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    Thirteen awarded the Nu Gamma Omega Chapter Debutante Award

    The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated – Nu Gamma Omega Chapter proudly presented awards to the 2020 Coterie of Debutantes at the Louisiana Old State Capitol. The theme for the event was, “A Renaissance of Beauty and Elegance”. Reigning as Queen is Miss Sydney Alexandra LaFleur, daughter of Vanessa Caston LaFleur.

    Debutante Mykara Arie Taylor was recognized as Miss Amity.  Reigning as princesses were First Princess Courtney Danielle Scott,  daughter of Chakesha Webb Scott, Second Princess Ralyn Wynne Ricks,   Third Princess Shamari’ Tramease Wilson, daughter of Andrea Wilson,  Fourth Princess Ney-Chelle Avette Thomas, Fifth Princess Kaeyln Cachay Lipscomb, and Sixth Princess Whitney Lenis James. In addition, reigning as Maid Bailey Simone Lewis, First Pearl Bria Coleman, Second Pearl Jaysia Unique Thomas, Third Pearl Mykara Arie Taylor, Fourth Pearl Pashunti Lashae Hall, and Fifth Pearl A’niya Arlyse Lagarde.

    Danielle Staten served as general debutante chairman, while Carla Harmon,  Cynthia Reed, and  Joyce Trusclair served as co-chairs. Other program participants included Contessia Brooks,  Kynedi Grier,  Vanessa LaFleur, Breanna Lawrence, Mary Sutherland Toaston,  Cassandra Washington, Shondra White, Roena Wilford, and Andrea Wilson.

    The Debutante program enriches the lives of young ladies through educational workshops, community service projects, Teas, cultural activities, and dance rehearsals. Nu Gamma Omega Chapter will awards scholarships to Coterie of Debutantes to support their higher educational pursuits.  Jacqueline Nash Grant serves as Chapter President.

     

    Photos provided by CWash Photography

    Presented by the Nu Gamma Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha are, (left row front to back) Pashunti Hall, Mykara Taylor, Kaelyn Lipscomb and Shamari’ Wilson; center row, Sydney LaFleur, Bailey Lewis, Jaysia Thomas, and Ralyn Ricks; and, right row, A’niya Lagarde, Courtney Scott, Ney-Chelle Thomas and Whitney James.

     

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    Life Source Hospice gives thanks, feeds Frontline workers

    Life Source Hospice held an event, ‘Feeding the Frontlines’, to say thank you, and to show appreciation to all Frontline Workers, on Thursday, June 25, 2020, 3pm – 6pm at 11605 Southfork Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA.

    “Every day, we say thanks to Frontline workers, especially our own staff, who have not wavered in caring for our patients, especially during CoVid19,” said Shedonna Martin, community relations/volunteer services.

    Life Source Hospice provided a drive-thru, curbside pickup experience which included hamburger/hotdog plate, chips, water, and plenty of goodies. The event was also sponsored by Coca Cola, Drago’s, Flannery Oaks, Greenoaks Funeral Home, Heritage Manor, Landmark Baton Rouge, Landmark Hammond, Landmark South, Life Source Home Health, Mele Printing, and Red River Bank.

    Life Source Hospice is a licensed hospice service provider, serving Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. James, Tangipahoa, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana parishes.

     

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  • BRCC to eliminate fees, offer aid for fall semester

    As the state continues to deal with the growing COVID-19 threat and the uncertainty regarding future timelines, Baton Rouge Community College is introducing special changes that will allow the college to continue offering the same great educational and support opportunities for students during the Fall 2020 semester.  BRCC is eliminating non-resident fees and suspending online fees for students this fall. A bevy of institutional aid awards are also available, and there is no application fee for new students to enroll. The elimination of non-resident fees will save full-time students more than $2000 and full-time online non-resident students approximately $2,500. This means out-of-state students will be charged approximately half of the cost over last year.

    “We are aware that many members of our community will need BRCC more than ever after dealing with the repercussions from COVID-19,” said BRCC Chancellor Willie E. Smith, PhD. “We hope that by eliminating some of the financial burden, we can be a key partner in assisting people with getting the necessary training and credentials to begin their careers or continue their studies. As an accredited institution of higher learning, this incredible offer allows students to take courses here at BRCC that are transferrable to their home institution.”

    BRCC is also introducing special changes that will allow the college to continue offering the same great educational and support opportunities for students. BRCC will offer general education courses through online synchronous (live instruction) and asynchronous (attend on your schedule) classes, while Technical Education and Nursing and Allied Health classes, along with some labs, will be offered through a hybrid design, where students will complete some coursework online and attend some face-to-face classes on campus in a sanitized environment, while practicing social distancing and wearing masks. The college will continue to offer support for students with technology needs, and student services will remain online through the Virtual Student Center.

    There will also be changes to placement testing as new students who were previously required to take the Accuplacer exam will now be given a self-directed placement option upon enrolling to Baton Rouge Community College. Details will be shared with these students after they apply for admission.

    All registration and enrollment processes for the fall semester will be handled online. Students can visit www.mybrcc.edu or call 1-866-217-9823 for questions and information.

     The Fall 2020 semester also offers the following institutional aid initiatives:

    • Enroll in 15 hours and earn a $600 institutional award
    • Enroll in 12 hours in a hands-on technical program and earn a $600 institutional award
    • Enter the Work Ready U Program at BRCC and concurrently enroll in 6 credit hours to earn a $500 institutional award
    • Complete the HISET with BRCC and earn a $500 institutional award towards enrollment in the next semester

    Fall classes start August 17. There are four fall sessions available: The 15-Week Semester (Aug. 17 to Dec. 5), The 1st 7-Week Semester (Aug. 17 to Oct. 7), The 12-Week Semester (Sept. 8 to Dec. 5), and the 2nd 7-Week (Oct. 12 to Dec. 5). Registration is available at MyBRCC.edu.

     


    Fall 2020 At a Glance

    • Classes will be taught through online instruction both synchronously (live instruction) and asynchronously (attend at your leisure)—these will include general education courses as well as other program courses that do not require hands-on training.
    • Technical Education and Nursing and Allied Health courses will be taught in a hybrid model of online and in-person courses. Social distancing and mask wearing will be observed.
    • Technology support will still be offered.
    • Student Services will remain online and available via the Virtual Student Center.
    • New students who were previously required to take the Accuplacer exam will now be given a self-directed placement option upon enrolling for placement in Mathematics and English.
    • Several institutional awards are available for students who enroll for Fall 2020 courses. (More information is available: https://www.mybrcc.edu/news/iai.php)
    • Non-resident fees will be eliminated.
    • Online registration fees will be suspended.
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  • EBR Schools to change Lee High name, seeks suggestions

    “The East Baton Rouge Parish School System is dedicated to ensuring every child receives a high-quality education in an inclusive, equitable, and enriching learning environment. Guided by our organization’s core mission, we stand by our families and our students in this fight to eradicate oppression and racism. At the regularly scheduled school board meeting on Thursday, June 18, 2020, the East Baton Rouge School Board unanimously approved aresolution to change the name of Lee High School. This is a pivotal time in our nation; one that will undoubtedly be taught in history classes for generations to come.”

    The public survey is now open and can be accessed here. The renaming committee will convene a public forum at 6 p.m. on July 13, 2020, at 1022 S. Foster Dr. 

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  • EBR Library; ‘There’s something for everyone with the online summer reading program’

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s 2020 Summer Reading Program, Imagine Your Story!, began Monday, June 1, and runs through Saturday, August 15. But it’s Summer Reading, Re-Imagined as the library transitions to a new online program! The traditional summer reading program, which relied on paper logs, regular visits to the Library, and attendance at Library programs, was impacted by the ongoing disruption due to COVID-19, and we’ve pivoted to offer something that could work from a distance.

    Powered by Beanstack, the library’s new program hosting software, there are seven Summer Reading Challenges for all ages, and four major components that make up this year’s program including Beanstack, Page Turner Adventures, Red Stick @Home Challenge, and Summer Camp @Home.

    Beanstack Summer Reading Challenges

    It’s easy! Just read and complete activities to earn badges. Each challenge (except Red Stick @Home) has both a reading/logging element, as well as an activity factor. The rules, requirements, badges and incentives vary based on the age group. Sign up at your local Library location, or online at https://ebrpl.beanstack.org. There’s even an app!

    There are three fun-filled programs for children based on their ages and reading levels: Dragon Cubs, for ages 0-5; Heroes in Training, for ages 5-8; and Storybook Adventurers, for ages 8-11. For Dragon Cubs, children can log up to 30 books to earn reading badges and complete up to 24 activity badges. Both Heroes in Training and Storybook Adventurers can earn up to 75 reading badges by completing timed reading sessions and collect up to 60 activity badges! All three Children’s Challenges can earn up to five entries into weekly drawings. Completion packets will include a choice of two free book bags, a free book, and coupons from area vendors, while supplies last.

    Teen Challenge, designed for ages 11-18, allows readers to earn up to 105 reading badges by completing timed reading sessions and complete seven quests (combined activities) to earn activity badges! Challenge yourself to collect all 112 badges this summer! Earn up to 22 entries into the weekly drawings for each of the milestone badges! Teen completion packets will include a free backpack with a surprise inside.

    Adults, we would never leave you out! The Adult Challenge, for ages 18 and up, still requires reading a minimum of three books to earn completion, but you can also keep reading and logging as in the past “paper” years. There are 24 activity badges designed to have you explore the ebrpl website, databases, and your own personal account online. Adults will receive a canvas tote for their completion incentive.

    If you’re looking for something less complicated, you’ll enjoy the library’s All Abilities Challenge for all ages and all skill levels. These can be completed as an individual or with a helper. Each participant can read and log up to 20 books at whichever level of reading they desire and earn up to 16 activity badges, with assistance or without. Once you’ve read all your books, stop by the Children’s Room at your local branch for a completion certificate!

    At the end of the summer, grand prize winners will receive prizes donated by area merchants and the Patrons of the Public Library. Start by registering yourself or a member(s) of your family. You’ll be able to sign up either through the link on the website, the FREE mobile app, or by speaking with a staff member. Stay tuned for more updates as we prepare to go digital this summer!

    Page Turner Adventures

    Adventure awaits you! The Library invites you to enjoy fun content from the Emmy Award-winning production company Page Turner Adventures. We’ll post special links to five new virtual programs each week that are created and produced by Page Turner Adventures. Get access to shows, crafts, games, and activities for kids by checking the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com for drop dates for each, and visit the Children’s Facebook group page EBRP Library Kids Programming for special links to each program. Links also will be available from inside your Summer Reading Beanstack account.

    Red Stick @Home Challenge

    This special Beanstack challenge is for the whole family, and includes 33 activity badges designed to have patrons explore the community, including its cultural assets, attractions, and the work of local organizations.

    Summer Camp @Home

    Each week, now through Friday, July 31, the Children’s Room will have Summer Camp @Home packets filled with fun crafts, activities, and weekly schedules for virtual programming. Stop by your local branch to pick up the base packet including the instructions, a Monday-Friday schedule, and a content packet. Pick and choose your family’s schedule from the content choices and make the schedule that’s right for your family’s interests. Every weekend, we will have the next week’s content pack ready to go! For more information, call the Children’s Room at your local Library location. All printable activities will be available from the Kids Page on the website at www.ebrpl.com.

    To sign up for the Summer Reading Program, visit your local library location, or go online tohttps://ebrpl.beanstack.org. For more information about the Summer Reading Program, call the Main Library Children’s Room at (225) 231-3760. More information about the Library and any of its free resources, call (225) 231-3750, or visit us online at www.ebrpl.com.

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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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  • BR youth invited to experience aviation at home

    The Baton Rouge Youth Aviation Experience invites Baton Rouge area youth to participate in virtual aviation programs throughout the country. Due to COVID-19 the experience will not include trips to Atlanta or Denver. However, through partnerships with the Los Angeles Airport in California,  area middle school and high school students can participate in the Aviation Careers Education Academy virtually.

    The LAX Aviation Careers Education (ACE) Academy is a unique educational experience where students experience aviation and aerospace facilities through a virtual aviation experience and learn from career professionals.

    This weeklong educational program, hosted by LAX Community Relations, ‪starts June 22 at 11am CST‬ daily via WebEx.  Apply now. The program ends Friday, June 26.‬

    APPLICATION DEADLINE: ‪Monday, June 18, 2020‬ 
    TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS: Internet, microphone/headset, and webcam. Mobile devices/smartphones are also sufficient.

    Applicants will receive an attendance confirmation, schedule, and instructions on how to join. Students may choose to join specific sessions of their choice. Click here to register.

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    State accepting public comments on 2016 floods action plan

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development is accepting public comments on Action Plan Amendment 14, which modifies program budgets to help stabilize housing stock and provide critical assistance in areas impacted by the Great Floods of 2016. The formal public comment period for APA 14 begins today, Wednesday, June 10, and ends at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

    APA 14 moves more than $80 million in funding from undersubscribed programs into those with greater demand, while maintaining sufficient funds in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program to serve all active participants.

    View the plan at doa.la.gov/ActionPlans or request a copy by calling 225.219.9600. The plan is considered substantial, as it involves the movement of program funds and changes program beneficiaries. Substantial amendments are required to undergo a public comment period.

    Members of the public can submit comments in several ways:

    • Use the form at doa.la.gov/ActionPlans;
    • Email them to ocd@la.gov;
    • Mail them to Louisiana Office of Community Development, P.O. Box 94095, Baton Rouge, LA, 70804-9095, Attn: Janice Lovett; or
    • Fax them to the attention of Janice Lovett at 225.219.9605.

    After accepting public comments, the state will submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for final federal approval. The funds represented in APA 14 are part of $1.708 billion in Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery dollars allocated by HUD to Louisiana for recovery from the Great Floods of 2016.

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  • Virtual Discussion of “The Hate U Give” film

    Kickoff your Juneteenth celebration with a virtual discussion of the film “The Hate U Give,” facilitated by LetreceG. The Zoom session will take place Friday, June 19th at 7:00 pm. For more details, visit www.LetreceG.com.
    *The film will NOT be shown during the discussion. Participants are asked to view the movie before joining the virtual discussion.

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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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    2020 Youth Peace Olympics goes virtual

    2020 Youth Peace Olympics Goes Virtual
    The First Virtual Opening Ceremony Coming May 30th

    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity (LCHE), along with the Together We Are More Adolescent Health Collaborative, is excited to announce our 7th year of hosting the annual Youth Peace Olympics (YPO). The YPO Opening Ceremony will begin promptly at 11 AM on Saturday, May 30, 2020, via Zoom on any smart device or computer.

    Join in at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_89jMAwWqShOetwW5JLte5w. Everyone is invited to enjoy free musical performances and other entertainment. Michael A.V. Mitchell will host this family-friendly online event. A.V. is a mogul in the making, dream coach, entrepreneur, author, artist, and highly sought after motivational speaker. Speaking to small and large audiences, Mitchell “shares his story of vision, faith, and determination in a real way.”

    Joining Mitchell, among others, is local Christian and Gospel rap artist, Carlos Vaughn, formally known as, “Thug Addict.” Led by the Spirit of God, he became a new creature and now goes by his first and middle name, “Carlos Vaughn.” As founder and CEO of Christlike Music and Ministries, LLC, he “is seeking to penetrate the youth population of the urban community to begin the process of changing mindsets.”

    Seven years ago, LCHE launched YPO with a monthly day camp where youth ages 10-17 benefitted from an innovative coaching model and personal enrichment/skills-building activities geared toward promoting healthy living and curbing youth violence. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 YPO is going virtual. As such, a few changes have been made as follows:
    • Weekly online activities replacing monthly day camps
    • Weekly activities will be scheduled for shorter time periods for online platforms
    • More Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) activities

    The weekly “virtual” camps will take place every Saturday at 11:00 AM starting June 6th – August 1st. Baton Rouge Youth, ages 10 through 17, are invited to register using the following link https://form.jotform.com/92394892338168. Parental consent is required. Hurry as space is limited.

    Coaches and volunteers are being recruited now. Coaches may serve as a buddy or mentor to the youth. They must be caring, have achieved personal success, have self-confidence, and a desire to share his or her experiences with youth by offering support, accountability, and encouragement to help enhance communication and problem solving to help youth in achieving their goals. The registration process for mentors and coaches is underway. Visit our website at www.youthpeaceolympics.org/volunteer for more information.

    Important links below:

    Link to register for Opening Ceremony: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_89jMAwWqShOetwW5JLte5w
    Link to register for 2020 YPO summer program:

    https://form.jotform.com/92394892338168

    Link to apply to become a volunteer:

    http://www.youthpeaceolympics.org/volunteer

    On Facebook:
    www.facebook.com/YouthPeaceOlympics/
    Twitter:
    www.twitter.com/ypo_br
    Instagram:
    www.instagram.com/youthpeaceolympics

    About Louisiana Center for Health Equity
    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity (LCHE) is a nonpartisan 501 (c) (3) public charity non-profit organization established in January 2010. LCHE’s purpose is to promote better health outcomes for Louisiana residents who face significant barriers to being healthy with a focus on wellness and community health.

     

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    Charles R. Kelly Community Center, Councilwoman Green’s District 5 office to remain closed



    Councilwoman Erika Green

    In adherence to the COVID-19 CDC Guidelines and the Governor John bel Edwards’s Phase One Plan, the District Office of Councilwoman Erika L. Green and the Charles R. Kelly Community Center will remain closed to the public throughout the state’s Phase I, stated Green via Facebook.

    The District Office will remain closed to the public, but Green and the office staff will remain available daily to address constituent concerns by phone at 225-389-4831 or by email at dddeshields@brla.gov.

    The Charles R. Kelly Community Center will remain closed to the public except for prescheduled appointments, but the staff will remain available daily to address constituent concerns by phone and/or email. All community center bookings through June will be cancelled.

    Camp Expose, scheduled for June 15-26, 2020, has been cancelled. The Food Pantry will resume regularly scheduled hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9AM- 4PM daily. Council on Aging senior lunch distribution will continue M-F 11:00am-2:00pm.

    Any community events/distributions or giveaways that are located at or on the site of the community center must adhere to all of the CDC social distancing guidelines. Protective masks will be strongly encouraged for entry into the Community Center. Precautionary measures will be taken at the staff’s discretion prior to entry.

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  • Our Daily Bread of Tangipahoa awarded $10,000 donation

    Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance announce a $10,000 donation to Our Daily Bread of Tangipahoa – nominated by Shae Crain of Blumberg & Associates – as part of an Emergency Community Support Grant to help independent insurance agents give back to their local community during the COVID-19 crisis. The donation will go directly to Our Daily Bread of Tangipahoa, a nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating hunger in the communities they serve.

    “My team and I have recognized the hard work and dedication performed by Our Daily Bread of Tangipahoa during this pandemic and we are incredibly thankful for Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance for providing extra funds to help the community when we need it most,” said Shae Crain with Blumberg & Associates. “Our Daily Bread of Tangipahoa has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and the $10,000 donation will help them continue to make a difference to the community they serve.”

    The $10,000 donation will be used to help the food bank purchase items for hot meals, pay additional staff during this crisis, and general expenses due to handling large flow.

    “The goal of the Emergency Community Support Grants is to help our independent agents make an immediate impact during this critical time in the local communities where they live and work,” said Alexis Holzer, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance Independent Agent Giving Program Manager.

    The Ponchatoula community can get involved and give back to Our Daily Bread of Tangipahoa by volunteering to help with the food line and distribution of boxes. For more information, visit www.ourdailybreadhammond.org.

    Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance have a rich history in supporting local and national causes on the corporate level with the Liberty Mutual Foundation, Safeco Foundation, the employee involvement program Liberty Torchbearers, as well as through its Independent Agent Giving programs. In addition to $1 million for the emergency community support grants, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance already committed to invest $375,000 into local nonprofits in 2020 through the Independent Agent Giving programs, Make More Happen and Change Agents.

    For more information, visit www.agentgiving.com.

    About Liberty Mutual Insurance
    Liberty Mutual’s purpose is to help people embrace today and confidently pursue tomorrow. The promise we make to our customers throughout the world is to provide protection for the unexpected, delivered with care.

    In business since 1912, and headquartered in Boston, Mass., today we are the fifth-largest global property and casualty insurer based on 2018 gross written premium. We also rank 75th on the Fortune 100 list of largest corporations in the U.S. based on 2018 revenue. We employ nearly 50,000 people in 30 countries and economies around the world. We offer a wide range of small commercial insurance products and services through our independent agent partners, including business owner’s policy, comprehensive business package, inland marine, workers compensation, and more.

    ONLINE: www.Libertymutualinsurance.com and www.Safeco.com

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  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Striking the right balance

    It has been said that “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” This saying became a reality that I experienced as a member of the US Air Force. I endured several family separations for various deployments or change of duty stations. I’ve since retired and have transitioned into civilian life and now have a different pattern of daily regimen. Telephone conversations with family members thousands of miles and several time zones away have been replaced with face to face talks on the porch, laughs at the dinner table, or an embrace of comfort on a shaded bench at a park. There is a chemical reaction that takes place within us when we see or even anticipate meeting a friend or loved one. Connecting is a life-enhancer. There’s no substitute for the benefits of physical connection and yet, we find ourselves in a moment that separation is warranted. In these novel times, we have witnessed the emergence of terms such as “bend the curve” and “social distancing.” Although we are limiting our physical interactions to reduce the spread and strain on our healthcare systems, we must hold to the intent of staying connected.

    The current pandemic has permeated our peripherals and has become the focus of how we see the world. The way we greet each other, the way we shop, and how we communicate have evolved in ways that were unimaginable only a few months ago. I could not have imagined after retiring from the military that I would again hear the terms essential or non-essential personnel. Among the many stressors of this health crisis; staying home versus earning a living to provide for our families is a challenge that many face. There is also the factor of a level of isolation.

    The Centers for Disease Control advises that older adults and people of any age with underlying health conditions are at higher risk for COVID-19. Like most of you, I have family and friends that have a myriad of vulnerabilities. For me, it’s my mother. She’s 80, has a laundry list of underlying conditions, and is of African-American descent. Recent numbers have shown that African Americans have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Here in Mississippi, and according to the 2010 US Census, African Americans makeup about 37 per of the population but are trending above 50% of Coronavirus fatalities. These statistics mirror the racial disparity in my home state of Louisiana as well. Despite our own reward of physically spending time with these loved ones, I understand that the risk is too high to gamble with. This vulnerable population is at the forefront of our minds and should receive the highest degree of considerations. I sometimes mentally flashback to my military days of decontamination exercises before I enter a home. We must take care to practice good hygiene practices when interacting with those most susceptible. Awareness of available data and using the CDC guidelines are two of the tools available in doing our best to help keep our loved ones safe. Certain situations may prevent us from physically being present. We have to consider and implement ways to come together while separated during this difficult time.

    Even as case numbers are going up, some of our daily activities are slowing down. I have taken more time to observe and reflect on things that are not usually high on my priority list. Conversations have become more meaningful, sunny days are a little brighter, music has become a companion and fills the voids of isolation. Schools are closed and we are getting to know our children in a different way. This is a worldwide issue and on a community scale, it will take community-wide solutions. Using what we have to connect may include telephone calls, FaceTime, or something as personal as writing a letter. It may be a conversation conducted from a front porch that connects with a neighbor on the street.

    Our daily actions now will have a lasting impact on the days to come. On those days when I find myself physically alone, I can find comfort in picking up the phone to hear a familiar voice, knowing that even from a distance we are connected and working together.

    Submitted by Kevin Brown
    McComb, MS
    Kevbrown360.com

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  • URGENT: State seeks public comments on plan to create affordable rental program

    The Louisiana Office of Community Development is accepting public comments on Action Plan Amendment 13, which adjusts existing program budgets and beneficiaries and creates a program to address unmet recovery needs from the Great Floods of 2016.

    The plan will create multi-family rental housing units for Louisiana’s National Guard at Camp Beauregard in flood-impacted Rapides Parish. The rental units will be built on post, which will free up rental units formerly occupied by military members living off post, thus further expanding affordable rental housing stock.

    APA 13 proposes the following changes:

    • Establish an affordable rental program, called the Louisiana Military Department Affordable Rental Housing Program;
    • Reduce the budget for the Restore Louisiana Interim Housing Assistance Program by $10 million due to undersubscription; and
    • Create a budget for the Louisiana Military Department Affordable Rental Housing Program.

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds the state’s recovery efforts with disaster recovery Community Development Block Grant dollars and considers APA 13 a substantial action plan amendment, which requires a public comment period.

    The formal public comment period for APA 13 runs from April 1 to 5 p.m. April 14, 2020. Residents and organizations can comment in the following ways:

    • Send comments via the OCD-DRU website at doa.la.gov/ActionPlans;
    • Email comments to ocd@la.gov;
    • Mail comments to Disaster Recovery Unit, P.O. Box 94095, 70804-9095, Attn: Janice Lovett; or
    • Fax comments to the attention of Janice Lovett at 225.219.9605.

    The action plan amendment can be accessed in English, Vietnamese and Spanish at doa.la.gov/ActionPlans.

    Read more »
  • ICYMI: Closures extended, well wishes, elections, text system alerts, National Guards deployed

    CLOSURES CONTINUE: Gov. John Bel Edwards extended his stay-at-home order until April 30, as Louisiana works to slow the spread of COVID-19, which extends the length of time that schools and some businesses are closed and continues limits on the size of gatherings. On ThursdayMayor-President Sharon Weston Broome extended the closure of all City-Parish buildings Friday, including City Hall and all community centers, through Thursday, April 30, 2020. City-Parish buildings will remain closed to the public and will be restricted to essential personnel. Any residents with questions or concerns can call 225-389-3000 or visit http://www.brla.gov.

    WELL WISHES: Baton Rouge General Hospital is collecting get well soon cards for patients in need of a smile. Each card will be handed out daily to patients in the ICU. There is no need to address the cards to specific patients. Baton Rouge General also asks people not to use glue or glitter.

    STATE AND CITY COVID UPDATES: Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a new text alert system that will provide timely COVID-19 updates and other critical guidance directly from the governor’s office to Louisiana residents who opt-in to the new system by texting ‘LACOVID’ to 67283. Residents will receive updates and instructions to sign up for Smart911, a free service that allows individuals and families to provide key info to first responders.  Through the Smart911 app or smart911.com, residents can create a Safety Profile that contains critical information including pre-existing conditions and quarantine status.

    Likewise, East Baton Rouge City Parish announced a text messaging service for residents to opt-in and receive updates related to the coronavirus pandemic. Text REDSTICKREADY to 225-243-9991.

    ELECTIONS: The Louisiana Democratic Party announced a deadline extension to two key aspects of the Delegate Selection Plan for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. This change extends the deadline to submit a delegate qualifying form by two weeks to April 20 and moves the deadline to request ballots for the delegate vote by mail election to April 22.

    NATIONAL GUARD: U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) announced that the federal government is completely funding the Louisiana National Guard’s efforts to combat coronavirus. About 1,200 guardsmen are assisting with disaster response across Louisiana. They address different needs such as food preparation, assisting with testing, distributing supplies and preparing emergency shelters.

    Read more »
  • Louisianans push USDA to open emergency food reserves

    Together Louisiana has begun a petition asking the US Department of Agriculture to allow Louisiana’s food banks to access non-perishable food reserves the USDA stores throughout the state for emergencies.

    Louisiana is experiencing the fastest spread of COVID-19 in the world. The State’s largest food bank in New Orleans will be out of food within the next few days. The state’s other food banks are not far behind.

    Petitioners asking the USDA to approve a request from Governor Edwards and the Congressional Delegation to approve a Disaster Household Distribution Program, which will allow local food banks to access critical reserves of food that cannot be used without this declaration.

    Sign the petition: Petition asking USDA to open emergency food reserves to Louisiana’s food banks  https://www.togetherla.org/usdapetition?recruiter_id=414139

    Read more »
  • Jaguar Nation partners to help on-campus students move amid coronavirus concerns

    The Southern University Division of Student Affairs, Southern University Foundation and Southern University Alumni Federation Monday, March 23, announced an initiative to aid students who may have difficulty transitioning from residential housing to their homes or other non-communal spaces as the university continues to monitor and address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    This emergency fund aims to provide nominal assistance such as gas money for students to travel home.

    “We understand that there are many moving parts in this uncertain time as we face a global coronavirus pandemic,” stated Student Affairs officials in a notice sent to students. “Out of an abundance of caution and to keep our students safe, we have been strongly encouraging residential students to move off campus as soon as possible. We realize that this is not an easy feat for some students as this creates a financial emergency. With this in mind, the Division of Student Affairs is working with our Southern University Foundation and Southern University Alumni Federation to assist those who need some help to move off campus during this time. We thank you all for being the most important part of Southern University. It is our pleasure to continue to serve you.”

    Students who are in need of nominal financial assistance for this type of move should contact the Housing Support Line at 225-771-4083  or studentaffairs@subr.edu. Their situations will then be assessed and remedied accordingly if possible.

    Students who are still on campus continue to receive regular services such as meals. For all student notices and information regarding the coronavirus epidemic and its effects on the Southern University campus, go to www.sus.edu/coronavirus.

     

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  • Tangipahoa Parish schools provides school update

    Stay current online here: https://www.tangischools.org/Domain/7898

    According to the Tangipahoa School Systems, teachers will not take any grades or attendance during the next four weeks. The instructional materials tey system provides are OPTIONAL for students. These resources are only to provide the opportunity for our students to stay connected to classroom learning materials, because the students will take the statewide test starting on April 27. Teachers will be reaching out to parents and students to encourage them to work on OPTIONAL instruction if they have access to these materials at home. Students enrolled in SLU and NTCC dual enrollment courses MUST complete online assignments and monitor email during this time for additional course information.

    Optional Resources for Home Learning Website

    For students who do not have internet access at home, there is an opportunity to seek free or reduced-cost internet access for families and students through the “Keep Americans Connected” pledge provided by many of our broadband carriers. This information is already on our website.

    Grading/Attendance
    There will be no grades or attendance taken during these next four weeks. The instruction materials we provide are strictly OPTIONAL for students; however, at this time, students are still scheduled to take statewide assessment tests starting April 27. The instructional material our teachers provide will help them stay connected and better prepare for the statewide testing.

    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 »
  • LED launches site to share resources for impacted businesses

    Louisiana Economic Development has launched a resource page as individuals and the state’s business community adjust to the coronavirus pandemic. This information focuses on useful resources for businesses and individuals. Information includes links to the following

    BUSINESS ASSISTANCE RESOURCES:

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    What therapists tell patients who are anxious about Coronavirus

    It’s hard not to be anxious right now given all of the uncertainty and upheaval the novel coronavirus pandemic has brought to our everyday lives.

    Worries about contracting the virus, loved ones (especially older people or those with compromised immune systems) getting sick, losing income, figuring out child care, feeling socially isolated or not having enough groceries or other household provisions can be unsettling, to say the least.

    Therapists, many of whom are now holding sessions via phone or video calls instead of in-person, are working through these concerns and others with their clients. The Huffington Post asked mental health professionals how they’re approaching the anxiety around COVID-19 with their patients. Hopefully, their advice will provide some peace of mind during an overwhelming time.

    1. Find new ways to connect with co-workers, friends, and family.
    2. Keep your daily routine as consistent as possible.
    3. Focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t.
    4. Be extra gentle with yourself.
    5. Cut back on your media exposure.
    6. Keep things in perspective.
    7. Make sure you have enough of any medications you take.
    8. Know that a little bit of anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Read more at The Huffington Post

     

    Here are resources for mental health:

    •  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. Louisiana Association of United Way https://www.louisiana211.org  To access 211: Simply dial 211 or text your zip code to 898-211 For COVID-19 information: Simply dial 211 or text LACOVID to 898-211
    • ICARE will provide support to parents and employees through this difficult time. They will address concerns at icare@ebrschools.org and reply within 24 hours with resources for support.

     

    wpid-IMG_20200316_165140.jpg

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  • ,,

    Misconceptions Blacks have about Coronavirus

    BlackNews.com reports the top 11 most common misconceptions that many in the Black community have:

    #1 – Black People Can’t Get It: This is simply not true. To date, at least three African American NBA players have contracted the virus. In addition, several African nations including Rwanda, Nigeria, and Kenya have all reported individuals who have tested positive for the viral. Therefore, Black people are not immune to the virus.

    #2 – Vodka Kills the Virus: Most vodka brands are only 40 percent alcohol, and that is not high enough to effectively kill microbes. The CDC recommends using handsaniter that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

    #3 - You Need Health Insurance to Be Tested: Definitely not true. The U.S. government has mandated free testing to all individuals who have the symptoms of Coronavirus. All hospitals are required to comply, but not all hospitals may have enough test kits. In addition, there may be a long waiting line to get tested.

    #3 – You Should Call 911 If You Have the Symptoms: Unless you are suffering from an immediate life-threatening emergency, you should not call 911. You should, however, call your doctor and/or visit your local hospital’s emergency room if you are not feeling well. Those who have questions or confusion about the virus can also visit CoronaVirusHelpline.org or call the toll-free Coronavirus Helpline at (888) 581-5029 for more information.

    #4 – The Flu is More Dangerous: This also is not true. Although it is true that last year more than 60,000 people died from the flu. The Coronavirus has been proven to be more contagious, more deadly, and also more misunderstand. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), less than 1% of people who typically contract the flu die from it, but so far, about 3.4% of those who have contracted Coronavirus have died.

    #6 – You Must Have Multiple Symptoms: This also is not correct. Many individuals who have tested positive for the Coronavirus have only been found to have just one of the major symptoms. According to the Washington State Dept of Health, those symptoms are shortness of breath, cough OR fever.

    #7 – Only Elderly People Die From It: While it is true that people age 60 and over are more likely to contract and die from the virus, younger people must also exercise plenty of caution. The truth is that many patients that are age 22-59 are also being affected. South Korea reported 2,718 cases among patients under the age of 30.

    #8 – All Chinese People Have the Coronavirus: Again, not true. It is true that the virus originated in China, but this does not mean that all Chinese people are infected nor does it justify any type of racial discrimination against people from China or Chinese-owned businesses. Remember that many Chinese Americans have never even been to China.

    #9 – There is a Cure: Currently, there is no cure or medical treatment available for those who contract the virus. Depending on the location, if a person tests positive for the virus, he or she will be quarantined and/or sent home and encouraged to self-quarantine. Drinking plenty of water, eating healthy foods with high nutrients, and taking immune-building vitamins are encouraged.

    #10 – You Should Stock Up on Water and Toilet Tissue: No government agency has ever made this suggestion. This is a panic reaction from the general population. The truth is that by being inside a grocery store or big box retailer trying to hoard items like this, you are only increasing the chances of being exposed to someone who could be infected and may not even know it.

    #11 – All Travel Has Been Banned: As of March 16, 2020, no type of domestic travel has been restricted. However, the U.S. government has initiated several international travel bans to many countries in Asia and Europe. Most of these travel bans, however, do not affect American citizens but affect non-U.S. citizens.

    Those with more questions about the virus are encouraged to visit black boy w women and medicineCoronaVirusHelpline.org or call the toll-free Coronavirus Helpline at (888) 581-5029 for more information.

    Read more »
  • Edwards holds meeting on coronavirus, task force

    Gov. John Bel Edwards presided over Louisiana’s first Unified Command Group meeting about the state’s response to the coronavirus(COVID-19) on Monday and announced the creation of a COVID-19 Task Force of key state and federal officials. 

    Currently, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana.

    The Governor also announced that the Louisiana Office of Public Health’s State Laboratory is now able to test for the virus in state, using the testing guidelines provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The CDC does expect community spread of coronavirus in some parts of the United States. There are more than 60 cases confirmed elsewhere in the country and two people in America have died. While the United States is not seeing the same level of spread as other countries, Louisiana has been preparing since the COVID-19 outbreak in mainland China.

    “While we currently do not have any confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, we do anticipate that we will in the future. That’s why Louisiana’s Department of Health and other agencies have been planning for several weeks on how the state will respond to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the health of the public,” Edwards said. “As a state, Louisiana has been planning for pandemics for 15 years, and we will use this experience to guide how we react and respond to the coronavirus, should it impact our state. For now, people should take commonsense steps to protect themselves from respiratory illness, including washing their hands, covering their mouths when they cough and avoiding going out in public when they are sick.”

    • Gov. Edwards will address coronavirus as part of his remarks at the Baton Rouge Press Club around noon today. His remarks will be streamed at Facebook.com/LouisianaGov.

    Members of the COVID-19 Task Force include the Louisiana Department of Health and the Office of Public Health, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Division of Administration, the Department of Education, the Louisiana National Guard, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Louisiana Department of Justice, the United States Coast Guard, 211, Louisiana State Police and other agencies as deemed appropriate.

    The COVID-19 Task Force will lead Louisiana’s planning for different scenarios relating to the spread of coronavirus. It will offer guidance not only to the Governor and the Unified Command Group, but also to state agencies, local governments, businesses and organizations.

    As an initial step, the COVID-19 Task Force is recommending that all state agencies review and update their Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) that were developed statewide in 2012 under GOHSEP direction to take coronavirus into account.

    For updates on the state’s response to the coronavirus situation, visit LDH.louisiana.gov/Coronavirus.

    Read more »
  • Southern University Law Center launches mental health teletheraphy app

    Southern University Law Center has become the latest institution of higher learning to offer the META mental wellness program to students. META, a teletherapy app, offers mobile counseling to help college students gain easy access to mental wellness providers.

    “We have a proud tradition of equipping our diverse group of students with the best possible tools to help them succeed,” said John K. Pierre, Chancellor of Southern University Law Center. “The META mental wellness program allows students to choose their own counselor and avoid the stigma of anyone knowing they’re in therapy. META’s positive messaging inspires students to consider their emotional health.”

    META’s mission is to circumvent the stigma surrounding mental health by offering users an easy way to receive counseling without having to visit an on-campus location. The app connects students to a network of licensed counselors, therapists, and psychologists. Students download the app, choose a provider, and receive counseling through the privacy and convenience of their smart phones via chat, video, or voice calls. The technology powering the app provides students the freedom to choose a therapist who’s a good fit, and the ability to reach them quickly and easily. The app is free to download, and sessions can be paid for via credit card or insurance.

    Mental health issues are a growing concern among college populations. According to the American College Health Association, college students are struggling more with stress, anxiety, and depression than they ever have before; 60% have experienced “overwhelming anxiety” in the past 12 months. Yet large numbers of college students avoid seeking services due to privacy concerns and the stigma surrounding mental illness.

    It’s also a concern for students of color. According to a Boston University survey of 43,000 college students, African-American students with symptoms of a mental health condition were half as likely as white students to be receiving treatment.

    The META app allows users to filter therapists by specialty, view provider bio videos, and send chat messages before receiving counseling. Providers are available during nights and weekends to better fit the student’s schedule and users can utilize medical insurance or pay out-of-pocket if they choose.

    Beyond the app, the campus holds quarterly mental health and wellness sessions where local professionals provide free services, such as blood pressure readings, HIV testing and screenings, and information. This is to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

    ONLINE: www.meta.app

    Read more »
  • Congress passes historic anti-lynching legislation

    Sixty-five years after the horrific lynching of teenager Emmett Till, the U.S. House of Representatives have finally passed H.R. 35, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act.

    The legislation would make lynching a crime under federal law.

    “Today, under the leadership of Representative Bobby Rush (IL-01), and three other Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the House of Representatives finally passed legislation to address the heinous act of lynching by making it a federal crime. The first bill to outlaw lynching was introduced in 1900,” members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote in a statement.

    “Lynching was a brutal, violent, and often savage public spectacle. They were advertised in newspapers, memorialized in postcards, and souvenirs were made from the victims’ remains,” the CBC, which is chaired by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif), added.

    A 1930 editorial in Raleigh News and Observer noted the delight of the audience witnessing a lynching as “Men joked loudly at the sight of the bleeding body; girls giggled as the flies fed on the blood that dripped from the Negro’s nose.”

    “Make no mistake: lynching is domestic terrorism. It is a tool that was used during the 256 years of slavery to terrorize enslaved African Americans and discourage them from rebelling,” Bass said.

    “It was used for almost 100 years after the end of slavery to terrorize free African Americans and discourage them from exercising their rights as citizens. Even today, we hear reports of nooses being left on college campuses and workplaces to threaten and harass Black people,” she stated.

    Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Tim Scott (R-SC) applauded the passage of the bill, which is identical to anti-lynching legislation the three introduced in the Senate last year.

    That legislation unanimously passed the Senate.

    “Today brings us one step closer to finally reconciling a dark chapter in our nation’s history,” Booker stated in a release. “Lynchings were used to terrorize, marginalize, and oppress black communities – to kill human beings to sow fear and keep black communities in a perpetual state of racial subjugation.”

    He continued:

    “If we do not reckon with this dark past, we cannot move forward. But today we are moving forward. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Rush, the House has sent a clear, indisputable message that lynching will not be tolerated. It has brought us closer to reckoning with our nation’s history of racialized violence. Now the Senate must again pass this bill to ensure that it finally becomes law.”

    Harris called lynchings racially-motivated acts of violence and terror that represent a dark and despicable chapter of our nation’s history.

    “They were acts against people who should have received justice but did not. With this bill, we can change that by explicitly criminalizing lynching under federal law,” noted Harris, who suspended her presidential campaign late last year.

    “I applaud Congressman Rush and the House of Representatives for speaking the truth about our past and making it clear that these acts must never happen again without serious and swift consequence and accountability. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this bill’s passage,” she said.

    Scott added that it’s essential to show that hate will not win while Rush compared lynching to the French use of the guillotine, the Roman Empire’s use of crucifixion, and the British use of drawing and quartering as a tool of terrorism.

    “And, for too long now, a federal law against lynching has remained conspicuously silent,” Rush noted. “Today, we will send a strong message that violence – and race-based violence, in particular – has no place in American society. I am immensely grateful to Senators Harris, Booker, and Scott for working with my office on this landmark piece of legislation, and I look forward to it being quickly passed in the Senate and immediately sent to the President to be signed into law.”

    Bass said the last known lynching was as recent as 25 years ago and only then, for the first time in the nation’s history, was the perpetrator convicted and executed. “This is an awful part of our history, but it is our history – our American history – and it is important for us to all know and remember it, especially now that we are facing a resurgence of hate crimes in America under the presidency of Donald J. Trump,” Bass stated.

    “Now there is the National Memorial for Peace and Justice to document the known history of lynching and the many reasons why Black people were lynched, such as for making eye contact with a white person, not moving to the other side of the street, or spitting in public,” she said.

    Further, Bass added that the bill makes “a long-overdue change to our laws by finally addressing the issue of lynching for the thousands of African Americans who suffered this heinous fate and the countless more we’ll never know.”


    By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

    Read more »
  • ,

    LETTER: Community meeting on Exxon fire more than just talk

    Dear Editor,

    As Chief Executive Officer of the East Baton Rouge Council On Aging, I was compelled to attend the Emergency Called Community Meeting, held by Senator Cleo Fields on February 19, 2020. This meeting was called in response to the fire at the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery the night of February 12th. The meeting, which occurred one day after the release of Exxon’s seven-day report, explained a timeline of events and which chemicals were released into the air and how harmful they are to us.

    I felt obliged to attend because I knew the dynamics of the community and in my capacity as EBRCOA CEO, I represent the seniors in that area.

    Senator Cleo Fields conducted a wonderful community meeting as it relates to the Exxon fire and how it has impacted the community closer to the plant. He laid out steps that he was going to do moving forward: accountability, notification, education, air monitoring and legislation to make significant changes on how we are notified about potential threats to our health. I was impressed that Sen. Fields stuck to his purpose of this meeting which was meaningful dialogue to craft legislation to “ensure the safety of the state’s citizens”.

    As I surveyed the close to 200 + people in the room, a resounding message and picture occurred to me. Ninety percent of the folks at the meeting who are living in the area nearest to the chemical plant are Seniors….they are scared and worried about their health and environment. I’ve had conversation with many of them as it relates to their fears about being messed over again and being forgotten about. I’ve spoken to many of them regarding their health issues; cancers, debilitating mobility problems, breathing and lung issues among other health complications.

    I left the meeting feeling reassured that this time, it was more than just talk and just maybe we will see some immediate changes made to protect the lives of our most vulnerable community members.
    A great big “Thank you” to Senator Cleo Fields, Senator Regina Barrow, State Representatives Edmond Jordan and C. Denise Marcelle, and Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome for taking up this community issue. 

    Mrs. Tasha Clark-Amar
    Council on Aging
    East Baton Rouge

    Read more »
  • SU Ag Center set to host its 77th Annual State Livestock Show

    Meat purchases are available

    Nearly 120 youth from 26 parishes will come to the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena with the hopes of having their animals named state champion during the Southern University Ag Center’s 77th Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show.

    The event will be held on February 27 – 29 in Baton Rouge, LA. This annual show provides an opportunity for youth to showcase their hard work in raising and caring for various breeds of cattle, hogs, sheep, lamb, goats, and poultry. Winners will receive premiums, ribbons, rosettes and trophy belt buckles.

    Local schools are also invited to participate in the show’s guided tours on February 28. The tours will include a mini petting zoo, hands-on plant, tobacco-free living, and nutrition exhibits.

    The Livestock Show Office is currently accepting pre-orders of non-processed meat. All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are available:

    • One whole beef $2,000
    • One-half beef $1,000
    • One-fourth beef $500
    • One whole pork $225
    • One whole lamb $200
    • One whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to being picked up from the slaughterhouse.

    The general public is also welcome to attend and purchase meat during the show’s ‘Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, February 29 beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena.

    The office will deliver the meat to either Cutrer’s Slaughter House in Kentwood (985) 229-2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine (225) 687-4258.

    Since 1943, Southern University has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout the state to gain valuable knowledge and skills at its Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show. The Livestock Show provides a venue for youth to showcase their animals, develop entrepreneurship skills, build character and receive leadership training.

    Southern University is the only 1890 Land-Grant University that currently holds an annual Livestock Show.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to purchase meat or register a school for a guided tour, visit Livestock Show, call 225-771-6208 or email decobea_butler@suagcenter.com.

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  • Fathers Incorporated partners with the US Census for ‘Black Dads Count’

    Fathers Incorporated officially launched Black Dads Count, an awareness campaign to advance a conversation and civic engagement amongst Black Dads and the 2020 U.S. Census on MLK Day, January 20, 2020.  Black Dads Count has partnered locally with Fair Count and will participate in their Black Men Speak series in January as well as other BDC-specific forums. For information about events, partners, partnerships and Census facts, please visit www.BlackDadsCount.com

    Because of its emphasis on inclusion, particularly for Black dads, the campaign has attracted the support of national partners; Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, The Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA), K.I.N.G., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., National Cares Mentoring Movement (CARES), The National Healthy Start Association (NHSA), The Black Man Can (TBMC), United Way of Metro Atlanta and the Census Bureau. 

    2020 marks the 55th Anniversary of the 1965 Moynihan Report. The controversial report argued that combating poverty required strengthening families in the United States – particularly through positively impacting Black men. Five decades after the release of the Moynihan Report, national databases indicated that little progress has been made on the key issues Moynihan identified. Moreover, many of the issues for Black families highlighted by the report are now worse and are prevalent among other families.

    “The 2020 U.S. Census affords us the opportunity to engage Black Dads in an extremely meaningful way,” states Kenneth Braswell, CEO of Fathers Incorporated. “As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census is a once every-decade count of everyone living in the country. When we know how many people live in your community, organizations and businesses are better equipped to evaluate the services and programs needed, such as clinics, schools, and roads. It also determines how seats in Congress are distributed among the 50 states.”

    Fathers Incorporated has invested 15 years of service in building the capacity of fathers (particularly Black fathers) to be available, equipped and positively present in the lives of their children and family. At the most fundamental level of being a father is the need to be present and civic-minded. These responsibilities are crucial to the overall success and well-being of themselves and families.

    Fathers Incorporated has been invited by the U.S. Census to be a national partner to specifically focus attention primarily on Black Dads and their families in Hard To Count (HTC) communities. While the campaign will have a national focus, there is a more intentional focus around efforts on the ground in Metro Atlanta. These efforts can be duplicated and scaled to be implemented in other hard to count communities around the country. To learn more, visit www.BlackDadsCount.com.

    Media interested in learning more about the Moniyhan Report; Facts, Figures and Facts about Black Men and the U.S. Census from subject matter expert, Kenneth Braswell, please refer to the press contact. 


    About Fathers Incorporated
    Established in 2004, Fathers Incorporated (FI) works collaboratively with organizations around the country to identify and advocate for social and legislative changes that lead to healthy father involvement with children, regardless of the father’s marital or economic status, or geographic location. For more information, please visit www.fathersincorporated.com.

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  • ,,

    Professor presents ‘When Law and Injustice Become Bedfellows,’ Feb.3

    On Monday, February 3, 2020, Southern University Law Center professor Angela Allen-Bell will give a presentation entitled “When Law & Injustice Become Bedfellows: Justice Becomes the Business of the People” during SUNO’s Charles Frye Memorial Lecture Series from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work. Allen-Bell will discuss the history of Louisiana’s criminal justice system in an effort to work toward needed criminal justice reforms. The public is invited to attend.

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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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    Marshall named vice-chancellor of the SU Ag Center and associate dean of the College of Ag

    Renita W. Marshall, DVM, has been appointed the Vice-Chancellor for Academic and Student Services at the Southern University Ag Center/ Associate Dean of the Southern University College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    Marshall was appointed to the position during the Southern University Board of Supervisors’ meeting on October 18, 2019.

    Since 2017, she has held the positions of director of the Southern University Institute for One Health One Medicine, Department Chair of Agricultural Sciences and Professor of Animal Science.  She has also served as the Veterinarian for the Southern University Ag Center since 2012.

    In her role as a professor of animal science, she served as the faculty advisor for both the Department of Animal Science’s Pre-Veterinary Club and Southern University’s Chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS). She was also a co-coordinator of the Southern University College of Sciences and Agriculture’s Beginning Agricultural Youth Opportunities Unlimited (BAYOU) Program.

    Prior to teaching at the college, Renita was employed with the Southern University Ag Center for more than a decade. During that time, she held the titles of Interim Associate Research Director and Livestock Programs Director.

    Dr. Marshall has received several certifications which include a Pharmacy Certification from the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. She is also a United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency Controlled Substance Certified Veterinarian, and a United States Department of Agriculture Category II Accredited Veterinarian.

    She has secured $7.5 million in grant funds to expand teaching, research and extension programs at Southern University and has written several scholarly articles on small ruminants, swine, cattle, water resources, animal reproduction, and minority-owned small farm operations.

    Renita is a member of numerous community and professional organizations. She is a member of the Baton Rouge Zoo’s Advisory Board, Southern University’s representative for the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency (MOHSEP) Animal Disaster/Evacuation and a member of the Next Generation Global Health Security Network.

    Dr. Marshall earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Southern University, a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Missouri – Columbia and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Tuskegee University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.


    ONLINE: http://www.suagcenter.com/

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

     

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    Census 2020: For all to count, all must be counted

    While every Census faces challenges and even controversies, the count remains important because it’s the federal government’s very first responsibility to the U.S. Constitution, the cornerstone of the nation’s representative democracy and America’s largest peacetime activity, said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant to many census stakeholders and former staff director for the U.S. House Subcommittee on Census and Population.

    However, Lowenthal believes the 2020 Census is heading into “a perfect storm.”

    “I think of unprecedented factors that could thwart a successful enumeration – one that counts all communities equally well,” said Lowenthal, who consults on The Census Project, a collaboration of business and industry associations; civil rights advocates; state and local governments; social service agencies; researchers and scientific societies; planners; foundations; and nonprofits focused on housing, child and family welfare, education, transportation, and other vital services.

    “The risks include cyber-threats foreign and domestic, IT failures, weather events that have become more extreme, disinformation campaigns, and the unknown consequences of adding a new, untested citizenship question,” she said.

    The official kick-off to the 2020 Census is Monday, April 1 in Washington where the U.S. Census Bureau will host a live operational press briefing to mark the one-year out milestone from the 2020 Census.

    Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham and others in leadership plan to brief the public on the status of operations and provide updates on the success of the integrated partnership and communication campaign.

    Lowenthal said the unknown consequences of adding a new, untested citizenship question are among the growing challenges facing the 2020 Census.

    She said other challenges including consistent underfunding and President Trump’s budget request for next year, which is well below the amount needed; distrust of government at many levels; and fear among immigrants that their census responses will be used to harm them and their families.

    “An inclusive, accurate census is especially important for Black Americans and other people of color,” Lowenthal said.

    “The census determines the distribution of political power, from Congress, to state legislatures, to city councils and school boards, and guides the allocation of almost $9 trillion over the decade in federal assistance to states and communities for hospitals, public transit, school facilities, veterans services, Medicaid, school lunches, and many other vital services,” she said.

    Unfortunately, advocates say the census is not an equal opportunity enumeration.

    Scientific yardsticks since 1940 reveal that the census misses Black Americans at disproportionately high rates, especially Black men ages 18 to 49 and Black children under age five.

    “At the same time, the census over-counted non-Hispanic Whites in 2000 and 2010. And because the people who are more likely to be missed do not live in the same neighborhoods as those more likely to be double-counted, some communities get more than their fair share of political representation and resources, while others get less than they deserve and need,” Lowenthal said, adding that we then must live with those results for the next ten years.

    The Census is a civil rights issue with huge implications for everyone, particularly people of color, added Beth Lynk, the director of the Census Counts Campaign at The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

    “Census data are used to draw congressional district lines and help determine the amount of federal funding communities receive for programs like Head Start and SNAP,” Lynk said.

    “Communities that are missing from the census lose out on what they need to stay safe and healthy. Unfortunately, Black people and Latinos are considered to be harder to count, and accurately counting these populations takes a focused effort,” she said.

    Lynk said, “That’s why it’s critical that local governments and community organizations educate their own constituents and members and encourage them to be counted.”

    Census data are inherently personal; the data record and codify individual stories, and help to paint a mosaic of rich racial, ethnic, cultural, and geographic identities, said Jason Jurjevich, Assistant Director of the Population Research Center, a research institute in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University in Oregon.

    “Telling the story of diverse communities, including individuals of color, requires a fair and accurate count,” Jurjevich said.

    “As with any census, an all too common obstacle is that some individuals are excluded, resulting in an undercount. In the 2010 Census, considered one of the most accurate censuses in recent American history, 1.5 percent of Hispanics and 2.1 percent of African-Americans were undercounted,” he said.

    Jurjevich added that among African-American men, ages 30 to 49, the undercount was much higher, at 10.1 percent.

    The decennial census is the one chance, every ten years, to stand up and be counted, Jurjevich said.

    He said Census 2020 will offer the first-ever online response option, which could improve census response rates and, at the same time, numerous challenges and barriers will likely make it more difficult to count Americans in the 2020 Census.

    “This means that communities will need to organize and address on-the-ground challenges like the proposed citizenship question, increasing public distrust in government, growing fears among immigrants about the current sociopolitical climate, the first-ever online response option and concerns around the digital divide and security of personal data, and inconsistent and insufficient federal funding,” Jurjevich said.

    Each community should first consider developing a Complete Count Committee – or CCC, he said.

    “A CCC is a volunteer committee established by tribal, state, and local governments and community leaders to increase awareness of Census 2020 and increase census participation,” Jurjevich said.

    The first step for CCCs is to develop a Complete Count Plan.

    The plan should identify local barriers to a fair and accurate count, identifies potential sources of funding, build on the strength of trusted community voices, and develop culturally resonant messaging, Jurjevich said.

    “For all to count, all must be counted,” he said.

    By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA

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  • DrumRoll! Congratulations to Tapo, Branson, Stewart, Plummer, Harris, and Golden

    Attorneys Taryn Branson and Joyce Marie Plummer received the Joyn M Clemons Award for Outstanding Legal Work during the 2019 Louisiana NAACP State Convention in Marksville. Plummer was also recognized as a life member of the NAACP by president Michael McClanahan.

    Kathie Stromile Golden, Ph.D., has been appointed provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Mississippi Valley State University. She served as director of international programs at MVSU. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in political science from Southern University and A&M College and a doctorate in political science from the University of Kentucky.

    Tina M. Harris has joined LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication as the Manship-Maynard Chair in Race, Media and Cultural Literacy—the first position of its type in the nation. Harris will do research and teaching on advancing issues of diversity, access and social justice in media and society, and will build upon her extensive research base. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree from the University of Georgia. She is the co-author of the textbook, Interracial Communication: Theory Into Practice. Her other research interests include communication and pedagogy; diversity and media representations; race and ethnic disparities; and religious frameworks in health communication.

    Calvin Mackie, Ph.D., of New Orleans, recently received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Phoenix Award from U.S Rep. Cedric L. Richmond during the 2019 Annual Legislative Conference. Mackie is the founder of STEM NOLA. The Phoenix Award is the highest honor presented by CBCF and recognizes individuals whose extraordinary achievements strengthen communities and improve the lives of individuals and families, nationally and globally. STEM NOLA has engaged more than 40,000 K-12 students, 10,000 families, 700 college students and 500 professionals in STEM events. Mackie was honored along with Wanda Austin, PhD, aeronautics and systems engineer; Congresswoman Barbara Lee; The Exonerated Five: Yusef Salaam, PhD, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Antron McCray, survivors of false convictions and social justice advocates; and the Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist.

    Southern University at Baton Rouge’s enrollment climbed above 7,000 according to its fall 2019 preliminary enrollment report. This year, Southern will host 7,031 students, representing a 5.1 percent increase in enrollment since the fall 2018 semester. In two years, Southern has grown its enrollment by 10.6 percent. Officials said 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.

    U.S. 5th Circuit Court Chief Judge Carl Stewart is the 2019 recipient of the Louisiana NAACP A.P. Tureaud Award. This is the highest award given by the state organization.

    Zhorie’l Tapo, a fifth-grader at L.J. Alleman Fine Arts Magnet Academy, has been selected as the only Louisiana Kid Reporter for the 2019-2020 Scholastic Kids Press. The Lafayette 10-year-old will report “news for kids, by kids” as a Scholastic Kid Reporter. She will be covering events throughout Louisiana, the region and nation on topics including entertainment, sports and breaking news. (Photo: Courtesy of Scholastic)

    The Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association welcomed a class of new volunteers at the conclusion of the Sept. 19 training session. Juvenile Court Judge Adam Haney swore in Patti Crump, Debbie Emery, Karen Godwin, Eboni Kaigler, Chiquita Kelly, Lindsey Litchfield, Helen Meyer, Brian Morin, Nicole Morin, Tommy Ray, Wendy Ray, Reba Roy, Mike Rush, Dona Sharkey, Wayne Sharkey, Michelle Sparks, Edward Stephen, Holly Tupper, Charles Vaughan, Dishili Young, and Nathan Zeller as volunteers. They will be appointed to advocate and help abused and neglected children reach safe homes with forever families.

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    Invisible Illness on full display through Picture of Health

    For someone who began capturing photos at seven years old, seeing life through a lens is second nature. And, using photography for the purpose of storytelling is a skill Baton Rouge photographer and journalist Leslie D. Rose has mastered with The Picture of Health photo project that displays the full scope of people living with invisible illnesses. From capturing bottles of medicines and supplements, medical equipment, vials of blood of another, bundles of hair loss, and hidden scars, Rose takes great care to present photographic stories of people living with invisible, chronic, and often debilitating diseases.

    For many people living with invisible illnesses, very rarely do they “look sick.” And quite often, there is no celebration in looking like they are disease-free when beneath the surface their bodies are fighting debilitating conditions or chronic pain.

    IMG_20190809_090409

    In fact, a moment of conversation with someone living with diseases like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, or lupus, will reveal little known truths about the appearance of illness and the journey to get to an accurate diagnosis. These truths are some of the reasons Rose unveiled The Picture of Health photo exhibit this summer at the Healthcare Gallery and followed with a three-month show at Southern Cofe in Scotlandville.

    Inspired by her own fibromyalgia journey and her husband’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis, Rose created this exhibit to help non-ill people better understand what “sick” really looks like while giving the power of transparency to people who are chronically ill. Shining light on invisible illnesses of all kinds has become a passion project for her after a simple Facebook post that asked people to comment with a selfie if they had invisible illnesses. More than a hundred posts and responses followed and she realized something should be done. “And this (exhibit) is that something,” Rose said. “The biggest thing is to elicit compassion.”

    Leslie D Rose

    Leslie D Rose

    For those viewing the exhibit at the gallery and coffee shop, The Picture of Health accomplishes more.
    “This exhibit is moving. I see myself in every picture,” said Vanessa Pitts who has lived with systemic lupus erythematosus for more than 20 years.

    Tinicia Turner said this is “such an awesomely fresh and thought-provoking exhibit.”

    “Thanks, Leslie D Rose for bringing light to those suffering in the shadows,” said Tamiko Francis Garrison whose photo presents polycystic kidney disease and migraines in the exhibit.

    The exhibit features more than one dozen Louisianians living with invisible illnesses like kidney disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, autism, psoriatic arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, high blood pressure, and more. They volunteer to share their stories. In five months since the reveal, Rose has photographed people with ten different conditions.

    The photos show people in the manner in which they present themselves daily. Using a mixture of headshots, full-body shots, and shots of the individual’s hands holding a sign listing their diagnosis, the exhibit focuses on the perceived normalcy of people housed in ill bodies. Photographs are also shared on @PicofHealthBR social media pages along with hashtags of illnesses to expand awareness and garner more participation. The mission is to highlight invisible illness, elicit compassion, and promote education on a variety of health issues.

    For those who are photographed, the project is liberating. “This was one of the most rewarding and freeing experience of my life! To be able to see so many people who, suffer with invisible illnesses, share their journeys was truly inspiring. It was also quite amazing to see what they battle everyday. These warriors inspired me and filled the room with love and hope!” said Sylvia Chapman.

    One of the exhibit’s collections features Chapman who shared how psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis sent her life spiraling through debilitating health crisis and depression. “I often asked God why this was happening to me and then I started to see purpose in it,” Chapman said. For her, the yearlong Picture of Health exhibit helps her release her purpose of showing others that they can survive and live their lives completely with illness.

    “To have our silent suffering validated and brought to light is healing, and Leslie’s work is beautiful,” said Meghan Matt. In September, Rose gathered participants and the public for a Coffee Chat at Southern Cofe to dialogue on invisible illnesses. They answered candid questions on diagnosis, fears, frustrations, and relationships.

    “My heart is full because so many people are interested in promoting invisible illness awareness,” said Rose who plans to host more events.

    “I have been somewhat shocked by the demographics of people who have signed up to be featured in The Picture of Health. I think I’ve inadvertently given encouragement to women who look like me and inspired them to share their stories. I have worked to create a safe space for those with illnesses to share their stories, but it appears that my own identity has given way for other women of color to feel even more comfortable sharing,” she said.

    “It is truly amazing the response and amount of support this project has received. Leslie has definitely created something educational, relatable, eye-opening, and beautiful,” said exhibit curator April Baham.
    Pieces are still being added to the exhibit and a full showing is being scheduled for May 2020.
    Rose’s activism-based arts organization, CreActiv, LLC seeks a temporary home for the preview pieces on display and a location to host the full exhibit next year.

    On Sunday, Oct.13, the group hosted a panel discussion, “Invisible Illness Awareness through the Arts,” to explore art as a tool for building awareness around the taboo subject of health issues. Panelists will discuss the creation of the project, stigmas surrounding disclosing illnesses, what it is like to have an invisible illness, ways to elicit compassion for those who suffer every day, and more. The program also featured a musical performance by Chris “The Madd Katt” Lee that will depict the pain of sciatica through drum beats. Lee is an “invisible illness warrior” featured in the exhibit.

    “The mission of pushing invisible illness to the forefront of the conversation is very hard…People who wake up in pain but generally look well fight everyday to act how they look instead of allowing their bodies to feel. This is a super trying process. I appreciate everyone’s support, but I fear that our voices are not yet loud enough. …Feel how you feel, support yourself, talk about it, support other invisible illness warriors, and champion this mission,” said Rose.

    ONLINE: www.CreActivLLC.com
    SOCIAL MEDIA: @PicofHealthBR

    By Candace J Semien
    Jozef Syndicate ereporter
    @JozefSyndicate

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    Registration opens for 5th Annual Open Talks Health Conference; Reynolds to keynote

    Don’t miss Open Health‘s 5th Annual Conference, Open Talks on Friday, October 18 at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel in Baton Rouge. The conference theme this year is health equity and will feature presenters from across the country and locally speaking about health equity among the Aging, Women’s Health, and LGBTQ populations. As in year’s past the day’s coursework will provide five educational units for nurses, social workers and LPC’s. Plus, the conference gives opportunities for attendees to network with colleagues and vendors so they can gain the information, skills, and resources needed to advocate for their patients.

    Duane Reynolds, MHA, President and CEO, Institute for Diversity and Health Equity and Vice-President of the American Hospital Association will keynote. He will speak on the Health Equity Imperative: Best Practice Strategies for Improving Care in Vulnerable Patient Populations

    5th Annual Open Talks Health Conference
    Theme: Health Equity
    3 Tracks: LGBTQ, Women’s Health, Aging
    Approved for 5 CEUs for nurses, social workers and LPCs
    Fees for licensed professionals is $75 and unlicensed professionals is $40.
    Fees include CEUs, breakfast and lunch.
    Meet vendors and network with colleagues

    See the full agenda and register at www.ohcc.org/education.

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  • ‘Coffee and Conversation’ presents legendary civil rights attorney Johnnie A. Jones Sr.

    The Louis A. Berry Institute for Civil Rights and Justice requests your presence at “Coffee and Conversation” with the legendary Johnnie A. Jones, Sr. Johnnie A. Jones, Sr. was the first student to graduate from Southern University Law Center after it gained its accreditation in 1953. That same year, Mr. Jones was retained as legal counsel for the organizers of the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott. Over the duration of his fifty-seven-year legal career, Mr. Jones has successfully: fought for pay equity for teachers; sued to desegregate local parks, pools, amusement centers, schools and courtrooms; represented Southern University student-protesters during the civil rights era; guarded the constitutional rights of countless, indigent defendants; and, challenged voter discrimination practices. Attorney Jones has to his credit a record of precedent-setting legal victories, an unwavering commitment to social justice and lifetime of service to the nation, the Baton Rouge community and the state of Louisiana at large. Come hear this battle-tested, legal giant share some of his legal, professional and social experiences.

    September 26, 2019 ​
    Southern University Law Center Atrium
    2:00p.m.—3:30p.m.
    Free and open to the public

    ​​

     

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    Mayor Broome Announces Community Development Grant Awards

    EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced 33 grant awards to 23 local non-profits, supportive service organizations, and community developers from the City-Parish’s federal Community Planning and Development dollars.

    Approximately $7.2 million was made available through four funding allocations to organizations that help low- and moderate-income residents with shelter, basic needs, housing rehabilitation, employment skills, and other supportive services.

    This year, the following community organizations are receiving grants:

    Community Development Block Grant
    A total of $3.1 million that provides for community development resources for a wide variety of community needs.

    · Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge, Inc.
    · Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
    · Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance
    · Humanities Amped
    · St. Vincent de Paul
    · The Walls Project
    · Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation
    · NOVAC
    · Turning Point
    · Premier Services
    · The CEO Mind Foundation
    · The Bridge Agency
    · Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless
    · Habitat for Humanity

    Emergency Solutions Grant
    A total of $266,896 that provides for homelessness prevention and shelter needs.

    · Capital Area Alliance for Homeless
    · Catholic Charities
    · St. Vincent de Paul
    · Preserving Life Ministries

    HOME Investment Partnerships Program
    A total of $1.3 million that provides grants for local housing strategies designed to increase homeownership and affordable housing opportunities for low- and very low-income citizens.

    · Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation
    · We Greaux People
    · Scotlandville CDC
    · Habitat for Humanity

    Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Grant
    A total of $2.5 million that provides local communities and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

    · East Baton Rouge Division of Human Development and Services
    · Metro Health
    · START Corporation
    · Our Lady of the Lake
    · HAART

    The City-Parish receives these federal dollars annually from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund activities that primarily benefit low- and moderate-income residents.
    “Our community is more resilient and the quality of life for our citizens is greatly improved thanks to the work of these tremendous organizations,” said Mayor-President Broome. “I’m proud to partner with these mission-driven organizations as their work through this critical funding is taking Baton Rouge in a positive direction.”
    The City-Parish uses a competitive application process to award the grants. A committee of volunteers and subject matter experts helps score the applications and makes recommendations on funding. Criteria are based on goals and priorities for the use of federal funds that are developed, in part, with input from local residents and federal grant requirements.
    In 2017, Mayor-President Broome reorganized the City-Parish Office of Community Development, the agency administering the federal grant funds. Now, the City-Parish partners with community development organizations like Build Baton Rouge – The Redevelopment Authority of East Baton Rouge Parish, the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, and the East Baton Rouge Division of Human Development and Services for the administration of the Community Planning and Development dollars.

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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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    Myra Richardson to receive NAACP’s advocacy award

    Myra Richardson will be presented the NAACP’s Prestigious Montague Cobb Health Advocacy Award, July 22, 2019 during the annual convention.

    This award was established to honor individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact in the field of health.

    This award is given annually in recognition of the legacy of Dr. W. Montague Cobb, who served as the President of the NAACP from 1976 to 1983.

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    Baton Rouge NAACP leaders challenge parish’s plan of governement

    Leaders of the Baton Rouge Branch of The NAACP have announced the organization will launch an investigation into the proposed changes to The East Baton Rouge Plan of Government.  On June 12, 2019. After 18 months, the East Baton Rouge Parish Plan of Government Amendment Committee has completed its draft of proposed changes to the local constitution, which will be introduced at the July 24, 2019, Metro Council meeting.

    According to the NAACP, the proposed amendments include significant changes, such as implementing two at-large council seats and a city manager position, along with enhancing council authority over the annual executive budget process.

    Through a news release, the NAACP leaders said the changes proposed by the East Baton Rouge Parish Plan of Government Amendment Committee dilute African American voting and could directly violate The Voting Rights Act. The group is opposing the proposed changes  put forth by the committee and will further investigate any violations of the Voting Rights Act this could cause.

    ONLINE: http://www.naacpbr.org

    https://www.brla.gov/1257/Plan-of-Government

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    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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    ‘Not Charity Lord, but a Chance’

    On the heels of winning an international People’s Choice Award for her aromatherapy pillow business, Condoleezza Semien, 13, shared a poem during the Baton Rouge African American History Museum’s Juneteenth celebration on June 3.

    She was invited to read the poem at the event and was recognized as an “inventor” by museum curator Sadie Roberts-Joseph. The museum sits in midcity Baton Rouge and hast hosted the celebration for 15 years as the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum. Roberts-Joseph led the Louisiana Legislature to approve statewide recognition of the day–June 19th–that commemorates American slaves being freed in 1865.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Condoleezza Semien share a smile June 3, 2019, following the annual Juneteenth Celebration at the Baton Rouge African American History Museum. Photo by Yulani S. Semien.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Condoleezza Semien share a smile June 3, 2019, following the annual Juneteenth Celebration at the Baton Rouge African American History Museum. Photo by Yulani S. Semien.

    The poem, “Not Charity, Lord, But a Chance,” is a petition for fair opportunities in America. Its message is timely and symbolic for this middle-schooler whose business has won two pitch competition within three months.

    “Blacks demanded a fair chance and were brilliant and excellent in what they did. That’s my goal,” said Semien.

    Semien created Beluga Bliss™, pillows infused with specialty blends of essential oils. For seven months, she participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge. As she worked through weekly assignments, she saw the need to create a product that could help people who are living with mental health conditions and incurable chronic illnesses.

    Then, she won the YEA pitch competition at LSU to receive the YEA Saunders Scholarship and seed funds for her business. On May 4, the eighth-grader traveled to the YEA-USA competition in Rochester, NY, vying for the top award against 60 teen entrepreneurs from across the USA, China, and India. Semien was the sole competitor from Louisiana.

    Fellow YEA-BR teen entrepreneurs and her classmates at Westdale Middle School cheered her on at the semi-final competition. More than 37,000 viewers watched the live stream and more than 300 viewers were in the audience at the Rochester Institute of Technology as she pitched Beluga Bliss.

    “You have a great stage presence,” one judge commented and another expressed how her aromatherapy blends and pillows were well developed.

    “You were above average and it shows… the smell was very pleasant,” said Lenin and Gian from California. “We could smell them where we sat!”

    At the end of each round of pitches, all viewers were able to text-to-vote on their favorite business. Back home in Baton Rouge, the class bell was held for Westdale students to cast their votes. “We are so excited and proud of Condi,” said Aliah James, advanced art teacher. Hours later it was announced that Beluga Bliss™ won the People’s Choice Award.

    “Winning People’s Choice is an assurance to me. To know that people who didn’t even know me thought that I had a very good product without even smelling my scents. It was an eye-opener. I’m proud of myself and grateful for the support I got from everyone. It feels good to know people around the world think that I had a great product.”

    Condoleeza Semien along with YEA winners and VC

    “There have been so many requests for pillow packs that we have to open our online preorders June 1 instead of this fall,” she said.

    This summer, she and her family are creating pillows, bottles of a specialty blended essential oils, and car fresheners.

    Semien is also conducting a BlissTour where she visits summer programs and events to motivate youth to apply to YEA-BR, move on their dreams, and do everything that makes them happy.

    Reach her at www.belugabliss.com for the first opportunity to receive pillows before the official launch. Guests can download custom color sheets, playlists, and bliss tips. Beluga Bliss is also on Instagram @Beluga_Bliss.

    ONLINE: www.belugabliss.com

    READ MORE:

    • WAFB: Young entrepreneur uses pillows to chase her dreams – WAFB.com https://www.wafb.com/2019/04/11/young-entrepreneur-uses-pillows-chase-her-dreams/
    • EBR Schools Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/EBRPschools/posts/condoleezza-semien-8th-grader-at-westdale-middle-is-already-an-entrepreneur-she-/2044889712276961/
    • WVUE FOX 8 News - Condoleezza Semien, 13, is on a journey https://www.facebook.com/…/condoleezza-semien-13-is…/10157599869834610/
    • BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT. Baton Rouge investors give over $18K to 15 Young Entrepreneurs Academy startups. https://www.businessreport.com/business/baton-rouge-investors-give-over-18k-to-15-young-entrepreneurs-academy-startups
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  • The Bail Project to bring fathers home for Father’s Day

    OPEN LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY FROM THE BAIL PROJECT AND THE BATON ROUGE NAACP CHAPTER

    Cash bail should not be something that keeps someone from being a productive member of society, and their inability to pay should not keep them in jail. With that in mind, we are uniting together to help bail out men from East Baton Rouge Parish Prison this Father’s Day.

    We will be partnering with The Bail Project, a national non-profit organization with a new office in Baton Rouge designed to combat mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system, one person at a time. Over the next five years, The Bail Project will work with local partners to open dozens of sites in high-need jurisdictions and pay bail for tens of thousands of low-income people, reducing the human suffering caused by unaffordable cash bail and building on the work of grassroots groups and movements for decarceration and racial justice.

    Your support will help us bring the father’s home to their children for Father’s Day. Donate today and help us bring a family back together.

    https://www.gofundme.com/f/home-for-father039s-day

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  • Donaldsonville kicks off Juneteenth Celebrations, June 1

    The Dville Music Festival Celebrating Freedom will be held on Saturday, June 1,  11am – 7pm at the Frank Sotile Jr. Pavilion, 2162 Thibaut Drive, Donaldsonville, LA.

    The line-up includes Rev. Cleveland Washington, Bright Morning Star Baptist Church choir, DJ Thriller, DJ Slaughter, DJ Child Support, Bucket List, Red Tape Musiq, and the Michael Foster Project.

    Organizers said, “Come out and bring your chair.  You will literally be able to spend your entire day at the festival doing nothing but listening to great music, dancing and eating (Fried chicken wings, Jambalaya, Smoked Turkey Legs, Fried Fish Poboys, Fried Turkey Wings, Nachos and Cheese, Pies, Boiled Turkey Necks, Boiled Shrimp, Boiled Crawfish, Homemade Lemonade, Chicken and Pasta, Snowballs, and sooo much more).  Bring your children to the Children’s tent and Water Spray Park. ”

    The City of Donaldsonville and the festival committee (Tamiko Francis Garrison, Allison Hudson, Councilman Oliver Joseph, and Mayor Leroy Sullivan) have carried on the tradition locally since 2011. It was started in 1996 by former Donaldsonville mayor B.J. Francis Sr. and his late wife, Janet Ganes Francis. After the death of Mrs. Francis, the festival continued through efforts of the Kathy Hambrick and River Road African American Museum and others in the community until 2010.

    Juneteenth commemorates the day when slaves in the last geographic area in America where slavery existed learned of their freedom. This took ‪place on June 19, 1865, in Galveston,‬ Texas, when Union General Gordon Granger read General Order #3, announcing that “all slaves are free”by Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln. TheEmancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, and issued on January 1, 1863. It took over two and a half years for the news to travel to southwest Texas. “Juneteenth is a landmark in history, a celebration of freedom and the end of enslavement in America,” states Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Founder & Chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) and the National Juneteenth Jazz Artist.

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  • Jackson’s anti-abortion bill moves forward; Edwards says he will sign ‘heartbeat’ bill

    During his monthly radio show, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will sign a bill banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, if the legislation arrives on his desk.

    Lawmakers are nearing the final passage of a another bill that would ask voters to rewrite the state constitution to ensure it offers no protections for the procedure. The constitutional change could ban the procedure as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

    The Senate voted 31-4  for the proposal by Democratic Rep. Katrina Jackson, of Monroe, asking voters to add language into the state constitution declaring that it doesn’t protect abortion rights. The proposal has been called the ” “Love Life Amendment” by one group and as anti-abortion legislation by others. The House already has approved it, but must take another vote to send it to the fall ballot. As it is written now, if the bill moves forward to voters, the ballot will read:

    “Do you support an amendment to add a provision to the Louisiana Constitution stating that nothing in the constitution shall secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion?”

    It will ensure that state courts cannot establish a “right to abortion” or the tax funding of abortion in Louisiana.

    The heart-beat bill legislation is sponsored by state Sen. John Milkovich, one of several measures that lawmakers are advancing to add new restrictions on abortion. It would come into play if the U.S. Supreme Court ever reverses the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. “We believe children are a gift from God,” said Milkovich, a Democrat from Keithville. He said his proposal provides that “once a heartbeat is detected, the baby can’t be killed.”

    The bill still needs approval by the House. If enacted into law, it would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks into pregnancy. Similar laws have been passed in several other states this year, including Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and Ohio.

    “My inclination is to sign it,” said Edwards. “It’s consistent with my unblemished pro-life record in my years as a legislator and governor,” he said earlier this month.

    While the national Democratic platform is clear in its support for legal abortion, Edwards said on his radio show that his views align with many members of his party in Louisiana.FV6FJOXZP5AJBIULJYG5E4U6JY

    “I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that’s not a good fit. But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

     

    Feature photo (c) Associated Press.

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    Youth Literacy, pre-IWE Festival, event continues to BRCC May 30

     

    The public is invited to the 2019 IWE Festival, Saturday, June 8th at Southern University A&M College.  It is an urban culture festival that boosts a vibrant array of creativity, art and culture through literacy. The festival has primarily focused on promoting literacy to an inter-generational audience for the past two years. There will be live music, a children’s zone, a vendors’ corner, and a small food area.

    On May 30, the final Youth Literacy Engagement session will be held at Baton Rouge Community College featuring Larry D. Lewis, eigh Jefferson Griffin, and Jasmine Walker.

    Lewis is founder and chief Executive officer of the Impact Institute for Leadership, Transformation, Innovation and Student Achievement. Griffin is project manager of the East Baton Rouge Parish Early Childhood Community Network and an adjunct professor at Southern University. Known as the Lady in Yellow, Walker tells stories through American sign language.

    Organizers said, “The purpose of these events is to attract families, caregivers, retired teachers, and youth to be involved in this initiative and gain useful literacy information. Each session will be held at churches and schools in the community, and will create a working space to encourage literacy, including youth literacy activities, parent focus groups, literary competition, free book distribution, and speakers.”

    This is a festival founded by Councilwoman Erika L. Green three years ago. “We have also distributed over 1000 free books in the past two years to attendees, and intend to do the same this year!” she said.

     

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  • Youth Literacy Engagement sessions lead to June IWE Festival

    Councilwoman Erika L. Green is hosting the annual IWE Festival scheduled June 8, at Southern University A&M College.  It is an urban culture festival that boosts a vibrant array of creativity, art, and culture through literacy. The festival has primarily focused on promoting literacy to an intergenerational audience for the past two years. As with most festivals, there was live music, a children’s zone, a vendors’ corner, and a small food area.  We will also have some phenomenal speakers for this event.

    Print

    There are smaller Youth Literacy Engagement sessions leading up to the culminating festival. The purpose of these events is to attract families, caregivers, retired teachers, and youth to be involved in this initiative and gain useful literacy information. Each session is held at churches and schools in the community, and will create a working space to encourage literacy, including youth literacy activities, parent focus groups, literary competition, free book distribution, and speakers.

    The upcoming sessions are:

    April 13 10:00AM at United Christian Fellowship:
    Nequoia Elsey, Mentorship Academy, Cradle to K “Parenting Pillars” presenter:

    Amanda Taylor, The Envision Company

    Lionel O’Conner, Cool Kids Products

    Juanita Johnson, The Story of Us, storyteller

    Jasmine Walker, The Lady in Yellow, sign language storyteller

     

    May 20  6:00PM at Forest Heights Academy of Excellence:YLE May 20

    Cradle to K “Parenting Pillars” presenter: PENDING

    Jada Lewis, BESE

    Clarissa Thierry, Student Services Coordinator for Iberville Charter Academy specializing in Special Education

    Rachel Sadberry, I Am Enough

     

    May 30 6:00pm @ BRCC (Baton Rouge Community College)

    Cradle to K “Parenting Pillars” presenter: PENDING

    Dr. Leigh Griffin, Early Childhood Network Project Manager

    Dr. Larry Lewis, Footsteps to Brilliance

    Kristen Wells, Unapologetic Inc.

     

    To volunteer, visit YLE Sessions/IWE Festival Volunteer Registration

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    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

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    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.

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  • 2nd Annual Gray’s Quarters Neighborhood Reunion

    SUBMITTED NEWS–We’re having our 2nd annual neighborhood reunion. The original Hammond, Louisiana neighborhood of Gray’s Quarters dates back to the late 1800s and was initially bound on the east by Range Road; on the west by a canal 2 blocks west of Range Road; on the north by Hanson Street; and on the south by a canal one block south of Iowa (same canal as on the west). Neighborhood residents also populated areas that include Ennis Lane, Hanson Street extension, and East Morris. The neighborhood has since expanded beyond those boundaries. This is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the rich history that this neighborhood is proud of! Everyone is welcome!

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  • ‘My Brother, You Matter’ to address rise of suicide

    MY BROTHER, YOU MATTER! RAPID SUICIDE RATES IN AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN
    “My Brother, You Matter” will shine a light of hope in the alarming rise of suicide numbers in African American males.
    According to the East Baton Rouge Coroner Dr. Beau Clark, “African American male suicide has dramatically increased, rising sevenfold from 2012 to 2018 in East Baton Rouge Parish”. This alarming change has raised concern among local community leaders. “The statistics of this report represent our citizens, and attached to each one of them is a mother, a father, a sister or brother, a neighbor or a friend. So let’s always keep those individuals in our thoughts and prayers.”
    To address this crisis community leaders are working towards findings, solutions, and resources at My Brother, You Matter. Leaders will strategically look at the causes of this drastic increase. My Brother, You Matter is free and open to the public. The evening will consist of a variety of speakers including Raymond Jetson (Urban Congress on African American Males), Dr. Beau Clark (Coroner), Michael Gaines, LCSW, Frank Campbell, Ph. D., LCSW, C.T. (suicidologist), and Dr. Rani Whitfield. In addition to My Brother, You Matter there will be resources and info on an upcoming training for faith-based and community leaders on suicide prevention.
    My Brother, You Matter will take place on Monday, March 25, 2019, 4:30pm-6:00pm. The event will be held at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 4000 Gus Young Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70806. My Brother, You Matter is hosted by the following community partners: Love Alive Church, HealthyBR, The Urban Congress on African American Males, BeBatonRouge, 4th Floor, Representative Ted James, and The Urban League of Louisiana.
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    Who to Watch: Ava Brewster-Turner Ph.D., 63

    A retired educator with 40 years of service,  Ava Brewster-Turner, Ph.D is the Founding Artistic Director of UpStage Theatre Company in Baton Rouge. She earned her BS from Grambling State University; M.Ed. from Southern University; and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.  The 63-year-old is the recipient of numerous recognitions including The Southern Black Theatre Festival’s Trailblazer Award; Hall of Fame Inductee (Augusta, Arkansas); Outstanding Theatre Director (American Association of Community Theatre); multi-year scholarship recipient- New York’s Playback Theatre; multi-year honoree- Who’s Who Among American’s Teachers; Past President of the National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts; and Past President of the Charles P. Alumni Chapter of the Grambling University National Alumni Association. She holds memberships in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Black Theatre Association, and The American Association of Community Theatre.  

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward?   When I was told early in my pursuit to become a theatre company owner that it would never work; that I was wasting my time, energy, and money on something Black people would never support.

    Business resolution:   We believe that the general populous of our community have not fully realized the power and persuasiveness of the arts; therefore, one of our primary business goals for this year is to embark upon ways to educate our community about the power of the arts.  For example, we are familiar with the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks regarding Civil Rights; but not many people consider how the powerful documentary Roots advanced civility among the races.

    What is your #1 priority right now?  To expand to UpStage Theatre Company’s brand, now in its 17th Season… into a well-known theatre arts company.

    Best advice you’ve ever received?   “Treat others the way you want to be treated”

    Moves made:   Relocated UpStage Theatre after 15 years from its 50-seat Black Box on Wooddale Blvd to a 200-seat theatre in Cortana Mall.

    What to expect:  Knowledge is power, and education is the key to succeeding. In order to prepare aspiring playwrights, I plan to implement The Playwright’s Pen Series. Presently, UpStage host an Emerging Playwright Project producing scripts submitted from playwrights from across the country. With the Playwright’s Pen Series, aspiring playwrights will have an opportunity to learn from established writers, which will equip them to learn the essentials of developing an idea into a stage play.

    Other projects:

    • Also, establishing the UpStage Theatre Star Scholarship.  Two scholarships will be awarded to high school students who plan to pursue a degree in the performing arts.
    • Hosting a three-week summer arts camp.  This camp will expose students to learning the aspects of writing and developing a script; filming, editing, and producing the script.
    • Saturday Acting classes.  Students will learn skills that are key to building acting and performance techniques, and building confidence to interact effectively in a group.

    Life/business motto:  “With God all things are possible” ; “Believe in Yourself”

    Role Models:  My mother Berlin Brewster Conner

     What’s on your playlist?   Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross Greatest Hits

    What are you reading?  The Ground on Which I Stand by August Wilson

    What’s entertaining you? Classic movies and television shows and Shiloh Baptist Church Weekly Podcast.

    Website:  www.upstagetheatre.biz

    Email:  info@upstagetheatre.biz

    Twitter: @Upstagedirector
    Instagram: @upstagetheatre
    Facebook Page:  @upstagetheatrebr
    Facebook Group: UpStage Theatre Company

    Ava Brewster-Turner,  63
    Founding Artistic Director of UpStage Theatre Company
    Hometown:   Augusta, Arkansas
    Current location:   Baton Rouge, LA

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  • Dillon promoted to CEO of Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation has appointed Carl Dillon Jr. as UREC’s President & Chief Executive Officer.

    Dillon has been a driving force behind UREC’s community development initiatives for more than a decade.

    In his prior role of director of operations, Dillon cultivated relationships with financial institutions and local partners to secure more than $4 million for new affordable housing developments in Baton Rouge. He also provided direct oversight for site acquisition, financing, planning, construction and rehabilitation of UREC’s major affordable housing developments. In addition, he oversaw operations, stewarded the agency’s budget, and managed and ensured compliance with federal, state and foundation grants.

    “Carl has vision to grow UREC’s work, possesses the knowledge and agility required to collaborate with our partners, and understands the pressing needs of the families we serve. We are confident that his leadership, experience and track record will catapult UREC in this next chapter while greatly shaping the landscape of Baton Rouge communities,” said UREC board president Girard Melancon.

    Dillon said: “UREC has key initiatives on the horizon that will set a precedent for how we approach community development in the future, and I am excited to lead our organization into this future. I sincerely thank our board of directors for entrusting me to lead and grow UREC and am equally grateful to my predecessors and colleagues for building an organization we are truly proud of. I look forward to ongoing collaboration with our community stakeholders, expanding UREC’s affordable housing initiatives, and continuing to provide high-quality youth programs.”

    Dillon is a native of Zachary, who earned a master of business administration from Louisiana State University and a bachelor of business management from Southern University A & M College. He also holds the National Development Council’s Economic Development Finance Professional Certification, the Neighborworks America Professional Certificate in Community and Neighborhood Revitalization, and a Louisiana real estate license.
     

Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation is a nonprofit community development organization that “transforms communities by investing in people and restoring neighborhoods.”
ONLINE: www.urecbr.com.
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  • Mellion-Patin receives Tuskegee’s T. M. Campbell Leadership Award

     Dawn Mellion-Patin, Ph.D., vice chancellor for extension and outreach at the Southern University Ag Center, has been selected as the 2019 T. M. Campbell Leadership Award recipient by Tuskegee University’s Farmers Conference awards committee.

    The award is given each year during Tuskegee’s Farmers Conference Awards Luncheon in honor of Thomas Monroe Campbell, the first person appointed as an Extension Agent in the United States.

    To qualify for the award, recipients must exhibit professional and volunteer work, interact with 1890 Universities as well as other universities to impact Extension/Outreach, demonstrate involvement in public service activities to advance the quality of life for rural citizens and receive recognitions from peer groups for services rendered.

    “It is an honor to receive the Thomas Monroe Campbell Leadership Award from Tuskegee University,” said Patin. “To be recognized by both a prominent HBCU and an 1862 University, within a few months of each other, has truly inspired me to continue my work of providing the rural citizens of Louisiana with the agricultural tools needed to improve their lives.”

    In October, Patin received the 2018 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award from Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

    Patin has served as vice chancellor at the SU Ag Center since 2016. She developed the Center’s Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Training Institute, an intensive leadership development program that guides small, minority, socially-disadvantaged and limited-resource farmers through the process of becoming competitive agricultural entrepreneurs.

    Her work in the field of agriculture has provided her with the opportunity to serve as a panel manager for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); chair of the Southern Region- Agricultural and Natural Resources Program Leaders Committee; grant committee member for the USDA’s  National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA); 1890 representative on the National Extension Disaster Education Network Executive Committee and historian for the National Society of Minorities in Agricultural, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization.

    She earned a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil sciences, a master’s degree in educational agriculture, both from Southern University, and a doctoral degree in agricultural and life sciences education from Iowa State University.

    Patin received the T. M. Campbell Leadership Award on February 21 during Tuskegee University’s 127th Annual Farmers Conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Montgomery, Alabama.

     

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    Woodlawn High grad serves aboard guided-missile cruiser in Pearl Harbor

    PEARL HARBOR – A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native and 2017 Woodlawn High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile cruiser, USS Port Royal Seaman Elijah Sykes has served in the Navy for one-and-a-half years and is a U.S. Navy cryptologic technician (technical) aboard guided-missile cruiser operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

    As a Navy cryptologic technician, Sykes is responsible for anti-ship missile defense of the ship.

    Sykes credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Baton Rouge.“Keeping a steady foot, being assertive and getting the job done at that moment was something I brought into my Navy career,” said Sykes. Approximately 300 men and women serve aboard the ship. According to Navy officials, their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly. They do everything from maintaining gas turbine engines and operating the highly sophisticated Aegis weapons system to driving the ship and operating small boats.Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Sykes is most proud of completing boot camp last year.

    “I have just started my career but the Navy has put me in a great position,” said Sykes.

    A Navy cruiser is a multi-mission ship that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea Navy officials explained. The ship is equipped with a vertical launching system, tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns, and a phalanx close-in weapons systems. Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Sykes 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.

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

    “Several of my family members served,” said Sykes. “I am happy to continue the legacy of being in the military and my family has been very supportive of my decision.”

    As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Sykes 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.

    “To me, serving in the Navy means protecting the waterfront and doing my duties on and off the ship,” said Sykes. “It’s not only what I can do for the Navy but what it can do for me.”

    By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Erica R. Gardner, Navy Office of Community Outreach
    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt 
    Read more »
  • EVENTS: Dates you should know

    First and Third Wednesdays – 15 minutes with the Mayor

    East Baton Rouge residents can scheduled a 15-minute meeting with Mayor Sharon Broome for the first and third Wednesday of each month. In order to schedule a meeting, request form 2-4 weeks in advance. Meetings are limited to one for each individual or organization. Audio or photos requests are at the discretion of the mayor. The main focus of each meeting is based on, but not limited to, public safety, health and wellness, economic development, workforce development, public works, education or youth services, women and children, and innovative ideas or solution recommendations. The meetings are held at city hall. ONLINE: www.brla.gov

     

    $5 Movie Tuesday

    All Movie Tavern® locations throughout Greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans offers $5 admission for all movies. Guests will also receive a complimentary-size popcorn. ONLINE:  www.movietavern.com

     

    March 9. RootsCampLA

    More than 150 forward-thinking activists meet at the Southern University Law Center.  Hosted by the Solidarity Project Advocacy Network, the summit focuses on establishing a more equitable Louisiana. Organizers said the “idea is to bring together activists of all stripes and have an honest exchange of ideas and sharing of skills. This isn’t your everyday gathering; it’s an ‘unconference.’ Instead of pre-set powerpoints and “expert” panels, participants like you design sessions and decide the program. This doesn’t mean experts aren’t in the room. They are — many of them are you. RootsCampLA is about fostering homegrown talent.”

    ONLINE: www.SPANlouisiana.org/rootscampla/agenda

     

    March 14-16. Louisiana Small Farmer Conference

    Small farmers will gather at Southern University’s Felton G. Clark Activity Center for this three-day conference designed to educate and share opportunities through USDA programs and services, while providing resources to help small farmers stay in business. Anyone interested in learning about agriculture is invited. Topic include grant writing, farmer’s income tax, hydroponics and aquaponics systems, soil health, self-sufficient farming practices, raised beds and vertical gardening, technology, and value-added products. Limited complimentary registration  ends Feb. 28. ONLINE: http://www.suagcenter.com/form/louisiana-small-farmer-conference

     

    April 12 – Deadline to apply for the $25,000 Angel Award

    The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2019 Angel Award® through Friday, April 12, 2019. Now in its 25th year, The Angel Award program recognizes Louisianians who perform extraordinary work for children in need. The Foundation will make a $25,000 grant to the Louisiana-based charity represented by each honoree. According to Foundation President Michael Tipton, the Angel Award has recognized all kinds of people making a difference for children in our state. “The Angels we’re looking for are everyday people doing extraordinary good through direct involvement. They’re not just figureheads. Rather, they make the courageous choice to be directly involved in making Louisiana a better place for its kids. They’re leaders who inspire others through action.” Rules and nomination form: www.bcbslafoundation.org/nominate. Nominators are encouraged to upload information in support of the nomination, including testimonial letters, brochures, news articles, photos and videos.

    ONLINE: www.bcbslafoundation.org/nominate. ℜ

     

    Read more »
  • Government Accountability Office to visit East Baton Rouge Council on Aging

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging will receive a visit from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), February 6 and 7. The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for congress to help the government save money and work more efficiently by examining how taxpayer dollars are spent. The GAO was commissioned by congress to examine the Council on Aging based on its successful nutrition program for older adults.

     

    “EBRCOA is honored to have the GAO visiting our agency,” says Tasha Clark- Amar, Chief Executive Officer.  “Earlier this month, the GAO held a telephone interview with executive staff to learn more about agency programs and funding to highlight in their report to Congress. The GAO is interested in learning

    how the Council on Aging spent tax dollars on our Meals on Wheel program, and plan to use our agency as a model for other tax funded agencies throughout the country.”

     

    While visiting the Council on Aging, the GAO will receive an in-depth tour of the Meals on Wheels process and visit several senior centers in the parish to learn how nutrition programs for older adults work in states with diverse geographic locations.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Kelvin Hill hired to oversee public works

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome has hired Kelvin J. Hill to fill the newly created assistant chief administrative officer position overseeing all six city-parish public works departments, beginning Feb. 4.

    Hill, the former vice president of operations at Georgia Pacific in Port Hudson, will be charged with supervising the departments of building and grounds, development, environmental services, fleet management, maintenance, and transportation and drainage.

    “The addition of Mr. Hill to my administration bolsters our capacity to ship high-high quality providers to the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish,” stated Broome in a news release. “He brings a wealth of experience to our public works departments, which are the spine of City-Parish government.”

    Hill served as the vice president of operations at Georgia-Pacific and has more than 20 years of operations and management expertise.

    Read more »
  • Broome funds $7.3 million to community groups

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced 19 grant awards to 15 local non-profits, supportive service organizations, and community developers from the City-Parish’s federal Community Planning and Development dollars. Approximately $7.3 million was made available through four funding allocations to organizations that help low and moderate-income residents with shelter, basic needs, housing rehabilitation, employment skills, and other supportive services.

    This year, the following community organizations are receiving grants:

    Community Development Block Grant

    A total of $3.1 million that provides for community development resources for a wide variety of community needs.

    • Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge, Inc.
    • Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
    • Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance
    • SBP Rebuild Baton Rouge
    • St. Vincent de Paul
    • The Walls Project
    • Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation

    Emergency Solutions Grant

    A total of $256,333 that provides for homelessness prevention and shelter needs.

    • Capital Area Alliance for Homeless
    • Catholic Charities
    • St. Vincent de Paul
    • Volunteers of America, Greater Baton Rouge, Inc.

    HOME Investment Partnerships Program

    A total of $1.4 million that provides grants for local housing strategies designed to increase homeownership and affordable housing opportunities for low and very low-income citizens.

    • Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation
    • Plan B, LLC
    • Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance
    • LaFleur Industries, LLC

    Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Grant

    A total of $2.5 million that provides local communities and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

    • East Baton Rouge Division of Human Development Services
    • Metro Health
    • START Corporation
    • Volunteers of America of Greater Baton Rouge

    The City-Parish receives these federal dollars annually from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund activities that primarily benefit low and moderate-income residents.

    “I am proud to partner with so many tremendous organizations in our community, whose missions are dedicated to tackling our community’s greatest challenges and working to better the lives of so many citizens of Baton Rouge,” said Mayor Broome. “This critical funding provides opportunities for citizens to succeed, which can only help our entire community be more resilient and advance in a positive direction.”

    The City-Parish uses a competitive application process to award the grants. A committee of volunteers and independent contractors helps to score the applications and makes recommendations on funding. Criteria are based on goals and priorities for the use of federal funds that are developed in part with input from local residents and federal grant requirements.

    In 2017, Mayor-President Broome reorganized the City-Parish Office of Community Development, the agency administering the federal grant funds. Now, the City-Parish partners with community development organizations like the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, and the East Baton Rouge Division of Human Development Services for the administration of the community planning and development dollars.

    Read more »
  • Southern University students awarded scholarship to pursue eco-friendly studies

    Three students at Southern University Baton Rouge have been awarded the Rockefeller State Wildlife Scholarship. The scholarship is for students pursuing a degree in forestry, wildlife, or marine science at a Louisiana public college or university.

    Last year, 22 students from LSU, Louisiana Tech, UL-Lafayette, Nicholls State University and Northwestern State University were awarded the Rockefeller State Wildlife Scholarship. This is the first time in several years that students were awarded from Southern University.

    “Certainly, their academic financial need is lessened or has dissipated with this award. It is a milestone in their forestry career path,” said C. Reuben Walker, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor to Strategic Initiatives, Auxiliary Services, and External Engagements.

    Walker encouraged several students at Southern University to apply.

    “Gratitude goes to the Honorable Ann Smith (Southern University Board of Supervisors) and Mrs. Deborah Paul (Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance) for their total commitment to students. Ann Smith often says ‘it is all about the students’. My efforting could not have been done without these two individuals sharing the opportunity and benefits for forestry students at Southern University to apply for this award,” Dr. Walker said.

    Undergraduate students who receive the scholarship are awarded $2,000 annually; graduate students receive $3,000 annually. The cumulative maximum award is $12,000 for three years of undergraduate study and two years of graduate study.

    To be eligible to receive the scholarship, undergraduate students must have at least 60 earned college credit hours and at least a 2.50 cumulative college GPA. Graduate students need at least a 3.00 cumulative GPA on all credits earned in grad school.

    “I am absolutely honored and blessed to have received this scholarship,” said Asija Rice, a senior urban forestry major. “This encourages me to continue my education by pursuing a masters in horticulture entomology.”

    Rice hopes to open a botanical garden and engage the community to make a more eco-friendly and sustainable environment.

    Simbrey Majors and Wilbert Thomas, both graduate students at Southern University Baton Rouge, also received the scholarship.

    “This means the stress of finding extra funding for school will be eased and I can focus all my attention on my studies,” said Majors, who intends to pursue a PhD in agriculture and natural resources.

    Thomas, a non-traditional student, has a goal of becoming part of the faculty at Southern University once he earns a PhD in urban forestry.

    “This scholarship will help me with my self-confidence, as I am over 60 years old and at times intimidated by matriculating with students much younger than I am,” Thomas said. “My dream keeps me motivated.”

    Interested students should complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Rockefeller State Wildlife scholarship application available on the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) website.

    Photographed: Asija Rice, Wilbert Thomas and Simbrey Majors. Photo Credit: John Oubre III – SUBR Photographer
    Read more »
  • Southern University Nursing School to host public medical research forum, Jan 24

    With medical breakthroughs consistently occurring, Southern University’s School of Nursing and Allied Health believes that it is imperative for the community to be involved with leading researchers that work to develop cures to critical diseases. With this in mind, the School is working with the national research program, All of Us. With a grant from the program, the School will be hosting an informative forum on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. in the Royal Cotillion Ballroom in the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on campus.

    “As the only HBCU participating in the All of Us initiative, Southern University is being provided an opportunity to increase its visibility at the national level in the area of advocacy health care research of underrepresented populations,” said Dr. Jacqueline Hill, interim dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health. “(It is also an opportunity to) build the minority researcher workforce that is woefully underrepresented among health researchers.”

    Southern’s nursing program is one of nine nursing schools out of the 1,000 American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) member schools that has been selected to receive funding through the organization’s mini-grants awards program to educate diverse communities about the All of Us research program.

    During the campus event, participants will have a chance to learn more about the initiative, ask pertinent questions, and receive free blood pressure checks.  The event’s partners include Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s Healthy City Initiative; The National Library of Medicine, Outreach and Special Populations Branch; Southern University Alumni Federation; Southern University Law Center; Southern University System; and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Delta Research and Educational Foundation (DREF).

    The event is free and open to the public. 

    Read more »
  • ,,

    EBR Councilwoman to host second meeting on acquiring adjudicated property

    East Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks is hosting a second series pathways to acquire property in East Baton Rouge Parish. The event is free and open to the public. The meeting will include details on getting title insurance and paying the outstanding taxes.
    The second session will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2019, 5:30 p.m., Louisiana Leadership Institute, 5763 Hooper Road, Baton Rouge, LA  70811
    The goal is to help bring new life to blighted, abandoned or tax-foreclosed properties.  Agency representatives will present five unconventional pathways to acquire these properties.   Both residential and commercial investors will learn how to purchase tax-delinquent assets by attending these informational.
    A list of invited agencies and programs:
    • East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office “sheriff sale”, a public auction of property repossessed to satisfy an unpaid obligation.
    Parish Attorney’s Office, which handles the sale of adjudicated properties through public bids and donations.
    Civic Source, a company partnered with the City-Parish to offer an online process for the sale of adjudicated property in excess of 5 years.
    Mow to Own Program,  allows certain parties to avoid the public bidding and receive a preference in making an offer to purchase adjudicated properties  in excess of 3 years;
    East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority has the ability to acquire and quickly clear title to tax sale and adjudicated properties.
    For more information, contact the District 2 Office at (225) 389-8331 or email cbanks@brla.gov.
    Read more »
  • 5 signs a restricted airway may be affecting your child’s health

    For most people, breathing is automatic – the air goes in, the air goes out, and we don’t even think about it.  But for those who have airway problems, it is never that simple –  especially for children.
    “Children who suffer from air-passage problems never get enough oxygen to the brain, which causes them to never get enough sleep,” says Dr. Stuart Frost, an orthodontist and author of The Artist Orthodontist: Creating An Artistic Smile is More Than Just Straightening Teeth (www.drstuartfrost.com).  “They typically do poorly in school and seem inattentive and lethargic.”
    Sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep, causing a pause in breathing.  Those pauses in breathing, known as apneic events, often lead to a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Frost says.
    He says signs a child may be impacted by airway blockage include:
    Snoring. Snoring is caused by the vibrations of excess tissue blocking the airway.  When children snore, orthodontists look for a blockage of their airway, from the tip of the nose down to the throat.
    Mouth breathing. When there is no room for the tongue to reach the roof of the mouth (the palate), it can rest in the back of the throat and block the airway.  Also, when a child’s tonsils and adenoids are enlarged, they can reduce the size of the airway at the back of the throat. “Either situation can make it too hard for children to get enough air when breathing through their nose,” Dr. Frost says, “causing them to open their mouth and jut their lower jaw forward during sleep.”
    Clenching or grinding teeth. “If children who are 7 or 8 have baby teeth that are worn from grinding, we know it’s because they’re not getting enough air,” Dr. Frost says. During sleep – and sometimes even when they are awake – their lower jaw is constantly repositioning either side to side or forward to back to open their airway so they can breathe, he says. An expander appliance can widen the nasal passages to help the child take in more air when breathing through the nose.
    Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  Some children who have been diagnosed as ADD may actually just have breathing problems during sleep Dr. Frost says. “ If a child is continually not getting enough oxygen during sleep, the brain will eventually kick in a hyper-alert state to stay alive,” he says. “A child whose brain is hyper-alert tends to bounce off the walls.”
    Bedwetting: A brain that is starving for oxygen can’t wake a child when the urge to go to the bathroom strikes during sleep.  The child will sleep right through any warning sign the brain sends.
    Depending on what’s found during an examination, the solutions for a restricted airway could include braces with an expander appliance, along with surgical removal of adenoids or tonsils.
    “When sleep apnea is not addressed in childhood, over time it can lead to health issues in adulthood,” Dr. Frost says. “By taking care of it when the person is younger, it can save years of restless nights and half-awake days.”
    Read more »
  • State receives $1.2 million grant to address human trafficking

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana has been awarded a $1.2 million dollar grant from the U.S. Dept. of Justice Office for Victims of Crime to improve outcomes for child victims of human trafficking.  It will be used to implement a multi-year federal project known as the Louisiana Child Trafficking Collaborative. In addition, Gov. Edwards has declared January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Louisiana.

    “We know human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the United States and in Louisiana, which is why Donna and I are very passionate about bringing an end to this senseless crime and helping the children and adults who are victimized by it,” said Gov. Edwards. “We are especially excited about this grant to implement the Louisiana Child Trafficking Collaborative. In Louisiana alone, over the last several years thousands of victims have been identified as either confirmed or prospective victims of human sex or labor trafficking. This must end.  Thankfully, we have already begun to see major progress as we work closely with law enforcement and our state lawmakers to support laws and policies to enact harsher penalties on the perpetrators of human trafficking and help to restore the lives of those directly impacted by this terrible tragedy.”

    Louisiana is one of only seven states to receive this fundingsince 2015. The grant will be implemented over a three year period. In 2016, Shared Hope International ranked Louisiana #1 in the nation for its anti-trafficking laws.

    “This is an important issue that everyone needs to be concerned about because it can and does happen in all communities,” said First Lady Donna Edwards. “Human trafficking is a global, national and statewide problem, and we are committed to doing all we can to raise awareness, help those who are in need and prevent others from becoming victims.”

    In February 2018, The Dept. of Children and Family Services annual report to the Legislature revealed that there were a total of 681 confirmed or prospective victims of human trafficking here in Louisiana. 641 (94.1%) of those were sex trafficking victims 29 (5.1%) were sex and labor trafficking victims.  Of all reported victims 356 (52%) were identified as juveniles again which was a 77% increase from the previous year. The saddest piece of data given was that 72 of those sex trafficking juvenile victims were ages 12 and under.

    The Louisiana Child Trafficking Collaborative will be implemented by the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, which is led by Executive Director Dr. Dana Hunter.

    “Louisiana is very progressive in its efforts to identify, treat, and prevent human trafficking,” said Dr. Hunter.  “We want children and families to be aware of the ways in which pimps recruit victims, but we also want citizens to know that we are doing everything possible to increase public safety.”

    Click here to read State of Louisiana Child Sex Trafficking Project Report.

    Click here for proclamation.

    Read more »
  • Library programs held for all ages throughout February

    In addition to regular programs, the following special  East Baton Rouge Parish Library programs will be held for all ages throughout February. The asterisks indicate which programs require pre-registration. For more information about or to register for all the programs listed, call the branch where the event is scheduled directly or visit www.ebrpl.com.

    The Library’s Featured Events, www.ebrpl.com (225) 231-3750

    Release the Hounds: Come to the One Book One Community Kickoff Party!

    It’s that time again … time to begin this year’s One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a fun, FREE street party at the Main Library at Goodwood from 6 until 8 p.m. Saturday, February 23. You won’t want to miss this family-friendly event that’ll formally kick off the spring reading program with activities including FREE food, games and prizes, crafts, face painting, an old-fashioned Cake Walk to win a delicious confection, live music by the Waelandanna band, plus a visit from Sherlock Holmes and much more! In addition, events will be planned throughout the spring through May with book clubs, community groups, discussions on addiction and substance abuse, film screenings and more related to the book and its author. For more information about this year’s OBOC season, the book and a full schedule of events and programs, visit www.ReadOneBook.org.

    EBRP Library Special Collections Celebrates African-American History Month!

    To celebrate African-American History Month, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Special Collections Department will have displays highlighting the Civil Rights Movement in Baton Rouge, prominent people who have affected change in both the African-American community in Baton Rouge and beyond, as well as an exhibit of local African-American artists and musicians. Special Collections also will introduce its partnership with Google Arts and Culture, a platform that allows the public to connect with art and history from culture institutions around the world. February will mark Special Collections first-ever digital exhibition which will highlight the history of the Baton Rouge blues music scene. Genealogy enthusiasts are invited to register to attend the Resources for African Americans class taught by the knowledgeable and skilled genealogy staff at the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 5. Additional information will be posted to the Baton Rouge Room and Genealogy InfoGuides, but patrons are welcome to stop by the Special Collections Department located on the second floor of the Main Library. For more details, program registration or suggestions, call (225) 231-3751.

    African-American Read-In 2019!

    Each year during the month of February, schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting an African-American Read-In. Everyone is invited to the Library to enjoy and/or participate in several FREE programs to celebrate this annual event! To find out more about the national program, visit http://www.ncte.org/aari. Registration is required for all. For program details and to register, call the Library branch location directly.

    Here’s the schedule:

    • 4 p.m. Mondays, February 4, 11, 18 & 25, River Center Branch
    • 4:30-5:45 p.m. Monday, February 11, Fairwood Branch
    • 3 p.m. Saturday, February 16, Scotlandville Branch
    • 4:45-5:30 p.m. Monday, February 18, Baker Branch
    • 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 19, Carver Branch
    • 5 p.m. Tuesday, February 19, Eden Park Branch

     

    VITA Super Tax Day!

    Come to the Main Library at Goodwood from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, February 9, to receive FREE tax preparation assistance through the Capital Area United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program! No registration is necessary, just show up. If spouses are filing jointly, both must be present. Can’t make it? Call 2-1-1 to find your nearest tax site and schedule an appointment. For more information, visit https://www.cauw.org/supertaxday.

     

    Here’s what you should bring:

    • Photo identification
    • Social Security card or ITIN for each family member
    • W-2 forms for all jobs, all 1099 or 1098 forms and information on other income received
    • Child care provider information
    • Checking and savings account information for direct deposit
    • Other relevant information about income and expenses

     

    Get FREE Legal Counsel with the Ask a Lawyer Program

    Adults can come to the Jones Creek Regional Branch from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m. Saturday, February 9, to take advantage of FREE confidential and individual counseling offered by the Pro Bono Project of the Baton Rouge Bar Association. Area attorneys will be available for one-on-one, 15-minute sessions for legal advice on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Inter-Civic Council of Baton Rouge’s Non-Profit Fair!

    Do you want to learn the missions and visions of nonprofit organizations in the Greater Baton Rouge Area? Perhaps you’d like to find rewarding opportunities to get involved in helping others. If so, come to the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, February 16, for the Inter-Civic Council of Baton Rouge’s Non-Profit Fair! See and hear from organizations including the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Susan G. Komen Cancer Center, Families Helping Families, Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, O’Brien House and many more. For more information, call Laura Gilliland at (225) 335-4419.

     

    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile Visits Libraries this Month!

    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile has come back to the Library! Children ages 4-11 are invited to the Library in February to enjoy these FREE informative and entertaining programs designed to educate audiences about wildlife conservation. Attendees will be amazed as they get up close and personal with several live animals at each program and learn about their bone structures, fur and more! Each presentation lasts about one hour. Registration is required for all. For more information and to register, call the Library location directly. Here’s the ZooMobile schedule:

     

    • 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 6, Baker Branch
    • 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, Main Library at Goodwood
    • 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 19, River Center Branch
    • 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 20, Jones Creek Regional Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 21, Eden Park Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 28, Bluebonnet Regional Branch

     

    Baker Branch Library, 3501 Groom Rd., (225) 778-5950

    Heroes of African-American History: Marian Anderson

    To celebrate African-American History Month, Southern University history professor and Director of the Mwalimu Institute Dr. Charles Vincent will be at the Baker Branch at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 23, to present a discussion for all ages on trailblazer Marian Anderson! An acclaimed singer whose performance at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 helped set the stage for the civil rights era, Anderson was born February 27, 1897 in Philadelphia. Much of her life was spent breaking down barriers for other African-American performers. FREE school supplies will be given to the first five students to arrive!

     

    Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., (225) 763-2250

    *Record a Song in the Innovation Space!

    Are you a musician or singer and want to record a song on professional equipment? Patrons ages 12 and up can come to the Bluebonnet Regional Branch’s Innovation Space at any time Saturday, February 2, to record a song for FREE! Come check out Bluebonnet Library’s! All you need to bring is your instrument (or voice) and a flash drive to save your song. We’ll have microphones, an audio mixer and knowledgeable staff to help you record your track with GarageBand. To register, visit the online events calendar at www.ebrpl.com or call (225) 763-2250.

     

    Making Communication Possible with Louisiana Relay

    Outreach Coordinator Bobbye Abney will be at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, to demonstrate for adults the FREE services of Louisiana Relay, the organization that makes telephone conversations possible for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or have difficulty speaking on the phone. Abney will show patrons how the captioned telephone works, explain the communication options that are available and provide the necessary forms to apply for this service.

    Carver Branch Library, 720 Terrace St., (225) 389-7450

    Seven Essential Knots You Need to Know

    Join other adults at the Carver Branch at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 13, to learn how to complete seven essential knots! This skill is useful for everything from survival to hunting, and more. It even can help you keep large items secured properly during transport!

    African-American History Month Film Day

    Adults are welcome at the Carver Branch 3:30 p.m. Monday, February 18, to see the big-screen depiction of a thrilling court case argued by a young Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In this 2017 biographical legal drama film, Chadwick Boseman portrays the civil rights champion in who would later argue several cases, including the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education, during his earlier years as a traveling attorney for the NAACP.

     

    Eden Park Branch Library, 5131 Greenwell Springs Rd., (225) 231-3250

    African-American History Trivia!

    Celebrate African-American History Month by joining other teens at the Eden Park Branch at 3 p.m. Monday, February 18, for African-American trivia! Categories will include firsts, music, sports, inventions and more. Test your knowledge to win the grand prize! Cookies and lemonade served.

    The Art of Alma Thomas Story/Craft

    Children ages 8-11 can come to the Eden Park Branch at 5 p.m. Tuesday, February 19, to celebrate African-American History Month and learn about the exuberantly bold art of Alma Woodsey Thomas! We will read about her life in Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison, and then create our own interpretations of her colorful paintings.

    Fairwood Branch Library, 12910 Old Hammond Hwy., (225) 924-9385

    Introduction to 3D Drafting for Teens

    To draw in 3D means to illustrate something that has volume or space. Would you like to learn more about 3D drafting? Teens can come to the Fairwood Branch at 4 p.m. Tuesday, February 12, to find out the basics of 3D drafting with an online program!

    *Mardi Gras Story/Craft

    It’s Carnival time! Join other kids ages 4-9 at the Fairwood Branch at 11 a.m. Saturday, February 23, for readings of On Mardi Gras Day by Fatima Shaik and Dinosaur Mardi Gras by Dianne de Las Casas. After the stories, each child will make a pair of Mardi Gras glasses and wear them to dance and parade to Mardi Gras music in the Children’s Room! We’ll end the hour with some festive Mardi Gras coloring pages.

    Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., (225) 231-3750

    Join the Job Club Networking Group! 

    The Career Center of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is sponsoring an ongoing search and networking group for adult job seekers in professional careers. Job searching can be a lonely and discouraging activity, and this group will provide you with a safe space to meet and network with like-minded professionals who are challenged by the same job hunting process. Attendees will share job

    search experiences, network tips and encouragement, and they’ll learn the latest job search techniques and so much more. Patrons are welcome to join us at the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Friday in February. It’s FREE and open to those in professional careers who are seeking employment. Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak will lead the meetings, and topics discussed will differ each week. For more information, call (225) 231-3733. To register, go online to https://www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

    Crazy Horse Book Talk with Author William Matson & Clown Family Members

    Adults are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 2, for a FREE book discussion of Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior’s Life & Legacy with author William Matson, along with members of the Edward Clown Family, Floyd Clown and Doug War Eagle. In the book, the Edward Clown family, who are the nearest living relatives to the Lakota war leader Crazy Horse, present the family tales and memories told to them about their famous grandfather. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.

    Louisiana Trail Riders with Author Jeremiah Ariaz

    Associate Professor at Louisiana State University and author Jeremiah Ariaz will be at the Main Library at Goodwood at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 3, to discuss his most recent work Louisiana Trail Riders with adults. The book is a bridge between Ariaz’s long-standing interest in the American West and his current home in the South. It contains the photographs that have garnered him numerous awards and exhibitions nationally. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.

    *Resources for African-American Genealogy

    Adults are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 5, for a class focused on resources designed to help in researching African-American ancestors. Due to the history of slavery, prejudice and discrimination against African-Americans in our country, African-Americans were routinely excluded from many records that could have documented details of their daily lives. In this class, attendees will learn several search techniques and how to navigate special records collections like African American Heritage, Ancestry.com and more that will assist in genealogical research.

    *Write the Résumé That Will Get the Job!

    Lynnette Lee of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Career Center will lead a workshop for adults on writing a great résumé! Come to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 9, to find out how to structure your résumé so that it showcases your most valuable skills. Learn formatting techniques that will make your résumé look clean and professional. You’ll learn about the most common red flags employers look for on résumés and how to avoid them. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 231-3733 or visit www.careercenterbr.com/events.

    *Yes, They Are Hiring: State & City/Parish Civil Service

    If you’re looking for employment with state or local government, we’ve got great news … yes, they’re hiring! Adults are welcome at the Career Center located within the Main Library at Goodwood at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 27, for a FREE seminar that will detail state and city/parish job openings and how to apply for them. A representative from the Louisiana Department of Civil Service will discuss the positions the State will be hiring for in spite of budget cuts, the career paths that different state agencies offer and how to apply for them. The Recruitment and Examination Division of the city of Baton Rouge/parish of East Baton Rouge also will discuss the career options that are available, openings they are seeking to fill, as well as application procedures. Registration is required. To register, visit http://www.careercenterbr.com/events/. For more information, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733.

     

    Pride-Chaneyville Branch Library, 13600 Pride-Port Hudson Rd., (225) 658-1550

    No-Sew Heart Pillow Craft

    We’re in the mood for love … the love of crafting, that is! Teens can come to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, February 2, to make a no-sew pillow perfect for Valentine’s Day. All supplies will be provided for this easy and fun craft.

    Make Mysterious Mardi Gras Masks

    Teens are invited to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, February 23, to make a personalized Mardi Gras mask. Use fabric, puffy paint and glitter to make your craft extra mysterious!

    Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy., (225) 354-7550

    *Resources for African-American Genealogy

    Adults are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, for a class focused on resources designed to help in researching African-American ancestors. Due to the history of slavery, prejudice and discrimination against African-Americans in our country, African-Americans were routinely excluded from many records that could have documented details of their daily lives. In this class, attendees will learn several search techniques and how to navigate special records collections like African American Heritage, Ancestry.com and more that will assist in genealogical research.

    For more information about any of these February events or others, call the Library location where the event is being held directly or visit the schedule online at www.ebrpl.com. For general information about the Library, call (225) 231-3750 or visit the Library’s online calendar at www.ebrpl.com. Can’t visit any of our 14 locations, which are open seven days a week? The Library is open 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com.

     

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    Become a local expert and news source

    Are you an expert on topics and issues critical to our city?

    Can you be a source of insight on issues like community development, politics, education, social/criminal justice, economics/finances? What about religion, relationships/sex, or alternative health? Are you a scholar or connoisseur of music, movies, or food? Do you have great understanding of housing, construction, real estate? Are you a historian of sports, a city historian, or a collector of artifacts? 

    Complete this form

    We’d love to interview you in 2019!

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    Master Sergeant Bianca S. Sellers-Brown retires with 30 years civil service

    USAF - 1980-1Master Sergeant Bianca S. Sellers-Brown retired Nov. 3 with 30 years federal civil service and 34 years in the U.S. Air Force.State Rep. Barbara Norton acknowledged the occasion as Bianca Brown Day. Brown also received proclamations from Gov. John Bel Edwards and Senator W. Jay Luneau. According to her husband, Tony Brown, she has “commuted from Woodworth to Barksdale AFB in Bossier–282 miles a day–for more than 15 years. She has driven 1.1 million miles in that time she says for God and Country.”

    Master Sergeant Bianca S. Sellers-Brown is the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge for the 307th Mission Support Group Commander’s Support Staff, Barksdale Air Force Base, LA, responsible for managing the administrative support functions for over 400 personnel. She has the additional responsibility of Wing Focal Point for the Unit Training Assembly Processing System (UTAPS), managing the participation records for over 1,400 Reserve personnel assigned to the 307th Bomb Wing. As a Wing Focal Point, she also provides training and helpdesk support to all personnel requiring access to UTAPS and the Air Force Reserve Orders Writing system (AROWS-R). Because of her wide breadth of experience and expertise in her career field, she was also appointed to the Wing Inspection Team. Her willingness to assist when required resulted in her being requested by name to provide backfill administrative support to almost 200 personnel assigned to the 489th Bomb Group at Dyess AFB, TX. She has served over 34 years in the United States Air Force and the Air Force Reserves combined.

    Sergeant Sellers-Brown was born in Redlands, California and enlisted in the Air Force through the delayed enlistment program in January 1980, while a senior in high school. After graduating high school, she departed for basic military training in July 1980. She graduated Administrative Support Specialist technical training school at Keesler AFB, MS in October 1980. Her first active duty assignment was overseas at RAF Fairford, England with the 7020th Air Base Group. In January 1983, she was transferred to the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing, the “Flying Tigers”, at England AFB in Alexandria, Louisiana where she attended Noncommissioned Officer Leadership School in November 1987 and received the award of Distinguished Graduate. Her final active duty position was serving as the Military Secretary to the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing Commander. She separated from active duty in December 1992.

    In March 1997, she joined the Air Force Reserve, serving with the 917th Transportation Squadron at Barksdale AFB, LA. While assigned to the Transportation Squadron, she deployed as a transporter to RAF Fairford, England in support of Coronet Astro (Jun 1998), Elmendorf AFB, Alaska (Jun 1999), Australia in support of Operation Tandum Thrust (May 2001) and Istres, France (Sep 2001).

    In July 2001, she accepted a full-time position as an Air Reserve Technician (ART) with the 917th Maintenance Squadron. She earned recognition as the 917th Wing Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter, Apr-Jun 2002. In April 2004, she was hired as the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the Commander’s Support Staff (CSS) with the 917th Mission Support Group (MSG), working directly for the Mission Support Group Commander and promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant in May 2004. In Jan 2011, the 917th Wing inactivated and was reactivated as the 307th Bomb Wing. She remained assigned to the 307th MSG as the Unit Program Coordinator until 1 Oct 2017 when she was assigned the task of standing up the newly reorganized Group CSS for the 307th MSG.

    Her awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Ribbon Long Tour, Air Force Longevity Service, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, USAF Noncommissioned Officer Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon (Rifle) and the Air Force Training Ribbon.

    Sergeant Sellers-Brown is married to Tony Brown of Lake Charles, LA and together they have three children, Shayne (Danielle) Daney, Joseph Brown, and Sydney Brown and six grandchildren, Jaynila, Joseph Jr, Joeria, André, Adrian, and Jylell. Tony is a news journalist and owner of Eyes Open Productions, who was recently featured in a television documentary by Investigation Discovery.

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    Unity leads to spiritual growth for Black, White congregations during transition

    Manuel Pigee III boldly prayed in 2015, asking God to lead United Believers Baptist Church to a rebirth at a new property.

    After three years of fasting and praying, God presented the steadily growing African-American congregation with the opportunity to move into a facility utilized by Oakcrest Baptist Church, a predominantly Caucasian congregation, whose Sunday morning worship attendance was in steady decline.

    Since United Believers Baptist Church said, “Yes,” in January to sharing the campus, the congregation has seen God move in more ways than they ever imagined.

    “When I became pastor of the church, I said to them I want you to know I am praying God would do something no one could take credit for — that God would get the glory,” he said. “The way He opened the door and solidified this partnership has generated a great spirit of joy and peace. We are overwhelmed by God’s grace.”

    United Believers Baptist Church was formed after Hurricane Katrina forced Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans to meet at three separate locations, including the Baton Rouge campus.

    Within a year, many members of the Franklin Avenue congregation returned to New Orleans, but a remnant of around 100 stayed behind, growing to 136 in 2017.

    In 2011, Pigee was called as pastor of the church, which was still a campus of Franklin Avenue.

    Four years later, on April 15, 2015, the congregation voted to rename itself United Believers Baptist Church, adopting Psalm 133:1 as its mission – “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.”
    During their three-year search for a new home, the congregation was introduced to Oakcrest Baptist.

    At one time, that congregation had as many as 600 participating in Sunday morning worship, but as the demographics around the neighborhood changed, attendance steadily declined, with fewer than 20 attending last year.

    After a meeting among representatives of the two churches, in June and then another in October, Oakcrest Baptist leaders told Pigee God was leading them to allow United Believers Baptist to share the space, which is located on Greenwell Springs Road in Baton Rouge.

    Charles Bennett, pastor of Oakcrest, and Manuel Pigee III, pastor of United Believers Baptist Church in Baton Rouge

    Charles Bennett, pastor of Oakcrest, and Manuel Pigee III, pastor of United Believers Baptist Church in Baton Rouge

    “They told us we were the church that could reach the community for years to come, and they wanted to work out an agreement with us to gracefully phase out,” Pigee said. “I said to my people this is a great privilege the Lord has allowed us to walk alongside this aging congregation. With the racial divide that is happening in America, it’s amazing to see an aging Anglo church willing to partner with an African American plant as God allows us to escort them to glory.”

    Charles Bennett, pastor of Oakcrest, said the relationship between his church and United Believers Baptist has been pleasant. “We felt we had a choice,” Bennett said. “We could let the buildings not being used to deteriorate, or, we could look for a group we felt good about coming in to use the facilities; and, we wanted a Southern Baptist group in here. Our people are very open and appreciative by the way they have come in and made a difference for Christ.”
    Tommy Middleton, director of missions for the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge, applauds the members of Oakcrest for seeing the need for ministry in its facility for generations to come.

    “To the credit of Oakcrest and the leadership and sensitivity of United Believers, it’s turned out to be almost a textbook of how it’s supposed to be in terms of support, cooperation and love,” he said.

    “In many churches throughout our state and national conventions, churches go through seasons of great growth and then that season passes,” he continued. “If there is not a renewal and a shift to address cultural changes in the neighborhood, that trend continues downward. When they recognize how to correct it or change it over to another church, it allows for a vibrant Gospel witness to continue in that area. Sometimes we hang out with stubbornness — you’ve got to let it go.”

    Since moving into the new building, United Believers Baptist has spent most of its time upgrading the property and building relationships with residents of the neighborhood.

    Members have spruced up the landscaping, restriped the parking lot, installed lights in the parking lot, and placed monitors and additional lighting inside the worship center. Ministry efforts at its new campus have included a spring revival featuring Middleton and Franklin Avenue Baptist Pastor Fred Luter, a Mother’s Day tea and door-to-door visitation. Future ministry plans include a class to prepare young boys and girls for adulthood and after-school tutoring on Wednesdays.

    “One piece of feedback from the community is they want a place for children to go for spiritual enrichment and learn practical life skills,” Pigee said. “We want to do social ministry as a way to create bridges and bring people to the Kingdom through a life-changing relationship with Christ.

    “I anticipate us really impacting the community and touching the lives of families and youth through our social outreach programs,” he said. “We are integrating ourselves more into the community. More than anything we want to be a lighthouse, where people’s faith is being shaped and they are being taught to practice it.”

    ONLINE: unitedbelieversbc.org

    By Brian Blackwell
    Special to The Drum

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  • Jones named to North Baton Rouge Economic Development District

    North Baton Rouge Economic Development District’s Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed Jerry Jones Jr. as its executive director on Nov. The 35-year-old is the former economic development director for St. John Parish. He has 10 years of experience in business recruitment and retention, project development, and administration, management.

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  • SU Land-Grant Campus set to raise scholarship funds during annual gala

    Tickets are now available for the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’ Annual Scholarship Gala. The fundraising event will be held at the Raising Cane’s River Center, 275 River Road South, on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 6:30pm.

    All proceeds from the event will be used to provide scholarships; assistantships; internships; study abroad, campus-based research and professional development opportunities for students in the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    Last year’s Gala raised more than $22,000 that were used to support internships, book scholarships and study abroad opportunities.

    Tickets are $50 for general admission, $650 for reserved tables. The price, which includes dinner and live entertainment, will increase to $60 for general admission after November 30.

    To purchase tickets or make a tax-deductible donation visit, https://foundation.sus.edu/agcentergala/ or contact Jasmine Gibbs at 225-771-2719.

    The Southern University Land-Grant Campus is also seeking sponsors for the Scholarship Gala.  For information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Aymbriana Campbell-Pollard at 225-771-2275.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Land-Grant Campus.

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

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

    State Rep. Ted James

    State Rep. Ted James

     

     

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

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

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

    Click here to read Act 103.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More than 100 leaders attended the networking mixer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What’s next?

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

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

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

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

    By A.G. Duvall II
    Drum Contributing Writer

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  • SPLC: ‘Racial profiling in law enforcement is widespread across Louisiana’

    Evidence suggests that racial profiling – the unconstitutional practice of law enforcement that targets people because of their skin color – is widespread in Louisiana, according to a report the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Further, the report states, law enforcement agencies across the state have failed to create policies and procedures to prevent or stop racial profiling.

    The report, “Racial Profiling in Louisiana: Unconstitutional and Counterproductive,” analyzes the lack of detailed racial profiling policies at law enforcement agencies across the state. The adverse effects of racial profiling are widely known and contribute to Louisiana’s high incarceration rate and disproportionate imprisonment of people of color.

    However, more than one-third of the state’s law enforcement agencies lack any policy on racial profiling at all, and existing policies at the other law-enforcement agencies generally fail to give officers and deputies the tools they need to understand what racial profiling is or what conduct is prohibited.

    “Racial profiling is pervasive and insidious. It creates profound distrust between over-policed communities and law enforcement, thereby endangering public safety,” said Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “Without in-depth racial profiling policies, law enforcement officers across Louisiana are missing a major tool to help them fairly and effectively protect and serve all communities. To ignore this problem is to condone it, and that has to stop.”

    There are two common types of racial profiling: unreasonable suspicion, in which a law enforcement officer assumes that a person is committing a crime based solely on that person’s race or ethnicity; and unequal enforcement, in which an officer stops a person for a minor infraction, even though he or she would not have stopped a person of another race or ethnicity for the same violation.

    The SPLC requested racial profiling policies from 331 law enforcement agencies throughout Louisiana; 310 responded. Of those, 109 agencies admitted to having no racial profiling policy at all. One of those agencies, the Bernice Police Department, provided a conclusory one-sentence response: “We have no written policies on racial profiling since we do not racially profile.”

    Policies provided by 89 law enforcement agencies across the state are not broad enough to prohibit both unreasonable suspicion and unequal enforcement, according to the report. Another 112 agencies provided policies that do cover both types of racial profiling, but many of those policies are short, vague, or fail to clearly explain what racial profiling is, and what actions are not permitted. A handful of agencies provided irrelevant documents, such as policies on workplace harassment and equal employment opportunities.

    “It is unacceptable that so many law enforcement agencies throughout Louisiana are operating with little to no guidance on racial profiling,” said Jamila Johnson, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC. “The absence of detailed racial profiling policies has almost certainly contributed to Louisiana’s high incarceration rate, and without question has resulted in disproportionate policing of people of color. The only way to hold law enforcement officials accountable and ensure that the laws are being enforced equally across all demographics is to implement comprehensive racial profiling policies and require detailed data collection.”

    The report states that Louisiana police officers’ unequal focus on people of color also means that they are disproportionately ticketed, arrested, prosecuted, and ultimately imprisoned. In 2016, Black adults comprised only 30.6 percent of the state’s adult population, but accounted for 53.7 percent of adults who were arrested. That same year, Black people were 2.9 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in Louisiana, even though Black adults are statistically less likely than white adults to use marijuana.

    In Gretna, Black people made up two-thirds of the city’s arrests in 2016 but only one-third of the city’s population. The Gretna Police Department does not have a racial profiling policy. It did provide the SPLC with its mission statement, code of ethics, workplace harassment policy and an arrest policy that states its legal obligations under federal and state non-discrimination laws to “treat all individuals equally and fairly without regard to race, religion, sex, nationality or handicap.”

    Between 2011 and 2017, the Baton Rouge Police Department made more than 1,600 traffic stops enforcing a local ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor to “disturb the peace” by playing loud music from a vehicle. A majority of those stops were in predominantly Black neighborhoods, raising the concern that officers may be using the ordinance to unfairly stop Black drivers. The Baton Rouge Police Department did provide the SPLC with its racial profiling policy, but the policy does not clearly state what conduct is prohibited under the policy.

    The SPLC’s report includes recommendations for law enforcement agencies, the state Legislature and the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice to help agencies maintain adequate policies, provide appropriate training, and record sufficient data to prevent racial profiling. Those recommendations include adopting policies that ban all forms of racial profiling. They also include mandating the collection and publication of data for all traffic and pedestrian stops, uses of force, arrests and complaints.

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  • Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana provides free training at Night Out Against Child Sexual Abuse

    Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana will offer the Stewards of Children workshop for free at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s Parenting Center, 1505 N. Florida St., in Covington, on Thursday, Oct. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. as part of their Night Out Against Child Sexual Abuse. Interested community members can register atwww.pcal.org.

    “We’ve all seen the headlines nationally and locally about children who have been sexually abused by someone they trust, and as an organization we wanted to offer this workshop for parents, grandparents and anyone who wants to learn more about how to keep children safe,” said Amanda Brunson, Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana executive director.

    Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children is a two-hour workshop that equips attendees first to recognize sexual abuse and respond appropriately, but also to prevent it by talking to children and minimizing opportunities for abuse to occur. The normal cost to attend is $10, but it is free for the Night Out Against Child Sexual Abuse thanks to a grant from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

    The workshop will be offered in nine cities across the state at the same time the evening of Oct. 11. Due to the sensitive nature of the material, the workshop is for adults only; child care is not provided.

    “I hope folks across the state take advantage of this chance to learn and be more empowered to protect the children in their lives,” noted Brunson. “We know that preventing child abuse and neglect before it occurs saves our state money, but more importantly it prevents future risks of societal ills such as human trafficking, substance abuse, depression, intimate partner violence and suicide.”

    Since 1986 Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana has been dedicated to preventing the abuse and neglect of children throughout Louisiana by focusing on programs and training, advocacy and engagement, and research and evaluation. As the local affiliate of Prevent Child Abuse America, PCAL is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. For more information, to donate or to volunteer, visit www.pcal.org.

    Read more »
  • Free bus driver training offered in October

    Responding to a critical need for qualified school bus drivers, Tangipahoa Parish School Superintendent Melissa Stilley announced this week that the district will offer free classes to train new drivers.

    The TPSS will offer a 30-hour pre-service training course to help potential drivers gain the skills needed to become certified Louisiana School Bus Operators. The class is free and open to anyone age 21 and up who holds a Louisiana driver’s license.

    “If you’ve ever thought about driving a school bus, our team is ready to help you complete the prerequisite 30-hour classroom portion of the program in just eight short days, starting next week,” Stilley said.

    Applicants should bring paper and pen/pencil to take notes and must attend all sessions of the course, which will be offered nightly October 1-4, from 4-8 p.m., and October 8-11, from 4-8 p.m., at the TPSS Technology Center, which is located at 795 S. Morrison Boulevard in Hammond.

    Candidates who successfully complete the course must also obtain a Class A or B commercial driver’s license with the “S” and “P” endorsements and air brake certification.

    “Tangipahoa Parish School System bus drivers earn health insurance and retirement benefits, get summers and legal holidays off, work a five hour work day, and gain on-going training year-round. If you’re at least 21-years-old, have received your high school diploma or GED, in good health, and of good character, we have a place for you  here at the TPSS. Give us a call and learn how you can become part of our team,” Stilley said

    Registration for the free bus driver training course is preferred but not required. For additional information, call (985) 748-2423.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Council n Aging to distribute emergency kits Sept. 28

    The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging (EBRCOA) announced today that after the AARP and AARP Foundation emergency kit packing event, the agency will be distributing the prepared kits, Friday, September 28 at the EBRCOA Capital City Event Center  at 6955 Florida Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806. The agency would like to thank its partners: the AARP Foundation and the Louisiana Department of Health, Center for Community Preparedness for their donation of supplies.  The drive-thru event will begin at 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. while supplies last.

    Recipients must be 50 years of age or older, preferably low to moderate income and residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, in order to receive an emergency preparedness kit.

    With the peak of hurricane season upon us, the EBRCOA wants to remind seniors that staying “emergency-ready” is essential.  Keep essentials items such as: medicine, water, vital documents, flashlights, batteries and an overnight bag in case of an emergency evacuation.

    “This distribution of emergency preparedness kits is a part of our commitment to serve the seniors of East Baton Rouge Parish in every capacity.  We would like to thank AARP and AARP Foundation and the Office of Public Health for their support,” said COA chief executive officer Tasha Clark-Amar.

    “For vulnerable older adults, a natural disaster complicates the challenges they already experience. As storms surge, so do the hardships for those struggling to make ends meet. That’s why AARP and AARP Foundation are mobilizing volunteers to assemble thousands of bags filled with emergency preparedness supplies to seniors in Baton Rouge,” said Marc McDonald, VP grants and external initiatives, AARP Foundation.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Women! A Week-Long Celebration kicks off October 5 in Baton Rouge

    The Women’s Council is a network of organizations and individuals committed to enhancing our community by connecting, promoting and empowering women. Women’s Week is a week long celebration October 5-14th. There are 115 free events during the week dealing with important issues including healthcare, education, family, community, economics, business, sports, arts and humanities as well as offering fun and interesting activities.
    With the kickoff luncheon being held October 5th from the Marriott Hotel in Baton Rouge, this year’s theme, “Coming TogetHER,” promotes collaboration, partnerships, and to strengthen the links of the chain of women who have continued to make our city/state dynamic!

    Read more »
  • ADL, Urban League speak against New Orleans school hair policy

    The Anti-Defamation League, South Central Region, and the Urban League of Louisiana joined in voicing concern about Christ the King School in New Orleans disciplining an African American student for wearing hair extensions under its racially insensitive grooming policy.  Requiring students to only wear “natural hair,” the policy prohibits “extensions, wigs, hair pieces of any kind …”
    Aaron Ahlquist, ADL South Central Regional Director, and Erika McConduit, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana issued the following statement:
    “ADL and the Urban League are deeply troubled by the policy in question as well as the manner in which the school is disciplining students of color under this policy. The policy shows racial insensitivity and bias by the administration to students and their families.  While we understand that many private and public schools have dress and grooming policies intended to foster learning and health, this policy discriminates against Black girls by forbidding hair extensions and requiring only ‘natural hair.’
    As such, we are immediately calling for the school to revise the policy, withdraw current disciplinary action issued under it, and apologize to the impacted students. It should also implement reasonable grooming standards that foster learning while respecting diversity, as well as institute cultural competence and anti-discrimination training for all staff.
    There is an opportunity for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Christ the King School to take a reflective and introspective look at the impact of this policy and work in ways to be more accepting and inclusive of their students, regardless of race.  We stand ready to assist in this process by helping to work towards building a school environment which promotes success and equal opportunity for all students.”
    ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.
    ONLINE: adl.org.
    Celebrating 80 years of service, the Urban League of Louisiana works to enable African-Americans and other communities seeking equity to secure economic self-reliance, parity and civil rights. The Urban League’s three Centers of Excellence are focused in the areas of education and youth development, workforce and economic development, and public policy and advocacy.
    Read more »
  • ,

    QUALIFIED!

    Meet the candidates vying for votes in Tangipahoa’s November 6 election

     

    Secretary of State

    (One to be elected)

    R. Kyle Ardoin, Baton Rouge, Republican, White Male

    Heather Cloud, Turkey Creek,Republican, White Female

    ‘Gwen’ Collins-Greenup, Clinton, Democrat, Black Female

    A.G. Crowe, Pearl River, Republican, White Male

    ‘Rick’ Edmonds, Baton Rouge, Republican, White Male

    Renee Fontenot Free, Baton Rouge, Democrat, White Female

    Thomas J. Kennedy III, Metairie, Republican, White Male

    Matthew Paul ‘Matt’ Moreau, Zachary, No Party, White Male

    Julie Stokes, Metairie, Republican,  White Female

     

    U. S. Representative 1st Congressional District

    (One to be elected)

    Lee Ann Dugas, Kenner, Democrat, White Female

    ‘Jim’ Francis, Covington, Democrat, White Male

    Frederick ‘Ferd’ Jones, Ponchatoula, Independent, White Male

    Howard Kearney, Mandeville, Libertarian, White Male

    Tammy M. Savoie, New Orleans, Democrat, White Female

    Steve Scalise,Jefferson, Republican, White Male

     

    U. S. Representative 5th Congressional District

    Ralph Abraham Archibald, Republican, White Male

    Billy Burkette, Pride, Independent,  American Indian Male

    Jessee Carlton Fleenor, Loranger, Democrat, White Male

    Kyle Randol, Monroe, Libertarian, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District A

    (One to be elected)

    Walter Daniels, Amite, Democrat, Black Male

    Jonathan Foster, Amite, Democrat, Black Male

    Janice Fultz Richards, Fluker, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Member of School Board – District B

    (One to be elected)

    Rodney Lee, Loranger, Independent, White Male

    ‘Tom’ Tolar, Kentwood, Republican, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District C

    (One to be elected)

    Robin Abrams, Independence, Republican, White Female

    Janice Reid Holland, Independence, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Member of School Board – District D

    (One to be elected)

    Terran Perry, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Phillip David Ridder Jr., Tickfaw, Republican, White Male

    Glenn Westmoreland, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District F

    (One to be elected)

    ‘Randy’ Bush, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

    Christina ‘Chris’ Cohea, Hammond, No Party, White Female

    E. Rene Soule, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    ‘Mike’ Whitlow, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

     

    Member of School Board – District G

    (One to be elected)

    Alvon Brumfield, Hammond, No Party, White Male

    Jerry Moore, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Betty C. Robinson, Hammond, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Member of School Board – District I

    (One to be elected)

    Rose Quave Dominguez, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Female

    Arden Wells, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

    John H. Wright Jr., Ponchatoula, Democrat, Black Male

     

    Mayor City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Oscar ‘Omar’ Dantzler, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Jim ‘J.’ Kelly Jr., Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Peter Michael Panepinto, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Mayor Town of Kentwood

    (One to be elected)

    Rochell Bates, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Irma Thompson Gordon, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    Michael ‘Mike’ Hall, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Herbert Montgomery, Kentwood, No Party, Black Male

     

    Chief of Police – Town of Kentwood

    (One to be elected)

    Gregory ‘Big’ Burton, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Michael Kazeroni, Kentwood, Republican, Black Male

     

    Council Member District  1, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Kiplyn ‘Kip’ Andrews, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Carl R. Duplessis, Hammond, No Party, White Male

    ‘Chris’ McGee Sr.,Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

     

    Council Member District  2, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Carlee White Gonzales, Hammond, Republican, White Female

    Craig Inman, Hammond, Republican,White Male

    ‘Josh’ Taylor, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Council Member District  3, City of Hammond

    Janice Carter, Hammond, Democrat, Black Female

    Devon Wells, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    ‘Brad’ Wilson, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

    Council Member District  4, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Sam Divittorio, Hammond, Republican, White Male

    Justin Thornhill, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Council Member District  5, City of Hammond

    (One to be elected)

    Louise Bostic, Hammond, No Party, White Female

    Steven Leon, Hammond, Republican, White Male

     

    Council Member(s) Town of Kentwood

    (Five to be elected)

    Gary Callihan, Kentwood, Democrat, White Male

    Irma Clines, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    Tre’von D. Cooper, Kentwood, Independent, Black Male

    Xavier D. Diamond, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Antoinette Harrell, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    Terrell ‘Teddy’ Hookfin, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Shannon R. Kazerooni, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    William Lawson, Kentwood, Republican, White Male

    James Robbins, Kentwood, No Party, Black Male

    Michael L. Sims, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Steven J. Smith, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Paul Stewart, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Tonja Thompson, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

    John Williams, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

    Audrey T. Winters, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

     

    Council Member(s) Village of Tickfaw

    (Three to be elected)

    ‘Mike’ Fedele, Tickfaw, Other, White Male

    ‘Steve’ Galofaro, Tickfaw, Other, White Male

    Guy J. Ribando, Tickfaw, Democrat, White Male

    Jimmy Sparacello, Tickfaw, No Party, White Male

     

    Read more »
  • La. based social network expects to bring $26 billion back into urban communities

    BELLE CHASSE, La.–Building Economic Advancement Network (BEAN) is aligning strategic investments, incentivized business transactions and cutting-edge technology to increase economic power in urban communities.

    The company is scheduled to launch the intuitive BEAN app this fall.

    According to BlackNews.com, this launch sets a precedent as the first social network dedicated to the economic advancement of urban communities by leveraging commerce and blockchain technology.

    “The platform allows users to easily connect with businesses and professionals from all over the world that are committed to making a positive economic impact in urban communities. BEAN’s intuitive app leverages the latest breakthroughs in blockchain technology, enabling users to monitor their daily economic impact, while earning BEAN coins for their transactions,” states a corporate press release.

    BEAN is founded by Darren Walker, 33, of Belle Chasse, a real estate investor who oversees a multi-million dollar portfolio. He recently starred in the DIY Network’s show, ‘Louisiana Flip N Move,’ where he and his wife, Lucy, demonstrated their real estate and renovation prowess throughout Louisiana.

    His partner Derek Fitzpatrick is a designer, technology expert and application developer who has led multiple, award-winning studios as a creative director. His deep understanding of design and technology is at the forefront of BEAN’s platform.

    Fitzpatrick’s expertise in branding, 3D/2D, animation, motion graphics, visualization, architecture and industrial design has been instrumental in producing creative, animated and branding assets for major corporations, new products, business services and start-ups.

    BEAN partner Michael Long is a corporate attorney who specializes in corporate and securities law, venture capital, joint ventures, real estate development, debt, mergers and acquisitions, and various areas of corporate law.

    Walker said, “BEAN is at the forefront of an economic shift. We are leveraging resources, partnerships and investors from diverse backgrounds and demographics to drive economic advancement in urban communities. African Americans have the 16th largest buying power in the world and are major contributors to the United States GDP, yet so much of that economic power is not realized where it matters most – in African American neighborhoods. BEAN’s social network will counter that trend by connecting consumers and businesses in a manner that positively impacts urban communities.”

    BEAN expects to facilitate $26 billion back into urban communities by using its platform to redirect a minimum of 2% of African American spending.

    BEAN has set aside 16% of its shares for private investment. Now through December 31, 2018, individuals and investors can purchase BEAN shares with equity in accordance with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission’s (SEC) rules under the Jobs ACT, Title III, Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg. CF).

    BEAN is offering shares for a minimum investment of $250 and maximum investment of $107,000. Facilitating BEAN’s Reg. CF offering is truCrowd, a U.S. crowdfunding portal authorized by the SEC. For every investment during the initial Reg. CF offering, investors will also receive BEAN Coin tokens, which will be used as cryptocurrency on BEAN’s social network.

     

    ONLINE:www.trucrowd.com.

    ONLINE:iambean.us.

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    SU Land-Grant Campus to host Back-to-School Summit, August 3

    Students in 6th – 12th grade are invited to participate in the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’ Back-to-School Summit,  August 3, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

    The free event, which is themed “Youth Empowerment and Community Stewardship: Cultivating the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders: Plant, Grow, Nurture, Harvest, Sustain,” in the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    The summit will feature comedian Tony King, social media sensation Raynell “Supa” Steward and educational workshops on the topics of:

    • Youth Empowerment & Community Stewardship
    • Active Shooter Preparedness
    • DIY Bike Repairs
    • Social Media Safety
    • LYFE
    • No Smoke
    • Exploring Careers in Ag
    • Eating “Gods” Way
    • $mart Snacks
    • Safe Sitter

    Youth will also have an opportunity to visit several vendor booths during the Summit.

    City of Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniels will serve as the keynote speaker for the summit.

    In 2014, the Baton Rouge native created the Jewel J. Newman Community Center (JJNCC) Advisory Board. Under Banks-Daniels leadership, the JJNCC has increased its funding from the City-Parish and has made several building and playground upgrades.

    The center has also been awarded several grants that have been used to improve the quality of life for her constituents.

    Banks-Daniels earned a Master’s degree in Education, Leadership and Counseling and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, both from Southern University. She is also a graduate of the Southern University Laboratory School.

    Youth groups interested in attending the Back-to-School Summit must pre-register by emailing the name of the child(ren), their age(s), parent(s) name, mailing address, phone number and email address to: suagyouthdevelopment@gmail.com.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the SU College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    First Louisiana charter school for children with autism opens August 16

    The Emerge School for Autism will welcome its first class of students on August 16, 2018, as the first tuition-free school for children with autism spectrum disorder in the state of Louisiana.

    The school’s mission is to educate students with ASD using therapeutically focused evidence-based strategies grounded in the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and Universal Design for Learning enabling children to reach their full potential and transform their lives.

    The highly integrative curriculum will be tailored to each child’s individual needs and provide special education instruction using ABA, speech-language, and occupational therapy to children to prepare them for future education settings with a functional communication system, improved independence, self-help skills, and essential learner readiness skills. Socio-emotional learning will enhance the academic performance of the students and their ability to integrate into society or back to their home school. Data-driven decision-making will be an integral part of The Emerge School, as the team will collect data daily, and analyze data weekly for each student.

    Since its inception in 1960, The Emerge Center, an independent 501c3, has undergone a natural, organizational evolution into the educational realm in response to community needs. The Emerge Kindergarten began in 2014 and provided academic instruction in alignment with Louisiana Student Standards and was composed of a combination of therapies, including speech-language, occupational, and applied behavior analysis to students ages five to six years of age. It was a BESE-approved, tuition-based program following a traditional school year calendar.

    When Emerge students began transitioning out of the center’s program and into traditional schools settings, students who had been successful within Emerge programs became significantly challenged by new environments, which lacked educational and therapeutic tools they needed to achieve success. In 2016, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation unveiled findings from a study of Autism Spectrum Disorder resources in the Capital Region, in which they found that educational opportunities for children with autism are limited by the small number of private and public school classroom resources, as schools largely often opted out of offering curricula featuring applied behavior analysis.

    In 2017, the Board of Directors and executive leadership of The Emerge Center completed a three-year Strategic Plan to position the non-profit organization for sustainable growth in its services for children with autism and communication challenges. By implementing the strategic plan, Emerge expanded its educational offerings with the creation of The Emerge School for Autism.

    Beginning with twenty children in kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year, The Emerge School plans to serve children ages five to eleven and grow to serve up to 120 students over time. In its first year, the school will operate out of two existing classrooms at The Emerge Center, with plans to identify a larger space to accommodate more students in the future.

    Leigh Bozard is the principal of The Emerge School for Autism.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Public Notice of Meeting of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District, July 12

    The regular meeting of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District will be held at the LSU Health Baton Rouge North Clinic Urgent Care located at 5439 Airline Hwy, Baton Rouge, LA 70805. The date of the meeting is July 12,2018

    The meeting will begin at 6pm in the community meeting room located at the front entry of the main building.

    Any questions contact Rinaldi Jacobs Sr (225)771-4359 or  email rjacobs@brnedd.com.

     

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  • Passenger volume up in May at Baton Rouge Metro Airport

    Passenger enplanements, or departing passengers, were up 3.2% at Baton Rouge Metro Airport in May over the same month in 2017. Deplanements, or arriving passengers, were up 5.3%. Total passenger volume for May was 72,578, the second highest among Louisiana airports.

    2018 year-to-date BTR passenger volume is up 4.9%. Passenger volume for 2017 was up 4%. American Airlines had the top BTR passenger share in May at 38%, followed by Delta at 35% and United at 25%.

    “With the increase in airline seating capacity at BTR, and the new, nonstop VIA Air flights to Orlando and Austin beginning in September, we look forward to continued passenger growth,” said Jim Caldwell, BTR’s marketing, public relations and air service development manager.

    Interim director of aviation Mike Edwards said, “The critical piece going forward is making sure we fill these additional seats and flights. If they are successful with above-average load factors, it dramatically increases our prospects for more service.”

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Congressional Black Caucus speaks out on immigration bills, family separation

    The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) – led by CBC Chair Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02) and the CBC Immigration Task Force Chair Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09) – released the following statement on two immigration bills that House Republicans are trying to pass this week, the Securing America’s Future Act and the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act.

    “Make no mistake about it, both of these bills – the Securing America’s Future Act and the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act – are extreme measures that seek to allow Republicans to avoid responsibility in an election year for a crisis that they themselves created, rather than actually bringing justice to the more than 1.5 million DREAMers who have been waiting for years for Congress to act.

    “Both bills would allocate billions of dollars to an unnecessary and ineffective border wall, rather than opening our borders and hearts to immigrants.

    “Both bills are an attack on immigrant families that would limit, if not completely eliminate, key family reunification policies, including sponsorships for married family members. In addition, children would still be able to be separated from their parents, or else forcibly detained with them for an indefinite period as many of them were over Father’s Day weekend. Uniting families strengthens communities, which is something the party of family values should support.

    “In addition, by threatening to end the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a program whose recipients are typically from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, both bills seek to keep black and brown immigrants out of this country, even though recipients are required to have a high school diploma and pass a thorough background check.

    “Finally, both bills don’t have any Democratic support because Republicans chose to ditch the bipartisan approach to immigration that the House was taking until last week.

    “The most famous line from the poem mounted on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ It is in that spirit that the Congressional Black Caucus will continue to do all that we can to prevent these inhumane and unjust bills from becoming law.”

    —-
    The Congressional Black Caucus was established in 1971 and has a historic 48 members for the 115th Congress, including one Republican member and two senators. Congressman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02) is the chairman of the caucus.

    Read more »
  • Public comment period for ITEP proposed changes ends June 22

    Late last year, Governor Edwards directed Louisiana Economic Development (LED) to research and identify process improvements to the Industrial Tax Exemption Program following two 2016 Executive Orders that altered key components of the economic development program.

    Rules have been in place at the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry for nearly a year, reflecting the principles expressed in the governor’s Executive Orders.

    Taking a thorough and comprehensive approach, LED conducted an extensive program review, including dialogue with several key stakeholders such as Louisiana governmental entities, trade associations and non-governmental organizations. LED gathered input on how the ITEP program could retain the enhanced features of accountability and local voice while also moving in a direction of improved certainty and a more streamlined approval process.

    Based upon that research, analysis and dialogue, ITEP process improvements were introduced at the April 25, 2018 meeting of the Board of Commerce and Industry.

    >> Click here to review the proposed rule changes.  The public comment period ends June 22, 2018.

    Read more »
  • Grow Baton Rouge Farmers & Makers Market opens June 9

    On Saturday June 9, 2018, GrowBatonRouge.com will bring a special Farmers & Makers Market to North Baton Rouge. There will be local food, produce, vendors, cooking demonstrations and much more. GrowBatonRouge.com is committed to helping heal communities through healthy food and living. If you are an advocate of healthy eating, fresh produce, and getting rid of food deserts throughout the city of Baton Rouge, then we would like your help in spreading the word about this upcoming Farmers Market. We look forward to seeing you Saturday June 9th!

    ONLINE: www.GROWBATONROUGE.com

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  • SU Board to meet Friday, May 25

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors will hold its regular meeting Friday, May 25 at 9 a.m., in the Board Meeting Room, 2nd Floor, J. S. Clark Administration Building, on the Southern University campus in Baton Rouge.

    The agenda and other documents can be found at: http://www.sus.edu/page/su-board-current-month-packet.

    The meeting will be live streamed at: https://youtu.be/KhjEbdub3uY.

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Billy Washington
    Guest Columnist

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  • ,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • La Capitale Chapter of The Links, Incorporated presents Wigs, Martinis and Bow Ties

    Wigs, Martinis and Bow Ties presented by the La Capitale Chapter of The Links, Incorporated is Friday, April 27, 2018. The event kicks off at 7 pm at the Renaissance Hotel, 7000 Bluebonnet Boulevard. Tickets are $75 per person, and include dinner, dancing, live entertainment, and a cash bar with the event’s signature martini, the Linktini. Proceeds from the event benefit Cancer Services, Incorporated and La Capitale’s community service programs. Guests are asked to bring an unused wig to the affair for donation to Cancer Services, Incorporated’s Wig Salon.

    The event will also feature the awarding of the La Capitale Trailblazer Award where three honorees will be named for their significant contributions toward cancer research and support.
    Tickets may be purchased online at lacapitalelinksinc.org or through any member of the La Capitale Chapter.

    The Links, Incorporated is an international, nonprofit corporation established in 1946. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women. The La Capitale was chartered as a chapter of The Links, Incorporated in April, 1986. The Chapter celebrates 32 years of service to the East and West Baton Rouge communities under the leadership of its current president, Paula H. Clayton.

    Nationally, Links members contribute more than 950,000 documented hours of community service annually – strengthening their communities and enhancing the nation through its five programmatic facets of National Trends and Services, Services to Youth, Health, The Arts, and International Trends and Services. La Capitale Chapter members have provided more than 2,500 hours of service this program year.
    ONLINE www.linksinc.org

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  • COMMUNITY EVENTS: March and April 2018

    Local and Statewide Events

    March

    22 – 25: Louisiana Crawfish Festival: 5:00 p.m. at the Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center at 8245 W Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette. Cajun entertainment and current hit parade bands explode on stage to draw crowds to the sounds and glitter of showmanship.

    24: BRBT Dancin’ in the Streets 2018: 4:30 p.m. at Perkins Rowe, 10202 Perkins Rowe, B.R. Event presented by the Baton Rouge Ballet Theater. Enjoy an awesome dance party in the streets of downtown with pulsing live music and delectable food provided by various local restaurants. $55 advance, $65 at gate.

    24: Repticon Reptile and Exotic Animal Convention 2018: 10 a.m. The convention will be held at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center, Gonzales. $12 Adults, $5 Children 5-12.

    24: BREC’s 2018 Summer Camp Registration: 9:00 am for Baton Rouge residents (April 3, 2018 at 3:30 pm for non-residents). For further information, call 225-272-9200 ext. 580.

    24: Sistars of Empowerment Social Organization “Bossed Up to Glow up” Empowerment Breakfast: 9:30 a.m. at Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, B.R. This is the second part of the Boss up Series by Sistars of Empowerment. This women’s empowerment breakfast will motivate and inspire you to “glow up” even after the “boss up”. This event is for young ladies and women who are looking to reach their greatest potential in every aspect of life. Guest speakers, Door prizes, Food, Fellowship, and Fun. Free, RSVP to sistarsinc13@gmail.com.

    25: The 100 Black Women of Metropolitan Baton Rouge “Stay at Home Tea” Fundraiser: All day online event. For further information, visit their website at https://www.100blackwomenmbr.com/workshops.

    25: Screening of the movie “Backpack Full of Cash”: 2:30 at Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, B.R. Come join Progressive Social Network (PSN), Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE), and One Community One School District for a followed by a panel discussion with local education leaders, activists, and experts. The panelists will include individuals with diverse views on charter schools in Baton Rouge. Narrated by Matt Damon, this feature-length documentary explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, “Backpack Full of Cash” takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, exposing the world of corporate-driven education “reform” where public education — starved of resources — hangs in the balance.

    27: Mary B. Perkins Cancer Center’s Mobile Clinic: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The mobile clinic will be at the Main Library at Goodwood Blvd., B.R. distributing free breast, prostate, skin, and colorectal kits. For further information, call 225-215-1234.

    27: Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus’s 14th Annual “Connecting Businesses with Contracts” Procurement Conference: 8:00 a.m. at the Felton G. Clark Activity Center. The conference provides a venue for potential and existing business owners, contractors, non-profits, small towns, and municipalities to learn about the resources that are available through federal, state and local government agencies and major prime companies.

    30: Downtown Baton Rouge Live After 5 2018: 5 p.m. City Hall Plaza, 100 North Blvd, B.R. Come out and enjoy free live entertainment on March 30, April 6, April 13, April 20, April 27, and May 4, 2018. Free.

    April

    4 -8: Cycle Zydeco 2018:  6:00 a.m. at the Ramada Lafayette Conference Center, 2032 SW Evangeline Thruway, Lafayette. This festival consists of a leisurely ride through Louisiana’s swamp country. Participants ride from venue to venue eating, dancing and drinking their way to a good time.

    6: SwagHer Magazine Issue Release Party- Changing the Narrative: at 7:00 p.m. at BREC’s Jefferson Highway Park, 8133 Jefferson Hwy, B.R. $15.

    6: Denham Springs Fair: 4:00 p.m. at 7510 Vincent Rd, Denham Springs.

    6-7: Scott Boudin Festival 2018: 5:00 p.m. at the City Hall Grounds, 125 Lions Club Road, Scott, LA. The festival is filled with plates of lip-smacking Cajun cuisine, rhythmic blues and carnival entertainment for kids of all ages. $45 all weekend ride pass.

    7: The New Orleans Chapter of the National Black MBA Association: “Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship Gala”: 5:00 p.m. at the Homer L. Hitt Alumni and Visitors Center, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans. The keynote speaker will be former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, Jr.  For further information, email the association at scholarship@nonbmbaa.org.

    7: The 3rd Annual Crawfish Color Run:  10 a.m. at The Lodges at 777, 777 Ben Hur Road, B.R. This kaleidoscopic 5K was established in 2011 and takes place in several cities throughout the world. Run, laugh, listen to music, dance and be doused with colors along the way. The first 500 people to register and make a suggested $5 donation to Relay for Life receive a free shirt.

    7-8: BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo Zippity Zoo Fest 2018: 9:30 a.m. Celebrate 48 years at the BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo, 3601 Thomas Road, B.R. For further information, call 225-775-3877.

    12: Women’s Council of Greater Baton Rouge General Meeting: 11:30 a.m. at Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, B.R.

    12 -15: 35th French Quarter Festival:  11:00 a.m. at the New Orleans French Quarter.  There will be 21 stages set up throughout the French Quarter that celebrate all genres of music from contemporary jazz, folk and gospel to Zydeco and New Orleans Funk. Food and beverages offered at the festival are provided by local New Orleans restaurants.

    13 – 15: 47th Annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival: Noon at the Memorial Park located in the historic and beautiful Ponchatoula, Louisiana. The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is a free family friendly outdoor festival, filled with lots of great food, games, and live entertainment.

    14: The CEO Mind Foundation: WOMANHOOD 101: GIRLS EMPOWERED: 9:00 a.m. at 4000 Gus Young Ave, B.R. For further information, call 225- 372-1416 or info@theceomind.org.

    14: Urban Congress on African American Males: 2018 Urban Congress General Convening: 8:15 a.m. at 6955 Florida Blvd, B.R. This is an open invitation to individuals of all interests, industries and backgrounds who share one common agenda: creating a Baton Rouge where Black males are valued by the community as integral assets and are productive, connected, healthy, and safe.

    14 -15: 24th Annual Baton Rouge Blues Festival: Noon at Louisiana Old State Capitol, 100 North Blvd, B. R. This year’s festival will feature performers such as Mavis Staples and Kenny Neal. For a full performance listing, visit their website at http://www.batonrougebluesfestival.org.

    18: Champions of Services Awards and Gala: 5:30 p.m. at Capital Park Museum, 660 N 4th St, B. R. Volunteer Louisiana will celebrate its 25th Anniversary and the legacy of national service and volunteerism in Louisiana. The event will feature a keynote address from Governor John Bel Edwards. For further information, please visit http://www.volunteerlouisiana.gov.

    19-22: Louisiana International Film Festival: Cinemark Perkins Rowe, 10000 Perkins Rowe, B.R. Guests will see Louisiana’s finest along with terrific films submitted from around the world. For movie listings and pricing, visit https://www.lifilmfest.org/event/fulllineup or call (225) 761-7844.

    21-22: Angola Prison Rodeo: 9:00 a.m. at Angola Prison Rodeo Arena, 17544 Tunica Trace, Angola.  Tickets are $20, children 2 and under free.

    25 – 29: Festival International de Louisiane:  6:30 p.m. at Downtown Lafayette, 315 Lee Ave, Lafayette. The festival celebrates the French flavor of Southwest Louisiana with five days of world music, art and food in downtown Lafayette.

    25: East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition: 6:00 p.m. at Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, B.R. A community coalition is forming with a campaign to expose the deplorable conditions in the EBR Parish jail. There will be a call for reforms so that city officials can take the necessary steps to correct this gross violation of residents’ rights. All those interested in participating are invited to attend.

    27 – 29: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Week One): 11:00 a.m. at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. Advance tickets are $65 for adults ($80 at the gate), $5 for children ages 2-10. For performance listings go to http://www.nojazzfest.com/lineup.

    28: The CEO Mind Foundation GRILL AND CONNECT: 11:00 am. at 4000 Gus Young Ave, B.R. This is a community outreach event that allows the organization to connect organically with the members of a neighborhood. Refreshments will be served. For further information, call 225- 372-1416 or info@theceomind.org.

    29: Louisiana Earth Day Festival: 1:00 p.m. at LSU Parker Coliseum/Ag Center, B.R. For further information call 225-274-8367.

     

     

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  • Erika McConduit resigns as president of Urban League of Louisiana

    The Urban League of Louisiana (ULLA) announced today that President and CEO, Erika McConduit, has resigned to explore other career opportunities, effective July 2018. The search for McConduit’s successor will begin in the near future.

    In an official letter to the Board of Directors, McConduit stated: “For the past five years, I have proudly served as president and CEO of this esteemed organization and community treasure. During this time, I have had the privilege of serving under a dedicated Board of Directors, and leading an incredible team of professionals, who’ve all worked tirelessly to breathe life into our mission of assisting African Americans and others seeking equity to secure economic parity, power, and civil rights. Personally and professionally, however, I challenge myself to have an even greater impact in a different field, which is why I am exploring other career opportunities at this time.”
    McConduit worked for the Urban League of Louisiana for nearly a decade, first serving as Vice President of Programs and subsequently as Executive Vice President before being named President and CEO in 2013. She is the second woman to serve in this role in the affiliate’s 80-year history.
    During her tenure as President and CEO, McConduit achieved incredible outcomes, most notably, expanding the organization from serving the Greater New Orleans area to a statewide entity, with a satellite office in Baton Rouge and space agreements in surrounding parishes in Louisiana. McConduit also oversaw the purchase of a new 26,000 sq. ft. headquarters building in the mid-city area of New Orleans, which also provides office and meeting space for small businesses, non-profits, and the community at-large. Under McConduit’s leadership, the organization responded to crises including flood recovery by providing over $3.5 million in clothing and household goods to impacted families in the Greater Baton Rouge area, and hosted a landmark conference to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, releasing a research publication examining the State of Black New Orleans Ten Years Post-Katrina.
    “As the President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana, Erika McConduit dedicated herself to the mission of the organization,” said ULLA Board Chairman Chris D’Amour.  “Erika exemplifies the Movement. As Chair of the Board, I extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to Erika. ULLA will now conduct a first class search to find our next CEO who will continue Erika’s legacy of changing lives throughout Louisiana.”
    The Urban League touches the lives of over 10,000 Louisianans each year through direct service programs in early childhood education, parent engagement, college and career readiness, workforce development, economic inclusion, and civic engagement. During McConduit’s service as President and CEO, countless members of the community were impacted in each of ULLA’s direct service areas, which had a direct and sustainable impact on the region at large.In addition, her tenacious policy and advocacy efforts helped to transform systems at both the local and state level.
    McConduit expressed her appreciation by stating, “I’d like to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to our clients, funders, partners, community members, staff, Board of Directors, Young Professionals, Guild, and the National Urban League. In our 80th anniversary year, the Urban League of Louisiana is strong, vibrant, and ready to grow to even greater heights.”
    During her remaining time at the organization, McConduit will play an active role to ensure a seamless transition for continued success in the League’s work to Empower Communities and Change Lives.
    McConduit concluded her letter to the board with, “It has been my greatest honor to have had the privilege of serving as president and CEO of such an important, effective, and transformational organization as the Urban League of Louisiana. I sincerely appreciate the trust and support you’ve given me throughout this incredible journey.”
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  • Federal judge blocks construction of Bayou Bridge pipeline said it would ‘irreparably harm’ Atchafalaya Basin

    Federal District Court Judge Shelly Dick halted the construction of the controversial Bayou Bridge pipeline across the Atchafalaya Basin. Today’s decision grants a preliminary injunction to prevent ongoing irreparable harm to this ecological treasure while a lawsuit, filed Jan. 11, is being heard.

    Dick found that the lawsuit filed by several groups — Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association (West), Gulf Restoration Network, Waterkeeper Alliance and Sierra Club, represented by lawyers with Earthjustice – raises serious concerns and that the 162-mile pipeline would irreparably harm the Atchafalaya Basin.

    The groups recently presented live testimony during a hearing showing that the ancient cypress and tupelo trees slated to be turned into mulch while the pipeline right-of-way is being cleared would never return, including evidence that these old-growth trees are the Noah’s Ark of the swamp – providing habitat for migratory birds, bears, bats and numerous other wildlife.

    In addition, the groups showed that pipeline construction would further degrade nearby fishing grounds that local commercial crawfishers rely on for their livelihood.

    “The court’s ruling recognizes the serious threat this pipeline poses to the Atchafalaya Basin, one of our country’s ecological and cultural crown jewels,” said Jan Hasselman, attorney from Earthjustice representing plaintiffs in this matter.  “For now, at least, the Atchafalaya is safe from this company’s incompetence and greed.”

    Jody Meche, a third-generation commercial crawfisher and president of the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, testified about how the Bayou Bridge pipeline would make existing problems worse – problems created by the irresponsible behavior of oil and gas companies during construction to previous pipelines in the basin.

    These problems include hypoxic water conditions that kill crawfish, eliminating harvests in areas of the Basin, the safety of local communities and the survival of Cajun culture.
    “We fight the fight for years, telling our story, raising public awareness about the issues we have in the Atchafalaya Basin,” Meche said. “It felt great to finally be able to tell my story in a courtroom.”

    “After years of witnessing the systematic destruction of the Basin with impunity by these companies, while our government turns a blind eye, it felt good to finally tell our story to a person with the power to make a difference,” Dean Wilson, executive director of Atchafalaya Basinkeeper said.

    The groups also raised concerns about the fact that construction of the pipeline would decrease natural flood protection in the basin, which acts as the major floodway project that protects millions of people in coastal Louisiana and the Mississippi River valley from Mississippi flood waters.

    The Bayou Bridge pipeline project proposes to connect the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, which transports volatile and explosive Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to refineries in St. James Parish and export terminals, forming the southern leg of the Bakken Pipeline. Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), which owns the Dakota Access Pipeline and is a joint owner in the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline, has one of the worst safety and compliance records in the industry.

    Federal data shows that Energy Transfer Partners and its subsidiary Sunoco Inc. have been responsible for hundreds of significant pipeline incidents across the country in the last decade.

    Last week, Sunoco was fined a record $12.6 million by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for violations incurred during the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline.

    The court ordered BBP to halt construction, citing the need to prevent further irreparable harm until the matter can be tried on the merits. The judge said the court would provide a more detailed opinion at a later date.

    Additional reaction from plaintiff groups:

    “ETP has a horrible track record that keeps getting worse every day,” said Donna Lisenby, Clean and Safe Energy Campaign Manager at Waterkeeper Alliance. “Waterkeeper Alliance is very grateful and relieved that a despicably horrible and incorrigible repeat offender has been temporarily stopped by the courts from damaging water, land, and wildlife in Louisiana.”

    “We have no time to lose,” said Scott Eustis, Gulf Restoration Network. “The sand stolen by these rights-of-way must flow to the coast—the sand cannot be spent filling our swamps. Once those swamps are filled, there’s no fish, and the vines cover the trees, so no birds. It’s over.”

    “The Bayou Bridge pipeline would pose an unacceptable risk to the wetlands, water, and communities along its route, and should never be built. It is a relief that the court has granted this injunction so we can make our case against this dirty, dangerous pipeline, and we will continue to fight until it is stopped for good,” said Julie Rosenzweig, Sierra Club Delta Chapter Director.

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  • ,

    COMMUNITY EVENT: Tea and Truth Dialogue Series

    Common ideas of gender identity can build bridges and barriers in every part of our lives. From societal roles to glass ceilings, we can feel empowered or restricted because of gender.

    Come join 821 and your fellow community members as we share our experiences with navigating societal ideas of gender and think about how to break the glass ceilings and barriers that exist.

    This article was submitted online.

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  • ,,

    PERSPECTIVE: Metro council considers marijuana policy changes to stop criminalization

    The Baton Rouge Metro Council is considering potential changes to the city’s current marijuana possession policy. The proposal, co-authored by Councilmen Chandler Loupe and Lamont Cole, would prohibit the arrest of individuals in possession of small quantities of marijuana and disallow the use of prior marijuana possession convictions to be used to justify longer prison sentences for repeat offenders. The proposed changes are an example of sensible, progressive policy and bipartisan cooperation that seem to be more common coming from the council recently.

    The move towards decriminalization of marijuana is happening in cities all over the country as attitudes regarding marijuana have changed and more attention is being focused on the potential adverse effects of current drug policies. In 2016, the New Orleans city council passed an ordinance that decriminalizes marijuana possession by providing tickets, not arrests, and reducing the penalties to modest fines.

    Unlike the New Orleans ordinance, the proposal currently before the Metro Council retains current penalties; a fine of up to $300 and/or 15 days in jail for possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana and a fine of $500 and/or 6 months in jail for possession of more than 14 grams. However, the proposal ends the practice of using prior marijuana possession convictions to compound penalties for repeat offenders which prevents misdemeanors from turning into felonies with lengthy jail sentences.

    The proposed changes are smart policy and a good first step for several reasons. No longer arresting for marijuana possession eliminates potential hurdles and financial barriers individuals with arrest records face. Despite the rate of marijuana usage being roughly the same for across racial lines, Blacks are much more likely to be arrested for possession. And thus for a single marijuana charge, more young Black men and women will be denied jobs, school loans, housing assistance, and promising futures.

    Aside from impacting inequity in the criminal justice system, there is also a strong fiscal argument for making these changes. The proposed policy would not only save the city money, but it would free up resources in an already stretched thin police force.PSN BR logo

    At the Jan. 24 Metro Council meeting despite Cole’s requesting that the item be deferred for two weeks, several concerned citizens and advocates expressed their support for passage of this ordinance. We think that this is smart policy that benefits the community as a whole and hope that it will receive the full support of the council when it comes up again at the next meeting.

    Perspective By Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge
    Special to The Drum

    Progressive Social Network is a grassroots advocacy organization promoting the progressive values of equity, inclusion, and accountability in the greater Baton Rouge area. ONLINE: www.psnbr.org

     

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