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    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!

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  • 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.
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    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

     

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  • 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.

     

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.”

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    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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Billy Washington
    Guest Columnist

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    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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    Law enforcement looking for drunk drivers during holiday weekend

    Law enforcement agencies across Louisiana are working overtime to put drunk drivers in jail as the long New Year’s weekend approaches, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
    Through the end of 2017, law enforcement agencies on the state and local levels are partnering with the LHSC in a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement mobilization to get drunk drivers off the road and to spread the word about the dangers of impaired driving.
    During the long New Year’s Eve holiday weekend in 2016, 76 people were injured and 5 people died in crashes involving alcohol on Louisiana roads, according to data from the Highway Safety Research Group at LSU. In all, there were 56 crashes across the state during the New Year’s Eve holiday that involved an impaired driver in 2016.
    The LHSC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offer these tips for New Year’s Eve:
    • It is never okay to drive drunk. If you plan to drink, also plan to designate a sober driver or use public transportation to get home safely.
    • Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
    • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement agency.
    • Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
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    State task force established to review sexual harassment, discrimination policies in agencies

    Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order announcing the Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy.  The seven member board is tasked with reviewing current harassment and discrimination policies within every state agency that falls under the executive branch, as well as researching and identifying the most effective ways to create work environments that are free from any form of harassment or discrimination.

    “Every person, whether they work in state government or private industry, should be able to do their jobs without fear of being sexually harassed or discriminated against,” said Gov. Edwards. “There is no circumstance under which harassment or discrimination of any kind will be tolerated by my administration. This task force will help us identify which current policies are effective and which ones are not, whether new ones need to be implemented and whether additional changes need to be made in these areas. The goal is to ensure state employees are safe at work and have the confidence in knowing that any allegation made will be taken seriously and that there are adequate procedures in place to address those complaints. The work has already begun, and we will have helpful discussions and feedback in very short order.”

    The duties of the task force members include the following:

    • Review the sexual harassment and discrimination policies of each state agency within the executive branch.
    • Research and identify the most effective mode of training to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination and evaluate the effectiveness of the existing video state employees are required to view each year.
    • Develop a protocol for sexual harassment and discrimination policy orientation for new employees, those participating in any state sponsored training academy and employees promoted to supervisory positions.
    • Research and identify the specific conduct that should be prohibited by sexual harassment and discrimination policies.
    • Research and identify a clear reporting process when an allegation is made as well as the most appropriate action that should be taken once an investigation is completed.

    The task force will make specific recommendations to ensure uniformity of sexual harassment and discrimination policies across the agencies and submit a report to the governor regarding its findings no later than March 1, 2018.

    Further, before January 1, 2018, all state agencies within the executive branch are to review their policies relative to sexual harassment and discrimination and submit a detailed report to the commissioner of administration.

    ONLINE: executive order.

     

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    City Hall rally urges Mayor, Council to keep their word on ‘grocery gap’ funding

    Together Baton Rouge will hold a rally on Monday, November 13th at 4:30pm at City Hall, 222 St. Louis Street, to urge the Mayor-President and Metropolitan Council to fulfill their commitment to fund an economic development program to attract grocery stores to “grocery gap” neighborhoods.

    As candidates during last year’s elections, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and a majority of the current Metropolitan Council committed to support city-parish funding for a fresh food financing initiative in the amount of $1.5 million.

    The proposed city-parish budget contains zero funding to implement the initiative.

    It is the fourth straight year that city officials have given verbal commitment to support the project, but not followed through with funding.

    In 2013, the central recommendations of the EBR Food Access Policy Commission was to start a fresh food financing initiative to bring access to healthy food to the parish’s 100,000 residents who live in low food-access areas.

    Together Baton Rouge is holding the rally to urge city officials to keep their word and finally get the project off the ground.

    “Budgets are statements of a community’s values and priorities,” said Edgar Cage, who helps lead Together Baton Rouge’s food access work.

    “We believe our officials are sincere in their support. But it’s time we start saying, not just with our words but with our budgets and with our actions, that we value and prioritize addressing food access and economic development in our most neglected neighborhoods.”

    To RSVP to attend the rally, click here.

    For full details on the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, click here.

    Facts on the Grocery Gap in East Baton Rouge Parish

    • Nearly 100,000 residents in East Baton Rouge Parish live in “grocery gap” neighborhoods –about 20% of the parish population.
    • The national average of residents food deserts is 7%
    • 32,753 of the EBR residents in Grocery Gap neighborhoods are children. 13,282 are seniors.
    • The Grocery Gap affects all 12 Metro Council District.
    • Lack of access to health foods is directly related to obesity and obesity-related illnesses
    • Lack of access to grocery stores increases the cost of food by 7 to 25%, typically in the neighborhoods least able to pay more.
    • New Orleans has had a fresh food financing initiative since 2011. It has funded 6 grocery store projects, creating 200 jobs and adding 179,000 sq. ft. of food retail.
    • Fresh food financing initiatives are public-private partnerships. Public funds typically leverage 8 to 10 times as much private sector funding.

    Together Baton Rouge would not receive any public funds under this initiative. The organization does not accept funds from government sources, period. The funding for a fresh food financing initiative would go as incentives to grocery stores and to a community development finance initiative to administer the program.

     

     

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    Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump launches law firm with national scope

    TALLAHASSEE—With the aim of more effective activism to promote individual and social justice in America, renowned civil rights advocate and attorney Ben Crump  this week launched a new law firm with a nationwide network of top lawyers. Well known for his work representing the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Corey Jones, Tamir Rice and others, Crump said the new firm will have the scale to seek justice for individuals across the nation and broadly extend his advocacy for social justice causes.

    Ben Crump Law PLLC, will focus on civil rights, employment law, personal injury, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice and wrongful death cases, as well as mass torts and class actions.

    “We are at a pivotal time in American history, when the hunger for social justice is spurring a renewal in our civil rights movement,” Crump said. “Tapping into a nationwide team of talent gives us the scale to help individuals across the country and the ability to bring class actions and mass tort cases that can spur the progress toward real change.”

    Offices will be in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Tallahassee. Ben Crump Law has established an affiliation with the Morgan & Morgan law firm to create linkages with some of the top lawyers in the country, allowing the firm to handle cases anywhere in the country as part of the Ben Crump Law network.

    People of color are disproportionately affected by environmental racism, discriminatory practices and lack of access to quality schools and the internet — causes that all may be addressed by uniting the interests of many plaintiffs, Crump said.

    “Crump speaks truth to power and gives hope to the hopeless,” said John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan. “He is today’s seminal civil rights lawyer. The go-to guy. A modern-day Johnny Cochran.”

    Crump will host TVOne’s “Evidence of Innocence,” which is based on wrongfully convicted citizens who have been exonerated by clear and convincing evidence. He is also will lead the investigation on A&E’s upcoming documentary series “Who Killed Tupac?” and can be seen on the new film “Marshall,” set to release October 13.

    A distinguished civil rights advocate, Crump has been honored with the Henry Latimer Diversity Award, The Florida Association of Fundraising Professionals, Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year, National Newspaper Publishers Association Newsmaker of the Year, and The Root 100 Top Black Influencers. Crump also has served as president of the National Bar Association. He has been recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans and has received the National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Award, the American Association for Justice Johnny Cochran Award, the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award.

    Visit Ben Crump Law online at www.bencrump.com.

     

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    UPDATE: LSU open, public schools close in Baton Rouge, other parishes due to Harvey

    Using social media, area school districts are announcing closures due to pending rain and flood caused by Tropical Storm Harvey, beginning Tuesday, Aug. 29.

    LSU, LSU Lab School and Childcare Center are all open on Wednesday, Aug. 30. Classes and university activities will continue as scheduled.

    However public schools are announcing closures. They are:

    East Baton Rouge Parish School System and West Baton Rouge Parish Schools are closed until Thursday, Aug. 31. See https://scontent-dft4-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/fr/cp0/e15/q65/21105741_1950746248513774_2431335983439999166_n.jpg?efg=eyJpIjoidCJ9&oh=2a49a939a084554a6a016cbf4fd7cbd6&oe=5A2AD8E9

    Point Coupee schools and the Iberville Parish School District have confirmed that all of its schools will be closed Wednesday due to Tropical Storm Harvey.

    Ascension Public Schools System is dismissing classes early Tuesday due to weather impacts from Tropical Storm Harvey.

    High schools and middle schools will dismiss at 12:30 p.m., and primary schools will dismiss at 1:30 p.m.

    Earlier this morning, Ascension Parish moved from a flood watch to a flood warning, and according to emergency officials, the potential for flood impacts to roads may worsen as the day progresses. The schools system says it is timing the early releases with an anticipated break in the weather.

    All after-school activities are cancelled for today, and a decision regarding school for Wednesday, Aug. 30, will be made Tuesday evening.

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    Seven applicants seek to cultivate Southern’s medical marijuana

     Seven vendors have submitted applications to potential become the medical marijuana cultivator for the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

    The vendors are:

    • Advanced Bio Medical
    • Aqua Pharm,
    • Citiva Louisiana
    • Columbia Care
    • Med Louisiana
    • Southern Roots
    • United States Hamp Corporation (USHC)

    The Southern University Ag Center is currently in the process of reviewing the applications. The tentative completion date for the review of all applications submitted to the Center’s evaluation committee is July 31, 2017.

    For additional information about Southern University’s Medical Marijuana Program visit,https://goo.gl/w71WME.

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    Tangipahoa’s African American heritage center brings second year of flight camp

    HAMMOND – -The Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum in Hammond completed the second science, technology, engineering, and math summer camp where area youth learned robotics from engineers, pilots, and scientists.

    Dozens of area youth participated in the center’s annual Flight Training Summer Camp program, held throughout the month of June.

    “Technology is one the leading factor in creating tomorrow’s workforce,” said Delmas A. Dunn Sr., museum director. “We strive to inspire young people to be scientist and technology leaders by engaging them in mentor-based programs with engineers, like electrical engineer Kristie Landrew, who work for General Electric for 13 years, retired mechanical engineer Lee West, pilot James Johnson, and Lt. Colonel Erin Williams, who retired from the US Army.”

    The students were introduced to radio control model airplanes, helicopters, model rockets, electronic components, and circuit designs. They also built a robotic arm.

    “The camp was a success and we are making plans for next summer,” said Dunn.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • City of Ponchatoula announces new website

    With so many planned events occurring nearly every day and multiple projects underway all the time, Ponchatoula is expanding its reach to the public to include an updated website and presence on social media.

    John Barnes of Gumbeaux Digital Branding, LLC, is the designer of the City of Ponchatoula Website News.

    Barnes brings over twenty-two years of experience in the field beginning with his developing military programs before becoming a contractor with the Department of Defense and now in oil and gas. But all along he has been a freelancer in web design, analytics and development, to name only a few areas of his expertise.

    Stating his views on the rapidly-growing area, Barnes’ message is that whether a person moved here after Katrina or is here temporarily after flooding, “If you carry yourself accordingly, we adopt you. While the ‘tip of the spear’ is growth and sustaining, we are still a family community.”

    To keep that “family community” well-informed, the website makes it easy to reach any department and staff member, report a problem, pay a bill on-line, or simply ask a question.

    Barnes said he operates on the principles of what he calls two very simple efforts: “authenticity and communication.”

    Mayor Bob Zabbia added that one of the goals of the city is to help Ponchatoula citizens stay current with any news coming out of City Hall. The site and its accompanying Facebook page will also include the latest newspaper and online articles.

    ONLINE: www.cityofponchatoula.com

    By Kathryn J. Martin
    The Drum community reporter

    Read more »
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    Community plans for library renovations following Great Flood

    Two meetings held March 20 regarding renovation plans for Greenwell Springs Road Branch Lbrary
    Monday, March 20, was busy at the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch Library, as community members gathered first at an informal architectural charrette and later at a formal architectural presentation of renovation plans for the Library site.  Greenwell Springs Library re-opened March 3 after sustaining water damage from the Historic Flood of August 2016.  Now it’s time to look toward the future of the Library and plans to renovate it so it is updated for meeting rooms, unique spaces for teens and children, technology, resources and much more.
    The public review was of the concept design by Bradley-Blewster / Hidell Architects to determine future, more complex renovation work. Next the architects and Library staff will produce findings to the East Baton Rouge Board of Control, along with suggested renovation plans or changes.
    The Greenwell Springs Library is one of the oldest of 11 “old” Library branches in the parish.  It and six other older sites are scheduled for major renovations through 2025.  All Library projects are completely funded via the Library’s dedicated tax millage, which passed in 2015.  And all Library projects are designed and constructed on the pay-as-you-go plan.  Greenwell Springs Road Regional Library (built in 1997) and Jones Creek Regional Library (built in 1990) are the first two of these renovation projects.
    For Greenwell Springs Library’s renovation, $5.257-plus million has been budgeted for the project.  Architects were selected in August, prior to the flood, and they have begun concept work. To view the concept plan, visit the Greenwell Springs Reginal Branch Library Construction Project Infoguide at http://ebrpl.libguides.com/greenwell.
    For more information, call Greenwell Springs Library at (225) 274-4450, the Main Library at (225) 231-3750 or online at www.ebrpl.com.
    Photo: Library Director Spencer Watts (center, red tie) and experts listen to community members regarding innovation plans for Greenwell Springs Road Branch Library at an open house March 20. (EBRPL photo)
    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Futures Fund rolls out Spring Semester with double attendees

    The Futures Fund began their Spring semester with new and returning students, almost doubling attendance from last year. Organizer said the word is clearly getting out. “If a student between sixth and 12th grade wants to learn photography or coding, this is the place to go, especially if economic barriers would normally keep them from such classes.”

    Each Saturday for eight weeks, students, of either a digital or visual arts discipline, attend early morning workshops lead by some of Baton Rouge’s highest-ranked industry professionals. These teachers not only pass the skills they’ve learned throughout their careers, additionally they become mentors to students who could be labeled as “at risk.”

    “Since the group was together last semester, they came in ready to roll. Some of them already do freelance and brought their freelance questions to the start of class,” said instructor Quinton Jason. This sense of entrepreneurialism is sparked and encouraged throughout the classes. Every skill taught is meant to empower young minds into pursuing their passions.

    “Every Saturday morning, [our] mission is to educate, enrich and empower the young minds that soon will be leading our neighborhoods, cities, and state for years to come,” said program manager Luke St. John McKnight.

    The Spring semester will conclude on May 13 with a student showcase at the BRCC Cypress Building and Magnolia Theatre. Student coding projects will be shown as well as an unveiling of a print gallery created and curated by the photography students.

    ###

    ABOUT THE WALLS PROJECT
    The Walls Project is a unique collaborative effort involving local Baton Rouge groundshakers in business, creative arts, and community development. Although The Walls Project had grassroots beginnings, our core values continue to persevere. Fueled by our mission set in 2012 and by the generous donations gifted to us, The Walls Project has been able to bring social and economical resurgence in underserved areas by delivering community-driven services via staged clean-ups, mural paintings and industry-lead professional classes for students of the community.

     

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  • ,,

    Omarosa shocks, angers publishers as she walks out of ‘Black Press Week’ breakfast

    Omarosa Manigault, President Donald Trump’s director of communications for public liaison, walked out of a breakfast meeting she had requested to attend, hosted by the National Newspaper Publishers Association last week.

    The sudden move by the minister and reality star clearly shocked NNPA members and their guests in the March 23 meeting; especially since Manigault had called the chair of the historic group the night before and “asked to attend”, according to NNPA Chair Denise Rolark Barnes. During opening remarks, Manigault had praised Black journalists for historically asking “the tough questions”.

    Manigault became agitated after a reporter asked a question following up on a story published by the Trice Edney News Wire Jan. 8. The story quoted civil rights lawyer Barbara Arnwine as stating that Manigault promised the “first interview” with Trump to NNPA President Benjamin Chavis during a Jan. 4 Trump transition team meeting with Black leaders.

    Manigault doesn’t dispute having promised the interview. However, she was incensed because the story said she promised Chavis “the first” interview.

    The Jan. 8 story reports:

    ‘”Manigault’s promise of the interview was disclosed after a representative of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) stressed the importance of Black reporters interfacing with the president. Both Chavis and NABJ representatives participated in the closed door meeting held Jan. 4 at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in North West DC.
    Trump aide Omarosa Manigault listens to question from reporter Hazel Trice Edney. Photo: Shevry Lassiter

    ‘”When NABJ said we need to make sure that somebody Black interviews the President first, [Omarosa] said, ‘Oh no.  Ben Chavis and I have already spoken and he’s going to be the first interview,’” recounted Arnwine, president/CEO of the Transformative Justice Coalition, in an interview. Arnwine said Chavis then “acknowledged that that was correct – that they had already been in touch with him about it.’”

    Hearing of Manigault’s denial this week, Arnwine seemed puzzled.  “It was to me a highlight. I had hoped that it really meant that African-American journalists were being repositioned into a higher priority for the incoming administration,” she said. “And I am surprised that this representation is unfortunately being dropped or not followed through. I was in the room and it was not said once. It was said twice.”

    It is not clear whether the Trump staff recorded the meeting since it was off the record. Since the meeting, some have speculated that perhaps Manigault meant Chavis would be the first Black Press representative to interview Trump rather than the first journalist.

    After seeing one White media reporter after another interview the President, this reporter, a former NNPA editor-in-chief invited to the breakfast by Barnes, followed up on the Jan. 8 story:

    The first question pertains to “the promise that Ben Chavis would get the first interview with the president; then I have another question,” this reporter said after being acknowledged by Manigault.
    Manigault strongly responded, “Ben Chavis was never promised the first interview. He was promised an interview, but not the first. And I was very surprised because we’ve always had a great working relationship, Hazel, that you wrote such a dishonest story about a closed off the record meeting that I invited NNPA to to make sure that we had a great relationship, that we started early. I was really surprised that you made that a press story because that was inaccurate. And moreover, you weren’t in the room.”
    The publishers were in Washington observing NNPA’s annual Black Press Week, this year celebrating the 190th anniversary of the Black Press. The exchange, during a breakfast meeting at the Dupont Circle Hotel, quickly went downhill with both professionals clearly agitated.
    “It was not inaccurate, and I have my sources right here. The question is when is the interview going to take place? That’s the question,” this reporter insisted.
    Manigault responded, “We’ve been working for months because we have that kind of relationship…We had been working very closely to make sure that NNPA was on the front row and at the forefront of what happened. Your article did more damage to NNPA and their relationship with the White House because it’s not just me. So you attack me, they circle the wagons. So you can keep attacking me and they will continue to circle the wagons, but that does not advance the agenda of what NNPA is doing,” Manigault said. “I’m going to continue to work with Ben Chavis, who I adore, to make sure that we do what we said we were going to do. Interestingly enough, we were just talking about this privately over here. And so, if you want to make another headline or do another story about it, I think that is really not professional journalism.”
    This reporter responded, “It’s professional journalism.”
    Actually, the Jan. 8 story did not attack Manigault. In fact it quoted Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church as calling her a “great leader” and NAACP Vice President Hilary Shelton as saying, “I have a lot of respect for her.”
    Chavis, in the Jan. 8 story, had made it clear that the meeting was off the record for him and the other dozens of organizational leaders in the room Jan. 4, including several non-working journalists.
    This reporter and CNN’s Betsy Klein staked out the Jan. 4 meeting for more than three hours standing in winter weather outside the building on the sidewalk. Some organizational leaders spoke guardedly after the meeting that day while most, including Chavis, declined comment.
    Neither Manigault – nor any of her colleagues – would speak on the record Jan. 4 and this reporter has not been able to reach Manigault for comment since. Also, until the March 23 breakfast, Manigault had said nothing to this reporter about disagreeing with the article.
    At one point during the breakfast back and forth, Manigault turned to Chavis saying, “He’s right here. The source is here.”
    This reporter said she would not divulge her sources; then asked Chavis to recount what he had “told me”. He repeated, “What I told you was it was an off the record meeting.” He told Manigault that she had promised him an interview. She stressed that she had not said “the first.”
    This reporter’s question was not isolated as it pertained to Black Press access.
    Stacy Brown, a reporter for the Washington Informer and NNPA contributor had actually asked the first question at the breakfast, noting Manigault’s opening words about the importance of Black Press coverage. “Just as important for us is access,” Brown stated, “What kind of access can we expect from this administration? When I say we, I’m talking about the Black Press,” Brown asked.
    Manigault responded, “I know that [White House Press Secretary] Sean Spicer and the rest of the press team are working to make sure that the NNPA gets access so I think it is important that they stay engaged.”
    Referring to President Trump’s March 22 meeting with Congressional Black Caucus leaders, Manigault said she believed the White House “had a historical number of African-American journalists covering it and given access to that particular event.”
    But, Washington Informer photographer Shevry Lassiter, quickly responded, “Except us.” Lassiter said she was told that too many people had signed up for coverage, giving her the impression that “We were too late.”
    When Manigault responded, “Your paper work has got to be right,” Lassiter clarified, “It was right. We got notice and sent it in; then couldn’t get in. She said they had too many,” Lassiter said, referring to a staffer.
    “Are you bashing my young staffer?” Manigault asked. “I’m not going to let you do that. I’m not going to let you do that. I’m not going to let you do that.”
    That exchange was just before this reporter’s question and the brouhaha that followed. When this reporter asked to move on to the second question, Manigault abruptly walked out with staffers in tow a little more than 10 minutes after arriving.
    Publishers were aghast.
    “Did she just walk out? Did she leave?” someone in the audience said quietly.
    “How is she going to come in here and just walk out?” asked Chicago Crusader Publisher Dorothy Leavell, standing. The former NNPA president and NABJ Hall of Fame Inductee said, “And any other Black Press person ought to be insulted by what she did,” said Leavell. “It was totally disrespectful.”
    A man’s voice called out, “We are insulted!”
    “That’s how the Trump people act. This is Trumpism! This is Trumpism!” said another publisher.
    The criticism was not just aimed at Manigault. Some in the room said this reporter was as much at fault in the way the question was posed.
    GOP political commentator and consultant Paris Dennard, also present at the breakfast meeting, said in an interview that the question was adversarial.
    “With all due respect to you Hazel, it came off as a bit confrontational,” Dennard said. “It came off as being a little bit on the attack.”
    Dennard continued, “What I know is it was a priority for Omarosa to be here…I know that it was not her intention to come in and leave. No one gets up, comes to NNPA with people that she’s known and worked with to make a scene and leave. That wasn’t her intention.”
    Barnes had given Manigault a glowing introduction, calling her a “top strategist” who helped get Trump elected.
    “There’s so many things that I could say about Rev. Omarosa Manigault and I just want to say that some of us really do consider her a great friend. I know that she’s a supporter of NNPA. And that is why she asked to come to speak to us this morning.”
    Chavis sought to calm the group after Manigault walked out, stating that he believes the interview is still on.
    “Let’s collect ourselves,” he said. “It’s in our interest to have an interview with the President of the United States. And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish and I believe we will accomplish…If Omarosa can help us facilitate that engagement, I think it’s in our interest. But as journalists, I know you have to ask your questions.”
    Barnes, clarifying that she was speaking momentarily as publisher of the Washington Informer instead of NNPA chair, concluded that Manigault’s conduct was unacceptable.  “That was totally unnecessarily. She doesn’t start a conversation saying ask the ‘tough questions’ and then run away from the tough questions…And so we’re going to have to bypass her. She’s not the only person in the White House if we want to deal with the White House.”
    Later, in an interview speaking as NNPA chair, Barnes said, “To me, I almost feel as if we were baited…I expected a different presentation from her, which would have led us into asking a different set of questions about the issues she was going to raise and not get into this personal confrontation with a journalist. So, I’m disappointed that she didn’t – in my opinion – come in and speak on the President’s and on the administrations’ behalf about things that are important to this administration that the Black Press should be focusing on. That didn’t happen. It was a lost opportunity for the President. And it was definitely a waste of time for NNPA.”
    By Hazel Trice Edney
    TriceEdneyWire.com
    Photo by Shevry Lassiter. NNPA President Ben Chavis discusses prospective interview with Manigault during heated exchange. 
    Read more »
  • Trump’s budget ‘hurts’ Black community; CBC chair offers alternative

    The Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA-02), released the following statement in response to President Trump’s first budget proposal:

    We’ve heard all of this talk from President Trump about African Americans not having anything to lose under his Administration. The truth is that we have a lot to lose and his budget proposal is proof of that.

    Although President Trump promised a ‘New Deal for Black America,’ his budget slashes the federal workforce and cripples domestic programs (e.g. federal student services TRIO programs, LIHEAP, grants for after school programs, Community Development Block Grants, and Community Services Block Grants), and we’re likely to see even more cuts in these areas if he gives tax breaks to the wealthy, as expected. All of this hurts the African-American community. In addition, despite his promise to support and strengthen HBCUs, President Trump proposes to give these schools the same amount of funding they received last year. This budget proposal is not a new deal for African Americans. It’s a raw deal that robs the poor and the middle-class to pay the richest of the rich.

    If President Trump is serious about moving the African-American community forward, he should look to the Congressional Black Caucus’ alternative budget. Our budget invests in pathways out of poverty, as well as policy and programs that help Americans reach and remain in the middle-class. Our budget also reduces the deficit by nearly $2.9 trillion over 10 years.

    In the face of racism and discrimination in the private sector, African Americans have historically relied on the public sector for upward mobility. Even today, nearly 20 percent of the federal workforce is African American.

    President Trump’s proposal will hurt these federal families and others, the federal departments and agencies that they work for, and the Americans that depend on the services that these federal departments and agencies provide.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    The Diabetic Kitchen to host 1st International 5K Walk/Run for a Cure of Diabetes, Alzheimer’s

    Members of The Diabetic Kitchen and the Village Members have teamed up to host a 5K Walk/Run to promote a greater awareness of Diabetes health and wellness, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Coteau, La. The Run will begin and end at 7913 Champa Avenue, in the Lanexang Village.

    “Both groups realized that we’re facing an alarming increase in Diabetes and Diabetic-related illnesses by far too many family members and friends. This collaboration resulted in the opening of a door to a partnership. As a result, we formed an Information, Education, and Hope-Filled Outreach Pocket of Help for our communities and this 5K Walk/Run is an attempt to keep more and better interest in health and health care issues,” said Nathaniel Mitchell Sr., founder/CEO of The Diabetic Kitchen.

    The Event will begin with:
    Registration…………………………………7:00 am
    Prayer and Warm-up…………………….8:15 am
    Walk Begin………………………………….8:30 am

    Cost:
    Adults 18 and Over………………………$15.00
    Youth 12 – 18 Years Old………………..$10.00
    Teams of Five……………………………..$40.00
    Free for Youth 11 Years and Younger
    Booth Space………………………………..$20.00

    Contact: The Diabetic Kitchen, 337-519-3010

    ONLINE: www.thediabetickitchen.org
    The Diabetic Kitchen on Facebook

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  • ,

    Ponchatoula officials take water seriously

    Long known for its good water, Ponchatoula took it seriously last year when reports of isolated incidents of discoloration reached City Hall, ordering tests as well as reviewing the entire system’s history.

    To update the public on what is being done, Superintendent of Ponchatoula Sewerage and Water, Dave Opdenhoff, recently gave a behind-the-scenes tour of the department’s operation and history since his hiring in 1988.

    His career Navy background brought years of study and experience concerning water. One area of his work onboard ships was that of converting sea water to drinking water.

    He continued adding to his certifications in this field when, upon retiring from the Navy, he and his wife, the former Barbara McMurray, settled in Ponchatoula, her home town.

    The State of Louisiana certifies in five categories: water production, water distribution, water treatment, wastewater collection and wastewater treatment.

    Ponchatoula does not require a water treatment certification because it uses ground water only. Based on population, Ponchatoula requires Class Three certifications. Opdenhoff went beyond in his studies, earning Class Four certifications which qualify him to work in larger cities such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

    At the time of his employment, there were two water towers – one on Tower Road and one at Athletic Park. Water in the system flowed from east to west with that from Athletic Park mingling with water from Tower Road.

    There were no government requirements to disinfect water and later, with the Federal Clean Water Act, came the stipulation cities could maintain their systems without disinfecting if testing showed no negative results.

    There had never been any negative results in Ponchatoula’s water but “seeing the handwriting on the wall” and learning it was just a matter of time before disinfecting would be required, the City starting injecting chlorine some twenty years ago.

    The water was occasionally discolored but it was never a matter of publicity because every municipality had (and has) discoloration at times. Back then, the remedy was a simple matter of opening a fire hydrant and flushing.

    After Katrina’s population explosion, Mayor Bob Zabbia made the decision to add an additional water well for storage.

    Katrina brought a lot of unexpected things to light, one such, not enough emergency generators. With lessons learned from the magnitude of the storm, the town’s planning included applying for and receiving grants to equip about 90% sewerage pumping stations with emergency back-up generators.

    The next step at this point, Zabbia and the City Council began the search for a site for the new well to help meet the needs of the growing population.

    After negotiating with Melvin Allen, DDS, whose dental office was on a tract of land on Highway 51 North, the city procured a parcel of this land to drill the new well and construct a tower at the same location.

    After construction began, when it was determined the parcel of land was not large enough to accommodate the tower, no additional land there could be purchased; thus, the city then bought land from Ed Hoover across 51 North with sufficient room to construct the new water tower. With its being built about the time of Walmart’s arrival, many residents mistakenly thought Walmart built or paid for the tower but it was all funded and paid for by the City with State Capital Outlay funds.

    New Well Causes Challenges

    With the new tower came a couple of problems: 1. Its water flowed from west to east and this “stirring” caused occasional complaints of discolored water. 2. In 2014, the state changed chlorine requirements because of brain-eating amoeba. This increased the levels from “trace” amounts of chlorine to “0.5 parts per million” at the end of the system. Opdenhoff added he believes Louisiana has the highest mandated residual chlorine amounts in the nation.

    This was the beginning of the severe discoloration problem and the old habits of flushing fire hydrants in selected areas no longer worked.

    One of the biggest puzzles was (and is) why the water of side-by-side neighbors differs. Neighbor A has discolored water and next-door Neighbor B has perfectly clear water.

    Trying to figure this out was running officials “crazy” and they called in a reputable expert, knowledgeable in the field of water who works with the state and numerous municipalities, Bill Travis of Thornton, Musso, and Bellemin, Inc., based in Zachary, La.

    After studies and testing, Travis reached the conclusion that the towers at Athletic Park and Tower Road showed “no measurable amounts of manganese” but the new well on Veteran’s (U.S. 51) did.

    Also, numerous brown-water samples from residents were tested and showed “measurable amounts of manganese”.

    This new tower had been on-line about a year so now the entire distribution had manganese. At that time, the Athletic Park tower was out of service for rehabilitation so the majority of the water was being produced at the Hwy 51 well with the flow going from west to east, stirring the water more.

    The question became, “How to treat manganese?” This was not just a Ponchatoula problem but a parish and state problem.

    Problem Solving Begins

    The prescribed treatment was the use of a “sequestering” agent that is injected into the water.

    Manganese bonds with water molecules and cannot be seen or tasted. But, add chlorine, and the molecules come out of suspension and present as discoloration.

    Thus the city started with the sequestering agent and phosphate.

    Why phosphate?

    Our water is naturally super soft. When visitors or new residents come from the North, they are usually shocked when doing laundry with their usual amounts of detergent, they are overrun with suds. Or, when bathing, they can’t seem to rinse well from so much soap. The problem with “soft water” — it can be corrosive to pipes.  The water technicians ran “coupons” – steel/copper based on 30, 60, and 90 days, determining City water could be corrosive to pipes.

    Their recommendation was that in addition to chlorine, the remaining two wells have phosphate added. This is currently being done.

    Coupon testing continues to see if treatment is having an effect or if it needs to be increased or decreased.

    In addition to having water chemically analyzed and performing corrective actions, Ponchatoula has hired a firm to do a “modeling” of the water system based on information provided: pipe size, storage elevations, pumping, etc.

    This firm is creating a computer model which the city will be able to use to confirm pressure and flow at any location.

    Modeling will show things such as these: 1. If an area does not have the desired flow, it could mean a valve is closed or broken or the original map of piping is flawed. This will allow the City to pin-point the area and take corrective action. 2. It will enhance the fire department’s ability to fight fires plus help homeowners in another way as state insurance will use this in determining the fire department’s rating.

    An Electronic Help is Added

    Further aiding the City, Ponchatoula is one of a few municipalities in the area to have a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System.

    This computerized system monitors the sewer system every two hours and the water system every two minutes. Instead of the prior countless trips made to twenty-plus locations day and night, now a large screen in Opdenhoff’s office shows each location complete with what each well is doing: how much water is being produced, volume in a tank, pressure, how much chlorine, etc. In addition, it gives the ability for his cell phone to turn a well on or off from wherever he is.

    Example: Recently SCADA showed a problem with a chlorine injection system, one that was unable to be done at the tank. Opdenhoff took that well out of service and it was out the entire time of the freeze. The two remaining wells kept volume and pressure exactly where they were supposed to be.

    While the well was down for repair to the injector, the City moved ahead with inspection of the tank. That was due this summer but with winter being the lowest use of water, a crew drained and inspected this tank on Tower Road that usually stores 300,000 gallons of water. This was the first time since its construction in 1982. Now it is recommended every five years.

    Workers were pleased and surprised at what was found in the tank: There was some accumulation of sand in the bottom, stains on walls, and rust in the roof, less than expected.

    While the well is down and tank drained, a hired company will come in to pressure wash, super-chlorinate, and identify what needs to be done for rehabilitation to that tower. (Rehab is scheduled for 2018 so that is from July 2017 forward. The evaluation will be sent to an engineering firm to design the scope and solicit bids for rehabilitation.)

    In the meantime, after cleaning, super chlorination and refilling the tank, it will sit for forty-eight hours before water samples will be taken and delivered to the Health Department in Amite for testing. Twenty-four hours later, a second sample will be taken and turned in. If no problems are found and the results come in early enough, the tank will be put back into service.

    The SCADA system does calculations and monthly reports on water usage and can compare rainwater and how much is getting into the sewer system. It has taken a year to get this far and only one site is left to be on-line.

    Occurrences Minimized

    The recent winter freeze came at a time of year when the normal use of water is at a low of 850,000 gallons a day; but customers dripping faucets to prevent broken pipes used over two-million gallons each day of the freezing temperatures. With all this use, the city did not flush any lines and the few reports of discolored water were not unusual in any municipalities after dripping faucets. Next item the City is addressing is a “soft” flush of all fire hydrants to clear the stems of each before the major flushing of the system. This “soft” flush already has begun in the southwest section and will continue across the City by section. The major flushing will be conducted after the modeling maps are completed so the system can isolate areas and flush without disturbing the entire system.

    Further learned, no water provider can ever guarantee no discolored water. Such things as a house fire, a broken pipe, filling of water tanks from fire hydrants by commercial businesses (without asking) can stir water systems enough to cause discolored water. With the work that has been accomplished over the past couple of years and the final system-flushing, incidents of discolored water should be few and far between.

    Meanwhile, Opdenhoff explained the rehabilitation work done on the Athletic Park Tower. From the ground below, the average person can see only the nice shiny paint job, but much more was done. Rusted-out areas of the catwalks were removed and replaced. Ladders inside and out were removed and replaced to meet current safety codes. Workers replaced the rusted-out top vent and enlarged the overflow pipe along with rewelding the fill pipe outside the tank, replaced all threaded fasteners, removed all finishes inside and out to bare metal to ensure no remnants of lead paint remained before priming and painting.

    In addition to the tank rehabilitation, the electrical system was upgraded from the 1963 equipment to the most up-to-date electronic equipment.

    With normal inspections of the tank at five-year intervals, any minor issues can be addressed and this rehab should keep the tank in service for at least the next twenty years.

    The City requests that any citizen with a water problem contact Ponchatoula City Hall at 386-6484.

    By Kathryn Martin
    Special to The Drum

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  • Overlooked program available to assist crime victims

    Victims of violence and their families often must deal with the emotional, physical, and financial aftermath of violent crime. But few know that Louisiana’s Crime Victim Assistance Formula Grant Program was authorized under the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to provide financial assistance for direct services to  victims of crime.

    Within the program, the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Fund helps pay for the financial cost of crime when victims have no other means of paying. Private, nonprofit agencies and local units of government are awarded grants to help victims of spousal abuse, sexual assault, and child abuse. Grants also help previously underserved victims. The program requires agencies to encourage reporting the crime to law enforcement and to provide cash or in-kind match to assist victims with filing for compensation through the Crime Victims Reparations Program at local sheriffs’ offices.

     Funds are administered by the Crime Victims Reparations Board under the jurisdiction of the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement.

    Victims of crime seeking assistance, should call 1-888-6-VICTIM (1-888-684-2846) or visit http://www.lcle.state.la.us/programs/cvr.asp

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  • Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana competition scheduled for Feb. 19

    Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana is an empowering event that honors women for their accomplishments and advocacy and redefines the concept of a pageant. The competition is designed to select a successful and articulate spokeswoman for people with disabilities. During her one-year reign, the pageant winner is expected to promote awareness of the need to eliminate architectural and attitudinal barriers, to educate Louisianans on disability issues and to inform the public of the achievements of people with disabilities across our great state. Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana also represents the state of Louisiana at the annual Ms. Wheelchair America pageant.

    To be eligible to compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana, one must meet the following criteria: be at least 21 years of age, utilize a wheelchair for 100% of their daily mobility, be a U.S. citizen and reside in Louisiana at least six months prior to the pageant. Marital status is not a factor.

    Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana Competition is scheduled for Sunday, February 19.

    MWLA was established in 2012 by Anita Gray, who was recently elected to serve as an executive board member of the Ms. Wheelchair America board of directors. If you are or you know someone interested in participating in the 2017 MWLA Competition, please contact Anita Gray at mswheelchairlouisiana@gmail.com.

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  • IN MEMORIUM: Former mayor Julian Dufreche

    The former mayor for the City of Ponchatoula, Julian Dufreche, passed away on Monday, January 9, 2017, at the age of 66. A life-long resident of Ponchatoula, Dufreche had a great love for his community and a passion for service. He served as Tangipahoa Parish Clerk of Court (2004-2017), Mayor of Ponchatoula (1988-2004), Ponchatoula City Councilman (1976-1988), Ponchatoula Councilman-at-Large, President of the Louisiana Municipal Association (1998-1999), Past President of the Tangipahoa Municipal Association, Past President of the Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation, Citizen of the Year- Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, Representative for the Governor’s Advisory Commission on the Tangipahoa River.

    During his administration as Mayor of Ponchatoula, he was involved in the formation of The Ponchatoula Industrial Park and was instrumental in Ponchatoula becoming “America’s Antique City.” But, perhaps Julian will be most remembered as Founder and First Chairman of The Ponchatoula Area Recreation District.

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  • ,

    Celebrating Down Syndrome State Conference scheduled Jan. 21

    Blessed by Downs will host the first Celebrating Down Syndrome State Conference and Celebration on January 21, 2017. This conference was created to serve as a day of education, awareness and advocacy for individuals with Down Syndrome.

    This event will be held at 400 East 1st Street in Thibodaux, LA. The conference will take place from 8 a. m. to 3 p.m., and the celebration will take place from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. This event will feature guest speakers Sara Hart Weir and Dr. Brian Skotko.

    To register please email: Blessedbydowns@yahoo.com. 

    Photo from http://imgarcade.com/1/black-kids-with-down-syndrome/

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Officers installed on SU System Board

    The Southern University and A&M College System Board of Supervisors installed officers for 2017 and held a swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed members during its regular monthly meeting, Jan 6.

    Chairwoman Ann A. Smith and vice chairman Rev. Donald R. Henry, who were elected during the annual officers’ election in November 2016, were installed as the new officers for the governing board for the only historically black college and university system in America.

    Smith is a retired school educator and administrator in Tangipahoa Parish, member of the Louisiana School Board Association, and former member of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board.

    Henry represents the 2nd Congressional District. He is a planning and scheduling professional at Noranda Alumina, LLC; and co-owner of DRH Consulting Group, LLC in Gramercy.

    Taking the oath of office for the SU Board were two newly appointed members and three reappointed members named by Governor Edwards, December 30, 2016.

    “I salute the long-standing members of the Board for their great and unselfish service to the Southern University System and congratulate those members who have been reappointed who will continue in service. I genuinely look forward to working with you as we advance the mission of the Southern University System,” said SU System President Ray L. Belton.

    Sworn in on the 16-member board that serves to manage and supervise the SU System were:

    Leroy Davis, of Baker, is a retired professor and dean of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. Additionally, Davis is a former mayor and councilman of the City of Baker. He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a master of science degree from the University of Illinois, and a doctoral degree from the University of Illinois. He will serve as a representative of the 2nd Congressional District.

    Richard T. Hilliard, of Shreveport, is a senior engineer and business consultant at the Maintowoc Company, Incorporated. Hilliard received a bachelor of science degree from Georgia Technological University and a master of science degree from Walsh College. He will serve as a representative of the 4th Congressional District.

    Domoine D. Rutledge, of Baton Rouge, is an attorney and general counsel of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. He is a former national president of the Southern University Alumni Federation and the current president and chairman of the Southern University System Foundation Board of Directors. Rutledge received a bachelor of arts degree and a juris doctorate from the Southern University Law Center. He will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    Smith, of Kentwood, received a bachelor of science degree and a master of science in education from Southern University. She will serve as a representative of the 5th Congressional District.

    Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., of Lake Charles, is the pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Bishop College and a master of divinity from Payne Theological Seminary. He has also received an honorary doctorate of divinity from Union Baptist College and Theological Seminary and Christian Bible College and an honorary doctorate degree from Temple Bible College. Rev. Tolbert will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    The Board of Supervisors of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College is vested with the responsibility for the management and supervision of the institutions of higher education, statewide agricultural programs, and other programs which comprise the Southern University System. Members serve six-year terms appointed by the governor.

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    SULC hooding ceremony set for January 6

    Fall 2016 graduates of the Southern University Law Center (SULC) will be recognized in a Hooding Ceremony at 6 p.m., Friday, January 6, 2017, in the Cotillion Ballroom of the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    Dennis Blunt, ’91, litigation partner at Phelps Dunbar will be the featured speaker at the ceremony.
    Blunt practices in the area of commercial litigation, with a focus on business disputes including business torts and insurance company solvency and regulation.
    He is chairman of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Board of Directors, a board member of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, a Fellow of the American and Louisiana Bar foundations, and secretary of the Baton Rouge Bar Association. Blunt was honored as a 2010 SULC Distinguished Alumnus.
    This special Hooding Ceremony does not take the place of Commencement. All graduates will continue to have their degrees conferred at Spring Commencement.
    The 32 candidates for the Juris Doctor Degree are:

    Carroll D. Atkins
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Melody W. Allen
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Charletta E. Anderson
    Atlanta, Georgia

    CaShonda R. Bankston
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Rebecca A. Borel
    Loreauville, Louisiana

    Danielle S. Broussard
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Blake T. Couvillion
    Carencro, Louisiana

    Andrew Davis
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Lee C. Durio
    Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

    Leon D. Dyer
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    William C. Eades
    Shreveport, Louisiana

    Michael R. Ellington
    Winnsboro, Louisiana

    GeFranya M. Graham
    Conway, South Carolina

    Curtis L. Guillory
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Jeremy J. Guillory
    Church Point, Louisiana

    Kristina C. Harrison
    Vacherie, Louisiana

    Lonna S. Heggelund
    Mediapolis, Iowa

    Tammeral J. Hills
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Joshua G. Hollins
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Kemyatta D. Howard
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Lauren M. Hue
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Jacob F. Kraft
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Janet D. Madison
    Vidalia, Louisiana

    Latau S. Martin
    Dallas, Texas

    Georgeann McNicholas
    San Antonio, Texas

    Robert A. McKnight
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Venise M.C. Morgan
    San Jose, California

    Jamar Myers-Montgomery
    Fontana, California

    Candace N. Newell
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Nigel A. Quiroz
    Brooklyn, New York

    Anthony B. Stewart
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Jennifer E. Thonn
    Slidell, Louisiana

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  • COMMUNITY CALENDAR: December events

    10: Gus Young Christmas Parade. The parade begins at the intersection of Acadian Thruway and Winbourne Avenue. 1pm.

    10: Cortana Kiwanis Christmas Parade. Downtown Baton Rouge. 5:30pm. Baton Rouge’s Traditional Christmas Parade, rolling on the streets of Downtown annually since 1949. WAFB Channel 9’s Jay Grymes WAFB and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital’s Melissa Lewis Anderson will emcee. State Senator Regina Barrow, football legend Early Doucet, and Princess Ellie will be parade marshalls.

    11-12: The Nutcracker. 220 E. Thomas St., Hammond. 7pm. 985-543-4366. www.columbiatheatre.org

    12: Kentwood Christmas Parade. Downtown Kentwood. 6pm. 985-229-3451. www.discoverkentwood.com

    13: Amite Christmas Parade. Amite City Hall. 6pm. 985-748-8761. www.townofamitecity.com

    13: Writers Rendezvous. Fairwood Branch Library, 12910 Old Hammond Hwy. 7pm. The “Writers Rendezvous” is an informal writers group where people can meet, share ideas, and get feedback on current projects.

    15: Roseland Christmas Parade. Downtown Roseland. 5pm. 985-748-9063.

    16-17: Christmas Lights – Down on the Farm (Drive – Thru). Liuzza Land, 56188 Holden Cir., Amite. 6pm – 9pm. Contact Hollie Henederson 985-981-5788. www.liuzzaland.com.

    17-18: One Night in Bethlehem (Outdoor Live Nativity Production). 47096 Randall Rd., Hammond. 5:30pm – 8:30pm. Contact: Dana Sartin 985-345-0366. www.onenightinbethlehem.net

    19: NAACP Baton Rouge Branch meeting. McKinley Alumni Center, 2nd Floor, 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Dr. 6pm. Michael McClanahan is president. http://www.naacpbr.org/

    21: Ponchatoula Senior Community Center Book Club Meeting. Ponchatoula Branch Library, 380 North Fifth Street, 10:30am. The seniors from the community center have a book club each month. They read, discuss the book, and check out the next month’s selection.

    26 – January 1, 2017: Kwanzaa. A week-long festival celebrating and reconnecting with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and common humanist principles. The seven days of celebration features candle-lighting, pouring of libations, gift giving, and culminating in a feast.

    28: An Evening with Kwame Alexander. Hammond Branch Library, 314 E Thomas St. 7pm. Alexander is a poet, educator, New York Times bestselling author of 21 books, and recipient of the 2015 Newbery Medal for his novel, The Crossover.

     

    Submit your events to our community calendar by emailing news@thedrumnewspaper.info.

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  • Youth to Watch: Myles Victor Patin

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.” Meet Myles Victor Patin, 15.

    Myles Victor Patin, 15

    Leadership: President, Omicron Beta Sigma, Sigma Beta Club

    School: Madison Preparatory Academy

    Parents: Dawn Mellion-Patin and Marlon L. Patin

    College and career choice: Secondary Education (Biology); undecided about institution

    Biggest accomplishments:  Being elected president of the Sigma Beta Club; transitioning from BREC to high school football; and staying sane after losing almost everything in the flood of 2016.

    Why was this “big” for you? Being the president of the Sigma Beta Club gives me both a voice and a platform. It allows me to be a peer mentor in a formal setting. I get to share my experiences with boys younger than I am and hopefully help guide them through the pre-teen and early teen years. Most of the times a young Black male is in the newspaper  or on the news, it’s for something bad and negative but being a peer mentor is a good thing. I want to be someone that 1 Myles coveryounger boys can look up to and want to be like.

    Life aspirations: I want to be a high school biology teacher and a football coach. I believe that coaches play a big role in a young man’s life. Many kids don’t have dads and the coach often fills that role. I want to be for young men who don’t have dads what my dad, Marlon Patin, has been for me. I believe that as a teacher and coach, I can give back and help other young men and young ladies  and change lives.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote? “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

    Mentors: Atty. Arthur Thomas, (President, National Sigma Beta Club Foundation and a member of the Omicron Beta Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity), along with the other members of the fraternity, take their time exposing Sigma Beta Club members to a lot of places and experience that we would not have otherwise. So far I’ve gone to Philadelphia and Little Rock to the national Sigma conference and to places closer to home where I  learned about the marshlands and coastal erosion in Louisiana.

    Goals for 2017: To become better each day than I was the day before in all aspects of my life.

    What are you reading? “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison

    What music are you listening to? J. Cole & Boys to Men

    Hobbies: What do you do for fun? Play football, video games.

    Read more »
  • Flood debris removal progresses into 70811, final pick ups continue

    City-Parish officials announced this morning that final flood debris collection pass efforts have now moved into 70811. Listed below are the ZIP codes where final collection pass efforts are either in progress or complete.

    ·         Final flood debris collection pass in progress: 70791, 70811, 70814, 70815, 70819
    ·         Final flood debris collection pass complete: 70714, 70739, 70816, 70817

    In the coming days and weeks, debris removal crews will continue to move into impacted areas as final pass efforts progress throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. The following is the order in which final pass debris removal crews are moving into additional ZIP codes: 70722, 70770, 70802, 70812, and 70805. Additionally, crews will be active in 70808, 70810, and 70820 to collect flood debris on an as-needed basis.

    City-Parish officials are urging residents who live in these ZIP codes to move flood debris curbside as soon as possible in order for crews to collect it during their final pass along flood-impacted areas and streets. This schedule and progression will continue until all streets in all flood-impacted service areas have received a final debris collection pass. Once flood debris has been placed curbside, residents should immediately report the location of this debris by going online to http://gis.brla.gov/reportdebris or by calling the EBR debris removal hotline at 1-888-721-4372.

    As a reminder, construction and reconstruction waste materials are not eligible for FEMA reimbursement and thus will not be collected by City-Parish debris removal crews. The disposal of any such materials is the responsibility of the homeowner and/or contractor. Residents who are initiating new construction or reconstruction efforts should use licensed contractors to perform this work and secure in writing how the contractor plans to dispose of any construction or reconstruction materials. To locate a licensed contractor, residents can go online to the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) website, www.lslbc.louisiana.gov, and click the “Contractor Search” button.

    To track the progress of this final debris collection pass, visit http://gis.brla.gov/debris. ZIP codes are considered active when the collection crew is currently picking up debris in that area, inactive if the crew has not yet reached that area, and complete once the crew has finished its final pass.
     

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    System Broken: Can effective criminal justice reform come to La?

    In Louisiana, nearly 4 in 10 inmates released from prison are back behind bars within three years, and the state is spending more than $700 million annually on this broken system.  Organizers of a Criminal Justice Reform Summit said legislators, thought leaders, and others can lead Louisiana to adopt a more just and effective criminal justice system. During the summit, the public and these leaders will learn more about how reforms around the country can be effective within Louisiana’s criminal justice system to lower costs while increasing public safety.

    The summit will be Nov. 17 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge.  Topics on the agenda include:

    • Justice Reinvestment: What it is and Why it’s Critical
    • Cost Saving and Reducing Crime: Proven Successes and Testimonials
    • Linking Workforce Needs and Re-Entry: Unique Employer Challenges and Realistic Solutions

    Panelists include:

    • Jay Neal, interim executive director, GA Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
    • Stephanie Riegel, editor, Baton Rouge Business Report
    • Representative Greg Snowden, MS Speaker Pro Tempore
    • Ian D. Scott, vice president – communications and networks, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
    • Senator Danny Martiny, LA State Senate
    • Terrence Williams, Kia technician, Premier Automotive
    • Stephen Waguespack, president & CEO, LABI
    • Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc, LA Department of Public Safety & Corrections
    • Sheriff Beauregard “Bud” Torres III, Point Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office
    • Judge William J. “Rusty” Knight, 22nd Judicial District Court
    • John Hightower, vice president, East Region, Premier Automotive / Premier Collision Centers
    • Dennis Schrantz, director, Center for Justice Innovation, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations
    • Bryan Kelley, executive relations manager, TX Prison Entrepreneurship Program
    • James M. Lapeyre Jr., president, Laitram LLC
    Read more »
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    Navy destroyer to be named after first Black aviator

    CHERRY POINT, N.C.—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Louisiana Sheriff approved, watched beatings

    Iberia Parish sheriff Louis Ackal  regularly encouraged detectives to enforce their own version of the law through violence and intimidation of Black residents, according to the testimony ex-narcotics detectives.

    Ackal faces civil rights charges stemming from an investigation of abuse of power and countless cover-ups. He is accused of creating a culture of abuse where officers rarely feared discipline. Several former narcotics detectives poured into a Shreveport courtroom to testify against their former boss. Many of them admitted that abuse and excessive use of force were encouraged. In fact they were regular parts of their job.

    According to The Advocate, testimony by former narcotics team member James Comeaux bolstered the prosecution’s key claim that not only did Ackal direct and/or approve the physical violence, but he was also physically present for the beatings at times.

    Comeaux was one of several witnesses/participants put on the stand. The former detective testified to roaming Iberia Parish following a shooting and roughing up anyone they saw on the streets. He said some drunken off-duty narcotics agents had unnecessarily beaten up two Black men — which they called n–gger knockin’ — and were barely punished for it.

     Comeaux said the narcotics team’s views Black residents as “animals…And they needed to be treated like animals…They knew if they got out there, they were going to get stopped and get dealt with,” Comeaux said.

    He said the sheriff stood by and watched as he and two other deputies abused an inmate following a contraband sweep at the jail in 2011. The inmate was beaten in the jail’s chapel where there were no security cameras. When Comeaux told Ackal about an attempted cover-up, he reportedly responded, “F— that n—–. He got in a fight.”

    Alkal’s case has shed light on the Iberia parish’s racial tensions where Black residents said they’ve long suffered violence at the hands of police officers.

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  • Dillard students ask president ‘how dare you’ allow, ensure David Duke’s safety

    In a letter issued to the local media, a group of Dillard University students identifying themselves as “Socially Engaged” released the following statement, expressing concerns about David Duke’s scheduled appearance on campus.

    Good afternoon,

    Dr. Kimbrough:

    We, Socially Engaged Dillard University Students (SEDU), write to urge you to withdraw Fair Dillard as the location for WVUE and Raycom Media’s hosting of the U.S. Senate debate that will include Neo-Nazi Klansman David Duke.  His presence on our campus is not welcome, and overtly subjects the entire student body to safety risks and social ridicule.

    This is simply outrageous.

    We are aware of the importance of this upcoming election, however, we cannot and will not allow this disrespect and continuance of racism and oppression on a campus we call ours (the black community), where we are educated to respect ourselves and our disciplines, and to which we pay a hefty tuition and fees.  We are also aware that you have been hearing our concerns and issues with David Duke, the New-Nazi KKK Grand Wizard, and we have heard your response that Dillard “must” honor its commitment to WVUE and Raycom Media. 

    Dr. Kimbrough, respectfully, this response is specious.  You are the President of a Historically Black College whose mere presence is anathema to EVERYTHING David Duke promotes.  Instead of denying the presence of this terrorist onto our campus, you have ASSURED HIS SAFETY by Dillard University armed police, AGAINST US, your Dillard University student body.  We write to you today not only to express our hurt and shame, but also to fight for our ancestors and their struggles.  How dare this administration stand for Duke’s “safety” and not fight for our security and right to learn in a healthy space.

    This debate is CLOSED to “the public,” i.e., all Dillard University students, yet Duke’s followers will be given free rein to enter and roam our campus.  If you insist on allowing these individuals’ entry to our school and our home (on-campus students, specifically), it is imperative that you implement the following actions throughout the day of November 2, 2016:

    All non-permitted (official, up-to-date, parking decal) automobiles are required to park off campus.  We DEMAND our safety. 

    A lottery process to include a minimal number of 150 members of the university’s student body to be in attendance of the debate. A debate should NEVER be closed on a campus; a place deemed prestige in debate.

    A strong statement by Dillard University officials condemning the violent, oppressive history of the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party in which Duke is affiliated (because administration insists that he is a “former” or “ex” member). As students, we need to feel that our administration, as a whole, supports our values and legacy.

    Clearance by the University for students to conduct an on campus protest on the day of the debate, at a specified location, at 5:00 pm, with members of the general public allowed to attend the debate.
    Yield all funding paid to Dillard University by WVUE and Raycom Media to host the debate to events planned by students in response to the impact of racism on politics. We want to use their funding to educate our community and ourselves.

    The lives of many future Black lawyers, politicians, social workers, chemist, doctors, nurses, and teachers are being put at risk by allowing this terrorist, Neo-Nazi Klan member to enter our space, and our BLACK LIVES MATTER!


    Signed,
    Socially Engaged Dillard University Students
    (SEDU) 

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  • ,

    Second month of disaster food assistance to be released by Oct. 18

    Acknowledging the severity of Louisiana’s flooding in 11 hardest-hit parishes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service granted the state’s request for an additional month Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ( D-SNAP) benefits for households that were issued benefits in August in Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Livingston, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, Tangipahoa, Vermilion and West Feliciana parishes. Regular SNAP recipients in these parishes were also approved for a second month of supplemental benefits.

    “Two months after the devastating and historic floods across South Louisiana, there are tens of thousands of families in these parishes still trying to get back on their feet,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “We’re thankful that the federal government recognizes the need for additional assistance for those who are living in the hardest hit parishes. Our people are working hard every day to restore their lives, and it is critical that we continue to help them with some of the basic necessities. Another month of benefits will help ease some of their worries, and hopefully lessen their burdens as they continue to recover and rebuild.”

    D-SNAP recipients who were issued disaster EBT cards in response to the August floods in 11 affected parishes will have benefits automatically loaded no later than October 18. Anyone who needs to replace a lost card can visit a parish office in one of the 11 parishes listed below. SNAP recipients in these 11 affected parishes will receive the same supplemental benefits they received after the flood, if their household is not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household. These benefits will be automatically loaded on EBT cards as well. 

    D-SNAP is a 100 percent federally funded benefit program that provides food assistance for non-SNAP recipients who are eligible due to lost income or disaster-related damages. Additionally, the program sometimes provides extra assistance to existing SNAP recipients in disaster areas.

    In all, 122,000 households in 21 parishes received D-SNAP benefits in the weeks after the flood, for a total of $48.9 million in D-SNAP benefits issued initially. Regular SNAP households received another $30.9 million in disaster-related benefits. 

    For the 11 hardest-hit parishes receiving a second month of benefits, DCFS estimates 105,689 households will receive $42 million in D-SNAP benefits, and 72,002 ongoing SNAP households will receive $11 million in supplemental benefits. Recipients will have up to a full year to use their benefits, after which benefits will expire.

    “We’re pleased to be able to bring a second month of DSNAP to households in our hardest-hit parishes. Those with immediate and ongoing food needs who didn’t receive D-SNAP or who live outside these 11 parishes are encouraged to remember that D-SNAP isn’t the only solution. Food banks are specially equipped to respond to these types of circumstances. In addition, the regular SNAP program might be another solution, and we encourage those with ongoing food needs to consider applying,” DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said. 

    There are a number of programming and fraud-prevention steps DCFS must take before it can issue D-SNAP benefits. Because households cannot receive both D-SNAP and SNAP, the department will run duplicate participation checks to ensure none of the households receiving D-SNAP benefits have been certified for SNAP in Louisiana or the neighboring states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. 

    D-SNAP recipients in the eligible 11 parishes can obtain replacement disaster EBT cards at any of the following locations:

    • Acadia Parish Office – 300 E. First St., Crowley, LA 70526
    • Ascension Parish Office – 1078 E. Worthy Road, Gonzales, LA 70737
    • East Baton Rouge Parish Office – 1919 North Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806
    • Lafayette Parish Office – 825 Kaliste Saloom Road, Brandywine Complex VI, Lafayette, LA 70508
    • Livingston Parish Office – 28446 Charley Watts Road, Livingston, LA 70754
    • St. Landry Parish Office – 6069 I-49 S. Service Road, Opelousas, LA 70570
    • Tangipahoa Parish Office – 1211 NW Central Avenue, Amite, LA 70422

    For questions or additional information, visit the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov or contact the toll-free helpline at 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578).

    The D-SNAP program is designed and executed with safeguards in place to deter and detect fraud. The department will pursue prosecution, restitution, and disqualification of future benefits for anyone who fraudulently received aid. To report fraud, visitwww.dcfs.la.gov/ReportFraud or call 1-888-LA-HELPU (1-888-524-3578) and select option 7.

     

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  • ,

    Private Property Debris Removal Program application deadline set for Oct. 7

    City-Parish officials are reminding eligible homeowners throughout East Baton Rouge Parish to apply for the City-Parish’s Private Property Debris Removal (PPDR) program ahead of the program’s application deadline, set for Friday, Oct. 7. The PPDR program provides residents affected by the recent flooding with extended curbside collection of flood-related debris removal services, provided the debris is placed within approximately 30 feet from the public right-of-way and the City-Parish has received a signed Right-of-Entry (ROE) agreement from the homeowner.

     

    Since launching Sept. 19, more than 1,150 homeowners have submitted ROE agreements in applying for the PPDR program, with extended curbside collection services for eligible residents currently underway in the following ZIP codes: 70805, 70811, 70817, 70814, and 70819. As the program moves forward and additional ROEs are received, PPDR crews will be moving into other ZIP codes and impacted areas based on where these extended curbside services are needed. 

     

    Residents interested in applying for this program and these extended curbside flood-related debris removal services can do so online by downloading an ROE form – located at www.brgov.com/roe – and emailing their completed ROE form along with a valid Louisiana ID or driver’s license toBRdebris@thompsoncs.net, or in-person by visiting one of the active PPDR intake centers below prior to the Friday deadline and during the listed hours of operation:

     

    ·        PPDR Primary Application Center – Cypress Building, 10201 Celtic Drive, Suite B

    Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    ·        Jones Creek Branch Library – 6222 Jones Creek Road

    Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    ·        Fairwood Branch Library – 12910 Old Hammond Highway

    Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

     

    Residents in need of support or assistance related to the PPDR program who are unable to visit one of these PPDR intake centers are encouraged to contact program representatives directly by dialing 1-888-721-4372. These same program representatives are available to meet individually with homeowners as necessary and upon request to discuss the program and assist residents in completing their ROE.

     

    As a reminder, City-Parish crews are only able to collect debris from residential properties located in the City of Baton Rouge and unincorporated areas of East Baton Rouge Parish. City of Baker, Central and Zachary residents should contact their local municipality for information on their local debris removal program. Residents in need of extended curbside debris collection who are renters, members of a homeowner’s association, or live in a private community should contact their landlord, homeowner’s association president, or landowner to request that they complete a ROE form for the property in need of debris removal.

     

    For more information or questions about the PPDR program, please contact 1-888-721-4372 or emailBRdebris@thompsoncs.net.

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    ‘Things get uncomfortable’ when protesters Blackout BR, interrupt policing meeting

    As officer-involved shootings continue to plague cities around the country, frustrated citizens are continuing their fight for justice. With each shooting that has occurred, dash cam footage has been released, surveillance and other forms of film have been released to ensure complete disclosure. But, unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case with the deadly shooting of Alton Sterling.

    After nearly three months, only the cell phone videos filmed by spectators has been released. In addition to the withholding of dash cam footage and surveillance, Baton Rouge police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II are still on administrative leave. No charges have been brought against the officers and citizens are wondering why. The recent officer-involved shootings that led to the deaths of Philando Castile and Terence Crutcher have resulted in charges brought against the officers. But, law enforcement officials in Baton Rouge have remained silent.

    Now, citizens and protesters are demanding answers. Why has the footage been withheld? Why haven’t the officers been charged? Monday, Sept. 26 was declared #BlackOutBR, a day where local citizens wore black clothes and did not work, go to college, or shop. A rally was held at the steps of City Hall calling for information on the Alton Sterling case.

    BlackOutBR flyer

    After the rally, protesters entered a police reform meeting to hear the committee’s plans and to demand answers and action.

    “The problem is, with an exception of a few, we don’t see these people in the community,” businessman Cleve Dunn Jr. told the committee. “When you look around and you don’t see the community, there should be no meeting.”

    The committee included District Attorney Hillar Moore; councilmembers Tara Wicker, Donna Collins Lewis and Erika Green; BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie Jr; local pastors; and residents. 

    “What happens when leaders & protesters disrupt a meeting on police reform? Things get uncomfortable, they get real, and then they get a seat at the table, alongside the chief of police, the DA, & the DOJ,” wrote artist Walter Geno McLaughlin on Facebook.

    More than 30 protesters lined the walls of the small meeting room, including Sterling’s aunts.

    “We want to press upon our local government but also go all the way to feds that we want a decision on the investigation, said Dunn who explained the reason for the gathering and expressed protesters’ demands. “We are pressing upon the Department of Justice, our mayor, Kip Holden, as well as our Governor… to solicit a timeline of some type of idea of when we can get a decision.”

    “This issue of Alton Sterling has been divested from the people in this room as much as we hate to hear that,” said Will Jorden, who is an assistant district attorney and prosecutor. “We hear the frustration. I am frustrated. These pastors are frustrated. But what this (committee) does is give the people a sense of legitimacy and to be able to move forward with positive change.”

    Wicker said, “This group today is not the group trying to come up with solutions. That’s not our charge. That’s not our job. That’s not what we are doing here. Our charge is to setup an infrastructure so that what you are saying can actually be heard, documented and put into a policy paper that will be submitted as the voice of the community.”

    Several protesters asked the committee for better communication and circulated a paper to add email addresses for future contact. They also presented a list of demands.

    In addition to the demand for a decision in the July 5th shooting, they are requesting that changes be made to city and state flood contracts. The change to contracts would require the cancellation of current contracts in order to include Black-owned firms in renegotiations.

    Community leaders argue that the exclusion of government resources is a strong contributing factor to the financial inequity in the black community. The officer-involved shootings in impoverished areas of the city are also arguably attributed to the lack of economic development.”You cannot prevent an Alton Sterling encounter without economic development in black communities,” the list states.

    The third demand is in reference to police reform. With incidents of alleged injustices resolved with internal investigations, community leaders and local citizens adamantly believe there needs to be a task force in place on state and local law enforcement levels to reform police across the city and state. 

    Here’s the list of demands:
    1. A Decision in the Alton Sterling Case from the Department of Justice.
    We request Mayor Kip Holden and Gov. John Bel Edwards both send letters to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting that the DOJ swiftly conclude its investigation. The most powerful government in the world shouldn’t take longer than a district attorney from Tulsa Oklahoma to decide which way to proceed in an investigation, with all the resources at their disposal. Our community deserves to be able to move forward.

    2. Cancel Current State & Local Flood Contracts and Include Black-Owned Firms In Renegotiations. Currently, our state and local government are handing out millions of dollars in contracts relating to flood relief. Black-owned businesses are not reaping from the resources that are on the ground. The exclusion of black-owned companies is one of the primary causes of inequity in our community. You cannot prevent an Alton Sterling encounter without economic development in black communities. Black businesses owners hire black people, giving second chances to people like Mr. Sterling which puts them in our workforce and makes them productive citizens. There should be DBE Mandates equal to the percentage of the population in order to ensure fairness and equity in how our state and local government does business.

    3. Reform Our Police Department
    The murder of Alton Sterling has surfaced issues within our police department that must be addressed. We request a task force convened on a state and local level to reform policing in the city and state. The task force should not just include members of law enforcement and elected official, but local protestors and community advocates who have taken to the streets to oppose the tactics of police departments around the country.

    The list of demands has garnered criticism from local news outlets and citizens with opposing views. Many readers said they believe the demands are far-fetched and argue federal authorities have refrained from filing charges because they haven’t been able to gather enough evidence against the officers involved. But, despite the arguments, the footage is still being withheld, which leads protesters to believe local authorities have something to hide.

    “These demands, especially the first two, are silly. The prosecutor should make a decision only when all the evidence is in. The flood recovery companies should only hire the best companies and people for the job,” wrote writers with The Hayride.

    The question remains: will officers Salamoni and Lake be charged in connection with the shooting death of Sterling? At this point, no one knows what the outcome will be.

    The case is currently still under review by federal authorities. It is still unclear whether charges will be filed against Salamoni and Lake.

    By Meaghan Ellis
    Community Reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

    DOTD announces public hearings

    A series of Public Hearings will be held in accordance with LA R.S. 48:231 and conducted by the Joint Transportation, Highways, & Public Works Committee. Below is a list of the times and places where the hearings will be held. The purpose of the hearings is to review highway construction priorities for the fiscal year 2017-2018. A copy of the Preliminary Program for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 will be available for review by interested persons at the LADOTD Headquarters Building, 1201 Capitol Access Road, Room 200U, Baton Rouge, LA 70802 or at http://wwwsp.dotd.la.gov/Inside_LADOTD/Divisions/Multimodal/Transportation_Planning/Highway_
    Priority/Pages/default.aspx.

    All interested persons are invited for the purpose of becoming fully acquainted with the proposed program and will be afforded an opportunity to express their views. Oral testimony may be supplemented by presenting important facts and documentation in writing. Written statements and comments should be handed to the committee conducting the Hearing, or mailed to the following address, postmarked within 30 calendar days following the Hearing:

    JOINT HIGHWAY PRIORITY CONSTRUCTION COMMITTEE
    C/O LA DOTD (SECTION 85)
    P.O. BOX 94245
    BATON ROUGE, LA 70804-9245

    Should anyone requiring special assistance due to a disability wish to participate in this public hearing, please contact LADOTD (Attn: Ms. Mary Elliott) by mail at the address above or by telephone at (225) 379-1218 at least five days prior to the date of the public hearing.

    LEGISLATIVE PUBLIC HEARINGS
    FOR THE HIGHWAY PRIORITY CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM (2017-2018)

    October 10, 2016 – at 10am, Franklin Media Center, 7293 Prairie Road, Winnsboro
    DOTD District 58, Serving Parishes: Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, LaSalle, and Tensas

    October 10, 2016 – at 2 pm, Monroe City Hall, Council Chambers, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway, Monroe
    DOTD District 05, Serving Parishes: E. Carroll, Jackson, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, Union, and W. Carroll

    October 11, 2016 – at 8:30 am, Bossier Civic Center, Bodcau Room, 20 Benton Rd, Bossier City
    DOTD District 04, Serving Parishes: Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, Desoto, Red River, and Webster

    October 11, 2016 – at 2:30 pm, England Airpark, James L. Meyer Commercial Terminal Conference Room, 1515 Billy Mitchell Blvd., Alexandria
    DOTD District 08, Serving Parishes: Avoyelles, Grant, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine, Vernon, and Winn

    October 12, 2016 – at 8:30 am, Lake Charles Civic Center, Contraband Room, 900 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles
    DOTD District 07, Serving Parishes: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis

    October 12, 2016 – at 2 pm, Lafayette Consolidated Government City Hall Council Chambers, 705 W. University Avenue, Lafayette
    DOTD District 03, Serving Parishes: Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion

    October 17, 2016 – 9:30 am, New Orleans Regional Transportation Management Center, Conference Room A/B, #10 Veterans Memorial Blvd, New Orleans
    DOTD District 02, Serving Parishes: Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, and Terrebonne

    October 17, 2016 – 2:30 pm, Southeastern Louisiana University, University Center Room 133, 800 W University Ave, Hammond
    DOTD District 62, Serving Parishes: Livingston, St. Helena, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington

    October 18, 2016 – 9am, State Capitol Basement, House Committee Room 1, Baton Rouge
    DOTD District 61, Serving Parishes: Ascension, Assumption, E. Baton Rouge, E. Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. James, W. Baton Rouge, and W. Feliciana

    Read more »
  • ,

    Six BR deputies cleared in shooting death of Travis Stevenson

    “The death of Travis Stevenson was legally justified and no criminal responsibility can be found for the deputies involved as they were legally exercising their rights of self-defense and defense-of-others,” states an official report by the District Attorney’s office.

    According to DA Hillar C. Moore III, an investigation has cleared six deputies of any wrongdoing for the Feb. 23, 2016, death of Stevenson.

    East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputies general detectives Sgt. Charles Montgomery and Det. Shannon Broussard, homicide detectives Sgt. Scott Henning and Cpl. Chris Masters and uniform patrol deputies Lt. Michael Birdwell and Sgt. Verner Budd from the Gardere substation were on the scene when the shooting happened. They were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure, following the incident.

    Reports state Stevenson repeatedly rammed a deputy’s patrol vehicle after officers blocked his car in a parking spot next to an apartment building at the corner of Terrace Avenue and Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said. Deputies tried to pull Stevenson from his vehicle, smashing a car window in the process, before deputies shot him, Gautreaux said.

    Dr. William “Beau” Clark, the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner, said Stevenson died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head and torso. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    “Four of the responding deputies discharged their firearms,” states the report. “Stevenson was struck several times, resulting in his death. The incident was not recorded on any dash cameras or body cameras. Furthermore, there is no video of this incident known to law enforcement.”

    Louisiana State Police investigators from Hammond oversaw the investigation.

    This case is one of four officer-involved shooting deaths that occurred within East Baton Rouge Parish in 2016.

    ONLINE: Read the official report here.

    Read more »

  • Baton Rouge River Center shelter closing today

    The shelter at the Baton Rouge River Center closes today. Red Cross spokesperson Vicki Eichstaedt said flood victims who are in that shelter will be moved to Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge. The Department of Children and Family Services reports there were 372 individuals there as of Wednesday, Sept.14. Eichstaedt said the Red Cross is redoubling their efforts to make sure no one is forgotten.

    “To make sure that those people are in touch with case workers and are actively looking at recovery plans and what options there are available for them,” Eichstaedt said.

    She said the River Center has asked the Red Cross to vacate their facility as they prepare for upcoming events, but there is not a hard close date for the Celtic Studios shelter. 

    “We’ve been working diligently with case work to try and find people the next place to stay,” Eichstaedt said.

    Eichstaedt said people can get more information about more assistance from the Red Cross by calling 855-224-2490. 
     

    Read more »
  • ,

    Groups helping Great Flood victims may receive funds

    According to a news release from FEMA, there may be funds to help certain organizations get back to the business of helping others.

    • Community, volunteer, faith-based and private nonprofit organizations that had damage from Louisiana’s recent severe storms and floods may be able to receive FEMA Public Assistance (PA) grants to repair or replace their facilities so they can continue offering critical and essential community services.
    • Critical community service organizations that may qualify for FEMA PA grants include:
      • Faith-based and private schools
      • Hospitals and other medical-treatment facilities
      • Utilities like water, sewer and electrical systems
    • Non-critical, essential service organizations may also receive PA grants. However, they must first apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) before they may be considered for a PA grant.
      • The SBA may provide up to $2 million to most private nonprofits in the form of low-interest disaster loans.
      • Learn more about and apply for an SBA loan by going online to sba.gov/disaster. If you cannot access the website, call 800-659-2955. If you use TTY call 800-877-8339.
    • PA grants may be able to cover repair or replacement costs the SBA doesn’t.
    • Non-critical, essential service organizations include:
      • Community centers
      • Daycare centers
      • Disability advocacy and service providers
      • Homeless shelters
      • Museums
      • Performing arts centers
      • Rehabilitation facilities
      • Senior citizen centers
      • Zoos
    • Only organizations that can prove state or IRS tax exempt status may be considered.
    • Facilities established or primarily used for religious activities may not be considered.
    • The first step to receive a FEMA PA grant for your community, volunteer or faith-based or private nonprofit organization is to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to the State of Louisiana.
    • For more information on applying for PA grants, contact your parish’s emergency management office. You can find their contact information online at gohsep.la.gov/about/parishpa
    Read more »
  • Gov. Edwards announces flood Recovery Task Force

    Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced the Restore Louisiana Task Force, which is charged with overseeing the state’s recovery efforts from the recent historic flooding across South Louisiana.

    “The families and individuals whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastating flood deserve every opportunity to get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” said Edwards. “Recovery won’t happen overnight. It will take time to come back stronger from this natural disaster, and it will take all of us working together to make it happen. The Restore Louisiana Task Force will help ensure that we are taking every necessary step as a state government to provide those critical resources to everyone in need and to make sound long-term investments in the recovery of our state.”

    The Restore Louisiana Task Force will be tasked with the following responsibilities:

    • The Task Force shall establish and recommend to state and local agencies both short and long-term priorities in developing plans for recovery and redevelopment. These priorities and plans shall focus on the following areas: housing and redevelopment, economic and workforce development, education, infrastructure and transportation, healthcare, fiscal stability, family services and agriculture.
    • In coordination with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), the Office of Community Development and the affected parishes and municipalities, the Task Force shall assist in developing data about the ongoing individual, business and public infrastructure needs for recovery.  
    • The Task Force shall work in coordination with state and local governments and the federal delegation to assist in identifying additional sources of federal funding, such as Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds.
    • The Task Force shall establish a federal and state legislative agenda for the recovery and redevelopment effort and for coordinating between levels and branches of government to implement that agenda.
    • The Task Force shall, in conjunction with parish and local governments, set priorities and offer direction to GOHSEP related to the use of funds made available through the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and any additional available federal funds. 

    The governor also announced the following appointments to the Restore Louisiana Task Force:

    • Adam Knapp, President & CEO, Baton Rouge Area Chamber
    • Jacqui Vines, Retired Executive, Cox Communications
    • Don Pierson, Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development
    • Michael Olivier, CEO, Committee of 100 for Economic Development, Inc.
    • Sean Reilly, CEO, Lamar Advertising
    • Michael Faulk, Superintendent, Central Community School System
    • Ollie Tyler, Mayor, City of Shreveport
    • Johnny Bradberry, Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Affairs, Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority Board Chairman
    • Dr. Shawn Wilson, Secretary, Department of Transportation & Development
    • Dr. James A. Richardson, State Economist
    • Raymond Jetson, Board Member, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, President & CEO, MetroMorphosis 
    • Ronnie Harris, Executive Director, Louisiana Municipal Association
    • Roland Dartez, Executive Director, Louisiana Police Jury Association
    • Jimmy Durbin, Former Mayor, City of Denham Springs
    • Joel Robideaux, Mayor-President, Lafayette Parish
    • Dave Norris, Mayor, City of West Monroe
    • Mike Strain, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture & Forestry
    • Edward “Ted” James, State Representative, District 101
    • Dan W. “Blade” Morrish, State Senator, District 25
    • J. Rogers Pope, State Representative, District 71
    • Robert E. Shadoin, State Representative, District 12
    Read more »
  • Award-winning journalist, Black Press mentor George Curry dead at 69


    By Hazel Trice Edney

    George Curry

     

    (TriceEdneyWire) – Pioneering Civil rights and Black political journalist George E. Curry, the reputed dean of Black press columnists because of his riveting weekly commentary in Black newspapers across the country, died suddenly of heart failure on Saturday, August 20. He was 69. 

    Rumors of his death circulated heavily in journalistic circles on Saturday night until it was confirmed by Dr. Bernard Lafayette, MLK confidant and chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference shortly before midnight. 

    “This is a tragic loss to the movement because George Curry was a journalist who paid special attention to civil rights because he lived it and loved it,” Lafayette said through his spokesman Maynard Eaton, SCLC national communications director. 

    Curry’s connection to the SCLC was through his longtime childhood friend, confidant and ally in civil rights, Dr. Charles Steele, SCLC president. Lafayette said Dr. Steele was initially too distraught to make the announcement himself and was also awaiting notification of Curry’s immediate family. 

    Steele and Curry grew up together in Tuscaloosa, Ala. where Curry bloomed as a civil rights and sports writer as Steele grew into a politician and civil rights leader. 

    Curry began his journalism career at Sport Illustrated, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and then the Chicago Tribune. But he is perhaps best known for his editorship of the former Emerge Magazine and more recently for his work as editor-in-chief for the National Newspaper Publishers Association from 2000-2007 and again from 2012 until last year. 

    His name is as prominent among civil rights circles as among journalists. He traveled with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and appeared weekly to do commentary on the radio show of the Rev. Al Sharpton, “Keepin’ It Real.”

    When he died he was raising money to fully fund Emerge News Online, a digital version of the former paper magazine. He had also continued to distribute his weekly column to Black newspapers. 

    Few details of his death were readily available Sunday morning. Reactions and memorial information will be forthcoming. The following is his edited speaker’s biography as posted on the website of America’s Program Bureau:

    George E. Curry is former editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. The former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, Curry also writes a weekly syndicated column for NNPA, a federation of more than 200 African American newspapers. 

    Curry, who served as editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service from 2001 until 2007, returned to lead the news service for a second time on April 2, 2012. 

    His work at the NNPA has ranged from being inside the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases to traveling to Doha, Qatar, to report on America’s war with Iraq. 

    As editor-in-chief of Emerge, Curry led the magazine to win more than 40 national journalism awards. He is most proud of his four-year campaign to win the release of Kemba Smith, a 22-year-old woman who was given a mandatory sentence of 24 1/2 years in prison for her minor role in a drug ring. In May 1996, Emerge published a cover story titled “Kemba’s Nightmare.” President Clinton pardoned Smith in December 2000, marking the end of her nightmare. 

    Curry is the author of Jake Gaither: America’s Most Famous Black Coach and editor of The Affirmative Action Debate and The Best of Emerge Magazine. He was editor of the National Urban League’s 2006 State of Black America report. His work in journalism has taken him to Egypt, England, France, Italy, China, Germany, Malaysia, Thailand, Cuba, Brazil, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Mexico, Canada, and Austria. In August 2012, he was part of the official US delegation and a presenter at the USBrazil seminar on educational equity in Brasilia, Brazil. George Curry is a member of the National Speakers Association and the International Federation for Professional Speakers. 

    His speeches have been televised on C-SPAN and reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day magazine. In his presentations, he addresses such topics as diversity, current events, education, and the media. Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Curry graduated from Druid High School before enrolling at Knoxville College in Tennessee. At Knoxville, he was editor of the school paper, quarterback and co-captain of the football team, a student member of the school’s board of trustees, and attended Harvard and Yale on summer history scholarships. 

    While working as a Washington correspondent for The Chicago Tribune, he wrote and served as chief correspondent for the widely praised television documentary Assault on Affirmative Action, which was aired as part of PBS’ Frontline series. He was featured in a segment of One Plus One, a national PBS documentary on mentoring. Curry was part of the weeklong Nightline special, America in Black and White. He has also appeared on CBS Evening News, ABC’s World News Tonight, The Today Show, 20/20, Good Morning America, CNN, C-SPAN, BET, Fox Network News, MSNBC, and ESPN. After delivering the 1999 commencement address at Kentucky State University, he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters. 

    In May 2000, Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, also presented Curry with an honorary doctorate after his commencement speech. Later that year, the University of Missouri presented Curry with its Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, the same honor it had earlier bestowed on such luminaries as Joseph Pulitzer, Walter Cronkite, John H. Johnson, and Winston Churchill. In 2003, the National Association of Black Journalists named Curry Journalist of the Year. 

    Curry became the founding director of the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop in 1977. Seven years later, he became founding director of the Washington Association of Black Journalists’ annual high school journalism workshop. In February 1990, Curry organized a similar workshop in New York City. While serving as editor of Emerge, Curry was elected president of the American Society of Magazine Editors, the first African American to hold the association’s top office. 

    Before taking over as editor of Emerge, Curry served as New York bureau chief and as Washington correspondent for The Chicago Tribune. Prior to joining The Tribune, he worked for 11 years as a reporter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and for two years as a reporter for Sports Illustrated. 

    Curry is chairman of the board of directors of Young DC, a regional teen-produced newspaper; immediate past chairman of the Knoxville College board of trustees; and serves on the board of directors of the Kemba N. Smith Foundation and St. Paul Saturdays, a leadership training program for young African American males in St. Louis. Curry was also a trustee of the National Press Foundation, chairing a committee that funded more than 15 workshops modeled after the one he directed in St. Louis. 

     

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  • Resources offer hotel, motel assistance for flood victims

    ​FEMA May Provide Help with Hotels, Motels for Louisiana Disaster Survivors Unable to Live at Home

    Survivors of the South Louisiana floods may be able to receive assistance to stay in a hotel or motel if they are unable to return home as a result of Louisiana’s recent severe storms and flooding.

    Here’s some information on FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program that may help with short-term lodging assistance for Louisiana disaster survivors:

    First, register for FEMA help:

    ·         If you’re a homeowner or renter you may register for FEMA help two ways:

    •  Go online at DisasterAssistance.gov. 
    • Call the FEMA helpline 800-621-3362. If you use TTY, call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.  

    TSA eligibility

    Survivors may be eligible for short-term lodging assistance if their home is damaged, destroyed, inaccessible or lacking power as a result of the severe storms and floods in the following parishes: Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington and West Feliciana. 

    FEMA will call to inquire about current housing situation and provide instructions on how to receive short-term lodging.
    Home owners don’t need to wait for a FEMA housing inspector visit for to be considered for short-term lodging. 

    How to find participating hotels and motels

    ·         Go online to femaevachotels.com or call the FEMA helpline.

    Which costs will TSA cover

    TSA covers the cost and taxes of the hotel or motel room. Meals, telephone calls and other incidental charges are not covered.   Room charges are made directly to the hotel or motel.
    How long TSA lasts

     After up to 14 days in a hotel or motel you may receive an extension if you’re still unable to return home. If you’re able to get back home, move to longer-term housing or if a FEMA housing inspector determines your home is habitable, you may no longer be eligible for TSA.
    ·         FEMA will call every day to keep you updated about your continued eligibility. Be sure to keep your contact information current so you’ll receive these calls. Update your information online at DisasterAssistance.gov or call the FEMA helpline.
    ·         When you check in, the participating hotel or motel will inform you of your checkout deadline.

    Read more »
  • Special needs shelter opens for flood victims

    A Medical Special Needs Shelter is open at the LSU Fieldhouse. The Medical Special Needs Shelter does not provide emergency services, but is instead a shelter for those who have chronic medical conditions and particular special needs that cannot be accommodated in a general-population shelter. The Medical Special Needs Shelter will not be available to the general public, but only to those with special medical needs. This shelter is designed for individuals who are homebound, chronically ill or who have disabilities and are in need of medical or nursing care, and have no other place to receive care. Those seeking shelter will be screened by nurses to determine the level of care needed. Only people who meet admission criteria can be sheltered. To access the shelter, a patient or caregiver must first call this triage line phone number: (225) 578-6383. For general information about the shelter, call (225) 578-3928.

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  • Central City School System plans post-Labor Day return

    CCSS Update:

    What a week we have experienced. Once again we would like to express appreciation to our community as well as others around the state and country that have reached out to us offering to help in so many different ways. It is amazing to see how this tragedy has shown us the selflessness and spirit of caring in others both near and far.  

    As we have continued to assess the damage to Tanglewood Elementary and have begun the early stages of restoration, we are anticipating the complete process to take a couple of months. 

    We will not wait for the complete restoration of Tanglewood Elementary before returning all students to school. As we move forward and determine the school setting(s) for our first and second graders during this transitional time, we will pass that information along to you as soon as we are able. 

    Our plan at this time is not to return to school before the Labor Day holiday. We still are uncertain as to the exact return date, but we do know that it will not be before Labor Day. Again, once we are able to give a predicted return date, we will certainly share it with you. 

    Our thoughts and prayers continue for our many employees, students and community members whose homes were damaged by the floods. We recognize the challenges that you are facing as you are repairing and trying to make your homes livable again. For those of you who did not have flood damage, but are housing others, helping others, preparing meals, volunteering and doing many other things, we are thankful for you and are praying for you, too! You are what makes Central such a special community. 

    Please continue to check our web page and Facebook page for updates and for volunteer opportunities. 

    Sandy Davis

    Read more »
  • State NAACP submits recommendations to AG Loretta Lynch

    On behalf of the ​NAACP Louisiana State Conference, president Ernest L. Johnson sent the following letter to the Department of Justice.

    Dear Attorney General Lynch:

    As President of the Louisiana NAACP and a Member of the NAACP National Board of Directors, I hereby submit the following recommendations for action to address the Black community/police relations:

    1. Creation of the Southern University Law Center Clinical Education Reentry Program funded by a grant from the United States Department of Justice. This program will allow law students under the direction of a license attorney to provide legal services to the Baton Rouge community through a Re-entry Program.

    2. Creation of Police Department Interactive Training Program vs Residency Requirements. Primary police officers who are designated to patrol certain neighborhoods will receive interactive training by attending churches, schools, community centers and meeting with local community citizens during a three-month training period each year.

    3. The Tale of Four Cities. In 1947, white citizens created the Baton Rouge Plan of Government. Under this Plan of Government, there are now  four cities located within the Parish of East Baton Rouge: The city of Baton Rouge, the city of Baker, the city of Zachary and the city of Central. 

    All of the cities except Baton Rouge elect their own mayors and city council members. 

    The city of Baton Rouge (60% African American) does not elect its own mayor and city council members. The Baton Rouge Mayor/President is elected by all of the voters in the parish including those residing within the cities of Baker, Zachary and Central City. 

    Individuals are elected from throughout the parish including the three other cities serve on what is called a “Metropolitan Council”. Members serving on the Metropolitan Council are allowed to vote on City of Baton Rouge matters including taxation are able to do so through inter-governmental agreements signed each year.
    This Plan of Government is diluting the voting strength of those African American residing with the City limits of Baton Rouge. We believe that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th of the United States Constitution are being violated. We need reform of the City of Baton-Parish of East Baton Rouge Government. To give the citizens residing within the city limits of Baton Rouge a real voice in the operation of the government. We are requesting an investigation and action by the Voting Rights Section of the Department Justice to help change this government which was created during the period of segregation in our state.

    Thanks very much for your consideration and acceptance of these recommendations.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Ernest L. Johnson, Esq.
    President Louisiana NAACP
    Member NAACP National Board of Director

    Read more »
  • August community events

    Here is a list of community events for the month of August. Add your event to this listing by completing the submit news form.

    August

    5: Gospel Music Fest
    13101 Hwy. 442 W., Tickfaw, LA 70466 – 1st Friday of each month – Doors Open at 5:30pm & Music Begins at 6:30pm – Barbara Vaughn 985-974-0507 http://www.mvmgoodnews.com/
    12th Back to School Bash Festival
    Zemurray Park, Hammond, LA – 4pm-8pm – Evangelist Carolyn Jackson 985-634-3428

    6: Black Tie Gala
    Tangipahoa Parish Heritage Center, 1600 Phoenix Square, Hammond, LA 70403 7pm – Delmas A. Dunn, Sr. 985-507-6862 http://www.taahm.org/

    12: 21st Annual Hot August Night
    2 W Thomas St., Hammond, LA 70401 – 6pm – 10pm – Downtown Development District – 985-277-5681 – http://www.dddhammond.com/

    13: The Louisiana Jubilee
    Lions Club Building, 750 E. Pine St., Ponchatoula, LA 70454 – Doors open at 5pm & show begins at 6pm – L.D. Barringer 985-981-7777 – http://www.thelouisianajubilee.org/

    16: Ponchatoula Business & Professional Expo
    Chesterton Square, 143 NW Railroad Ave., Ponchatoula, LA 70454 – 5:30pm – 8pm – Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce 985-386-2536 http://www.ponchatoulachamber.com/

    23: Summer Series Brown Bag Luncheon
    Rotary Hut, Memorial Park, Ponchatoula, LA 70454 – 12pm – Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce 985.386.2536 http://www.ponchatoulachamber.com/

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  • ,

    I Fit the Prototype: large and black. Am I Next?

    It has been more than a week since the viral video revealing the shooting death of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers flooded social media timelines. The footage ignited widespread fear of local law enforcement and proved that the nation’s woes were no longer just on television but right in residents’ yards, literally.

    Now with the home front being a national headline, three Baton Rouge men tell their stories of what it is to be the prototype victim for police brutality. As they leave their homes everyday with the notion that they could be “next” just because they are large, Black men.

    Dominique Ricks, a 24-year-old educator from Baton Rouge whose first negative encounter with police occurred when he was 13 years old.

    Officers approached Ricks and a friend who were opposite descriptions of the suspects for whom they were looking. Ricks recalled that his mother came on the scene and told the officers that the two were good kids. Officers responded that they didn’t know if Ricks was a good kid, and they didn’t know if they were talking to an honor student or Saddam Hussein.

    “I’ve always feared interaction with the police,” Ricks said. “Ever since then, I’ve had a certain understanding: they don’t know who I am (and) a lot of times, they don’t care who I am, so it’s best for me to stay in my lane and avoid them.”

    Now at 6-foot-1, 291 pounds, his fears have only heightened as his hometown has become a hashtag.

    “I’m afraid that my son might end up growing up without a father, and it’s not because I’m not going to be a part of his life, but because I might get taken away,” Ricks said.

    But he continued that the Sterling incident did not shock him. He is only happy that it was caught on camera. He said he hopes justice will be served.

    Meet radio and television personality, Tony King, a 36-year-old Houston native who is 6-foot-2, 271 pounds and admittedly has a negative history in the criminal justice system. He said he accepts responsibility for his previous actions and has since turned his life around.

    “That one mistake doesn’t define who and what I am, and it does not take away the value of my life,” King said.

    “There’s a level of humanity that is being missed, and when you have people in the community who refuse to see the humanity in everybody–not just people who look like them–then to me, that’s a problem.”

    King, much like Ricks, hasn’t experienced heightened fear of interactions with police. Instead, King said, he’s always been afraid. “My fear looks the same as it has always been,” King said. “Every time an officer pulls up behind me, my chest tightens.”

    Meet Marcel P. Black, a 32-year-old youth development worker and local emcee from Ardmore, Okla. Black, who considers himself an activist, has lived in Baton Rouge since attending Southern University and A&M College, and has started his family in the city.

    As what is referred to as an underground emcee, Black, who is 6-foot-3, 350 pounds, said many times he has sold CDs in front of establishments. “I could have been Alton Sterling,” Black said. “I wear cargo shorts a lot, I wear red t-shirts a lot. We are about the same skin tone, about the same size. That could have been me.”

    Aside from seeing a mirror image of himself in Sterling, Black also said he believes there is a lack of concern for north Baton Rouge that contributes to residents feeling undervalued and creating a culture of unsafe interactions with law enforcement officials.

    “The city created these conditions in north Baton Rouge,” Black said. “North Baton Rouge is under-funded: no hospitals, no healthcare, no jobs, no access to mental health, no healthy food, and then they want to police it, and you wonder why there is unrest.”

    Black is a facilitator of a conversation group called Black Men Talk. The group meets monthly or as needed to discuss issues relating to Black men, mostly in regards to current events. But it’s just conversation. Black said action must be taken to prevent further unrest.

    “We got work to do. Our lives are different now. Our lives will never, ever be the same,” Black said. “Let’s talk prison reform, let’s talk police reform. We got work to do. Lord willing, we stay mobilized and organized, so we can keep doing this. I want to encourage everybody: this is our fight from here on out.”

    Work to be done is a sentiment that Black shares with national NAACP president Cornell William Brooks. Brooks warns that all work headed towards success in justice must be planned and well-thought-out.

    “We cannot be called upon as a community to serially grieve,” Brooks said. “We have to prevent these horrific videos and hashtags and tragedies from occurring again and again.”

    This month Brooks is celebrating two years as national president, and the time is eerily similar to when he was just two weeks into the role, when Eric Garner was killed by officers in Staten Island, New York. Garner was detained after selling loose cigarettes.

    “I would assert that people participating in this so-called underground economy, which is basically small entrepreneurship.This is nothing anybody should lose their lives for, so we’re here to send the message that we’re not going to grieve serially. We have to call for specific policy, legislative reform.”

    But before talking reform, Brooks encourages the community to allow a moment to grieve, followed by a moment to come together and then a decisive course of action.

    “Everybody needs to come together,” Brooks said. “And beyond that, a plan. We are at a time of both increased activism and heightened apprehension. There’s a reason to be vigilant, however it’s not a reason to be paralyzed. We cannot outsource the safety of our community to other people.”

    He said, “We gotta act now.”

    Understanding that there are people who will be fearful to stand on the front lines in times of social and civil unrest and police misconduct, Brooks compared the movement to that of a band.

    “One band, one sound, but that doesn’t mean everyone plays the same instrument,” he said.

    “When you see your sons and daughters being profiled, when you see your people being disrespected, when you see your community being disrespected, now may be the time to engage in activism, even if that’s not your thing,” Brooks said.

    “Beyond that, if you can’t stand on the front lines, then you raise some money for the people standing on the front lines, then you register folks to vote so that they can support the agenda of the people standing on the front line.

    The point being, in this post-millennium civil rights movement, there is a role for everyone to play.”

    Brooks encourages individuals who want to participate in taking action to visit NAACP.org for resources, including research based data for each state in regards to protest and demonstration laws. He also encourages citizens to let their fears motivate them to join together with others who seek justice.

    By Leslie D. Rose
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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  • HOW TO TALK WITH CHILDREN ABOUT TRAGEDY

    Today’s tragic event in Baton Rouge has left us all with many questions. But for parents, it can open up a new conversation with children who may have trouble understanding exactly what’s going on.
    Dr. Shaun Kimberly and Sharon Wesberry of Our Lady of The Lake Children’s Hospital have pulled together a few tips from OLOL physicians and child life specialists to help parents and care givers talk with children about violence or sad events in the news.
    Talk to your child to understand what they know.

    1.Ask them questions Then listen to see how much they have heard or what they think happened. This can help you alleviate fears or help correct any misunderstood information.

    2. Use short, easy words they can understand. Instead of “shooting,” “tragedy,” etc., use age appropriate words like “hurt,” “bad,” or other short words to explain what happened…. Read More Here

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  • Baker City Court to provide amnesty to those with outstanding bench warrants.

    The Baker City Court will provide an amnesty program to any defendant that has an outstanding bench warrant beginning July 15, 2016 through July 31, 2016. The amnesty program does not reduce outstanding fees, so the defendant will be given a new court date and some time to pay these fees. On July 18,20,26, and 28 the office hours will be extended from 8:30am – 7:00pm for those who wish to have their bench warrant recalled outside of the normal work hours. Call Baker City Court @ 225-778-1866.

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  • ,

    Funeral arrangements for Alton Sterling’s homegoing

    The family of Alton Sterling will hold his funeral service in the Southern University F. G. Clark Activity Center, Friday, July 15, 2016. According to the family, a viewing is scheduled for 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., and the funeral at 11 a.m.

    The services will be handled as a private event in the campus facility in terms of traffic, parking, and security.

    Carney and Mackey Funeral Home of Baton Rouge is coordinating arrangements. For more information call (225) 774-0390.

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  • Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room Tourism Destination Shows every Thursday night 8 p.m. to midnight, July 14 to September 8

    Join Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor and the Listening Room All Stars for Evenings of Live Music, Comedy and Visual Art

    Baton Rouge, LA…Henry Turner Jr.s’ Listening Room is pleased to announce a series of Tourism Destination shows every Thursday evening from July 14 through September 8. Performances feature Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor and the Listening Room All Stars. The fun filled evenings of original musical entertainment encompass Blues, R&B, Soul, Reggae, Rock, and Comedy, as well a visual artists. The venue is located at 2733 North Street, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802. Hours are 8:00pm to midnight. Cover is $10.00 and includes a soul food side dish. For additional information call 225-802-9681 or visit www.henryslisteningroom.com .

    Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor are well known for developing a style of music that has come to be called Louisiana Reggae, Blues, Soul and Funk. The band has toured extensively over the years and Turner was named an official Louisiana Music Ambassador in 2014. The band is Henry Turner Jr. on guitar and vocals, Keith Lewis on drums, Patrick Joffrion and Larry Dillon on bass, Larry Bradford on percussion with Janessa Nelson and Molly Milne on background vocals. The bands current releases are “You Got Me Doin’ What U Want” and the “Baton Rouge Theme Song.”

    Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor

    The lineup for the Listening Room All Stars, some or all of which you can see on any given Thursday, are R&B and soul singers Uncle Chess, April “Sexy Red” Jackson, Clarence “Pieman” Williams, D-Whit, MC Nero, J’Rome and Miss Fenixx, along with Blues rapper Lee Thyme. Scott Lewis and Eddie “Cool” Beemer perform as the CIA aka Comedy Improvisational Association. Singer/songwriters include Larry “LZ” Dillon and Ameal Cameron, with Visual Artist John Cashio and of course, DJ Chat spinning songs between sets.

    Upcoming featured performers at Henry Turner Jr.s’ Listening Room include the New Orleans pop band Shy Gemini, singer/songwriters Sara Collins, Wren DeVous, and Kristen Foreman.

    Henry Turner Jr.s’ Listening Room was founded in 2014, as a place for new and established talent to hone their skills and try out new material. It has hosted numerous local, regional and national touring acts. Some of them include New Orleans’ bluesman Carlo Ditta, American poet John Sinclair, New York blues band Brewster Moonface, Mercer and Johnson, a blue grass band, Texas rockers Bourbon and Schwartz, R&B singer Lil’ Fallay, American Idol contestant Mickey Duran, former Plastic Ono band member Ken Petersen, folk rock diva Lilli Lewis, Hip Hop Rocker Fire Rabbit and magician Bradley Tolpen. Local favorites include SmokeHouse Porter and Miss Mamie, The Rakers, Will Jackson, The Sun Room and the John Fred and Playboy Revue. Visual artists have included Neda Parandian, Sharon Furrate, Loveday Funck and Michael Decuir.

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  • #NSBESpeaks: Our Response to Police Brutality, Racism and Violence in America

    By Matthew C. Nelson, National Chair, National Society of Black Engineers

    It is with a heavy heart that I offer my first official communication as the national chair of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). I find myself in a difficult situation when responding to recent instances of social injustice. A significant portion of the revenue used by NSBE to fund scholarships and programs for aspiring, young black minds comes from corporations seeking to increase their diversity through their relationships with our organization. I hope this letter does not estrange them. However, our mutual goal of a diverse engineering workforce is unattainable when black students are more worried for their lives than about their lectures, and when black employees lose productivity over concerns of prejudice.

    Over the past few days, the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling have peeled back the scab that covers the septic state of race relations in America. These incidents are especially concerning given the manner in which they occurred: Sterling shot while being pinned to the ground, Castile while reaching for his wallet at an officer’s command. Although both officers will face investigations to determine legal culpability, the visceral reaction evoked is one of shock, fear and fury. The most frightening notion is that our compliance with law enforcement officers may no longer be sufficient for survival. Recent events have caused individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of science, technology, engineering and math to question the relevance of their education in a society that undervalues their lives.

    However, the value of life is not exclusive to one race or one profession. The solution to addressing the concerns of our community certainly does not reside in the assassination of public safety officials. Incidents like the recent shootings of police in Dallas during a peaceful protest make a hazardous atmosphere even more toxic. Just as we are praying for the families of the black men slain, we pray for the families of the police officers who were struck down while in the line of duty.

    The issues plaguing the black community extend far beyond police brutality. Unemployment, lack of access to services, underfunded educational systems, the prison-industrial complex, black on black crime, etc.: all of those concerns need to be addressed. However, we must not avoid confronting the ugly truths around policing in America. We must hold our elected officials responsible for the conduct of the officers who work on their behalf. A sheriff is typically an elected official. A police chief or commissioner is usually appointed by a mayor or city council. Research your candidates for government offices, and continue to voice your concerns once they begin their terms.

    In addition, leverage your economic power to influence policy. Choose wisely when deciding where you will live and pay taxes. Make the choice to shop and dine in areas where black consumers are welcomed and appreciated, not labeled and harassed. Take note of the response from the LGBT community to North Carolina House Bill 2 and the effect of that response on that state’s economy. Circumstances will not change until the message is made clear: the unjustified use of force against blacks will be met with swift political and economic repercussions.

    Times like these challenge our belief in justice and our faith in humanity, yet we still must march on, carrying the burdens of oppression, discrimination and hatred in a country that often fails to acknowledge our contributions, our place in society and our rights as citizens. Although these events have obviously rocked us to our very core, emotionally and spiritually, this is not the time for us to lose sight of our mission. It is imperative that we continue to expose our people to opportunities and encourage each other to strive for excellence, while engaging in meaningful dialogue about how to navigate today’s world. Cultural responsibility must prevail. For additional resources to help you focus your frustrations on positive outcomes, read the post “STEM and Social Justice: Applying an Engineering Lens to Social Change,” located on NSBE’s website (www.nsbe.org) in the Blog section.

    If you take nothing else from this letter, please understand that as the leader of NSBE, I feel the sa

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  • FATHERHOOD: The acceptable partnership

    FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE FATHERHOOD GREAT.

    The first thing that makes fatherhood great is REcreation. As the child is created in the mind of God, he/she is recreated in the loins of the father and inserted into the womb of the mother. The mother delivers the child into the earth realm. And what was created in God, and formed in man and woman, is birthed in the earth. Who can argue that kind of greatness?

    To become a father is both simple and complex. First there is the simple method of how to become a father. It’s all a matter of timing, isn’t it? Deciding the right–or wrong–time to begin a sexual relationship includes the possibility and potential of becoming a father. The act which proves successful in “creating” a baby, also includes a waiting period, and finally, the birth of the baby, and then, the acknowledgement that the baby is indeed, fathered.

    The second thing that makes fatherhood great is the fact that it speaks of an era, an epoch. The “hood” attached to “father” serves as an explanation of the cover that the father represents. For the duration of his life, the father covers the family and all who are positioned under him. And “hood” represents love, safety, protection, and identity. So fatherhood is a title as well as an assignment.

    Thirdly, fatherhood is representative of the “original” Father, God Himself. We cannot overlook God being our Heavenly Father and our human fathers as being our Earthly guardians. In the earthly realm, we note the resemblance we see of ourselves in our dads: the eyes, the nose, the skin color, the walk, the certain way he throws his head back when he laughs. All of the assets point to a certain resemblance that adds to the authenticity of who we are. Added to this is the resemblance our Heavenly Father relies on earthly parents to direct us to. As we look like our earthly fathers, the Heavenly Father looks to Himself to see how much His children resemble Him.

    Fourthly, our greatness points to our father’s greatness. If fatherhood is expressed correctly, the children want to be just like their dad. They want to follow his example so that the greatness is modeled and then passed on to the next generation. Then, the father’s greatness is perpetuated. With this greatness, fatherhood is also the acceptable partnership, ally, companion, and greatness value to motherhood.

    The fifth thing that makes fatherhood great is the one YOU complete. Every one of us is plural, yet singular. Our plurality explains what we have in common. So, while all of us can identify with at least one of the things I have written, I would be remiss if I took total control of this commentary. I would enlist your agreement, but more than that your input. Therefore, I leave the last thing that makes fatherhood great for YOU to add. As you celebrate Father’s Day this year, what makes fatherhood great for you?

    By barbara w. green
    Guest Columnist

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  • Buy the Book: Special books in time for Father’s Day

    The Drum staff suggests these book in time for Father’s Day.

    101 Things I Wish My Father Taught Me
    “Learning 101 things before you need them has the power to greatly impact and improve your life and your state of being,” said Baton Rouge technologist Jasiri Basel who has publish his first book, 101 Things I Wish My Father Taught Me. The book is Basel’s reflection on lessons he said he wishes someone would have told him early in life. Each page is offers encouragement and insight for “boys and men growing up in a world where it isn’t easy to be a man, a world of expectations to be a man without instruction on how to deliver,” he said. 101 Things is written to aid sons and fathers in their tumultuous journey through life.

    12 BUY THE BOOK blendingfamilies

     

    Blending Families Successfully: Helping Parents and Kids Navigate the Challenges So That Everyone Ends Up Happy
    George Glass, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist, has designed a book to help parents understand the challenges of beginning new lives with blended families, and to help their children make the necessary adjustments. He explains how to approach unavoidable dilemmas when they occur and offers invaluable lessons about the link between divorce and issues of self-esteem, depression, substance abuse, and relationship failures that often result from the breakup of a family. This book is an inspiring toolkit for families in need.

    12 BUY THE BOOK My Father and Atticus FitchMy Father and Atticus Finch
    As a child, attorney Joe Beck heard about his father’s legacy: Foster Beck had once been a respected trial lawyer who defied the unspoken code of 1930s Alabama by defending a Black man charged with raping a /White woman. Now a lawyer himself, Beck has become intrigued by the similarities between his father’s story and the one at the heart of Harper Lee’s iconic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. In My Father and Atticus Finch, Beck reconstructs his father’s role in the 1938 trial in which the examining doctor testified before a packed and hostile courtroom that there was no evidence of intercourse or violence. Nevertheless, the all-White jury voted to convict. This riveting memoir seeks to understand how race, class, and the memory of the South’s defeat in the Civil War produced the trial’s outcome, and how these issues figure into our literary imagination.

    12 BUY THE BOOK Cookie JohnsonBelieving in Magic
    In Believing in Magic, Cookie Johnson, wife of NBA icon Earvin “Magic” Johnson, shares for the first time how her husband’s HIV diagnosis 25 years ago sent her life and marriage in a frightening new direction. Johnson shares the emotional journey that started November 7, 1991. She shares how her life as a pregnant and joyous newlywed immediately become one filled with the fear that her husband would die, she and her baby would be infected with the virus, and their family would be shunned. Believing in Magic is far more than her account of surviving that trauma. It is the story of her marriage with Earvin, losing their way, and eventually finding a path they never imagined they’d take.

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  • Commentary: Urban Congress’ message to Baton Rouge is ‘Leave No One Behind’

    The routine of deplaning on the last leg of my flight from Baton Rouge to Washington, DC was interrupted by a message from the captain. He said there was a Marine on board escorting remains and asked that when he turned the seat belt light off–indicating that passengers could move about the plane and collect their belongings–that we all stay seated so the Marine could get off first.A feeling of sadness immediately swept through the plane. Many of the passengers seated in the window aisle were immediately moved to near tears–some actually wept–at the site of the fallen soldiers’ family crying as a team of Marines very orderly and reverently placed the casket in the back of a hearse.
    For a moment, a busy airport came to a screeching halt and a feeling of connectedness and quiet reflection filled a gate at Reagan International airport.
    I relayed what I (and others) experienced to my sister, a Gulf War veteran, and my father, who served his country more than 30 years in the New York State Army National Guard. I relayed the sadness and unexpectedness of the moment. Both said that’s what they do in the military. You are never supposed to leave anyone behind; someone should always be there with you, even in death.
    Despite where you might stand on issues of war, many of us can agree that the idea that we never walk alone is comforting, uplifting, and encouraging. We need to model that same sentiment–never leaving a man, woman, or child behind–in our communities. When we see someone or some group struggling in any area of life as a result of personal or public policy decision-making, we should use our resources and talents to help that person or group in need. If we are short on either (resources or talent), we can still offer a word of encouragement, which cost very little and can yield great returns.
    Phrases like, “No Child Left Behind” and “My Brother’s Keeper,” both controversial federal initiatives, must have real meaning, or as my pastor, Raymond A. Jetson, reminds the congregation at Star Hill Church, “If it’s not true, then we should stop saying it.”
    On Saturday, April 16, 2016, a group of concerned citizens gathered in Baton Rouge to discuss the challenges facing Black boys and men and create a framework and an action plan for addressing the big and complex issues that far too many Black males face. Urban Congress will without question move an entire city to see their past, present, and future as forever linked.
    The Urban Congress on Black Boys and Men is designed in such a way that individuals, groups, and communities will (re)commit themselves to one another and to never again walk away or appear disinterested when it comes to the plight of another. The Urban Congress on Black Boys and Men message to Baton Rouge: Leave no one behind.
    The work of The Urban Congress on Black Boys and Men is ongoing. Working groups are meeting and the first ever all-male cohort of the Urban Leadership Development Initiative begins on Friday, June 10, 2016, to provide the participants with the necessary skills to mobilize people to tackle the tough challenges facing Black boys and men in Baton Rouge and transform the community from within.
    For more information about The Urban Congress on Black Boys and Men visit www.theurbancongress.com. Get involved today.

    By Lori Latrice Martin, Ph.D.
    LSU Associate professor of sociology and African American Studies

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    Museum celebrates 22 years of sharing Louisiana slave history, Black resilience

    DONALDSONVILLE – THE RIVER ROAD African American Museum started as a vision to tell the stories of the Black slaves who worked on plantations in south Louisiana, but over the past 22 years, the RRAAM has expanded to also tell the stories of freedom, resilience, and reconciliation. Kathe Hambrick-Jackson, inspired to be the voice of the people who provided the slave labor to sugarcane plantations in Ascension Parish, spent three years researching before opening the non-profit museum. Her research showed her the wider mission of educating the public with the full story of her ancestors’ journey. “When I went on plantation tours, there was no mention of slavery whatsoever,” Hambrick-Jackson said. “They would sometimes refer to the Black people who worked on the plantation as servants or workers.”

    RRAAM opened its doors in March of 1994 on the Tezcuco Plantation on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Ascension Parish. On Mother’s Day 2002, a fire destroyed the museum and it was relocated to the corner of Railroad Avenue and St. Charles Street in downtown Donaldsonville and it has remained there for the past 13 years.“It’s really been a good thing for us to move here in Donaldsonville, because of the history,” said Hambrick-Jackson.“It is the third oldest city in the state; it was the capitol before Baton Rouge in 1830; and Donaldsonville had America’s first Black mayor,Pierre C. Landry, elected in 1868.”RRAAM is filled with artifacts, art, and information that highlights important figures from Black history and how they relate to Louisiana, as well as important historic south Louisiana events.“We are a public history institution and it is important that this museum remains open so we can clarify the difference between fact and fiction, and teach the next generation no matter what their ethnic background is,” Hambrick-Jackson said. “It is important that people around the world know that we as African Americans have made a tremendous contribution to the economy and the cultureof this world and that is what this museum is about.”

    A red room is the first thing visitors see when entering the museum. It features the history of the people enslaved in the south Louisiana region. The room showcases famous photos, runaway“wanted” ads,historic artifacts, and names of slaves. One photo that stands out is of a Louisiana slave named Gordon. His name isn’t famous,but his picture has become one of the most recognizable and redistributed photos in history. The famous photo of Gordon, taken in Louisiana, has been shown worldwide.“Gordon’s story is really unique, he was a slave in Mississippi who escaped three times,” Hambrick-Jackson said. “He made his way to Baton Rouge and joined the Union Army, and it was the Union doctors who took the photo that so many of us has become familiar with.” Hambrick-Jackson said she believed Gordan’s story was special because he was a slave who didn’t travel north, but stayed in the South to become a part of the Louisiana Underground Railroad.“When we think about freedom, resilience, and reconciliation, Gordon is one of those names that needs to be lifted up,” she said.

    The yellow room exhibits reconstruction, Black inventors,and the musical history of Louisiana.“People do not realize that Madam C.J. Walker was born in Delta, Louisiana,” Hambrick-Jackson said. “One thing we emphasize at this museum is that Madam C.J Walker was the first female entrepreneur millionaire. She did not inherit the money,and she did not marry the money, she made the money on her own by building her own enterprises at the time when we did not have telephones or fax machines. She hired more than 2,000 women around the world.” Hambrick-Jackson added that Walker’s story helps accentuate the freedom message the museum portrays. The final room showcases famous Black rural doctors. “If you look at these exhibit as you leave the museum, we often ask the question how did these men make it to medical school and graduate one generation out of slavery.” Hambrick-Jackson said. “Certainly, if those men could make it to medical school one generation out of slavery, there is nothing young people can’t achieve today.

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  • Louisiana Disaster Survivors: What Are You Waiting For?

    If you are one of the many Louisiana residents who were affected by the severe storms and flooding that occurred March 8 through April 8 and haven’t registered for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, why wait? Do it now!

    You have until June 13 to take the first step toward getting federal assistance. Don’t miss out! Once you register with FEMA, you may be eligible for a federal grant to help you with your recovery. You may also qualify for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

    If you haven’t registered yet and are a homeowner or renter with disaster-related damage in the designated parishes, do it now before it’s too late.

    Did you not register because:

    You simply didn’t know that FEMA offers help to homeowners and renters whose homes were damaged?
    Once you register with FEMA you will learn about the help that may be available to you.
    You kept putting off registering because you were too busy and didn’t remember to register until the evening, and thought everything would be closed?
    Registering is a very important first step to getting help. The FEMA helpline is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week.
    You are confused about the process of registering with FEMA?
    FEMA is there to help you. Make the phone call. Ask questions and you will get answers.
    You thought talking with your parish officials or the American Red Cross would automatically make you eligible for FEMA aid?
    The only way for you to be eligible for federal help is for you, the homeowner or renter, to register with FEMA. Nobody else can do it for you.
    You called 2-1-1 and thought that would automatically make you eligible for FEMA aid?
    2-1-1 is a free and confidential service that helps people across North America find the local resources they need, including how to apply for disaster assistance. They’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But calling them does not register you with FEMA. The only way you can register is to call the FEMA helpline.
    You thought the damage to your property would not be eligible for federal help?
    Let FEMA make the decision. A FEMA housing inspector will examine your property damage to determine if it qualifies you for federal assistance.
    You thought that since you already cleaned up and made repairs you couldn’t apply for assistance?
    You can register with FEMA even after you make repairs. You must be able to show that the damage was caused by the severe storms and flooding that occurred March 8 through April 8. Don’t forget to keep all repair receipts.
    You thought others needed the federal aid more than you?
    No one is denied aid because of someone else’s need. If you are eligible for assistance, FEMA will provide funds to help you recover.
    You thought you’d have to repay a FEMA grant?
    FEMA assistance is a grant, not a loan. It does not have to be repaid. It is not subject to income tax.
    You thought that getting disaster assistance from FEMA would affect your government benefits, such as Social Security, Medicaid or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)?
    You will not pay additional income taxes or see any reduction in your Social Security checks or any other federal benefits.
    You didn’t think you could register because you don’t speak English very well?
    FEMA has people who speak many languages. Translators are available and can help you in the registration process. Cuando llame al 800 621-3362 marque el 1 y escuche las instrucciones en español. Favor llamar antes del lunes 13 de junio.
    You didn’t think you were eligible for FEMA help because you are not a U.S. citizen?
    If you are in the United States legally or are the parent of a U.S. citizen in your household, you need have no worries about applying for federal disaster assistance.
    None of these reasons will prevent you from getting help from FEMA. Here’s what to do to get the correct information. Just be sure to do it before Monday, June 13:

    Call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
    Cuando llame al 800-621-3362 marque el 1 y escuche las instrucciones en español. Favor llamar antes del lunes 13 de junio.
    If you use 711/VRS call 800-621-3362.
    Register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or www.fema.gov/disaster/4263.
    Visit FEMA.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or call 800-621-3362 to find a disaster recovery center near you.
    If you have questions about how you may qualify for a low-interest disaster SBA loan:

    Call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visit SBA’s website at SBA.gov/disaster. If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing you can call 800-877-8339.

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  • Southern University Business College hosts third annual conference June 16 – 18

    The Southern University EDA University Center is hosting its third annual conference. This year’s conference is centered on the theme of “The Role of Universities as Anchors in Advancing Sustainable Innovation in Economic Development” and will be held June 16th – 18th on the campus of Southern University in Baton Rouge. The EDA University Center for Economic Development at SUBR was established with a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help accelerate regional business expansion. It is housed in the College of Business and the mission of the Center is to link businesses with the resources, market information, and financing that will enable them to effectively introduce new products, win new contracts, improve efficiency, and grow successfully. For more information and registration visit http://www.subruniversitycenter.org/

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  • District 5 meeting on economic development, tax abatement at 6:00 P.M. tonight

    District 5′s Quarterly Meeting will be held tonight at Glen Oaks High School at 6:00 P.M. This month’s meeting will focus specifically on Economic Development, Tax Abatement and the Mow to Own Ordinance. A representative from United Health Care will also be present to provide information in regards to the company’s open enrollment program available to the citizens. Any questions about the meeting please contact (225)389-4831.

    d2146686-75d4-4c1a-86bd-a3f413bfda7a

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  • Community meeting to give update on healthcare in North Baton Rouge Efforts

    The NBRNow Blue Ribbon Commission steps forward to bring healthcare providers to north Baton Rouge in an effort to make this part of the city-parish healthier. With the help of federal, state, local governments, along with private and corporate support and encouragement, we continue our passionate pursuit of medical providers. Delivering quality healthcare close to home is the single most important contribution we can make. A short presentation and overview on healthcare service recruitment will be presented on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
    at The Offices at Champion Medical Center on 7855 Howell Boulevard | Baton Rouge, LA 70807

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  • ,

    Brittney Mills Act failed

    The Brittney Mills Act, sponsored by Rep. Edward Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, failed to pass out of the House Commerce Committee. After a motion to pass the bill
    failed with a tie vote of 6-6, James asked to voluntarily defer the bill. 

    HB 1040 would require that all phones made, sold, or leased in Louisiana be capable of being unlocked for law enforcement in the case of murder investigations. If the phone cannot be unlocked, the seller or leaser faces a $2,500 fine per phone. There are exceptions to this rule in the case where a phone user may have downloaded a third party encryption app. 

    “It’s not just about justice, it’s about comfort and security for the family,” James told the committee. 

    The bill is called the “Louisiana Brittney Mills Act,” in honor of the woman who inspired the legislation. Mills was killed last April at age 29, but the case remains open and the killer unidentified. 

    Mills was shot after opening the door to her
    apartment. She was eight months pregnant at the time, and while a medical team was able to deliver the baby, he died a few days  later. 

    Investigators believe Mills’ cellphone may be the key to catching the killer. However, detectives cannot get inside because the phone is passcode protected. Mills’ family said she changed her passcode just days before she was shot. 

    Investigators asked Apple to unlock the device, but that request was denied.

    James said he hopes to bring the bill back to the committee again some time before the end of session. 

    Read more »
  • SU releases statement on death of two student-athletes near LSU

    “It is with deep sadness that the University confirms that two Southern University Baton Rouge female student-athletes were killed early Sunday, April 10, 2016. According to law enforcement, freshman track and field athlete Annette January of Gary, Indiana, and sophomore student athletic trainer Lashuntae Benton of Lake Charles, were killed by gunfire outside of an apartment complex in Baton Rouge near LSU, early this morning. An investigation is ongoing. The University asks for prayers and support for the families at this difficult time.”

    -Ray L. Belton, SU System president
     

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Time to get SMART, set goals addressing diabetes

    Diabetes takes a disproportional interest in the minority community and one Baton Rouge area mental health professional thinks it’s time for the community to return that interest with deliberate game plans aimed at limiting the devastation caused by this chronic-disease killer.

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin, Capital City Health Center director of behavior health, has both professional and personal viewpoints regarding the challenges of diabetes. His parents and grandparents were insulin-dependent and he is recovering from a diabetes-related limb amputation. Even when the challenges seem great, Martin invokes the daily prescription of NFL coach Chip Kelly: Win the day.
    Instead of simply resolving to turn the tide on diabetes, Martin encourages another tactic: Goal setting.

    “We people living with diabetes may have the fear that we will be gun-ho in January with everyone else making New Year’s resolutions,” Martin said. “But then, are we going to burn ourselves out?”
    “We start fast and we fizz quickly, but it goes back to Chip Kelly and that motto ‘Win the day.’ We are just going to take it one day at a time. It goes back to this attitude that this is something that we have to do daily. When we think about renewing the mind, we should be reminded that our prayers ask ‘give us this day, our DAILY bread.’”

    Martin encourages the ‘attitude of daily’ as a tool in diabetes management. “We must remember that we are consistently inconsistent,” he said. “The goal is to be consistently consistent. To do that, we must take it one day at a time and try to max out that day.”

    10 black_hands_testingThis deadly opponent packs a daunting record against Blacks who are greatly disproportionately affected by diabetes. More than 13 percent of all Blacks above the age of 20 are living with diabetes. In addition, Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.
    Diabetes is one disease that can spawn serious complications or makes a person susceptible to related conditions. Blacks are significantly more likely to suffer from the diabetes complications of blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

    No matter how great the challenge, Martin said setting goals helps properly address the fear. “A goal is just a tool to put you to work,” he said. “It puts me in charge!”

    Good health is important, but it will not just happen. SMART Goals provide a road map to success because those goals are Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

    If you want to accomplish a task, you set a plan, you set deadlines and you take action. Most people are familiar with SMART goals in the workplace, but they also apply to health. For example, let’s say you wanted to an A1C of 7.5, but your level is now 11. It would be unrealistic to say you wanted reduce your A1C to 11 in next month. It would be more realistic to set up a SMART goal:
    • Specific – I will decrease my average fasting blood sugar by 2 points each week. 10 SMART-goals
    • Measureable – I will keep track of blood sugar levels three times daily so I can track my
    progress towards my goal.
    • Attainable – Is the goal attainable for me? Your diabetes care team should be consulted about ways to reduce your A1C and risk of complications.
    • Realistic – Is the goal realistic for me? Lowering one’s blood sugar is a great goal, but drastic drops can increase changes of hyperglycemia.
    • Timely – I will make an appointment with my care team every three months in 2016 to evaluate my A1C with hopes to start 2017 near 7.5.

    Other goals that will impact blood sugar control include getting regular and sufficient exercise, gaining or losing weight, following a diabetes nutrition plan, and being more compliant to medication schedules.

    Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications in minority communities. Good diabetes management, however, can help reduce risks, but many people are not aware that they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications.
    Martin warns that even those with the best goal-related intentions can face the obstacles of anxiety and depression. Anxiety can feed the overwhelming fear of failing to control one’s diabetes. “It is the fear that I’m not going to reach my goal so I stop before I even get started,” he said.

    It is important to know the warning signs of depression and plan ahead to combat it. “Exercise does help with depression,” Martin said. “Take a walk. If you are bound to the inside, use can goods to do arm curls. You will feel better if you make efforts to get more exercise.”
    “We often get so depressed that we isolate ourselves and we don’t have the social connections that we need. If you are aware of the possible pitfalls of depression, you are able to make a plan and incorporate that into your ‘I’m going to win the day.’”

    The counselor puts himself in the classroom in which he is teaching. In this calendar year, he will attempt to achieve tighter blood sugar control and with the aid of physical therapy, learn to walk using a prosthetic limb. There will be 365 days in his year, but his mantra will remain “win the day.”

    By Frances Y. Spencer
    Special to The Drum

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  • SUNO chancellor announces resignation

    Southern University New Orleans Chancellor Victor Ukpolo, Ph.D, has announced his resignation effective June 30, 2016, after serving 10 years in the position.

    “I am truly grateful to America, the Southern University System and SUNO for giving me an opportunity to lead this University for the past 10 years,” Ukpolo said. “I came to America from Nigeria 44 years ago as a young man with $200 in my pocket and worked my way up from a dishwasher to become the head of a University. Now it is time for me to start my gradual transition back to Nigeria.”

    After he steps down,  Ukpolo plans to return to the classroom to teach at SUNO before eventually returning to Nigeria as the patriarch of his family. “It is my hope that I still have some productive years to give back to my homeland,” he said.

    “My parents, particularly my mother, had not supported my idea to come to America because they feared losing me, but I assured them that I would be back in five years,” Ukpolo said. “Now, 44 years later, I am finally able to keep that promise.”

    He was appointed chancellor on Jan. 6, 2006. He led SUNO during a critical time in the University’s history, rebuilding the campus that was submerged in flood waters after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. During his tenure, the University built its first-ever housing complex, an Information Technology Center, a new College of Business & Public Administration Building, and a Small Business Incubator on the newly developed Lake Campus.

    Ukpolo also oversaw the renovations of the University Center, the Leonard S. Washington Memorial Library and the first floor of the Bashful Administration Building. In addition, four new buildings are slated to be constructed: the Education Building, the Natural Sciences Building, the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Building, and the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work. The University broke ground on the new Social Work building in November 2015.

    SUNO experienced impressive student population growth under Dr. Ukpolo’s leadership. Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, he launched an aggressive marketing and reorganization campaign, which included the introduction of four innovative online programs to attract displaced students. Despite projections that only 1,200 to 1,500 of the 3,600 students enrolled before the storm would return, more than 2,100 students came back to continue their education on the new Lake Campus in trailers supplied the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. With enrollment climbing faster than any other four-year institution in Louisiana, SUNO not only moved back to its original location, known as the Park Campus, in the winter of 2008, but is also experienced unprecedented growth.

    Looking toward future generations, Dr. Ukpolo established an innovative dual enrollment program to allow qualified high school students to earn college credits at the University. He also continues to support the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Achievement, created to reverse the trend of fewer African American males graduating from college, while increasing the number of male-certified classroom teachers in urban settings.

    Programs such as these demonstrate Dr. Ukpolo’s care, commitment and concern for SUNO’s students, many who, like him, are the first in their families to attend college.

    “As I leave my post as Chancellor, I wish the University and the Southern System well. I still will be here to serve SUNO and the system — just in a different capacity — as I make my gradual transition back to Nigeria.”

    Ukpolo, formerly the Southern University System’s Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, previously served as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at California State University in Los Angeles. He also served as Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Academic Research for the Tennessee Board of Regents. He started his career as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Austin Peay State University, where he also held an administrative post as Executive Assistant to the President.

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  • ,

    Growing Louisiana’s small family farms

    Register complimentary before March 4

    Small farmers from throughout the state will gather at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center March 17-19 to attend the 6th annual Louisiana Small Farmers Conference. The three-day conference, themed “Ownership and Growth of Louisiana’s Small Family Farms,” is designed to educate, provide expanded awareness of educational opportunities, USDA programs and services and other resources to help small farmers stay in business.

    This event is the ideal venue for new and beginning farmers, small and urban farmers, agricultural business owners, community leaders, backyard gardeners and community based organizations. The conference begins at 8am daily and will include a risk management and networking session and a panel discussion with USDA agencies. At 6:30pm, the conference will host the Louisiana Living Legends Banquet in the Southern University Cotillion Ballroom. The banquet honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences. The conference ends with the first session of the 2016 class of the Louisiana Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    Conference sessions will cover:
    Soil Health: Key to Successful Farming
    Keeping the Farm in the Family
    Financing Your Farm
    Managing the Farm as a Business
    Opportunities for Market Gardeners
    BMPs for a Beef Cattle Operation
    Mitigating Agricultural Risk on Your Farm

    Registration for the conference, which is complimentary for anyone who submits their registration form by March 4, is $25 for small farmers and $50 for agricultural professionals. On-site registration will be available but early registration is recommended. To register, contact Dawn Mellion-Patin,Ph.D. at (225) 771-2242 or via e-mail at dawn_mellion@suagcenter.com.

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  • SU quiz bowl team sweeps at national qualifier

    Southern University Baton Rouge’s National Quiz Bowl Team, Saturday, February 6, 2016, successfully competed in the National Qualifying Tournament for the 2016 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge

    image

    National Competition, hosted by Prairie View A&M University.

    National Qualifying tournaments were held at seven HBCUs across the country, featuring approximately 20 teams per region. The winning teams out of these tournaments will ultimately constitute the “Great 48″ that will compete for the national championship.

    Honda rules state that the team that places first in any room will advance to the national championship games.

    Southern University’s national team reigned victorious over all four teams in Room #1. Southern University competed against Southern University New Orleans, Grambling State University, Paul Quinn College, and Mississippi Valley State University. This first place victory led to an automatic seed for the National HCASC game that will be held in Torrance, California, April 2-6, 2016.

    Southern University’s team members are Myeisha Webb, captain, (education), Kelvin Wells (political science), Kemon Jones (biology/pre-med), and Terrance Curry (biology). Alternate team members in attendance included Joyner Deamer (civil engineering) and Eric Thompson (mechanical engineering). The team coach is Deadra James Mackie, assistant professor/academic advisor, Delores Margaret Richard Richard Honors College, and assisting her is Calvin Adolph, graduate student, College of Education, Arts and Humanities.

    There were a total of 10 teams at the National Qualifying Tournament and all were trained to answer questions that relate to numerous topics. These topics included current events, African-American History, sports figures, authors, poetry, wars, music, ballet, mathematics, physics, chemistry, political science, biology, etc.

    “The Southern University Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Quiz Bowl Team plans to ‘bring the drama’ to its opponents in California. The solid preparation of our team continues. As per the law of human performance, ‘team members consistently and seriously study for many hours per week in order to outshine the competition’,” said Mackie.

    “The overall objective is to win the HCASC National Competition and to bring $50,000 dollars in scholarship monies to Southern University and A&M College in 2016,” said Mackie. 

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  • Museum hosts lunchtime lecture on the History of School Desegregation, Feb 4

    Join the West Baton Rouge Museum for a talk on the history of school desegregation on Thursday, Feb. 4 at noon presented by Attorney Alfreda Tillman Bester. This lecture will include reference to the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown Vs. The Board of Education, a victory for the Civil Rights Movement that overturned Plessy Vs. Ferguson deeming “separate but equal” unconstitutional thus paving the way for integration.

    Alfreda Tillman Bester is the principal Attorney with Tillman Bester & Associates, LLC, a law firm located in Baton Rouge. She serves as host of “Perspective,” a weekly community interest talk show, which airs every Tuesday, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on WTQT 106.1 FM in Baton Rouge. Bester served as Louisiana Secretary of Labor from 1991-1992 and Undersecretary of Labor from 1989-1991. She is the publisher, editor and founder of Perspective News Magazine, LLC and serves as general counsel to the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP.

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

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  • SU team advances in national competition, finishes in top 10

    A team of Southern University Baton Rouge  students representing the College of Business traveled to Bloomington to participate in the Kelley School of Business National Diversity Case Competition , Jan. 15-16, at Indiana University.

    Competing against top-level, diverse talent from colleges and universities across the country, the SU team placed first in their division that qualified them to advance to the final round. Out of 34 teams, SU students finished seventh overall.

    The SU team included:

    Rashad Pierre, team captain

    Hometown:  New Orleans

    Major:  Management

     

    Marquanski Arvie

    Hometown:  Opelousas

    Major:  Management

     

    Jasmine Williams

    Hometown:  Dallas, Texas

    Major:  Marketing

     

    Jasmine Woods

    Hometown:  Shreveport

    Major:  Finance

     

    “I was ecstatic when they announced the finalists and we had our place in final round. We were proud to represent our University on a national level and we believe that no one will take Southern University for granted next time we go to Kelley. It was an awesome experience that I wish everyone would take advantage of. I am proud to say that I attend SU,” said Pierre.

     

    The NDCC is an annual two-day event celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that is open to undergraduate students from across the United States. The challenge includes a business case competition, networking opportunities, and additional workshops. Participants have opportunities to engage with corporate sponsors and recruiters, network with other talented students from across the country, and participate in a case competition offering $20,000 in cash prizes.

     

    Student teams were provided with all meals and hotel lodging throughout the event. Students also were provided a travel stipend to cover round-trip travel to the competition.

     

    “I would like to congratulate our case competition team for their performance in the National Diversity Case Competition. We hope that all our students will learn from the experience of this team in that it takes dedication and sacrifice in time spent in research and understanding the basics of all business disciplines to excel in business competition at the highest levels,” said Donald R. Andrews, dean, SU Baton Rouge College of Business.

     

    Toni Jackson, development coordinator, SUBR College of Business, was advisor, and accompanied the SU students.

     

    #   #   #

     

    Photo cutline:

     

    Four SU College of Business students participated as a team in the Kelley School of Business National Diversity Case Competition (NDCC) January 15-16, 2016, at the Indiana University. The SU team placed first in their division that qualified them to advance to the final round. Out of 34 teams, SU students finished seventh overall. Pictured (left – right): Marquanski Arvie, Jasmine Williams, Jasmine Woods, and team captain Rashad Pierre.

     

     

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  • Nominations open for Women of Excellence Awards

    Call for Nominations and Applications
    Deadline: Friday, February 19, 2016

    The women legislators through the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus Foundation are now accepting nominations for the 2016 Women of Excellence Awards and applications for the Educational Advancement Opportunity (EAO) Scholarships. The criteria and forms for the awards and scholarships are available online at llwc.louisiana.gov, then click on the Nomination and Scholarship Forms’ link. The deadline to apply is Friday, February 19, 2016.

    The categories for the 2016 awards are: College Woman of Excellence (ages 18 to 25) High School Woman of Excellence (for graduating seniors) Louisiana Hero of Excellence, and Non-Profit of Excellence

    Since 2010, the women legislators through the LLWC Foundation have awarded $32,500 in scholarships to deserving young women in Louisiana. The recipients of the College and High School Woman of Excellence Awards will each receive a scholarship for $1,000. Recipients of the EAO Scholarship will each receive $500. Multiple EAO Scholarships will be awarded. Scholarships are to be used to help defray the costs of tuition, room and board, and books.

    The awards will be given at the 9th Annual Women of Excellence Awards & Scholarships Ceremony and Reception on May 24 at the Baton Rouge Hilton Capitol Center Hotel.‎

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    What did Che’dra Joseph say?

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

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

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

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

    Che'Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Che’Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

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

    The gym erupted with applause.

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  • ,,

    LETTER TO THE EDITOR: It’s the leadership, Stupid!

    D

    ear Editor:

    I read an article in which the individual who the superintendent has responsible for overall district academic performance described the performance this past year as “impressive.” By whose standards? Of course, this would be the evasive response if one’s own job performance is tied to the fact that 19 of our schools declined under his or her leadership. These same individuals are quick to deem teachers and school leaders as being ineffective or emerging when they perform this way. This double standard is probably why talented individuals who know better are leaving our schools in herds.

    It has been well over five years. What do we have to show for it regarding academic performance that is considered impressive from general contractors and businesses points of view or the points of view of families looking to relocate?

    Let’s stop kidding ourselves. We all know that our Parish President and Hammond Mayor would not have to travel and try to recruit businesses to come to our parish and largest city if our district performance would speak for us.

    True leaders do not constantly shift the blame on items like poverty and parents. Nor, do they rely on the belief that money fixes all of our problems. Talented leaders are innovative and dynamic enough to figure a way to move forward in spite of.

    As for poverty, we all understand that poverty plays a role in all things including education. It becomes insulting when some assume citizens do not understand this. We also understand logic and potential. Logic reminds us of the simple fact that there are other districts that are not declining, but inclining (some pretty drastically) even though the poverty rates are high. This proves that our district can also move forward and at a much faster pace. To further bring this point home, logic also tells us that if a school like our beloved Independence Middle, which serves as a microcosm of a district in much worse shape demographically as ours (95% free/ reduced), can make significant gains in spite of, then we must consider that our district can and should be moving at such a pace.

    The issue is leadership. We have often said that we need fresh-minded, innovative, and proven educators to lead our district in making the gains we can all be proud of. I’m old and I get this.

    In addition, somewhere down the road, the current leaders of our school leaders must be held accountable. The individuals responsible for academics must be held accountable and the Superintendent must be held accountable for the leaders he chooses to lead principals. The NAACP does not support individuals simply because they are black. We support individuals who are effective in providing all kids, especially minority children, the quality education they deserve.
    Our record regarding the individuals we have supported to lead our schools proves such.

    My questions for our Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer are:
    1. Is it impressive that we seldom (if any within the last 5 years) have black kids in the 27+ club for ACT?
    2. Do either of you even know how many or what percentage of black seniors scored 27 or above this past year? 18?
    3. Is it impressive that only 13% of black kids are proficient?
    4. Is it impressive that almost every single high school’s end of course test performance declined? Were these exams “tougher”?
    5. Is it impressive that both East Baton Rouge Parish and Orleans (including recovery district) perform better than Tangi?
    6. Is it impressive that there are other districts with similar poverty rates that are inclining in overall performance?

    Again, I am appalled that such a description as “impressive” was made when considering where we are even with the talented teachers and leaders we still have in this parish. I become upset just thinking about the many black doctors and lawyers that could have been but are now in prison or poverty due to this way of thinking. Our kids deserve better. We definitely do not blame our teachers and school leaders. We blame the decisions and lack of vision and direction of their leaders.

    Again, the board has some difficult decisions to make, and we hope that they place children first and not politics.
    Patricia Morris
    President
    Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

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  • ,

    Walmart welcomes non-profit’s grant applications from $25K to $200K

    Calling Louisiana Nonprofits! Walmart Foundation to fund local programs focusing on hunger relief, healthy eating and career opportunities

    Walmart Foundation has opened the application period for its State Giving Program funding cycle welcoming Louisiana nonprofits with programs focusing on hunger relief, healthy eating or career opportunities to apply for funding. This year, the State Giving Program will provide grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 and local organizations from across Louisiana are encouraged to apply.

    “The Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program is another way we extend our mission to help people live better,” said Bob Mulack, market manager of Walmart. “In addition to the thousands of community service hours our associates perform and the in-kind donations that are spread throughout the communities we serve, these State Giving grants allow us to help nonprofit organizations fulfill their mission and continue on their path of service.”

    To be considered for support, prospective grantee organizations must submit applications through the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program’s online grant application. Eligible applicants must have a current 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in order to meet the program’s minimum funding criteria. Grant requests must be submitted online by Friday, Jan. 29 at http://corporate.walmart.com/_foundation_/apply-for-grants/state-giving-program.

    In 2014, the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program awarded grants to Louisiana organizations totaling more than $26 million. Launched in 2008, associate-led State Advisory Councils work with the Walmart Foundation to help identify needs within their state, review grant requests and make funding recommendations to the Foundation.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Hundreds gather inside McKinley High School gym for town talk with President Obama

    More than 700 people, including elected officials, participated in a Town Hall with President Barack Obama, Thursday, Jan. 14. Hundreds more lined the streets or waited at the airport for a glimpse of the outgoing president. But what did he tell the citizens?

    “I heard loudly and clearly today talk of taking ownership of development by committing to learning how to control and master the process of personal and community development,” said attorney Donovan Hudson.

    Here’s the transcript from the meeting:

         THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Louisiana!  (Applause.)  Hello, Baton Rouge!  Geaux Tigers!  (Applause.)  For those of you who are not aware, that’s “geaux” with an “x.”  I got it.

         Can everybody give Che a big round of applause?  (Applause.)  We could not be more proud of her.  I was backstage — I asked her, “Are you nervous?”  She said, no, I got this — (laughter) — I’m fine.  That is a serious leader of the future. And we are so proud of her.  And I want to thank everybody at McKinley for hosting us today.

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    President Obama hugs Che'dra Joseph, McKinley High Student of the Year


         There are a couple of people I want to make sure we acknowledge.  Your Mayor, Kip Holden, is in the house.  (Applause.)  There he is.  We got Congressman Cedric Richmond here — (applause) — who’s got a really cute little boy.  (Laughter.)  And New Orleans Mayor and great friend of mine, Mitch Landrieu is in the house — (applause) — whose son is not so little, but looks pretty cool.  I want to congratulate your new governor who’s going to do outstanding work — (applause) — John Bel Edwards is in the house, and his lovely family.  We are so grateful to have them here.

         Since LSU has pretty good sports teams, historically, I thought I might mention you got an okay basketball player named Ben Simmons in the house.  (Applause.)  His dad played in Australia with my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  So they can hoop.  But I think they would both acknowledge that Ben is better.  (Laughter.)  And it’s wonderful to have him here.

         Now, it is my intention not to give a long speech, because this is sort of a town hall.  I want to spend a little time having a conversation with all of you.  (Applause.)  But I do want to make mention of what your incoming governor is already doing.  He’s already delivering for the people of Louisiana.  This week, he took the bold and wise step to expand Medicaid — (applause) — to cover hundreds of thousands of hardworking Louisianans, providing them with the financial security of health care.  It was the right thing to do.  And, by the way, it will actually help the state’s finances.  And it shows you why elections matter.

    And, right now, we’re hoping to encourage more states to do the right thing.  One of the ways we’re doing that is proposing additional funding to support new states that choose, as John did, to expand Medicaid.  So, I’m just proud of him, and I’m confident that he’s going to do great work. He’s going to do great work.  (Applause.)  And everybody here needs to get behind him because it’s not going to be easy.  He’s coming in a little like I came in, sort of got to clean up some stuff.  (Applause.) 

         Now, I love Louisiana.  (Applause.)  I love Baton Rouge, but this is the first time I’ve been here as President.  I’ve been trying to pack all my fun trips into my last year.  And although I missed the Tigers beating Ole Miss last night, maybe I’ll come back for football season.
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    Some of you know I gave my final State of the Union address this week.  (Applause.)  I focused on the fact that we’re going through a time of extraordinary change.  And that’s unsettling.  It can seem sometimes, especially during political season, where everybody is running around saying, oh, everything is terrible and let’s find somebody to blame, that our politics won’t meet the moment.  But what I want folks to know — that’s right, if you have a chair, go ahead and sit down.  If you don’t have a chair, don’t sit down.  (Laughter.)  I don’t want you falling down.  Whoever the first one was who did that, you’re a leader.  (Laughter.) 

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

    THE PRESIDENT:  Love you back.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

    But what I want people to know is, is that we’ve been through big changes before.  And America always comes out stronger and better, as long as we make decisions together that are designed to seize the future instead of run away from it.  And we’re uniquely positioned to do that.  We’ve got the strongest economy in the world.  We’ve gone through the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, and we have bounced back with 14 million new jobs, cut the unemployment rate in half.  We’re the most powerful country on Earth, capable of meeting any threat.  Our commitment to science, and education, and entrepreneurship, and our diversity make us a perfect match for what’s needed in this new century.

    But our progress is not inevitable.  So we’ve got to answer some big questions. 

    Number one:  How do we make sure that we create an economy where everybody is benefitting, everybody feels secure, everybody has a shot at success, not just some?  That’s question number one. 

    Question number two:  How do we make sure we’ve got an innovation economy and we embrace science and reason and facts, instead of running away from it?

    Number three:  How do we make sure that we keep America safe, not through trying to talk tough, but by being smart?

    Number four:  How do we make sure our politics works, not in a way where everybody agrees — because in a big country like ours, people aren’t going to agree on everything — but so that it is civil and so that it is constructive, and so that we can work together to find solutions to the problems that are not just going to face us, but our kids and our grandkids?

    Now, I tried to give you a sense of how I think we need to answer those questions going forward, but I promised I wasn’t going to talk long because I want to have a chance to hear from you.  I just want to make this point.  We’re pretty close to New Orleans, and I had a chance to go back and travel with Mitch as we were commemorating the anniversary of Katrina.  And if you have any doubt about America’s capacity to overcome anything, you just visit some of those neighborhoods, and you talk to some of those families, and you see the businesses that are thriving and the homes that have been built, and the parishes that have pulled together. 

    And it’s just a reminder of the fact that when we work together, we cannot be stopped.  We cannot be stopped.  We work best as a team.  And it is my ardent hope that, during the course of this year, as long as I have this extraordinary privilege to be your President, that I’m going to be able to encourage more and more of you to get involved and feel that optimism and confidence about where America is headed. 

    So with that, let’s start this conversation.  (Applause.)  And let me say this.  We’ve got mics in the audience.  And we’re going to go boy, girl, boy, girl, so it’s fair.  (Laughter.)  Or girl, boy, girl, boy.  That’s fine.  (Laughter.) 

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Girl, girl, girl!

    THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  She said girl, girl, girl.  Now, that’s not fair.  (Laughter.)  Come on. 

    So what I’m going to do is, people just raise their hands, I will call on you.  A couple things — wait until the mic gets there.  Number two, introduce yourself so we know who you are. Number three, if you keep your question or comment relatively short, then my response, I can’t guarantee I’ll keep it short, but I’ll keep it shorter.  And that way we have a chance to hear from more people.  All right?

    Okay, so let’s see who’s going to go first.  Where’s my mic?  Here we go.  All right, let’s see.  This is a good-looking crowd, too.  (Applause.)

    I don’t know who to call on. That young lady right there in the brown jacket.  Right there.  Yes, you. 

    Okay, hold on.  Wait for the mic.  You didn’t follow instructions.  You’re already — (laughter) — careful.  Careful.  She didn’t go to McKinley, is that what happened?

    Q    No, I didn’t.  (Laughter.) 

    THE PRESIDENT:  All right, go ahead, go ahead.

    Q    My name is Rachel.  I’m from Texas.  And my question — I don’t have one — I just wanted to tell you thank you.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Oh.  Okay, well, that’s sweet.  (Laughter.)  All right, well, she just — she didn’t really have a question, so I’m going to go back to — I’m going to go to this young lady right here in the black and white jacket.  Right there.  Hold on a second.  The mic is coming to you.  It’s just that we’re so packed in, it may take — you can go ahead and pass her the mic.  She looks like she’ll give it back.

    Q    Hi, Mr. President.  My name is Jasmine Elliott (ph), and I am a 10th grade cheerleader here at McKinley High School.  (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  Yay, all right!  Go Panthers!

    Q    And I love you — me and my family love you so much.  And I want to thank you.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s sweet.

    Q    And as a future broadcast journalist, I would like to ask you two questions.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

    Q    My first question is:  What are your plans to do when you leave office?  And can you please give my grandmother a hug? (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  See, now first of all, I know your grandma put you up to that.  (Laughter.)  So I will give your grandma a hug because you did such a nice job asking the question.  (Applause.)

    In terms of my plans, look, I’ve got so much work to do this next year that — Michelle and I, we haven’t had a chance to really step back and think about it.  But as I said at the State of Union, when I get out, I’m still holding the most important job in a democracy, and that is the office of citizen.  So I will continue to work on the things that Michelle and I care so deeply about.  We want to encourage young people to get involved.  We want to improve education.  We want to make sure that our criminal justice system works the way it should.  We want to make sure that we are promoting science education and learning.  We want to work internationally to help other countries develop. 

    So we’re going to have a busy agenda, but I’m not overthinking that right now because I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to do between now and next year.  All right?  But thank you for the question.

    All right, it’s a gentleman’s turn.  This man, because he’s got such a sharp bowtie.  Right here.  Yes, all right.  Go ahead.

    Q    Good morning.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.

         Q    This is a pleasure, sir.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

    Q    My name is Tremayne Sterling (ph).  I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Through your entire two terms as President, what would be your biggest regret and why? 

    THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s a great question.  Although had you been watching my State of Union on Tuesday — (laughter) — he might have known that I actually already answered that question.  (Laughter.)  But that’s okay.  I’m sure there was a good ballgame on that night.  (Laughter.) 

    No, what I told the country — except for you — (laughter) — was that my biggest regret was the fact that politics has become more rancorous during my presidency and more polarized than it was when I came in.  And keeping mind, when I ran, my belief was that there were no red states and blue states.  There wasn’t a black or white or Latino America.  There was a United States of America.  And that continues to be my belief. 

    Now, I have, as President, obviously done soul searching about what are things I could do differently to help bridge some of those divides.  I think part of it had to with when I came in we had a real emergency, and we had to act quickly.  And people in Washington sometimes weren’t always as focused on getting the job done as they were how is this going to position us for future elections. 

    But as I said at the State of Union, I have no doubt that there are things I could have done better.  But what I also say is that this is not something a President can do by him or herself.  When it comes to how we work together, the main impetus for better politics is going to be the American people.  They have to demand it.

    And so if we have voters who are not getting involved, then the people who tend to determine the agenda are the special interests, or money, or power, or the loudest voices, or the most polarizing voices, because a lot of folks — some of the best people, they’re just sitting at home.  And they’re getting cynical about politics, and they don’t get involved.  And then the people who do get involved end up being the folks who aren’t willing to work together.

    It’s important for voters to insist that their elected officials are strong on principle, but also are willing to compromise with people who don’t agree with them.  And if you punish an elected official for even talking to the other side, then it’s going to produce the kind of politics that we have seen in Washington too often.

    So this is an area where I regret.  I’m going to keep on working at it, try to see what more we can do to reach across the aisle to get things done.  I said on Tuesday that I think at the end of last year, maybe we surprised the cynics by getting a budget done.  And we extended tax cuts for working families that were due to expire.  And we were able to continue funding for transportation.  I know that your mayor was talking about how the interstate here narrows, and we may need to do something about it to relieve some traffic.  (Applause.) 

    And those things are not things that should be subject to a lot of Republican and Democratic argument.  Maybe that’s something that we can carry over into this year.

    One area, for example, that there’s been genuine bipartisan interest and support is the idea that we’ve got to reform our criminal justice system.  (Applause.)  That we have to be tough on violent crime, but also be smart when we think about how can we prevent young people from getting into the criminal justice system in the first place.  (Applause.)  How can we provide alternatives for low-level, non-violent drug offenders.  How can we make sure that the sentencing is proportional.  How do we make sure that we’re training folks while they’re incarcerated to get a skill that would allow them to be gainfully employed.  How do we make sure that when they’re released that there is a transition process for them.  How do we lift up all the outstanding employers who are willing to give people second chances.  So there’s a whole slew of work that we could be doing there. 

    And to their credit, we’ve seen some very conservative Republicans and some very liberal Democrats sitting down at the table and trying to work it out.  And that’s an example of where we see some promise.

         Another area is — and I mentioned this at the State of the Union.  Some of you have heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit.  Now, this is a program historically that is supported by Democrats and Republicans.  And it’s a pretty simple idea.  If you work, you shouldn’t be in poverty.  And so we should provide tax breaks to low-income working families so that they don’t say I might as well just be on welfare because I’ll get more benefits than if I’m working.

         Well, the Earned Income Tax Credit creates an incentive to say if you work hard, you’re working full time, but it’s, say, a minimum-wage job, we’re going to give you a chance, if you’ve got kids, to raise that income level, get a tax break.

        The problem is that it does not apply to individuals without children.  And that means a lot of men in that category don’t benefit and young people don’t benefit.  And one of the things we’ve been talking about is if we expand that to reach workers who don’t have children but are also working hard and are in poverty, that could be helpful.

         And these are areas where Cedric — he’s been a leader on criminal justice reform.  He’s working on this, as well.  I know that Mitch has been doing great work when it comes to the criminal justice system in New Orleans.  These are the kinds of areas where just common sense can prevail if we’ve all got a spirit of trying to solve problems instead of just winning elections.

        Okay?  All right.  (Applause.)

         Okay, it’s a young lady’s turn.  You know what, I’m going to call on that little young lady right there.  Yes.  She’s in her daddy’s lap.  And my daughter — my oldest daughter is about to go to college next year.  (Applause.)  And I can’t really talk about it a lot because I start to cry.  (Laughter.)

         Q    My name is Noelle Remeny (ph).  And I’m in the fourth grade, and I’m 10 years old.  And do you think there’s going to be a cure for cancer?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there you go.  Are you interested in math and science?

         Q    A little bit.

         THE PRESIDENT:  A little bit?  (Laughter.)  I tell you what, it’s going to be young people like you that are going to help cure cancer.  So you better study up on your math and study up on your science.

         But I do think that we are seeing medical breakthroughs right now that we have not seen in my lifetime.  Part of the reason is because — some of you heard of the Human Genome Project.  What happens is that we’re now able to look at not just how cells work, but we’re actually able to track how individual DNA and genetics operates.  And when you do that, it turns out that a cancer cell that I have may be different than a cancer cell that John or somebody else has, and may require different cures.  And certain treatments might work better than other treatments.  And because we’re able to get into the really nitty-gritty of how our bodies work in ways that we haven’t before, we’re starting to see more effective treatments.

         But we have to make a big investment.  And my Vice President, Joe Biden, who I love, suffered the kind of tragedy last year that is unbelievable.  And he managed it with grace.  His son Beau Biden was one of the finest men I knew.  And so I thought it was entirely appropriate for Joe Biden, who has seen this and gone through it, to lead this effort like a moon launch.  We’re going to double down on medical research.  We’re going to look at the best — we’re going to gather the best researchers, the best scientists, and we are going to go after this thing.

         It probably won’t be cured in my lifetime.  But I think ti will be cured in yours.  And that’s why we got to get started now.  (Applause.)

         All right?  Okay, it’s a gentleman’s turn.  This gentleman back here.  Right there.  Yes, sir.  You.  (Laughter.)  Hold on. The mic is coming.  The mic is coming.

         Q    Mr. President, first of all, I’m Greg Gavins (ph).  I’m the proud father of one of your special, great Secret Service.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Outstanding.

         Q    I have a question for you.  Since you can’t run again for another term, is there any way that we as a group can talk the First Lady into running?

         THE PRESIDENT:  No.  (Laughter and applause.)  No, no, no.  No, no.

         Q    I know that’s right.  (Laughter.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Let me tell you, there are three things that are certain in life.  (Laughter.) Death, taxes, and Michelle is not running for President.  (Laughter.)  That I can tell you.

         But you know what, the First Lady, though, the work she’s done around reducing childhood obesity, the work that she and Jill Biden have done on military families and making sure they get support, I could not be prouder of her.  And I am certain that she’s going to be really active as a First Lady.

         Not only is she going to be a very young ex-First Lady, but unlike me, she looks young.  (Laughter.)  I was looking at a wedding picture — actually, we found the old video from our wedding.  We’ve been married 23 years now.  (Applause.)  And so my mother-in-law had been going through some storage stuff and found our wedding video.  And I popped it in — and I look like a teenager — and realized, boy, I sure have aged.  (Laughter.)

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  I know that, though.  (Laughter.)

         But Michelle looked — she looked identical.  Looked identical.

         Q    We’re proud of her.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m proud of her, too, because most importantly she’s been an unbelievable mom, which is why my daughters turned out so well.  (Applause.)

         All right, it is a young woman’s turn.  This young lady right here.  Go ahead.  Yes, you. Yes, you’ve been raising your hand.  (Laughter.)  Okay.  But hold on.  The mic is coming.  Go ahead.

         Q    Hi, my name is Imani Maxberry (ph).  I’m a coastal environmental science major at LSU.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Outstanding.

         Q    One, I want to say thank you for rejecting Keystone pipeline.  (Applause.)  And two, I want to ask:  While you’ve been in office, what environmental impact — what environmental issue do you think has impacted you the most and should be more brought to the public?

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  That’s a great question, and I’m proud that you’re doing that work.  That’s important.  (Applause.)

         First of all, it’s important for us to understand how much environmental progress we’ve made in my lifetime.  And the reason is, sometimes when we talk about the environment, it sounds like something far away.  But we don’t realize — we don’t remember what we’ve accomplished already.

         In the 1970s, in California, there would be regular days where people did not go outside.  When Ronald Reagan was governor in California, there were regularly days where the smog was so bad, it was like it is in Beijing now. People just wouldn’t go outside.  And if you had asthma or some respiratory disease, you might die.

         I remember as recently as 1979, when I first started college — I started college in Los Angeles — when I went running, the first week I was there, after about five minutes I’d start feeling a burning in my chest.  And it was just me sucking in soot and smog.  And now you go there and that smog isn’t there.  And the reason is because we instituted things like catalytic converters and unleaded gasoline.  And we changed the technologies to reduce smog.

         It used to be that places like the Cuyahoga River around Cleveland caught fire it was so polluted.  Caught fire.  No, this is no joke.  And now you go there and people are able to use it.  Same thing with the Chicago River.  Now people are kayaking and fishing.

         So the point is, is that we actually can make progress when we make an effort because of our technology and our innovation.  And every time we’ve taken a step to try to clean up our air or our water or our environment, there are all kinds of people who say this is going to kill jobs, we can’t afford it, can’t do it, it’s going to cost too much.  And then, after we do it, we look back and say, you know, that didn’t cost as much as we thought, it happened quicker than we did.  Our businesses figured out how to do it and to make money doing it at the same time.  That’s what I mean when I say an innovation economy.  We’ve got to be confident about our ability to solve any problem if we put our minds to it.

         Now, the answer to your question right now is, what I am very much concerned about is climate change.  And there are folks who are still denying that this is a problem or that we can do anything about it.  Look, if 99 doctors told you that you have diabetes and you need to change your eating habits and get some exercise and lose some weight, you may decide not to do it because you’re stubborn.  But don’t say they’re wrong because the science in unsure.  This is happening.  And, by the way, if you live in Louisiana, you should especially be concerned about this because you are right next to some water that has a tendency to heat up, and that then creates hurricanes.  And as oceans rise, that means that the amount of land that is getting gobbled up continuously in this state is shrinking — the land mass — and it’s going to have an impact.

         Now, we can build things and we can fortify things, and we can do things smarter, and we can control how development happens, and we can restore wetlands.  All those things make a difference.  But ultimately, we got to do something about making sure that ocean levels don’t rise four, five, six, eight feet, because if they do, this state is going to have some big problems — bigger problems.

         So what we’ve done is, we’ve gotten together with 200 other nations, American leadership, to say all of us have to start bringing down the carbon pollution that we send in the atmosphere.  And here in the United States, there are two main ways we can do that.  Number one is our power plants; we’ve got to start using cleaner energy.  Number two, we’ve got to start promoting solar and wind, which create jobs.  And we’re a leader in this technology as long as we start investing in it.

         And that transition from old, dirty fuels to clean fuels, that’s going to be tough.  A lot of people make money in the coal industry, for example.  A lot of people have worked there, historically.  But now you have actually have more people working in solar than you do in coal.  Those communities that are reliant on coal, we should help them get a jump on making money in wind power and solar power.  Those are hardworking, good people.  Let’s not have them stuck in old jobs that are going to be slowly declining.  Let’s get them in the new jobs that are going to be going up.

         And then, in our transportation sector, we need to continue to build on the things we’ve done since I’ve been President — doubling fuel efficiency standards on cars, promoting electric cars.  All this stuff adds up.  And the goods new is businesses can succeed and we can make money doing it at the same time.  But don’t think that this is not a problem for all of us.  This is the main message I have.  That young lady was asking about curing cancer — well, we might cure cancer, but if temperatures have gone up two, three degrees around the planet, four degrees, and oceans are rising, we’re going to have more problems than medical science can cure.  We got to make that investment now.  And we can do it.

         All right.  Good question.  This gentleman right here.  Hold on, I got a mic right there.  How you doing?

         Q    I can hold it.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

         Q    I’m a big kid.  (Laughter.)  Well, maybe I’m not a big kid.  My name is Alan Turum (ph) from Youngstown, Ohio.  You’ve been here many times in helping with the steel mills get back on track.  That’s all good.  And in your defense, my business is doing good, making money, growing for the last 10 years.  And I got a lot of friends that have businesses, and they’re doing real well, too.  For a lot of people that are complaining, there’s a lot of people doing well.  So I think if you hustle, you can make good.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.

         Q    But my question to you is, you’re on your last year — is there any one big thing that you’d like to see happen before you leave the office?

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Well, first of all, what’s your business?

         Q    I got a couple of businesses.  I manufacture Halloween props, and I own a haunted house and hay ride in Lordstown, Ohio, which you’ve been there many times, to the car plant.

         THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been, yeah.

         Q    It’s called Fear Forest.  Maybe if you make it back into Youngstown in October, you can come check it out.  But I make Halloween props and I like to scare people.

         THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  So that’s kind of interesting.  That’s fun.  You sell a lot of Obama masks?  (Laughter.)

         Q    Hey, Obama is not scary.  So –

         THE PRESIDENT:  There you go, all right.  (Applause.)  I don’t think so.

         The things that I talked about in the State of the Union are all things that I think are possible.  Some of them I can get done on my own.  So I’ll give you a couple of examples.

         We need to revamp how our information systems, our IT systems in government work.  This is one of the areas where we’re — the biggest gap between government and the private sector is — if you just want to order a pizza, you’ve got your smartphone and you just — and the pizza shows up.  You want to buy an airline ticket, you punch in a couple things and suddenly if you go to the airport it’s all printing out.  And the systems in government are really old.

         Now, that causes two problems.  Number one is, they’re less safe and secure than they should be because they’re old.  They’re outdated systems.  So it’s easier for folks to try to hack into them, break into them, and we’re constantly putting patches up.

         The second thing is, it just means that things are slower for customers.  And I want to make sure government is in the 21st century — and we’re systematically going agency through agency.  If you want to get a small business loan from the SBA, I want you to be able to go to one website, in English, be able to figure out what you need to do, apply online, get that money, start that business, put people to work.  (Applause.)  And right now, we’re continually trying to streamline that process.

         And we’ve made some good progress.  But that’s an example of something that we can do administratively.  The same is true, by the way, for the VA.  You’ll remember — we are so proud of our veterans and our young men and women who served.  (Applause.)  And we got some folks here looking sharp in uniform that we are grateful for their service.  (Applause.)  And we have put more resources and provided more support to — and increased budgets for the VA than any administration in history.  We have cut backlogs.  We included folks who had been affected by Agent Orange.  We have boosted the resources available for folks suffering from PTSD.  We are ending veterans’ homelessness.  We’ve made some huge investments, made really good progress.

         But you’ll remember that story that came out last year, or a year and a half ago, in Phoenix, where folks were waiting so long to try to get an appointment that — and many of these were elderly, aging folks, and they were dying before they got an appointment.  And it was unacceptable.

         When we did an investigation of what had happened — and what was worse was some of the administrators there were hiding what was going on, and manipulating sort of records in ways that meant they had to be fired.  But when you looked at what was going on, a lot of it had to do with the fact that they had a system where a veteran would call in trying to get an appointment, somebody was writing it down on paper, then they were tapping it into some 30-year-old computer system that would then print out something that then would get walked over to someplace, that then they’d have to — it was a mess.

         And so we’ve had to make big investments in trying to clean up that whole process.  So that’s what we can do without Congress.

         Some things I think we can do with Congress I’ve already mentioned.  I think we can get criminal justice reform passed.  I think that we can potentially do some work on what I just identified, the Earned Income Tax Credit, that would help millions of people around the country who are working hard get out of poverty.  And on the issue of medicine, I think that we’re seeing some bipartisan work to try to bring together all the resources we have around these new medical breakthroughs that could potentially — not just affect things like cancer, but also Alzheimer and Parkinson’s, and a lot of diseases that people suffer from.  It’s a good story, and it’s not as politically controversial as some other issues.

         Now, there are some things I’d love to do, like raising the minimum wage for everybody.  (Applause.)  I’d love to get immigration reform passed.  But I’m realistic that Congress probably will not act on some of those more controversial issues.  That’s where people are going to have to make a decision in this election.  That’s what elections are about.  You’ve got to decide which direction America needs to go in.

         Okay.  Let’s see.  These folks have been neglected, so I’ve got to pay them a little attention here.  It’s a young lady’s turn.  Well, you’ve got a beautiful dress on.  Let’s just call on you.  There you go.  (Applause.)

         Q    Mr. President, I’m Judge Trudy M. White, and I’m the district court judge here in the 19th judicial district court.  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good to see you, Judge.

         Q    I am also the reentry court judge for our parish.  And I did notice when you spoke at the State of the Union, you made your address, that the first issue that you did address was criminal justice reform.  I’d like to know, as reentry court judge, what incentives could you offer our governor — our new governor and governors across the United States that would provide opportunities for felons who are returning as they exit the criminal justice system?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Judge, you probably know more than I do. (Laughter.)

         Q    Can my people get with your people to get those incentives down here?  (Laughter and applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.  I’ll have my people call your people.  (Laughter.)  But I will tell you what I know I’ve seen with my own eyes.

         I was in Camden with a fellow federal district court judge who had taken — who had worked with the U.S. attorney there to supplement some of the reentry programs that were already there with some grants.  And this judge, she’s a wonderful woman, just like you.  And she had this terrific lead probation officer.  And together, what they had done is just made sure that anybody who got released, the day they were out, they were getting a call from the probation officer.  And the probation officer was saying, all right, what do you need?  Do you need clothes?  What are you doing in terms of a place to stay?   How are you going to think about getting your résumé together?  Do you have an alarm clock?  Just basic stuff.  How are you going to get around?

         Because so often, what happens is these young people are getting released and they’re just dropped off in the neighborhood where they were.  Oftentimes, part of the reason they got down a wrong path in the first place is the — mom and dad might not have been there, or they might have moved by now and so they’re literally all alone.

         And so this young man who was there, who had gone through this process, he had been arrested when he was 17, and had a record that accumulated, then arrested at 27; spent 10 years in federal prison.  Was released at 37.  And he really decided, I want to change my life.  He had a spiritual awakening.  And he started just pounding the pavement, and got a job at a fast food place.  And he was describing what it was like — he had been doing this about three months and he still didn’t have enough money for rent, and the halfway house that he was staying at, it was about to kick him out because they only have a certain number of slots, and you don’t stay there long enough.

         And he was saying how his old friends, the drug dealers and the gang bangers who he had used to run with, they would come up every once in a while, and he’d be sitting there in his uniform flipping burgers and serving food, and they’d be talking to him — hey, man, any time you’re ready.  Those are the only clothes you got?  Those are the same shoes we saw you in 10 years ago; this is the new style.  And that temptation for him was powerful.

         Now, this is where a well-designed reentry program comes in, because what happened was, the judge, the probation officer, they worked with him, signed him up.  The judge, unfortunately, because the program didn’t have a lot of money, had to basically do a collection, dig into her own pocket.  But they got the fees to have him go study at a community college to be an emergency medical technician.  And he ended up graduating from this class, working for a private health firm, and then by the time he was sitting next to me three or four years later — or maybe five years later, he’s now working for the county as an EMT, fully trained, saving lives.  (Applause.)

         But the point is that it required intensive intervention and support and help.  But what a smart investment that was.  Because if we spent whatever it cost during those one, two, three years of transition to help that person get their life straight, we might have just saved ourselves another 10 years or 15 years or 20 years of incarcerating him on taxpayer expense.  (Applause.)

         So it made me realize that if we really want to be smart on crime — you’ve got, let’s say, a maximum minimum sentence — mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years for some drug-related drug — if we reduce the amount of time that they’re incarcerated, took all those savings and we took just some of that for one, two years of reentry programs that are highly supervised, then we’re going to get better results — safer streets, better citizens — because he’s now paying taxes as an EMT instead of taking taxes as a ward of the state.  Less violence.  More hope.  He’s got an opportunity now to be a father, as opposed to an absent presence in a child’s life.  That’s how we rebuild communities.  And that’s why this is such a promising area.

    And as I said I want to make sure to acknowledge, this is an area where there’s been some really powerful bipartisan, interesting coalitions.  I think the evangelical community, because they have a lot of strong prison ministries, they care about this, they believe in redemption and second chances.  And so they’ve gotten involved.  And you’ve got libertarians who just don’t like the idea of the state spending that much money on prisons.  They’ve gotten involved.  And so there’s a lot of good work.  And as I said, Cedric has been a leader in this process, so we’ve got to see if we can make this happen, all right?  But my people will get with your people.  (Applause.)

    That redhead right there.  It’s good having hair like that.  You stand out in a crowd.

    Q    My name is Martin Brown (ph).  I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  And my question is about education.  Education is one of the most important things in achieving equal opportunity.  And in the past decades, we’ve seen desegregation orders lifted and we’ve seen a re-segregation in the South.  Furthermore, there’s huge disparities in resources for different students in different school districts and parishes.  And I was wondering what can the federal government do, what have you done, and what do you think should happen in the future to resolve these issues that we have been fighting for decades.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Are you a teacher, by the way?

    Q    I’m not — I’m a student.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Where are you going to school?

    Q    LSU.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic.  What are you studying?

    Q    Math and economics.

    THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Well, maybe you’ll solve this problem.  (Laughter.)  Well, thanks for the question.  It’s a great question.

    I talked about this at the town hall — or in the State of the Union.  This economy will become more and more knowledge-based during the course of our lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes, our grandchildren’s lifetimes.  There’s no denying it.  That is not going to change. And so when people talk about how the economy is changing and how come we can’t have it the way it was back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it used to be that if you were willing to work hard, you could drop out of high school, walk into the factory, say “I’m ready to work,” and if you showed yourself to be a hard worker, you could actually build a middle-class life on the factory floor.  And that’s great.

    But if you go into a factory today, it’s full of computers and robots.  And if you don’t know math and you don’t know science, you can’t get that job on the factory floor.  And, by the way, because of automation and technology, when I go to a car plant — and we sold more cars — U.S. automakers sold more cars last year than any time in history.  (Applause.)  It has come all the way back.  It has rehired hundreds of thousands of folks.  We created 900,000 manufacturing jobs.  But you go into a plant, and it’s just quiet and clean, and probably — if you used to have a thousand people in that plant, now you’ve got a hundred, just because it’s so automated.

    And the point is, you are not going to be able to build a middle-class life in this society unless you have some education and skills that you can continually enhance and retool throughout your career.  So, young people, I’m going to be honest — I’m not going to call him out — but if you’re Ben Simmons, maybe you’ll do fine not hitting the books — although he’s a very fine student, I’m sure.  But my point is, unless you are one in a million, you better be working hard.  You better be studying.  (Applause.)  And it’s not going to stop.

    Now, the point you made is exactly right.  How do we make sure everybody gets that opportunity?  Because we know what the ingredients are.  We know that early childhood education makes a huge difference, the kind of start that young people get.  (Applause.)  We know that poor kids oftentimes are not starting off in school with the same vocabulary because they haven’t heard as many words, which means we’ve got to train parents, not just teachers, to help get kids rolling.  We know that schools that have great teachers and high standards, and are creative and have the best technologies that are used the right way make a difference.  That high expectations make a difference.  So, we know all these things.
    image


    But the way that education is America has been organized is local school districts, local control, and local property funding as the primary way of supporting schools.  And that has led to big disparities in every state in the country.  So the federal government can’t get at that.  What the federal government has done and can do is, through programs like Title I funding, we provide additional money to school districts that have a high proportion of low-income kids to try to give them more resources.  The federal government — what I’ve done during my administration is worked with states and local school districts to give them incentives to adopt best practices to help develop and train teachers to more effectively teach kids to make sure that we’ve got high expectations and high standards.

    I just signed, last year, a reform of No Child Left Behind that had led to a lot of over-testing and stress among teachers, but had not necessarily improved learning.  But ultimately, it’s going to be up to states and local school districts to make a decision about how much do we care about equities in funding within states.  That’s not something the federal government can force states to do.

         There was a case way back in the ‘70s that was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court making the argument that it was unconstitutional to have this property tax-based system of funding education.  And the Supreme Court said it’s not unconstitutional; it’s up to states to make a decision on what they want to do.  Some state supreme courts have said it’s unconstitutional to fund education that way.

    But if you don’t have states making those decisions, the federal government can’t force them to.  We can help.  We can give incentives.  But federal funding for education accounts only about for 7 percent of total education funding.  The main thing we can do is hold up best practices, show people this is what works, this is what doesn’t, and then the people of those communities have to determine this is what we want to do to make a real serious change.

         Now, one last point I’m going to make on education — making sure folks like Che can afford college is critical.  (Applause.)  And if I had my wish about what I could get Congress to do — I mentioned a whole bunch of issues — one of them also would be the proposal I put forward:  two years of community college at no cost for responsible students.  (Applause.)

    Tennessee has already adopted this.  Tennessee has already adopted this proposal.  The city of Chicago is working to adopt it.  So you’ve got Democrats and Republicans who have seen the wisdom of this.  If young people can go to a community college for two years at no cost, that means they can get a lot of credits out of the way.  They can then transfer to a four-year institution.  But they’ve cut their costs in half.  And this is an affordable proposal.  We propose paying for it essentially by closing some corporate tax loopholes and some tax breaks for hedge funds.  And it’s enough money to actually make sure that every young person has at least that baseline.  And that’s part of the reason why America became an economic superpower — because earlier than anybody else, we said we’re going to give everybody universal high school education.  Now, the next step is everybody in addition to high school education should be able to get that two years of post-secondary education, as well.  (Applause.)

    All right?  How much time do I have?  I got to check with my people.  One or two more questions.  Okay, this young lady right there.  You can stop jumping.  (Laughter.)  Yes, I just called — but do you actually have a question, or were you just jumping?  (Laughter.)  All right, where is the mic?  Right here.  Right here.  Yes, you.  I don’t know why you’re surprised.  (Laughter.)  You raised your hand.

    Q    Thank you so much for taking my question.  First off, my name is Angenay Turner (ph).  I’m a law student at Tulane, in New Orleans, in the Big Easy.

    THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.

    Q    I’m here with my little sister and one of my other friends from Tulane who also went to Columbia for undergrad.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

    Q    First off, I just want to say that we’re very inspired by you and the First Lady.

         THE PRESIDENT:  That’s nice.

         Q    And you are our biggest inspirations.  And we want to be just like you guys, so can you help us?  Give us some tips.  (Laughter.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, what was the question?  (Laughter.)

         Q    The question is, can you help us be more like you and the First Lady and give us some tips to be –

         THE PRESIDENT:  Some tips?

         Q    Yes.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, I will say this — Michelle and I, we’ve been through an extraordinary journey.  When we think about where we’ve come from, Michelle grew up on the South Side of Chicago.  Her mom was a secretary.  Her dad worked at the water filtration plant.  Neither of them ever went to college.  They lived on the second floor of her mom’s sister’s house, a little bungalow.  She was — we were talking the other day, she was watching HGTV.  She likes watching HGTV.  And for those of you who don’t know, Home and Garden TV.  (Laughter.)

         And I guess there was this show about this so-called movement or trend towards tiny houses.  So people get these little, tiny — some of them they put on — hitch on the back of their car, some of them they’re already there.  She said, I didn’t know this was a movement because we lived in a tiny house. (Laughter.)  We just thought that’s how you live.  We didn’t know this was a — we were cutting edge.  (Laughter.)

         And so Michelle, her brother, her dad, her mom — her dad, by the way, had Multiple Sclerosis, so he’s going to work every day — he had to wake up an hour early to get to work because it took a long time for him to just button his shirt and get in the car, and then get out of the car, and then get to his job.

         And in that second floor, with — and I know, because Michelle and I, right after we got married, we stayed in that same place before we were able to save up enough to buy our place.  These two folks were able to raise these incredible young people, Michelle and her brother, who both ended up going to college and both had these extraordinary careers.
       
         Now, I say all that because Michelle would be the first to say — and I certainly would be the first to say — the only reason this happened was because there were people who invested in us.  (Applause.)  So there were park programs in Chicago, public park programs where she could be part of dance classes, and her brother could be in Little League.  And there were accelerated programs at her public elementary school where she had teachers who really took extra time.  And then there was a magnet school that she was able to attend, and that was able to get her prepared for college.  And then she got student loans and support in order to be able to go to college and go to law school.  Although she tells the story about how her dad, he couldn’t really contribute much, but he insisted on writing something, a check, to help support that college education for her and her brother because he knew what it was worth.

         And so when you ask sort of the main tip I have — look, we benefitted because somebody invested in us.  (Applause.)  The most important tip I would have is make sure not only are you working hard to deserve that investment, but that you’re also investing in the next generation coming up behind you.  (Applause.)  If you do that, then you’re going to do great things.  Your sister will do great things.


         And the one other thing I tell young people all the time — don’t worry so much about what you want to be, worry about what you want to do.  (Applause.)  Worry about the kind of person you want to be and what you want to accomplish.  And the reason I say that is because a lot of times people ask me, oh, I’m interested in politics, how can I get — I say, well, let me tell you, the people who are most successful in politics and business and whatever, they don’t start off saying, I want to be President or governor; they start off by saying, I want to give people an education, or I want to make sure that folks have jobs, or I believe in justice under the law.  And they pursue a goal.  They’re trying to get something done.

         A byproduct of that is that they may find themselves in positions of authority or power or influence.  But even if you never get elected to something, if you’re interested in the environment, you don’t have to be the head of the EPA to make a difference.  You might organize in a local community to clean up a site and plant gardens and make sure that the water is clean.  (Applause.)  And you can look back and then say, wow, what an amazing life I’ve had and look at all the difference that I’ve made.
    image


         And I’ll tell you, the same is true in business.  The most successful business people — if you talk to somebody like a Bill Gates, they don’t start off saying “I want to be the second-richest man in the world.”  They start off saying, “I really want to figure out this computer thing.”  “I want to make this thing work better.”  “I’m excited or interested in how we can solve this problem.”  And then, because they’re so passionate about it and they’ve worked so hard at it, it turns out they make something really good, and everybody else says, I want to be part of that.  That, I think, is a good tip as well.

         All right.  I’ve only got time for one more question.  It’s a young man’s turn and he’s right in front, and he looks very sharp.  He’s got his tie on and everything.

         Q    How you doing, Mr. President?

         THE PRESIDENT:  How you doing?  What’s your name?

         Q    My name is Anthony King (ph).  I am an 18-year-old mass communications major and I go to the Southern University and A&M College.  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

         Q    Mr. President, first I wanted to say thanks for being an inspiration, because I aspire to be what you are in the next 30 years, and I know I will be there.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

         Q    But one of my main questions for you, sir, Mr. President — I’m going to an HBCU institute — Southern University. Most times, when I go recruit off of high schools, most of the time a lot of them say, oh, I don’t want to go to an HBCU college; I feel like if I go to an HBCU, I won’t get as many opportunities as a student at university as LSU or Tulane.  So what is your take of — or advice to students like me, thousands of students like me who go to HBCUs, and us finishing the course in order to be great leaders in this society?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  See, you got some folks voting for you already.

         Well, first of all, the role of the historically black colleges and universities in producing our leadership and expanding opportunity — training doctors and teachers and lawyers and ministers who change the landscape of America — I hope most people know that story, and if not, you better learn it.  Because it has been powerful and continues to be a powerful tradition.

         And I will tell you that if you have done well at an HBCU and graduated, and you go to an employer and are making the kind of presentation you make or a Morehouse man makes or a Spelman young lady makes, you will do just fine.  I don’t think it’s true that actually people don’t take — or discount that tradition.  And you will be credentialed.  You’ll succeed.

         I do think that there’s a range of challenges that HBCUs face.  Some are doing great; some are having more difficulty.  And some of that’s good.  Look — or some of it is the result of good things.  We don’t live in a society where African Americans are restricted in what colleges they can go to.  And I want them to be able to go to an LSU or a Tulane as well as a Southern, as well as a Morehouse, as well as a Howard or a Spelman.  So more opportunities open up — that’s good.

    We have been very supportive of HBCUs over the last several years.  And to their credit, the previous administration had supported them, as well.  There are some HBCUs that are having trouble with graduation rates.  And that is a source of concern.  And what we’ve said to those HBCUs is we want to work with you, but we don’t want a situation in which young people are taking out loans, getting in debt, thinking that they’re going to get a great education and then halfway through they’re dropping out.

         Now, some of it is those HBCUs may be taking chances on some kids that other schools might not.  And that’s a positive thing, and that has to be taken into account.  But we also have to make sure that colleges — any college, HBCU or non-HBCU — take seriously the need to graduate that student and not load them up with debt.

         Everybody needs a college education or a secondary — an education beyond high school.  If it’s a community college, if it’s a technical school, if it’s a training program, you’re going to need more training as your career goes on.

         But I don’t want you taking out a Pell grant or a bunch of — not a Pell grant — like a federal loan or a private loan, and you walk out with $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 worth of debt, and you didn’t get your degree.  So we are working very hard with every school, all colleges and universities, not just to reduce costs, but also to increase graduation rates, give students a better sense as they come in — here’s what it’s going to take for you to finish; here’s why you got to not lollygag and not take enough credits and think going to college is about partying, because it’s actually about getting your degree.  (Applause.) And we want students and parents to be better informed about that process ahead of time.

         All right, listen, you guys have been wonderful.  (Applause.) Michelle, Sasha, Malia, Bo, Sunny, they all send their love.  But I want — before we go, I want to remind you of what I said.  Our system of government only works when you are involved not just by voting, but by being informed and staying involved throughout the process.  Your governor, your mayor, your congressman — they all want to do right by you.  But there are going to be challenges.  There are going to be folks who want to stop progress.  There are going to be people who like the status quo.  There’s always going to be in this democracy countervailing pressures.  And if you want to see change, you’ve got to help make it happen.

         When I ran for office in 2007, 2008, I did not say, “Yes, I can.”  I said –

         AUDIENCE:  Yes, we can!

         THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can, people.  God bless you.  Love you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, New Orleans.  God bless America.  (Applause)

    Video of the town hall is available at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLA5OX3MQc4

    ONLINE: See photos at the Jozef Syndicate.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Missing Lafayette teens located

    Missing Lafayette High School students Shaylon Mitchell, 16, and 16-year-old Nasya Pradier were located Friday, Jan. 8., Shaylon’s mother Shanette Mitchell confirmed.

    The pair were missing since 7 a.m. Wednesday when they went to school but never checked in, she said.

    The teens’ disappearance garnered statewide attention on social media, with Facebook videos from their families pleading for their return garnering tens of thousands of views.

    Details surrounding their disappearance are not known at this time.

    By The Drum Staff

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Poet plans to sail into Black history

    ASTORIA, OREGON — The port of Astoria on the Columbia River is the home of Black History in the making as Niccolea Miouo Nance prepares to set sail with The Emuna Endeavor. The Oregon-born, Arizona-raised poet and artist has put her creative work on hold to learn seamanship and navigation at Clatsop Community College in preparation for the June 2016 departure date.

    Sometimes we as individuals going about our daily lives fall accidentally into something much larger than ourselves. This is one of those stories.

    In July of 2012, Niccolea’s  (pronounced “nick-cole-yah”) best friend Dovid, who was planning on sailing around the world, knew she wanted to travel so he invited her to join him. Since then she has been researching others who have done the journey and discovered that there are no Black American women on record who have sailed around the world.

    Nance was born in a land locked small town in the southern part of Oregon just north of the California border. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona and was a desert dweller pretty much all of her life. As such she didn’t have a rich nautical background so she enrolled in maritime studies at the community college.

    Niccolea said, “My whole life has been a lesson in diversity and tolerance (or lack thereof). I am a Black-white biracial so since birth I have been an example of the unification of different people from different backgrounds. Being raised by my Caucasian stepfather and white mother gave me a perspective on race relations that is totally different from my friends who were raised in totally Black families, neighborhoods, etc. I have seen racism first hand, but I have also seen great tolerance and love firsthand. I choose to focus on the good in life and people. I want to continue to be someone who adds to the positivity in this world.”

    Even with the lessons she learned in her life, she said she is filled with cultural stereotypes of pretty much every place in the world and would like to shed that. “I believe that travel will help me to be a better person overall by experiencing things outside my norm. This trip will be a means to becoming a more culturally aware and more life-educated person.” With modern technology it also gives her a chance to show others what she is learning so we can all learn together via her blog and the trip site and YouTube channel.

    “This is more than just a trip for me… It is the beginning step to a goal of creating a bridge between like-minded people with this project as a catalyst. It’s more than a vacation, this is more than just a grand adventure and a test of my physical and mental strength and stamina… it is a chance to learn about the world and the people in it and hopefully create a chain of positivity on a global scale.”

    According to the website, the Emuna Endeavor is the journey of two friends who’s cause is to take you along vicariously on a world wide sailing trip making stops to create community and hopefully unity along the way.

    Then Nance found out that she will inadvertently be a part of history. So far only one Black woman of any nationality has sailed around the world. There was a single sentence in a Wikipedia article about circumnavigation records (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_circumnavigations) that mentioned a woman named Maria Victor; 2007-2013; first woman of African descent (Barbados) to perform a circumnavigation (with stops, past Cape of good Hope, through Panama Canal). There is one other Black woman named Katia who plans to sail around the world who is from Cape Verde and left from Brazil recently (within the past year). As of this writing, she is approximately half the way around. Katia is sailing with her boyfriend Josh (who is from the Netherlands) on SV Hope (http://www.joshandhope.org/). Even with these two ladies, Niccolea will still be the first American of African descent to take on the task.

    ONLINE:  http://emunaendeavor.org/
    Contact: info@emunaendeavor.org/

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  • Funds available for help with energy payment

    The East Baton Rouge/Office of Social Services has funds available to assist eligible low income households with their energy payments.

    All applications are taken on a first come, first served basis according to the names on the waiting list. To be placed on the waiting list for assistance, please call on Friday mornings, 8am – noon, at local Office of Social Services location based in the community centers around the parish. An eligible household is one who have not received a previous benefit within the past six months and whose total income is at or below the levels listed:

    Household Size                    Maximum Gross
                                                         Income

    1                                                                      $1,859
    2                                                                      $2,432
    3                                                                      $3,004
    4                                                                      $3,576
    5                                                                      $4,148
    6                                                                      $4,720
    Applicants must provide, at a minimum, the following documentation at the time the application is taken: copies of each household member’s social security card; proof of income of all household members; a copy of an energy bill (must be within the last six months); a photo I.D. of the applicant; and another document which was mailed to the applicant at the service address indicated on the energy bill. If it is determined additional documentation is required the applicant will be notified at the time of application. Income eligible applicants who have received a disconnect notice and who have not received assistance for a disconnect notice in the prior 12 months may also apply.

    Read more »
  • Governor-elect John Bel Edwards selects diverse team

    Governor-elect John Bel Edwards announced several key cabinet and committee appointments for his administration.  He announced that current Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne will serve as Commissioner of Administration and Kimberly Robinson will serve as Secretary of the Department of Revenue. Other appointments include:

    Adjutant General, Louisiana National Guard – Major General Glenn Curtis
    Superintendent, Louisiana State Police – Colonel Michael Edmonson
    Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs – Joey Strickland
    Secretary, Department of Transportation and Development – Shawn Wilson
    Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development – Don Pierson
    Secretary, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries – Charlie Melancon
    Commissioner, Office of Motor Vehicle – Karen St. Germain
    Commissioner, Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control – Juana Marine-Lombard
    Executive Counsel – Matthew Block
    Special Counsel – Erin Monroe Wesley
    Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications, Legal, Special Projects – Julie Baxter Payer
    Deputy Chief of Staff, Intergovernmental Affairs – Toye Taylor
    Deputy Chief of Staff, Programming and Planning – Johnny G. Anderson

    Public Safety Committee
    Joseph “T-Boy” Ardoin, Central South Carpenters Regional Council, Local 1098
    Bruce Bennett, 21st Judicial District Court, Division B
    Fabian Blanche, Executive Director, Louisiana Association of Chief of Police
    Jay Blossman, Attorney, Former Public Service Commissioner
    Major Reginald Brown, Constable, Baton Rouge
    Sheriff Mike Cazes, West Baton Rouge
    Charles Cravins, Chief Administrative Office, St. Landry Parish DA
    Flozell Daniels, President and CEO, Foundation for Louisiana
    Berkley Durbin, Executive Director, Medicine Louisiana
    Anne Marie Easley, Education Director, Louisiana State Penitentiary
    Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office
    Mike Haley, Chief Deputy, Washington Parish
    Gerald Hebert, Grace & Hebert Architects
    Sheriff Victor Jones, Natchitoches
    Bob Levy, Former DA for 3rd Judicial District; Board of Regents Member
    Ron Macaluso, Attorney, Macaluso Law Firm
    Chad Major, President, Professional Fire Fighters Association of Louisiana
    Sheriff Tony Mancuso, Calcasieu
    Hillar Moore District Attorney, East Baton Rouge
    Bob Morrison, Chief Judge, 21st Judicial District Court Division B
    Scott Perrilloux, DA, 21st Judicial District Court
    Ann Porter, President, Northshore Democratic Women’s Club
    Chris Roy Jr., Former State Representative, 25th District
    Karen St. Germain, State Representative District 60
    Chris Stewart, Baton Rouge City Police
    Judge James Stewart, Appellate Judge, 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
    Kevin Stuart, President, Teddlie Stuart Media Partners
    Paul Zuli, Business Manager, IBEW Local 130

    Transportation Committee
    Justin Augustine, Vice President, Transdevelopment
    Johnny Bradberry, COO, TOPCOR Companies LLC
    Ernie Broussard, Hunt Guillot & Associates
    Mike Bruce, Senior Principal, Stantec
    Dan Casey, Director, State Government Affairs, Dealertrack Technologies
    Randy Denmon, President, Denmon Engineering
    David Duplechain, State Legislative Director, SMART
    Perry Franklin, President, Franklin and Associates
    Cedric Grant, Executive Director, Sewerage and Water Board,
    Sundiata Haley, General Counsel, N.O. Regional Transit Authority
    Theron Jackson, Pastor, Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church
    David Madden, Manager, Madden Contracting
    Ken Naquin, CEO, Louisiana Association of General Contractors
    Brent Petit, International Staff Representative, United Steelworkers
    Erich Ponti, Executive Director, Louisiana Asphalt Association
    Roy Quezaire, Deputy Director, South Louisiana Port Authority
    Darrel Saizan, Principal, Darrel J. Saizan & Associates Inc.
    John Spain, Executive Vice President, Baton Rouge Area Foundation
    Harold Taylor, Council Member, St. Landry Parish Council
    Anne Trappey, CEO, Forte & Tablada
    Michael W. Victorian, Senior Client Executive, CMA Technology Solutions Inc.
    Jerry Walley, Sales-Marketing Manager, Ergon Companies
    Erin Monroe Wesley, Executive VP and COO, Baton Rouge Area Chamber
    James “Jay” Winford, President, Prairie Contractors
    Jimmie Woods, CEO, Metro Service Group

    Children and Family Services Committee
    Annetta Garner, Leadership Academy Coordinator, Volunteers for Youth Justice
    Artelia Bennett-Banks, Program Specialist-Social Services, Department of Children and Family Services
    Bambi Polotzola, COO, Immaculate Heart of Mary, PSC
    Betty Cooper, Instructor, University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Cathy Johnson, President, Jefferson Federation of Teachers
    Charmaine Caccioppi, COO, United Way of South East La.
    Clifton Starks, President, Central Trades & Labor Council of Shreveport AFL-CIO
    Darrin Goss, President and CEO, Capital Area United Way
    DeLisa Washington, Board Member, Louisiana Association of Educators
    Jacqui Vines, Former Senior Vice President, Cox Communications Southeast Region
    Judge Guy Bradberry, Judge, 14th Judicial District Court
    Judge John Campbell, Retired Judge, Minden City Court
    Julio Galan, President, Family and Youth Counseling Agency
    Katherine Spaht, Professor of Law, Emeritus, LSU Law Center
    LaMonica Jones, President, Monroe City Association of Educators
    Mallery Callahan, Reverend, LA Home & Foreign Mission Baptist State Convention
    Pam Hutchinson, Community Activist
    Samuel Tolbert, President, National Baptist Convention of America
    Sandie Lollie, Vice President, Louisiana Federation of Teachers
    Sharon Braggs, Itinerant Hearing Specialist, Caddo Parish Schools
    Sherry Guarisco, Executive Director, Louisiana Partnership of Children and Families
    Wanda Washington, Child Welfare Supervisor, Department of Children and Family Services

    Economic Development Committee
    Co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President, AT&T Louisiana, and Michael Hecht, CEO, Greater New Orleans, Inc.
    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO, Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, Owner, Clayton Ventures
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director, LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joe Delpit, President, Joe Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, CEO, Urban League of Greater N.O.
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer, Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President, Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO, Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President, New Orleans AFL-CIO
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber​
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO , Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner, CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director, Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director, New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO, Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO, Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor, Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President, Health Systems 2000
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chair, Terrebonne Parish Council

    Higher Education Committee
    Chaired Kim Hunter Reed, Ph.D.
    Sheryl R. Abshire,Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer, Calcasieu Parish Public Schools
    Jane Arnette, Executive Director, SCI
    Preston Castille, National President, Southern University Alumni Federation; Partner,Taylor Porter
    Mike Clary, Business Manager, Finance Secretary, I.B.E.W. Lisa Cooper, Assistant Professor, LSU Shreveport
    Lola Dunahoe, CEO, The Mary R. Gallaspy Trust & Northwestern State University Foundation
    Tom Enmon, President, Jani-King Gulf Coast
    Barry Erwin, President & CEO, Council for a Better Louisiana
    Carolyn Hargrave, Professor, Provost Emeritus, & Vice President for Academic Affairs and Technology Transfer, Retired, LSU System
    Valerie Holliday, Associate Professor, Baton Rouge Community College
    Paul Howard, Business Manager, Local 241
    Edward R. Jones, Mayor, City of Grambling
    Renee Lapeyrolerie, Client Services Leader, CDM Smith
    Calvin Mackie, Managing Partner, Channel ZerO Group, LLC
    Ron Maestri, retired athletic director, University of N.O.
    James Maurin, Founder & Past Chairman, Stirling Properties
    Huey L. Perry, Ph.D., retired professor, Southern University
    Sean Reilly, CEO, Lamar Advertising Company
    Dr. Phillip Rozeman, Recent Chair, Blueprint Louisiana
    Joe Savoie, Ph.D., former Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education; President, University of Louisiana Lafayette
    Joshua Stockley, Associate Professor, University of Louisiana Monroe
    Roland Toups, Chairman & CEO, Turner Industries

    Fiscal Matters Committee
    Co-chairs Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Sharon Robinson, former Inspector General and Assistant Legislative Auditor
    April Jordan, Staff Auditor, City of Shreveport
    Bob Keaton, Retired, Former Assistant to the President for Budget, LSU
    Bryant Hammett, Owner, Bryant Hammett & Associates, LLC
    Cade Cole, Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals, Local Tax Judge
    Christopher Odinet, Professor, Southern University Law Center
    Chuck Carpenter, Compliance Examiner, Office of Financial Institutions
    Darren Olagues, President, Cleco Power
    Desiree Honore Thomas, Undersecretary, Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism
    Edwin Murray, Senator
    Gregory A. Ruppert, Director, Bureau of Revenue and Taxation, Jefferson Parish
    J.H. “Jay” Campbell, Jr., Executive Chairman, Associated Grocers, Inc.
    James Richardson, Ph.D., Harris J. and Marie P. Chustz Endowed Professor, LSU
    Jan Moller, Director, Louisiana Budget Project
    Jason Decuir, Director, Ryan, LLC
    Jeff Koonce, Vice President and General Counsel, Bernhard Capital Partners
    Jerry Luke LeBlanc, Vice President for Administration and Finance, UL Lafayette
    Kimberly Robinson, Partner, Jones Walker, LLP
    Laura Veazey, Government Relations Consultant, Focus Strategies, LLC
    Lauren Tarver, Law Student
    Lawrence Chehardy, Former Assessor for Jefferson Parish
    Lydia Jackson, Vice President, CRA Business Development Officer, Capital One
    Michael Deshotels, Retired Educator
    Paul Segura, Owner, Segura Development
    Regina Hamilton, Associate General Counsel, Chicago Bridge & Iron Company
    Sean M. Bruno, Sean M. Bruno Certified Public Accountants
    Shane Riddle, Louisiana Association of Educators
    Stephanie Chavis Guillory, Louisiana Federation of Teachers
    Ted Jones, Attorney
    Terrance Ginn, Associate Commissioner for Finance, Louisiana Board of Regents
    Vanessa LaFleur, Director of Policy and Legislative Services, Louisiana Department of Revenue
    Wayne Brown, CEO, Brown Builders

    Read more »
  • COMMUNITY EVENT: TheDietSpotlight.com Weight Loss Workshop, Dec. 12

    Organizers with the  DietSpotlight.com Weight Loss Workshop, Saturday, Dec. 12, at 11:30am, said the event will empower participants to find the right weight-loss or fitness solution. The workshop will be led by an established certified Baton Rouge-based dietician who will offer customized guidance on healthy diet habits based on each workshop participants lifestyle and will consider any special dietary requirements (e.g. gluten-free). The focus of the dietician’s advice will be to help participants adopt healthy ways of eating, from meal planning to grocery shopping to cooking, which are conducive to long-term, healthy weight management. Slow and steady is the key to healthy weight loss and they will offer guidance that supports a healthy diet lifestyle. Also attending the workshop will be certified personal fitness trainer that works with clients of all ages and body types to achieve their fitness goals. Participants of the workshop will be encouraged to interact one-on-one with the dietician and personal trainer to describe their current lifestyles and receive customized guidance on how to incorporate healthy, sustainable exercise activities. Again, the goal here to is to make slow, gradual changes that lead to long-term health and can last a lifetime. This free workshop is a public service outreach of DietSpotlight.com to promote the long-term vision of the site which is public education in the area of healthy diet and weight loss.

    Location: Tracy Center
    1800 S. Acadian Thruway
    Baton Rouge, LA 70898

    ONLINE: http://www.dietspotlight.com/workshop/

    http://www.dietspotlight.com/

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Edwards names economic development committee, includes Black leaders, business owners

    Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards announced a third committee for his transition, this one dealing with Economic Development.  

    The Economic Development Committee will be tasked with generating ideas on ways to strengthen our economy, attract new businesses to the state and grow our existing businesses. The Committee will focus their efforts on investing in education to train the next generation of workers, expanding research and development activities at our Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards announced a third committee for his
    transition, this one dealing with Economic Development.  

    The Economic Development Committee will be tasked with generating ideas on ways to strengthen our economy, attract new businesses to the state and grow our existing businesses. The Committee will focus their efforts on investing in education to train the next generation of workers, expanding research and development activities at institutions of higher learning, and workforce development to accommodate the new industries.

    The committee will be co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, and Michael Hecht, CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

    Other members are:
    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO of Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, CEO of CENLA Advantage Partnership
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director of LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joseph Delpit, President of Joseph Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater New Orleans
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President of Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO of Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President of New Orleans AFL-CIO and LA State Building
    Trades
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber?
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO of Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner of CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director of Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director of New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO of Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO of Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor of Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President of Health Systems 2000
    Sevetri M. Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, LLC
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council
    institutions of higher learning,
    and workforce development to accommodate the new industries coming into our state.

    “Louisiana is open for business, but we cannot simply rely on costly tax
    incentives to spread this message,” Edwards said. “Louisiana has always
    had a strong workforce and we need to ensure this workforce is attractive to
    diverse industries, while also responsibly incentivizing business and industry
    to invest in our state. This committee is critical to our long-term economic
    stability, and I’m confident they’ll help me develop a plan that is mutually
    beneficial to the citizens of Louisiana and industry.” The committee will be
    co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, and Michael
    Hecht, CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

    Additional Economic Development Committee members are: 

    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO of Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, CEO of CENLA Advantage Partnership
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director of LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joseph Delpit, President of Joseph Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater New Orleans
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President of Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO of Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President of New Orleans AFL-CIO and LA State Building
    Trades
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber?
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO of Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner of CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director of Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director of New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO of Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO of Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor of Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President of Health Systems 2000
    Sevetri M. Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, LLC
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council

    Read more »
  • Governor-elect to address SU December graduates, Dec. 11

    Only weeks before he officially takes office as the fifty-sixth Governor of the State of Louisiana, Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards will address the Fall 2015 graduating class of Southern University Baton Rouge, Friday, Dec.11,  in the University’s F.G. Clark Activity Center, at 10:30 a.m.

    image

    Governor-elect John Bel Edwards

    Edwards, who was elected to Louisiana’s top office in November 2015 and who will take office Jan. 11, 2016, will deliver the commencement address to nearly 500 Southern University December graduates.

    “Southern University is honored to bring Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards and his long-held support of higher education in Louisiana to our campus as we honor our fall graduates,” said SU System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton. “We look forward to his message for forthcoming SU alumni and to his leadership for our great state.”

    The Amite native serves as the state representative for District 72 in Louisiana’s North Shore. In the House of Representatives, he is on the Civil Law and Procedure, Education, and Judiciary committees as well as the Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. He is a 1988 Dean’s List graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. After eight years of active duty with the US Army as an Airborne Ranger, culminating with command of a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he went on to graduate Order of the Coif from Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center.

    Edwards graduated as valedictorian of his Amite High School class. As one of eight children from a family long dedicated to public service, Edwards carries on the family tradition. With a father who was the elected sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish – the Edwards have four generations of Tangipahoa Parish Sheriffs in their family lineage with John Bel’s brother Daniel currently serving as sheriff.

    West Palm Beach, Florida native, Imani Martina Williams, will lead the 2015 fall graduating class as chief student marshal. She has a 3.806 GPA, the highest of 498 students who will also receive their diplomas at commencement.

    image

    Imani Williams

    Williams went to Park Vista Community High School in Lake Worth, Fla. and graduated in the top 25 percent of her class in 2012.

    Read more »
  • PICO invites public to #NotOneDime economic boycott through Dec. 3

    DRUMCALL from PICO.

    This week marks the one-year anniversary of the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown.

    This week we wait for the release of the 2014 video depicting the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by a white Chicago police officer.

    This week we watch the ongoing tragedy in Minnesota related to the killing of Jamar Clark and the shooting of unarmed protesters by white supremacists.

    And this week as we continue our efforts to righteously resist systems of oppression using our bodies, our ballots and our bucks, we are excited to partner with our friends at Urban Cusp, Hands Up United, and other organizations around the county, calling for a nationwide #NotOneDime economic boycott from November 22 – December 3, 2015.

    The words of the prophet recorded in Isaiah 58, included here, serve as a sacred guide for us as we enter this season of disciplined economic resistance.

    We are inviting you and your loved ones to disengage in non-essential spending, and to redirect your spending to black and minority-owned business. Let’s begin to starve the beasts of corporate interest and economic systems which profit off the bodies of our loved ones.

    Rev. Michael McBride
    Director of Urban Strategies and the Live Free Campaign
    PICO National Network

    Read more »
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