pioneered many of the techniques that became standard practice in the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s: mass non-violent protest, the leadership of Baptist ministers and the foundation of alternative transportation systems.”

    Submitted by the City of Baker

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    Black student leaders push, LSU Board of Supervisors approves removal of Middleton name from library

    During the June 19 meeting of the LSU Board of Supervisors, the board approved the recommendation to remove the name Troy H. Middleton from the main library at LSU.

    Prior to the academic committee meeting, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards spoke in support of removing the name from the library.

    “Obviously the Black student leaders at LSU are among the important voices that we need to listen to … In fact, LSU students of all races and backgrounds are telling us it is time for their library to represent someone that everybody, every student can be proud of, and I support them,” Edwards said. “It is time for the name of the library to be changed. Simply put, and this gets to the heart of the matter: in 2020 and going forward, LSU students shouldn’t be asked to study in a library named for someone who didn’t want them to be LSU students. We can do better. We can be better.”

    UnknownIn accordance with the board policy on naming of university facilities and Permanent Memorandum 2, LSU’s Naming Committee took up the matter of removing the name of Troy H. Middleton from the main LSU library. The matter was approved unanimously and endorsed by the appropriate university officials before being presented to the Board of Supervisors.

    LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Mary Werner said that part of the job of an institution of higher learning is to examine the questions that society has and to learn from those who have come before us. She added, it is important to bring forward proposals that help move LSU forward such as the renaming of the library and to recognize not only a painful past but to reconcile it so that all students have equal opportunities.

    “History will not be erased. It is well-documented. But today we can change the mission that is LSU by welcoming every student, young and old, black and white, any nationality, that they are welcomed, their comments, their studies, their work here is valued and respected,” Werner said.

    Middleton, an infantry officer during multiple engagements in both World Wars, served as LSU president from 1952 to 1961. In spite of his many accomplishments, documents have been made public showing Middleton’s role in advocating for and continuing segregationist policies and practices despite a Supreme Court ruling allowing full access and participation of Blacks in University life.

    The University Naming Committee considered all of the factors pertaining to Middleton and acknowledged his stellar military career and service to LSU. However, the committee voted to remove the name of Middleton from the library based on his efforts to deny Black American citizens from enjoying the equal rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Interim President Tom Galligan said that it is significant and moving that today’s board actions are taking place on Juneteenth, or Freedom Day. He asked that it be a day of reflection for the LSU community.

    “Juneteenth commemorates the freedom of the last enslaved Blacks in America, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation,” Galligan said. “While it’s cause for celebration, let this also be a day of reflection for LSU and our country as we work towards true equality and freedom for all.”

    During her chair’s report, Werner shared that diversity training will be established across all departments at LSU and in August, the board will establish a new standing committee, pending board approval, the Committee on Social, Equity, Justice and Inclusion.

    “Let us continue the work we have begun,” Werner said. “We must continue the hard conversations.”

    Separately, Galligan outlined the steps LSU is taking to reopen for the fall semester and his optimism for bringing students back to campus for instruction in August.

    “First and foremost, safety will continue to be our guidepost – safety for our students, safety for our faculty, safety for our staff and visitors,” Galligan said. “And the plans are subject to change based on the evolving COVID situation.”

    Chancellors from the other LSU campuses around the state also shared similar plans for reopening their campuses to students.

    Some highlights of the return to campus plans included following guidelines for face masks, physical distancing, handwashing and enhanced cleaning. Regarding classes, classroom occupancy will be kept to 50 percent capacity, and some classes will be in person and some will be a hybrid of in-person instruction and online portions. The university will also implement testing protocols and contract tracing methods.

     

    Photo from LSU Reveille

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  • ,,

    Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith awarded AAP fellowship

    The Academy of American Poets has awarded Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith a  prestigious Laureate Fellowship, given to honor poets of literary merit serving in civic positions around the country.

    Smith, who was named to the Poet Laureate position in 2019 by Governor John Bel Edwards, received $50,000 as part of the award to produce meaningful, impactful and innovative projects in Louisiana. In partnership with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and local schools, Smith will conduct youth poetry workshops in four under-resourced parishes in northeast Louisiana’s Delta parishes.

    “As we face the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage. We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward,” said Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets.

    Smith joins 23 other poets around the country who received a Laureate Fellowship. He earned a master of fine arts at the University of New Orleans and is the author of four published collections of poetry.

    A Cave Canem fellow, Smith has directed Education’s Next Horizon and teaches English at Southern University in Baton Rouge.

    Smith’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals across the country, including Ploughshares, Callaloo, North American Review and Missouri Review, and he is the winner of the 2019 Linda Hodge Bromberg Poetry Award. Much of his poetry draws upon African American history and his personal experiences of growing up and living in the South.

    The Academy of American Poets has awarded 23 individuals with Laureate Fellowships to lead civic poetry programs in their respective communities in the year ahead. They will each receive $50,000 for a combined total of $1.1 million. The Academy also awarded the LEH a $9,000 matching gift in support of Louisiana Poet Laureate programming.

    The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    ONLINE: www.leh.org

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  • ,,

    Floyd’s death is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back; All systems are broken for Blacks

    All my life I have heard the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”.  Well, I finally understand what that means.  My mother would say it when she was ready to give me a whipping after she had caution me to stop.  The killing of George Floyd on national television was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  We have had so many young Black men killed by law enforcement over my lifetime and it took this one to get our attention.  This one is special because we all got to see a man die at the hands of a White police officer.  Before this the last killing, I saw on television was when Lee Oswald shot Jack Ruby.  That was in 1963.

    I called both of my brothers and we talked about how we wished we could be involved.  However, we are the children of the sixties and we have been tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, had horses chase us, and waterhoses shot on us.  We are with the protestors; we just can no longer run. (And, of course, there is that virus which is keeping us at home.)

    So yes, I am glad for the young people. I hope they know that law enforcement is broken, but it is not the only system broken in America. The education system for Blacks is broken; the employment system for Blacks is broken; the housing system for Blacks is broken, and many of the other systems for Blacks are broken.

    Is the religious system broken? It must be when you have a president in front of a church without a member of the clergy holding up a bible that he never opened and did not read one passage from it as he stood with all gray-headed White men and one female.  What was the message?  I guess the message was simply, I can order the troops to scatter a peaceful group of people so I might cross the street and hold up a bible.

    There is much talk about the economy in America and that people must go back to work.  Well, if you are Black and unemployed or underemployed there may not be a place for you to go.  So, what can America do now.  Well, first we should bring back all the overseas customer service people and hire locally, does it frustrate you when you call for customer service and you spend a good deal of time trying to explain your problem. I do understand the employee cost in India or other countries is nothing compared to what it would cost in America.  However, America could subsidize these companies to put our citizens to work. We know the automobile industry can make masks, gowns, ventilators, and other required items. Wouldn’t it be good if we made enough to squeeze out China and to have all the other countries coming to us and to our workers?  Can’t we make all the parts and equipment for automobiles here in America?  I know we can but yes, it would cost because to live in America is expensive compared to other countries.

    Just think if the Presidents and CEOs of major corporations would look at their compensation packages and just say, “I will find two working families who are the working poor and provide each of them an additional $500 per week out of my millions so that they are no longer the working poor but maybe the working middle class,” would not America then be great?  It is scriptural that you will always have the poor with you, that does not mean that you should not help them.

    Linda Johnson
    Plaquemine, La

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  • ,,,,

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

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

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

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

    ‘We must do better protecting our Black Women’ says LSU organization following Kinnedy Smith’s murder

    Baton Rouge Police arrested the man accused of fatally stabbing Kinnedy Smith, a 21-year-old Shreveport native over the weekend. According to police, 27-year-old Connor Regan, stabbed Smith to death during a domestic dispute and has been charged with second-degree murder.

    Smith graduated from Louisiana State University in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish. Her friends described her as a selfless, bright soul to everyone she came in contact with. She also participated in community service and advocacy work in Ecuador and Columbia. She was working as an intake specialist at Dudley DeBosier law firm in Baton Rouge.

    The LSU Black Women’s Empowerment Initiative penned this letter about Smith’s passing calling for justice and better protection of Black women.

    Kinnedy Smith letter

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    Nominate your Essential Dad

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

    #TheDrumEssentialDads #LouisianaFathers

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  • ,,,

    Grads: ‘Stay resilient, pursue every ambition, have courage, set the world on a different path’

    In speech after speech, 2020 graduates are being encouraged and celebrated in unprecedented fashion from outdoor celebrations like the one hosted at the Louisiana Leadership Institute to virtual commencement speeches by national leaders and celebrities like former President Barack Obama and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Every speech uniquely resonates a message of resilience and challenge for grads to improve the world especially in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.

    To the graduating seniors of East Baton Rouge Parish, State Senator Cleo Fields said, “When we see you, we see great things and we see success.” On May 19, Fields and the LLI board organized a parish-wide graduation celebration, recognizing top grads with awards from area sponsors. “If it’s any class that deserves recognition, it’s this class,” he said.

    Micah Jones, LLI student president and 2020 graduate of McKinley High School, echoed that sentiment in this speech during the ceremony:

    Louisiana Leadership Institute president Micah Jones’ speech:

    “We, the class of 2020, started our freshmen year in the midst of chaos—the Flood of 2016—and now we are ending our senior year in the midst of a pandemic—COVID-19. This is truly an indication that we are a class of very resilient individuals for despite the sufferings and situations we have faced in our lifetime, we will conquer with God on our side.

    Micah Jones, a graduating senior and drum major at McKinley Senior High School, serves as president of the Louisiana Leadership Institute in Baton Rouge. On May 19, 2020, he gave a commencement speech to graduating seniors from across the parish. Photo provided.

    Micah Jones, a graduating senior and drum major at McKinley Senior High School, serves as president of the Louisiana Leadership Institute in Baton Rouge. On May 19, 2020, he gave a commencement speech to graduating seniors from across the parish. Photo provided.

    We thank our parents, teachers, and all individuals who have influenced and nurtured us as we begin our new tomorrow in our new abnormal world,” Jones said.

    “Some of us will go to college, some to the military, others straight into the workforce. No matter where we go or what we do, there are definitely challenges awaiting us. What I ask of my fellow graduates, and of myself, is to meet those challenges straight on with your head held high and your heart wide open. It’s not enough to simply try to get by in life; that doesn’t move the world forward. You must try to excel in everything you do. Strive for excellence in every task, whether large or small.”

    “Although it may not be easy to see, but every accomplishment you achieve is added to the world’s accomplishments. Your individual successes benefit society as a whole because when you succeed, you lighten the burden on your fellow man. When you succeed, you are in a position to give rather than take My challenge to each of you and to myself, is to do all you can do to reach your fullest potential.”

    “If you ever find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come, how far we have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the obstacles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.”

    “In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do’,” Jones said.

    “So wherever this life leads you, aim for the stars and remember, we are more than survivors, we are conquerors and nothing–absolutely nothing–can stop us from accomplishing any goal we hope to achieve!”

    Days later, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts encouraged graduating seniors at Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut, to make their way with humility, compassion, and courage in a world turned upside down. “This is your moment, your time to begin leaving your mark on the world,” he said.

    In a video message, Roberts said that the coronavirus has “pierced our illusion of certainty and control…Humility. The pandemic should teach us at least that.” Roberts told graduates to show compassion. “Others are suffering, too, and many will be for a long time. Those who have lost jobs or small businesses or whose hopes and dreams may be slowly drifting out of reach,” he said. Roberts said people they encounter years from now “may bear scars you cannot see.” He also told them they will need courage in this uncertain time.

    Similarly, NBA star LeBron James joined other celebrities during the “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” broadcast on May 16.

    To the classes of graduates, James said, “do not forget your safety net. Every teacher, every coach, every pastor. They along with your friends and family got you to this moment, and now it is time to go to a new place. It is time to chase every dream, accept every challenge, strive for greatness, honor every promise, and recommit to your community.”lebron-james-mo_hpMain_20200516-203204_16x9_1600

    “Stay close to home, maybe not physically but in every other way possible.” James encouraged them to “pursue every ambition go as far as you can possibly dream. Be the first generation to embrace a new responsibility, a responsibility to rebuild your community. Class of 2020, the world has changed, you will determine how we will rebuild and I ask that you make your community your priority.” Then, former President Barack Obama spoke.

    Former President Barack Obama’s ‘Graduate Together’ speech

    “I couldn’t be prouder of all of you in the graduating Class of 2020 — as well as the teachers, and the coaches, and most of all, parents and family who guided have you along the way.

    Now graduating is a big achievement under any circumstances. Some of you have had to overcome serious obstacles along the way, whether it was an illness, or a parent losing a job, or living in a neighborhood where people too often count you out. Along with the usual challenges of growing up, all of you have had to deal with the added pressures of social media, reports of school shootings, and the specter of climate change. And then, just as you’re about to celebrate having made it through, just as you’ve been looking forward to proms and senior nights, graduation ceremonies — and, let’s face it, a whole bunch of parties — the world is turned upside down by a global pandemic. And as much as I’m sure

    You love your parents, I’ll bet that being stuck at home with them and playing board games or watching “Tiger King” on tv is not exactly how you envisioned the last few months of your senior year.

    Now I’ll be honest with you — the disappointments of missing a live graduation — those will pass pretty quick. I don’t remember much from my own high school graduation. I know that not having to sit there and listen to a commencement speaker isn’t all that bad — mine usually go on way too long.

    Also, not that many people look great in those caps, especially if you have big ears like me. And you’ll have plenty of time to catch up with your friends once the immediate public health crisis is over. But what remains true is that your graduation marks your passage into adulthood — the time when you begin to take charge of your own life. It’s when you get to decide what’s important to you: The kind of career you want to pursue. Who you want to build a family with. The values you want to live by. And given the current state of the world, that may be kind of scary. If you’d planned on going away for college, getting dropped off at campus in the fall — that’s no longer a given. If you were planning to work while going to school, finding that first job is going to be tougher.

    Even families that are relatively well-off are dealing with massive uncertainty. Those who were struggling before — they’re hanging on by a thread.

    Former President Barack Obama

    Former President Barack Obama

    All of which means that you’re going to have to grow up faster than some generations. This pandemic has shaken up the status quo and laid bare a lot of our country’s deep-seated problems — from massive economic inequality to ongoing racial disparities to a lack of basic health care for people who need it. It’s woken a lot of young people to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don’t work; that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick; and that our society and our democracy only work when we think not just about ourselves, but about each other.

    Second, do what you think is right. Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy — that’s how little kids think, unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way — which is why things are so screwed up. I hope that instead, you decide to ground yourself in values that last, like honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others. You won’t get it right every time, you’ll make mistakes like we all do. But if you listen to the truth that’s inside yourself, even when it’s hard, even when it’s inconvenient, people will notice. They’ll gravitate towards you. And you’ll be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

    And finally, build a community. No one does big things by themselves. Right now, when people are scared, it’s easy to be cynical and say let me just look out for myself, or my family, or people who look or think or pray like me. But if we’re going to get through these difficult times; if we’re going to create a world where everybody has the opportunity to find a job and afford college; if we’re going to save the environment and defeat future pandemics, then we’re going to have to do it together. So be alive to one another’s struggles. Stand up for one another’s rights. Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us — sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed — and set the world on a different path.

    When you need help, Michelle and I have made it the mission of our foundation to give young people like you the skills and support to lead in your own communities, and to connect you with other young leaders around the country and around the globe.

    But the truth is that you don’t need us to tell you what to do. Because in so many ways, you’ve already started to lead. Congratulations class of 2020. Keep making us proud”

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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    Southern University produces 2,000 3-D masks for healthcare professionals

    The Southern University College of Sciences and Engineering is venturing into familiar territory to help combat a still unfamiliar disease continuing to affect a global community. Staff and students are currently running a full lab of 3-D printers in their Entergy-sponsored lab to manufacture parts for reusable masks to be used by healthcare professionals treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “I saw an article on Facebook talking about people using 3-D printing for masks,” said Jason Chang, director of information technology at the College. “I said, ‘We (Southern) can really help our community.’”

    Close-up of mask prototype with strings made by Southern University

    Close-up of mask prototype with strings made by Southern University

    The lab in the P.B.S. Pinchback building houses the most 3-D printers — 40 desktop-sized for smaller jobs and one commercial-scale printer for intricate or larger jobs — in a central location at an educational institution in Louisiana, said Chang. To date, his team has produced nearly 2,000 masks.

    The 3-D printers generate accurate representations of parts designed in several industry-standard software programs such as SolidWorks and AutoCAD. The lab and all materials in it, including those to make the reusable masks, were made possible by a $2M grant Entergy presented to the university in 2018. The gift was matched by Gov. John Bel Edwards for a total of $4M to strengthen STEM disciplines and to upgrade facilities.SUvirusmask.002

    While states across the U.S. continue to reopen buildings, stores and more in phases, the work for hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities continues. With this work comes the need for protective supplies.

    “The need for PPE (personal protective equipment) is paramount in the safety and protection of our healthcare community and we continue to have a shortage… which makes our frontline healthcare workers more vulnerable,” said Sandra Brown, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health at Southern, and co-chair of the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.

    “The College of Sciences and Engineering’s response to this pandemic is an example of how combining science with humanity can yield a product that will impact the lives of so many,” she said.

    The masks, which are worn by loops that fit over the ears, are made of plastic with a place for a special filter. For comfort, the inside of the mask has a cushion for the wearer’s face. Since the masks are washable and easy to dry, healthcare professionals do not have to dispose of multiple masks when they come into contact with patients who have COVID-19, and are trying to protect other patients and themselves from infection.

    SUvirusmask.016

    SU professor Jason Chang with students and 3-D printers in the lab.

    Engineering faculty, staff, and students do not presently assemble the masks in the lab at Southern, but rather manufacture the parts. The assembly and quality control occur under the professionals at the hospitals and clinics who receive the parts.

    “Right now, we are focusing on the hospitals in our city and when we can, we would like to help the other cities,” Chang said.

    This is not the first time that College has been involved in responding to community needs.

    “As part of the mission of the university, the College of Sciences and Engineering is an engaged member of the community,” said Patrick Carriere, Ph.D., dean. “Engagement in public and community service is common across the faculty. Our faculty are continuously lending their expertise to address national and state priorities, serving on local and state boards, and participating in or leading community initiatives.”

    The College hosts several summer institutes for the community, which includes the Engineering Summer Institute, Summer Transportation Institute, Computer Science Robotics Camp, and STEM Summer Camp. Faculty, staff, and students often participate in Habitat for Humanity community projects.

    “Our new 3-D printing capacity has helped us respond directly to community needs and is a real example to our students and the community of engineering for human need — or engineering with the world or community in mind,” Carriere said.

    Two students working on the project with Chang — Christopher Hall, a Baton Rouge junior majoring in mechanical engineering, and Dantrel Bonner, a senior also majoring in mechanical engineering — agreed.

    “Southern University provides that type of knowledge to where you can create such a thing (masks) to supply people in need,” said Bonner, a Mobile, Alabama native who grew up in Baton Rouge. “As engineers, we have a civic duty to make sure our community is positively impacted and that we provide for that community. At this institution, you definitely get that pride instilled in you to want to give back.”

     

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    Attached Photos:

    1. Christopher Hall, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, and Dantrel Bonner, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, inspect some of the 3-D parts.

    2. Masks on table

    3. Close-up of mask prototype with strings

    4. Jason Chang with students and 3-D printers in the lab.

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    Irene Lewis named Southern University’s chief student marshal

    Irene L. Lewis, a Southern University agricultural sciences major with a concentration in plant and soil science, has been named the University’s Spring 2020 Chief Student Marshal, the student graduating with the highest grade point average in the class.

     “I am honored to serve as Chief Student Marshal to remind the Class of 2020 that we are resilient,” said Lewis, who graduated with a 3.9 grade point average.

    Lewis went on to say that she began college wanting to graduate as the chief student marshal but admitted that she quickly learned that a college experience is more than academics.

    “I learned that my college experience was much more important than my grades,” said Lewis. “It is about the people you meet and the memories you make. I never would have thought I would experience “virtual graduation,” but here we are. I say all of that to say, even though life did not follow an exact path for me, I am glad we can still celebrate,” she said.

    Lewis is a 22-year-old native of Baton Rouge by way of Central, La. She is the daughter of Eric and Maura Lewis and a 2016 graduate of Runnels High School.

    The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t the first time Lewis had a disruption from her planned path. In 2016, her home flooded days before the start of her freshman year at college.

    “It was difficult starting class almost immediately after losing the home I grew up in,” said Lewis. “It was even more difficult watching my family have to bounce back and my siblings adjust to moving to a new town all in a matter of months,” she said.

    “I think watching how strong both my younger brother and sister were as well as having my parents, family, and friends there to love and support me helped me tremendously,” said Irene. “As I started at Southern in the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences, I also learned that more than anything, I had a family away from home and a support system that would bring me a long way,” she said.

    During her college career, Irene was active in several student organizations. She was elected the National Undergraduate President of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization for the 2019-2020 year and Region IV National Undergraduate Vice President of MANRRS for the 2018-2019 year where she represented the organization’s college chapters in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas. Lewis was also active in the local Southern University Chapter of MANRRS where she served as both the Secretary during the 2017-2018 academic year and Historian during the 2018-2019 year.

    Lewis credits her time at Southern University for helping her grow as an adult.

    “Throughout college, I learned a lot about myself and my leadership abilities. I learned that, through balancing several organizations, responsibilities, and my personal life, I needed to take time to take care of me, my needs, and my wellbeing,” she said. “My professors in the College of Agricultural, Family, and Consumer Sciences taught me how to build a community. My interests have evolved greatly from my freshman year, but throughout, they have demonstrated that my possibilities are endless,” she expressed.

    After graduating, Lewis will spend the summer as an intern with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. During the Fall 2020 semester, she will begin working on a masters of public administration at The Ohio State University, focusing on food access policy. She will also have the opportunity to complete her second year of studies while working in Washington D.C. on a fully funded fellowship.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    Contributing Writer

     

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    Louisiana to provide EBT cards to feed students whose schools closed due to COVID; Applications taken through June 7

    Louisiana has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help feed as many as 611,430 students during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today.

    Under the new Pandemic EBT program, families of children who normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school may get financial assistance to replace those meals. All Louisiana public school and many non-public school facilities have been closed since March 16 because of the pandemic.

    P-EBT benefits will be provided to households that apply if they include children who were in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals, according to the Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. These benefits are intended to cover 50 school days, from the onset of statewide school facility closures through the end of the 2019-20 academic year.

    The P-EBT benefit amounts to $5.70 per day per child. That’s $285 for the 50 days, the same as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs reimbursement rates. Louisiana officials estimate the state could distribute almost $174.3 million via P-EBT.

    Local school systems will notify families that they might be eligible for P-EBT. The families must then apply if they wish to receive the benefits. The application will be available in a P-EBT portal on the LDE website starting May 18, and the deadline to apply is June 7. State officials expect considerable interest in the program and ask applicants to be patient in trying to access the portal.

    Once the child’s information is verified, DCFS will mail a P-EBT debit card loaded with $285 per child, and instructions for using the card. State officials expect to begin mailing cards May 26. Benefits will be available for 365 days.

    The cards may be used at any store that accepts SNAP to buy SNAP-eligible food items.

    Many Louisiana public schools already are providing emergency or “grab and go” meals to children regardless of the child’s enrollment, family size or income, after receiving emergency permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new P-EBT benefits do not preclude students from continuing to access those meals.

    “What’s important for parents to know is that P-EBT benefits are available to any family with children who received free or reduced-price meals at a school closed by the pandemic,” said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters. “Some of these families are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program; others are not. We want to make all families whose children received free or reduced-price meals aware of the program and how they can apply for the benefits.”

    Louisiana had an estimated 611,430 children eligible for free and reduced-price breakfast or lunch this spring. That’s about 85 percent of all students in prekindergarten through grade 12. “This might be the only way some of our most vulnerable children can obtain a nutritious breakfast or lunch,” Edwards said. “They used to receive these meals at school, and now Louisiana can provide that benefit at home, too.”

    The P-EBT program was authorized by Congress in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. In obtaining federal approval for P-EBT, Louisiana joins more than 22 other states participating in the program.

    “Louisiana is grateful to Congress, President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for making this benefit available and speeding its implementation,” Edwards said. “We look forward to feeding Louisiana families in these trying times.”

    “Schools do more than educate our children; they also provide them with healthy, nutritious meals. With school facilities closed for the duration of the school year, students cannot access these meals,” said acting State Superintendent of Education Beth Scioneaux. “School systems have stepped up to ensure no child in their community goes hungry, and the approval announced today provides in-need families with even greater security. We appreciate the leadership of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services to make that possible.”

    For more information, visit LDE’s quick guide or DCFS common questions and answers about P-EBT.

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    Farewell: Louisiana COVID deaths

    Kejuane BATES, 36, a Vidalia police officer who died April 1 of coronavirus. He served as a DARE officer and school resources officer. Bates also pastored the Forest Aid Baptist Church on Lower Woodville Road in Natchez.

    Cornell “Dickey” Charles, 51, Lusher Charter School sports coach passed away  March 24 from complications due to the coronavirus. He served as the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club Governor’s Krewe since 2004 and served illustrious Charge D’Affaire since 2005. He was born June 23, 1968, in New Orleans.

    Willis Joseph Curley Sr , 76, a Dunson resident, he owned W.J.C.S General Contractors of the South, LLC. He was a dedicated Deacon at Gethsemane Church of God in Christ and volunteer at the Food Net. He leaves behind his wife of 54 years, Rita Mae Curley. He was born January 14, 1944.

    Rev. Ronnie Hampton,64, pastor of New Vision Community Church in Shreveport. He was known for his “Takin’ it to the Streets” ministry and its service to the inner-city neighborhoods. He was born Dec. 23, 1955, and died March 25.

    Robert Francis, 76, and Gwendolyn Francis, 74, of Bogalusa. They were married for more than 50 years and passed four days apart — Gwendolyn Francis on March 30, and Robert Francis on April 3  — as a result of coronavirus complications.  A gardener who lived with lupus, Gwendolyn was a diabetic and was recovering from a stroke. Robert had no existing condition. Robert Francis was born on Nov. 13, 1943, in Bogalusa. Gwendolyn Francis was born on June 28, 1945, in Bogalusa.

    CHRISTOPHER HOLLIS,  58, native of Ferriday, LA and a resident of Baton Rouge, passed away Tuesday, March 31. He was employed at Georgia Pacific. He was a member of the Greater New Galilee Baptist Church and married to Cary Lynn Clark Hollins.

    LARRY AUTHUR HAMOND,  70, a retired postal worker and Air Force veteran who tutored, mentored and provided Christmas presents through Omega Psi Phi in New Orleans. He was Zulu Mardi Gras King in 2007. He died on March 31, leaving behind his wife, Lillian. At least eight of Zulu’s 800 members have died of COVID-19, according to board chairman, City Councilman Jay H. Banks.

    ROBBIN EAMES HARDY, 56, vice president of Faith Hope & Love Worship Center, in Baton Rouge, passed April 6. September 15, 1963. She founded Young Women For Christ more than 30 years ago, which later evolved into Girls Enrichment Mentorship Services. She leaves her husband of 38 years, Ronald Hardy Sr., five children, and seven grandchildren to cherish her memory.

    Andraia Sanders, 44, a resident of Webster parish who worked with homeless veterans at Volunteers of America North Louisiana. The mother of two passed Monday, Mar. 23 after traveling to New Orleans for a work conference.

    Sgt. Gregory Warren, 53, a supervisor in East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, passed away April 5 from COVID-19 and pneumonia-related complications. He served more than 26 years with EBRSO. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Carol Warren, three childrenℜ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Cora Lester
    The Drum reporter

    @thedrumnews

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  • ,,

    1,095 Days and Counting

    Rani Whitfield photo by Kikala Diallo

    Rani Whitfield, MD, publishes history on the @TheDayAfter2016 Instagram page daily.

    One doctor’s frustration unfolds into Instagram excellence

     

    By all accounts, every day of February is laced with creative lessons on Black history. From teachers decorating their classroom doors with fantastical imagery to daily posts of famous quotes and musical introductions by Black artists, the month is full of presentations of Black success.

    But few -—if any—- have matched the diligence of Rani G. Whitfield, MD,’s Instagram page @TheDayAfter2016. For the last one thousand and ninety-five or so days, Whitfield has posted five photos and roughly 2,200 characters of Black excellence and historical truths.

    That’s daily, for nearly four years. In February, he also created and released a theme song of sorts for Black History Month called “Know Your History”.

    “It is Black excellence,” said Whitfield, who researches and writes the daily posts which are shared before day on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @TheDayAfter2016.  For each post, he curates facts from as many as six sources to recount the person’s life—without adding his opinion. “I’m not recreating the story,” he said. “It is the facts of what has happened.”

    @TheDayAfter2016 is one of many community-centered projects Whitfield has created. For example, in 2010, he created a health comic book, “The Legion of Health”  and hip-hop health-focused CDs “State of Emergency” , “The World Is In Your Hands,” and “Get On The Bus,” that feature artist Dee-1, Love-n-Pain,  and Sean Griffin. Both examine issues like high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity. As an internal medicine physician in Baton Rouge, he often dons the stage name “Tha Hip Hop Doc”  or “Dr. Rani” and delivers these messages to schools and organizations.

    However, the message of @TheDayAfter2016 stems from a different concern.  On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling was unjustly killed by Baton Rouge police while selling CDs outside a neighborhood convenience store and the community responded with protests and rallies.

    “When Alton was killed it was emotional for everybody,” Whitfield said, “I needed a way to get it off my chest.” He and videographer Kikala Diallo began working on a documentary, conducting interviews on victimization and lynchings of young Blacks starting with Sterling and including  Philando Castile and Sandra Bland. He also shared photos and facts on Instagram, until “it just got depressing,” he admitted. “So, I started looking for Black excellence and history that was unknown and I would post it.”

    What Whitfield found was eye-opening. “Intriguing,” he said.

    Although Whitfield was born during the cusp of the civil rights movement and even with parents who impressed upon him and his siblings to learn Black History, Whitfield said he realized he didn’t know a lot. “I feel like I dropped to ball and my parents were in a protective mode, like ‘We did all the fighting, now you got to school and it will be better for you.’ And then you realize that it’s not,” he said.

    IMG_2293He shares his research with photos and less than 2,000 characters on Instagram, using the #NotSoLongAgo hashtag. Surprisingly, the posts are not an exclusive collection of celebrations and victories. “Everybody Black wasn’t doing positive things some of them did bad things,” said Whitfield. He also posts tragic and unjust accounts and biographies, like the post on Larry Hoover who formed the Gangster Disciples in Chicago, Darthard Perry who was an FBI informant in Cointelpro, and Fred Ahmed Evans and the Glenville riot.

    “I’m posting their stories, not my opinion,” he said. “It’s good and bad and what not to repeat.” The posts are true stories of Black American history which he said is due more discussion than one month. “I’m no fan of the shortness of February.”

    Admittedly, the daily posts have made the doctor “obsessed with history.” He said, “it’s self-satisfying now, but I am hoping to stimulate (others) to go get more.  It’s a blessing to provide information.”

    “I am trying to truly live and walk in my purpose right now,” said Whitfield.  As with his career in medicine, Whitfield said he feels “called to educate on history so we won’t repeat the worst parts of it.” He said he hopes the daily post would stimulate others to go learn more.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    @jozefsyndicate

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  • ,,,,,

    Baton Rouge native develops antiviral drug with potential to fight coronavirus

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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    Darnisha Harrison, CEO, Ennaid Therapeutics

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

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    WHO TO WATCH: Kizzmekia Corbett, the woman leading COVID-19 vaccine trials

     Kizzmekia Corbett,Ph.D., a scientist with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is leading efforts to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.

    Corbett’s work started in January when researchers first learned of reports of a unique illness that was similar to pneumonia. It was then that doctors at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland began hunting for a vaccine. Vaccines take a long time to develop, the process taking up to two years at times, and while they may not necessarily be helpful in the beginning of an outbreak, they can prove vital later down the line, the NY Times reports.

    The team in charge of those efforts is led by Corbett. They are currently using the template for the SARS vaccine since the Coronavirus comes from the same family, swapping genetic code to make it more palatable for the current virus in a strategy that Corbett calls “plug and play.”

     Now Corbett and her team have begun running the first human trials of the vaccine in Seattle, just 66 days after the initial viral sequence release, which she says is “a testament to rapid vaccine development for emerging diseases.”

    The mRNA-1273 vaccine is relying on volunteers to test. Participants will receive two doses of the vaccine that are monitored 28 days apart in an effort to see how well the medicine “stimulates an immune response to a protein on the virus’s surface. Phase 1 will only test on 45 patients but the second phase of the trial will require a larger number of participants, Forbes reports.

    “Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority. This Phase 1 study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, head of the NIAID.

    According to Corbett’s bio, she is “ a viral immunologist by training” whose “research interests entail elucidating mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and host immunity as they pertain to vaccine development.” In other words, she’s the right woman leading the charge.

    In 2008, Corbett graduated from the University of Maryland – Baltimore County with a bachelor of science degree in biological bciences and another one in sociology. She was also an NIH scholar and a Meyerhoff Scholar. She went on to earn her PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014.

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  • ,,,,

    REVOLT TV presents ‘State of Emergency’ town hall meeting

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

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

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

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

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

  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read the full letter here.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Grab-n-Go meals change through April 30 for EBR schools sites

    The East Baton Rouge Parish School System updated its grab-n-go meal operation Friday, April 2. The district has partnered with Ballard Hospitality of Covington to supply a mix of hot and cold meals and shelf-stable boxed meals to students through the duration of April. The shift is in part a response to concerns about the safety of school employees amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

    Updated-Meal-Graphic-page-002

    Here are the changes:

    The week of April 6-9 - School system child nutrition workers will continue the standard meal distribution at Northeast Elementary, Progress Elementary, Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy, Wildwood Elementary, and Woodlawn Elementary. Ballard Hospitality will serve breakfast and hot lunch meals at Broadmoor Middle, Claiborne Elementary, Park Forest Middle, and Capitol Middle.

    On weekdays from April 13 – April 17 (excluding April 10, Good Friday) – Ballard Hospitality will deliver and distribute shelf-stable meal boxes to 25 EBR schools on a rotating schedule. Five breakfast meals and five lunch meals will be included in one box. Each child in the family will receive a box, while supplies last. Kleinpeter Farms Dairy will issue a ½ gallon of milk with each box.

    The week of April 20-24 - Ballard Hospitality will follow the same distribution schedule, but each box will contain 10 breakfast meals and 10 lunches to sustain students through April 30. Kleinpeter will issue a gallon of milk with each box.

    0003-1583x2048

    The grab-n-go meals will still be distributed from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on weekdays, while supplies last. Families will be able to pick up the pre-packaged breakfast and lunches for children 18 years of age and younger, including overage students with disabilities through age 22. At least one child must be present in order to receive student meals.

    ONLINE: full meal distribution schedule and additional resources https://ebrschools.org/coronavirus-covid-19/child-nutrition/.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    ON-AIR: Broadcasters and hosts covering COVID Louisiana

    According to the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, there are more than 300 broadcast journalists in the state. From them, The Drum staff selected four journalists and two newstalk show hosts who are using their platforms to keep listeners engaged and updated especially during the coronavirus pandemic. These shows are eye-openers and help Louisianians feel as if they have a voice, so that community issues are heard and questions are answered. Recently, these shows featured in-depth interviews with leaders about the coronavirus and its impact on Louisiana residents. As the pandemic continues, they will offer more. Tune in.

    The LaTangela Show

    The Latangela Show is hosted by veteran radio host LaTangela Sherman. She produces the show weekly in podcast for a global audience. Each episode brings “high-level thinking and random research.” She covers topics including health and wellness, personal development, self-encouragement, and global headline news. Find the LaTangela Show on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and at http://latangela.com

    Eyes Open with Tony Brown

    Eyes Open with Tony Brown is hosted by Alexandria, LA, veteran broadcast journalist Tony Brown. Every weekday from 6am to 9am, Brown presents several issues and events across the nation, in Alexandria, and in the state. His motto is: “Come clean or stay away nasty.”  It broadcasts on KTTP 1110AM, at www.thenewkttp.com, and live on Facebook Brown deliveries eye-opening shows that present issues differently.

     

    Talk Louisiana

    Talk Louisiana is hosted by Jim Engster, an award-winning journalist, and a broadcast veteran. The morning show airs Monday through Thursday at 9am and connects listeners to Louisiana newsmakers through interviews. Each segment is a live conversation with an Engster, expert, and listeners who are invited to call in to add insight to the conversation. Listen on WRKF 89.3, or online at www.wrfk.org, or to podcast.

    The Clay Young Show

    The Clay Young Show hosted by Clay Young airs weekly online at Podcast225.com and on Apple iTunes.  The Clay Young Show tackles controversial topics head-on every week at Podcast225.com and on iTunes. Young, who has been on-air for 20 years, often finds himself in the midst of heated disagreements. His show crosses racial, political, and economic lines with ease and resolve.

     

    Insight Radio Show

    Insight Radio Show with Senator Regina Barrow discusses policies in Louisiana and issues that affect Baton Rouge. Each segment is kid-friendly with current events and live guests. Listen at WPFC1550am.com or live streamed on Facebook every 4th Thursday.

     

    What’s Going On?

    What’s Going On? is a radio show hosted by James Gilmore, Ph.D., on WTQT on 106.1FM Gospel Radio Station in Baton Rouge. Gilmore and his in-studio guests discuss political topics, current events, and local issues. Online at www.wtqt.com or on Facebook on the WhatsGoingOnDrGilmore page

    All of these broadcasters and hosts, open their shows to public comments that all citizens to add their input and ideas. Stay connected with these trusted shows.

    By Yulani S. Semien
    The Drum Youth reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Bryson Bouttee’s mural colorfully paints a story on lack of home ownership

    Despite Baton Rouge residents being stuck inside as a result of the coronavirus, artist Bryson Bouttee is painting the latest Walls Project mural for the #ONEROUGE series and he’s doing so live on Facebook.

    Placed on a future business specializing in new homeownership, this triptych mural highlights the past, present, and future of homeownership in Louisiana.  Boutte designed the mural to colorfully bounce through different storylines of the same narrative, experiences of trying to own a home in a state that has made it so hard, and the hopeful future with progressive change. It is painted on the old Lincoln II building at 1116 S 14th Street in South Baton Rouge.

    Throughout the years, homeownership is regarded as the pivotal accomplishment of a successful adult. Yet, only 35% of Louisiana residents actually own their own homes. Over 168,000 families across the state pay more than 50% of their income on housing, be it rent or mortgage. To encapsulate these metrics, it should be noted that up to 60% of African-Americans in our city do not own property.

    Historically, “Redlining” contributed to low figures of homeownership mentioned. By segregating who received loans and recalculating property lines, businesses and banks controlling loans and insurance kept Blacks out of homeownership for many decades. Being locked into only being able to rent allows for landlords to control the market, and without proper regulations, that market can easily displace many families. To change this narrative and challenge the pace things are currently being done, The Walls Project is announcing the third mural from the #ONEROUGE 9 Drivers of Poverty series.

    Bryson Bouttee

    Bryson Bouttee, muralist

    “In correlation with the #OneRouge project, [the mural] hones in on the lack of homeownership and the rising rental cost that many residents of the city are facing… [as well as] the future and what investment could transform the area too, repurposing the buildings of old to house businesses that can bring economic independence,” Bouttee said. The mural is supported by Partners Southeast and Kimble Properties,

    He live streamed his progression of this mural starting for two weeks on The Walls Project Instagram and Facebook pages, @wallsproject. Make sure to check it out so YOU can be part of the production!

    To help support the creation of this mural and awareness around the issue, contributions can be made by texting drawingtheline on 41444.

    The 9 Drivers of Poverty Series looks at the:

    • Sharp decline in median income
    • Access to affordable transportation
    • Lack of homeownership & escalating rental costs
    • A growing number of neighborhoods in poverty
    • High number of households with children living in poverty
    • Lack of educational attainment
    • Limited English proficiency and cultural differences
    • High teen birth rates
    • High poverty rates for single mothers

    Over the past seven years, The Walls Project has evolved beyond only creating public art. Programs of the Walls look towards using creativity and intergenerational collaboration to address deeply-rooted and historically systemic issues in our city. We CREATE and paint murals in high-need schools and underinvested neighborhoods, CULTIVATE and educate youth to attain the high-demand jobs of the future, and REACTIVATE communities by remediating blight and making them safer.

    ONLINE: wallsproject.org/onerouge

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Robbie Austin Jr’s steer named champion of State Livestock Show

    SU Ag Center holds successful 77th Annual State Livestock Show

    For 77 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 on February 27 – 29 at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena.

    Thirty 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 University is the only Historically Black College or University that currently holds a livestock show and it 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,” added Mellieon.

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

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

    The “Night with the Stars’ winners were:

    Kenzi Primm in first place and Skylar Primm second place. The first-place winner received $100, the second-place received $50 and both winners took home a commemorative belt buckle cup.

    winners in various livestock categories and their home parishes. Each winner received a premium, ribbon, rosette and trophy belt buckle.

    Registered Dairy

    Champion – Cooper Holmes, Desoto Parish

    Reserve Champion – Kyle Sonnier, Jeff-Davis Parish

     

    Commercial Dairy

    Champion – Kyle Sonnier, Jeff-Davis Parish

    Reserve Champion – Wyatt Sonnier, Jeff-Davis Parish

     

    Dairy Showmanship

    Champion – Kyle Sonnier, Jeff-Davis Parish

    Reserve Champion – Camille Sonnier, Jeff-Davis Parish

     

    Brahman Bull

    Champion – Sutton Shields, Calcasieu Parish
    Reserve Champion – Coy Desormeaux, Cameron Parish

     

    Non-Brahman Bull                                                   

    Champion – Skylar Primm, Caddo Parish

    Reserve Champion – Samuel Danos, Sabine Parish

    Brahman Heifers

    Champion – Sutton Shields, Calcasieu Parish

    Reserve Champion – Brenden Ford, Sabine Parish

     

    Non-Brahman Heifer

    Champion – Skylar Primm, Caddo Parish

    Reserve Champion – Kenzi Primm, Caddo Parish

     

    Commercial Heifer

    Champion – Kenneth Rains, Sabine Parish

    Reserve Champion – Emma Peace, Sabine Parish

    Beef Showmanship

    Champion – Brenden Ford, Sabine Parish

    Reserve Champion – Kenzi Primm, Caddo Parish

    Market Steer  

    Champion – Adam Wilson, East Baton Rouge Parish

    Reserve Champion – Mykia Dyson, Tangipahoa Parish

     

    LA Bred Market Steer

    Champion – Robbie Austin, Jr. Madison Parish

     

    Market Lamb   

    Champion – Hunter Parks, Livington Parish

    Reserve Champion – Makayla Reyenga, Bossier Parish

     

    Market Lamb LA Bred   

    Champion – Evan Mahler, Lafourche Parish

    Reserve Champion – Catherine Martin, Winn Parish

     

    Lamb Showmanship                                       

    Champion – Carlone Dupree, Bossier Parish

    Reserve Champion – Makayla Reyenga, Bossier Parish

     

    Market Goat   

    Champion – Jennifer Langston, Bossier Parish

    Reserve Champion – Chloe Ayo, Lafourche Parish

     

    Market Goat LA Bred   

    Champion – Jennifer Langston, Bossier Parish

    Reserve Champion - Ava Chambers, Bossier Parish

     

    Robbie Austin, Jr.’s, steer was named champion in the Louisiana Bred Market Steer Divison during the SU Ag Center’s 77th Annual State Livestock Show. (Photo by D’Andre Lee, SU Ag Center.)

     

    Goat Showmanship                                     

    Champion – Jennifer Langston, Bossier Parish

    Reserve Champion – Ava Chambers, Bossier Parish

     

    Market Hog   

    Champion – Hunter Parks, Livingston Parish

    Reserve Champion – Brianna Siebarth, Calcasieu Parish

     

    Hog Showmanship                                        

    Champion – Alexis Laiche, St. James Parish

    Reserve Champion – Kensie Pellerin, Iberia Parish

     

    Broiler             

    Champion – Michelle Adams, Caddo Parish

    Reserve Champion – Halle Coppernex, St. James Parish

     

    Broiler  Premier Exhibitor                          

    Co-Champion – Lillian Lofton, Avoyelles Parish

    Co-Champion – Jasmine Soniat, Avoyelles Parish

    Reserve Champion – Aliyah Milburn, St. Landry Parish

     

     

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

    Contributing writer

    Read more »
  • ,,

    You can dial #-1-1 for more services nationwide

    Short dial codes ending in 1-1 are convenient ways to quickly call for assistance and services nationwide. Remember these numbers and their use.

    •  2-1-1 is a free confidential service that connects callers to information and services in times of need. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even during disasters. Louisiana 211 works to link people and resources for a better Louisiana through collaboration and partnership between nonprofit organizations providing 211 services, funding United Ways and the State of Louisiana Public Service Commission.
    • 3-1-1: City-Parish 311 Call Center for citizen’s service requests by dialing 311 or through the Red Stick 311 mobile application‎. It’s Baton Rouge’s source of local government information and non-emergency services.
    • 4-1-1 Louisiana business directory assistance. Call to find contact information for local or state business‎es.
    • 7-1-1: Louisiana Relay Service (711, or 800 846-5277 for TTY/TDD users or800 947-5277 for voice users) is a 24-hour service that provides telephone communication between people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled, and people who use standard phones. ‎Dial 711 to be automatically connected to an LRS operator. It’s fast, functional and free. Dialing 711, both voice and TRS users can initiate a call from any telephone, anywhere in the United States.
    • 8-1-1: LA One Call is a free service to help you dig safely. We alert our members so that they can mark nearby underground facilities before you start. Dial 811 Before You Dig. Wait for the Site to be Marked laonecall.com
    • 9-1-1: Emergency.“911″ is the universal emergency number that reaches police dispatch services.
    Read more »
  • School to prison pipeline can be dismantled says juvenile judge

    The statistics are clear. During the 2018-2019 school year, nearly 95% of East Baton Rouge Parish Schools students suspended out-of-school were Black as was 89.4% of students with in-school suspensions. The overwhelming majority of them are males.

    In a school district with a 78.1% Black student population, 92.7% of the students referred to law enforcement from EBR schools were Black students.

    These statistics were familiar for some of the 200 people who gathered to hear Division B Juvenile Court Judge Gail Grover‘s presentation on the school to prison pipeline.

    For others, these numbers are startling.

    dismanatle

    Do they indicate systemic problems with discipline?
    Do they reveal behavior and attendance challenges?
    Do they signal a greater problem in the school to prison pipeline?

    “Yes. We can see manifestation of the problem,” Grover said. “We have work to do but the work is definitely doable.”

    According to Grover, the parish’s school to prison pipeline “is not the police being called to the school and those children being taken to detention,” she explained. “It is actually the result of young people not being in school as a result of expulsions or suspensions or truancy.”

    She said 54% of East Baton Rouge Parish students are truant which means they have 5 or more unauthorized absences or tardiness within one school semester. These truancy numbers give a degree of what the problem is and what our solutions have to be, she said. “It’s going to take all of us,” said Grover who has served in juvenile justice for 23 years. “We can interrupt the pipeline. I am convinced.”

    To do so, Grover suggested the development of a multi-disciplinary, inclusive team that is “always together and always looking at policy and research.” Then, she suggested catching absenteeism immediately on the fifth day, creating a screening instrument to determine if a student needs to be removed from school versus detailed; expanding trauma training; building trust and connecting families with caring mentors; and incorporating restorative justice models when removing students from school.

    Grover said these trauma and trust-building training will begin the process of dismantling the school to prison pipeline. “If we don’t do the work, (these students) will have a lifetime of unmet potential and failed experiences,” she said.

    Grover present other strategies the parish’s juvenile courts have begun, including:

    • Meeting with school system leaders and child welfare officers,
    • Reducing inappropriate and unnecessary detainment of students in school environments,
    • Developing new mentorship initiatives to help students return to schools,
    • Focusing on a high school truancy docket each third Tuesday and first Thursday with due-diligence processes,
    • Conducting thorough IEP reviews to consider student disabilities and special needs as it impacts their school behavior, and
    • Increasing transparency of how courts are handling juveniles

    According to Grover, the parish has seen a 50% reduction in youth entering the juvenile system more than 10 years. She said her office is connecting with mentoring organizations to implement programs at the beginning of the next school year as well as researching the Open Table grassroots model where 8-10 people adopt one family to help them face social challenges.

    “You may not be able to do it alone, but I know you have eight friends. This is work we can do..So when we are asked, ‘How are the children?’ We want to say, ‘The children are well’.” she said.

    Grover presented “Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline” on Feb. 18, as part of VIPS’ Partners in Education Business Luncheon. VIPS volunteers Christopher Drew Murray and Dorothy Kemp encouraged the audience to step up and volunteer.

    Following the luncheon, Grover posted on Facebook, “It is HIGHLY important that we not only work within the judicial system to fix truancy but that the community and those involved in education input their questions and experiences into the conversation.”

    ONLINE: vipsbr.og

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Read more »
  • ,

    State waives fees for digital drivers license

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • A Louisiana girl with California wines

    Dawna Jones, Ph.D., remembers having an amazing childhood in Opelousas with her parents, Randolph and Priscilla Darjean, and three siblings. But one distinct memory may have unintentionally guided the 43-year-old plant pathologist into the winemaking business.

    “My mother dabbled in making various fruit wines when I was very young, but I do not remember assisting in the process aside from picking the fruit, usually pears, from the trees that grew in our backyard. I do distinctly remember the smell of the fermenting fruit. I loved that smell,” she said.

    That fermentation science would fascinate Jones who “loves science deeply” and has been interested in agriculture since she was a teenager in public school.

    Today, Jones is a first-generation winemaker and owner of Darjean Jones Wines.

    As a student, she researched plants and plant diseases at Southern University and A&M College, University of California – Davis, and the US Department of Agriculture. Her dissertation research focused on Pierce’s Disease of grapevine, requiring her to spend countless hours in California vineyards.

    “I kind of fell into wine gradually,” she told HelloWoodlands. “I do remember tasting a Merlot grape one day while walking through the research vineyards and thinking that if wine tasted half this good, it must be fantastic.”

    Following graduate school, she worked as a diagnostic plant bacteriologist for the government while her husband, Chauncey, completed fellowships in anesthesiology. (Dr. Chauncey Jones is also an SU grad who studied animal science.)

    While in Maryland, she tested plant material brought into the country, developed testing methods, and investigated outbreaks of plant disease. For seven years, she was a national security analyst. Then, his career required them to settle in Texas. That move nearly 10 years ago was the impetus for her career shift back to grapevines and a new adventure in winemaking. It was then that her husband asked, “What would you do if you could do anything you want?” and she answered, “I’d make wine!”

    “Winemaking, for me, seemed a natural progression,” said Jones who is now a mother of two with an international WSET Level 3 Certification for grape growing and winemaking. Through partnerships with six California vineyards, she has created and produced eight boutique Darjean Jones Wines that are “spirited, adventurous and possess a charisma that will seduce wine lovers of all kinds.”

    Since 2010, her wines have won 34 competition metals and debuted in Tyler Perry’s “Nobody’s Fool.” Darjean Jones Wines are served at top restaurants in Texas, sold at wine cellars in California, and have a national wine club following. The website features wines that are available for direct order and recipes perfect for pairing with her wines. “The love of good food and drink is coded in my DNA,” Jones said.Dawna Jones Darjean Jones Wine.jpeg

    When asked about the future of agriculture, Jones said, “I would like others to understand the limitless number of careers that fall under agriculture, including economics and technology. I would like more children to consider careers in agriculture. From organic farming to high tech laboratories, there is a place for all of us to assist in feeding our growing world.”

    “It is so important for our youth, SU students and alumni to see the homegrown talent and successes of Dawna and Chauncey who share their racial identity and are both graduates of the Southern University College of Agricultural, Family, and Consumer Science,” said Renita Marshall, DVM, associate dean of the College. “Having Dawna as a role model is vital to signaling a sense of belonging for women of color. Her continued pursuit of excellence in ag research and business are definitely not going unnoticed in the African-American community nor the Southern University Ag community. ”

     

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Read more »
  • ,

    Portrait of LSU professor Julian T. White becomes mural in college’s atrium

    At the epicenter of LSU’s Baton Rouge campus stands the College of Art + Design. Sixty-eight feet above the entrance to the building’s atrium, a master artist and his team work in a flurry of color, transforming a once empty wall into a campus landmark. The halls, known for producing some of the greatest visionaries of Louisiana, now directly honors one of the most iconic and boundary-breaking professors: Julian T. White. 

    The portrait mural, championed together by The Walls Project, LSU Foundation, and the College of Art + Design, honors the legacy of the first Black professor at Louisiana State University. When Julian T. White joined LSU’s faculty in 1971 to teach architecture, he paved a way for people of all backgrounds to have equal opportunity.  He spent thirty-three years as an educator at LSU, impacting his students, inspiring them to break barriers, and cultivating several waves of strong architects. White maintained an architecture firm in Baton Rouge with projects at area schools and churches across the country. He also taught at Southern University and Tuskegee University while serving on the State of Louisiana’s Board of Architectural Examiners.

    Julian White

    Julian White

    After his passing in 2011, the LSU Art+Design department honored  White’s work by naming the building’s atrium after him. In addition to this, leadership wanted to memorialize him in a bold and meaningful way.

    “When we were thinking about how to celebrate the naming of this space, we came upon the idea of doing a mural and not just a little bronze plaque that no one would read. We thought that this man’s contribution that freed and opened the doors of LSU to everyone was great enough to be commemorated in a way just as exceptional as he and his teaching was,” said Alkis Tsolakis, dean of the LSU College of Art + Design. Tsolakis said he has inspired by a small picture cut out from Julian T. White’s driver’s license, a gift he received from the late professor’s wife, Loretta White. “His picture sits on my desk and looks at me every day,” said Tsolakis.

    47e7e08d-c8ca-491a-bedf-50ccfc1af902

    Robert Dafford and Miguel Lasala create the Portrait of Julian White mural in LSU’s College of Design+Art.

    As the mural design began The Walls Project had 99 public murals in their catalog. The organization was ecstatic for this landmark mural to become its cornerstone 100th public artwork. To complete the job, Robert Dafford, a master muralist with nearly 500 public artworks, was selected for the job. Globally known for his murals, Dafford has painted murals in the United States, France, England, Belgium, and Canada. When hearing about the project he happily accepted.

    “I am very excited to paint something in the arts building and to honor Julian White who was the pioneer minority person who opened the doors for so many that followed,” said Dafford. “That’s an honor for me to get to do this and to paint so much diversity. The student body is so diverse now and I want to reflect that it started with this man leading the way.”

    This mural’s completion has not come easily. Working at an active college campus in a nearly 70-foot space led to some engineering challenges. To combat the foot-traffic and vertical spacing issues, Dafford ingeniously designed a pulley system for the mural to be created as three large canvas panels. Work was going smoothly until Dafford fell from a ladder at his studio and broke his foot and ankle. The injury sustained required surgery and recovery time, halting production for another six months. Despite this setback, Dafford worked with his assistants to finish whatever he could while battling reduced mobility.

    Muralist Robert Dafford

    Muralist Robert Dafford

    By the beginning of this year, Dafford was healed and ready to finally install the panels. The first pieces went up at the beginning of February. Dafford, with his production assistant, Miguel Lasala, began finishing the elaborate and large piece in the heart of the atrium. The project is proposed to be finished in early March for generations of students and faculty to enjoy.

    The Portrait of Julian White mural is already touching the lives of those around it. From LSU’s Art + Design team to the students who see it every day, Julian T. White’s impact is still being made.

    “This project means everything to me. It means another step in freeing LSU and making a home for everyone. Another step in what Julian White did for LSU, for Louisiana, and for the world,” said Tsolakis.

    Feature photo by Micah Viccinelli.

    By Helena Williams
    Special to The Drum

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  • ,,

    Dana Hayes teaches beauty, hair care, business with Junior Cosmetology classes

    Dana Hayes, a native of Port Allen, was inspired to start and create Junior Cosmetology because of her mother Ora Lee Breax Williams who was a hairstylist.

    Now, at 40-years-old, Hayes has taken that interest and passion into a classroom where she teaches young girls how to care for, protect, and have pride in their natural, healthy hair.

    “These are lifelong skills each girl can learn and keep with them for the rest of their lives. I’m teaching them how to make money. I’m teaching them to be girl bosses, business owners, and female entrepreneurs. To be their own Boss… strong and confident,” Hayes said.

    “I started Junior Cosmetology during 2017 and I’ve had the pleasure of hosting many successful events. (Students) get a chance to dream and imagine while learning something new and exploring the ever-changing world of cosmetology.”

    Participants attend class professionally dressed in all black. Hayes provides mannequin heads and all supplies. Hayes said she plans to host classes in schools, churches and social groups around Louisiana over the next five years and introduce Junior Cosmetology as an elective like dance.

    “Students learn the fundamentals of healthy hair care, natural styles, parting, sectioning, proper comb, and brush placement, product knowledge, braiding, and cutting! This class also teaches them how to be confident in the skin they are in. They learn how to take care and manage their natural hair and appreciate its beauty.”

    She told the story of a young girl whose father brought her to each class. “She has participated in four or five classes thus far,” said Hayes. “She came in not know anything about hair or braiding and now she can braid a full head. Her dad purchased a mannequin that she practice on and he would send Dana pictures and videos of her work. She has improved tremendously. She is my star student and most improved student.”

    Hayes said she enjoys seeing the girls become excited about cosmetology. They are willing to learn something new and trendy. “The girls are smiling and excited but also very nervous at the same time,” she said.

    Along with the regular classes, Hayes offers private Junior Cosmetology events and limited free classes to introduce the business and her teaching technique to the community.

    ONLINE: @JuniorCosmetology

    By Yulani S. Semien
    Youth Reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Ponchatoula Council on Aging Hosts Tea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Submitted News

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  • ,,

    Kristen Downing opens ‘In Bloom’ exhibit at Southern University

    Kristen Downing is a self-taught visual artist from New Orleans. She began her career as a sought-after tattoo artist and developed a passion for painting. Her work is largely fueled by the social and political climate of America.
    Downing said it is the artist’s responsibility to speak to the times,  and she has focused her latest work on the current realities people of color in America. Her collections have left an impression.

    In 2018, Downing established KAWD Art Gallery in Baton Rouge with a mission to educate, inspire, and increase social consciousness.  She actively exhibits and commissions her work in New Orleans, Atlanta, and Baton Rouge. Her work has been on display at the New Orleans Contemporary Art Center, Aqua Art Miami and Spectrum Miami during Art Basel Miami, and Capital Park Museum – Baton Rouge. She earned first prize during the Louisiana Contemporary Exhibition in Prospect.4 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

    Kristen Downing's painting The Son of NOLA, mixed media on canvas, is one of the paintings the artist will exhibit Feb 20 at Southern University.

    Kristen Downing’s painting The Son of NOLA, mixed media on canvas, is one of the paintings the artist will exhibit Feb 20 at Southern University.

    “Her imagery captures the bold, brashness of our current reality in a political context that isn’t nice, sweet, or pleasant. It’s in your face, it’s bold, it’s brazen, and it’s reality. She uses her art in the way protesters use their voice, leaders use their influence, and nations use their power,” said Kimmy Ducasse, writer at The Urban Realist.
     
    Downing’s work will be exhibited February 20 through April 2 in the Frank Hayden Hall Art Gallery at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge.
    The exhibition is curated by Randell Henry, associate professor of visual arts at Southern University.
    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Investigation reveals Blacks living, working on plantations in Mississippi

    Antoinette Harrell, known as the “Slavery Detective of the South,” is on a mission to interview and document the oral histories of people who still live on plantations to this very day. Deangelo Manuel and Tyra Climmons, two interns working with Harrell, visited two plantations in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. They set out to discover why people are still living on plantations. What is keeping them there, and why don’t they move away?

    Climmons and Manuel were shocked to see people living on a plantation in the age of the new millennium. Apparently, they just can’t afford to live anywhere else.

    The first person they stopped to interview was a woman named Helen, who was born on a plantation in 1940 in Holmes County, Mississippi. “I picked and chopped cotton until I left the plantation in 1959,” said Helen. “Mama and daddy never really got ahead, every year. They were told that the crops didn’t make good, try again. My mama and daddy left the plantation after the boss man sold the plantation.”

    An older woman living on Buford Plantation said she moved from plantation to plantation with her mother before they settled on the Buford Plantation picking and chopping cotton.

    Due West Plantation, a plantation that consists of 12,000-acres, got its name many years ago. During the 1850s, the farm was part of the Twilight Plantation. Mike Sturdivant, the owner of the plantation, was a highly successful Delta planter and millionaire businessman. Harrell researched the history of the original owner of Due West Plantation, Capt. Ben Sturdivant, and found him to be the Captain of the steamer J.M. Sharp according to the Yazoo Pass Expedition, February 14 to April 8, 1863. He was accompanied by Company C of the 20th Mississippi Infantry with 200 slaves and their overseers.

    Matt Davis told Harrell his mother and father both were born on Due West Plantation. Davis’ grandfather, Richard Coleman, was a farmer from Lincoln County, MS, and went to the Delta searching for farm work, “My father Ladell Davis, Sr. was born in 1934 and worked as a tractor driver,” said Carrie Jean, Matt Davis’s sister. She said she was born on Due West Plantation and remembers her grandma’s “own baby sucking one tittie and Mike’s son sucking on the other tittie.”

    “After I left the plantation and saw the television series Roots in 1977, I realized that I was living the same way,” Carrie Jean said. “We had what you called ‘across the tracks.’ If you lived across the tracks on Due West Plantation, you were a slave. The other side of the tracks was the free side,”she said.

    The old wooden shacks were demolished, and small-framed brick homes were built in the 70s. Most people on Due West Plantation have other jobs off the plantation but still call the plantation home. Kirk Manuel asked a man who also lives on Due West called “Henry” to tell him something about Emmitt Till. He lives just three miles from where they found Till’s body.

    “I heard about it through travelers,” said Henry. “We learned about the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., through travelers.”

    Henry said he couldn’t believe a person could do that to another human being. “I left the plantation one time and returned back to the plantation because the city life was too much for a country boy. We didn’t communicate with folks on other plantations,” Henry said.

    In May of 1968, dozens of wagons set out from Marks, Mississippi. Dr. Martin Luther King visited Clarksdale, Mississippi for the first major meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. While there, King saw the impoverish conditions Black sharecroppers and tenant farmers who remained on plantations in the Delta faced daily.

    “We didn’t leave the plantation for anything. We spent our coupons at the commissary store. If anyone ran away from the plantation, they left at night. You didn’t have any money to leave. I always wondered how they left,” he said. “After the conversation with Henry, we went to the store and met a man who had a different story but seemed very apprehensive about talking. All he would say was, ‘It was rough.’ He told us that his sister was hung, and he didn’t want to talk about it.”

    Harrell, who lives in Louisiana,  regularly visits Ballground Plantation in Warren County, Mississippi, which consists of more than 1,500 acres. The Simrall family is the third owner of Ballground plantation. The Jeffery family lived on this plantation for five generations. Donald Jeffery, who was born on Ballground Plantation, never knew any other place to call home. He and the present owner say they are like brothers. Donald Jeffery still helps on the plantation but works somewhere else. His mother, Early Mae Jeffery, was one of the cooks and on this visit, she rang the old plantation bell for Harrell, demonstrating how the sound of the bell called in the field hands.

    Harrell said, “the people who remain on the plantation to this very day have been there for generations. One person I know still works for the owners, like most of the others.”

    ONLINE: www.AntoinetteHarrell.com

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Southern University becomes the first HBCU to produce CBD products

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.alafiahealthcare.com.

    Alafia Healthcare is currently available at the following locations:

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

    Capitol Wellness Solutions
    7491 Picardy Avenue
    Baton Rouge, LA 70809

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

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

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

    The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy
    403 Bolton Avenue
    Alexandria, LA 71301

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Communications Coordinator

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  • ,

    Walter Daniels sworn in as Amite mayor

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

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

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

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

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

    Action17 News

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    Louisiana leaders meet with White House to discuss Opportunity Zones

    The White House hosted mayors, parish presidents, and representatives from economic development organizations across Louisiana on Jan. 23 to discuss ways that Opportunity Zones can continue to benefit citizens of Louisiana.

    The Opportunity Zone tax incentive provides a tremendous way to bring investment, jobs, and new business development to communities. In order to amplify the impact of this tax incentive, the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council was formed to better coordinate Federal economic development resources in Opportunity Zones and other distressed communities.

    The Council is exploring the ways in which Federal agencies can better partner with Opportunity Zone investors and provide some of the social services and other support that may be necessary for community revitalization to take place. Communities, investors, and entrepreneurs who want to effect change are not alone in this process.

    About Opportunity Zones
    In 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which established Opportunity Zones to incentivize long-term investments in low-income communities across the country. These incentives offer capital gains tax relief to investors for new investment in designated Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones are anticipated to spur $100 billion in private capital investment. Qualified Opportunity Zones retain this designation for 10 years.

    In December 2018, President Trump signed Executive Order 13853, which established the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. The Council is chaired by Ben Carson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and is tasked with leading joint efforts between agencies and executive departments to engage with State, local, and tribal governments to find ways to better use public funds to revitalize urban and economically distressed communities.

    The following individuals were in attendance:

    Administration officials:

    • Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity & Revitalization Council
    • Tim Pataki, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Liaison
    • Ja’Ron Smith, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Office of American Innovation
    • Ben Hobbs, Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
    • Nicole Frazier, Special Assistant to the President & Director of Strategic Partnerships & African American Outreach

    Agency Officials:

    • Dr. John Fleming, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development
    • Daniel Kowalski, Counselor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Treasury
    • Alfonso Costa Jr, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
    • Chad Rupe, Administrator for Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
    • Chris Caldwell, Federal Chairman, Delta Regional Authority

    External Participants:

    • Julius Alsandor, Mayor of Opelousas
    • Monique Boulet, CEO, Acadiana Planning Commission
    • Leslie Durham, Louisiana Designee, Delta Regional Authority
    • Scott Fontenot, Mayor of Eunice
    • Josh Guillory, Mayor-President of Lafayette Parish
    • Michael Hecht, President and CEO, Greater New Orleans Regional Economic Development
    • Roy Holleman, Louisiana State Director, U.S. Department of Agriculture
    • Chad LaComb, Economic Development Planner, Acadiana Planning Commission
    • Scott Martinez, President, North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    • Robby Miller, President, Tangipahoa Parish
    • Mandi Mitchell, Assistant Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development
    • Adrian Perkins, Mayor of Shreveport
    • Jan-Scott Richard, Mayor of Scott
    • Joel Robideaux, Former Mayor-President of Lafayette
    • Shawn Wilson,PhD., Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
    • 100 other community stakeholders

    Feature photo courtesy of Hailey Hart
    Official White House Photo by Randy Florendo

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Students shine light on Blacks in classical music

    Student cellists Cecilia Spencer, of Baton Rouge, and Ethan Clay, of Zachary, were recognized nationally as they shined a light on African Americans competing in the world of classical music. A “No-Labels” broadcast piece produced by Spencer featuring Clay was published earlier this month by the PBS Student Reporting Labs. The video featured was published again as part of a PBS Newshour special on Martin Luther King Day on how students experience and cope with racist stereotypes. Spencer and Clay became friends while participating in Louisiana youth orchestras. Clay is a senior at Zachary High School and a 2019 Carnegie Hall Honors participant. Spencer is a junior at University View Academy and a participant in the Talented Music, Digital Media, and the TV and Video Production program that introduced PBS and PBS Student Reporting Labs to UVA students.

    ONLINE: Student Reporting Labs

    ONLINE: PBS Newshour Students Experience and Cope with Racist Stereotypes

    Read more »
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    Krewe of Oshun parade brings ‘Wakanda Now’ theme to North Baton Rouge

    Excitement is building in North Baton Rouge as the area’s first Mardi Gras parade and festival approaches. On Saturday, Feb. 8, at noon, the Inaugural Krewe of Oshun Parade and Festival will roll in historic Scotlandville, championing the culture and heritage of North Baton Rouge. “It brings back the idea of African-American parades in the Capital City as it once was in 1947,” organizers said.  All businesses are welcome to participate and can register until Friday, Jan. 24.

    The parade will showcase the world-renowned Southern University Human Jukebox Marching Band, five high school bands, and the Mardi Gras Indians. The historic Black cowboys of Baton Rouge will parade on their horses for the first time publicly. The families of historian Sadie Roberts-Joseph and attorney Jonnie Jones will be honored.

    Krewe of Oshun rolls Feb. 8 in Scotlandville.

    Krewe of Oshun rolls Feb. 8 in Scotlandville.

    According to historical records, Oshun is the benevolent and venerated Yoruba goddess. She is Mother of the African sweet or fresh waters and love. With an inaugural theme “Wakanda Now: Celebration, Prosperity, and Expansion,” the Krewe of Oshun parade ends with the start of the festival at the Champion Medical Building on Howell Place. Participants can expect games, food, contests, live performances, and a battle of the bands between local high schools.  The festival will end at 6pm.

    The Mayor’s Office, Baton Rouge Airport, Visit Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Library, LAMAR, COX, BR Proud, BR Weekly Press, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, BREC, and The Printing Source are sponsors.

    Parade route:

    Krewe of Oshun Parade route

    Krewe of Oshun Parade route

    ONLINE: www.kreweofoshunbr.eventbrite.com

    https://www.facebook.com/KreweofOshunBR/

    EMAIL: kreweofoshun@nbrnow.org

    Read more »
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    ‘THE AMERICAN AUDIT’ exposes America as a 400-year old business and its toll on Black humanity

    Baton Rouge spoken-word artist and activist Donney Rose has amassed more than 2,000 travel miles conducting hours of interviews and days of research in order to create an epic narrative that unravels 400 years of American History.

    It is an ambitious presentation called The America Audit where Rose explores America as a business and exposes its toll on Black citizens fiscally, spiritually, judicially, emotionally, and socially.

    To do so, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow committed up to 15 hours a week for a year to complete this “audit.”

    “I am going all in,” Rose said, “The poem is one epic poem broken into nine different parts which all begin with a technical term used in an audit.”

    Last year, he performed excerpts of The American Audit at the 2019 Arts Summit of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the University of Northern Iowa, and Festival of Words in Grand Coteau.

    IMG_0889

    To pull together photographs, videos, and audio records he collected for this performance, Rose interviewed researchers and activists including Michael ‘Quess’ Moore, who co-founded Take ‘Em Down NOLA; Maxine Crump, CEO of Dialogue on Race-Louisiana; Chris Tyson, president of Build Baton Rouge, Jason Perkins, Ph.D., professors Eva Baham and Lori Martin; LSU history chairman Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Ph.D.; Southern University law professor Angela Allen-Bell; historian Thomas Durant, and many others, he said.

    The Jozef Syndicate asked Rose to share more on The American Audit which will showcase 7pm on Feb 28 at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge.

    JS: American Audit is described as a multimedia, spoken word project that chronicles 400 years of Black American life using the extended metaphor of America as a business audited by African Americans (today). How else do you describe it to others? 

    ROSE: This has been my general explanation but I additionally add that it’s not just an exploration of financial/fiscal aspects of Black labor and humanity being audited, it’s also an exploration of the social, emotional, physical and psychological toll of the African-American experience and what findings come up when doing a deep dive into all of those layers

    JS: How did you decide on this topic and why multimedia?

    ROSE: In late 2018, I began thinking about the pending 400 year anniversary of the first documented enslaved Africans being brought to Jamestown. I knew that there would be several writings, discussions etc. about this historical milestone and wanted to find an artistic lens to approach it. Seeing that enslaved Africans were brought to this land under the guise of economics, I figured what better way to approach the topic than by writing about a fictional audit being done. The multimedia aspect of it was to expand my presentation. After 20 years of performing poetry, I didn’t want to just get behind a mic and perform this content. I wanted to do a deeper dive that would allow me to talk to history and cultural experts and display those discussions interwoven with the performative text.

    JS: Why this topic now? 

    ROSE: The plan was to have the project finished for 2019 to be in accordance with the commemorative year. There were a few setbacks that did not allow that to manifest, but I knew there would still be relevance going into this year. I have previewed excerpts of the project in various settings and the consensus is that is timely and very relevant to the times we are in.

    JS: Is this a stand-alone project of Donney Rose or connected to Black Out Loud?

    ROSE: The project is a stand-alone, however, components of it are likely to be incorporated in future Black Out Loudprogramming.

    JS: How did you know you wanted to do this work?

    78336252_2986772938052472_2019340872067317760_o

    ROSE: What I really knew was that I wanted to push my artistry beyond the confines I had set for myself. Over the last few years, I have become a much more avid reader and cultural observer of politics and social behavior and how we, as Black Americans, respond to structural and systemic facets of our lives that were created beyond our control.

    JS: Before performing your poem “New Definitions,” you said a continuum of one conversation of Blackness is vital and necessary. What is that conversation and does this project contribute to it? 

    ROSE: I believe that the continuum of the conversation referenced is a continual deep dive into our humanity. So much of Black oppression has been rooted in dehumanization. Which is to say if you can convince African Americans that somehow their existence is less than, you can continue to marginalize them is a variety of ways. The American Audit absolutely gets to the root of dehumanization and explores the why and how.

    JS: What was the most interesting place (physically) that this project has taken you? How would you describe it?

    ROSE: Very early I visited the Whitney Plantation and that was a fascinating visit because of our tour guide. It was interesting to see just how vital sugar cane was to the area, because typically when we think slave labor we default to the idea of cotton being picked. I would say one of the other more interesting places I visited was the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia. It’s an interesting museum that details the how and why of currency production. There weren’t explicit displays about slavery there but it was easy to connect certain dots when you saw information about the origins of American currency.

    80846493_10162858816210788_7426748519282638848_n

    JS: What was the most provocative discovery you made? How is it presented in the project?

    ROSE: Some of the most striking imagery comes by way of two visits to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. It’s such a visually stunning museum to visit and it allowed me to gain access to gripping images I would not have gotten anywhere else. The writing, in general, is pretty provocative as I am more or less trying to make a case for America as a metaphorical business to undergo an audit for its treatment of Black people.

    JS: Have you experienced frustration in creating this project? How do you work through the harder parts?

    ROSE: I have had moments in which I have wondered if I am being complete and exact in the writing, but I’ve had to understand that this one project will not be the answer to generations of inequity or dehumanization. That there will always be interrogations of this country by various people who are curious or bold enough to question it for what it is.

    JS: Who’s helped produce this and to what capacity?

    ROSE: My main co-creator is Steven Baham. He is doing videography work filming all the interviews and assisting with storyboarding/editing the final product. Leslie Rose has also been instrumental in doing photography work for a lion share of the images.

    JS: Is there a call to action with this work? 

    ROSE: There’s not necessarily a ‘call to action’ per se. The project is mostly a creative analysis of what this nation has been to and for Black people. Framed through the lens of economics because money, finance, and wealth are universal in the sense that this country consists of people who either have it or who are striving for prosperity.

    JS: Where does The American Audit go from here?

    ROSE: Hopefully the performance goes to other parts of the country. After the February 28th debut, a few more interviews will be conducted, ideally with scholars, experts, and activists out of state.

    JS: Audre Lorde wrote, “We must wake up knowing we have work to do and go to bed knowing we’ve done it.” With the work you’ve desired for the American Audit, do you get to point of being “done”?

    ROSE: For this particular project, yes.

    ONLINE:
    Instagram: the_american_audit
    www.manshiptheatre.org
    Donneyrosepoetry.com
    email Booking@donneyrosepoetry.com

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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    12 elected to state NAACP leadership; two take on new roles

    The Louisiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has elected state-wide leaders. On Saturday, Jan. 11, Judge John Michael Guidry swore in the new leadership during a ceremony at the Capitol Center. Inducted were:

    State President Michael McClanahan continues another term as the presiding leader of the organization. He is employed as a home manager at Harmony II with Harmony Center Incorporated. In this role, he provides supervision and direct care to mentally challenged adult males. Much of this experience was obtained when he co-founded M & T Outpatient Rehab Center for residents who need treatment for alcohol and drug usage. A gifted handyman, he also spends time renovating floors, bathrooms, and kitchens with his home repair company, M&T Corner. He and his wife, Patricia, have two children, Ymine and Torin. (More)

    Two new state leaders were elected.

    Marja Broussard

    Marja Broussard

     

    Marja Broussard, who leads Lafayette’s NAACP chapter, has been elected vice president of Dist. D throughout Calcasieu parish. 

     

     

     

     

    Alvin Joseph

    Alvin Joseph

     

     

    Alvin Joseph, president of the Lake Charles Branch will lead Dist. E.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    NAACP 2020 officials

    Re-elected were:

    • Levon LeBan, D.D  as state vice president. He also serves as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference New Orleans Chapter.
    • Charles “CD” Heckard continues his role as state treasurer/registrar. He has served as treasurer of the NAACP Ouachita Parish Branch in Monroe.
    • Laura Bowman, Secretary
    •  Dr. Charles Cole, Chaplain
    • Dist. A Vice President Kevin Gabriel
    • Dist. B Vice President: Jerome Boykins
    • Dist. C Vice President: Reginald Devold
    • Dist. F Vice President: Chipps Taylor
    • Dist. G Vice President: Windy Calahan
    • Dist. H Vice President: Lloyd Thompson

    History of the Louisiana NAACP 

    ONLINE: http://lanaacp.org

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    Rodneyna M. Hart named Grand Marshal of the 2020 Mid City Gras Parade

    During a brief ceremony on Jan. 6, Rodneyna Hart was named the Mid City Gras Parade grand marshal presented with a scepter and crown from Front Yard Bikes, .

    She has been instrumental in the development of local art and cultural advancements in the Baton Rouge area for more than 10 years. After graduating from LSU in 2008, Hart worked as the exhibitions coordinator at Baton Rouge Gallery – center for contemporary art, preparator at the LSU Museum of Art, the exhibitions manager at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum and resident curator and art manager of The Healthcare Gallery. A strong desire to break down barriers for access for artists lead to Hart reestablishing and serving as executive director for the not-for-profit organization, Culture Candy. Advocating for more inclusive and intersectional cultural spaces, Hart created pop-up art events open to all. Each event has an educational component, providing resources for emerging artists.

    Over the years, Hart has served on numerous history, arts and culture boards and given generously of her time, energies, and resources to various organizations and initiatives. She received a gubernatorial appointment to the Louisiana State Arts Council in 2017 and served as the Council’s representative on the Folklife Commission for Louisiana. In 2018, Rodneyna was named one of Baton Rouge Business Report’s Forty Under 40.

    In January 2019, she accepted the position of division director for the Louisiana State Museum overseeing the four regional museums. In this capacity, she adds structural support to further the success of each institution through programming, promotion, partnerships, and exhibitions that strategically meet the needs of the communities served.

    The third annual Mid City Gras Parade will be held at 1 p.m. February 16 on North Boulevard. It will start at the overpass and roll down to Baton Rouge Community College. The parade is a celebration for everyone who lives, works and plays in Mid City, designed to showcase the diversity of the community with a spirit of inclusiveness. More than 50 groups, including bands, dance teams, walking groups, acrobats and puppets, will participate in the parade.

    The second annual Mid City Gras Ball will be held from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. February 1 at the Capital City Event Center, 6955 Florida Blvd. Tickets for the event can be purchased athttps://bontempstix.com/events/Mid-City-Gras-Ball-2–1-2020. The ball is for revelers 21 and up. WHYR Community Radio will provide music for the party.

    The theme for the 2020 parade and ball is 2020 Leagues Under the Sea.

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    Melanin Origins offers Black History curriculum

     The founders of Melanin Origins, a children’s book company that publishes biographies about African-American leaders, are   offering their English-Language Arts Black History Curriculum for 99-cents through February 29, 2020. 

    Since 2016, Melanin Origins has provided leaders in education with quality learning materials that children of all backgrounds so desperately need. Understanding the struggle of convincing school districts to fund black history initiatives, the global publishing company has afforded teachers across the nation an opportunity to access four weeks of instruction on the lives of Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, Madam C.J. Walker, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

    The Black History Curriculum guide contains TEKS/Common Core-based lesson plans that meet national English-Language Arts standards and cover reading, writing, word study, and social studies for grade one. Many teachers find this curriculum useful for kindergarten and second grade. Melanin Origins learning materials may be applied to any classroom at any time of year. The added benefit is that the materials provide diverse and culturally responsive images and topics for all students.

    Melanin Origins is committed to literacy and empowerment through powerful images and stories representative of diverse backgrounds and cultural pride. The mission of Melanin Origins is to provide quality educational materials that inspire young minds to aspire for excellence while embracing their heritage. 

    ONLINE: HERE or by visiting www.MelaninOrigins.com

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    Tangipahoa Parish Schools continue to seek unitary status despite continued segregation

    HAMMOND—When Tangipahoa Parish School Board released a statement on September 26, 2019, it sent shock waves throughout the African-American community.

    The board released the following statement: “On Thursday afternoon, September 26, 2019, the Tangipahoa Parish School Board made history, adopting the recommendation of attorneys in the longstanding Joyce Marie Moore federal desegregation case and authorizing a jointly filed consent agreement in the 54-year-old case.”

    This statement prompted Nelson Taylor, the lead attorney in the case, to call a community meeting to inform the community about the case Oct. 30, at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Hammond.

    Nelson said, “This case is coming to an end, I don’t know how the judge is going to rule in this case. This case has slew of court orders.”

    Attorney Gideon Tillman Carter III wrote the final agreement for the school board. “This agreement will dismiss all litigations,” Taylor said.

    “Carter is not the lead attorney, he has no authority to write anything. Carter has disrupted my team.”

    The 34-page “Final Agreement” outlines the scope of the work that the district will continue in good faith in order to maintain a unitary school system. A school district is unitary when it has eliminated the effects of past segregation.

    Once the board achieved unitary status, they are not obligated to do anything. “It’s business as usual”, said Taylor, “The board doesn’t need unitary status to remove all those portable buildings they can do that now.

    The powers-that-be has their hands on this school board. One white board member had the nerve to go on television and say they will not vote for a tax for the board if the board is under court order to do things for Blacks”. Tangipahoa Parish has the lowest tax for schools than any other parish in the state.

    “If you want good schools, you must have a good tax base. There is something the African American community can do. Have a community meeting, discuss and plan what you want in your schools and where those schools should be located,” said Taylor, “The African American community did not create a dual system of education in this parish.” The board should build high schools in central locations like Ponchatoula and Hammond High with the same curriculum. The board is building schools around subdivisions.

    “The parish has two African American board members, they should have three and maybe four. You should check the parish demographics.”

    Former president of The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP Pat Morris said, “No one wants this case settled more than I do. But it must be done the right way, according to Amendment 14. Equality for everyone. This case is about African American children and their parents.” Taylor asked for the African American community to show up in Federal Court in record numbers on November 20, 2019.ℜ

    By Eddie Ponds
    Ther Drum Founding Publisher

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    Greenville Park High School Class of 1969 gather for ‘Living Legend” reunion

    “Living the Legacy” was the theme for the 1969 Greenville Park High School graduation class who held their 50th class reunion earlier this year at the Contemporary Plaza in Hammond.

    “This class is historical because this is the last class to graduate from Greenville Park High School,” said Betty Jackson.

    In the fall of 1969 Federal District Judge Alvin B. Rubin handed down his court’s order desegregating all schools in the Tangipahoa Parish school system. Greenville Park High was downgraded and renamed Hammond Junior High, leaving little or no traces of Greenvillepark History.

    Image (48)

    CLASS 1969 3

     

     

     

    Tangipahoa Parish School Board representative Jerry Moore, son of the late M. C. Moore who filed the lawsuit to end the segregated system of education in the parish, was the keynote speaker. He gave a brief history of the problems his family endured after his father filed the lawsuit against the school system.

    “My father was in the logging business. After the suit, my father could not get work. When he did it was under adverse condition making it impossible, tearing up his equipment, and shooting in his house under the cover of darkness.”  According to research by the late educator Jesse W. Davis Jr., Hammond Colored School was founded in 1906 by P.Jenkins. It was a sixth-grade school from 1906 until 1929 when it opened as a full elementary school. In 1943 it expanded the school session to nine months, and the principal was Jessie W. Davis Sr. He had the school name change to Greenville Park High School in 1954. ℜ

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    Saluting Our Sailors: Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Lanehart,

    Most Americans rely on weather forecasts to plan their daily routine. The U.S. Navy is no different. With numerous ships, submarines and airplanes deployed in the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s area of operations, sailors stationed at Fleet Weather Center San Diego, make it their primary mission to monitor weather conditions in support of the fleet’s daily operations.

    Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Lanehart, a 2001 Capitol High School graduate and native of Baton Rouge is one of these sailors serving at the Fleet Weather Center, providing full-spectrum weather services to shore-based commands and afloat naval units.

    As a Navy aerographer’s mate, Lanehart is responsible for the day-to-day tasks of one hundred sailors. He helps them prepare for deployment by ensuring they have the proper qualifications and training to do their jobs. He also helps mentor them with personal and professional issues to make sure they are ready to perform to the best of their capabilities.

    Lanehart credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Baton Rouge.

    “Baton Rouge is like a small, big city,” said Lanehart. “You learn how to adapt to adversity and think quick on your feet to accomplish your goals. You understand how to move about with a sense of family and pride because everyone knows everyone else and it is a very close-knit community. You always represent your family.”

    Additionally, sailors serving with the Fleet Weather Center ensure naval installations, contingency exercises, and operations are able to facilitate risk management, resource protection, and mission success of fleet, regional and individual unit commanders.

    Fleet Weather Center San Diego provides U.S. and coalition ship, submarine and aircraft weather forecasts including en route and operating area forecasts. In addition, they deploy certified Strike Group Oceanography Teams and Mobile Environmental Teams from the commands to provide tactical warfighting advantage for strike and amphibious forces afloat through the application of meteorological and oceanographic sciences.

    Being stationed in San Diego, the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet, means Lanehart is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

    Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Lanehart is most proud of earning Sea Sailor of the Year honors in 2018. He attributes that award to all of the hard work that his shipmates put in that year. Stating that, “ultimately I was recognized for the efforts of my team.”

    “It means also that I am finally getting it right. There is a lot of trial and error in the Navy,” said Lanehart. “I was able to have a great chain of command and a great team. They allowed and trusted me to do my job, which enabled me to have that accomplishment.”

    Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Lanehart, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Lanehart is honored to carry on that family tradition.

    “I have had a family member in every conflict since WWII, but I am the only Navy guy. I didn’t realize the family tradition until after I joined,” said Lanehart. “Being from Baton Rouge you always want to make your family proud. When going home I always wear my uniform to church on Sunday, and my uncles are always checking out my ribbons.”

    As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Lanehart and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

    “Serving means that a kid from Baton Rouge can serve his country, become a leader of men and gain an education, all while traveling the world,” said Lanehart. ℜ

    By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Dunn, Navy Office of Community Outreach U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain Marquez

     

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    Saluting Our Sailors: Petty Officer 2nd Class Errol James

    A 2007 North Texas Job Corps graduate and Baton Rouge native is serving at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

    Petty Officer 2nd Class Errol James serves as a boatswain’s mate that is responsible for renderings honors for military members and veteran’s funerals.

    James credits his hometown for giving him opportunities he would not have had otherwise experienced that has helped in naval service.

    “My hometown taught me that the world was a lot bigger than just where I’m from,” said James. “It’s helped me to adjust to other people and cultures and beliefs and even food.”

    Naval Station Mayport was commissioned in December of 1942.

    It houses multiple surface ships as well as aviation units.

    James is now a part of a long-standing tradition of serving in the Navy our nation needs.

    “I’m kind of the first of my kind in serving,” said James. “Whatever works for you, whatever is best for you, that’s really what service is about.”

    James said they are proud to be part of a warfighting team that readily defends America at all times.

    “The Navy has taught me a lot of trades that will help me after the military,” said James.

    James is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

    “Our priorities center on people, capabilities, and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

    As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon capital assets, James and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

    Serving in the Navy, James is learning about being a more respectable leader, Sailor, and person through handling numerous responsibilities.

    “The Navy has taught me the importance of the commitment to what I’ve done,” said James. “I wanted to get out at four but now I’m at seven because I wanted to see the ‘greater later thing’.” ℜ

    Story by Dusty Good, Navy Office of Community Outreach. Photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Gary Ward

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    Saluting Our Sailors: Petty Officer 3rd Class Casper Anderson IV

    Modern attack submarines are the most technologically advanced and capable undersea warfighters in the world. Operating these highly complex submarines require sailors from the U.S. Navy’s submarine community, also known as the ‘Silent Service.’

    Petty Officer 3rd Class Casper Anderson IV, a 2013 Baton Rouge Magnet High School graduate and native of Baton Rouge works as a Navy sonar technician serving aboard USS Chicago, one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines, homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

    Anderson credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Baton Rouge.

    “Everyone has their own special talent,” said Anderson. “As a team, it is vital for everyone to bring something different to the table.”

    As a Navy sonar technician, Anderson is responsible for using sound to navigate through the ocean.

    Jobs are highly varied aboard the submarine. Approximately 130 sailors make up the submarine’s crew, doing everything from handling weapons to maintaining nuclear reactors.

    Attack submarines are designed to hunt down and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; strike targets ashore with cruise missiles; carry and deliver Navy SEALs; carry out intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions; and engage in mine warfare. Their primary tactical advantage is stealth, operating undetected under the sea for long periods of time.

    Because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. Submariners are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. Regardless of their specialty, everyone has to learn how everything on the ship works and how to respond in emergencies to become “qualified in submarines” and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.

    Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Anderson is most proud of earning a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

    “I am a repair parts petty officer for sonar,” said Anderson. “I enjoy finding a problem with the system and fixing it.”

    Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Anderson is serving in a part of the world taking on a new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

    “Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

    The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades. The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s largest and smallest economies, several of the world’s largest militaries, and many U.S. allies.

    The U.S. Pacific Fleet is the world’s largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean.

    Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Anderson, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Anderson is honored to carry on that family tradition.

    “My father was in the Navy, and has always instilled in me a resilient mentality,” said Anderson. As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Anderson and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

    “The command is very supportive and wants us all to succeed collectively and individually,” said Anderson. “The Navy gives me the opportunity to do something meaningful to protect my country.” ℜ

    Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt, Navy Office of Community Outreach. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Finley

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    New Orleans minister defends new ‘Emoji’ R&B single

    Switching genres is any creative space isn’t an easy task. Artists, writers, and musicians who do so seamlessly can often be met with resistance. There is always the expectations of fans to create better books, music, or art but often within the scope of the performers’ known area. Recently, Kanye West was met with criticism following his Sunday Service performance at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church.

    Critics said West’s project is blasphemous–among other things.

    “We really have to unlearn what we have been trained to believe is ministry,” said New Orleans minister Roosevelt Wright III who recently released an R&B single, “Emoji.” The song is mainstream, pop, and high-energy—not quite what people have come to expect for ministry music.

    “Emoji is a fun song with a nice Afro-beat groove but if you listen to the words carefully, you’ll see it’s really just a song about communication. I believe the root of a great relationship is the ability of two people to let nothing hinder them from being able to talk to each other. More importantly, tell each other how they feel. Check up on each other and lift each other’s spirit,” Wright said.

    The song was released mid-August on more than a dozen platforms including iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Tidal, Spotify, Amazon, and Deezer. It is the first single for Wright’s upcoming full project release, “How To Love”.

    The music was produced by Skirmisher Beat Squad.  Wright wrote and arranged it while producer Brandon Barre mastered and engineered it. Wright clarifies the message of his latest–and 11th–project.

    ‘Emoji’ doesn’t fit the praise and worship, Gospel music genre but sits smack in the R&B, love song mix. As a minister, why would you create an R&B love song and album without the mentioning of God or salvation?
    WRIGHT: We’ve been taught that ministry is Worship music only. Worship music is a resource for ministry, and a very vital ingredient, but it is not the only tool God can use. If ministry is truly about healing and building all of God’s people, then that includes those who may not be members of a particular church and may not gravitate to the Worship arena. My God is not in a box and if God is really going to reach this generation then Chance the Rapper is just as important as Tye Tribbett. Kanye West is just as anointed as Kirk Franklin. If my marriage is going through a rough spot and I need to relight the fire in my relationship, why exclude God from that? R&B has the power to make people love and care about each other. Isn’t that what God asked us to do? R&B music can be just as anointed as Gospel when it is created with purpose.

     How can you say this single, “Emoji,” and the “How to Love” project is God-led? What’s the message or messages you’re delivering?

    WRIGHT: Well it’s definitely God-led… These songs are definitely from the soul and written with a purpose.. People fall in love in one minute and in less than a month they are already done with each other. It says to me there is a deeper issue in our community that we seem to avoid and ignore.
    We don’t know how to love. We have workshops and retreats and forums but many times they are so “churchy” that the people who really need the advice don’t even participate. If the church is serious about saving marriages and building young adults, then we have to seriously look at measures which go beyond the parameters of the traditional version of ministry. I want every child to grow up in a great family structure. I want every woman to leave her house confident that her man is being faithful. I want every man to be excited about being a husband, a father, or just a good dude who cares about his lady. Most people have good intentions. We simply lose focus.

    Can you be more specific?

    WRIGHT: I want this project to make couples give it another shot. I want this project to give hope to people who feel they are successful yet still single. We all have a lot to learn about love. Even us. But we hope our journey can help our peers understand how to make it work in a way that has truly helped us.

    How have you addressed those people who challenge your message in this project?

    WRIGHT: I learned a long time ago… I will never fit into religious boxes. I don’t think what I am doing will surprise any of the clergy because I have always been an outsider anyway. I am strategic and purposeful in everything I do and most times they don’t understand it until they see the results that I have ALWAYS produced. I love the culture…I’m cut from a different cloth and I do not play with my purpose. I think churches should invite my wife and me to speak. The way we are structured makes sense. We are cultivated in the Word yet we are not so religious that we can’t connect with our peers. We love being who we are… young, free, eclectic, and saved.

    How welcoming do you expect churches or congregations to receive these messages around love? Is a church tour a possibility?
    WRIGHT: I’m an optimistic person. I think people who are truly Kingdom-minded will understand that this is an emergency. Our churches and families are failing because we neglect to talk about the things that are urgent in their lives. Sexual frustration is tearing up Christian relationships. Lack of communication is destroying families.

    Misunderstanding of our roles in a relationship kills it before it really gets started. Most importantly, being over religious ain’t never kept a fire burning. Many of us are imprisoned and so indoctrinated by improper religious teachings that we think we’ll go to hell if we make love with our own spouses. We don’t have those problems in my house! We truly believe you can love God as a priority and love each other with exclusivity and it is supposed to be exciting. We can’t say God created everything but exclude Him from intimacy. That is important to God too and the more we avoid it the more issues we will have with broken families and heartbroken adults who really want to share their life with someone.

    Your style has been highly charged for 20 years, how is this an extension of what you’ve done creatively and as pastor in New Orleans?
    WRIGHT: I don’t look at any project as an individu
    al entity. Everything is just another chapter in a collective body of work…I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time. Much of my success is centered my work with building relationships. I’ve produced a movie about it (“Get The Ring Keep The Ring”) and I’ve also written books about it. Through social media I connect with thousands of people daily and we are all growing together. This is just an extension of all of that… a continued effort to keep spreading positive vibes and light.

    How important has it been for you to do so many facets of creating and not just focus on one thing?
    WRIGHT: I’ve always been told I had to be a certain way to thrive within a genre and I have let that strip me of who I am. If you are a minister you’re supposed to dress like this. You can’t say this. You can’t listen to this. You can’t be seen over there with them. It’s a bunch of rules that God never orchestrated. I’m free in my mind and in my spirit and I’m going to do what I’m supposed to do. Everybody won’t be used the same way. We are all built and cultivated for the assignment on our lives. If you know me or have ever met me then you know I am built for this. I don’t have to be a preacher to preach.

    ONLINE: www.rotivation.com

    By Candace J Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @JozefSyndicate

    REad the entire interview at Jozef Syndicate.

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    Cassandra Chaney chronicles police brutality, African-American community in new book

    Given the increasing attention to unarmed African Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of police, LSU School of Social Work professor Cassandra Chaney examined community sentiment regarding police in her new book titled “Police Use of Excessive Force against African Americans: Historical Antecedents and Community Perceptions.”

    The book delves into how the early antecedents of police brutality like plantation overseers, the lynching of African American males, early race riots, the Rodney King incident, and the Los Angeles Rampart Scandal have directly impacted the current relationship between communities of color and police.

    “Each public incident of mistreatment, such as assault and murder, of African Americans erodes the trust members of this group have of police and makes it more difficult for honorable law enforcement officers to effectively do their jobs,” Chaney said. “As a child and family studies scholar, I know well that these events do not just affect the person, but the families and communities of which they are a part.”

    Cassandra Chaney

    Cassandra Chaney

    Chaney and co-author Ray V. Robertson, an associate professor of sociology at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, further studies how African American college students perceive police in order to delve into how race, gender, and education create different realities among a demographic. The scholars chose to study the attitudes of African American college students because this demographic is typically at a developmental stage of life when they are becoming more aware of their values and what is happening in the world around them.

    “In my experience, African American college students have a lot to say about what is wrong with the world, and they see themselves as potential agents of change. Furthermore, their perceptions and sentiment of police mistreatment, such as assault and/or murder, is based on their personal experience, the experience of family and friends as well as the experience of African Americans throughout the nation,” Chaney said.

    Based on their findings, Chaney and Robertson offer recommended policies and strategies for police and communities to improve relationships and perceptions between the two.

    Chaney recently was awarded a Dean Larry Davis Social Justice Fund grant by the National Association of Deans and Directors for her project titled “Nothing Can Change until It Is Faced: Community Sentiment of Police in Low-Income Disenfranchised Communities.”

    “In this project, I will continue my work in this area by examining how African Americans of different ages perceive members of law enforcement. In particular, this work will examine how attitudes regarding law enforcement form, conversations African American parents have with their children regarding police and strategies individuals and families in low-income communities use to maintain safety in their communities,” she said.

    Chaney is a Black families’ scholar with broad interests in the formation, structure, and function of Black families. In particular, her research examines the narratives of single, dating, cohabiting, and married Blacks, as well as how religion and spirituality support these families, both historically and today. Using a variety of theoretical lenses, she qualitatively explores intimacy and commitment in Black heterosexual relationships, emphasizing how demonstrations and perceptions of masculinity/manhood and femininity/womanhood shape this discourse.

    ONLINE: Police Use of Excessive Force against African Americans: Historical Antecedents and Community Perceptions: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498539180/Police-Use-of-Excessive-Force-against-African-Americans-Historical-Antecedents-and-Community-Perceptions

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    Twins’ superhero party at Knock Knock museum gives lessons, toys to others

    Diamond Sherrod and husband, Dr. Rome Sherrod hosted a birthday party with a cause for their 5-year-old twin sons, Rome and Paten.

    Diamond Sherrod rented the Knock Knock Children’s Museum Saturday, Sept. 28, and invited 50 of their friends, but the boys did not receive gifts. All of the gifts that their party guests brought were given to homeless children at St. Vincent de Paul.

    “I want to foster a spirit of empathy, gratitude and giving back in my kids and others, while bringing awareness to the difference between the socio-economic experience of their lives and the lives of kids who are homeless. (We) want to raise good human beings,” said the mother.

    IMG_1176
    “I also want to encourage other parents to do the same,” she said. “Some of our kids are growing up with a sense of entitlement and even though they are young, it’s important to instill in them the value of practicing gratitude.”

    Sherrod said she and other parents are guilty of what she calls “perfectionist parenting.”

    “We’re worried about getting them into the best schools and getting the best grades or what they will be instead of being concerned with how they will be. This party experience (was) about changing the narrative of their lives to center around empathy, gratitude and giving back. We’re helping to create their story now.”

    During the Superheroes-themed party, she explained her goal and told the young guests that they are Superheroes of Louisiana for helping those in need.

    “True superheroes are giving, caring, courageous, kind, vulnerable, and empathetic,” Sherrod said.
    In addition to enjoying activities at the museum, the children made capes, had their faces painted, and took pictures with superheroes.

    Each child received a Superhero cape and a certificate. The twins also received Superhero of Louisiana certificates signed by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

    Sherrod asked parents to join her in donating to an organization that hosts birthday parties for kids at homeless shelters. She’s raised more than $1,400–surpassing her goal of $1,000.

    Event planner Qunitina Ricks, of Flare Event Design, said more than 250 gifts were collected for homeless kids in Baton Rouge, and more than 150 guests attended Rome and Paten’s Royal Avengers Birthday Party.

    By Michelle McCalope
    The Drum Contributing Writer
    @thedrumnews

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  • In This Issue

    Cover story: Picture of Health Exhibit of people living with Invisible Illness
    Features: 3rd generation farming, Emoji R&B single, 5-year old twins host superhero party, ​Understanding Black suicide
    Ads: John bel Edwards, Tim Temple, Preston Castille, The Collective, Louisiana Lupus Foundation, Dr. Rani Whitfield, Louisiana Book Festival

    Read and share this issue now.

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  • ,,

    Tuquisha Adams takes marines to the fight aboard U.S. Navy Warship

    SAN DIEGO – Petty Officer 3rd Class Tuquisha Adams, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, was inspired to join the Navy after her mother passed away.
    “I lost my mom and I was on a mission to make her proud,” Adams said. “One morning I woke up and the military was on my mind just out of blue.”

    Now, two years later, Adams serves aboard one of the Navy’s amphibious ships at Naval Base San Diego.“This is my first command,” Adams said. “Every day is a different experience. You never know what you’re going to get, but so far so good. I have had a learning experience. I have grown since I’ve been here.”

    Adams, a 2008 graduate of Fair Park High School, is an aviation boatswain’s mate handler aboard USS Essex, one of four Wasp-class amphibious assault ships in the Navy, homeported in San Diego.

    “I am a landing and launching aircraft petty officer,” Adams said. “I’m also training petty officer and assisting yeoman.”

    Adams credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Shreveport. “I learned to choose my friends wisely and never let anyone determine my future,” said Adams.

    Essex is designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC), as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations.

    Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.

    Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Essex. More than 1,000 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weaponry to maintaining the engines. An additional 1,200 Marines can be embarked.

    “They’re hard workers,” Adams said. “It comes with the field that they’re in.”

    Serving in the Navy means Adams is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

    A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.“Our priorities center on people, capabilities, and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

    Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Adams is most proud of earning a promotion to third class petty officer.

    “I was proud to see that my hard work didn’t go unnoticed,” said Adams.

    As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Adams and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.

    “Serving in the Navy means that I’m a part of something huge,” Adams said. “I am fighting for people I would never meet a day in my life and that’s a good feeling.”

    By  Jerry Jimenez
    Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
    Navy Office of Community Outreach
    Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Brown
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  • ,,

    Southern’s enrollment climbs above 7,000

    Southern University and A&M College released its fall 2019 preliminary enrollment report giving indication of significant enrollment gains over the last few years at the institution. This year, Southern will host 7,031 students, representing a 5.1 percent increase in enrollment over the 6,693 students enrolled in the fall 2018 semester. Since the fall 2016 semester, when 6,357 students were enrolled, Southern has grown its enrollment by 10.6 percent over that time span.

    “We are certainly delighted that our flagship campus is once again booming with students who are seeking a dynamic higher education experience,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge. “This is a great testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, administration and staff. They have truly invested their time and knowledge in the academic progression of our students.  We believe that the university is moving in a positive direction and anticipate even greater gains in the near future.”

    The increase can be attributed to aggressive recruitment strategies, retention and intrusive advisement initiatives, and additional wrap-around services for students who may need increased assistance.

    The new enrollment numbers offer even more great news for Belton’s recently released strategic plan for the Baton Rouge campus, “Imagine 20K.” Recently released score card updates compiled by the Office of Strategic Planning, Policy and Institutional Effectiveness show that the Baton Rouge campus met or exceeded 89 percent of its expected outcomes for fall 2018 that included increases in dual enrollment, online enrollment, transfer enrollment, degrees awarded, grants awarded and number of financial gifts donated.

    “Imagine 20K,” the strategic plan to increase Southern’s student population to 20,000 by 2030, can be viewed at www.sus.edu/strategicplan.

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  • ,,

    Wyche named Deputy Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, making history

    For the first time, a Black woman was named deputy director at NASA’s Johnson Space Cent, the Houston Chronicle reports.

    Vanessa Wyche, 54, who has spent almost 30 years with the space agency, will be the second in command at the Houston facility where 10,000 civil service and contract workers are employed.

    She is the first African American to hold the position.

    The Johnson Space Center is one of NASA’s biggest locations and is run by Mark Geyer, per reports.

    “I am incredibly humbled to take on this role at JSC, and also excited to assist Mark with leading the home of human spaceflight,” Wyche said in a statement Wednesday, according to the Chronicle. “I look forward to working with the talented employees at JSC as we work toward our mission of taking humans farther into the solar system.”

    According to the Chronicle, Wyche hails from South Carolina and began working at the Johnson Space Center in 1989 as an engineer.

    In her NASA career, Wyche’s roles have included being a project engineer and acting director of Human Exploration Development Support.

    “Vanessa has a deep background at JSC with significant program experience in almost all of the human spaceflight programs that have been hosted here,” Geyer told the Chronicle. “She is respected at NASA, has built agency-wide relationships throughout her nearly three-decade career and will serve JSC well as we continue to lead human space exploration in Houston.”

    Wyche received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering and bioengineering, respectively, and previously worked for the Food and Drug Administration, according to reports.

    Credit – www.blackpressusa.com

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    Tekema Balentine Crowned Miss Black USA 2019

    Newly-crowned Miss Black USA 2019 Tekema Balentine, who has a strong desire for civic engagement, plans to use her platform to advocate on for mental health awareness.

    Balentine is an activist, scholar, and social justice advocate from Madison, Wisconsin who is a also pursing a nursing degree at Madison College.  She is a caregiver, track and field coach and sits on the board for the P.A.T.C.H organization (Providers and Teens Communications for Health), which is an organization founded to advocate for health awareness and mental health resources for teens and adults.

    Balentine said she has a strong desire for civic engagement and plans to use her platform to advocate on for mental health awareness in the Black community. During her reign, she will serve as a celebrity advocate for the Heart Truth campaign to raise awareness of heart disease and promote healthy lifestyles.

    According to Black PR Wire, the pageant, a week-long event kicked off August 7 and culminated with the crowning of Balentine on August 11.  The event was live streamed as contestants opened with an upbeat dance number wearing heels by Liliana footwear, the official shoe sponsor.  Contestants were judged in Evening Gown, On Stage Interview, Talent and Personal Fitness.

    1st Runner up –  Miss Black Nevada USA – Aisja Allen

    2nd Runner up – Miss Black New York USA – Shannon Alomar

    3rd Runner up – Miss Black Tennessee USA – Alexis Cole

    4th Runner up – Miss Black Virginia USA – Hollis Brown

     

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    NAACP leads largest delegation of Blacks to Ghana for the Year of Return

    Nearly 300 Americans reconnected with their African roots in the journey of a lifetime marking the 400th Anniversary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

     

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People led a delegation of nearly 300 people, ranging in age from four to 90, on a transformative journey from Jamestown, VA to Jamestown, Ghana to reconnect with their African roots and commemorate the Year of the Return – a landmark spiritual and birth-right journey inviting the global African family, home and abroad, to mark 400 years since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the United States.

    “In the Twi language of Ghana, ‘Sankofa’ translates to ‘go back and get it.’ We are standing in our ‘Sankofa’ moment,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “We are proud to return to Ghana to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors and reaffirm that our existence is one of strength, power, resilience, and liberation.  This experience has brought us all closer together and we have the knowledge we need to continue to fight for all of mankind. Strangers became sisters, fathers became mentors, children became playmates and a generation of the Black diaspora found their home.”

    The journey began August 19 with a ceremony at the Jamestown Historic Center to honor the first enslaved Africans to arrive at Point Comfort and Fort Monroe near Hampton, VA.  The reflective, yet uplifting event included a processional, remarks from local and national NAACP leaders and an opportunity for participants to write messages to their ancestors. The following day, the group visited the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC before traveling from Dulles International Airport to Accra, Ghana.

    Here are highlights from Ghana:
    Akwaaba! Homecoming Celebrations

    Drummers, dancers and local residents greeted the NAACP delegation at Kotoka International Airport, which included actor and humanitarian Danny Glover, as the group made their long-awaited arrival for the Year of Return. The group was first welcomed to the Jubilee House – the residence and office to the President of Ghana – for a photo opportunity, before heading to the Accra Visitor Center to meet with representatives from the Ghana Tourism Authority.

    Per Ghanaian tradition, the group paid a visit to the Mayor of Accra and Jamestown chiefs, who to announce their arrival welcomed them with a blessing. Warm greeting remarks were also provided by President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana. The group also paid visits to the village chiefs and elders in Cape Coast, as well as the Ashanti Queen Mother, a direct descendant of Nana Yaa Asantewaa – one of Ghana’s most acclaimed heroines.

    Emotions Run Raw During Visits to Cape Coast Slave Castle & Assin Manso Last Bath River

    image003

    The group visited Cape Coast Slave Castle – one of several castles along the coast of West Africa –  where millions of Africans suffered in dungeons at the hands of European slave traders. As the group wandered from chamber to chamber, hanging on to every word as the guide narrated the painful history of the ground they walked on, the agony in the air was almost tangible.

    “This has been the most life-changing moment of my life,” whispered an elderly woman to her daughter as they exited the female dungeons and walked toward the Door of No Return – the last port of exit before slaves were taken away from their homeland forever. On the other side of the door stood a placard that read, ‘Door of Return.’

    “They called this the ‘Door of No Return,’” said one of the tour guides. “They didn’t want you to come back but look at us now. You have returned. You have survived, and you have returned to us.”

    Following the tour, nearly 80 participants received the results of their African ancestry, through AfricanAncestry.com. People traced their roots to Cameroun, Togo, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal and more. The Haynes family, a multigenerational family of women traveling from Howard County, MD, were the last participants to be called. The crowd erupted in cheer and tears of joy when it was announced they were matrilineal descendants of the Akan people of Ghana.

    Business and Labor Summits; City Tours Encourage Year of Return Visitors to Invest in Ghana

    image005

    Participants in the Jamestown to Jamestown journey, explored two complementing sectors in Accra, the cultural landmarks and monuments, and the prime opportunities for investment in the city, and to a larger extent, what the country represents for the Black Diaspora. Hosted by the Ghana EXIM Bank, NAACP President Derrick Johnson gave poignant remarks as to the purpose of the Jamestown to Jamestown trip, reminding the group that the threat to exploit Black labor is still an unfortunate reality across the world, and the need to recognize the value and power of Black labor and consumerism.

    The group also took part in a variety of group tours in Accra and the surrounding area, visiting sites such as the home and museum of one of the founders of the NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois, the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Park, the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine, and the very first cocoa farm in Ghana, the Tetteh Quarshe Memorial Cocoa Far

    ONLINE:https://www.naacp.org/ghana/

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    SU graduates 14 farmers from Ag Leadership Institute

    SU Ag Center holds Graduation Ceremony for 7th Small Farmer Ag Leadership Institute

    Fourteen small farmers from seven states received certificates of completion during a graduation ceremony for Cohort VII of the SU Ag Center’s Regional Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    The ceremony was held on Friday, August 16 in the Cotillion Ballroom of Southern University’s Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union.

    Fourteen participants from Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, Texas and Ohio graduated from the year-long course.

    Dawn Mellion Patin, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Extension and Outreach at the SU Ag Center, served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. During her presentation, Patin discussed how the leadership institute was developed and encouraged the graduates to help other small farmers.

    “We expect you to share what you have learned in conversations with aspiring small farmers,” said Patin. “We expect you to host field days, workshops, and pasture walks so others can see what you are doing,” she said.

    The Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute is designed to guides small, limited-resource and minority farmers through the process of becoming more competitive agricultural entrepreneurs.

    The overriding goal of the Institute is to promote small and family farm sustainability through enhanced business management skills, leadership development and the utilization of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services.

    The Cohort VII regional graduates of the Regional Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute are:
    Anthony Barwick, Ohio; Kay Bell, Texas; Keisha Cameron, Ga.; Mark Chandler, Va.; Debora Coleman, Miss.; Felton DeRouen, II, La.; Hilery “Tony” Gobert, Ga.; Royce Martin, Ala.; Lennora Pierrot, Ala.; Gregory Smith, La.; Brad Spencer, Miss.; Joy Womack, La.; Virgil Womack, La.; and Oliver Whitehead, Va.

    ONLINE: http://www.suagcenter.com/page/small-farmers.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

     

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    Blind DJ inspires BR, Shreveport music scene

    Alton Dalton was born visually impaired in Amite. He is the youngest child of Wilma Dalton who moved the family to Baton Rouge for her young son to attend the Louisiana School for the Blind.

    As a child, Alton Dalton displayed a natural talent for music. His favorite memory was going to the Ziegler Music Store on Florida Blvd. listening to bands practicing using stereo equipment. He learned to play the drums as a child and often was allowed to play in church. While at the Louisiana School of Music, Dalton was exposed to turn-tables by a blind DJ. He instantly took to learning the equipment and practicing his DJ skills.

    In 2004, Wilma Dalton moved her family to Shreveport. There, his DJ career took off.

    From 2004 – 2013, he became a popular DJ known as “DJ K-Rock”. He began receiving DJ gigs at local clubs, birthday parties, and also worked for a short time as an online DJ for KHAM Radio. Word around town spread about an outstanding DJ who happens to be blind. “At first, people did not believe I was really blind. They would say, ‘no way someone blind could be doing that’,” he said.

    KHAM Radio's Alvin "DJ K-Rock" Dalton with David Banner at theShreveport Convention Center March 18, 2017

    KHAM Radio’s Alton “DJ K-Rock” Dalton with David Banner at the Shreveport Convention Center March 18, 2017

    He has been a featured DJ at Club Voodoo, Club Chicago, Coco’ Pellis, Disco 9000, Club Status, Mr. Bees, Club Lacy’s, Player’s Club, Club Navels, and Brickhouse–all in Shreveport. Veteran Radio Host and DJ Marvin “DJ Jabba Jaws” Williams on 102.1 KDKS Radio Station speaks highly of Dalton’s DJ skills and how he could control an audience.

    After 2013, the DJ business began to decrease and Dalton decided to relocate Baton Rouge to be close to his mother while still traveling to Shreveport for DJ gigs. Dalton usually spends his days monitoring the health and welfare of his mother, while being an active member of the Way of Holiness Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    Earlier this year, he decided to put serious efforts into advertising his DJ Services in Baton Rouge. He reached out to several local night clubs about being a DJ but no one gave him serious consideration. He could not help to think that perhaps his disability was causing club owners to shy away from him.

    “I am not sure if they do not believe I can do it or just do not want to give me the opportunity to prove I can DJ,” he said. Not to be deterred, Dalton has taken a grassroots approach to promoting his DJ services. He has offered to DJ local birthday parties as a way of getting his name out in the Baton Rouge community. Alvin is determined to show inspire others that although you have a disability you can accomplish great things if you do not give up.

     

    Submitted by Laurence Williams

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    Keeping finances fresh throughout the year

    (Family Features) For many Americans, reaching and maintaining financial stability is a goal that tops their checklists. However, the strategies necessary for achieving that goal can quickly fall by the wayside.

    Consider these tips from Bank of America Credit Cards Executive Jason Gaughan that you can put in place to help keep your finances in check throughout the year.

    Make Financial Goals More Attainable

    The key to achieving financial goals is to make them measurable. Try to focus on achievable outcomes that slowly push you in the right direction financially. For example, if you are planning to make a large purchase, give yourself a specific, short-term goal like saving $50 from a paycheck so you can effectively measure your progress and build toward your purchase over time.

    Redeeming your credit card rewards wisely can also help you more seamlessly reach your financial goals. Some cards allow you to redeem cash rewards directly into a checking or savings account or to apply to your credit card balance. In some cases, rewards can also be applied into longer-term investments like 529 accounts for college savings or a retirement fund, letting your everyday spending help fuel your future goals.

    “Earning cash back on everyday purchases can provide extra funds to invest, splurge on a family vacation or put a down payment on a new car,” Gaughan said. “Whatever your financial goals are, a rewards card can help you get closer to achieving them.”

    Reduce the Number of Credit Cards in Your Wallet

    A Bank of America survey found 52% of Americans weigh down their wallets with multiple cards to earn rewards across different categories. By choosing a flexible credit card that allows you to earn benefits across various categories, you can consolidate and eliminate the need to juggle a variety of rewards cards.

    One flexible card option is the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card, which allows you to choose from one of six categories – gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement – to earn 3% cash back on purchases each month along with 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, up to $2,500 each quarter. Cardholders also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cards such as this reward all your purchases, especially those in the places where you spend most frequently so you can maximize your cash back.

    Cut Unnecessary Spending and Tackle Debts

    If you’re dreaming of financial freedom, a budget is one of the first steps toward getting there. Start by reviewing bank and credit card statements from at least the past three months to gain a better understanding of your spending habits and identify areas you could improve. While cutting back on non-essentials is typically a good place to start, this is also an opportunity to identify areas you can get better deals by switching providers for things like car or homeowner’s insurance as well as your cellphone, internet and other home services.

    Once you’ve addressed your expenses, consider tackling your debts. To determine which debts need to be prioritized, look at the interest rates and principal costs of each and focus on paying off debts with higher interest rates first. Reducing your debt should take priority over most savings goals.

    Discover New Ways to be Rewarded

    You may be eligible to enroll in a banking rewards program like Bank of America Preferred Rewards, which gives members access to a variety of everyday banking benefits including credit card rewards bonuses on eligible cards from 25-75%, home and auto loan discounts, free stock trades, ATM fee waivers and more.

    Layering your banking rewards program together with airline, hotel, credit card, dining and shopping rewards programs can help boost your financial rewards earnings to the highest level.

    Use Digital Banking Tools to Gain Full Visibility Into Your Finances

    When using a combination of multiple rewards and savings strategies, it can be hard to keep track of where and how much you’re earning and saving at a given time.

    Your bank may offer digital tools that provide assistance and resources to simplify your banking experience. For example, some digital dashboards allow cardholders to track their rewards earnings and redemptions, and discover additional benefits. Those using their bank’s application on their computer or phone can typically manage their rewards, deals and benefits across multiple rewards programs.

    Keep Tabs on Your Credit Reports and Scores

    A numeric representation of your credit, your credit score signifies to lenders what kind of borrower you are. Because it influences everything from mortgage and auto loan rates to credit card approvals, keeping an eye on where you stand can be important in achieving your financial goals. It’s smart to periodically check your credit score to make sure everything is accurate and know where you stand. You can check your score through the major credit bureaus, and some credit card issuers even allow you to view your score for free through online or mobile banking.

    The key to keeping your finances fresh is to create a simple strategy that allows you to push toward your financial goals all year long. By consolidating your wallet, creating realistic goals and budgeting, you can set yourself up for financial success. Find more solutions at BankofAmerica.com.

    Earn Rewards Where You Spend Most

    According to the spending analysis of more than 50 million Bank of America credit and debit cardholders, the average cardholder spent $3,174 on groceries, $2,430 on dining, $2,319 on travel and $1,627 on gas last year.

    “Regardless of whether your spending priorities change frequently or remain steady, you should consider a flexible card that allows you to earn cash back across multiple categories that align with your spending patterns,” Gaughan said.

    Photo courtesy of Getty Images

     

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    Southern University plants first seeds in medical marijuana venture

     Southern University this week officially planted its first seeds in its unprecedented partnership to supply medicinal marijuana for patients in Louisiana. Present were representatives from the Southern University System administration, Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and Southern product vendor Ilera Holistic Healthcare.

    “This has been a historic week for the university,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president-chancellor. “As one of two institutions in the state and the only historically black university in the nation to be actively involved in the medicinal marijuana industry, Southern looks forward to working with our vendor to provide quality medication for the people of this great state. This will not only make yet another mark in how we excel in STEM disciplines but also how we greatly contribute to our communities.”

    Southern received final clearance from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry on Monday, July 22, after a final walkthrough of the facility located in Baker. Planting began on Tuesday, July 23.

    “We remain on target with all of our benchmarks,” said Janana Snowden, lead researcher and director of Southern’s Institute for Medicinal Plants. “We look forward to having products to the market soon.”

    Snowden, who is also an agriculture professor, said opportunities are on the horizon in academic, research, and other disciplines at Southern.

    The University is slated to receive more than $6 million over five years per its agreement with its vendor. Another beneficiary of the plan is the north Baton Rouge area, with the facility set to employ more than 40 people who will be responsible for growing, manufacturing and distributing pharmaceutical grade medicines from the cannabis plant.

    Read more »
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    Hundreds honor slain civil rights icon, museum founder remembered for living a life of purpose

    Hundreds of people including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, BatonRouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, other elected officials, community leaders, and even residents who barely knew Sadie Roberts-Joseph filled the pews at Living Faith Christian Center to say goodbye to a woman who was remembered for living a life of purpose.

     “What she has done has inspired me and all of us,” said Edwards.  “That’s why we’re all here.”

    Roberts-Joseph, the founder of the Baton Rouge African American History Museum formerly known as the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American History Museum, was found dead in the trunk of her car on July 12. She was 75.

    The mother and grandmother who was affectionately known as “Ms. Sadie” was also a civil rights icon who hosted the city’s Juneteenth celebration. She was known for her dedication to bringing peace and unity to the community.

    “She was a lady small in stature, but mighty in spirit,” the governor said.  “I hope everyone will continue telling Ms. Sadie’s story. Let us never forget what Ms. Sadie stood for – education, love, and community. She was a leader in this community.”

    Broome echoed those sentiments.

    “Sadie Roberts Joseph was a beacon of light in our community. She was the matriarch of our community,” said Mayor Broome.  “She lived a life of purpose. She was a woman on a mission.”

    People from all walks of life came to pay their final respects. Big spray flowers and a quilt that had been donated by a man in Arkansas flanked her wooden casket as her big family (she was one of 12 siblings) and others looked on.

    Many who came barely knew her but admired her spirit and dedication.
    “I had met Ms. Sadie maybe one time, but I just felt like I needed to show my support,” said Patricia Francois.  “I liked what she was doing for people. She was trying to help everybody.”
    Roberts-Joseph also received several proclamations from the governor,  mayor, several state representatives, and U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond.
    Her nephews remembered their aunt as someone who was curious about life and asked a lot of questions. She was also the one in the family who didn’t have a lot of rhythm, they joked – someone who marched to the beat of her drum.
    “She lived a life offbeat, but on purpose,” said her nephew the Rev. Shalamar Armstrong.
    Community leaders promised to continue to support the efforts started by “Ms. Sadie.” They urged those in attendance to do the same.
    “Just don’t talk about what she stood for,” Broome said.  “Stand for what she stood for.”
    On July 16, Baton Rouge police arrested Ronn Bell, 38, Robert-Joseph’s tenant, and charged him with first-degree murder. They say Bell was $1, 200 behind on his rent.
    By Michelle McCalope
    Special to The Drum
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    From cotton fields to NASA: Southern alum and professor recounts working on Apollo 11 mission

    Growing up picking cotton in St. Joseph, Louisiana, Morgan Watson never in his wildest dreams envisioned that he, along with six other men, would become the first Black engineers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and participate in sending the first man to the moon.

    “It was a great feeling knowing that I would be in the number to help get the first man to the moon,” Watson said. “Our group was among the best and brightest engineers working on the (Apollo 11) mission.”

    During his administration, President John F. Kennedy pledged to the nation that before his tenure ended that man would successfully land on the moon and return back to Earth. Amid a divisive political climate where segregation reigned heavily below the Mason-Dixon line, a group of Black engineering students from Southern University in Baton Rouge was chosen to “break the ice” on a new initiative and become interns for one of the country’s prestigious organizations-NASA. The young men moved to Hunstville, Alabama, to work at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Watson worked on several missions, including the Saturn Rocket Missions where he worked testing rocket components.

    “We were treated professionally and assigned meaningful tasks,” said Watson, describing his work experience. “We couldn’t fail because we knew that we were paving a legacy. I, personally, didn’t want to fail because I knew where I would end up — back in the cotton field.”

    Beyond the integrated grounds of NASA, Watson and his fellow students were not free from the familiar treatment of the Jim Crow South. Watson recounts attending a Ray Charles concert where there was a “rope right down the middle between the white and Black attendees.” However, familial bonds were quick to form among the students as they went to church services and participated in other activities together. They also lived with other Black families who treated them like blood relatives.

    When the Apollo 11 mission commenced, Watson was tasked with testing engine components for the launch to ensure its viability. Being in a room with senior engineers didn’t intimidate him. In fact, he had an advantage academically with not only taking the first computer science course at Southern but he also continuously took additional courses at a local college. He even wrote his own coding programs used to complete his tasks.

    “After watching recent reports on the mission’s anniversary, it brings back memories of how important my work was and the impact it made,” Watson said. “Because I grew up picking cotton in Northeast Louisiana, it was hard to visualize that my life would take a dramatic turn once I entered college and started working for NASA.”

    After success with the mission and his exceptional work ethic, Watson graduated and was immediately hired to work for NASA to work on the thermodynamics of the Saturn V in New Orleans. In 1968, he returned to Southern to work as a faculty member in the engineering department. Upon retirement, he established an engineering consultancy firm where he assists local and state agencies on community projects. At the 2016 Founders’ Day ceremonies, Southern awarded Watson and his fellow classmates with the President’s Medal of Honor.

    As Watson reflects on the 50th anniversary of the mission, he is proud of his work and the opportunity granted to forge an unwavering legacy. He is indebted to his alma mater, Southern University, for affording him this opportunity and being a “bridge over troubled water” for Black students.

    By Jasmine D. Hunter
    Contributing Writer

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    Community honors historian, activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    For more than three decades, Sadie Roberts-Joseph was an exceptional force of civic and cultural life in Baton Rouge. Often called an activist, matriarch, and a ‘tireless advocate of peace,’ the 75-year-old  founder of the city’s African-American history museum was found dead in the trunk of a car on Friday, July 12, about 3 miles from her home. Police did not explain what led them to the car where they found her body.

    Investigators believe she was suffocated before her body was found. Within days, Baton Rouge Police arrested and charged a male tenant from one of Roberts-Joseph’s rent houses with her murder. He was allegedly $1,200 behind in his rent.

    “You stole light,” said her son Jason Roberts. “You stole a warm loving giving and caring woman and it wasn’t just for her family. She cared for the city. She cared for you. Her life should not have ended that way. She did not deserve that, but she would want forgiveness for you.” In 2001, Roberts-Joseph founded the Odell S. Williams Now & Then African American Museum, which features exhibits of African art and tells the stories of minority inventors. It also includes displays of historical artifacts from the civil rights era, including a 1963 bus used during the Baton Rouge boycotts.

    Leading up to this year’s Juneteenth Celebration, she’d begun rebranding the museum as the Baton Rouge African American History Museum, which some recognized as an astute move to market it as the city’s museum and to connect it to other Black museums in Southeast Louisiana.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph is the founder of the museum. Photo: Daniel Atkinson.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph is the founder of the museum. Photo: Daniel Atkinson.

    “She was one of the standout matriarchs of Baton Rouge,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, who knew and worked with Roberts-Joseph for 30 years. “We will make her legacy a priority because of what she gave so many here.” Roberts-Joseph was also the founder of the nonprofit organization Community Against Drugs and Violence, and she organized the state’s recognition of Juneteenth in Baton Rouge.

    Roberts-Joseph grew up in Woodville, Mississippi. Her family later moved to Baton Rouge, where she studied education and speech pathology. She consistently called for unity and togetherness, often explaining how the city and nation needed to heal from the legacy of slavery. “What my mother wanted in life came to fruition–ironically–in death,” said Angela R. Machen, Ph.D., “and that was inclusiveness, togetherness, and diversity.”

    Machen challenged the community to keep her mother’s legacy by living “a better life. Give a little more effort to make the whole better.” She said her mother was committed to community service and excellence, “Whatever you believe in, work hard in it. Give your dead-level best.”

    The family has created The Sadie Roberts-Joseph Memorial Fund at Hancock Whitney Bank and is hoping to raise funds that will go toward museum operations. The Southern University System Board of Supervisors presented a resolution to the family. The resolution outlined the commitment of Roberts Joseph to both her family and the city of Baton Rouge. These commitments included founding the museum. She was an alumna of Southern University.

    Baton Rouge's 2065 Plank Road is the site planned for a mural of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    Baton Rouge’s 2065 Plank Road is the site planned for a mural of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    “Our love for Sadie Roberts-Joseph will continue. We will demonstrate it in very tangible ways,” said Broome. For starts, the Mayor’s Youth Workforce Experience participants, led by The Walls Project and Build Baton Rouge, will paint a mural of the revered activist at 2065 Plank Road–the corner of Plank Road and Pawnee Street in North Baton Rouge. On Friday, July 20, LAMAR Corporation began erecting billboards around the city in memory of Roberts-Joseph.

     

     

     

     Lamar-Corporation-erects-this-bilboard-around-Baton-Rouge-in-memory-of-Sadie-Roberts-Joseph


    Lamar-Corporation-erects-this-bilboard-around-Baton-Rouge-in-memory-of-Sadie-Roberts-Joseph

    The community shares their memories and tributes:

    Gov. John bel Edwards: I am heartbroken and sickened by the disturbing death of Sadie Roberts-Joseph. @FirstLadyOfLA and I are praying for her family and the members of the Baton Rouge community who, like us, are struggling to understand this senseless act of violence. Many knew Sadie as the founder of Baton Rouge’s African-American History Museum and for her annual Juneteenth celebrations, but she was equally known for her kindness, vibrant spirit, and passion for promoting peace. Sadie was a storyteller, and I believe we have the responsibility of keeping those stories alive and working to, as she once said, “build a better state and a better nation.”

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome: In the midst of managing a major weather event in our parish, I was hit with some devastating news – the murder of a dear friend and a mother of the community- Sadie Roberts Joseph. I’ve deliberately waited to comment because of the level of love and respect I had for Sadie; and because it was such shocking news. She loved this city and its people. Her commitment to the cultural and educational fabric of our community is beyond description. The development of The Odell S. Williams African American Museum is a testament of her visionary and pioneering leadership. In the days to come, I look forward to offering a more comprehensive tribute.

    h8-Sadie-Roberts-Joseph-dead-trunk-baton-rouge-african-american-museum

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at the Odell S. Williams African American Museum

    State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle: My heart is empty… as I learned last night that Ms. Sadie Roberts Joseph was found murdered! This woman was amazing and loved her history. She never bothered anyone, just wanted to expand her African American Museum downtown, where she continually hosted the Juneteenth Celebration yearly. I loved working with her and am saddened by her death.

    Judge John Michael Guidry:  My friend Sadie Roberts-Joseph often had me as her Speaker for her Juneteenth Celebrations in South Baton Rouge or her Veterans Observance at Port Hudson. We bonded over 25 years ago when as a State Senator, I worked with the community group CADAV which she led in the Banks community. Her life was one of sacrificial service to others. She gave herself away so that God could use her. She reminded us of our history and has earned her place in the history of our community. Her death was tragic, but her life was a treasure. I choose to focus my thoughts not on how she died, but on how she lived. My condolences and prayers are with her family.

    State Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith: As I sit remembering my dear dear friend Sadie I know the tears I’ve shed do no more than help relieve my emotions. A lot of people knew or knew of Sadie but really didn’t know her. For those of us who did, who grew up in her time we knew a bit more.  Sadie’s death isn’t an opportunity for news sound bites without knowing her family or involving her family. I am disappointed. This is indeed a time for ALL who knew her and really want her legacy to be enshrined AND the perpetrators brought to justice to come together in unity. NO MAN IS AN ISLAND and we should be embracing her family and referring news outlets to them.  Some may not like this post but I respect her family and for as much time as she and I spent together dealing with the museum issues I could never politicize her death and there are others who feel as I do. I LOVED SADIE FOR WHO SHE WAS AND ADMIRED ALL SHE WAS TRYING TO DO FOR OUR COMMUNITY.  UNIFY FOR THE LOVE OF Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph!

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph from The Drum archives

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph from The Drum archives

    Donna Collins Lewis: My heart is aching. I have known Ms. Sadie for over 30 years. A wonderful, sweet and quiet soul. Soft-spoken with a passion for the community and African American History and Art. I pray for a quick resolution in bringing the person responsible to justice. I pray Gods strength and peace for her family and the many lives who are saddened by her death. May her legacy and work continue to live through the African American Museum and the many efforts she championed in the community. She leaves her footprint on the entire parish and far beyond.

    NAACP Baton Rouge Branch. We lost a Cultural Legend Yesterday!#RIP Sadie Roberts Joseph. From reviving Juneteenth, to the Culture preserved at Her Museum, she was a trendsetter and icon in this City.

    The King Center: ‪We mourn. Sadie Roberts-Joseph was the founder and curator of the Baton Rouge African-American Museum, which she started in 2001. She was a tireless advocate of peace.

    Baton Rouge Police Department: The Baton Rouge Police Department joins the community in mourning the loss of Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph. Ms. Sadie was a tireless advocate of peace in the community. We had opportunities to work with her on so many levels. From assisting with her bicycle give away at the African American Museum to working with the organization she started called CADAV. (Community Against Drugs and Violence) Ms. Sadie is a treasure to our community, she will be missed by BRPD and her loss will be felt in the community she served.

    California artist Nicholas Smith of Nikkolas Design shared this rendering of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    California artist Nicholas Smith of Nikkolas Design shared this rendering of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    Broderick Bagert: Shocked & saddened by the death of Ms. Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph. She founded the Now & Then Museum of African American History in Baton Rouge on a shoestring as part of her life-long project to teach Black history & civil rights. She was part of Together Baton Rouge from its earliest days. Ms. Sadie was a calm presence. And a fierce presence, in every fiber of her being. May she rest in peace. And may the rest of us live up to her legacy, STARTING by supporting her vision for the Then & Now Museum.

    Paula Johnson-Hutchinson: On this day, Ms. Sadie told me that writing books of our lives and culture ensures the sustainability of us and that we wouldn’t be forgotten. She also said that sharing knowledge and being true teachers of our children will provide a pathway that will long outlive us.

    LSU Office of Diversity: Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph founded the Baton Rouge African-American Museum which tells the stories of African-Americans in Louisiana throughout history from the cotton grown in the museum’s garden to artifacts like a 1953 bus from the year of the city’s public bus boycott protesting racial segregation. Ms. Roberts-Joseph gave away bicycles at the museum and started a community organization to fight drugs and violence. She was known as a quiet leader and tireless advocate of peace in the community. Our LSU family mourns her tragic loss.

    Res-Brother StanleyWe have come over a way that with tears has been watered. We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past, Till now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Judge Trudy White at the annual Kwanzaa celebration. Photo by David Modeste

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Judge Trudy White at the annual Kwanzaa celebration. Photo by David Modeste

    David Modeste: Much respect to Sister Sadie for her tireless efforts to uplift the community in every way she knew how. We especially appreciate her active contribution and participation in the Baton Rouge Kwanzaa Celebrations sponsored by Afrocentric Focus Group of Baton Rouge.

    Walter Geno McLaughlin: We’ve all posted about it and reacted to the news locally. And now we see the lens of national news outlets focused on the death of Miss Sadie. Fitting, yet unexpected. It’s strange how in death we seek to honor those who have done so much to uplift our community on a daily basis. But this video shows how she lived; with a smile on her face, a quiet force of nature, motivated by the need to narrate & curate our own stories. One of the last times I saw Miss Sadie, she was hopeful that with all the renewed energy towards investment in underserved neighborhoods, her little museum would not be forgotten and would receive the resources to make it sustainable. This woman did so much with so little. And like many others who do this work, probably never knew the full weight of her impact. It is why it’s important to clap for people while they are here, and give them the fuel to keep moving forward. I’m left to wonder who would do such a thing to someone we all loved, and at this tender age. There is speculation beyond the normal motives, and we must ask tough questions. But as we all prepared for the coming storm, I believe she was likely still helping people, not fully aware of the dangers, whatever they were. What I do know is that her funeral will be full of dashiki wearing brothers and sisters emulating the look she was synonymous for. Rest in Power Queen. We will take it from here.

    Niles B. Haymer: This morning I visited the African American Museum that was so loved by her and I could feel her spirit and presence throughout along with her love of displaying African American History in Baton Rouge. I got a chance to speak with Ms. Sadie this past February at a Black History Program sponsored by Councilwoman Erika Green where I promised Ms. Sadie that my kids would soon visit her museum for a photo op with her. My oldest son even wondered loudly why I’ve never taken him to the museum in front of Ms. Sadie. Of course I was embarrassed and gave him that look of “I’ll deal with you later.” Unbeknownst to my son, he was right, many families of all races should have supported this historic museum and still have time to do so. Sadly, that day never came for my kids, Ms. Sadie and that well-anticipated photo op. Violent crime in Baton Rouge is an unspeakable epidemic that’s stealing the soul of this City. I know that the candlelight vigil this evening will be well attended and I wanted to just take in her life’s work without disruption. Rep. C. Denise Marcelle has assisted the family in setting up the Sadie Roberts Joseph Memorial Fund at Hancock Whitney Bank. This is our chance to give to a worthy cause by keeping this museum open and well funded.#JusticeforSadie

    Councilwoman Erika Green: Today, I speak Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph’s name! Though her life was taken by a heartless person in this city yesterday, I am comforted in remembering the community and the African-American history she carried in her soul. She loved and told the story of our people.

    Sketch of Sadie Roberts Joseph by Antoine GHOST Mitchell. 225.933.7090. @the_art_alchemist  AntoineGHOST.  Facebook: PoeArtry Creative Movement, LLC

    Sketch of Sadie Roberts Joseph by Antoine GHOST Mitchell. 225.933.7090. @the_art_alchemist AntoineGHOST.
    Facebook: PoeArtry Creative Movement, LLC

    Shenena Armstrong Merchant: Aunty Sadie was a light to the Armstrong family, she taught me through her actions how to smile through it. So in spite of my tears, I’m smiling because her legacy lives on; bigger, stronger, and more loving.

    Jeremy L. Blunt: My heart mourns today at the loss of such a pillar of our community. I met Mrs. Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph as a teenager and can still remember our conversations where she encouraged me to keep striving for others. She told me that one day, I too would be one of those on her wall. We have to not just seek justice for her but seek betterment in our community by how we treat one another. Love is a universal language that does not discriminate. Remember what she lived for and carry that message on.

    Lloyd Benson II: Thank you, Queen, for always inspiring and encouraging us to learn, respect, and appreciate our heritage.

    Sadie Roberts Joseph. Photo by Jason Shi Roberts

    Sadie Roberts Joseph. Photo by Jason Shi Robert

    Tiffany Littlejohn: My Aunt Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph always wanted to be famous. Her story is breaking twitter, being shared by CNN, CBS, ABC, ESSENCE magazine, BET, Instagram, US News, New York Times, Perez Hilton, New York Daily News, and the list goes on and on… TAKE YOUR PLACE QUEEN, TAKE YOUR PLACE.

    LaNeir Roberts: Aunt Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph was beautiful, smart, truly a phenomenal woman, and loved the Lord. I will never forget our Christmas light adventure. Never saw the Christmas lights but we managed to find the railroad tracks (lol). When we asked to listen to the radio Aunt Sadie turns it to the politics station; and we expressed to her that we wanted to listen to rap music… she started banging on the steering wheel lol. Aunt Sadie was definitely a character but she was also an educator and loved by so many. I still can’t believe she’s gone. Please please please continue to pray for my family as we support each other through this difficult time. Rest in paradise Auntie, until we meet again.

    Quentin Anthony Anderson Sr.: So, it was great to see everyone at Ms. Sadie’s vigil last night. But many of y’all admitted that it was the first time you had ever stepped foot on the campus of that museum. That’s fine, a lot of people hadn’t and it speaks volumes to how big of an impact Ms. Sadie left on Baton Rouge that so many people were touched by her and hadn’t even see her in her purest element as a historian and curator. But that museum is our history, Black Baton Rouge. And it’s her legacy. If you were willing to come out in the heat and endure an entire church service and 4 closing prayers for Ms. Sadie yesterday, the least you can do is support the museum-going forward. Visit the museum. Take your kids. Volunteer (Ms. Sadie really wanted to maintain those column murals and the maps on the ground, hint hint). Donate monthly to keep the museum open. Sharon Weston Broome, designate the museum as a local historical landmark and protect it from greedy developers. We all have a part we can play as a community. As my friend Myra Richardson says, make this a movement, not a moment. Make this important to you beyond just today, beyond it trending on your favorite timeline. If you truly care about Ms. Sadie and her legacy, let’s protect and preserve it by supporting her crown jewel.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph speaks during the 2019 Juneteenth event.Photo by Yulani Semien

    Myra Richardson:Last summer, Byron Washington and Ms. Sadie asked me work with the museum because she said she needed some “youthful energy”. I’m eternally grateful for both of those relationships. However, one of the things that struck me was when she told me the Museum was an extension of her. Every piece collected in that museum passed through her delicate fingers, every tour was different as she would recount how she got a different artifact. I thought I was an intense person but spend a few days a week on a hot bus with that women and she’ll learn you a thing or two. She made me read endlessly but she talked to me more about how important oral history is and passing down stories. She was a walking book and just wanted to share the museum with the world. She dreamed of renovating the building and connecting it to the building behind it, even thought of renaming it once. The last piece of literature she had me read was about Oscar Dunn. In 1868, Dunn became the first elected Black lieutenant governor of a U.S. state. His sentiments were written during reconstruction hailing from the great State of Louisiana but Ms. Sadie wanted me to draw parallels that he was essentially asking for the same thing 151 years ago that we’re asking for today. She viewed knowledge of history as an equalizer, she wanted me and youth across Louisiana to have access to that museum purely because knowledge is more than power … it’s a labor of love. That museum is Ms.Sadie, that museum is more than a legacy … it’s a living breathing organism birthed from her dreams, travels, relationships and love for all of us. That museum is my chief priority and should be yours as well.

    Byron Washington: Many people will rightly so build memorials and vigils. I think the best way to Honor Sadie is to honor her legacy. Honor what she put her heart and soul in. Donate, find funding sources, and promote the museum. Make it so the doors will never close and we will never lose its memory. Learn your local history and embrace your local culture. It is unique and should be celebrated from the mountain tops.  So instead of buying a bunch of flowers, although you certainly are within you right and in many cases should let’s put that money into the facility. Let’s put our energy into the grants. Let’s put our focus into promotion.

    Stephanie Anthony She was a fellow worker in the vineyard, a kind, sweet lady I can’t wrap my mind around what our city has become capable of these days. What a great loss. Prayers for her family.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at mic

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at mic

    Johnny Anderson: The recent murder of my dear and sweet 75-year-old friend Sadie Roberts-Joseph has greatly disturbed me, personally, and Baton Rouge, collectively!! I have so many questions but, I know my friend, Baton Rouge Chief of Police Murphy Paul will do his all to find and appropriately charge the person or persons who committed such a horrific crime!! What is on the mind(s) of anybody to kill a 75-year-old Christian, mother, grandmother, humanitarian, community Activist, human and civil rights activist, African-American historian and protector of the culture, lover of arts, fighter for the people’s cause…! Not only kill her but, stuff her in the trunk of a car!!?  So many times, when I was in government, at the state or federal level, Sadie had no problem making her way there to my office and express her opinion on issues or to advocate for help for the least! I never knew her children, grandchildren or relatives because she never came asking for help for them, it was always about helping others! One of my more recent memories of her was she coming to my office to express concerns with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) where she had taken upstate property for her Museum expansion, painting African-American heroes on State post and was NOT moving it!  Then on another occasion to have me as her guest speaker at the Museum! I was so hot that day, looks like it was 90+ degrees but, she thought that my removing my jacket, on the OUTSIDE, where I was speaking, would lower the dignity of her activity/event…and I was crazy enough to listen to her and kept my coat though they got a shorter version of my speech!! She was always soft-spoken but, very forcefully about her position, that was not easily change! Sadie had a small voice but, strong convictions about her causes! She hardly shouted at anyone but, she never stop coming to the “gate” to help others! She often reminded me of the woman in the Bible that came night and day to “bother” the one in authority until she ultimately got what she wanted!! Sounds familiar LA DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson and Attorney Joshua G. Hollins?!  Sadie Roberts-Joseph was persistent! She knew how to ask you for financial support for the Annual Juneteenth Celebration without ever asking you for a penny,  which by the way, should now be appropriately entitled the “Sadie Roberts-Joseph Juneteenth Celebration!” I want her murderer(s) to be brought to justice!! Did they even know what this women embodied…who she was…what she meant…who she fought for…her commitment…her love…did they know?!!! Rest well my friend…you wrought well while here!!

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

    READ MORE:

    • Sadie Roberts-Joseph on Wikipedia:20190717_091734_resized https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadie_Roberts-Joseph
    • BRPROUD. Sadie Roberts-Joseph impacted the lives of several in her community https://www.brproud.com/news/local-news/sadie-roberts-joseph-impacted-the-lives-of-several-in-her-community/
    • CNN: Sadie Roberts-Joseph exuded a ‘quiet power’ as she enriched her community. https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/us/sadie-roberts-joseph-profile/index.html
    • Smithsonian Magazine: Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Slain Activist, Showed How Museums Can Raise Up Their Communities
    • ABC News: African American museum founder discovered dead in car trunk 
    • CNN: Baton Rouge police chief is ‘very confident’ they will make arrest
    • Washington Post: Activist who spotlighted African American history found dead in trunk of car, police say
    • ESSENCE: Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Founder Of Baton Rouge’s African American History Museum, Found Dead
    • NPR: Founder Of African American History Museum Discovered Dead In Car Trunk
    • VIBE: Suspect Arrested For Death Of Activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph
    • Big Easy Magazine: African American Museum Founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph Found Dead in Car Trunk
    • The Insider: A beloved Baton Rouge activist and founder of African American Museum discovered dead in the trunk of her car
    • Democracy Now: Historian and Civil Rights Activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph Found Killed https://www.democracynow.org/2019/7/16/headlines/historian_and_civil_rights_activist_sadie_roberts_joseph_found_killed
    • Teen Vogue: Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Activist and Museum Founder, Is Remembered by Friends and Family After She Was Found Killed. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/sadie-roberts-joseph-activist-museum-founder-remembered-by-friends-family-murdered
    • WTOC. Family of Sadie Roberts-Joseph mourns activist’s death. https://www.wtoc.com/2019/07/17/family-sadie-roberts-joseph-mourns-activists-death/
    • USA TODAY. Baton Rouge mourns after beloved activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph found dead in trunk of a car. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/07/15/baton-rouge-mourns-death-sadie-roberts-joseph-autopsy/1733992001/
    • THE ADVOCATE. Our Views: Sadie Roberts-Joseph’s grace should live on. https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/opinion/our_views/article_5a05cc9a-a805-11e9-8fb0-ff04c0cecf02.html?fbclid=IwAR05C0L86YY5Jc26WOyfWriCCnF3ivVQWKbLXyc5ozv5RFmsRiWjfyD53HU

    Share your memories and photos of Sadie Roberts-Joseph. Email news at thedrumnewspaper dot info, comment below.

    Read more »
  • ,

    ‘I became a FarmHer by default’

    A young pioneer in Internet radio, Nicolette “Missy” Gordon started MissyRadio.com in 2011, trending through an online business model that had only surfaced on the national scene.  The path made sense for a 20-something broadcast journalist who’d been “on the air” with Citadel Broadcasting’s WEMX-FM Max 94.1 for years. From there, she went on the graduate studies only to return to her alma mater as an area youth agent at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

    But it was a memory of a conversation she had with her grandfather, Robert Pope, that gives her a “mission” today.

    “When I told him I was going back to school, he asked me ‘Why are you doing that? I’ve given you everything you need,” she said.

    And he had.

    Grandpa Pope and his wife, Ora, left 128-acre farm in Greensburg, La., to a family of seven granddaughters with Nicolette being the one to pick up their legacy and return to farming.

    “I became a FarmHer by default,” she often jokes, “but in all actuality, it was destined to happen.” The third-generation farmer has pulled her talents and skills in youth development, small business management, community organizing, and nontraditional teaching to develop one of her largest personal projects: managing the family farm which includes livestock pasture and woodlands.

    “My family has been farming for centuries, I have a sharecropping document from my great-great grandpa,” she said.

    Her ultimate goal is to make sure that nobody in my community is hungry, and that our youth never forget what self-sustainability really looks like, she said. “As an assistant area agent, working with youth is 90 percent of my appointment. It’s been quite amazing to see the many youth that are still interested in agriculture.

    “I have noticed that urban farming is has taken on a life of its own, and it’s a wonderful thing. It’s one of the easiest ways that we can eradicate food deserts in inner cities such as Baton Rouge and New Orleans,” she said.

    However, she believes we’ve become too far removed from self-sustainability. “I can remember, as a child, we shelled our beans for dinner at Big Momma house…At eight years old, I knew how to plant, harvest, and shell speckled butter beans and crowder peas.”

    “My grandfather would always talk to me about preserving his legacy,” said Gordon. She began learning the business management side of farming and in 2018 she was selected to participate in the Southern University Ag Center’s Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute. She is a certified master gardener with a certificate in farm risk management. Missyradio

    Now, she is known in Ag circles as FarmHer Missy.

    What’s your mission/goal with your land? Basically, my mission is to pick-up where my grandfather left off but developing an Ag Enterprise.

    How much time are you currently spending in agriculture? I like to think every day is a teachable moment in agriculture. Agriculture is literally tied back to everything that we do, be it the workplace or at home. In the near future, we will open our farm for farm demo, and professional development opportunities.

    Who’s farming with you now? It’s definitely a family affair! My uncle, Robyn Pope, is a very important component of our farming operation because he knows every detail about our farm.

    Why are you farming when so many people are leaving agriculture and farming because of the labor and low wage? Farming is fulfilling, therapeutic, and it keeps me humbly connected to my roots. It is so important to never forget that farming was the only way of life for many of our families in rural America. So in essence, it can never be primarily about earning a wage for me.  This is the preservation of my families legacy for me, and there’s no amount of money that can ever top that… I love it! Many of the Baby Boomers will say, “Farming is hard work!” My reply is always, “Somebody gotta do it!”

    By Candace J Semien
    Jozef Syndicater reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

    ~~~~~~~~~~
    This feature, ‘Pensiri: A Talk with..,’ is a fascinating spotlight using narrative interviews and quick peeks into the interesting and unique lives of “average” human beings. From their spontaneous adventures, triumphs after tragedies, comical failures, and even the oddities of their personality, everybody has a story and every life has meaning. Enjoy the stories they share with Jozef Syndicate writers.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Following a residency with Jacksonville Symphony, Courtney Bryan takes her music to Rome

    Composer and pianist Courtney Bryan, Ph.D., has been awarded a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. She was awarded the esteemed Rome Prize for music composition in April. Bryan teaches in the School of Liberal Arts’ Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University in New Orleans. She recently completed a two-year residency with the Jacksonville Symphony in Florida, where she was the Mary Carr Patton Composer in Residence. Her work incorporates jazz, experimental music, gospel, classical, and R&B to bridge “the line between the sacred and the secular,” she said.

    Bryan explores historical themes and political issues in her art.

    While in Rome, she will be working on an opera, musicals, and a special melodrama titled “Caracalla: Inner Monologue of an Emperor”. Out of 982 applications nationwide, independent juries selected 30 American and six Italian artists and scholars–including Bryan– as this year’s winners, each of which receives a stipend, workspace, and room and board on the Academy’s campus in Rome. Last year, she won the 2018 Herb Alpert award which is given annually to five risk-taking mid-career artists.

    According to Tulane University, one judge of the Herb Alpert award wrote, “We value your breadth, the ways you gather and create communities, and your creation of a new kind of cosmopolitan classical music imbued with fierce urgency of the moment and a real story to tell. We appreciate your concern for and commitment to spirit, social justice, and shifting power dynamics and we celebrate your profound connection to the human voice. We perceive that you are on a powerful journey and as listeners, we’re lucky enough to be on it with you.”

     

     

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Seed to Stomach: Grow Baton Rouge’s Food Cubes, other innovations tackle hunger

    For organizers and volunteers of Grow Baton Rouge, the fight against food deserts in North Baton Rouge is beyond the “last mile” of getting fruits and vegetables to the community.

    58019545_326126961404095_6792851757740326912_n

    Produce on the Fresh Cube

    “We are committed to resolving this major problem, not only through our gardens, urban farms, and mobile markets but through an upcoming wave of innovative efforts and initiatives that will definitely have a great positive impact of NBR and the city as a whole,”said Jasiri Basel, executive director of THE CEO MIND Foundation.

    Innovative has been the perfect word to describe the ongoing presence of THE CEO MIND Foundation and its Grow Baton Rouge throughout the city. Since 2017, the group has established 11 gardens and two urban farms, launched three “Fresh Cube” mobile market vehicles, and a bus called “The Desert Destroyer.”

    It also houses science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics initiatives and programs ranging from a mobile innovation lab called “The Transformer” and Grill & Connect to a high-tech Youth Empowerment Zone at the MLK Community Center on Gus Young Ave. They also host Girls EmPOWERed, Womanhood 101, and Manhood 101 forums.

    The Transformer

    The Transformer

    Through the Grow Baton Rouge initiative, the foundation expands its mission into agriculture by providing seeds, launching community gardens in neighborhoods around the city of Baton Rouge, and giving 300 residents the knowledge and tools to begin growing at home.

    According to Basel, Grow Baton Rouge has a model that encompasses the full supply chain and logistics that involves area farmers, businesses, ag specialists, and certified growers–for starters.

    The latest Fresh Cube designed by THE CEO MIND Foundation for Grow Baton Rouge

    The latest Fresh Cube designed by THE CEO MIND Foundation for Grow Baton Rouge

    “It’s critical for communities to be able to feed themselves through sustainable farming. It not only aids overall but it’s critical for health and wellness. North Baton Rouge contains many miles, areas, and neighborhoods with food deserts and swamps,” said Basel.

    “We believe that as long as a community has land to grow food, that no one deserves to or should go hungry,” he said.

    Grow Baton Rouge hosts Market Days weekly at different locations. Visit the website, www.growbatonrouge.com, for times and locations.

    ONLINE: http://growbatonrouge.com
    www.THECEOMINDFoundation.org
    By Candace J. Semien
    @JozefSyndicate

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  • ,,,,

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

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

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

    first pic

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Mada McDonald
    Community Writer

    Photographs by Joseph London
    A Family Blessing

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  • ,,

    Whitney Plantation: A tour of truth appropriate for Juneteenth

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

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

    Antoinette Harrell

    Antoinette Harrell

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

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

    Here are the children’s thoughts:

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

    —Yulani, 11

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

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

    - Condoleezza, 13

    web whitney chains

     

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

    - Collin, 14

    ONLINE: WhitneyPlantation.com

     By Cora Lester
    The Drum Managing Editor

    Read more with The Drum

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    To Dad, With Love

    Gift ideas for a fantastic Father’s Day

    Dads can be notorious as the hardest family members to shop for, but come Father’s Day, there’s little doubt you’ll need a gift that shows dad just how much he means.

    Truth be told, your company is probably all dad really needs, but you can help deliver a little something he wants with these diverse ideas for all different kinds of dads. Remember, the secret to great gifting is giving something that shows you know and care about his personal interests.

    Find more ideas for all your gifting occasions at eLivingToday.com.

    A Sizzling Gift14734_B_UF
    Gift dad everything he needs to throw an impressive cookout any time he wants with the Father’s Day Gift Package from Omaha Steaks. He’ll be set for summer barbecues with steaks and more on-hand, including two tender filet mignons; two rich and indulgent ribeyes; four robust, juicy burgers and more. The package also includes German Chocolate Cake for a sweet way to end a backyard meal. Find more information and gift packages for dad at omahasteaks.com.

     

     

    Keep Him Connected14734_C_UF
    For the dad who’s always tuned in, there’s a way to provide him with entertainment and connectivity while protecting his hearing all at once. Whether he’s using a power saw or mowing the day away, dad can stream his favorite music with the 3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector with Bluetooth wireless technology to make his day both enjoyable and comfortable. With built-in features like high-fidelity audio, comfortable ear cushions and a low-pressure headband, he can even make and take phone calls without missing a beat. Find more information at 3M.com/WorkTunes. (Content courtesy of 3M)

    Subscribe to Style14734_D_UF
    Keep dad in style with all the latest looks with a clothing subscription. You can choose from services that coordinate complete outfits, options for accessories only or providers that select a handful of garments for each shipment. It’s a simple solution for a dad who takes pride in his appearance but never has time to shop or dislikes the shopping experience itself. Pricing varies quite a bit; in some cases, dad will need to pay a styling fee while with other services he’ll pay only for the items he keeps.

    A Cut Above
    Practical tools can be the perfect gift, and a pocket knife is such a useful choice that it’s hard to go wrong. For a more sentimental approach, consider a knife with a laser-cut personal message, or go ultra-functional with a multi-tool design. Keep in mind that lesser quality blades may require more frequent sharpening, but they’ll generally do the job just as well as pricier models. Also be conscious of the weight and features like safety catches that may affect comfort and usability.

    Game for Golf
    An avid golfer never tires of golfing gear, so it’s usually a safe bet for gifting. If you’re knowledgeable enough about his preferences, you can always add a new club to his collection. However, there are plenty of other useful gifts a golfer can appreciate, from a sleeve of quality balls to a book about a legendary player. A new set of gloves can improve his grip (and his game) while a new hat or shirt can give him something he can sport on the course.

    By Family Features

     

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  • ,,,,,

    Residents urged to prepare for 2019 hurricane season

    The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1, 2019 lasting through November 30, 2019. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a “near-normal” 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (MOHSEP) urge the residents of East Baton Rouge Parish to plan ahead for the potential threat of hurricanes. Throughout the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Mayor Broome advises East Baton Rouge Parish citizens to, “Be Red Stick Ready by having a plan that will keep you and your family safe from any severe weather that may affect our area, stay informed, build a disaster supply kit, and use the Buddy System™.”

    2019 Hurricane Preparedness Tips:

    • Make a Family Communication Plan at www.brla.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5697/Family-Emergency-Communication-Plan?bidId=
    • Restock your emergency supply kit with the necessary items.
    • Make sure your home is prepared.
    • Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs.
    • Secure and clear all gutters.
    • Fuel your vehicles, generators, and gas cans. Consider purchasing a portable generator.
    • Use the BuddySystem™ to check on your neighbors, friends and family.
    • Check your insurance coverage.
    • Visit www.redstickready.com for more preparedness tips.

    For more information contact MOHSEP at  (225) 389-2100, follow @RedStickReady on Facebook and Twitter, and download the Red Stick Ready mobile application – free on Apple and Android devices by searching “Red Stick Ready”.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU students commemorating Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’ through study abroad program

    With this year being coined as the “Year of Return” by Ghana president Nana Akufo-Addo, many African Americans are planning to travel to the West African country to commemorate the 400th year since transatlantic slave trade began. Joining in the number of celebrities and other tourists will be a group of Southern University students and faculty.

    “I cannot think of a better way for our students to pay homage to the defiant and indomitable spirit of the ancestors and the legacy of strength, endurance, and self-love that we are called to build upon,” said Cynthia Bryant. “They will be able to fully engage in what I believe will surely be a memorable and transformative pilgrimage to the Motherland.”

    The Southern delegation is participating in the African Diaspora Studies in New Orleans and Ghana program, along with participants from University of Oregon and Xavier University. This four-week program will explore the transformative journey of Africans living in America. Focusing on the broad spectrum of human experience related to the African diaspora, the program will examine the relationship between Louisiana, where the program begins, and West Africa, where it will conclude.

    For the first part of the program, participants will spend 11 days in New Orleans, which was the first port of entry for many Africans enslaved in America. The itinerary includes visits to historical and cultural sites, many of which are still in use today, and course lectures.

    The second part of the course will be spent in Ghana, where participants will be completely immersed in the country’s culture while living with residents and going on excursions. Course lectures will continue to expand on the emotional, cultural, and socio-economic impact of forced migration and displacement of Africans in America.

    The program starts July 7 and runs until Aug. 1. Though participation in this study is funded through a partial grant, students welcome contributions to defray costs, including airfare, lodging, and fees associated with the trip to Accura, Ghana.

    For more information about the trip and to give donate, visit http://bit.ly/sughanatrip.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    PRIDE RESTORED: Jaguars dominant in 15-0 win

    After a 10-year hiatus, Southern University baseball claimed the program’s first Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament title since 2009 with a dominant 15-0 shutout of Alabama State Sunday afternoon at Wesley Barrow Stadium.
    Tyler LaPorte, who shared the league’s Player of the Year award with Alabama State’s Yasil Pagan, capped a phenomenal SWAC tournament with a 2 of 4 performance, which included three runs scored and a three-RBI home run in the top of the sixth inning.
    Southern pitcher Eli Finney made his second start of the tournament and baffled Hornet hitters from the start, pitching 8 and 1/3 innings, allowed no runs and scattered three hits. Finney fanned six hitters while the SWAC’s 2019 Relief Pitcher of the Year, Connor Whalen, entered in the bottom of the ninth to close the game. Whalen forced Alabama State shortstop Eriq White to groundout to Malik Blaise at short to ignite a post-championship dogpile that was 10-years in the making.
    Finney only allowed five Alabama State baserunner and Alabama State failed to land a runner in scoring position until shortstop Cristopher DeGuzman reached second base on a passed ball in the bottom of the eighth.
    Centerfielder Javeyan Williams and second baseman Johnny Johnson led Southern with four hits each and combined to score five runs and plate four RBIs. Catcher Bobby Johnson finished 3 of 5 at the plate and hit a two-run blast over the left field wall to spark Southern’s offensive onslaught.
    The Jaguars belted out 16 hits and left absolutely no doubt who wanted the championship more.
    Southern landed the first blow thanks to an RBI double by Ashanti Wheatley that scored Tyler LaPorte, who drew a leadoff walk. However, the Hornets ended the damage there as Hunter David flied out and Wheatley was tagged out at third following the ensuing throw-in.
    After a 1-2-3 inning, the Jaguars added to the lead with Johnson’s two-run blast to lead 3-0. The sides traded scoreless innings until the top of the fifth, where the Jaguars added to their lead. There, Coby Taylor was hit by a pitch and Javeyan Williams laid down a bunt, beating the tag at first before LaPorte dropped a flare to right for a two-run triple.
    Johnny Johnson scored LaPorte on a double down the left field line and stole third, scoring on an RBI sac fly by David. LaPorte later put the contest out of reach with a three-run shot over the left field wall and with the Hornets unable to figure out Southern starter Eli Finney, the Jaguars added five runs for insurance down the stretch, cruising to their first SWAC tournament championship since 2009.
    Southern will head to Chicago for a post-season exhibition tune-up in the inaugural HBCU World Series against North Carolina A&T Thursday afternoon before learning where they will play in NCAA Regional on May 31.
    By Christopher K. Jones
    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Applications now available for the SU Ag Center’s Summer CLIMATE Program

    Applications are currently being accepted for the SU Ag Center’s Cultivating Leadership Innovation by Motivating Agricultural Talents through Education (CLIMATE) Program.

     CLIMATE is a two-year summer program for current high school juniors. The program will provide supplemental instruction and assist participants in qualifying for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship. The participants will also be given the opportunity to gain pre-collegiate work experience during a professional internship in their home town or a neighboring parish.

    During the first year of the program, participants will spend four weeks on the Southern University campus preparing for the ACT test and participating in educational courses and field trips.

    At the completion of the four weeks, the students will receive a $500 educational assistance award.

    Students will further their knowledge during the second year of the program by working for eight weeks in an agricultural related internship with either a state or local government agencies or community organizations. The returning participants will receive a $2,000 stipend after successfully completing the internship.

    Participation in CLIMATE is free of charge, however, only high school juniors will be accepted into the program.

    To apply, applicants must submit an application with an official transcript and a one and a half page double spaced essay which includes:

    • •An introduction of the applicant to include what he or she would like the selection committee to know about him/herself.
    • •The applicant’s definition of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.
    • •Why the applicant believes that Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences are important.
    • •The applicant’s goals and aspirations for the future.

     

    Additionally, applicants must have at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average and scored between a 14 and a 19 on the ACT.

    Applications are due May 20.

    To obtain an application or for additional information contact, Dr. Dawn Mellion-Patin, Vice Chancellor for Extension and Outreach, at 225-771-3532 or via email at dawn_mellion@suagcenter.com.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Private, online therapy could be best choice when help is needed

    From her virtual private practice in Baton Rouge, Shameka Mitchell Williams helps people who are overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. Her focus is singular: help them recover from pernicious experiences and toxic relationships. “I hold space for people who are hurt and confused to talk about what that relationship or marriage is really like without any judgment about how they should feel,” she says.

    A graduate of Louisiana State University and Washington University in St. Louis, Williams is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Louisiana and Texas. She says she believes in the importance of helping her clients understand how their thinking shapes their experience and also how they are influenced by societal systems.

    Williams, who is the owner of The Chrysalis Center, LLC, is one of 300 licensed therapists in Louisiana who offers online video counseling according to the Psychology Today database. This Pensiri: A Talk with Shameka Mitchell Williams explores online video therapy, who can benefit from it, and why.

    As a therapist with more than a decade of experience in community-based programs, schools, psychiatric hospitals, and correctional facilities, you’ve seen mental health professionals expand their services from in-person counseling to teletherapy and now to  online video therapy. How should we be defining therapy and who can practice or treat people with therapeutic needs?
    SW: Therapy is a specialized, systematic, formal interaction between a mental health professional and a client (an individual, couple, family, or group) during which a therapeutic relationship is established to help resolve symptoms of mental disorder, psychosocial stress, relationship problems, and/or difficulties coping in the social environment. It is also to help the client achieve specified goals for well-being. The term “therapy” is used interchangeably with counseling. While many therapists provide both therapy and counseling, not every counselor is qualified to provide therapy. The term “counselor” is often applied to highly trained mental health, education, or legal professionals, but it is also used for volunteers with minimal training and for paid workers who provide guidance and structure in group settings (as in camp and dorm hall counselors).

    Shameka Williams

    Shameka Williams

    Is virtual or online therapy a growing service among practitioners? When did it begin?
    SW: Online therapy is definitely a growing service. It may have first begun taking shape as early as the 1960s, and it began growing as most people know it today in the early 2000s. Earlier names for it included teletherapy and telemental health care since clinicians started offering sessions by telephone before beginning to utilize email, chats, and video. Today, many clinicians offer a mix of in-person and online services, and some offer online services exclusively. There even exists an International Society for Mental Health Online, which formed in 1997.

    How can we tell if we need or could benefit from therapy? (in general)
    SW: If you are experiencing distressing changes in your normal mood or functioning that are present more days than not for a period of at least two weeks, you may want to consider consulting with a professional. It can be good to start with talking to a medical professional to rule out any physiological reasons for the changes.

    Should there be some type of diagnosis or referral to seek therapy?
    SW: You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental disorder to benefit from therapy. If you are simply feeling overwhelmed with what life is throwing at you, and your usual coping mechanisms are not working, you may benefit from having a therapist to help you identify and remove obstacles that are blocking the progress you’d like to make. An obstacle could be as simple as a negative thinking pattern that you do not recognize on your own.

    What are signs that a person may need therapy?
    SW: You could benefit from therapy if you find yourself.

      • Eating more or less than usual
      • Sleeping more or less than usual
      • Having unusual difficulty concentrating or focusing
      • Experiencing intrusive thoughts that are distressing
      • Worrying or feeling nervous more than usual
      • Withdrawing or isolating yourself from family and friends

    Are there any specific conditions or needs that someone would have that would make them a good candidate for online therapy over in-house therapy?
    SW: People who suffer from mental health disorders that make going out in public difficult, such as agoraphobia

      • People with limited physical mobility and those who do not drive or who have limited access to transportation
      • People who live far away from their nearest mental health professionals
      • Stay-at-home mothers with young children who would rather not arrange childcare and other caregivers who cannot be away for long periods of time
      • People who need/want a provider who is credentialed in a specialty, such as an intensive trauma-focused treatment, energy psychology, or perinatal/postpartum mental health
      • People who would not seek in-person treatment due to fear of being recognized at/near a therapist’s office
      • What are the pros of online therapy?
        SW: Convenience, Efficacy, and Privacy. Research has found online therapy to be just as effective as traditional in-person therapy for many issues including depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

        What are the cons?
        SW: Online therapy is not appropriate for clients who are a danger to themselves or others (i.e., suicidal or homicidal) or for those whose mental health is seriously impaired as with psychosis, delusions, or uncontrolled mania. Some elements of nonverbal communication will be missed when the ​client and therapist can only see each other from the​ ​ cropped view of a screen. Confidentiality could become an issue if the therapist is not using HIPAA-secure software, sites, or apps or if clients are not careful with securing their own electronic devices. Some insurance companies do not cover online therapy.

        Williams admonishes anyone considering online video therapy to do additional research to make sure their potential therapist is qualified and licensed to provide the service they are seeking.

        By Candace J. Semien
        Jozef Syndicate reporter
        @jozefsyndicate

        ONLINE: https://thechrysalisctr.com
        PsychologyToday.com
        BetterHelp.com
        talkspace.com
        breakthrough.com

        Read more »
  • ,

    ‘I couldn’t protect her’

    A parent never thinks they would one day have to rescue their young daughter from a sex trafficker, but that’s exactly what Juanita Carruth, her husband, and cousins had to do.

    After searching several days for their daughter who was a habitual runaway, Carruth said they received a call from person who had “sold” her daughter to a local pimp and demanded more than $10,000 for the teen to be returned.

    “At that point I knew they were trafficking my daughter,” said Carruth who later found out that the caller was a well-known sex worker in New Orleans. For days the parents were taunted on social media and through text messages, until her father was able to retrieve her.

    “Even with a loving, two-parent home (and) even though we lived in the suburbs of New Orleans, my daughter became a victim. It made me felt like a failure that I could not protect her,” Carruth admitted.

    Today, Carruth shares her family’s story to help law enforcement officials and parents do a better job protecting children who can be preyed on and pulled into sex slavery.

    According to the national Human Trafficking Hotline, 71 cases of human trafficking have been reported in Louisiana since January. Although that number has the state ranking 22nd in the national, Louisiana received an A grade in enforcing human trafficking from Shared Hope International in 2018. (Read More juvenile human trafficking victims identified in Louisiana)

    With changes to policy, officials with the Governor’s Office said combating human trafficking is a more coordinated national, state, and local effort.

    Dana Hunter, Ph.D. Executive Director, Children’s Cabinet

    Dana Hunter, Ph.D. Executive Director, Children’s Cabinet

    “We are starting to win,” said Dana Hunter, Ph.D, executive director of the Children’s Cabinet. “We are becoming more aware and more educated. Our law enforcement, hospitals, parents, everyone. We are being vigilant.”

    For several weeks, The Drum staff has collected social media posts that alerted followers of suspicious activities.

    One post shared photos of a white van and truck that circled the neighborhood near children’s bus stops after changing license plates. Another shared links and photos believed to belong to recruiters and people who would track the whereabouts of potential victims.

    Family and friends of Nahendra Faye Davis, 35, of Baker, La., have shared photos, QR codes, and posted billboards in Baton Rouge to help find the missing mother of two.

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    Hunter said posts like these are helpful and should be shared with law enforcement. “We can not under-estimate the power of educating our families that these predators and situations are out there.”

    Families often have the fear that their missing loved ones will be ignored especially if the missing person is a runaway. But, with the knowledge that traffickers go after runaways, people who are homeless, and those showing low self-esteem or lack of love, law enforcement and social service providers are being trained to recognize the connection between trafficking and reports of missing persons and runaways.

    img_20190225_182258-e1554666427204img_20190227_181339-e1554666557327

    Last month, the FBI released the age progression photo of Keiosha Marie Felix who went missing, April 20, 2012 at the age of 15. At the time, she was identified as a runaway later reclassified as an endangered missing person. Finding Felix is a joint investigation by the FBI, New Orleans Division, Lafayette Resident Agency, the Louisiana State Police, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Department and the Duson Police Department. She is believed to be in the Baton Rouge area and her photo has appeared on coupon mailers in the city.

    Law enforcement are not treating these cases as just kidnappings or runaways. The change in federal law indicates that if sex is involved, it is human trafficking, Hunter said.

    Trafficking a minor under 21 years of age is prohibited without regard to whether force, fraud, or coercion was used to cause the minor to engage in commercial sex acts.

    “We are becoming more aware and educating everyone on human trafficking and putting resources into protecting and recovering victims,” she said.

    Her office recently secured a $1.2 million grant to combat human trafficking statewide. Louisiana is the seventh state to be granted the award.

    “We have leadership at the highest level (in Governor Edwards and State Senator Ronnie Johns) who makes this a priority. This is an issue Louisiana has been very progressive on,” said Hunter.

    The state is one of only 16 states that require human trafficking training that includes child trafficking. The grant will fund multi-agency training and will allow the state to staff an expert coordinator in each region for providers to centralize responses to these crimes.

    Sex traffickers can get up to 20 years in jail and be charged with federally and locally with crimes ranging from kidnapping to racketeering.images

    As of press time, 5,147 cases were reported to the national Human Trafficking Hotline so far this year. Last year, 8,759 human trafficking cases were reported. The goal is for cases to lead to arrests and convictions. “It is very difficult to convict predators. Oftentimes victims recant and witnesses won’t take a stand. Last year, there was only one conviction,” she said.

    As for Carruth, she said it is time for the community to take care of one another. “There is a trending behavior of people–especially kids–looking for a certain type of love to fit in that they are being so easily manipulated. In schools, the babies are recruiting babies. It’s an epidemic where girls are going missing every week. We all see it. Some of these girls and women are being tattooed and branded. It needs to be us taking care of us.”

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @JozefSyndicate

    Feature photo is by Michael Mims on Unsplash

    Read more »
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    They Beat the Odds

    Sometimes life just doesn’t seem to be fair.

    We start off as little children with big dreams of what we’re going to be when we grow up, all the things we’re going to own and all the places we’re going to go.

    At the time, a lot of our dreams are unreasonable but we’re too young to know it so just keep dreaming.

    Then we grow up more and somewhere along the line we realize our limitations and our dreams become more realistic.

    But then, especially if we’re aiming to be good people and do good things for others, hindrances and lessons from the school of hard knocks come along. We get the props knocked out from under us.

    Sometimes it’s circumstances beyond our control and sometimes it’s we ourselves getting in the way. Maybe bad decisions and wrong choices cause us to give up hope, give up trying.

    Recently I interviewed Ponchatoula’s successful businessman Larry Terry and was surprised to hear how young he was when he figured out what it would take to realize his dream.

    Usually when I ask high school students in sports what their plans are, I’m given a simple answer: “I’m going to play for the NFL.” Studying only enough to stay on the high school football team and I feel like crying. They don’t have a chance.

    But listen to the difference at what Larry Terry told me:

    “I knew as a little boy I wanted to play for the NBA and to accomplish that, there were certain things I had to do. So I set my goals.”

    (I couldn’t help but think at the age he was describing, I didn’t even know there wasan NBA!)

    He continued, “I knew I’d have to study and make good grades, stay out of trouble, and live with a basketball in my hands.”

    And that’s just what he did, making the honor roll all through school and college, breaking records in sports because he practiced any time he wasn’t studying, staying out of trouble by placing himself out of its reach.

    At the age of only 21 when he graduated from college, he was sought by the NBA and began his long-dreamed of career in professional basketball, first for big name teams in the United States then for another ten years on national teams of other countries around the world until he retired.

    . Terry is a  real success story.

    But what about others who’ve come along at different times, faced with different family situations, physical and emotional difficulties, racial prejudices, learning disabilities? Times when hindrances were more common than help.

    Well, the Ponchatoula Library, 380 North Fifth Street, is inviting you to come hear four panel members share their stories of how they overcame their seemingly impossible situations to finally realize their dreams.

    So, on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at 6:00 p.m., come take new heart and new encouragement and bring along your young people who feel like giving up.

    From 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., come listen to Eddie Ponds, Ella Badon, Sandra Bailey-Simmons and Kathryn Martin and learn how “They Beat the Odds!”

    By Kathryn Martin
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    COMMENTARY: Call it what it is: racism

    Talking about and understanding issues related race is tough for some people and some organizations. News organizations, like the Associated Press, recently changed the way it will address race, which has the potential to impact news outlets across the country. How do explain ongoing racial problems? What do we call the system that serves as the engine for the race-based train that has passed through every American epoch, including contemporary times?

    Call it what it is:  racism.

    Much has been written in scholarly works and in the popular press about how racial disparities in America have over the past several decades been increasingly explained in non-racial terms. Colorblind racism, new racism, and the New Jim Crow are all terms that seek to describe how the dominant racial group in America, en mass, changed expressions of anti-Black sentiments from overt to covert expressions due to social and political changes. However, recent events involving the targeting of symbols associated with the Jim Crow era point to the enduring power of racism.

    What is striking about the attacks on these symbols of an era gone by is that many of the perpetrators of these cowardly acts were not even alive during the Jim Crow era and undoubtedly never learned about it, especially from the perspective of Black people.

    How do we explain this white rage? Understanding racism for what it is and what it is not is an important step forward. Racism is a multilevel, multidimensional system of oppression whereby the dominant group scapegoats racial minority groups.

    When we understand racism for what it really is then we can see how, why, and in what ways misery is heaped upon Black people and other people of color. We see the manifestations of misery not only in the embers of 150-year-old churches in rural Louisiana, or on a legendary civil rights training ground, or in the glare of tiki torches, but also in persistent racial differences in wealth and access to a quality education.

    We can see clearly how race continues to matter in outcomes associated with interactions with the criminal justice system, including who lives and who dies, and which lives truly matter to whom, how—if at all.

    We can better understand why investments are disproportionately made in some areas, while others remain chronically underdeveloped. We can more easily comprehend why access to an emergency room and other health care routes is hard and adequate transportation systems and housing remains elusive.

    Let’s be clear. Racism is dangerous. Racism has been aptly described by many, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a cancer. Anyone who has the unfortunate experience of watching a loved one suffer through any type of cancer knows how the disease can take over, attacking the basic building blocks of the body.

    Racism in America is at once a fundamental and foundational building block of society and one of the greatest threats to itself. Much like many auto-immune diseases, it attacks itself.

    It is important that we understand racism for what it truly is. While functioning much like a disease, racism is not about biology.

    We must understand the myriad ways racism manifests in the lives of individuals, communities, groups, and in the nation as a whole.

    The nation can not afford to lull itself into a false sense of security with claims that the nation is not where it should be on matters about race, but the nation is not where it used to be. There is an abundance of evidence to the contrary.

    Let us agree not to disagree on this one. Racism is what it is. There’s no new racism. There’s no new Jim Crow.  There is just racism and the evidence of it is all around us.

    We should express the same degree of indignation at public policies and private practices that consistently place black people at a disadvantage in virtually every area of life as when historic symbols are attacked.

    Dismantling America’s racialized social system is no easy task but generations of Black people have slowly chipped away at it. We owe it to them, to ourselves, and to future generations to make our own marks however insurmountable the task may seem and irrespective of how bleak our pace of progress might seem.

    Lori Martin

    Lori Martin

     

    Lori Latrice Martin, PhD
    Professor, Department of Sociology and African & African American Studies Program
    Louisiana State University
    Feature photo from Black Metal Music.
    Read more »
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    Charting a path for Black male progress: local, national leaders convene in Baton Rouge 

    The Urban Congress on African American Males, a strategic initiative of Baton Rouge nonprofit, MetroMorphosis, hosted its fourth annual General Convening, on Saturday April 13 at the McKinley Alumni Center in Baton Rouge. The theme of the convening, “The Village Renewed,” was attributed to the continued pursuit of partnership and collaboration in the work of transforming social systems that negatively impact African American males in Baton Rouge. The Convening featured speeches from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

    During a 40-minute keynote to the 100+ attendees, Benjamin Evans, co-founder and National Fellowship Director of BMe Community, said, “To define a person by their challenges is the definition of stigmatizing.” He also stressed the importance of urban communities taking ownership of telling the positive stories often missed in mainstream outlets. “You have to influence the storytelling. If you can’t influence the storyteller, create the storyteller,” he said. BMe Community is a national movement of people of all races and genders dedicated to building more caring and prosperous communities together.

    The centralizing moment of the Convening occurred when delegates of the Urban Congress took part in “Charting The Movement”. For more than an hour delegates brainstormed, visioned and scripted plans for the future of the work. They were tasked with creating hypothetical future news headlines that would tell the story of their work accomplished two years from the present.

    The annual convening also featured a panel discussion from the moderators of the Urban Congress’ “Barbershop Talk” series, a celebration of the year’s work and a special award presentation to Jasiri Basel, founder of The CEO Mind Foundation, who was honored as the 2019 Urban Congress PaceSetter Award Recipient.

    Jasiri jribasel is recognized as the PaceSetter by the Urban Congress on African American Males

    Jasiri Basel is recognized as the PaceSetter by the Urban Congress on African American Males

    The Convening was a continuation of the Urban Congress’ monthly work group meetings held at the McKinley Alumni Center where dedicated community members gather in self-selected working groups to generate strategies designed to enhance the quality of life for African-American men and boys in Baton Rouge. Work groups vary from public policy to workforce engagement to educational outcomes to financial literacy/entrepreneurship, and are centered around specific goals to aid the Urban Congress’ mission of establishing long term, systemic progress towards enriching the state of African-American males in Baton Rouge.

    ONLINE: www.theurbancongress.com.

    Feature photo is of Benjamin Evans, Co-Founder and National Director at BMe Community, served as the keynote speaker for the 2019 Urban Congress on African American Males General Convening. Photo by Perry Productions

    Read more »
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    AKA’s regional conference focuses on global leadership, brings Kamala Harris to New Orleans April 19

    More than 5,000 women will converge in New Orleans April 18 – 21, for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s 87TH South Central Regional Conference.

    Katina.11-2

    Katina Semien

    Dr_Glenda_Glover_01_186_courtesy_TN_State_University_web_t670

    Glenda Glover, Ph.D.

    Under the leadership of International President, Glenda Glover, Ph.D., and South Central Regional Director, Katina M. Semien, members will engage in four days of leadership training and seminars highlighting the sorority’s International program theme, “Exemplifying Excellence Though Sustainable Service®”. In linewith the sorority’s Global Impact target, attendees will collaborate with Lions Club International and Soles4Souls to donate gently worn eye glasses and shoes to be distributed to recipients around the world.

    During the conference, Senator Kamala Harris – also an Alpha Kappa Alpha member – will deliver the keynote address at the public luncheon on Friday, April 19, 2019.

    The purpose of this year’s public luncheon is to increase awareness of child trafficking. During the event, the sorority will honor the agencies that are working to combat this global crisis.

    The South Central Region is the 2nd largest region in the sorority with more than 7,000 members, and is comprised of members from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico. The conference is expected to attract a record number of members in addition to their families and guests, where attendees will assemble at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Members will be taking in all that the Crescent City of New Orleans has to offer and lodging in numerous hotels in the downtown area. These members will generate thousands and thousands of dollars for the New Orleans area businesses over the four-day conference and the sorority plans to leave a substantial mark on the city.

    Alpha is America’s oldest service organization founded by college-trained African-American women.

    Read more »
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    Urban Congress seeks to create better outcomes for Black males through annual convening, April 13

    The Urban Congress on African American Males – a strategic initiative of Baton Rouge nonprofit organization, MetroMorphosis, will host its fourth annual General Convening, Saturday April 13 at the McKinley Alumni Center, 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Drive, Baton Rouge. The theme of the convening, “The Village Renewed,” is attributed to the continued pursuit of partnership and collaboration in the work of transforming social systems that negatively impact African-American males in Baton Rouge.

    “The key to [the convening] remains the people in the room who are committed to creating a different narrative and experience for the Black males around us,” said Raymond Jetson,  chief executive catalyst at MetroMorphosis. “This day is about the village coming together and renewing itself. It is a time to strengthen existing partnerships and build new ones. It’s an opportunity to recognize people and organizations who are making a real difference.”

    For more information on the Urban Congress on African American Males and the General Convening, visit www.theurbancongress.com.

    WHEN:
    Saturday, April 13
    8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    WHERE:
    McKinley Alumni Center, 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Drive, Baton Rouge.

    WHO:
    Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards,

    East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome 
    Benjamin Evans, Co-Founder and National Fellowship Director of BMe Community – a national movement of people of all races and genders dedicated to building more caring and prosperous communities together.

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Southern’s Victor Mbarika earns third lifetime achievement award for IT work in developing nations

    In recognition of his contributions to the growth of education in Nigeria and other African countries, Southern University professor Victor Marika was recently honored by  the Anglican Communion, Church of Nigeria, Nsukka Diocese, in Enugu State, for his work in information and communication technology.

    Mbarika is an endowed professor of information and communication technology at Southern University and A&M College. He also directs the International Centre for IT Research and Development at Southern which focuses on advancing IT research and training worldwide with emphasis on developing nations.

    Victor Mbarika

    Victor Mbarika

    During the 25th anniversary of the church, the Anglican Bishop of Nsukka Rt. Revd. Aloysius Eze Agbo said Mbarika–who is  Cameroonian–has “distinguished himself in the promotion of education system in the country, through empowering the youth in the area of ICT. He said such services to the country deserve commendation and reward.”

    “This is the third lifetime achievement to Prof. Victor Mbarika, in recognition of his outstanding entrepreneurial achievement, which has created job opportunities to numerous people in our society,” Agbo said. He previously received a lifetime achievement award from the African Society for Information and Communication Technology for his “contribution to ICT research and education” and another  from the Cameroon Association of Engineers and Computer Scientists for “outstanding contribution to computer science and telecommunications”.

    Mbarika is also the founder and president, Board of Trustees of the Information and Communication Technology University, that trained more than 20,000 students across the globe. He said he is delighted in the honor and promises to continue to assist Nigerians and others in the acquisition of quality education. “I am  delighted  in the honor given to me and promised to continue to assist Africans and others in the acquisition of quality education, adding that in due course, i would establish ICT university in Nigeria, as obtained in Cameroon, Uganda and other African countries,” said Mbarika.

    ONLINE: Southern University

    Read more »
  • ,,

    More juvenile human trafficking victims identified in Louisiana

    The number of reported juvenile trafficking victims rose by 20 percent in 2018, while the number of adult victims decreased by 17 percent, according to data submitted to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for its 2019 report on human trafficking.

    The annual report, now in its fifth year, compiles data from human trafficking service providers throughout the state for reporting to the Legislature under Act 564 of 2014. Of the 58 service providers identified by DCFS, 35 agencies (60%) provided information for the 2019 report – the highest response rate for any year to-date. Twenty-four agencies provided data for last year’s report.

    While the number of service providers who report trafficking data to DCFS has increased steadily over the past five years, the majority of sexual assault centers and refugee/migration service agencies do not participate. This limits the amount of information available on adult sexual abuse and labor trafficking.

    “We have to do everything we can to prevent and end the heinous crime of human trafficking,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “It’s the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the United States, with thousands of victims identified in Louisiana alone in recent years. One of the reasons we’re identifying more victims is our work with law enforcement and other agencies who come into contact with these victims. Increasing awareness, collaboration and information sharing are essential to ending this modern form of slavery.”

    Earlier this year, Gov. Edwards announced Louisiana had been awarded a $1.2 million federal grant to help fight human trafficking. The grant will fund a multi-year federal project known as the Louisiana Child Trafficking Collaborative, being implemented by the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet.

    “Trafficking is not just a problem happening somewhere else. It’s a problem right here in our own back yards,” said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters, who serves on the Governor’s Office’s Louisiana Human Trafficking Prevention Commission (Act 181 of 2017). “Victims are often from vulnerable populations – domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, homeless or runaway youth and even young children. The more we know and the more we work together as a state and a community, the better we can fight against it and protect those who are most at-risk.”

    Overall, 744 confirmed and high-risk (prospective) victims of human trafficking were identified in 2018 – an increase of 63 victims (9%) over 2017. The overwhelming majority were victims of sexual trafficking (710 victims or 95.4%) and female (678 victims or 91.1%).

    Victim Ages

    Juveniles accounted for 428 (57.5%) of the reported victims, a 20 percent increase over 2017, when service providers reported 356 juvenile victims. Some 223 adult victims were identified in 2018, compared to 269 in 2017. Age was unknown or unreported for 93 victims this past year, compared to 56 in 2017.

    Forty-two victims identified in 2018 were age 12 or younger, down from 72 victims reported in 2017.

    The reported ages for all victims ranged from 5 months to 65 years old.

    The increase in reported juvenile victims can be partly attributed to an increase in the number of agencies providing data. Additionally, there have been increased efforts in identifying juvenile victims.

    Trafficking Locations

    Orleans, Caddo and East Baton Rouge were the parishes most frequently identified as the trafficking locations for both adult and juvenile victims. However, the proportion of adults to juveniles varied by location.

    Orleans and Caddo parishes both saw significantly more juvenile victims reported than adults: 83 juveniles and 34 adults in Orleans; 92 juveniles and 16 adults in Caddo. Whereas, East Baton Rouge saw a more even distribution that tilted toward adults: 59 adults and 47 juveniles.

    Those three parishes were also the most common parishes of origin for victims, along with neighboring parishes Jefferson and Bossier. Overall, victims were from more than 30 parishes throughout the state.

    Some 54 victims were from outside Louisiana, and 10 were from other countries.

    Other Findings

    Other findings in the 2019 report:

    • 710 victims (95.4%) were sexual trafficking victims; 7 (0.9%) were labor trafficking victims; 18 (2.4%) were victims of both sexual and labor trafficking. There were also 9 victims for whom the type of trafficking was not identified.
    • 678 (91.1%) of the victims were female; 44 (6%) were male; 13 (1.7%) identify as transgender; and 9 (1%) did not have a gender identified.
    • 366 (49%) of the victims were African American; 233 (31%) were white; 8 (1%) were Asian; 25 (3%) were multiracial; 58 (8%) were reported as other; and 54 (7%) were unknown.
    • 333 (45%) were confirmed trafficking victims, and 285 (38%) were reported as high-risk or prospective victims. Another 126 victims (17%) did not have a victim status identified.

    The most frequently provided services by the agencies reporting data were mental health services, referral to community services, health services, forensic interviewing, housing and education services.

    View Reports

    Read more »
  • ,

    City of Ponchatoula to become smoke-free

    NO PUBLIC SMOKING OR VAPING

    The City of Ponchatoula has joined the almost 700 cities nationwide in going smoke-free. The City’s new smoke-free ordinance goes into effect on May 12, 2019. In addition to smoking restrictions that already exist under state law, there will be new restrictions on smoking and vaping (use of electronic smoking devices) in many locations across the city.

    The City of Ponchatoula will host a smoking ban town hall educational meeting in the City Council Chambers May 1, 2019, at 5:30 PM.

    This ordinance protects the public’s health by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke and encouraging smokers to quit. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at work are more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer, and approximately 1,000 children and adults in Louisiana die each year from secondhand smoke exposure. Tobacco use-the leading preventable cause of death in the United States-causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases (such as emphysema) and diabetes. More than 20 million people in the United States have died from smoking-related diseases since 1964, including 2.5 million nonsmokers as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.

    Read more »
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