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    Homecoming crowd celebrates Tasker Memorial’s anniversary

    Words from two favorite old hymns best describe the recent 150th anniversary celebration at Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Ponchatoula.

    Written after Tasker was organized in 1867 and, like the church, both songs have stood the tests of time: “O what a foretaste of glory divine” (“Blessed Assurance” 1873) and “What a day of rejoicing that will be” (“When We All Get to Heaven” 1898.)

    Indeed, the rejoicing by the congregation was just a sampling of the future awaiting Christians everywhere.

    Former City Councilman Wayne F. Foster was master of ceremonies and two choirs participated, Tasker’s and visiting Amite Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion.

    The choirs led and were sometimes joined by the congregation in singing as well as solos by Barbara Dixon and Clifford Guy Walker. Songs heard: “He is Lord”, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”, “I’ll Go if I Have to Go by Myself”, “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand”, and “How Great is My God.”

    One song, “He’s an On-Time God,” reminded everyone of God’s timing: “He may not come when you want Him to, but He’ll be right there on time!”

    During the service Jacqueline Brumfield extended a welcome, Debbie Brown gave history and Virginia Jeanpierre and Yvonne Elzy gave reflections.

    Pastor Rev. John E. Hurst Jr., welcomed everyone, introducing Mayor Bob Zabbia who thanked the church for the invitation, expressing what the church and its members mean to the community. He recognized Community Center Director Lynnette Jackson Allen who grew up in the church and introduced Kathryn Martin as the writer of the proclamation.

    Gwen Bankston, read with great feeling its words, some of which are:

    Whereas, Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church stands at the corner of South Sixth and West Ash Streets in Ponchatoula as a permanent monument and testimonial to the toil and sacrifice of its faithful leaders and members across the years; and

    Whereas, the church has always been of great historical importance to the City of Ponchatoula since its organization October 12, 1867; and

    Whereas, the leaders, members and friends who come and go from the place of the Holy on a regular basis help meet the needs of the church family as well as those of the community and many others through their support of home and foreign missions; and

    Whereas, the church and its family serve as a beacon to the feet and light to the path to lead the way for countless men, women, boys and girls to know our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ;

    Whereas, it is a privilege to extend the expression of our esteem and best wishes to Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church on its 150th anniversary;

    Now, therefore, I, Robert Zabbia, Mayor of the City of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, hereby proclaim this day as Tasker Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church Day.

    Rev. Dr. John Wesley Forbes III, pastor of Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion, brought a rousing timely sermon.

    Those working behind the scenes to bring the special day about were the program committee: Helena Brown, Jacqueline Brumfield, Barbara Dixon, Wayne F. Foster, and Joyce Roberts; finance committee: Debbie Brown, Charles Dixon, Wayne F. Foster, M. Nathaniel Kelly, and Joyce Roberts; music committee: Linda Hodges and Lawrence Greely.

    The service was followed by a time of feast and fellowship and this blessed and wonderful day will long live on in the minds and hearts of everyone attending.

     By Kathryn J. Martin
    Contributing Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Patin also discussed the importance of this 75th anniversary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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    Lafayette to unveiling African American History Parade poster

    Revealing of 1st Annual African American History Parade Poster

    The African American Heritage Foundation in Lafayette will start their annual Black History Month Celebration with the unveiling of the 1st historical poster,  Sunday, Feb. 11, at Benoit Galleries, 535 ½ Jefferson St.

    Visual artist Bryant Benoit was commissioned to create a piece that embodies the Let Freedom Ring theme. The theme incorporates cultural, education, health, economics, and politics as all paths leading to freedom.

    The Lafayette native studied architecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and entered the construction industry. He worked as a commercial construction project superintendent for several years. “I decided to explore my creativity in art. My perception of my culture is expressed through my work. I tell stories of love, pain, family and spirituality. My work is like music. I feel the vibrations of the melody and relate its words to events that either happened or are happening in my life. My art is vibrations of my thought perception on canvas,” said Benoit.

    His work has been featured in regional galleries and favored by art collectors around the world. Bryant’s work is owned by clients & collectors in the USA, Paris, New Zealand, and Ghana. When Benoit isn’t in the gallery, you can find him at art markets and festivals including Jazz Fest, the New Orleans Art Market in Palmer Park, Bayou Boogaloo Cajun Food Festival in Norfolk, VA, and Piedmont Park Arts Festival in Atlanta.

    Prints and signed number prints of Let Freedom Ring will be for sale. To purchase the poster online: https://squareup.com/store/benoit-gallery-llc

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    Protect and Serve Louisiana First

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

    AZ Young

    AZ Young

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

    Ernest Marcelle Jr.
    Louisiana’s First Black State Trooper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Trooper McElwee answered more questions:

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

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

    How did they get the names LNG and BS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How was the chapter formed? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Founding Publisher

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



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

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    Genealogy Gathering scheduled for Georgetown 272 descendants, June 24

    The GU272 Descendants Association and the River Road African American Museum are co-hosting a Genealogy Gathering at the Ascension Parish Courthouse, 300 Houmas St., Donaldsonville, Saturday, June 24, 9am-3pm

    “This Genealogy Gathering to help descendants with the process of researching their family tree and learning more about the history of the Jesuits of Georgetown University and their sale of our ancestors to Louisiana. Descendants will meet other descendants and share family information as they figure out how they may be related to each other. You are encouraged to bring your laptop if applicable, note paper, your family tree information and any other information you may want to share at this gathering,” said organizers.

    “272 slaves were sold to save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants? In 1838, the Jesuit priests who ran the country’s top Catholic university needed money to keep it alive. Now comes the task of making amends.”Gen-Gathering-6_24_17

    The meeting is free to the public, but registration required. Learn more and find your ancestors. You may be a descendant, if your family surnames are: Hill, Harris, Butler, West, Ford, Queen, Hawkins, Dorsey, Ware, Lewis, Henry, Green, or Brown.

    ONLINE: The GU272 Descendants Association,
    Georgetown University Slavery Archive, http://slaveryarchive.georgetown.edu/

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    Book chronicles ‘The Forgotten People’ of Plaquemines Parish

    Tyronne Edwards wanted to ensure the rich contribution of Blacks in Plaquemines Parish, which is part of the history of Plaquemines, the state of Louisiana, the nation and the world for present and future generations. It prompted him to write The Forgotten People: Restoring a Missing Segment of Plaquemines Parish History.

    This book chronicles the specific achievements of leaders who dismantled institutional racism and outwitted Judge Leander Perez, Plaquemines Parish’s segregationist and dictator. It also educates readers to the battles waged by residents to knock down doors in schools, businesses, and government that were closed to them.

    In “The Forgotten People,” Edwards breathes life into the important historical record of Blacks’ self-determination and perseverance that should never be forgotten.

    Edwards, a native of and pastor in Phoenix, La., has 47 years of human service experience and community development. He is the founder and former executive director of the Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Inc. in Plaquemines Parish which was organized in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. For 37 years as a trainer for the People’s Institution for Survival & Beyond, he has conducted Undoing Racism workshops throughout the country.

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    Museum presents ‘The Strange Origins of Jim Crow’

    Join the West Baton Rouge Museum in welcoming  Aaron Sheehan-Dean on Wednesday, December 7 at noon for a Lunch Time Lecture. He will explore the origins of Jim Crow, an era with roots in Louisiana from the Plessy vs. Ferguson railroad segregation case and living with Jim Crow.

    The museum is located at 845 N. Jefferson Avenue, Port Allen, LA 70767 .

    This program is offered in conjunction with the traveling exhibit, “For All the World to See,” organized by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. This exhibit examines the role that visual culture played in the civil rights movement. Through a compelling assortment of photographs, television clips, art posters, and other historic artifacts, For All the World to See traces how images and media disseminated to the American public transformed the modern civil rights movement and jolted Americans, both Black and white, out of a state of denial or complacency.

    Sheehan-Dean is the Fred C. Frey Professor of Southern Studies at Louisiana State University. He is also author of Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia, The Concise Historical Atlas of the U. S. Civil War and the editor of several books. He teaches several courses on nineteenth century U.S. History, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Southern History.

    This lunch time lecture program is free and open to the public. Participants are welcome to bring a bag lunch. 

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    Navy destroyer to be named after first Black aviator


    In a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, DDG 121, will be named Frank E. Petersen  Jr., in honor of the Marine Corps Lieutenant General who was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general officer.

    In 1950, two years after President Harry S. Truman desegregated the armed forces, Petersen enlisted in the Navy.

    In 1952, Petersen was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He would go on to fly 350 combat missions during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He also went on to become the first African-American in the Marine Corps to command a fighter squadron, an air group and a major base.

    Petersen retired from the Marine Corps in 1988 after 38 years of service. At the time of his retirement he was, by date of designation, the senior-ranking aviator in the Marine Corps and the United States Navy.

    Petersen died last year at his home in Stevensville, Md., near Annapolis, at the age of 83.

    This is the first ship to be named for Frank E. Petersen Jr.

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    Lafayette Juneteenth Fathers day fun fest Jun 19

    The SWLA Juneteenth committee will be celebrating Juneteenth at Heymann Park, 1500 S Orange Street in Lafayette, Louisiana on Sunday, June 19, 2016 (Father’s Day) from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    The Festival is free to the public. There will be live entertainment including Gospel, Zydeco, R&B, Blues, Jazz and Reggae and live performers. There will also be fun jumps, face painting and games on wheels for the youth.

    The line up of entertainers is coming soon. Please check back often.

    For more information or if your group would like to perform, please contact Jackie McNulty at 337.781.1235.

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    Entergy supports Tangipahoa’s Black heritage museum

    PONCHATOULA–Eunice Harris, Entergy customer service representative, recently presented Delmas Dunn Sr., president of the Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum & Veterans Archives (TAAHM&VA), with a $1,000 check.  The funds will be used toward a joint community development project whereby the board members will partner with community volunteers to landscape the grounds of the TAAHM&VA.  They will purchase live oak trees, stakes, fertilizer, mulching soil, garden hose, etc., and develop the area along the 1600 block of Phoenix Sq.

    The mission of the TAAHM&VA is to preserve, maintain, and educate the public about the history of Black ancestors in the State of Louisiana and the U.S.; to collaborate with other organizations with a common vision, both nationally and internationally, through artistic endeavors.

    The TAAHM&VA welcomed/hosted 3,890 visitors in 2014 and 2,530 visitors in 2015 from Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, St. Helena, Livingston, East and West Baton Rouge, Jefferson, and Orleans parishes.  The halls are lined with nearly wall-sized, colorful paintings and murals depicting Black American history, inventors, entrepreneurs, culture, musicians, war heroes, pioneers, slavery, leaders, historians, buffalo soldiers, civil rights activists, underground railroad, family, and kings and queens of Africa.  It also has on display Black American and African artifacts and inventions such as the butter churn, traffic light, smoothing iron, cow bell, ice scraper, meat tenderizer, kerosene lamp, brownie camera, to name just a few.

    “Entergy is proud to reinvest in its vast diversity of cultures within the communities it serves,” said Harris.  “And it’s always a good thing when volunteers come out and participate in community development projects – it shows joint ownership” Harris continued.

    To schedule a class, group, or individual tour, please call 985-542-4259.  ONLINE: http://www.taahm.org/ 

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    Shabazz presents ‘Growing Up X’ at BREC event Feb 19

    The Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (BREC) will celebrate Black History Month, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, at the Independence Park Theatre, 7800 Independence Blvd. This event is free and open to the public.  

    BREC will present “Growing Up X” featuring guest speaker, Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of historical figures Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. She is a community organizer, social activist, motivational speaker and author of the critically acclaimed Growing Up X. Ilyasah promotes higher education, interfaith dialogue and building bridges between cultures for young leaders of the world.

    She produces The WAKE-UP Tour, an exclusive youth empowerment program and participates on international humanitarian delegations. She is the founder of Malcolm X Enterprises and is a trustee for The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. She also serves on the Board of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Arts Committee for the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center and a project advisor for the PBS award-winning documentary, Prince Among Slaves.

    The program will also feature theatrical performances, musical selections and an interview with Shabazz.

    “We are pleased to welcome Ms. Shabazz to BREC as part of our annual celebration. We hope that by offering programs like this, we can honor those who played such important roles in the Civil Rights movement while reflecting on the progress that has been made over the past few decades,” said BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight. “Our hope is that we can use experiences like this to bring us closer together as a community,” said McKnight.

    This event is sponsored by the BREC Foundation, Cumulus Media, Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, AmeriHealth Caritas of Louisiana, Main Street Pilot Club of Baker, Louisiana NAACP, NAACP Baton Rouge, Capital City Collision, Hotel Indigo, Dr. Leah S. Cullins, Apex Collegiate Academy, Dawn Collins for School Board, Senator Regina Barrow, Xi Nu Lambda Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., AARP Mid-Town LA Ch. #5433, Councilwoman Erika Green, WTQT Radio, Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Representative Patricia Haynes Smith.

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    Work begins on Hicks Museum

    BOGALUSA – Students, volunteers and elected officials celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 18, by giving back to the community.

    They converged on the Robert Hicks Civil Rights Museum to begin remodeling. Former NBA player Nikita Wilson (at left), Valeria Hicks, Edward “Shaka” Butler, and Barbara Collins Hicks show a woodcarving created by Butler and donated to the museum.Hicks Museum web

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    What did Che’dra Joseph say?

    “Can everybody give Che’ a big round applause”? said President Barack Obama, to a crowd of more than 700 citizens who gathered at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, Thursday, Jan. 14, for a town hall meeting.

    Che’Dra Joseph, the daughter of Jessica Bornholdt and granddaughter of Mary E. Joseph, welcomed the crowd to McKinley
    and introduced the president.

    “We could not be more proud of her. I was backstage; I asked her, ‘Are you nervous?’ She said, ‘No, I got this. I’m fine.’ That is a serious leader of the future. And we are so proud of her,” said President Obama.

    So, what did this Student of the Year with a remarkable 4.6 grade point average tell the world as she introduced the President?

    Che'Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Che’Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Good morning, McKinley alumni, students, faculty, town hall participants, esteemed guests, and viewers at home. I am Che’dra Joseph, McKinley High School’s 2015-2016 Student of the Year and a finalist for East Baton Rouge Parish Student of the Year. Neither my experiences nor my environment have always been conducive towards forming a foundation for my ambitions. My upbringing has given me the insight that hardships do not limit
    opportunities. A journey towards self-actualization is not as easy for all of us, as it is for some. It is challenging for marginalized Americans to succeed. However, remaining focused
    on ambitions and education allows opportunities for moments of surrealism, similar to this one. I am here, in spite of, not because of, my circumstances. I have defied statistics, and I will not falter in my aspirations to dismantle the glass ceilings
    imposed on women, people of color, and minority groups. McKinley has been a significant factor in my personal development due to its ever-present, but often unacknowledged historical value. In 1907, McKinley became the first institution in Louisiana to offer
    Black students academic advancement. Furthermore, its first graduating class of 1916 was all female. McKinley was a win
    for Black excellence, and a win for women. Today, McKinley is home to educational opportunities that allow for a progressive,
    inclusive environment that stimulates informative and insightful dialogue among people who exhibit diversity in everything from skin color, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion. I am honored for the opportunity to introduce myself and the President. As a representative of McKinley High School,
    Baton Rouge, and Louisiana, I offer the President our gratitude for giving America a nontraditional model of success that proves
    adversity does not restrict opportunity and for choosing McKinley High School to make history. Ladies and gentleman, McKinley High
    School proudly welcomes, The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

    The gym erupted with applause.

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    COMMENTARY: Dr. King and the gospel of action

    There is no shortage of words in the English language to describe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By now —more than five decades after his fiery delivery of the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.— you may feel as though you have heard them all: leader, hero, visionary, champion, inspiration, pacifist, orator and preacher, to name a few.

    Of all the possible descriptions and titles that have been assigned to Dr. King, history has proven that his legacy endures in our collective American imagination and our national politics not because of what he was, or who he was, but because of what he did. Dr. King changed our society with action. Soaring rhetoric may move our hearts and imagination, but it is action that translates our seemingly impossible dreams into reality.

    Dr. King’s all-too-short life was a monumental one that moved our nation to enact large-scale, course-correcting policies like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act, and genuinely contemplate a day when we would “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood,” but he departed from this earth with unfinished business.

    Our nation has made undeniable progress since Dr. King described his dream of an America set free from the bondage of racial animosity, injustice and economic inequality. Today, people of color are achieving milestones that would have been impossible without the decades-long accumulation of constant acts of courage to make change happen. But Dr. King did not dedicate himself to a life of action only to create wealth and opportunity for a privileged few, to diversify the palette of America’s corporate offices, or even the White House. While Dr. King would have likely been proud to live in a country that judged an African-American not on the color of his skin, but the content of his character, and elected him president, he would be disheartened to witness the mounting rollbacks in voting rights, disappointed to stand at the cusp of the ever-widening chasm of economic inequality, and disillusioned at the loss of Black lives at the hands of law enforcement. Progress must not grow into passivity. Complacency will only serve to erode the gains our nation have made and can make under the constant vigilance and activism of its citizenry.

    In his last State of the Union address to Congress, President Barack Obama acknowledged the necessity of every day acts of courage and quiet citizenship to move our nation closer to fulfilling its founding promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all its people. “What I’m asking for is hard. It’s easier to be cynical; to accept that change isn’t possible, and politics is hopeless, and to believe that our voices and actions don’t matter. But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future.”

    That better future is what Dr. King saw on the mountaintop. He did not live to get there with us, but his clarion call to justice lives on. We, as the heirs of the change he sought, can make this holiday a more meaningful one by engaging in civic, community and service projects. We can spend the day doing what Dr. King did for a lifetime: serving others. But this is about more than a day. Full, unfettered access to voting will not be restored in one day. Police brutality in communities of color will not end in one day. Economic inequality will not be resolved in one day. It will take days, years, decades and perhaps generations, but if we are wedded to the idea of a more perfect union, it is imperative that we continue Dr. King’s long and worthy climb to the mountaintop.

    Marc Morial
    President, National Urban League
    New York

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    150th anniversary of Freedman’s Bank commemorated

    Liberty Bank’s Alden McDonald will deliver remarks and reflect on the legacy of the Freedman’s Bank

    NEW ORLEANS –  On Thursday, January 7, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department will host a ceremony to mark the 150th anniversary of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Freedman’s Bank) and name the Treasury Annex building the Freedman’s Bank Building. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, Assistant Secretary for Management Brodi Fontenot, Howard University Department of Economics Chair Dr. William Spriggs, and Liberty Bank and Trust President and CEO Alden McDonald will deliver remarks and reflect on the legacy of the Freedman’s Bank.


    Alden McDonald

    The Freedman’s Bank was established in 1865 to create an opportunity for wealth-building among the nation’s four million newly emancipated Black Americans. During its nearly 10-year existence, approximately 100,000 Blacks and Black institutions amassed $57 million in the bank’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and its branches in 37 cities across 17 states. Despite the closing of the Freedman’s Bank in 1874, it remains a significant part of American history and this event will highlight the historical significance of the bank and its original mission – to promote economic integration and financial inclusion.

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