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    Losing healthcare access, Medicaid too risky for Louisiana

    There are very few things, if any, more important in life than our health. As such, it’s important that we as Louisiana residents are mindful of the gains we’ve made through the Affordable Care Act as well as through Medicaid expansion here. For the first time ever, insurance companies are mandated to cover preventative care services and are also prohibited from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

    As the first state in the Deep South to expand Medicaid, Louisiana has positioned itself to be at the cutting edge of healthcare reform. With more than 420,000 individuals who now have health coverage under Medicaid expansion, Louisiana residents are receiving life-saving early detection because of an increase in health screenings and treatment of health conditions including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Sadly, however, many of the gains that have been made over the last few years are on the verge of being lost.

    On May 3, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) signaling the first victory toward President Donald Trump’s repeal and replace agenda. Though this reform impacts the entire nation, it poses significant concerns for poor states like Louisiana which, prior to Governor John Bel Edwards’ decision to expand Medicaid, had one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. A 2017 survey conducted by LSU’s School of Mass Communication noted that, “About three-fourths of Louisiana residents approve of the state’s decision to expand its Medicaid program last year under the auspices of the federal ACA. [However], the public remains deeply divided over the ACA itself, but opinion is shifting in a more favorable direction.” That being considered, it’s highly likely that many Louisiana residents, even those in favor of passing Trump’s AHCA, will be disgruntled to discover its potentially negative impact on Medicaid funding in Louisiana. If the Senate successfully passes the AHCA, those with pre-existing conditions could be forced out of the insurance marketplace into a “high risk” pool. There could be a reduction in the benefits now offered that cover preventative care services. This could have a major impact on the health of Louisiana residents.

    As of May 8, more than 6,400 Louisiana women were screened for breast cancer; 103 were diagnosed with cancer. Additionally, 8,823 Louisiana residents were screened for colon cancer. Of those individuals 2,593 of them successfully averted colon cancer by having polyps removed, and 82 individuals were diagnosed. These statistics make it clear that the issue of protecting the ACA and Medicaid expansion is about saving lives. In order to ensure that our state continues to move forward in providing access to healthcare for all of its residents, we must take action now prior to the U.S. Senate vote.

    Join other advocates and:

    • Stand together for health at the State Capitol. The “Health Day at the Capitol” is May 24 at 9am, hosted by the Louisiana Center for Health Equity in conjunction with the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone Louisiana and a number of other community organizations. The event will feature a press conference on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, followed by a display of resources in the Capitol Rotunda until noon. This is an opportunity to stand together in support of health care, showcase your organization and services, network with others, share your concerns, attend committee meetings and connect with legislators. (www.facebook.com/LACenterHealthEquity/).
    • Contact your U.S. Senator now. The Senate is taking up the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Contact your U.S. Senator now. Senator Bill Cassidy and Senator John Kennedy can be reached at (202) 224-3121. Select option “1”.
    • Subscribe to Louisiana Center for Health Equity newsletter. Stay informed about healthcare advocacy efforts and the work of LCHE partners. Go to http://www.healthcareeveryone.org/ and subscribe. The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is a nonpartisan non profit IRS tax exempt public charity 501(c)(3) organization. LCHE works to address the increasing disparities in health and healthcare across Louisiana. LCHE represents the interest of health equity by promoting the elimination of health disparities caused by poverty, lack of access to quality healthcare and unhealthy environmental conditions with a focus on health and wellness.

    By Alma C. Stewart, R.N., M.S
    Founder and President, Louisiana Center for Health Equity
    Convener, Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana
    Host, “Today’s Health Topics,” a weekly radio show on WTQT 106.1 FM.

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    Poetry camp offers creative outlet for teen summer enrichment

    Literary arts nonprofit, Forward Arts, is gearing up for Slam Camp – a three-week specialized summer experience for youth, ages 13-19, interested in learning elements of writing and performing poetry. The camp, which will begin on June 12 on the campus of Louisiana State University, offers participants instruction from world-class practitioners of the art form including Forward Arts’ staff members who have excelled at the highest levels of performance poetry.

     “One of the many benefits to participating in Slam Camp is the mastery of fearlessness,” said Chancelier Skidmore, Forward Arts’ Executive Director and former world poetry slam champion. “Public speaking is scary, but when given the tools to write compelling texts and to deliver those texts with ferocity and charisma, it opens up an entire realm of goals that seemed improbable before.”

    A typical day at Slam Camp includes attendees participating in community building exercises, writing workshops, eating lunch at LSU’s student union, group dialogues, reading circles and performance activities. Slam Camp also features special guest artists visiting once a week to do lecture demonstrations. Of past guest lecturers are trumpeter John Gray and former Louisiana Poet-Laureate Ava Haymon.

    Claudia Dixon, a mother of three past camp participants said she witnessed an immediate growth within her otherwise introverted sons.

    “As a returning parent to slam camp, I cannot explain how important it is to allow my children the ability to express themselves using a variety of methods, including verbal art.” Dixon said. “My sons have not only impressed me with their spoken word skills, they are now open to discussing social, political and gender issues that were never of importance to them prior to Slam Camp – my introverts have been converted.”

    More than exploring poetry and personal growth, Slam Camp offers participants a sense of community with likeminded youth.

    “I believe that young people participating in Slam Camp creates a more equitable opportunity for community storytelling,” said Desireé Dallagiacomo, Forward Arts program director and multi-time international slam finalist and viral sensation. “Because we have young folks from all walks of life, they hear stories and narratives from others that they wouldn’t encounter in their normal circles. This creates empathy and understanding, and we need that now more than ever.”

    As a staple of Slam Camp, norms of interaction are established on the first day to create a safe space for open expression. Participants are encouraged to write and dialogue in a manner that is honest and with respect to their fellow campers.

    Registration is now open. Slam Camp will take place June 12 to June 30, Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A closing showcase of work participants prepared throughout the camp will be held on Friday, June 30.

    The cost of the program is $150 for an individual camp participant. For families registering more than one youth, the cost is $100 per additional participant. Scholarships opportunities are available and determined on a case by case assessment of need. Registration and payment information available at forwardarts.org

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    Young Investors plan for future financial growth with local bank

    Fourth grade students at Glen Oaks Park Elementary School and their parents will soon learn the value of using even small savings to invest in tomorrow’s goals. These 66 Baton Rouge students are the in the inaugural class of Young Investors Children Savings Account Pilot Project class of LABEST.

    “As I crossed the threshold, I overheard a suited man talking to some students clad in their collared uniform shirts and holding brightly colored plastic piggy banks. He said, ‘Feed the pig and we’ll put interest on that…free money! Now, that’s what I’m talking about!’,” said Carmen Green, a policy fellow with the Louisiana Budget Project.

    The Children Savings Account is an initiative of The Middleburg Institute in collaboration with LABEST, a statewide coalition of organizations seeking to influence public polices and improve the lives of low wealth communities over a lifetime. TMI established the Young Investors elementary school savings project with support and research provided by Howard University Center on Race & Wealth, Washington University in St Louis, CFED and the Ford Foundation Building Economic Security over a Lifetime Initiative (BESOL). The Project teaches students the importance of savings and how to develop habits of making money, saving money, and spending wisely.

    Young Investors will raise money to deposit into the accounts. In addition to the personal deposits that students and their parents can make, the Young Investors will try their hand at entrepreneurship. They will engage in monthly fundraising activities for regular deposits so they can witness their accounts grow.

    The Young Investor’s program is partnering with Rhonda Jefferson and Lorraine Oubre, owners of Grandma Tootsie’s Creole Pralines. They plan to make and assist in selling pralines to raise money. In house, Young Investors may be “hired” as tellers in the school bank, and oversee daily accounting.

    The program features financial literacy coaches, professionals, and advisors including those from Edward Jones, Junior Achievement, and local banks who are available to students and parents during monthly learning opportunities.

    Alarian Brown, 10, already has ideas on money management. “With all the money I get, I want to save more,” she said. “I’ll keep it in the bank and when it comes to stuff I need, I’ll get it out.”

    Alarian, who has plans to be an orthodontist, is looking forward to the fundraising aspects of the program, including selling lemonade and pralines.

    That “free money” did not grow on some special cash tree. Financial advocacy group LABEST, The Middleburg Institute, and Gulf Coast Bank partnered to set the students up with a real savings account; each with $40 seed money. State Rep. Rick Edmonds ‘pledged a donation to the Young Investors program increasing the seed money for each enrolled student.

    As a member of the legislative education committee, Edmonds is well aware of the disinvestment in education and equality in the state and took his commitment to another level, said James. He plans to bring the students to the capital for a Young Investors Day this spring. This will give them exposure to state government.

    “As children and parents learn more about money management, it is our hope that this will influence change in behaviors as it relates to investing,” said Joyce James, LABEST state director. “Families may create workable budgets and start an emergency fund. We are able to say we changed behavior and increased the financial future for our children.”

    Green explained that these students will be able to grow into young adulthood with a little investment which they can use in high school or college for the ever-increasing tuition and dissipating scholarship opportunities. “Students will start to make the connection between production, cash and government, through exposure to entrepreneurs and local representatives,” she said.

    “I cannot determine the long-term effect on the city of Baton Rouge or on the lives of the students, but I see the potential. It feels like the Black community is brushing off the dust and moving forward,” Green said.

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    ‘I am that next legacy’

    When Cameron Sterling speaks, the nation watches. In July of 2016, he grabbed the attention of protestors, political leaders, television programs, and the President of the United States with his determined words of peace and quiet demeanor. The 16-year-old admonished protestors to stay peaceful and he explained to the world why his father’s life and those lives of other unarmed, Black men killed by police were valuable. 

    On May 3, Baton Rouge watched Cameron, again, with anticipation when he stepped up to the microphone for another press conference.  His family and local officials met with the U.S Department of Justice attorneys who were investigating the July 5, 2016, shooting death of his father, Alton Sterling, by two Baton Rouge police officers.

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    Alton Sterling

    To the world watching, the soft-spoken young man said, “Everyday, I wake up and miss my dad, and everyday God is with us,” he said with assurance. “No matter what goes on behind those closed doors in that court; it doesn’t matter…God is there for me. I have my brothers and sisters to look after—11 of them. But guess what, I am that next legacy. I am here after my dad.”

    He paused. His voice was steady. “God is with me. God is with all of us.” 

    His calmness was met by the family’s attorney Chris Stewart who said, “We didn’t leave the meeting defeated…We will not let rage run. It is not over! The family walked away after assuring the community that “the fight for justice would not be stopped by the DOJ inaction.”

    Questions quickly rose asking what would justice look like. 

    Justice would be having these officers fired and the state of Louisiana charge them with murder or second-degree murder. However, according the Urban League of Louisiana, charges are filed in only one percent of fatal shootings involving police.

    “There simply is not enough sufficient evidence to proceed,” said acting US Attorney Corey Amundson, but he also said the officer’s behavior—although reckless—may have been in violation of state code which Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office would have to determine. Amundson said use of force experts reviewed the case against BRPD officers Blaine Salamoni and Howie Lake II and, although they criticized the officers’ techniques, the experts still determined they could not prove that the officers behaved unreasonably and willfully. 

    “Being reckless is not a basis under the law for a federal civil rights prosecution,” Amundson said. Other attorneys said the officers’ use of force was beyond reasonable. 

    “They (DOJ officials) hands down agreed that the action of the police officers that night were outrageous were inappropriate, were not following procedure, were unexplainable but that meets the threashold of the attorney generals office which is where this case is going,” Stewart said, “In my opinion attorney general Jeff Landry has a phenomenal case against these officers. Not strong, phenomenal case. There can’t be any inaction from Jeff Landry. If you follow his history, he tries to do the right thing.” 

    Stewart said they learned in the meeting that Salamoni pointed a gun to Sterling’s head and said, “I will kill you, b***h.” 

    “We heard from them that Officer Salamoni kept instigating the situation,” Stewart said. “No police officer should conduct themselves like that…We demand that the A.G. proves that the department here has a higher standard and disapproves of the actions of the officers on that day.” He said, pointing out that Landry had persecuted other officers for excessive force earlier this year.

    The Sterling case has been turned over to the Landry’s office who will evaluate all evidence, interview witnesses, and conduct internal investigation of the BRPD. 

    State Rep. Edward  Ted James has sent letters to Landry asking him to appoint a special prosecutor. In the 10-month span, U.S. District Attorney Walt Green resigned at the request of the Trump Administration and Louisiana State Police head Mike Edmundson retired. 

    Their involvement in the investigation is unknown.

    “We are a long way away from getting this resolved,” said Baton Rouge NAACP president Mike McClanahan. “We have got to stay vigilant; we have got to stay in constant pursuit of justice.”

    According to Fatal Encounters, a national project documenting the number of deaths following incidents with police, 451 people had been killed by police since 2003. 

    Alexandria journalist Tony Brown, has record 13 incidents since 2003 where Black men who were unarmed were killed during incidents with local police. To him, the DOJ’s response is a pattern of systemic decision protect officers over innocent, nonviolent citizens. “This would turn out differently if the officers had been Black and the victims white,” Brown said. 

    For 13 years, he has been a central contact for the families of victims and has used his morning talk show “Eyes Open with Tony Brown” to vet emotions and get facts around 

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    Tony Brown

    incidents with police. 

    “It keeps boiling down to the officer’s use of force and whether or not they value that person’s life. We have to remember that the premise of use of force is buried in a system that thrives on inequality. Racial inequality predominately,” he said.

    “What these officers did to Mr. Sterling was provocative to say the least and they should be prosecuted,” “Unfortunately, we in Louisiana have seen officers walk away too many times even when they are blatantly violent towards citizens,” Brown said, referring to his list of victims. “We can not forget the history here,” he said. According to Brown’s records, these unarmed Black men have died in Louisiana: 

    • Marquise Hudspeth, 25, March 15, 2003, in Shreveport. 
    • Edward Ned Jr, 48, Nov. 11, 2004, in Lake Charles.
    • George Temple II, 24,  Feb.17, 2006, in Baton Rouge
    • Baron “Scooter” Pikes Jr, 21,  Jan. 17, 2008, in Winnfield.
    • Bernard Monroe Sr, 72, Feb. 20, 2009, in Homer.
    • Richard Goss, 36,  Nov. 26, 2008, in Alexandria
    • Harold Phillips, 54, July 2009, in Colfax 
    • Robert Ricks, 23, Feb. 5, 2011, in Alexadnria. 
    • Victor White III, 22, March 3, 2014, in New Iberia
    • Cameron Tillman, 14, Feb, 23, in Houma
    • Keenan Ardoin, 24, Dec. 4, 2014, in Ville Platte. 
    • Michael Noel, 32, Dec 21, 2015 in St. Martin

    “All of the victims were Black, all were unarmed, all were killed by police,” Brown said, who reported exclusively on six of these killings.

    “With the exception of the Harold Phillips murder in Colfax, all of the killer cops were exonerated. No charges were filed,” said Brown .

    Alton Sterling, 37, was shot six times at close range while held down on the ground by two Baton Rouge police officers. Sterling was selling CDs in front of a convenience store. Police were calledby someone reporting that a man was selling CDs and threatening people with a gun. Although the store manager said he did not see a gun, the officers shouted “gun” before killing Sterling.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate
     

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    50 Shades of Pink comes to Downtown Baton Rouge

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Nu Gamma Omega Chapter hosted 50 Shades of Pink: A Girls’ Night Out on Friday, April 28, 2017, at 6p.m. at the La State Capitol Visitor Center in downtown Baton Rouge. The event was facilitated by the arts committee of the chapter, and included: wine pairings, makeovers, medical spa consulting, shopping, author expos, fashion model participation, food,and music. All the proceeds of the event will directly benefit sewing camps for young girls in the Baton Rouge community.

    Submitted by Morgan E. Etienne, MPA

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    Responsibility rests with Cassidy, Kennedy to stop health care bill

    “Today’s vote is deeply troubling news for hundreds of thousands of Louisiana families who struggle to afford health coverage or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions. Congress rushed its vote on the American Health Care Act without getting an independent analysis of its impact from the Congressional Budget Office. That means we have no idea how much worse the bill has gotten, or how many people would lose coverage,” wrote Louisiana Budget Project director Jan Moller on the passage of the American Health Care Act.

    He added:

    What we do know is this: At a minimum, the bill would strip coverage from 24 million Americans - including 466,500 in Louisiana - over a decade. It would decimate the Medicaid program by cutting $800 billion, and increase pressure on the state budget to make up the lost revenue. It would strip away legal protections for people who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes, resulting in premium hikes that would make coverage unaffordable for those who need it most.

    The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it has been a godsend for Louisiana patients and the state’s economy. It has pumped billions of dollars into Louisiana and brought the state’s uninsured rate to a record low.

    It’s critical to remember that the AHCA is not yet law. The responsibility now rests with Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy to stop this bad bill, and work to strengthen the historic health care progress that’s been made in Louisiana.

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    We can not give in ‘to feelings of impotent rage,’ 100 Black Men say

    Through its president Michael Victorian, The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge released the following statement Thursday morning following the U.S. Justice Department decision on the Alton Sterling case on May 3

    Baton Rouge (LA) Alton Sterling’s death is a tragedy. It is compounded further by the Justice Department’s decision not to bring charges against the officers involved in his death. We respect Alton’s life and mourn the loss to his family and friends. We also state, categorically, that Mr. Sterling’s life mattered. The lives of the young African-American men and women who we mentor, matter and 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge will continue to do everything within its power to help young people reach their full potential. The systematic conditions that led to Mr. Sterling’s tragic death must be met head on with love, compassion, and an unwavering determination to help make all of our communities safe and economically vibrant.

    We recognize that the findings released on yesterday are frustrating. However, we urge all people of goodwill to use this moment as a call for greater and more meaningful engagement. It is meaningful and constructive to vent, protest, and fully engage in the democratic process. However, we cannot give in, though, to feelings of impotent rage through acts of violence.  Such action will only endanger our community.

    We call on those who wish to improve the lives of people here at the corner of Fairfield and N. Foster Drive (Baton Rouge, LA) to get directly involved in dismantling injustice. Furthermore, we applaud the leadership of our East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome who early in her administration took steps to execute much needed reforms to the Baton Rouge Police Department, including these five policy changes:

    1.      Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent circumstances.

    2.      Officers are required to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.  De-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.

    3.      Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.

    4.      Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle pose an immediate deadly threat to others.

    5.      Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer

    In order for these policies to have their intended effect, the Baton Rouge Police Department and its leadership must take active measures to ensure that those officers that do not comply with these policies will face serious significant discipline

    The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge is committed to continuing to engage our youth and families to strengthen our community. We hope that area citizens will answer this call to a crisis and set an example to the nation and the world as they watch.

    One Hundred Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, LTD. is a non-profit organization through which African-American males step forward and assume roles of community leadership, responsibility, and guidance.  Michael Victorian currently serves as the president and chairman of the board.

     

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    Congressman Graves: ‘this decision should have been issued sooner’

     Congressman Garret Graves (R – Baton Rouge) released the following statement today regarding the Department of Justice’s Alton Sterling decision:

     We cannot allow the tragic shootings of 2016 or the fallout to define us or our community, but we can learn from those experiences.

    All loss of life is tragic.  We’ve already lost Deputy Brad Garafola, Officer Matthew Gerald, Officer Montrell Jackson and Alton Sterling.  Deputy Nick Tullier is an amazing warrior overcoming all obstacles, but his life is forever changed and Deputy Bruce Simmons continues to recover from being shot.  Nothing good has resulted from these shootings.  Right or wrong, each loss represents a loved one, a friend, a confident, a husband, a community member – a life or part of life suddenly, prematurely, and in many cases, senselessly taken.

    The abundant evidence in this case –video footage, eyewitness accounts and other sources – faced the extensive scrutiny of both President Obama’s Department of Justice and the current Administration’s. Due to the prolific evidence, this decision should have been issued sooner; however, we trust that this decision is the product of a meticulous and fair investigation.

    The Capital Region has endured tremendous hardship – this tragedy, an ambush attack on law enforcement, historical flooding and the recent fatal shooting of a Baton Rouge Deputy.  We now have two choices:  1) We can come together as a community, be neighbors and lift one another up as we did in the August flood, or 2) We can, once again, go down the path of violence, death and loss.  Only one makes sense.

    I was born and raised in the Baton Rouge area.  What I experienced on July 17 when our officers were shot was unrecognizable.  It was like we were in a foreign country – not home.  An outsider spread his evil and hatred here.  Someone from out of state hijacked our community.  While Baton Rouge has its share of imperfections, we are better than that.

    From here, let’s work with our new mayor to convert the city we have into the city we want. I urge our community to continue to pray for the victims and their families and to pray for peace and understanding.

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    Read the entire Department of Justice statement on the Alton Sterling investigation

    The Justice Department announced on May 3 that the independent federal investigation into the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling on July 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges against Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II. Career prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Middle District of Louisiana and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, along with officials from the FBI and the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, met May 3 with Sterling’s family and their representatives to inform them of the findings of the investigation and the decision.

    Attorney General John Landry said his office will start reviewing the case with state police. Community leaders and organizations–including The Urban League of Louisiana, Together Baton Rouge, Congressman Garrett Graves, The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, and others–have released statements surrounding this finding.

    Here’s the complete report from the Department of Justice as presented by acting US attorney Corey R. Amundsen on May 3.

    Overview

    The Department conducted a ten-month, comprehensive, and independent investigation of the events surrounding Sterling’s death. Federal agents and career prosecutors examined evidence from multiple independent sources, including all available footage from police vehicles that responded to the scene and the body-worn cameras from responding officers; cell-phone videos of the incident; interior and exterior surveillance video footage from the store where the shooting occurred; evidence gathered by the BRPD’s crime lab; BRPD documents related to the shooting; personnel files and background material for both involved officers, including prior use-of-force incidents; BRPD policies and training materials; all relevant dispatch recordings between and among local law enforcement, including the originating 911 calls; forensic evidence reports; the autopsy report; photographs of the crime scene; toxicology reports; EMS reports; and extensive additional electronically-stored evidence. As part of the investigation, the FBI laboratory conducted an expert forensic analysis of the video footage capturing the incident between Sterling and the officers. The FBI also interviewed dozens of witnesses, including civilian witnesses who were present at the scene and officers who responded to the scene after the shooting. The Department also consulted with two independent use-of-force experts whom the Civil Rights Division has previously used as government witnesses in criminal prosecutions of civil rights violations.

    Applicable Law

    The Department examined the facts in this case under all relevant federal criminal statutes. The federal criminal statute applicable to these facts is Title 18, United States Code, Section 242, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law. In order to proceed with a prosecution under Section 242, prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a law enforcement officer acted willfully to deprive an individual of a federally protected right. The right implicated in this matter is the Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable seizure. This right includes the right to be free from unreasonable physical force by police. To prove that a police shooting violated the Fourth Amendment, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force was objectively unreasonable based on all of the surrounding circumstances. The law requires that the reasonableness of an officer’s use of force on an arrestee be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with added perspective of hindsight. The law set forth by the Supreme Court requires that allowances must be made for the fact that law enforcement officers are often forced to make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.

    Additionally, to prove that a shooting violated section 242, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers acted willfully. This high legal standard – one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law – requires proof that the officer acted with the specific intent to do something the law forbids. It is not enough to show that the officer made a mistake, acted negligently, acted by accident or mistake, or even exercised bad judgment.

    Although Sterling’s death is tragic, the evidence does not meet these substantial evidentiary requirements. In light of this, and for the reasons explained below, the federal investigation concluded that this matter is not a prosecutable violation of the federal statutes.

    Factual Summary

    While this summary is based on, and consistent with, all facts known to the government after a thorough investigation, it does not include or discuss all facts known to federal law enforcement officials or gathered through this investigation. Many of the facts gathered through the federal investigation are not permitted to be disclosed, and other particularly sensitive facts and evidence are not being disclosed in order to protect the integrity of the State Attorney General’s inquiry into whether any state statutes were violated.

    The investigation revealed that at approximately 12:30 a.m. on July 5, 2016, an individual called 911 from a location near the Triple S Food Mart (“Triple S”) and reported that he had been threatened outside of a store by a black man wearing a red shirt and selling CDs. The caller reported that the man had pulled out a gun and had the gun in his pocket. The caller’s first call disconnected, but he called back a few moments later and reiterated his report. Dispatch relayed that information to Officers Lake and Salamoni, who responded to the Triple S, where they saw Sterling, wearing a red shirt and standing by a table with a stack of CDs.

    The subsequent exchange between Sterling and the officers happened very quickly, with the events – from the officers’ initial approach to a struggle on the ground to the shooting – happening in rapid succession. From the moment when Officer Lake gave his first order to Sterling, through the firing of the final shot, the entire encounter lasted less than 90 seconds. More specifically, from the start of the officers’ physical struggle with Sterling on the ground, through the firing of the final shot, the encounter lasted less than 30 seconds.

    Multiple videos captured portions or the entirety of the officers’ interaction with Sterling. These include cell-phone videos, surveillance video from the store, and video from the officers’ body cameras and a police vehicle. FBI video forensic experts also provided enhancements of relevant videos for the portion of the struggle that immediately preceded the shooting.

    The videos show the officers as they arrived on scene and engaged with Sterling. The videos show that the officers directed Sterling to put his hands on the hood of a car. When Sterling did not comply, the officers placed their hands on Sterling, and he struggled with the officers. Officer Salamoni then pulled out his gun and pointed it at Sterling’s head, at which point Sterling placed his hands on the hood. After Sterling briefly attempted to move his hands from the hood, Officer Lake then used a Taser on Sterling, who fell to his knees, but then began to get back up. The officers ordered him to get down, and Officer Lake attempted unsuccessfully to use his Taser on Sterling again. Officer Salamoni holstered his weapon, and then tackled Sterling; both went to the ground, with Officer Salamoni on top of Sterling, who was on his back with his right hand and shoulder partially under the hood of a car. Officer Lake joined them on the ground, kneeling on Sterling’s left arm while Officer Salamoni attempted to gain control over Sterling’s right arm. Officer Salamoni then yelled, “Going for his pocket. He’s got a gun! Gun!” Officer Salamoni then unsuccessfully attempted to gain control of Sterling’s right hand, while Officer Lake drew his weapon and yelled at Sterling, again directing him not to move. Less than one second later, during a point at which the location of Sterling’s right hand was not visible to the cameras, Officer Salamoni again yelled that Sterling was “going for the gun!” Officer Salamoni then fired three shots into Sterling’s chest.

    After the first three shots were fired, Officer Salamoni rolled onto on his back, facing Sterling’s back, with his weapon still drawn. Officer Lake stood behind both of them with his weapon drawn and pointed at Sterling. Sterling began to sit up and roll to his left, with his back to the officers. Sterling brought his right arm across his body toward the ground, and Officer Lake yelled at Sterling to “get on the ground.” As Sterling continued to move, Officer Salamoni fired three more rounds into Sterling’s back. Within a few seconds, Officer Lake reached into Sterling’s right pocket and pulled out a .38 caliber revolver. Investigators later confirmed that Sterling’s gun was loaded with six bullets at the time of this exchange.

    Following the shooting, Officers Salamoni and Lake each provided a detailed statement offering his version of how and why this shooting happened. According to the officers, Sterling was large and very strong, and from the very beginning resisted their commands. The officers reported that they responded with multiple different compliance techniques and that Sterling resisted the entire time. Both officers reported that when they were on the ground, they saw Sterling’s right hand in his pocket, with his hand on a gun. Officer Salamoni reported that he saw the gun coming out and attempted to grab it, but Sterling jerked away and attempted to grab the gun again. Officer Salamoni then saw “silver” and knew that he had seen a gun, so he began firing. Both officers reported that after the first three shots, they believed that Sterling was attempting to reach into his right pocket again, so Officer Salamoni fired three more times into Sterling’s back.

    Discussion

    In light of the officers’ explanations of the shooting, the government, in order to prove a Fourth Amendment violation, would be required to (1) disprove the officers’ accounts, (2) prove an alternative account that demonstrates that the officers’ actions were objectively unreasonable; and (3) prove that the officers knew that their actions were unreasonable and took them anyway. The evidence in this case is insufficient to bear the heavy burden of proof under federal criminal civil rights law.

    To fully assess whether this shooting constituted an unreasonable use of force, federal investigators closely examined, among other things, all of the evidence concerning the location of Sterling’s right hand prior to the first set of shots. As mentioned, although the videos do not show Sterling’s right hand at the time those shots were fired, they show that Sterling’s right hand was not under Officer Salamoni’s control. The evidence also cannot establish that Sterling was not reaching for a gun when Officer Salamoni yelled that Sterling was doing so.

    Federal investigators interviewed numerous civilian witnesses to determine whether they could provide additional relevant information on the question of whether Sterling reached for a gun.

    Only two witnesses reported to the FBI that they could see Sterling’s right hand, and they indicated that his hand was not in his pocket. However, because of other inconsistencies in their statements, and because of the fact that parts of their accounts are materially contradicted by the videos, their accounts are insufficient to prove the position of Sterling’s right hand/arm beyond a reasonable doubt at the time the shots were fired. Although the Department found no reason to doubt the sincerity of the witnesses’ accounts, this incident happened in an instant, and the witnesses may have had no reason to be specifically watching for the precise location of Sterling’s right hand at the time of the shooting. Given the inconsistencies in the civilian witnesses’ perspectives and recollections and the fact that the video establishes that Officer Salamoni did not have control over Sterling’s right hand just before the shots were fired, the evidence simply cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt the position of Sterling’s right hand at the exact time of the shooting, a split-second later. The Department therefore cannot disprove the officers’ claim beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The investigators also consulted with two independent, nationally recognized use-of-force experts with whom the Civil Rights Division has previously consulted in civil rights cases. While both experts criticized aspects of the officers’ techniques, they also concluded that the officers’ actions were reasonable under the circumstances and thus met constitutional standards. The experts emphasized that the officers were responding to a call that someone matching Sterling’s description had brandished a weapon and threatened another person; that Sterling was large and strong; and that Sterling was failing to follow orders and was struggling with the officers. The experts noted that the officers also attempted to control Sterling through multiple less-than-lethal techniques before ultimately using lethal force in response to Officer Salamoni’s perception that Sterling was attempting to use a gun.

    The investigators’ review of BRPD files revealed no prior incidents involving substantiated allegations of misconduct by Officers Salamoni or Lake.

    In light of these facts, the evidence gathered during this investigation is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the use of force leading up to and including the shooting violated the Fourth Amendment.

    The federal investigators also considered whether the evidence proved the distinct statutory element of willfulness. To establish that the officers acted willfully, the government would be required both to disprove the reason the officers gave for the shooting and to affirmatively establish that the officers instead acted with the specific intent to violate Sterling’s rights—meaning that, in shooting Sterling, the officers knew that what they were doing was unreasonable or prohibited, and chose to do it anyway.

    For many of the same reasons described above, the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers’ actions were a willful violation of the Fourth Amendment. When Officer Salamoni first reported that Sterling was going for the gun, he said, “Going for his pocket, he’s got a gun! Gun!” Significantly, Officer Salamoni did not shoot Sterling at this point, and, instead, attempted to gain control of Sterling’s right hand. Officer Lake also warned Sterling not to move. Seconds later, Officer Salamoni yelled again that Sterling was “going for the gun!” and only then did he fire his own weapon. This evidence suggests that Officer Salamoni fired his weapon when he believed that Sterling was going for his gun a second time, after Officer Lake had warned Sterling not to move. In order to prosecute this matter, the government would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt not only that Sterling was not reaching for his gun, but also that, despite Officer Salamoni’s contemporaneous statements to the contrary, he did not believe that Sterling was reaching for his gun after being warned not to move. The Department lacks the evidence to prove either of those propositions beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The investigators also considered whether Officer Salamoni’s second series of shots was a prosecutable Fourth Amendment violation. Although the videos show that Sterling’s right hand was not in or near his right pocket, Sterling was continuing to move, even after being shot three times and being told again not to move by Officer Lake. Meanwhile, the officers were behind Sterling, and Officer Salamoni was lying on the ground, facing Sterling’s back. Given these circumstances, the evidence cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt that it did not appear to Officer Salamoni that Sterling was reaching for his pocket. Nor could the Department prove that the officer’s conduct was willful.

    Conclusion

    In sum, after extensive investigation into this tragic event, career Justice Department prosecutors have concluded that the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officers Salamoni and Lake willfully violated Sterling’s civil rights. Given the totality of the circumstances – that the officers had been fighting with Sterling and had attempted less-than-lethal methods of control; that they knew Sterling had a weapon; that Sterling had reportedly brandished a gun at another person; and that Sterling was much larger and stronger than either officer – the Department cannot prove either that the shots were unconstitutional or that they were willful. Moreover, two different, independent experts opined that this shooting was not unreasonable given the circumstances. With respect to the first series of shots, the experts assessed that it was not unreasonable for Officer Salamoni to use lethal force, in light of all of the circumstances referenced above. With respect to the second series of shots, both experts emphasized that officers are trained to eliminate a threat, and that Sterling appeared to pose a threat because he was still moving and his right hand was not visible to Officer Salamoni. Accordingly, the federal investigation into this incident has been closed without prosecution. Federal officials intend to provide the investigative file to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which intends to conduct its own investigation into whether the conduct at issue in this investigation violated state law.

    In this case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the FBI each devoted significant time and resources to investigating the circumstances surrounding Sterling’s death and to completing a thorough analysis of the evidence gathered. The Justice Department remains committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to devote the resources required to ensure that all serious allegations of civil rights violations are thoroughly examined. The Department aggressively prosecutes criminal civil rights violations whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so.

    Civil Rights Division
    Civil Rights – Criminal Section
    Community Relations Service
    Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    USAO – Louisiana, Middle

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    Barthelemy named to SUS board

    John L. Barthelemy, of Braithwaite, was appointed to the Board of Supervisors of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. Mr. Barthelemy is a Plaquemines Parish Councilmember and former educator. Mr. Barthelemy was the principal of Phoenix High School for 30 years. After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Isaac, he worked with FEMA to redevelop Phoenix High School. Mr. Barthelemy earned a Masters of Education degree and a Bachelors of Arts degree from Southern University. He will serve as a representative of the 1st Congressional District.

     

     

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  • ,,

    Small business, champions honored

    LED and SBA Honor 2017 Louisiana Small Business Award Winners

    Louisiana Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration announced the 2017 Louisiana Small Business Award winners at an event honoring small business leaders who exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit of Louisiana. The winners were honored in a private reception at the Governor’s Mansion, May 3.

    “We are pleased to recognize these enterprising and innovative business leaders, especially at this time in the middle of National Small Business Week,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “Small businesses account for more than 97 percent of all employers in Louisiana. They provide jobs to more than 900,000 of our state’s residents – more than half of our private-sector workforce – and they keep our communities vibrant. Small business success is vital to our state’s economy, and the business people we honor today are some of Louisiana’s best.”

    LED and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network served more than 13,475 small businesses and individuals last year, directly resulting in 1,022 new jobs, 1,587 retained jobs and the launch of 165 new businesses. The Small Business Award program recognizes top performers in a broad range of categories.

    The 2017 Louisiana Small Business Award winners are:

    2017 SBA Champion Award winners

    8(a) Graduate of the Year:
    Tiya Scroggins
    Scroggins Consulting
    Shreveport

    Family-Owned Business of the Year:
    Tom Sawyer
    Automotive Alignment and Brake Service
    Lake Charles

    Green and Sustainable Business Award:
    Elizabeth Shephard
    LifeCity LLC
    New Orleans

    Veteran Small Business Champion:
    Carla Antoine
    Life Towne Center
    New Orleans

    Women in Business Champion:
    Klassi Duncan
    Urban League of Louisiana – Women’s Business Resource Center Contractor’s Resource Lab
    New Orleans

    Region VI Women’s Business Center of Excellence:
    Joyce D. James
    Southeast Louisiana Women’s Business Center
    Baton Rouge

    Region Small Business Development Center of Excellence and Innovation Center Award:
    William (Bill) Joubert and Sandy A. Summers
    Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University
    Hammond

    2017 LED Entrepreneur Awards

    LED Small and Emerging Business of the Year:
    Trudy R. Poret
    Tarpan Construction LLC
    Cottonport

    LED Small Business Innovation Award:
    Chris Meaux
    Waitr
    Lake Charles

    LED Most Outstanding Business Growth Award:
    Alex W. Reed
    Fluence Analytics
    New Orleans

     

    LED Resource Partner of the Year:
    Louisiana Small Business Development Centers Network

    Louisiana PTAC Contractor of the Year:
    Suzette Freeman
    Janet Berry
    Carrie Harper
    Advantage Personnel
    Baton Rouge

    MEPOL Small Manufacturing Award:
    Walerij Holack
    Gulf South Machine
    Ponchatoula

    NFIB Small Business Champion:
    Mike Coullard
    Panola Pepper Corp.
    Lake Providence

    USDA Rural Development Lender of the Year:
    Jeremy Gilpin
    Greater Nevada Credit Union

    USDA Rural Development Borrower of the Year:
    Rock Bordelon
    Central Louisiana Hospital Group, LLC
    Benton

    Small Business Person of the Year:
    Alejandro (Alex) Hernandez
    Hernandez Consulting
    New Orleans

    Read more »
  • ,,

    State completes contract with IEM, invites interested subcontractors

    Louisiana has finalized a contract with global consulting firm IEM to manage the $1.3 billion Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program to help residents rebuild and repair their homes after historic flooding in March and August 2016.

    Founded in Baton Rouge in 1985 and headquartered in North Carolina, IEM focuses on emergency management. The company has worked on major recovery efforts, including Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. It also has a full-service office in Baton Rouge.

    Interested subcontractors can contact IEM directly by calling (225) 952-8256 or emailing Rela_subcontracting@iem.com.

    The homeowner assistance program is funded by $1.6 billion in flood recovery allocations through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition, the state is negotiating a contract with CohnReznick LLP, a quality control accounting, tax and advisory firm, to monitor the program.

    The Restore Louisiana Task Force comprises 21 individuals from throughout the state who were appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to oversee the rebuilding process after historic flooding in March and August 2016 impacted 51 parishes. The Task Force’s mission is divided into six categories: community planning, economic, health and social services, housing, infrastructure and natural and cultural resources. All task force documents are available at http://restore.la.gov/resources/. For more information, visit restore.la.gov.

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  • ,,

    Farm to Work program enrollment extended

    Farm to Work program participants receive fresh, locally grown and seasonal produce delivered directly to the work site during the 10-week spring/summer and fall/winter growing seasons. In addition to the produce, participants receive reminder emails, recipes, tips and storage guidelines to get the most from their produce.

    The Farm to Work Program will be offered at the Dow Westside YMCA, Paula G. Manship YMCA, A.C. Lewis YMCA and Southside YMCA. The program will run from May-June during the summer season, and again from October-December during the winter season.

    Those wishing to participate in the program should enroll by April 21st in order to receive your fresh produce in time.

    Cost:
    One time per season $5 enrollment fee, plus:
    5 Box Plan: $25/box x 5 boxes = $125 total cost, every other week delivery
    10 Box Plan: $25/box x 10 boxes = $250 total cost, every week delivery

    ONLINE, click here.

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  • ,,

    Two-day celebration planned to honor Malcolm X, May 19-20

    Although, May 19 is not an official holiday, organizers in Baton Rouge are inviting residents to a two-day celebration honoring civil rights activist Malcom X.

    Called Malcolm X Day, the May 19-20, event is the brain child of Jasiri Basel of JB Digital Ventures and organized through a partnership with THE CEO MIND Foundation and East Baton Rouge Councilman Lamont Cole.

    The event celebrates Malcolm X’s birth and work for national change.

    “All citizens can celebrate which ever holiday we deem to celebrate; it is not necessary to be given permission to do so.   Malcolm X Day is one of those days that definitely needs to be celebrated; his life, his thoughts, his change and his impact are things that we should pay tribute to despite what the ‘official’ calendar says,” said Basel.

    “So, on this day May 19th, we celebrate intelligence, wisdom, unity, strength, and forward progress as a community. On this day we work toward making a real effort to do better , to have more impact and to improve the conditions of our community.   We do so for our future and in honor of Malcolm X!”

    Basel answered more questions about the Day.

     

    Who are the supporters of Malcolm X Day?

    Some key supporters of the event include: Jeremy Jackson of State Farm; State Representative C. Denise Marcelle; Ma’at Adorned

    Ray Automotive; Attorney Jerrard Young; and James Gilmore, PhD., Assistant Chief Administrative Officer to the Mayor. Most importantly the Streetz and the people of Baton Rouge who want to see real positive change. These are not all of the supporters and the list is growing everyday. So we welcome all who support positive unity within our community to solve and change things , to reach out and connect.

     

    How did the idea originate?

    For the past couple of years I’ve thought about doing something to celebrate the hero Malcolm X , but usually due to me being too busy or out of the country, it didn’t take place.  This year we decided to make the event a priority.

     

    Why host a Malcolm X Day?

    It’s needed to celebrate the life, accomplishments, and legacy of Malcolm X.   It’s needed to communicate the message that we don’t have to be told who to celebrate and why.  It’s need to unify our community for forward progress.   It’s needed for our future.

     

    What are all the activities for the two days?

    Friday May 19th -  Mixer and Listening Event at Club Culture, 450 Oklahoma Street, Baton Rouge. This is where we bring together members of our community who want to see progress for us as a people.   There we will be a uniquely choose sound track that will be the focal point of the evenings event. Those in attendance will get to network with others of like minds as step forward in building something that has not been done before.   There will be light refreshments served.

     

    Saturday May 20th – Malcolm X Community Cookout. This event is about unifying our community and our people.  A coming together to provide some simple steps that those in the community can do to help with progress for themselves.  This event is about empowering our community.  This event will make a statement that we will pick and celebrate our heroes and we don’t need permission or day designated by them to do so.  We will provide food for the community, games for the kids, and will replay the sound track.   (Other details are to come)

     

    Are there any rainy day plans? 

    Yes, this event will take place despite the weather.

     

    As of now what other groups or people involved in the activities?

    We are attempting to get every organization that is doing work for positive change in the community involved. We have and are reaching out to every organization we can think of,  and if by chance we haven’t reached them yet and they want to get involved, we are totally open to have them. So please reach out.  Visit the site www.MalcolmsDay.org for more information. There are a lot of moving parts to an event of this nature, a lot of mental power, planning, manpower, and resources are needed.  Those involved are doing their part in support.

     

    Is this an annual event? 

    Yes, this is the first of an annual celebration that we expect to see become more impactful every year. We are planning with other partners to ensure that the holiday will be officially celebrated in several cities across the nation next year.

     

    What do you expect to be the result?

    Various leaders coming together to do work towards long term objectives that benefit the community and the youth. The community taking to take more responsibility for the outcomes that directly impact their kids, their community, and their lives.

     

    Is this event connected to the Manhood 101 event and Saturday in the park that your organization hosts?

    Yes, everything we do is connected in one way or another because all of our programs and outreach have a common goal of empowering, impacting, and providing real, tangible pathways to strengthen individuals and the community as a whole.  The Malcolm X Day events are directly in alignment with that purpose.

     

    Is registration required to participate?

    It’s not specifically required, but it is suggested as it will help us prepare for the amount of people that will be attendance. Those who have registered may receive some surprises and benefits that those who have not might not. We ask that everyone check the site www.MalcolmsDay.org on a regular basis as it will stay updated with information regarding the event, pre contest, supporters, etc.  Be sure to check out the FAQs on the website as well

    Basel is founder of THE CEO MIND Foundation focuses on engagement, empowerment,  education and pathways for individual and collective progress of the community. The foundation hosts manood courses, provides meals on Saturdays in the Gus Young community of Baton Rouge, through its Grill & Connect initiative, and host community dialogues on technology and opportunities for community sustainability.

    ONLINE: MalcolmsDay.org

    THECEOMIND.org

     

     

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  • ,,

    Vote on school tax renewal April 29

    On April 29, voters in East Baton Rouge will determine the 10-year renewal of two property taxes totaling an estimated $42 million over 10 years to improve and maintain salaries of employees and to reduce state receipts to maintain the system. Specifically, voters will say “yes” or “no” to these propositions which state:

    Cons. Sch. Dist. No. 1 Prop. No. 1 – 7.14 Mills Renewal – SB – 10 Yrs.: Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of seven and fourteen hundredths (7.14) mills on all the property subject to taxation in said District (an estimated $25,437,280 is reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2019, for the purpose of giving additional support to the public elementary and secondary schools in said District by providing funds for improving and maintaining salaries and benefits of public school employees in said District?

    Cons. Sch. Dist. No. 1 Prop. No. 2 – 4.98 Mills Renewal – SB – 10 Yrs.:Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of four and ninety-eight hundredths (4.98) mills on all the property subject to taxation in said District (an estimated $17,741,970 is reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2018, for the purpose of giving additional support to the public elementary and secondary schools in said District by providing funds for the purpose of replacing reduced state and local receipts and operating and maintaining the public school system in said District?

     

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  • ,,

    Youth culminate traumatic year through poems of resilience

    “Here Still” was the mantra of this year’s ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival, a theme imagined from a season of tragedy that both publicly and personally affected festival participants. Held over two weekends in April throughout downtown Baton Rouge, the festival’s culminating event on April 8, punctuated the youths’ tribute to the resilience of the city in the aftermath of a turbulent summer, which included the sudden passing of 2016 festival participant and McKinley High School graduate Kaiya Smith.

    “The theme of this year’s festival saw our students examining the tragedies of last summer from both a critical and cathartic lens,” said Donney Rose, marketing director and events coordinator at Forward Arts. “About half of our festival participants wrote poems that carefully examined what it was to live in a city engulfed in civil unrest and natural disaster. The other half wrote a great deal about what it was to process the loss of a friend with whom they had shared a festival stage just last year.”

    To further tribute Smith, festival coordinators, joined by Smith’s mother, Petrouchka Moise, infused her words and images throughout festival displays, even presenting the first-ever Kaiya Smith Award for WordCrew Excellence to Tyler Scott – a member of Forward Arts’ afterschool poetry writing collective and festival participant. The award gifts the recipient an all-expense paid trip to the 20th annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival (BNV) to be held in July in San Francisco, where the top ranked poets of ALL CITY grand slam finals will compete. Smith was a member of the 2016 team that ranked 5th in the world.

    Olivia Williams, Chazzi Hayes

    Olivia Williams and Chazzi Hayes perform tribute poem in honor of Kaiya Smith. Photo by Leslie D. Rose.

    “This year has been bittersweet. Every moment with our team is a painful reminder of what we’ve lost – My Kaiya. Our Kaiya,” said Chelsea Schilling, English teacher at McKinley High School and co-coach of its poetry slam team. “Although it hurts, we are still here. We will continue to write, continue to perform, continue to be heard, for us, and for her. I am truly amazed at what these students can do and I am so thankful that Forward Arts gives them a space where their voices will be heard.”

    McKinley High School placed second, following a team from Baton Rouge Magnet High School who won the title of 2017 ALL CITY Champions. Finalists also included a second BRMHS team and a team from Port Allen High School. All poets who performed individually had the chance to earn a spot on the 2017 Forward Arts All Stars slam team to compete at BNV – this year they are Jazmyne Smith, Olivia Williams, Chazzi Hayes, Kalvin Morris, Imani Sundiata, and Imani McCullam.

    3

    2017 ALL CITY champions Baton Rouge Magnet High School poets Donovan Thomas, Jayda Jefferson, Rikki Willis (coach), Chazzi Hayes, Kalvin Morris, and Olivia Williams. Photo by Leslie D. Rose.

    Forward Arts has sent a team to BNV since 2006. The first ALL CITY festival was held in 2007 and remains the only festival of its kind in the region, having hosted hundreds of youth poets, ages 13 to 19. It was created to provide an elevated platform to youth voices, while also appealing to Louisiana’s storied festival culture. Throughout its 12 year history, youth from Baton Rouge and surrounding rural communities have found an outlet through Forward Arts’ programming.

     

    “Students were able to express this year’s theme through acceptance, support, and encouragement for all participants,” said Michael Hilton, assistant principal at Donaldsonville High School and coach of its poetry slam team. “We all were able to connect to the theme: flood victims, rural community students who tend to be forgotten, minorities, and those with preferences different than the majority of us – we are all connected; we are all vitally important to our future; we are all Here Still.”

    Hilton was the recipient of the 2017 ALL CITY Coaches Award that honors coaches who showcase exemplary dedication to their team.

    4

    2017 Forward Arts All Stars slam team Imani McCullam, Kalvin Morris, Chazzi Hayes, Imani Sundiata, Jazmyne Smith and Olivia Williams. Photo by Leslie D. Rose.

    The Spirit of the Slam award was presented to the Louisiana School for the Deaf for displaying noteworthy sportsmanship throughout the festival. This year the school had so many students interested in participating for the ALL CITY that they sent two teams to compete.

    “This event affords each of our students the opportunity to share with others their life experiences as young deaf people, as well as their own heartfelt issues, and we can’t thank Forward Arts enough for providing such a venue,” said Lisa Cook, instructor of high school language and theatre at Louisiana School for the Deaf and coach of its poetry slam team. “The support of the other teams, as well as the validation of their ‘voice,’ is invaluable.”

    A poetry slam is an Olympic-style spoken word poetry competition in which poets perform original writing within a three minute time limit. Originality, physicality and vulnerability are some the hallmarks of successful slam poems.

    The youth of Forward Arts are under the tutelage of internationally-acclaimed slam poets, such as executive director Chancelier ‘xero’ Skidmore, a former world poetry slam champion, and program director Desireé Dallagiacomo, a multi-time international poetry slam finalist and viral video sensation. The staff of Forward Arts collectively has more than 15 years experience as teaching artists and administrators of youth spoken word poetry.

    Forward Arts, Inc. fosters personal and social transformation by providing arts instruction, literary education, and youth development in Southeastern Louisiana.

     

     

    By Leslie D. Rose
    Special to The Drum

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    ‘b-side for tray’ comes to Baton Rouge, April 29

    Kimber Lee’s beautiful play, Brownsville Song (b-side for tray), tells the story of a family grieving the tragic loss of 18-year-old Tray, who was shot in his neighborhood of Brownsville, New York. Moving fluidly between past and present, this dynamic new play explores a family at its weakest and strongest moments. Through its intimate portrayal, we’re challenged to resist complacency and reminded of the true value of every life.

    Brownsville song (b-side for tray) runs 7:30pm Saturday, April 29, at and 3pm Sunday, April 30, at Louisiana State University, Music and Dramatic Arts Building.The production is directed by New Venture Theatre’s The Piano Lesson director Tim Sandifer and features an all-star cast including Dwayne Butler, Denisa Joshua, Addison Jordan, Krystal Blatcher, Drelan Evans, and Dion Sideboard.

    Director Tim Sandifer is a theatre director and teacher originally from Baton Rouge who has worked in numerous capacities at Theatre Baton Rouge, Independence Park Theatre, Baker Little Theatre and many other performance venues throughout the region.
    He has trained, performed and directed in many places throughout the world. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern State University of Natchitoches in theatre directing/performance and technical theatre and design. From there he went on to receive his Master of Fine Arts from East 15 Acting School, a part of The University of Essex in London. Tim worked at GITIS – The Russian University for Drama in Moscow. There he worked with direct assistants of Constantin Stanislavski.
    Tim currently serves as the Theatre and Fine Arts teacher at Plaquemine Senior High School. He lives with his wife and fellow Artistic Director of Spotlight Performing Arts Academy, Amber Sandifer, and their three-year-old daughter in Port Allen.
    CAST:
    Tray – Dwayne Butler
    Lena – Denisa Joshua
    Devine – Addison Jordan
    Merrell – Krystal Blatcher
    Junior – Drelan Evans
    Brooklyn College Student – Dion SideboardDESIGN & PRODUCTION STAFF:

    Scenic Designer – Tim Sandifer
    Costume Designer – Christian Jones
    Lighting Designer – Piper Productions
    Properties Designer – Melanie Williams
    Stage Manager – Chelsea Ciconne
    Sound Designer – Bryan Jareau
    TICKET PRICES:Regular Admission | $27
    Students With Valid ID | $22
    BOX OFFICE:     225-588-7576 or www.nvtarts.org
    Group rates available and special pricing available for student groups. Call 225-588-7576 or visit www.nvtarts.org  to purchase tickets or subscriptions.
    Read more »
  • ,,

    ‘PHAT’ girls take over Baton Rouge runway

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    Plus-sized women from across Baton Rouge were cheered on has they ripped the runway at PHAT Girl Takeover -The Next Episode Fashion Show at the EpiCenter. The ladies were 17 to 51 years of age and sported attire from local boutiques and designers from across the state.

    For eight weeks, the models attended personal and professional development workshops and were trained to walk the runway by plus-size model and runway coach Patrice Purnell. Jerris Cade was emcee, and Brandon WB Williams of Ivanhoe, North Carolina performed his hit single “The Plus-Size Diva Anthem.”

    The fashion show was organized by SheProductions, LLC, and owner Simone Higginbotham. Photos by Tarnish Jasper. Model attire provided by Big and Desirable.

    Submitted News

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  • ,,,

    COMMENTARY: #BlackWomenatWork will be respected, not intimidated

    “She can’t be the owner.”

    “Can you be a little less aggressive?”

    “We can only pay you this amount.”

    These are the phrases that echo in the ears of many working African-American women. The sly remarks of their superiors, colleagues, and sometimes, even friends, all cause African-American women to perform daily self-assessments. So, it wasn’t by chance that the moment White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attacked journalist April Ryan and Bill O’Reilly commented about U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, we all fell to our knees in disgust and understanding. It was by chance the first time the feminist voice met the racism cry accompanied by the “Black head nod”. Because, quite frankly, we knew that experience of inferiority and unsolicited comedy, with the focus on us all too well.

    I guess you would think it wouldn’t be such a big deal. How could a hashtag draw so much attention? Well, for the degreed sister, the one who had to climb the corporate ladder alone; the one who consistently holds the Angry Black Woman stereotype under a professional subtle demeanor; the one who over dresses daily and under asserts her authority; the one with the alphabets behind her name or the desire to open that business;  the one who contemplates braids versus a relaxer;  who tries desperately not order poultry at the fancy dinner and commits to ensuring that her colloquialisms are far from connected to the urban area she grew up in…. she finally found relief in seeing the #BlackWomenatWork hashtag. The hashtag meant that she wasn’t alone and neither were her inner most feelings.

    #BlackWomenatWork

    So, for clarity, Black women are not insecure. In fact, we are extremely educated and many times over qualified.  Yet, in the doors of the corporation, African-American women are immediately and unapologetically mistaken for “The Help” and, quite frankly, we’re tired. It is time that every Black woman garner the respect and credibility that we’ve worked hard to achieve. We can’t let a Trump administration infused with misogyny and racism, or the boss that is only succeeding because of your work ethic, or the looks received on your corporate trip from the concierge allow you to give in to the  ridiculous labeling of the Black woman.

    See we admit and concede to the fact that our femininity connects us to the same struggles as our sisters of other races. We don’t down play their struggle, but even Hillary Clinton had to step out in outrage over the attacks received by the Black woman in the public view. Let’s examine the attacks: not one experienced by Representative Waters or Ms. Ryan have been embedded with anything more than focus on physical appearance and gestures. Why is that? It’s because there is nothing else to attack her on. Not her education. Not her qualifications. Not her experience. So, the oppressor resorts to low blows and calls out the things that only an immature bully can get others to see.

    What does this all do to us? Well, we start a fight among ourselves, better known as “double consciousness,” as coined by the great W.E.B. DeBois. We feel so marginalized that our inner fight grows to conducting ourselves to be accepted; and we sometimes silence our voice and accept being underpaid, however, the one thing we do and we do well is keep pushing. We outwork our counterparts. We quit jobs that never valued our work ethic. We start our own businesses. We stay in positions to help the next Black girl get in.  You’ll probably never hear us complain because we’ve learned a long time ago that doesn’t solve anything. But this year, we’ve screamed enough. We’ve banned together with a measly hashtag and demanded everyone realize that #BlackWomenatWork WILL be respected and NOT intimidated.
     Erika Green

    Erika L Green, ESQ

    I’m reminded of a statement written a century ago that summarizes the conflict that the Black woman experiences. Soujourner Truth said, “I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?” We will continue to work and eat just as much as our counterparts but the lash ends today!

    By Erika L. Green
    Guest columnist

    Erika Green is managing attorney at Law Office of Erika Green  and Baton Rouge City Councilmember District 5. Follow her @erikalgreenesq

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    Urban Congress general convening to discuss improving life outcomes for Black males

    MetroMorphosis, a non-profit dedicated to transforming urban communities from within, is hosting the Urban Congress General Convening on Saturday, April 8 at the BREC Headquarters, 6201 Florida Blvd. This event is an initiative of the organization’s program, The Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge.

    The event is free and open to individuals of all walks of life. Interested community members must register at www.theurbancongress.com  to attend. There will be no on-site registration.  Saturday’s event will feature several guest speakers including Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Trabian Shorters of BMe Community and national speaker and author, Rodney Walker. Check-in for the one-day convening begins at 8:15am and the event will conclude at 2pm.

    In 2015, MetroMorphosis commissioned a study on the state of Black boys and men in Baton Rouge. It includes several daunting statistics that led to the creation of The Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge.

    The Congress held the first general convening in April of 2016 where more than 250 businessmen, elected officials, and concerned citizens gathered for a high-energy day focused around creating a path forward for sustainable change. urbancongresslogo

    It’s been a year of growth since then. The Congress developed a vision, mission, and 7 goals along with groups working towards those goals, plus an 8th group focused around influencing policy. Further, over 70 community organizations are actively engaged who are excited about the work and eager to partner to achieve the seven goals.

    “Our main message is that there’s no quick fix to the challenges we face. It will take time. We were intentional about taking a year to learn of the assets in our community for Black boys and men and now, it’s time for action,” said MetroMorphosis president Raymond A. Jetson.

    The work is in collaboration with  My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, housed in the Mayor’s office, and 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge.

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    Celebrity bowling challenge set for April 8

    Baton Rouge Bowling Proprietors will host the “Mayor’s Celebrity Bowling Challenge to Strikeout Hunger” with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Saturday, April 8, benefiting the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

     Broome will be joined by television anchors and reporters, and other local celebrities at the Raising Cane’s River Center. The event begins with a VIP reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and bowling from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. More than 200 people are expected to participate.

    “This is a fun event for the whole community and it raises money for a great cause,” Broome said. “The Food Bank was hit hard by the flood, so this fundraiser will help them move forward in their recovery efforts.”

    The bowling challenge is a kickoff for the United States Bowling Congress Women’s Championships, which will be held in Baton Rouge starting April 23. The Mayor’s Celebrity Challenge was last held in 2012 during the USBC Open Championships in Baton Rouge.

    The challenge is being sponsored by the USBC, Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers, the Kiwanis Club of Cortana and others.

    Tickets are also available for $50 per person for those who want to attend the event, but don’t want to bowl.  For more information, contact call Marc Pater at 225-603-5914 or paterm@bellsouth.net.

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    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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    Bill to exempt flood victims from taxes pass in Senate

    Senator Neil RiserA key Senate panel approved Senator Neil Riser’s bill exempting flood victims from paying state income tax in 2017. Without objection, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee approved SB 240 on May 1.

    “This morning, we sent an important message to flood victims across Louisiana that you are not forgotten,” Riser said. “Many families and businesses are still struggling to recover. With limited funds available, the least the state can do is exempt them from paying income tax for one year while they rebuild their lives,” Riser said.

    If the bill becomes law, the first $100,000 of income that a family earns in 2017 will be exempt from state income tax if the family sustained $10,000 or more of losses during 2016 flooding.

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    Broome invites public to city-wide dialogue on education, March 21

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome is inviting education stakeholders to attend the City Parish’s Inaugural Education Roundtable: City-Wide Dialogue to help close the education gap in our community.

    As part of the roundtable which will be held on March 21, East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Members, Metro Council Members, and other educators will come together to share common goals, express challenges, and develop solutions to enhance the educational experiences of our children. Representatives from Southern University, LSU, and Baton Rouge Community College will also participate in the event.

    “While education doesn’t fall directly into my realm of responsibility, it is a very important part of helping to move our City Parish forward,” Broome said.  “My vision for this forum is to help support local systems and boards so all of our students have an opportunity to succeed.”

    The education roundtable will take place at the Raising Cane’s River Center in rooms 9 and 10 from 3:30pm to 7pm. It will include two sessions:

    ·        3:30pm. to 5:15pm, Information sessions will feature speakers discussing various topics including early childhood expansion, higher education connections, and future workforce demands.
    ·        5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., a dialogue between Metro Council and School board members about proactive measures that can be taken to enhance the experiences of our children.

    Members of the audience will also have an opportunity to ask questions or make comments.  Participants should enter the River Center on the St. Louis Street side near the theater.

    Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP here: Attend Education Roundtable
     

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    Southern University to observe its 137th Founders’ Day, March 9

    On Thursday, March 9, 2017, Southern University will host its 137th Founders’ Day with activities commemorating its history, honoring employees celebrating 10, 20, 30, and 40 years of service, and recognizing Southern University alumni who are elected officials throughout the state of Louisiana.

     

    This year’s observance of the annual recognition is themed, “Southern University:  Positively Impacting the Community, the State, the Nation, and the World.”

    The public SUBR Founders’ Day celebration will begin with a SU Laboratory School Commemoration at 8:30 a.m. The Community Prayer Brunch/Founders’ Day Convocation begins at 10 a.m. in the F. G. Clark Activity Center, a voter registration drive will be held at the Clark Activity Center service entrance during the convocation, and a SU Founders’ Day Birthday Party at noon in Jaguar Square in front of the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union.

    In keeping with the celebration of Baton Rouge’s Bicentennial, the 2017 Southern University Founders’ Day observance is scheduled as one of the University’s events to commemorate the founding of Baton Rouge. The city in January celebrated 200 years since its incorporation.

     

    To highlight the special SUBR observance, Sharon Weston Broome, the first female elected mayor-president of Baton Rouge-East Baton Rouge Parish, will serve as the keynote speaker for a mid-morning combination Community Prayer Brunch and Founders’ Day Convocation in the Felton G. Clark Activity Center.

     

    Prior to becoming mayor, Broome served as a Louisiana State Representative (District 29) and a Louisiana State Senator (District 15). While in the legislature, Broome became the first female to hold the leadership position of pro tempore in the House and Senate.

    Over the years, Broome has been recognized for her service and leadership by a number of organizations including the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana Health Freedom Coalition, the American Heart Association, Every Child Matters, Morehouse College – just to name a few.


    “This Founders’ Day commemoration is especially meaningful as we honor the hope and perseverance of early public servants whose brave and historic efforts chartered what was established 137 years ago in the city of New Orleans — Southern University. Their legacy is remembered as we recognize the continuing contributions of many our officeholders whose education was made possible by our Founders,” said Ray L. Belton, SU System president-chancellor.

     

    About the SU System Commemorative History
     

    Delegates P.B.S. Pinchback, T.T. Allain, T.B. Stamps, and Henry Demas sponsored the movement in Louisiana for an equal opportunity institution of higher learning in the 1879 Louisiana State Constitutional Convention. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of this institution for the education of persons of color in New Orleans. Southern University, chartered by Legislative Act 87 in April 1880, had a 12-member Board of Trustees. The act provided for the establishment of a faculty of “arts and letters’ competent in “every branch of liberal education.” The charter sought to open doors of state higher education to all “persons competent and deserving.” Southern opened with 12 students and a $10,000 appropriation. With the passage of the 1890 Morril Act, the University was reorganized to receive land-grant funds.

    In 1912, Legislative Act 118 authorizes the closing of Southern University in New Orleans, the sale of its property, and the reestablishment of the University on a new site. In 1914, the “new” Southern University opened in Scotlandville, Louisiana, receiving a portion of a $50,000 national land-grant appropriation Southern University in New Orleans and Southern University Shreveport were authorized by Legislative Acts 28 and 42 in 1956 and 1964 respectively. The Southern University Board of Supervisors, a management board authorized by the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, was created to govern the Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport campuses. In 1985, the A.A. Lenoir Law School was designated the Southern University Law School.  Dedicated in January 2002, the new Ashford O. Williams Hall is home to the fifth SU System campus, the Agricultural Research and Extension Center, which also is located in Baton Rouge.  

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    Madam Mayor: Meet Louisiana’s Black Female Mayors

    Village of Mansfield mayor Dessie Lee Patterson was known across Louisiana as a lone ranger in her fight for universal civil rights. On March 14, 1971, she became the first Black female to serve as mayor in the state when she was appointed to fill an unexpired term in the Village of South Mansfield. Prior to becoming Mayor she was involved in politics and community activism decades earlier. Patterson was one of the pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement in the local area. She joined federal officials in the 1950s and 1960s to encourage Blacks to vote since elections in South Mansfield  were hampered by the lack of registered voters.

    Louisiana's first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    Louisiana’s first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    Patterson was murdered Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Born July 6, 1919, the 88-year-old community servant was brutally stabbed to death by suspected killer, Bobby Harris for $200 in $1 bills. “The small amount of money he took makes it even more senseless and tragic,” family said to reporters at the time. Her term was set to expire in December 2008. Patterson was described as a sweet-spirited person who gave her life for this community and worked tirelessly in her role as mayor.

    “The story of how she got into office and what has happen to her since provides a classic illustration of trials and tribulation suffered by African Americans in some parts of the country when they aspire to be an elected officials,” wrote her grandson, Kerwan Reed, in a tribute. “As we look forward to our future we must not loose sight of those who paved the way for us.” Because of Patterson, the state now has 17, Black female mayors serving in large cities, villages, and towns.

    The mayors are: Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Lori Ann Bell of the Town of Clinton, Irma Gordon of the Town of Kentwood, Erana Mayes of Melville, Trashier Keysha Robinson of the Village of Tangipahoa, Ollie Tyler of Shreveport, Shaterral Johnson of Grand Coteau, Demi Vorise of Maringouin, Jennifer Vidrine of Ville Platte, Johnnie Taylor of Powhatan, Josephine Taylor-Washington of Clayton, Rose Humphrey of Natchez, Alma Moore of the Town of Boyce, April Foulard of Jeanerette, Donna Lewis Lancelin of Baldwin, Dorothy Satcher of Saline, and Wanda McCoy of Rosalind.

    “This class of Black women mayors represents the single largest group to serve the state simultaneously,” said Vernon “Step” Martin, president of the Louisiana Municipal Black Caucus Association who, along with The Network Coalition, honored the mayors. They gathered at Star Hill Baptist Church, Feb. 23, for a special Black History Month salute.

    Meet some of the current Black, female mayors of Louisiana.

    Photo: Mayors Irma Gordon, Lori Bell, Shaterral Johnson, Sharon Weston Broome, Erana Mayes, and Trashier Keysha Robinson are among the 17 Black, female mayors of Louisiana, the largest group in the state’s history. Photo by Sailor Jackson.

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    Small farmers gather for annual conference on innovations, resilience

     Small farmers from throughout the state will gather at the Southern University Ag Center March 16-18 to attend the 7th annual Louisiana Small Farmer Conference.

    The three-day conference, themed “Innovations and Resilience for Louisiana 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.

     Registration for the conference is complimentary for anyone who submits their registration form by Friday, March 3. On-site registration will begin at 8am.

     Conference speakers will include Jay Grymes, chief meteorologist at WAFB News Channel 9; Brandon Davis, agriculture labor attorney at Phelps Dunbar, LLC.; Leonard Jordan, associate chief for conservation at the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and Brennan Washington, minority farmer/ outreach specialist at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE).

    Session during the conference will include:

    • Drone Demonstrations
    • Grant Writing
    • Soil Health
    • Farm Labor
    • Marketing

    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.

    Other events occurring during the conference will include the Louisiana Living Legends Banquet, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and the graduation ceremony for the 2016 Class of the Louisiana Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    To register, visit http://www.suagcenter.com/small-farmers or contact Kelli Hollins at 225-771-2242 or e-mail kelli_hollins@suagcenter.com.

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    Southern calls Town Hall to discuss medical marijuana venture

    The Southern University land-grant campus–consisting of the SU Ag Center and College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences–will host a Medical Marijuana Town Hall on Feb. 23, at 2pm in the Southern University Ag Center, A. O. Williams Hall, 181 B. A. Little Drive in Baton Rouge.

    The meeting will provide an overview of the land-grant campus’ medical marijuana venture.

    Potential vendors and the public are invited to attend. Individuals must pre-register to attend the meeting by visiting www.suagcenter.com/townhall.

    The land-grant campus is requesting that all questions from vendors regarding the Medical Marijuana Program be emailed in advance to Janana Snowden, Ph.D., at janana_snowden@suagcenter.com. The deadline to submit questions is at noon on February 21. All questions received will be addressed during the Town Hall.

     

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    New Venture Theatre brings visceral drama with ‘Dot’

    Venture Theatre keeps this season’s momentum going with Colman Domingo’s “Dot” at the LSU Studio Theatre March 15-19.

    Domingo’s “Dot” is a play unafraid to delve into aspects of life that can be both side-splittingly funny and shake the audience to the core. Dotty and her three adult children come together for the holidays as they do every year, but this time, the Shealey house will be grappling with more than exchanging gifts. The aging matriarch struggles with her fading memory, and her children seek to juggle taking care of their mother and caring for themselves. New Venture Theatre will bring to life this poignant comedic drama that tackles aging parents and midlife crises-all while showing the power of familial love.

    Performances are scheduled for Wednesday, March 15, through Saturday, March 18, at 7:30pm., and then Sunday, March 19, at 3pm. All performances will be held in the LSU Studio Theatre on the Louisiana State University campus.

    INFO

    WHERE: LSU Studio Theatre Louisiana State University 105 Music and Dramatic Building Baton Rouge, LA 70803

    DATES: Wednesday, March 15 at 7:30pm Thursday, March 16 at 7:30 pm Friday, March 17 at 7:30 pm Saturday, March 18 at 7:30pm Sunday, March 19 at 3pm

    SHOW RATING: Contains: Some adult content/themes. Recommended for ages 13 and up. No one under the age of four will be allowed in the theatre and all children ages 4-13 must be accompanied by an adult.

    HOW TO GET TICKETS: Call the box office at 225-588-7576, or visit nvtarts.org

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    BRCC ultrasound students seek volunteers for free exams

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound) program at Baton Rouge Community College is seeking volunteers for ultrasound exams. The exams will be conducted by students enrolled in the ultrasound program under the direct supervision of course instructors who are Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS).

    All volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, with pregnant volunteers being especially desirable. Exams must be scheduled by appointment. To schedule an appointment, or to ask questions, call Mike Beauford at (225) 216- 8046 or Richard Goldsmith at (225) 216-8498. If there is no answer, leave a voicemail with your first and last name, phone number and state your exam of interest.

    General exams offered include the Abdominal Ultrasound for those who experience pain on the right side after eating. Individuals interested in participating must fast – no food for six hours prior to exam. Obstetric Ultrasounds are available for women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant. Volunteers may bring a flash drive to save ultrasound photos. The Carotid Artery Ultrasound is available for those who want to screen for risk of stroke.

    Exams available for interested volunteers who are age 50 and older include the Ultrasound of Arm and/or Leg Arteries to check circulation for PAD -Peripheral Arterial Disease; Ultrasound of Arm and Leg Veins to check veins for leg swelling or varicose veins; and Ultrasound of the Thyroid, the gland in the neck that regulates metabolism.

    For Carotid Artery and Thyroid scans, volunteers should wear shirts with loose collars; for leg scans, volunteers should wear shorts that can be pulled up thigh high; and for arm scans, volunteers should wear T-shirts.

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, located at BRCC’s Frazier site, 555 Julia St., Baton Rouge, always seeks volunteers for students to practice exams. Anyone not immediately interested may contact the department for further information.

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  • AKA hosted 300 for MLK Unity Breakfast

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter and L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge partnered to host the Second Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 16, in the L’Auberge Event Center. The breakfast was attended by elected officials, community and business leaders, local law enforcement officers, community members, L’Auberge staff, high school and college students, and members of the Panhellenic Council which encompasses nine historically Black Greek- lettered organizations.

    More than 300 attendees were welcomed by Gwendolyn Thomas, Gamma Eta Omega chapter president, and Mickey Parenton, L’Auberge senior vice president of operations and general manager. Greetings were extended by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® South Central Regional Director Katina Semien, Esq., and State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith was guest speaker. Attendees enjoyed a full course breakfast then united in prayers by Reverend Linda Joseph, assistant pastor Neely United Methodist Church and the Reverend Glorious Wright, assistant pastor Saint Mark United Methodist Church. Presentation of colors was performed by Southern University Army ROTC. The John Gray Band provided entertainment along with National Anthem sang by Mavis Henderson-Lewis. LaChondria Holder and Pamela Honoré served as committee chair.

    Following the breakfast, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter members participated in two community service projects: Hope Ministries and The Walls Project.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® (AKA) is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC in 1908. It is the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American, college-educated women. Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of more than 290,000 members in approximately 993 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the United States, Liberia, the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands, Germany, South Korea, Bermuda, Japan, Canada, South Africa and the Middle East. Led by International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, L.H.D., Alpha Kappa Alpha is often hailed as “America’s premier Greek-lettered organization for African-American women.”

    ONLINE: www.aka1908.com

    Submitted by LaChondria Holder

     

    Pictured are (l to r): Pamela Honoré, committee chairman; Gwendolyn Thomas, president, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter; Mickey Parenton, senior vice president of operations and general manager, L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge; Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, (Dist. 61); Katina Semien, Esq., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, South Central Regional Director; and LaChondria Holder, committee chair

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    ‘Bloodline’ earns Kenny Neal Grammy nomination

    Louisiana’s swamp blues master and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Neal’s latest album “Bloodline” has clinched a 2017 Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues album.

    Born in 1957 in New Orleans and raised in Baton Rouge, Neal began playing music at a very young age, learning the basics from his father, singer and blues harmonica player, Raful Neal. Family friends like Lazy Lester, Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo contributed to Kenny’s early musical education. At 13, he joined his father’s band and, four years later, he was recruited and toured extensively as Buddy Guy’s bass player.

    image

    Kenny Neal horizontal by James Terry III.jpg

    A member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and a multi-award winning talent, Neal has shared the stage or worked with a who’s-who list of blues and R&B greats, including B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters, Aaron Neville, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker. Since signing with Alligator Records in 1988, Neal has released a series of consistently lauded albums featuring his laid-back, Baton Rouge blues, with a modern spin on the Louisiana sound he grew up with.

    “One of a mere handful of truly inventive young contemporary guitarists, Neal has something fresh to say and the chops with which to say it,” wrote The Chicago Tribune.

    Blues Revue agreed, calling Kenny “one of the brightest young stars on the blues horizon, and a gifted artist.”

    According to Cleopatra Records, Neal has never sounded better than he does on ‘Bloodline,’ offering some of the most moving songwriting and electric performances of his incredible career. Eight members of the Neal clan lend their musical talents to the album, making it a true family affair and proving beyond doubt that the blues is most definitely in Neal’s Bloodline.

    ONLINE: http://kennyneal.net

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    Police ‘use of force’ changes, new policies recommended to take effect immediately

    To fulfill her commitment to close the gap between law enforcement and the community, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome has been meeting with law enforcement officials and community leaders over the past several weeks.

    As a result of this collaborative effort, the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection is recommending policy changes occur within the Baton Rouge Police Department that align with national best practices surrounding use of force.

    “We believe that the implementation of these policy changes will enhance existing BRPD policies and compliment academy and in-service training,” Broome said.

    The following are the agreed upon policy changes. These changes in policy will take place immediately.

    · Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent circumstances.
    · Officers are required to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.  De-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.
    · Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.
    · Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle pose an immediate deadly threat to others.
    · Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer.

    The Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection include:  Fr. Rick Andrus, Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, Broderick Bagert, Attorney Alfreda Tillman Bester, Constable Reginald Brown, Renee’ Brown, Gary Chambers, Councilman Lamont Cole,  Kelvin A. Cryer, Chief Carl Dabadie, Mark Dumaine,  Cleve Dunn Jr., Col. Mike Edmonson, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Casey Hicks, Pastor Donald Hunter, Josh Howard, Mary Jane Marcantel,  E.J. Milton, Michael A.V. Mitchell, Tonja Myles, Rev. Reginald Pitcher, Joyce Plummer, Arthur Reed,  Dereck Rovaris PhD, Michael W. Victorian, Pastor Charles Wallace, Pastor Lee T. Wesley, and Katara Williams Ph.D.

                                                                                                        

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    South Baton Rouge history captured in new book

    The history of South Baton Rouge from antebellum America until the historic 2016 visit by President Barack Obama is the focus of a new book by LSU professor Lori Latrice Martin, PhD, and the Reverend Raymond A. Jetson.

    South Baton Rouge, sometimes referred to as Old South Baton Rouge, was one of the first places Blacks could earn a high school education in Louisiana. The three-mile community around historic McKinley High School was the site of the nation’s first successful bus boycott. When laws restricted where Blacks could live, work, learn, and play, South Baton Rouge was a refuge.

    Black-owned restaurants, theaters, gas stations, and other businesses populated the community, and change-makers–including Black lawyers, judges, clergy, educators, and nurses–helped to sustain the community and other portions of the southern half of Baton Rouge through the end of legal segregation and beyond.

    The book, Images of America: South Baton Rouge includes over a hundred images of free people of color, historic businesses, faith-based institutions, political figures, the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, and the dedication of the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road at McKinley High School Alumni Center.
    image

    “As the city celebrates the 200th anniversary of its incorporation, we want to make sure that the history and contributions of Black communities, such as South Baton Rouge, are not forgotten,” said Martin.

    She is associate professor of African and African American Studies and sociology at Louisiana State University, and Jetson, is pastor of Star Hill Church and CEO of MetroMorphosis in Baton Rouge.

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    Same Crime, Different Punishment; Together Baton Rouge to report on BRPD enforcement disparities

    Tomorrow at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Together Baton Rouge will release an analysis of neighborhood disparities in the Baton Rouge Police Department’s enforcement of drug possession laws between January 2011 and January 2017.

    According to the Reverend Lee T. Wesley, the goal of the study is to improve the quality and depth of the police reform discussion in Baton Rouge.

    “We figured we could either sit around and wait for the Department of Justice to make some contribution, or we could start to act for ourselves at the local level,” said Wesley, who is an executive committee member of Together Baton Rouge. “Our first step has been to take a close look at this very important aspect of policing in our community and how it can be improved.”

    The report examines drug enforcement disparities by calculating BRPD enforcement rates for drug possession on a per capita basis at the zip code level and assesses the proportionality of those enforcement rates by comparing them to the prevalence of illegal drug use in that zip code.

    It also examines the extent to which drug enforcement disparities correlate with neighborhood demographics, including the racial composition of a neighborhood, its poverty level, median income, home values, education level and crime rates.

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    Local Links chapters to announce partnership to support SU

    Two local chapters of The Links, Incorporated will come together to officially announce a partnership with Southern University through the national organization’s Historically Black Colleges And Universities (HBCU) Initiative.

    Officers of the Baton Rouge and La Capitale Chapters of The Links, Incorporated will make a formal announcement of a collaboration that will support the University in increasing graduation rates, providing scholarships, and promoting STEM programs, Tuesday, January 31, 9 am, in the Donald C. Wade House on the Baton Rouge campus.

    “Institutions of higher education have a vested interest in building strong relationships with organizations that serve to build a better community. Southern University welcomes the opportunity to partner with The Links in furthering our mutual goals to strengthen HBCUs,” said Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. president-chancellor, Southern University and A&M College.

    The Links, Incorporated’s HBCU Initiative focuses on addressing the critical needs of the community through transformational programming to increase high school and college graduation rates, awarding college scholarships and endowments, and promoting and supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

    The program features hosting HBCU college fairs and other events in each geographic region, promoting and encouraging connections with an HBCU and its STEM programs, mentoring and recruiting students to attend and complete HBCUs, identifying opportunities to support faculty research and/or professional development, and contributing to the sustainability of HBCU institutions.

    “As an organization committed to community service, The Links of the Baton Rouge area are excited to come together in support of one of the nation’s premier historically black universities,” said Yolanda Dixon and Paula Clayton, presidents of the Baton Rouge and La Capitale Chapters of The Links, Incorporated, respectively.

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    Mayor Broome announces six cabinet positions

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced several key staff positions in her new administration.

    Rowdy Gaudet will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer.  Gaudet currently works as the chief of staff for the Disaster Recovery Unit for the state of Louisiana and will join the administration in February. Gaudet has experience in government relations, business and economic development, infrastructure management, and strategic communications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from McNeese State University and earned an MBA from Louisiana State University.

    James Gilmore, Ph.D., will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer. He formerly worked as the director of the Louisiana Children’s Cabinet in the office of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Gilmore has experience in human resources, training, and managing various workforce development and educational programs for a variety of organizations. Gilmore earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern University. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in human resource education and workforce development from Louisiana State University.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer. Wade formerly worked as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Learning Expert and Integration Manager. She facilitated the management of national partnering entities and provided administrative oversight to the development and implementation of federal programs.  Her experience is in research, policy, and academia.  Wade earned a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in public policy and urban affairs from Southern University.

    Brian Bernard will serve as human esources Director. Bernard has worked as the Interim Human Resources Director for the City of Baton Rouge since 2012.  He has been employed with the city for 22 years.  He has  bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern University.

    Carey Chauvin will continue to serve as development director, a position he’s held since 2015.  He has been employed with the City of Baton Rouge for 23 years. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University.

    Eric Romero will serve as the director of information services. Romero has served as interim director of information services for the past four years.  He has been employed with the City of Baton Rouge for 22 years. He is a graduate of Nicholls State University.

    “I’m excited to work with these highly-qualified individuals who will be a part of my new cabinet,” Broome said. “I’m confident that I have chosen the right people to help move this city forward.”

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    AT&T holds hiring event, Jan 21

     

    AT&T* is holding an open house hiring event in Baton Rouge on Saturday, January 21 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  The call center positions are a result of AT&T’s continued investment in Louisiana to support customers across the state.  The open house will take place at 4455 American Way.
    “AT AT&T, we want to make sure we are providing our customers with a high-level of service they have come to expect,” said Berry Balfour, AT&T Louisiana External Affairs.   “We’re investing in our networks and people as part of that commitment. We’re glad to welcome more than 40 Louisiana residents to the AT&T family.”

    AT&T people are leading the way for everything the company does. That’s why it’s committed to giving team members the benefits, tools and resources they need to reach their fullest potential – both professionally and personally. Call center team members earn an average of $13.35 and $15.57 per hour.

    More than 4,500 in Louisiana work for AT&T and the company is constantly hiring new talent. AT&T is committed to diversity and veteran recruiting.   AT&T offers a full benefits package including medical, dental, vision, 401 (k), tuition reimbursement, paid vacation, and work/life resources.

    To be considered right away for the Baton Rouge call center positions, applicants can complete the application and assessment process at https://connect.att.jobs/job/baton-rouge/call-center-advanced-technical-support-representative/117/3538877

    Visit www.att.com/jobs for more information on other job openings.
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    Community dialogue features ‘Cultural Bridges in a Time of Troubled Water,’ Jan. 14

    The 821 Project will host a special interactive dialogue, Voices: Cultural Bridges In A Time of Troubled Waters, Saturday, Jan. 14, This event will be held at TJ Jemison Baptist Student Center, 722 Harding Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA. Event, which includes a keynote presentation and lunch, is free and open to the public.

    The 821 Project provides intercultural and social justice education programs to the southeast Louisiana community through workshops, speaker’s panels, dialogues, and other appropriate programming.

    Preregistration via website encouraged, but not required. For more information contact Jahi Mackey, Program Director at jmackey@the821project.com.

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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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    Baton Rouge charter pushes to remain open

    When Jonathan Hage traveled to Baton Rouge following the August flood, the Charter School USA director’s first concerns were his teachers’ and students’ well-being. Along with his wife and other executives, Hage brought hope and money—each teacher received $500. “It’s not money. It’s love,” Sherry Hage told the teachers. “We want you to know that you’re loved and cared for.”

    The gesture was especially generous for the teachers who had lost property and possessions. Their support came as a result of their employment at the Baton Rouge Charter Academy at Mid-City. “These are our teachers; these are our kids,” Jonathan Hage said. “This is honestly the best part about what we do.”

    But now, the mid-city charter and its teachers face a formidable challenge to save the school.

    After three years with performance scores less than 40, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education denied the charter renewal request and will close the school under its state charter in May 2017. Even amid strong support for the school, BESE voted against allowing BRCA an additional year to show improvement. BESE members Jada Lewis and Kathey Edmonston formally objected to the closure. School officials have said performance scores will raise with more time, dedicated resources, and its new principal, Tale’ Lockett.

    “They (parents and administrators) are all on board to make sure we have enough time to continue our success,” said Lockett in a Dec. 6 video. “We’re going to make that mark with continued support.” In order to do so, charter administrators have to convince the local school board to allow the school to re-open, or transfer, as a Title 2 charter under the governance of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. It’s sister school, South Baton Rouge Charter Academy, is already an EBRP charter.

    BRCA has 80 teachers and more than 650 students who would relocate if the transfer isn’t successful. Then, students and their parents would choose to return to their previous public school or select another charter to attend. Middle school students in the attendance zone of Baton Rouge Charter Academy would have four EBR middle schools to attend: Capitol, Park Forest, JK Haynes, and Scotlandville Pre-Engineering. They would also have a choice between Celerity Lanier and Celerity Crestworth or tuition-based private schools. (School performance scores are available at http://www.louisianabelieves.com/data/reportcards/2016 )

    “Statistically, many of these students attempt to return to the public system,” said former BESE representative Carolyn Hill. “There will be an aggressive push to move these students into other state-governed charters and other management groups…it’s about the money. But, this management group has the most resources to help the students.”

    “It is a good thing that this charter management group is trying to unify with EBR,” Hill said. “A collaboration between this charter—which was once a state charter— and East Baton Rouge Parish Schools would set a precedence statewide and even nationally that says, ‘we are willing to step in and work in partnership to ensure that these children get what they need to succeed’.”

    “I believe in local schools controlled by local communities,” Edmundson told the Baton Rouge Business Report earlier this year. “If the locals want a charter and the local board has responsibility, that makes me feel a lot more comfortable.”

    That comfort comes from the local district’s ability to provide additional resources to students including special education services like speech pathology, free lunch programs, shared transportation, and more teacher stability.

    “It’s not about a charter movement. Merging together will be a success story, nationwide,” Hill said. “These parents should keep fighting for their children. I would tell each of them, ‘Let the growth in your child be the determining factor‎’.”

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    Gov. Edwards announces Board of Regents appointments 

    Governor John Bel Edwards announced his appointments to the Board of Regents.

    “Our institutions of higher education continue to face financial challenges that make the work of the Board of Regents more critical than ever as we continue our efforts to stabilize the budget and provide more predictable funding for our colleges and universities,” said Gov. Edwards. “The appointees I have named to the board bring an array of professional and educational expertise from higher education institutions across Louisiana. I am looking forward to working with them to build a brighter future for Louisiana’s students.”

    The following appointments will be effective on January 1, 2017:

    Board of Regents
    The Board of Regents is responsible for planning, coordinating, and budgeting for all public higher education in the state.The Board administers the Louisiana Education Quality Support Fund and formulates a master plan for higher education, including a formula for the equitable distribution of funds.

    Blake R. David, of Lafayette, is an attorney and founding partner of the Lafayette firm of Broussard & David, L.L.C. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College and a juris doctorate from the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. David will serve as a representative of the 3rd Congressional District.

    Darren G. Mire, of New Orleans, is the director of valuation for the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office. Mire is a certified Louisiana Deputy Assessor and is a licensed real estate agent. He received a bachelor of science degree and a master of professional studies degree from Tulane. Mire will serve as a representative of the 2nd Congressional District.

    W. Clinton “Bubba” Rasberry, of Shreveport, is the managing partner for Crestview Woods, LP, Rasberry Commercial Properties, LP, and Rasberry Mineral Lands, LLC. Rasberry received a bachelor of arts degree from Vanderbilt University and post-graduate studies and Louisiana State University Forestry School. He will serve as a representative of the 4th Congressional District.

    Jacqueline Vines Wyatt, of Prairieville, is the former senior vice president and regional manager for Cox Communications’ Southeast Region. Wyatt will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    T. Jay Seale III, of Hammond, is an attorney and founding partner of Seale & Ross, APLC. Seale received a bachelor of arts degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Juris doctorate from the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. Seale will serve as a representative of the 1st Congressional District.

    Charles R. McDonald, Ed.D., of Sterlington, is the president and owner of CMAC & Associates and the co-owner of Freedom Mobility, LLC, and a former member of the Louisiana State House of Representatives. While a state representative, he authored the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship bill and served on the Education Committee. He received his bachelor of science degree from Northeast Louisiana College, a master of education degree from Northeast Louisiana University, and doctor of education degree from the University of Louisiana Monroe. McDonald will serve as a representative of the 5th Congressional District.

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    Broome invites girls to ‘Hidden Figures’ Event

    East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Elect Sharon Weston Broome is inviting young girls to participate in a special outreach event for the release of the feature film, “Hidden Figures.”

    100 young girls will be selected to attend a viewing of “Hidden Figures” followed by a “Chew and Chat” to discuss their purpose, plan, and path as they consider how STEM can impact their future. Women ‘who lead in STEM’ and the community will share in the experience. This initiative is open to girls in 5th – 9th grade from all East Baton Rouge parish zip codes.

    Applicants should submit a paragraph explaining their interest in STEM to: info@BRTransition.com by Thursday, December 29. Selections will be announced on January 4th and details regarding the event will be released thereafter.

     

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    Broome announces transition committees, community input teams

    Mayor-President Elect Sharon Weston Broome and her transition co-chairs, Christopher Tyson and Donna Fraiche, announced that the transition will occur under operational review committees and community input transition teams. The operational review committees will evaluate and report on the inner-workings of City government. Each committee will be responsible for conducting an in-depth assessment of departmental functions and performance, including issues such as organization structure, personnel, budget and overall effectives.

    The Community Input Transition Teams have been established to anchor a wide-ranging public engagement effort Mayor-Elect Broome deems critical for the transition effort.

    The committees and co-chairs are as follows:

    1. Finance –  Jacqui Vines-Wyatt, Dr. Jim Llorens
    2. Public Works (Building & Grounds, Environmental Services, Transportation and Drainage, City Garage, Dev., Maintenance) – Co-Chairs: Justin Haydell, Matthew Butler
    3. Public Safety (Fire, Police, DPW Subteams) – Rep. Ted James, Don Cazayoux
    4. Office of Community Development – Darryl Gissel, Brian Lafleur
    5. Human Development and Services – Johnny Anderson, Pat LeDuff
    6. Homeland Security – General Russel Honore, Paul Rainwater
    7. Information Services – Curtis Heromann, Sonia Perez, Padma Vatsavai
    8. Purchasing – Monique Spalding, Ronald L. Smith
    9. Internal Organization – Christel Slaughter, Dennis Blunt
    10. Arts, Culture and Leisure – Fairleigh Jackson, Walter “Geno” McLaughlin
    11. Flood Recovery – Perry Franklin, Bryan Jones
    12. Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility – Scott Kirkpatrick, Ann Trappey
    13. Economic Development & Enterprise – Rolfe McCollister, Donald Andrews
    14. North Baton Rouge Revitalization – Cleve Dunn, Jr.; Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas
    15. Healthcare, Social Services and Mental Health – Alma Stewart, Dr. Stephen Kelley
    16. Housing and Land Use – Candace Parker, Keith Cunningham
    17. Metropolitan Organization – Mary Olive Pierson, Domoine Rutledge
    18. The Millennial Agenda – Courtney Scott, Matt Adams
    19. Women’s Issues – Rachel Hebert, Tawahna Harris
    20. Race Relations – Dr. Albert Samuel
    21. Education – Sherry Brock, Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D.

    Co-chair information, as well as, future updates on committee member assignments on the official transition website, BRtranistion.com.

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    Smith, Simmons honored for deeds

    John Frederick Smith and Joseph Gottlieb Simmons were recently recognized as the 2016 Brotherhood Sisterhood Honorees for their decades of dedication to equity, serving the community, leading and inspiring others, and breaking personal barriers.

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    Dr. Byron Jasper welcomes Jobs for America’s Graduates

    Open Health Care Clinic hosted students of the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Louisiana program in the classroom of Open Health. The program featured a presentation by physician Dr. Byron Jasper a Louisiana native who recently returned to his home state to provide care to underserved patients.

    Jobs for America’s Graduates Louisiana program is a dropout prevention and recovery program that delivers a unique set of services for at-risk students to help them earn a high school diploma. The Jobs for America’s graduates program has been assisting students since 1980. JAG teaches students career development, job attainment, job survival, communication skills, work place skills, and life survival skills.

    Dr. Jasper and pediatrician, Dr. Dionna Matthews, spoke to the Franklin Junior High School JAG students, on Dec. 5, about the challenges they faced and overcame growing up in similar backgrounds. The presentation informed the students on what it takes to become a healthcare professional and through conversation, encourage and motivate the students to work hard in pursuit of their dreams despite the hardships they may encounter._IGP9824

    Dr. Jasper is a family medicine physician at Open Health where he also specializes in caring for patients with HIV and Hepatitis C. Additionally, he is the executive director of the Comprehensive Medical Mentoring Program, a mentoring organization he founded to provide minority students with experiences that foster successful matriculation into medical school and increase overall diversity in the healthcare field. He has continued to volunteer as a community preceptor, teaching local medical students and residents in the Baton Rouge area while also helping undergraduates, medical students, and resident physicians create and improve their application materials.

    As a true community-wide caregiver, Open Health envision a brighter future for the patients it serves. This means providing more educational opportunities, more comprehensive services and more access to quality care. From pediatrics, to dental, to endocrinology, Open Health Care Clinic will provide advanced medical services for every phase of a person’s life regardless of their financial or insurance status. Extended hours, weekend appointments and walk-ins are welcome.

    ONLINE:www.ohcc.org.

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    National 100 Black Women charters Baton Rouge chapter, installs officers

    The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. proudly chartered the 100 Black Women of Metropolitan Baton Rouge on November 6, 2016 at the Bell of Baton Rouge with more than 200 guests to witness organization’s official formation.

    Chartering officers elected during the ceremony were: Dr. Leah Cullins, president;  Tamiara Wade Ph.D., 1st vice president of membership; Raushanah Hunter, Esq., 2nd vice president of programs;  Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D., 3rd vice president of finance and fund development; Sonya Murray, treasurer; DeShone Smith, financial secretary; Nicole Grimes, recording Secretary; Alsie Dunbar, corresponding secretary; Cheria Lane, Ph.D., parlimentarian; and Rokeya Morris, Esq., historian.

    The 100 Black Women is an organization that advocates an enhanced quality of life for individuals and families of color by facilitating programs that address their needs and unites the public and private sector of Baton Rouge to ensure progress of Black women.

    While establishing a sisterly bond, these programs foster leadership, educational opportunities, economic partnerships, women’s health issues and political strength.

    The mission of the coalition is to advocate on behalf of Black women and girls in order to promote leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment

    The 100 Black Women believe in gender equity, inclusion, respect, racial and social justice, integrity and accountability, economic empowerment, and collaboration.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., Michele McNiel-Emery,  Dr. Leah Cullins, and Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., Michele McNiel-Emery, Dr. Leah Cullins, and Ni’Shawn Stovall, Ph.D.

    The organization’s agenda includes health, education, economic empowerment, strategic alliances, and civic engagement. According to the website, the 100 Black Women’s purpose is to:

    • Foster principles of equal rights and opportunities;
    • Promote the awareness of Black culture;
    • Develop the potential of the membership for effective leadership and participation in civic affairs;
    • Take action on specific issues of national and international importance, and
    • Cooperate with other persons and organizations to achieve mutual goals.

    “We are looking to select an eclectic group of women that are “movers and shakers” in the greater Baton Rouge area with a desire to meet the mission of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Membership is open to individuals who possess demonstrated leadership experience with evidence of participation in local community, government, service, business or political affairs,” organizers said.

    The organization meets monthly and can be followed on Twitter @100BlackWomenBR, Facebook at /100BlackWomenBatonRouge, and on Instagram: @100BlackWomenBR

    ONLINE: www.100blackwomenbr.com/

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    BR journalists remember Gwen Ifill

    On behalf of the Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family of veteran, award winning journalists Gwen Ifill.

    Ifill was a true example of professional journalism and was an inspiration to women of color.

    Ifill handled her career in journalism with style and grace, never compromising herself.

    Cheryl J. Stroy
    president
    Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists

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    Michael Foster, ‘Red Beans & Rice Mondays’ return Nov. 21

     

    The Belle of Baton Rouge is pleased to announce that starting on November 21, Michael Foster Presents: Red Beans & Rice Mondays will be held in Beauregards at 6pm. Continuing its history of mixing southern tradition with entertainment, the Belle provides a perfect location for event-goers to delight in food and live music. Attendees will enjoy guest performances by The Michael Foster Project featuring Roger Lewis of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, along with free red beans and rice by the Belle of Baton Rouge’s resident Chef, Dwight Sherman.

    Michael Foster Presents: Red Beans & Rice Mondays will also be utilizing this kickoff event to celebrate its 2nd year anniversary. As a part of the celebration, Keys to Life will be on site presenting a keyboard to Howell Park Elementary School. To date, Keys to Life has presented four keyboards to various schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish area.

    This free event will take place every Monday from 6pm to 9pm, and highlight different musicians that will provide entertainment, and professional chefs who will provide the signature dish of the event’s namesake.

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    Crisis counseling can help families cope with recent flood

    Recovery efforts in Louisiana continue following the historic August floods, and many survivors are still coping with the immediate effects of the disaster. While obvious problems such as home repair preoccupy some Louisianans, there is a quieter, more ominous issue that may threaten flood survivors.

    Disaster-related distress is a silent, serious threat to any individual affected by a major disaster. It can manifest in the form of depression, anxiety or even post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the National Center for PTSD, more than 50 percent of those affected by major disasters develop some kind of clinically significant stress disorder.

    Disaster-related distress is particularly treacherous because it is virtually unpredictable. While individuals with preexisting stress disorders or addictions are more likely to suffer from disaster-related distress, it can attack anyone at any time. Even individuals who show no signs of stress-related disorders immediately after a disaster may develop a condition years later.

    Disaster-related distress, like any other illness, is most easily recognized by its symptoms. While symptoms vary by case and may be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, disaster-related stress disorders usually produce a combination of the following warning signs:

    • Headaches
    • Chest or muscle tightening
    • Fatigue
    • Inability to sleep
    • Overall restlessness
    • Uncontrollable anger, sadness or fear
    • Lack of appetite
    • Substance abuse
    • Social withdrawal
    • Suicidal thoughts

    Individuals exhibiting many or all of these symptoms should seek treatment from a licensed therapist immediately. If left untreated, disaster-related distress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and/or suicidal tendencies.

    While the diagnosis and treatment of disaster-related distress may seem like a daunting process, it is not one that flood survivors and their loved ones need to go through alone. All survivors of the August flooding can take advantage of free disaster crisis counseling available through FEMA and the state of Louisiana.

    The Crisis Counseling Program is funded by FEMA and implemented by the state. The purpose of the program is to provide survivors with free, local counseling services that promote resilience, empowerment and recovery.

    The crisis counselors available through the Crisis Counseling Program are local people, many of whom have also been affected by flooding. These counselors are not therapists; they come from all careers and walks of life. However, they have all been trained to educate, support and inform survivors. If necessary, the crisis counselors can refer survivors to therapists for diagnosis and treatment.

    Crisis counselors are available at all FEMA disaster recovery centers. To find a center near you, call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or text DRC and your ZIP code to 43362. You can also find a center near you by downloading the FEMA mobile app or going online to fema.gov/drc.

    For more information regarding the Crisis Counseling Program or to set up an appointment for counseling, call the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health at 866-310-7977 or the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-985-5990.

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    Tina, Solange, Kelly, Beyoncé to ‘Love on Louisiana’ Nov 20 in Baton Rouge

    Holiday event aims to raise $1 million for Louisiana flood relief


    The state of Louisiana is set to receive much needed relief following August’s devastating flood.  Tina Knowles-Lawson, Solange Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé  will partner with Essence to raise $1 million for those affected by the flood in Baton Rouge.

    On Sunday, November 20, they will host Love on Louisiana: An Essence Hometown Heroes Tribute celebrating the resilience of the Baton Rouge community.

    “Louisiana is a special place in my family’s history and we are committed as a family to never forget the city and the people of Baton Rouge,” said Tina Knowles-Lawson. “It breaks my heart to see the unimaginable disaster and destruction caused by the flooding, and we will stand and support every effort in place to help the people most affected.”

    The holiday dinner and awards ceremony, set at Raising Cane’s River Center, will honor standout students and teachers for their commitment to serving and rebuilding their communities. With support from the City of Baton Rouge and the State of Louisiana, the event will serve as a call to action to raise $1 million to help families recover in the wake of this summer’s catastrophic flooding, which produced seven trillion gallons of water—three times the rainfall total of Hurricane Katrina.

    In addition to the award recognition, gift baskets containing donated goods will be distributed to students, teachers and families who are still largely affected by the severe flooding. The event will also galvanize citizens from around the world to support Louisiana by donating here to fund new homes for local families via Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge.

    “I extend my deepest appreciation to Ms. Tina Lawson, Essence and Time Inc. for their commitment to helping the people of Louisiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The Essence family has a long and rich history with our state and the ‘Love on Louisiana Tribute,’ which celebrates the strength of our families and students, is especially meaningful. This is the time of year when families, friends and communities come together. Our people have endured many setbacks over the last several months, but they are resilient and determined to come back stronger. But we cannot do it alone and that is why it is so gratifying to know that you support us and that your hearts are with Louisiana.”

    “Baton Rouge is especially proud to host this event that not only recognizes students and teachers who have contributed to rebuilding our community, but will also raise much needed funds to help families recover,” said Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden. “The power that these amazing sponsors bring to this event means it will be a tremendous success, and they have our deepest appreciation.”

    Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #LoveOnLouisiana and by directing supporters to donate here. Follow Essence on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more.

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    Financial recovery empowerment seminar

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation in partnership with Red River Bank will host a series of FREE Financial Recovery Seminars, starting on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 from 9:30-11:30am at Delmont Gardens Branch Library; Tuesday, Nov.15, 2016 from 5:30-7:30pm at Scotlandville Branch Library; and Thursday, November 17, 5:30-7:30pm at Redemption Life Fellowship. For more information, email info@urecbr.com or call (225) 356-8871. Register online.

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    In Memoriam: Albert “Tootsie” Meyers

    Albert Junious “Tootsie” Meyers was born on February 3, 1943 in New Roads, Louisiana. He was one of eight children born to the union of Joseph Melvin and Agnes Francois Meyers. Albert transitioned from this life to his heavenly home on October 23, 2016, at his residence in Baker, Louisiana.  He was educated in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, and was a 1961 graduate of Scotlandville High School.  He was a member of the Scotlandville High Hornets basketball team. In 1961, he was selected as a member of the Negro All-City Interscholastic Basketball Team. Albert later attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas and Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    In 1999, he retired from Roadway Express after 27 years of service.  He was later honored by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local Union No. 5 for his years of service and dedication.  Albert was also a founding member of the Beacon Civic and Social Organization in Baker, Louisiana.

    Meyers is survived by his devoted wife of 52 years, Geraldine Curtis Meyers; four children, Jackie Moore, Jeanene Meyers, Shonda Wessinger, and Jermaine Meyers; one daughter-in-law, Candice Joubert Meyers; three brothers, Alfred Meyers, Joseph Meyers Jr., and Lionel Meyers; two sisters, Beulah Credit and Theresa Batiste; seven grandchildren, Adrian “Tootie” Chapman, Jamar Thomas, Haley Wessinger, Sydney Wessinger, Madison Meyers, Tatum Meyers, Julia Meyers; and three great-grandchildren, Bryson Bessix, Cameryn Thomas, Maliah Thomas; a lifelong friend and Good Buddy, Sherman Robinson. He is preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Agnes Meyers; sister, Leola Gibson; and brother, Arthur Meyers.

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    City Parish, DoJ host community conversations on policing

    The City of Baton Rouge Parish of East Baton will host community conversations to discuss and review police policy on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 at 6pm in the Raisin Cane’s River Center, Exhibition Hall, meeting room 9.

    Organizers said the public will provide recommendations for a community action plan. Discussions will be led and facilitated by Synthia Taylor, regional director for the Department of Justice Community Relations Service –Southwest Region.

    “This is an opportunity to enhance community relations and develop more resources as we strive to continue to improve community policing,” said Mayor Kip Holden. “We welcome the public’s input on these very important topics.”

    Topics include community policing, police accountability, body cameras, police civil service rules as well as training, recruitment, retention, residency requirements, and pay incentives.

    For more information, call (225) 389-3100. Register at https://ebrcommunityconversation.eventbrite.com.

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  • Flood survivors may be eligible for lodging expense reimbursement

    Flood survivors who have registered with FEMA may be eligible for reimbursement if they had to pay out-of-pocket for temporary lodging because of flood damage to their primary residence.

    You may be eligible for lodging expense reimbursement if you:

    • register with FEMA;
    • pass identity verification;
    • verify occupancy in a primary residence within a declared parish;
    • verify that their primary residence is uninhabitable or inaccessible;
    • incurred disaster-related temporary lodging expenses on or after the incident period start date — in this case, Aug. 12;
    • do not have insurance that would cover lodging and therefore duplicate benefits; and
    • did not receive lodging assistance during the same time period.

    Reimbursement funds are available for eligible applicants up to the maximum amount of financial assistance — $33,000 — available through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. Applicants who have already received the maximum grant available will not be eligible for lodging expense reimbursement.

    Survivors who are approved for lodging expense reimbursement must submit zero balance receipts to FEMA in order to receive payment. Reimbursement will not cover incidental costs such as phone calls, laundry, internet, pay-per-view, food, or pet care.

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    AKA hosted candlelight vigil set for October 27

    Local elected officials, law enforcement officers, community groups and churches will gather for a candlelight vigil on Thursday, October 27, at 6 p.m., on the steps of the State Capitol, to remember those who died at the hands of loved ones.  The public is invited to attend the vigil.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Nu Gamma Omega Chapter (Baton Rouge), is organizing the vigil in memory of two sorority sisters, Aleria Cyrus Reed and Monica Butler Johnson, who died at the hands of their estranged husbands.

    Rev. Leo Cyrus Sr., the uncle of Aleria Cyrus Reed and pastor of New Hope and Second Baptist churches, and Rev. Linda Joseph, associate pastor at Neely United Methodist Church, will conduct the candlelight prayer service.

    Preceding the vigil, State Rep. Patricia H. Smith, D-Baton Rouge) will discuss the victim protection laws passed during the recent legislative session, followed by East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Melanie Fields; Baton Rouge Chief of Police Carl Dabadie, Jr., and City Constable Reginald R. Brown, Sr., who will explain how law enforcement officers and the courts are using the state’s domestic violence laws to protect the innocent.  Twahna Harris, executive director of The Butterfly Society, will also speak.

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    EBR residents asked to report debris collection needs

    Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden is asking residents for help in identifying where debris still needs to be collected following the devastating flooding of August 2016.

    Any residents whose flood debris is currently placed curbside and in need of collection should contact the City-Parish by completing a web-based form the Department of Information Services – GIS Division has established specifically for these remaining debris collection needs. The form, located at http://gis.brla.gov/reportdebris, allows residents to easily report their address, contact information, type of debris in need of collection, and – if available – attach a photo of the debris pile so that responding crews know exactly where to go and what to expect when they arrive.

    Residents can also call 1-888-721-4372 with their address, contact information, and a description of the debris that has yet to be collected.

    In an effort to most efficiently direct debris removal trucks and resources throughout impacted areas, City-Parish officials are asking residents to only place flood debris curbside and to do so in separate piles according to the type(s) of debris needing collection. Any construction or re-construction materials should be disposed of by the contractor performing this work in accordance with the typical approved manner of disposal.

    Last week, debris removal operations officially moved into their second phase, which now involve more targeted flood debris collection passes based on any debris known to have not been collected during the first phase of operations. Nearly 1.6 million cubic yards of flood debris have been collected since efforts first began August 20, which continues to serve as one of the largest ever flood debris removal efforts of its kind.

    Residents interested in tracking the progress of these efforts can go online to access a web-based, interactive map identifying areas where debris is picked up during this second phase of operations. This map, updated daily, can be accessed by clicking the following link: http://gis.brla.gov/debris

     

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    Trump, Bodi White get EBR Republican Party endorsements

    The East Baton Rouge Republician Party has endorsed State Senator Mack “Bodi” White for mayor-president and Donald Trump for president.

    “(White) is a solid conservative who stands against high taxes and overregulation,” EBR Republician Party leader Woody Jenkins said. “He supports traditional family values and the Second Amendment, and he is an ardent supporter of quality education.”

    The Louisiana GOP, the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, Louisiana Associated General Contractors and several other GOP leaders have also endorsed White.

    According to the latest campaign finance reports, White raised $383,096 and has $371,877 on hand. There is an
    additional $105,000 sitting in a PAC –Citizens For A Better Baton Rouge– which will be supporting White. The candidate with the next highest cash on hand is former Senator Sharon Weston Broome, a Democrat, who has $76,581.

    The general election for the mayor-president’s race is November 8 and is expected to end in a runoff election on December 10.

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    Governor Edwards appoints 27 to boards, commissions

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions.They are:

    Louisiana Executive Board on Aging
    The Louisiana Executive Board on Aging is responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures pertaining to the Office of Elderly Affairs within the Office of the Governor; for approving matters of policy and all rules and regulations pertaining to elderly affairs and all voluntary parish councils on aging; and for reviewing and making recommendations to the director of the Office of Elderly Affairs on matters of general importance and relevance to the planning, monitoring, coordination and delivery of services to the elderly.

    Harold L. “Digger” Ritchie, of Franklinton, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Ritchie is the owner of Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home and a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He was nominated by the Washington Parish Council on Aging and will serve as a representative of the 1st Public Service Commission District.

    Ricco A. Thomas, of Addis, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Thomas is a district manager with the Social Security Administration and a part-time police officer for the Addis Police Department. He was nominated by the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging and will serve as a representative of the 2nd Public Service Commission District.

    Edward J. Walters Jr., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Walters is an attorney and founding partner of Walters, Papillion, Thomas, Cullens, LLC. He was nominated by the Louisiana State Bar Association and will serve as a representative of the 3rd Public Service Commission District.

    Mona F. Gobert-Cravins, of Washington, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Gobert-Cravins is a 211 manager and assistant administrator with 232-HELP, Inc. She was nominated by 232-HELP, Inc. and will serve as a representative of the 4th Public Service Commission District.

    Worlita L. Williams, of Mansfield, was appointed to the Louisiana Executive Board on Aging. Williams is a licensed clinical social worker with the DeSoto Parish School Board. She was nominated by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and will represent the 5th Public Service Commission District.

    Volunteer Louisiana Commission
    The Volunteer Louisiana Commission is charged with encouraging community service as a means of community and state problem-solving, promoting and supporting citizen involvement in government and private programs, developing a long-term comprehensive vision and plan for action for community service initiatives in Louisiana, acting as the state’s policy-making body for the Corporation on National and Community Service, and serving as the state’s liaison to national and state organizations that support its mission. Appointments to the commission are made by the Governor in collaboration with the Lieutenant Governor.

    Jeremy C. Babers, of Shreveport, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Babers is an attorney and the owner of The Law Office of Jeremy Babers. He will serve as a representative of business on the commission.

    Karen Moss-Barnes, of Shreveport, was reappointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Moss-Barnes is the fair share coordinator for the City of Shreveport’s Fair Share Program. She will continue to serve as a representative of local government on the commission.

    Carissa J. Graves, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Graves is a former educator and AmeriCorps alum. She also serves as a mentor for Kids Hope USA. She will serve as a member with expertise in educational, training and developmental needs of youth on the commission.

    Mitzi R. Hail, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Hail is an enterprise corporate delivery manager with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. She will serve as a representative of business on the commission.

    Gwendolyn W. Hilliard, of Prairieville, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Hilliard is a mentor with the Big Buddy Program and the Boys and Girls Club. She also serves as a frequent volunteer with Volunteer Ascension and the American Red Cross. Ms. Hilliard will serve as a representative of community-based agencies or community-based organizations within Louisiana on the commission.

    Angela S. Jouett, of Lake Charles, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Jouett is the health initiatives and strategic partnership manager for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. She will serve as a representative of local government on the commission.

    Patrick C. Lawler, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Lawler is a team supervisor with Love Our Community and a City Year Baton Rouge corps member. He will serve as a member between the ages of 16 and 25 who is a participant or supervisor in a service program on the commission.

    Laurie A. Manley, of Slidell, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Manley is the volunteer coordinator at Slidell Memorial Hospital. She will serve as a member with expertise in the delivery of human, educational, environmental or public safety services to communities and persons on the commission.

    William O. Stoudt, of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Stoudt is a self-employed manager and former executive director for Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. He will serve as a representative of a national service program on the commission.


    Washington Parish Reservoir District

    The Washington Parish Reservoir District was formed to study the feasibility of developing a reservoir in Washington Parish and to search for a potential site. Appointments to this board are made by the Governor from nominations received by the Washington Parish President, each of the seven Washington Parish Council members, and the three members of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

    Charles E. Mizell Sr., of Bogalusa, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Mizell is the former mayor of Bogalusa. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Washington Parish President.

    Michael K. “Mike” Garic, of Bogalusa, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Garic is the owner and operator of Alex’s Tamale Shack and a former Bogalusa Police officer. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Bob D. Bateman, of Franklinton, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Bateman is retired and previously worked with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Michael L. Melancon, of Bogalusa, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Melancon is the director of revenue cycle for Our Lady of the Angels Hospital. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Clifton E. Roberts, of Angie, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Roberts is retired and previously worked at the LSU Bogalusa Medical Center. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    William A. “Bill” Jenkins, of Angie, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Jenkins is the owner of Bill Jenkins Forestry Services. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    Jason M. Creel, of Franklinton, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Creel is the chief operating officer of Creel Brothers, Inc. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    James F. “Jim” Beatty, Ph.D., of Mount Hermon, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Beatty is retired and previously worked as a dairy nutrition consultant with Purina Mills. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish Council.

    John E. Nichols, of Bogalusa, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Nichols is retired and previously worked as a senior consultant on nuclear energy projects. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

    D. Beryl Schilling, of Mount Hermon, was reappointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Schilling worked in the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division for 29 years. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

    Jerry A. Thomas, M.D., of Franklinton, was appointed to the Washington Parish Reservoir District. Dr. Thomas is a family practice physician and a former member of the Louisiana State Senate and House of Representatives. As required by statute, he was nominated by a member of the Washington Parish legislative delegation.

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    Online resources increase for flood survivors

    imagesPublic and private entities have information online ready to help if you’re a survivor of Louisiana’s recent severe storms and floods. Here is a listing of many online resources available to disaster survivors.

    Clothing, Food, Shelter, etc.
    2-1-1 is a single access point for resources like food, clothing, shelter, financial assistance and health resources. Visit www.louisiana211.org and follow @211Louisiana on Twitter.

    Wage or work issues
    The Workplace Justice Project / Wage Claim Clinic out of New Orleans is available to assist anyone with wage or work issues relating to the flooding, including workers who did not receive pay because of flooding and resulting business closures or other wage claims or other issues arise in the weeks and months of recovery. We are working with state and federal agencies to handle claims as efficiently as possible. Call the clinic at 504-861-5571, email  wjpnola@gmail.com, or check the website www.wjpnola.org.

    Situational awareness in Louisiana
    The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) contains links to disaster planning guides and situation updates at gohsep.la.gov.  You can also get emergency news at emergency.louisiana.gov and the governor’s website at gov.la.gov.

    FEMA
    Access FEMA’s website for the recent severe storms and floods at www.FEMA.gov/disaster/4277. It has the latest news and information on the disaster in Louisiana. Also, ‘like’ the FEMA Facebook page and follow @FEMAregion6 on Twitter.

    Also, www.DisasterAssistance.gov  has links for survivors to register and update your contact information, community resources, government directories and alerts. You may also call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. If you who use TTY may call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

    U.S. Small Business Administration
    Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are the largest source of federal disaster funding for businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters. Learn more at www.sba.gov/disaster.

    Disaster Recovery Centers
    Get answers to your disaster assistance questions at a Louisiana DRC. Go online to find your closest center at fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers.

    Volunteers and Donation
    Volunteer and donation opportunities are available at volunteerlouisiana.gov. You may email 2016FloodDonations@gmail.com to coordinate donations.

    Parish contact information
    Your parish leaders may be able to give information on how to dispose debris properly and provide information to assist your recovery. Get their contact information online at gohsep.la.gov/about/parishpa.

    Transitional Shelter Assistance hotels
    Find hotels that participate in TSA at femaevachotels.com. You may also find participating hotels by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. If you who use TTY may call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

    Rental resources
    Find available rental resources that are participating in FEMA’s rental assistance program by going to FEMA’s housing portal at asd.fema.gov/inter/hportal/home.htm. The list is routinely updated.

    Insurance contact information
    Get your company’s contact information online at the Louisiana Department of Insurance: www.ldi.la.gov/onlineservices/ActiveCompanySearch.

    National Flood Insurance Program
    Learn more about flood insurance at www.floodsmart.gov. Contact your insurance company to start a claim. Get your company’s contact information online at the Louisiana Department of Insurance: www.ldi.la.gov/onlineservices/ActiveCompanySearch.

    If you have flood insurance questions call 800-621-3362 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and select option 2. Call center staff are available to assist with information regarding your policy, offer technical flood guidance to aid in recovery and answer other flood insurance questions. You can be transferred to your insurance carrier for additional assistance if you have further questions. If you use TTY may call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

    Repair, rebuilding and clean up information
    Get repair and rebuilding tips at fema.gov/louisiana-disaster-mitigation. Get information about mucking out your property at crisiscleanup.org or call 800-451-1954.

    • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; 1-800-451-1954
    • Mennonite Disaster Service; (330) 473-5956
    •  Habitat for Humanity; (225) 927-6651
    • First Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana; 1-877-487-4658 (assistance for all areas); 318-541-1398 Livingston Parish; 225-295-0775 Baton Rouge Area- Istrouma Baptist Church;  225-261-3434 Central Area Zoar Baptist Church
    • St. Bernard Project; 504-277-6831; www.sbpusa.org
    • Austin Disaster Relief; 512-806-0800; www.adrntx.org
    • Operation Blessing; 225-753-2273
    • Healing Place Church at 569 Florida Ave SW Denham Springs 70726; www.healingplacechurch.org
    • Rotary Foundation for building supplies, appliances, furniture; 337 237-0628
    • Cajun Army; www.thecajunarmy.com
    • The Multi-Family Lease and Repair Program (MLRP) may provide funds to make your rental units habitable again in order to lease them to provide temporary housing to eligible FEMA applicants.
      • Repairs or improvements do not need to be storm- or flood-related.
      • You may choose your own contractor after you’ve agreed with repair costs with FEMA. FEMA is interested in working with Louisiana property owners in hard-hit communities with a lack of housing. Call 225-382-1464 or email fema-ia-dhops@fema.dhs.gov if you’re a property owner interested in repairing your rental property and assisting disaster survivors.

    Food assistance
    Go online to www.foodpantries.org/st/louisiana to see a database a statewide food banks.

    General health and welfare
    The Department of Health and Hospitals has health information at dhh.louisiana.gov. Search for “CDC” on Facebook and follow @CDCEmergency on Twitter for information from the Centers for Disease Control. The hotline for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is 800-321-OSHA (6742).

    Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Inc., also located at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road Baton Rouge, will provide medical care to flood survivors during normal weekday hours, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Flood survivors who are unable to contact their regular physicians or lack transportation can be seen at the medical clinic.

    Mental health services
    The Louisiana Directory of Mental Health Services is online at new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/97/n/116. For children and youth services, call the state health department at 225-342-9500 or visit the Children’s Special Health Services website at dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/740  for information or to apply for services for developmentally disabled children.

    UnitedHealthcare Healing Together Initiative will host weekly Healing Together Recovery Workshops at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road every Tuesday during the month of September (6, 13, 20, 27), 11:00am-12:00 noon. The workshops are designed to provide a holistic road map to recovering from the challenging and often devastating effects of the Great Flood. T

    Children
    Contact your local school district if you have not been able to enroll your child in school in the town where you are currently living, or if you have not been able to return to your home school district. Find contact information to your schoolboard at www.lsba.com/PageDisplay.asp?p1=798.

    Family Road is now providing women, infant, and children items to those individuals and families impacted by 2016 floods. If you are need of assistance you can call Family Road at (225) 201-8888, or visit 323 East Airport Avenue between the hours of 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Be prepared to provide: DSNAP card, SNAP card, ID/Driver’s License or other proof of residence (i.e. flooded area).

    Child care service is now available for Louisiana survivors while they are visiting the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at Celtic Studios, 10000 Celtic Drive in Baton Rouge, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Monday through Sunday. )Parents of children ages 3-12 may use the free child care service while they conduct business at the Disaster Recovery Center. The child care service is not a day care and children cannot be left at the Disaster Recovery Center. The child care service is provided by volunteers of Children’s Disaster Services, a ministry of the Church of the Brethren. All child care volunteers are trained in a 27-hour workshop. The child care service is offered in a secure location at the Disaster Recovery Center. Upon check in, a parent is given a numbered badge that is identical to one placed on his or her child. This badging process ensures that only the child’s parent can check the child out of the care service.

    Senior citizens
    Louisiana Aging Services administers federal and state-run services for senior citizens. It also oversees the Area Agencies of Aging in each parish, which develop coordinated community-based systems. Visit new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/subhome/12/n/7 or call the Aging and Adult Services Helpline at 866-758-5035.

    Persons with disabilities or access and functional needs
    Louisiana has several agencies that deal with different groups of people who are disabled or have access and functional needs. To learn more, visit the Department of Health and Hospitals online at dhh.louisiana.gov or the

    Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network at latan.org/index.php/programs-services/emergency-preparedness/23-emergency-preparedness/27-emergency-preparedness-program.html.

    Environmental health
    The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provides documents and resources in English, Spanish and Vietnamese that address emergency preparedness in hurricane and flood situations. Links are at tools.niehs.nih.gov/wetp/index.cfm?id=2472.

    The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has a resource page www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal with fact sheets and information on environmental issues, including disaster debris management. The Environmental Protection Agency’s website, www.epa.gov, has a section on water issues. Find “EPA” on Facebook, follow @EPAgov on Twitter or call 888-283-7626.

    Legal services
    Louisiana Legal Services provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents. Visit them at louisianalawhelp.org.

    The Disaster Recovery Law Clinic at the Southern University Law Center helps clients file and register with FEMA and other government aide groups, as well as assisting with insurance claims and applying for public benefits. The Clinic operates weekdays, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Appointments are encouraged to help ensure quality assistance. Call (225) 771-3333 or come into the clinic office located at the Southern University Law Center, 2 Roosevelt Steptoe Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70813.

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  • Emergency grants offered to cultural organizations, collections through Dec. 1

    In response to the August 2016 floods, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities announces 2016 Emergency Grants for organizations whose sites or collections were damaged during the disaster. Tax-exempt organizations with a history of cultural programming can apply for up to $1,000 to defray costs for staff, paid workers, and volunteers working on flood related clean up and restoration efforts.
    Eligible organizations must be located in one of the FEMA-designated parishes: Acadia Parish, Ascension Parish, Avoyelles Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Evangeline Parish, Iberia Parish, Iberville Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Lafayette Parish, Livingston Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, St. Helena Parish, St. James Parish, St. Landry Parish, St. Martin Parish, St. Tammany Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, Vermilion Parish, Washington Parish, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana Parish.
    Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until December 1, 2016. Notifications will be made within 2 weeks. Organizations can email questions to Robert@leh.org or call 504.620.2639. These grants were made possible by a Chairman’s Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
    The LEH is accepting donations to supplement the NEH’s support with additional funds. Click here to join these efforts.
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    Flood victims encouraged to pre-register for DSNAP benefits

    The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is encouraging those who have experienced loss or damage in the severe storms and flooding to pre-register for benefits under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

    DCFS is preparing a DSNAP application for parishes included in the initial federal disaster declaration for the State of Louisiana. Those parishes currently include East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa – although the list is expected to grow rapidly.

    DSNAP, formerly called Disaster Food Stamps, provides food assistance to eligible households who do not receive regular SNAP benefits and who need help buying groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster. The state must request that the federal government initiate DSNAP, but can only make the request after the president activates the Stafford Act and approves the parish for In

    dividual Assistance.

    After the state makes its request, it is expected that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services will respond quickly. In the meantime, DCFS is preparing potential DSNAP application sites and encouraging impacted residents to pre-register for benefits either online or by phone.

    The best way to pre-register is online at www.dcfs.la.gov/preregister. However, residents can also pre-register by phone beginning tomorrow, August 16, at 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) daily between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Callers will select the appropriate language and then select options 3 and 3. All pre-registrants will have to provide the following information:

    • Name, Social Security Number and Date of Birth for each household member 
    • Current address and parish of household 
    • Monthly income for each household member 
    • All liquid assets for each household member (cash on hand, checking, savings)

    The information will be kept securely on file and will be confidential.

    The pre-registration process does not guarantee benefits, but is designed to save time, minimize long lines and prevent applicants from coming to the site only to find out that they do not have the right information needed to apply.

    Residents who are already pre-registered for DSNAP do not need to pre-register again. If the state’s DSNAP request is approved, residents who live in an eligible parish and have pre-registered must still visit a DSNAP application site to verify their information and identity to determine final eligibility and receive benefit cards, if eligible.

    Households that receive regular SNAP benefits and live in parishes where DSNAP is activated DO NOT have to visit a DSNAP site to receive supplemental benefits. These households that receive regular SNAP benefits and live in parishes where DSNAP is activated will automatically have supplemental benefits added to their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards if they are not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household size. 

    As with all programs, DCFS works to ensure this program and others are available for eligible applicants by aggressively protecting against fraud in benefits programs year round. Strong safeguards are in place to ensure that only eligible citizens receive DSNAP benefits, to identify those who are dishonest about their eligibility and to pursue recoupment and/or prosecution.

     


     


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    Edwards, DOTD, Officials unveil plans for Washington Street off-ramp

    Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson and local elected officials to highlight a major transportation project in Baton Rouge. The Edwards administration is investing more than $20 million to advance the construction of a new off-ramp to relieve the merging conflict for motorists at the Washington Street exit on I-10. Last month,Edwards secured a $60 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund a project between the I-10/I-49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. By partially funding that project through federal resources, the state of Louisiana is able to reallocate financial resources to other projects throughout the state, including the Washington Street off-ramp.

    “The Washington Street exit along I-10 is one of the most congested portions of interstate in the country,” said Edwards. “By engaging our federal partners and bringing our tax dollars home to Louisiana, we can improve our infrastructure, grow our economy and make life easier on the citizens who live, work and travel through this region. I appreciate the hard work of DOTD over the last seven months to get us to this point, and I am confident that the Capital Region will be positively impacted by this critical work. Going forward, I am committed to partnering with the federal government to make critical investments in infrastructure throughout our state.”

    “The benefit of the FASTLANE award is significant for other state priories,” Wilson said. “This allows the state to provide independent utility in the form of a new left side off-ramp that will ease traffic in the vicinity of Washington Street.”

    With the funds made available through the FASTLANE grant, Edwards is allocating $20-$25 million dollars of state money to the construction of this new project. Construction of this new off-ramp is now funded and awaiting final plans. To get to the construction phase, DOTD in the last 7 months accelerated the interchange modification report and expects completion by the end of 2016.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Street Justice: Thousands demand arrest of BR Police

    Whether it was a gathering of 300 in front of the Triple S convenience store, small groups of 50 meeting at area churches, nearly 400 at city hall, dozens painting signs at LSU, or a thousand marching through downtown, Baton Rouge residents and visitors are protesting the death of 37-year-old man, Alton Sterling, who was shot by Baton Rouge police officers, July 5.

    The shooting drew public attention immediately and protests began taking their cries for justice to the streets, starting on North Foster. of the shooting. Demonstrations for Alton Sterling followed in major cities across the nation.

    Protests have been largely peaceful, however local, city, and state officers’ use of force when arresting protesters have resulted in injuries. Reports have serviced of police attacking, beating, and illegally arresting protesters.

    This treatment has been publicized in national media. Following closed meetings between Black elected officials and the US Department of Justice, East Baton Rouge metro councilman Lamont Cole said the group has “some serious concerns” about how protesters have been handled by police.

    ”I don’t think the police need to make any more arrests or push the people to make an arrest,” Moore said.

    The American Civil Liberties union of Louisiana agrees. On July 13, the group filed a lawsuit against the BRPD, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety, EBRP Sheriff’s Department, and State Police for using excessive force and “violating the First Amendment rights of demonstrators who were protesting peacefully against the killing of Alton Sterling.” The ACLU has requested a restraining order that would put restrictions on how protesters can be scattered and detained during future demonstrations. under the order, officers would not be able to use chemical” agents—such as tear gas— without clear warning and authorization from the governor. It also would only allow officers to work protests if their names, agency and identifying number were clearly displayed. The ACLU said protestors were verbally abused and physically hurt.

    “These protests are and will continue to be one of the strategies our citizens use to bring attention to the issue of police brutality and demand justice in the death of Alton Sterling,” said Michael McClanahan, president of the NAACP Baton Rouge Chapter.

    On July 5, BRPD officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II were responding to a call from 911 saying there was a “man with a gun” at the Triple S on North Foster Drive at Fairfields Avenue. There they met Sterling who was selling CDs outside the store with the owner’s permission. Two videos of the shooting surfaced online via Facebook within hours, raising doubts about whether the police officers were justified in the shooting. Defenders of the police say other video exists that will exonerate the officers.

    At the request of Gov. John Bel Edwards, the U.S. Department of Justice took over the investigation and the officers were placed on paid, administrative leave. District Attorney Hillar Moore III recused himself due to personal ties to Salamoni’s parents, who are also police officers. The state Attorney General will be in charge of prosecuting any state charges.

    Groups from across the nation have traveled to Baton Rouge to join protestors, train observers, and organize activists for the longterm work of demanding justice. Organizers of rallies have said the work for justice will continue. Across nearly every part of the city, citizens—Black and white, elected officials, and police—are working to find solutions in closed meetings, criminal hearings, at policy meetings, during city council and legislative sessions, at mass, on the stage of poetry slams, and in safety briefings. “But the work began in the streets,” said McClanahan.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Protesters, leaders vow: ‘We will not destroy or burn down our community’

    Alton Sterling’s death has inspired nationwide protests backed by thousands of Americans who want to end police brutality and the unremitting laws that seem to protect those who are employed to serve and protect citizens.

    Sterling’s name is being called by people all over the world who are partaking in public demonstrations, rallies, and protests seeking justice for his death and that of Philando Castile, Dylan Noble, and others who were killed by police officers. With the continued efforts being taken to protest, many people are optimistic about the possibility of justice being served this time around, but what happens if the verdict isn’t in favor of the victims? How will supporters feel? Will the public outcry lead to a volatile response from protesters? In Baton Rouge, leaders are extending a strong message to citizens currently fighting for justice and against police brutality. They are saying, with microphones in hand and in casual conversations, “Rioting and looting aren’t effective forms of retaliation. We will not destroy Baton Rouge.”

    In the past, America has seen the devastating aftermath and retaliation from outraged protesters and residents following seemingly “unjust” verdicts. Many of the most highly publicized officer-involved shootings have resulted in non-indictments, non-guilty verdicts, and dropped charges.

    Despite facing incriminating evidence and unedited videos of their attacks, overly aggressive—and often violent—police officers have managed to walk away from cases with judges ruling in their favor. Instead of serving time, these officers end up getting a slap on the wrist or a severance package to move on with their lives. Only to be met with violent uproar within the communities left on the other side of justice.

    Local community leaders and elected officials have stepped into what could’ve been riotous moments during the protests following Sterling’s killing and deescalated situations in an effort to keep peace. With emotions and tensions at it peak, these leaders say they aren’t personally concerned about the possibility of local looting, but some residents are.“I don’t have a concern about looting, but I’m a business owner and a property owner so, I do know other business and property owners may be worried about those possibilities because they aren’t as close to the situation as I am,” said businessman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    “(Baton Rouge has) done things differently from a lot of other places around the country because we’ve had the opportunity to learn from the lessons and previous mistakes other communities have made and observed that if you tear your community up, once national media leave and professional protesters leave, we’re left to deal with the aftermath.”

    To that, Black leaders throughout the city stress the importance of refraining from destroying the community, saying the aftermath would be detrimental to the advancement of the community.

    “Destructive protests do not accomplish anything because generally our people are the ones who hurt the most from it,” said Doris Gaymon, 64, a lifelong resident of North Baton Rouge. “We tend to destroy our own areas and properties and it defeats the purpose of the message we hope to send. In many cases, the areas destroyed are not insured and total destruction on those locations have made owners apprehensive about rebuilding in the impacted areas due to fears of repeated destruction.”

    For Gaymon, Sterling’s death is quite disheartening and many of the strikingly intense photos from recent protests mirror those from Civil Rights era demonstrations. The images and emotions signify the fight for equality and the ongoing battle against police brutality.

    “It appears we haven’t gotten beyond destruction,” she said.

    Gaymon remembers the 1972 rally at Southern University where Denver Smith and Leonard Brown were fatally shot by white deputies while protesting on campus. Although their protests weren’t centered around police brutality, they were fighting for a number of on-campus changes and the resignation of certain administrators.

    “The death of Alton Sterling has only culminated a deep-rooted problem that has been festering for many years. Hopefully, we, as a people, can understand that destruction does not resolve anything,” Gaymon said.

    In spite of all the horrific events Baton Rouge has experienced—including the shooting death of Sterling, attacks on peaceful protestors, and the deaths of three uniform officers—most residents agree emphatically that retaliation in the form of rioting and looting won’t relay the message of justice the community is hoping to send.

    “At every opportunity, you will hear leaders and residents all over saying, ‘We will not destroy or burn down our community!’,” said Dunn. “And we will not. This is ours.”

    By Meaghan Ellis
    Special to The Drum

    Originally published July 2016 in the print edition of The Drum

    Read more »
  • Moore steps down as prosecutor in Sterling case, faces question of police treatment of protesters

    During a press conference earlier today East Baton Rouge DA Hillar Moore announced that he has recused himself as prosecutor in the Alton Sterling case. Moore said he has no relationship to Blane Salamoni or Howie Lake II, the two officers involved in the fatal shooting, but he does have a relationship with both of Salamoni’s parents, who are also police officers.

    Moore described the relationship as professional in nature, spanning his career as an investigator, defense attorney, and district attorney.

    While answering questions from members of the media at the same press conference, Moore expressed some doubt as to whether yesterday’s move by police to enter the private residence of Lisa Batiste, who had given protesters permission to be in her home, was appropriate or legal.

    “I don’t think the police need to make any more arrests or push the people to make an arrest. . .Whether police can go onto private property, obviously if they saw a crime committed, they can follow that person. Maybe not inside a house depending on the charge.” said Moore

    This treatment has been publicized in national media and in closed meetings between Black elected officials and the US Department of Justice.

    EBRP metro councilman Lamont Cole told The Advocate that the group has “some serious concerns” about how protesters have been handled by police.

    At this time, officials are awaiting recommendations from the US Department of Justice on whether charges should be brought against Lake and Salamoni who are on paid, administrative leave from the Baton Rouge Police Department.

    Read more »
  • NewsOne Now talks with BR activist Arthur Reed about Alton Sterling shooting

    News One Now managing editor Roland S. Martin spoke with Baton Rouge activist Arthur Reed about his personal video of the police shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling. Reed spoke about the systemic racism and division that has always been present in the Baton Rouge community.

    “There are a bunch of lies when it comes down to this being a close knit community, said Reed. “This has been a divided community ever since the Jim Crow era. It’s a community of two different types of Black folks; Black folks who will push the vote and black folks that will stand on the shore and tell us that the vote don’t need pushing. We have two different types of Black folks here in Louisiana and definitely in Baton Rouge.”

    Reed also called out Baton Rouge’s Mayor Kip Holden for being supportive of the police and his lack of compassion towards Sterling’s family.

    “The mayor has done a poor job of being a part of the Black community,” added Reed. This young man has been murdered, and the mayor has not shown his face at any of the vigils, he has not come out and talked to the family. The mayor is being pro-police knowing that the police have been the biggest agitators and oppressors of the community here in Baton Rouge.”

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  • ,

    Mayoral candidate Smokie Bourgeois releases statement on Sterling shooting

    Smokie Bourgeois, candidate for Mayor-President, released an official statement on the recent shootings earlier today:

    “When I came of age, my daddy had a serious talk with me. He started with the phrase ‘violence begets violence’. He went on to make it clear to me that anytime I encountered police officers, it would be a good idea to follow their instructions. If I ever wanted to argue or fight with police, nothing good would come of it. He said to save my arguments for the judge. His words ring as true today as back then.

    Of all the horrific crimes committed and reported in Baton Rouge, one story has caught everyone’s attention; the death of Alton Sterling. Media reports, supported by video, make one fact very clear, Alton Sterling refused to follow police officers’ repeated instructions.

    Smokie Bourgeois

    Smokie Bourgeois


    To anyone who wants to treat police officers as shooting targets, you cannot win, you will only lose. The emotional tide sweeping this city and country will turn against you. All lives matter, particularly those of the men and women in law enforcement who place their lives on the line every day to protect you. In every civilized society, the rules of law and the authority of those who protect us must be respected and followed for the safety of all.

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  • ,

    BREC completes improvements at T. D. Bickham Jr. park

    With the help of BREC Planning & Engineering and BREC CIP Crew, T. D. Bickham Jr. Park features new renovations and amenities. The park is located at 6850 Pettit Road. BREC will host a ribbon cutting on Friday, July 15 at 10 a.m. to dedicate the project completion.

    Improvements include new playground equipment with two different play areas, one for young children with an age appropriate play unit and tot swings. The other play area is for older kids featuring six climbers, two slides and an arch swing. A new half basketball court was also added, and a picnic shelter was renovated. New connector walks make all the new amenities accessible to everyone.

    The improvements were completed in time for summer camp kids to enjoy. Due to renovations at Baker Recreation Center, summer camp moved to T. D. Bickham Recreation Center. For years to come, children will benefit from the new playground equipment with heart-healthy exercise, social development in group interaction, and enhanced sensory and motor skills.

    T. D. Bickham is just one of the parks receiving renovations in the area. Scotlandville Park now has a new disc golf park and a grand opening will be held on Saturday, August 6 at 10 a.m. Renovations are currently underway at Anna T. Jordan Community park and a grand opening for an expanded and completely renovated recreation center will be held this fall. In addition, construction on a new visitors and event center is set to begin very soon at the Laurens Henry Cohn, Sr. Memorial Plant Arboretum.

    Read more »
  • ,

    The world is watching Baton Rouge

      Media around the world are watching Baton Rouge:

    MSNBC:Protests have erupted in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after the shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling by police early Tuesday morning

    CNN: Louisiana lawmaker calls on Justice Department to investigate police shooting death

    New York Times: Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering

    Wallstreet Journal: U.S. Justice Department to Investigate Police Shooting in Baton Rouge – http://www.wsj.com/articles/louisiana-officer-fatally-shoots-suspect-protests-erupt-1467796285

    BBC: Alton Sterling death: Fresh protests over Louisiana shooting – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36731378

    Philadelphia CBS: Demonstrators Hit Philadelphia Streets Protesting Death Of Alton Sterling – http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2016/07/06/demonstrators-hit-philadelphia-streets-protesting-the-death-of-alton-sterling/

    Black America Web: #AltonSterling Is The Latest Victim Of A Culture That Dehumanizes Black Men – http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/07/06/altonsterling-is-the-latest-victim-of-a-culture-that-dehumanizes-black-men/

    IMG_20160706_225507

      Social Media:

    Hillary Clinton: “The death of Alton Sterling is a tragedy, and my prayers are with his family.” – https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/750851893480521728

    Governor John Bel Edwards: Gov. Edwards’ Statement Following Recent Officer-Involved Shooting in Baton Rouge – http://gov.louisiana.gov/news/statement-following-recent-officerinvolved-shooting-in-baton-rouge

    Jessie Jackson: “The shooting of #AltonSterling in #BatonRouge is a legal lynching. Justice must prevail. #Outraged” – https://twitter.com/RevJJackson/status/750648298415853568

    Drake: “It is impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago.” – https://www.instagram.com/p/BHim8QWjFTx/

    Glen Davis: “I knew Alton Sterling and he wouldn’t hurt a fly” – http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/nba-glen-davis-knew-alton-sterling-wouldn-hurt-fly-article-1.2701263

    Shaun King: “Officers Blane Salamoni & Howie Lake should already be arrested by now. That latest video of their execution of #AltonSterling is enough.” – https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/750870151554174976

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  • ,

    STEM NOLA revolution takes on Baton Rouge

    “GO. SEE. DO,” IS THE MESSAGE CALVIN MACKIE, Ph.D., is spreading with a STEM revolution that is exposing young people to
    math and science interactively. The mission is to grow future innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs through inspiration,
    engagement, and exposure.

    “There is power in doing,” said Mackie. “At some point we have to get up off our behinds and do. We have to stop talking and planning and actually do something.”  #LetsGoPeople is the hashtag Mackie adds to the end of every Facebook post, prompting his more than 16,000 followers to action. “I remember speaking with Dr. Cornell West and I whispered to him, ‘I am going to bring social justice to STEM,’” said Mackie, who taught engineering for more than 12 years at Tulane University in New Orleans. To do so, he established STEM NOLA to give children and teens opportunities to experience and gain knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics once a month—and in a big way. “If we give our kids the right skills now in math, science and technology, paired with their own creativity, they can create things the world never seen before,” said Mackie who has mentored thousands of college scientists. He has taken this message to audiences at NY Life, Morehouse University, Hillsborough Community College, and to researchers with the J Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society, Discovery Communications, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The award-winning science mentor uses the STEM program to emphasize the importance of taking what is learned to create something new and compete with other youth from across the globe. He said for someone to own the future in the 21st century, “he or she must first create the future and for people of color to find a genius in their community. It is not enough to invest in only a select few, but to support and build up every child, teen, and young adult.” “We celebrate the fact that we have a million boys and girls playing sports dreaming to be one of 60 to get drafted,” he said. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, Tulane University eliminated its engineering program and fired Mackie. “So I decided, as Lebron James says, to ‘take my talents back home’.” Mackie said and chuckled. 

    Stem Nola 2

    After 12 years of dedicating his life to students in the classroom, the Morehouse graduate felt he could reach a larger number of young people and make a bigger impact by working directly in the community and enlighten his students on the importance of STEM in today’s world. “Why should I prepare my kid to go through a crack when there is a wide open gate of opportunity to go through”? He shared that opportunity in conjunction with Baton Rouge Community College. The STEM NOLA team came to the capitol city to give high school students the opportunity to experience life science, energy, and force using Mackie’s interactive module. What sets STEM NOLA apart from the classroom experience is the high energy activities the students complete in small groups in order to retain the information that was taught during a lecture. For three days, sixty high school students met the STEM NOLA challenge during Spring Break. On the first day, the lecture and lab covered life science and the heart. Mackie taught the importance of a healthy lifestyle in relation to the heart and how proper rest affects the heart’s circulatory system. Afterwards, the students built a four-chamber mechanical heart out of everyday materials and had the opportunity to dissect the four-chamber heart of a sheep. The next day was energy day. Students spent the first part of the day learning about active and passive solar energy. To aid with the understanding of solar energy, the group built solar energy houses that were placed outside to see which house allowed the least amount of sun inside. To track the amount of sun that each house allowed in, the rate of the increase heat for each house was measured. The house that increased at the lowest rate in heat was declared the winner and received a prize. Later that day, Mackie’s group was given windmill kits to put design and measure the amount of voltage from the windmill. The final day featured force in motion using paper and other household materials to create a rocket that could be launched by compressed air. The group launched solid rockets that could reach up to an altitude of 700 feet with the right booster.  “BRCC saw what we did in New Orleans and said the kids in Baton Rouge deserved to experience something like this,” said Mackie. STEM NOLA is held in New Orleans every second Saturday of the month. It is also part of a national maker movement. ONLINE: www.stemnola.org

    BY BRIANA BROWNLEE
    JOZEF SYNDICATE REPORTER

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  • ,,,

    Reed becomes deputy under secretary

    Kim Hunter Reed has been appointed by President Barack Obama as deputy under secretary of education.

    Reed will be a member of the senior leadership team at the Department of Education that oversees higher education in the United States. She is the former chief of staff for the Louisiana Board of Regents and the former executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System. Earlier, she served on the faculty at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge and was executive assistant to the president and interim vice president of student affairs at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.

    Reed earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and master of public administration degree at Southeastern Louisiana University. She holds a doctorate in public policy from Southern University.
     

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  • ,

    Dixon promoted to Public Relations Colonel

    LSU Cadet Todd Dixon, a New Orleans native, has been selected to serve as the Regimental Commanding Officer for the 17th Regional area of the National Society of Pershing Rifles.  Dixon’s range of responsibility includes eight Pershing Rifles chapters at universities across the South in Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia. He will also maintain his responsibilities and current position as Commander of Pershing Rifles at LSU.

    Since 2011, this will be the first time the Regimental Headquarters for this area will be located at LSU.  It is a huge accomplishment, and is reflective of the tremendous efforts and hard work of Dixon and Pershing Rifles at LSU. At their national convention, Dixon was promoted to the rank of Public Relations Colonel effective on March 12, 2016. 

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  • Youth to gather for first Youth Justice Day, April 6

    Why are 17-year-old children
    prosecuted as adults in Louisiana
    and stigmatized with life-long criminal records?


    BATON ROUGE — Louisiana is one of only nine states that routinely prosecute 17-year-olds as adults — a fiscally irresponsible and inhumane practice that affects about 6,000 LA youth each year, endangering public safety by increasing recidivism <http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/15224459-171/guest-column-including-17-year-olds-in-the-juvenile-justice-system-makes-us-safer> .


    A broad swath of supporters, including Governor John Bel Edwards and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson, are calling on Louisiana to get in stride with the 41 states that include 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system. Sponsored by Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, the RAISE THE AGE LOUISIANA ACT of 2016 (SB 324 <http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=984017> ) is included in the Edwards Administration’s legislative package.

    Join us on the Capitol steps on April 6 for the stirring kick-off of Louisiana’s first annual Youth Justice Day in support of RAISE THE AGE LOUISIANA.

    Youth Justice Day is sponsored by the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition, a network of over 60 advocacy groups that support common-sense juvenile justice reform.

    This is a local story on an issue of national concern. Read about Louisiana and the seven other states <http://campaignforyouthjustice.org/news/blog/item/raise-the-age-bills-flourish-in-2016>  with RAISE THE AGE campaigns and pending legislation.

    April 6 at 10:30 am:

    · Release of a powerful report authored by the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition arguing that the inclusion of 17-year-olds in our juvenile justice system is safe, smart, cost-effective, and fair.  (Contact us for an advance copy.)

    · Speakers include Rob Reardon, Lafayette Parish Director of Corrections; Dr. James Gilmore, Director of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet; Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson; and Jasmine Jeff, a senior at New Orleans’ Sci Academy whose research for a term paper sparked a passion for RAISE THE AGE.

    · The New Orleans youth dance group, Dancing Grounds, will live-illustrate news conference messages with giant props and assistance from the audience.  This is a strongly visual media op that reporters and camera crews won’t want to miss.

    At 11:30 am:

    · Join us at the Capitol Park Welcome Center <http://www.crt.state.la.us/tourism/welcome-centers/capitol-park-welcome-center-rentable-venue/index>  for a technical panel on the report and RAISE THE AGE legislation. Three related juvenile justice bills will be discussed as well.

    At 12:30 pm:

    · Follow along with Jasmine Jeff and her peers as they enter the Capitol and lobby legislators in support of RAISE THE AGE — a first-time act of civic engagement for many of these young people.

    At 1:00 pm:

    · The legislative session opens with Rep. Joseph Bouie, D-New Orleans, reading a proclamation in support of Youth Justice Day <http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=985212>  and the hundreds of students — 350 confirmed to date — in attendance.

    For more on RAISE THE AGE, the three related bills, and the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition, visit www.youthjustice.la <http://www.youthjustice.la/> .

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  • ,,,

    Auditions open for ‘The Piano Lesson’

    THE PIANO LESSON AUDITION NOTICE
    DIRECTED BY: TIM SANDIFER
    Set in Pittsburgh during the Great Depression, The Piano Lesson explores the troubled relationship of a brother and sister and their struggle over an extraordinary family heirloom, a piano carved with images of their African ancestors. The carvings, done by their enslaved grandfather, instill the piano with a metaphysical legacy – one the siblings avoid or even take for granted, but come to accept and embrace. The piano ultimately brings together a family long torn apart by slavery, violence and murder.Register Here
    When
    Saturday
    April 9, 2016
    1:00 pm
    (General Auditions)
    Where
    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
    2nd Floor
    427 Laurel Street
    Baton Rouge, LA 70801
    What
    THE PIANO LESSON
    REHEARSAL DATES
    April 11, 2016 – May 19, 2016
    Mondays – Thursdays, 6:30 – 9:30 PM
    Sundays, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
    Rehearsals are at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
     PERFORMANCE DATES
    May 20, 21 and 22, 2016
    Fridays & Saturday at 7:30 PM Sunday at 3:00

    3 Performances at the LSU Shaver Theatre
    AUDITION REQUIREMENTS
    Please prepare a one-minute dramatic monologue.
    CHARACTERS
    CHARLES DOAKER: Male, 40-60, African Descent, African American The uncle and the owner of the house, spent his life working for the railroad, functions as the play’s testifier.
    BOY WILLIE: Male, 25-40, African American, Berniece’s brash, impulsive, and fast-talking brother who plans to sell the family piano and buy the land his ancestors once worked on as slaves.

     

    LYMON: Male, 25-40, African American, Boy Willie’s longtime friend, speaks with a disarming “straightforwardness”, fleeing the law, he plans to stay in the north and begin a new life.

     

    BERNIECE: Female, 30-40, African America, Boy Willie’s sister, still in mourning for her husband, Crawley, blames her brother for her husband’s death.

     

    MARETHA: Female, 10-14, African American, Berniece’s eleven-year-old daughter who is learning to play piano, the next generation of the Charles’ family.

     

    AVERY BROWN: Male, 30-45, African American, A preacher who moves north once Berniece’s husband dies in an attempt to court her, honest and ambitious.

     

    WINING BOY: Male, 45-65, African American A wandering, washed-up recording star who drifts in and out of his brother Doaker’s household whenever he finds himself broke.

     

    GRACE: Female, 25-35, African American A young, urban woman whom Boy Willie and Lymon each try to pick up.

    Email questions to info@newventuretheatre.org.
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  • ,,

    Gauthier leaves McKinley to serve with Naval Beach Group TWO

    NORFOLK–A 2014 McKinley Senior High School graduate and Baton Rouge native is serving in the U.S. Navy with Naval Beach Group TWO (NBG 2). Seaman Tyran’e Gauthier is working with the beach group operating out of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
    A Navy seaman is responsible for training other new personnel and handling check-in for incoming personnel.
    “I like being able to welcome new sailors and get them started on the right track to success,” said Gauthier. “I also like being responsible for training because I feel it is important.”
    Commissioned in 1948, NBG 2 is designed to organize, man, train and equip forces to execute, combat support, and combat service support missions. NBG 2 is made of four commands, Assault Craft Unit TWO (ACU 2), Assault Craft Unit FOUR (ACU 4), Amphibious Construction Battalion TWO, and Beach Master Unit TWO (BMU 2); who have their own individual missions that assist to ensure the overall mission of NBG 2 is complete.
    Gauthier serves with ACU 2 who operate the Landing Craft Air Cushion and provide combat ready craft that fully meet operational tasking worldwide, on time, every time.
    “I like that this command does not see rank,” said Gauthier. “They give you responsibility regardless of rank.”
    Approximately 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the beach group. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the command running smoothly. The jobs range from operating boats to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
    “The sailors here never cease to impress me with the effort they put into their daily work,” said Capt. Jeffrey Hayhurst, commodore commander of NBG 2.”Their dedication and hard work make me proud to be in command of Naval Beach Group Two.”
    Although NBG 2 is made up of four separate commands, they all work together to complete their mission of providing the Navy personnel and equipment to support an amphibious operation or exercise.
    These exercises can include evacuation of American citizens from a hostile territory, delivery of food and medical supplies after a natural disaster, the bulk delivery of fuel or fresh water from a ship anchored off the coast through a pipeline to a shore facility, and nearly any other task that involves moving from ships offshore to the beach.
    “Since joining the Navy, I have matured a bit more,” said Gauthier. “I have always been a leader but now I am a bit more organized.”
    As a member of the one of the U.S. Navy’s most unique commands, Gauthier and other NBG 2 Sailors understand that they need to have the ability to complete a variety of missions to help keep America safe from enemies foreign and domestic.

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  • State Senator Barrow sets community meetings

    State Senator Regina Barrow will hold a series of community meetings in the Senate District 15 area to discuss a variety of legislative issues. Representatives from many state agencies, including the departments of health and hospitals, children and family services, revenue, and transportation as well as the Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, and the Office of Motor Vehicles, have been invited to attend. State Representatives Ted James, Ronnie Edwards, and Barbara Carpenter have also been invited to join the discussion. Barrow urges citizens in the area to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about important state issues. She can be reached at (225) 359-9400.

    • Tuesday, Feb. 23,  6pm – 7:30 pm at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 6217 Glen Oaks Drive
    • Thursday, Feb. 25, 6pm – 7:30pm at Greenwell Springs Road Library, 11300 Greenwell Springs Road
    • Thursday, March 3,  6pm – 7:30pm at the Baker Branch Library, 3501 Groom Road 
    • Read more »
  • ,,

    Weekend cultural celebration salutes Black health, inventors, musicians, Mardi Gras Indians

    The Baton Rouge community is invited to experience a fun-filled weekend of performances, historical displays and interactive cultural celebrations, Feb. 19-21 at the The Angel Heart Center, 3800 Florida Blvd. According to organizers The 2016 Baton Rouge Black History Celebration will salute Black inventors and scientists in the untold history of the United States of America.  

    Events begin Friday, Feb. 19, at 6pm with a welcoming introduction, movie screening, and review. At 8:30 p.m., the Lyricist Lounge opens “The Mic” for Poetry, Spoken Word, and musical performances, with a Live DJ on site. The weekend will include performances by jazz artist George Bell, vocalist Meagan Simone, and the African Dance Collective of Baton Rouge. The Black Inventions Museum will make a tour stop at the Angel Heart Center with customized historical exhibits highlighting the contributions of Louisiana’s inventors who were people of color, on display throughout the weekend.

    Jazz artist George Bel

    Jazz artist George Bel

    There will also be nutrition and health food samplings and children’s activities. Discussion panels will focus on: health, family and social structure, economics, politics and choices for 2016. Hosted on the campus of the Parris Cardiovascular Center’s Twilight Center & Spa, free blood pressure and diabetes screenings will be conducted by health professionals for adults. The three-day event is free and open to the public.

    On Saturday afternoon, 5-6pm, there will be an oral presentation by professor Umar Bey, spokesman for the twenty-five year old traveling museum. He will return to give a special presentation of The Origins of the Mardi Gras Indians with photographic works of New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians by Louisiana visual artist Chad Kristian which will be on display throughout the event.

    Cordel Parris, MD

    Cordel Parris, MD

    Photograph of Mardi Gras Indians by Chad Kristian. http://www.chadkristian.com

    Photograph of Mardi Gras Indians by Chad Kristian. http://www.chadkristian.com

    A cartoon workshop for children starts Saturday, Feb. 19, at 11am. From noon to 3pm, participants will screen excerpts from the Hidden Colors movie series focusing on economics, politics and our collective, current state of affairs, and share a panel discussions of the topics from 12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. “This will be a positive, productive interactive dialogue. It is a chance to learn and share each other’s views, concerns, and solutions to mutual problems,” said organizers.

     

    At 3pm Sunday, Feb. 21, Dr. Cordel Parris, a local cardiologist, will moderate a panel discussion on physical, spiritual, and mental health issues, including a presentation on healthy, nutrition tips with local health professionals, underwritten by Sam’s Club.  At 5pm, professor Umar Bey will present The Origins of Mardi Gras Indians featuring Chad Kristian’s Mardi Gras Indian photography on display Friday-Sunday.  Local food, craft, and book vendors will be on site for the event.

    This celebration is sponsored by Parris Cardiovascular’s Twilight Center, The Bridge Educational Services LLC, Creative Solutions LA, and Hilltop Apiary LLC. The Traveling Black Inventors Museum is underwritten by  Educational Development Outreach Centers, Inc.

    ONLINE: https://www.facebook.com/2016BatonRougeBlackHistoryMonthCelebration/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Standing Strong in Sickle Cell benefit concert scheduled for Feb 19

    Come lift a joyful noise for a wonderful cause! The Voices of Hope Gospel Singers of Baton Rouge are sponsoring a gospel concert benefiting the Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation. The details for the concert are as follows:

    Voices of Hope Gospel Singers of Baton Rouge Present

    “Standing Strong in Sickle Cell”

    A Gospel Concert Honoring Families Affected by Sickle Cell Disease

    Nazarene Baptist Church

    1707 Spanish Town Road

    Baton Rouge, LA 70802

    Friday, Feb. 19, 2016

    7:00 pm

    2016 marks 42 YEARS of the Foundation’s service to 11 parishes in the state of Louisiana. BRSCAF is the only organization whose mission is to provide supportive medical and social services to people living with sickle cell disease in these parishes. We need your help to ensure client support.

    ONLINE: www.brscaf.org

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    COMMENTARY: ‘Mardi Gras, big fat lies’

    Saturday, February 6, 2016, was a historic day in Baton Rouge.  It was also a day filled with contradictions that are characteristic of the State Capital.
    image

    In one section of the city residents gathered to remember the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott with the dedication of a memorial bench by The Toni Morrison Society.

    In another section of the city confederate flags were waving and a float was preparing to parade down public roadways mocking the killings of unarmed Black men and women.

    As shocking as the images were for some—and as predictable as they were to others—what was even more disturbing and revealing were the efforts by some people to justify and rationalize the presence of confederate flags, but especially the float as mere satire. 

    Furthermore, descriptions of the float as a joke that may have gone too far and dismissals of the negative reactions that followed revealed what many people have already known; the idea that we are living in a post-racial or colorblind society is a big fat lie.  Race matters as much today as it did more than 60 years ago when blacks were legally forbidden from owning their own buses lines, saddled with a bus fare increase, and forced to stand while seats reserved for whites remained empty.  Through collective action, the community forced changed.  The change was not necessarily the type everyone in the community envisioned, but it helped move hundreds of thousands of people to renew or establish a commitment to social justice. 

    Now more than ever there is a similar need for people of all walks of life to demand more of their friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues.  Remaining silent about things that matter cannot be a viable option in the face of such offensive and unjust actions.  Mocking a contemporary iteration of a struggle as old as the nation itself is no laughing matter.  We should all feel a sense of righteous indignation when unarmed mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters are killed not on foreign battlefields, but on American streets.  In far too many cases, the victims’ families are left to not only mourn but in the case of the shooting of a young man in Chicago and his neighbor, now they also have to ward off l

    image

    awsuits from the very person who pulled the trigger. 

    Sadly, the float during the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade that displayed a brutalized pink flamingo and baton meant to resemble one carried by a law enforcement officer, and bearing the moniker, “Pink Lives Matter,” points to the sad truism that throughout our nation’s history the lives of people of African ancestry have mattered less to some people than animals or even beloved cultural symbols. 

    Mardi Gras season is a time for celebration. Sadly, the season is also a time when big fat lies about race and racism are on parade. 

    By Lori Latrice Martin, PhD
    Guest Columnist

    Lori Martin is an LSU associate professor of sociology and African & African American studies

    Read more »
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    What did Che’dra Joseph say?

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

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

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

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

    Che'Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Che’Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

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

    The gym erupted with applause.

    Read more »
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    New Venture Theatre announces Jan. 30 auditions

    New Venture Theatre will host auditions for two performances, Jan. 30. They are:

    image

    Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds: a Children’s Musical Show Audition Notice
    Director: Dorrian Wilson
    Assistant Director: Roger Ferrier

    AUDITION
    Saturday, Jan. 30, 3:30pm (General Auditions)
    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge 2nd Floor 427 Laurel Street Baton Rouge, LA 70801

    REHEARSAL DATES
    Feb 2 – March 3
    Monday – Thursdays, 6pm – 9pm

    PERFORMANCE DATES
    March 4 and 5
    Friday, March 4 2pm and 7:30pm
    Saturday, March 5, at 2pm and 7:30pm

    SYNOPSIS
    Three little birds sing their sweet songs to Ziggy, a very shy child who is happy to see the world from the T.V. in his room. But his tricky friend, Nansi wants him to get out and enjoy the island of Jamaica. But Ziggy is afraid of Hurricanes, Mongoose and evil spirits. Their worldly adventure is enlivened by the fantastic songs of renowned Reggae artist Bob Marley.

    AUDITION REQUIREMENTS
    Please prepare a one-minute of a song that shows your range and vocal ability (SELECTIONS FROM BOB MARLEY WILL BE ACCEPTED). ALL SONGS WILL BE PERFORMED WITHOUT MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT. No monologues required for this production, there will be a cold reading.

    CHARACTERS
    Ziggy- a timid boy with long dreadlocks- 11

    Nansi- a trickster girl- 11 (Also: Spanish Bird#2/ British Colonizer Bird, Sister Indian Bird)

    Duppy- an evil spirit bird with a head full of human hair taken from children, 30s ( Also: Villager #1/ Great Grandfather Spanish Bird)

    Doctor Bird- a lucky bird, Ziggy’s pet and best friend, 20s

    Cedella- Ziggy’s Mother, 40s ( Also Montego, a bird/ Spanish Bird #1/ Great Aunt African Bird)

    Tacoma- a bird ( Also plays- Villager #2/ Great Grandmother British Bird/ Cousin Chinese Bird)

    RASHEEDA SPEAKING AUDITION NOTICE
    Directed by: April Louise
    Written by: Joel Drake-Johnson

    AUDITIONS
    Saturday, January 30 at 1pm

    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge 2nd Floor
    427 Laurel Street Baton Rouge, La 70801

    REHEARSAL DATES
    February 15 – March 18
    Rehearsals are at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge

    PERFORMANCE DATES
    March 19 and 20 7:30pm
    LSU Studio Theatre/ School of Theater
    Louisiana State University
    105 Music and Dramatic Building/ Baton Rouge, La 70803

    SYNOPSIS
    A White physician attempts to oust his black receptionist by enlisting a white female coworker as a spy. Tensions rise as relations between the two women quickly deteriorate, turning their once-cordial workplace into a battlefield of innuendos, paranoia, and passive aggression.
    With wit and close observation, “Rasheeda Speaking” mimes the subtleties of “post-racial” America to explore what we are really saying when we refuse to talk about race.

    AUDITION REQUIREMENTS
    Please prepare two contrasting monologues. Each piece should be no longer than one minute.

    CHARACTERS
    Jaclyn Spaulding (African American) early 40s Dr.’s newer assistant – seemingly unpredictable at face value

    Ilene Van Meter (Caucasian) late 40s Dr.’s long-term assistant – initially mild-mannered/
    optimistic; becomes untrusting

    Dr. David Williams (Caucasian) late 30s successful, young manipulative Surgeon

    Rose Saunders (Caucasian) 60s elderly patient

    Email questions to info@newventuretheatre.org or call (225) 588-7576

    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.

    image

    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.
    image

    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.
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    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.

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    Between the Lines book store names ‘Best Books of 2015′

    Baton Rouge bookstore owner Kim Knight said Between the Lines bookstore is the headquarters for book and literary lovers. Located at 4242 Government Street, the store provides connections between authors, readers, book clubs, the community and the world through its online presence.

    Knight released a short list of the best six books of 2015.

    Children’s
    16 trombone shortyTrombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and illustrator Bryan Collier. Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, until he reached international stardom. Trombone Shorty is a celebration of the rich cultural history of New Orleans and the power of music.

    16 Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton PoetPoet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by author-illustrator Don Tate. In the nineteenth century, North Carolina slave George Moses Horton taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time away from his master though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.

    Young Adult Fiction
    16 Gone Crazy in AlabamaGone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams Garcia. Bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it’s like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

    16 all american boysAll American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. In an unforgettable new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one Black, one White—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

     

    Adult Fiction
    16 Forty AcresForty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith. A young Black attorney, Martin Grey, confronts issues of race and power as he uncovers a shocking conspiracy. He finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery—but this time around, the Black men are called “Master.” A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.

    16 The Ultimate BetrayalThe Ultimate Betrayal by Kimberla Lawson Roby. It’s been four years since 28-year old Alicia Black, daughter of Reverend Curtis Black, divorced her second husband, the most womanizing and corrupt man she has ever known. Since then, Alicia has been dating her first husband, Phillip Sullivan, a wonderfully kind and true man of God whom she’d hurt terribly by cheating on him. Alicia has worked hard to prove herself worthy of his trust once more, and when he asks her to marry him again, she couldn’t be happier. But Levi Cunningham, the drug dealer Alicia had an extramarital affair with, has just been released from prison, and he has completely turned his life around for the better. Still head-over-heels in love with Alicia, he will do whatever is necessary to win her back. Remarrying Phillip is the one thing Alicia has wanted for years, but she can’t get Levi out of her mind.

    These books are available at Between the Lines Bookstore or online at https://betweenthelinesbookstore.mybooksandmore.com

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  • We are looking for Babies

    Babies of 2015 The deadline to have your 2015 baby featured in the January 2916 issue of The Drum is December 15. Submit this form on the submit news page and upload your photo or email Zenobia Reed at news@thedrumnewspaper.info.

     

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    Former SU history professor Arthur Tolson passes away, services planned Nov. 30

    BATON ROUGE–Arthur L. Tolson, Ph.D, a longtime faculty member in the Southern University Baton Rouge Department of History, died Wednesday, November 18, 2015, in Baton Rouge. He was 91.

    SU System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton issues the following statement and condolences:  “The Southern University System is tremendously saddened by the passing of former history professor Dr. Arthur Tolson who served as a faculty member in the Department of History at Southern University for 45 years. A true scholar and intellectual, Dr. Tolson touched the lives of countless students and was a trusted mentor to many of his colleagues and fellow SU faculty members. His legacy of teaching and commitment remains an exemplary model for others. We extend our deepest sympathy to Dr. Tolson’s family, colleagues, and friends.”

    The retired SU professor was the son of Melvin B. Tolson an American Modernist poet, educator, columnist, and politician who is the protagonist of the 2007 biopic “The Great Debaters.” The film is based on his [Melvin Tolson Sr.] work with students at predominantly Black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, and their debate with University of Southern California in the 1930s.

    image

    Arthur Tolson, Ph.D., along with Denzel Washington who portrayed his father Melvin Tolson in The Great Debaters

    “Dr. Arthur Tolson was truly a mentor and an inspiration to numerous students,” said Shawn Comminey, SUBR history chair. “His philosophy, wisdom, humor; the encouragement and support he displayed through the years, go without saying.”

    According to a 2008 SU Digest article, Arthur Tolson made history as the first Black to attain a master’s degree in history from Oklahoma State University and a doctorate in history from the University of Oklahoma.

    Share your memories of Dr. Tolson below along with photos (email to news@thedrumnewspaper.info) for his commemorative page.

    Funeral Arrangements for Dr. Arthur L. Tolson

    Southern University Baton Rouge
    Monday, November 30, 2015

    Lying in Repose
    4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    Royal Cotillion Ballroom
    Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union
    Southern University and A&M College
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70813

    Funeral Service
    7 p.m.
    Royal Cotillion Ballroom
    Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union
    Interment
    Green Acres Memorial Gardens
    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    Arrangements
    Treasures of Life, Center for Life Funeral Services
    315 East Airline Highway
    Gramercy, Louisiana  70052
    225.258.4039

    Family requests in lieu of flowers, forward all donations to: Treasures of Life, Center for Life Funeral Services

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  • ,,,,

    Quinton Jason turned love of the Web into a life-changing career

    Quinton Jason was first drawn to the instant gratification of coding in a high school computer literacy class. What started as an interest grew to a passion, which eventually led him to graduate with a computer science degree. However, in the years that followed, Quinton drifted away from the industry. Instead, he dabbled in retail work, the food industry, and telemarketing, but continually found himself uninspired and unfulfilled.

    When a position as a customer support technician led Quinton back to the keyboard, he made the decision to return to his original career path and chose the East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Treehouse to help him accomplish that. Before long, Quinton had gained a solid foundation of skills and was ready to embark on a career in the web industry.

    Today, Quinton is the interactive director at Xdesign in Baton Rouge. He has also taken his love for the web one step further by speaking at tech conferences, including Future Insights Live 2015. Quinton is proud of his new career path and is embracing the opportunity to share his knowledge and passion for the industry he’d always dreamed of being a part of.

    Read Faye Bridge’s interview with Quinton on TeamTreehouse.com

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  • ,,

    Community asked to complete online survey on EKL site land use designs

    NORTH BATON ROUGE ELECTED OFFICIALS AND other community leaders and more than 100 stakeholders gathered at the S. E. Mackey Center to discuss their ideas and preferences of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site at 5825 Airline Highway. The public input received during the March meeting served as a critical first step in understanding the community’s vision.

    Landscape architect Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., of DesignJones, LLC , presented two LSU student designs completed over the summer which included the ideas and wishes expressed during the fi rst public meeting.

    These drawings and images will generate additional ideas and discussion of alternatives for the project site. Now, the volunteer committee is asking the community to complete an online survey that identifies specific land use. The survey is available at www.5825Airline.com, and all residents are asked to provide input.

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  • ,,,

    Community asked to complete online survey on EKL site, land use designs

    North Baton Rouge elected officials other community leaders and more than 100 stakeholders gathered at the S. E. Mackey Center to discuss their ideas and preferences of the former Earl K. Long Medical Center site at 5825 Airline Highway.
    The public input received during the March meeting served as a critical first step in understanding the community’s vision. Landscape architect Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., of DesignJones, LLC , presented two LSU student designs completed over the summer which included the ideas and wishes expressed during the fi rst public meeting.
    These drawings and images will generate additional ideas and discussion of alternatives for the project site. Now, the volunteer committee is asking the community to complete an online survey to determine specific ways to use the vacant property. The survey is available at www.5825Airline.com, and all residents are asked to provide input.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Black Lives Matter Summit scheduled for Aug. 22

    The Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter, Planned Parenthood, and the Southern University Law Center will host a Black Lives Matter summit, Saturday, Aug. 22, at 8am at the Southern University Law Center’s AA Lenior Building.

    Organizers said the summit will address and discuss issues such as high incarceration rate, Black-on-Black crime, problematic relationships with law enforcement, disparity in educational opportunities for poverty-stricken areas, funding restraints of Historically Black Colleges and the breakdown of nuclear family.

    The summit is free and open to the public and CLE credits will be offered to all attorneys.. A lite breakfast and lunch will be served. Registration at www.eventbrite.com is requested.

    “There is strength in numbers and we believe in order to make a true impact and address these issues that have plagued our community for years, we must make this a total community  effort to provide positive solutions for these concerns,” said Karmen R. Davis, Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter president.

    Panel discussions will cover family matters, the judicial system and Black America, community involvement, and education.

    Speakers include Juvenile Court Judge Pam Taylor Johnson; Tasha Clark Amar, executive director of East Baton Rouge Council on Aging; Lamont Cole, CEO of ColeGroup; Ron Gathe, assistant district attorney for the 19th Judicial District; Louisiana State Trooper James Jefferson; Jacqueline Mims,Ph.D., clinical director, Eclectic Cognitive Behavioral Center; Kim Hunter Reed,Ph.D., senior associate, HCM Strategists; Walter Tillman Jr., Ph.D., Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals; attorney Charles Toney; Family Court Chief Judge Lisa Woodruff White; and assistant Southern Universaity New Orleans professor Carey YazeedPh.D.

     

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  • ,,

    Ancona’s delivers quality meat, service for 57 years

    There is a banner hanging on the wall of Ancona’s Stop & Save Inc. that reads, “50th Anniversary Reunion and Block Party. Music by D. J. Sammy the Entertainer. Celebrating 50 years of service to the community. Same Location – 2nd Generation Owners”.

    The banner is dated 2008 and even today, the Italian, family-owned and operated business is celebrating its success.

    Herald as one of the best meat markets in the city, Ancona’s opened its doors in 1958.

    The corner store has been at 2705 North Street where the Ancona family–Roy Sr., Frank, Luke, and Johnny–has developed a successful food business by accommodating thousands of customers who pour into the store monthly for staple groceries, meats, and hot lunches.

    The Italian descendents were raised on 29th Street and Easy Street in Easy Town and embedded with a very rich culture and legacy. The family siblings–a total of 11–played sports on the sole gravel road: North Street where the business now stands. The store grew under the vision of Roy Ancona Sr and is now under the management of the Ancona children, Mark and Roy Jr.

    FAMILY HISTORY
    Frank Ancona attended Louisiana State University majoring in chemical engineering and worked at Exxon for several years and as a math instructor at the St.Paul Adult Learning Cente.

    Roy Ancona Jr. attended Southeastern University and has owned the store since 1996. He started working in the store at the age of six years old bagging in the meat market and has been involved in the family store since that time. Roy Jr. said he is very proud of the family achievements and takes great pride in being one of the business managers.

    Mark Ancona was a part of the Submarine Corps Group and lived in Hawaii for many years. While in the military service, “many recognized and identified the Ancona name as relationship and being located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” Mark said. In 1966, he bagged groceries and worked with his father and was paid fifty cents an hour. He attended St. Thomas Moore, Catholic High School, and Broadmoor High School. He was employed with Louis Mechanical Plumbing, Lanehart Paint Company, and stated a lawn company before joining the military.

    In 1995, Robbie Ancona provided support to Mark and Roy to buid the business before relocating to Lexington, Kentucky.

    Another legacy of the family is also Vince Ancona, oldest brother who owned and operated a grocery store in the Baton Rouge Community during the time of World War II.

    ANCONA’S OFFERING
    Ancona’s community store includes groceries, hot deli, a meat market, breakfast and lunch plates, ,oney orders, and check cashing services. It is an establishment that welcomes the Baton Rouge community residents and other outline areas. The doors are opened and it is in an excellent location. Major businesses including Benny’s Cafe, Cafe Express, and the Match Box, continuously purchase meat specials from Ancona’s.
    “Business is good,” the owners said,  “Thanks the Baton Rouge Community for continued support and efforts in allowing the doors to stay open and for many others to follow.”

    By Mada McDonald
    Community Reporter

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    Barrow announces candidacy for Senate seat

    After serving the constituents of House District 29 for three consecutive terms, State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow will officially announce her intention to run for the Louisiana Senate District 15 seat on tomorrow, Tuesday, August 4, at her campaign headquarters, 3558 Monterrey Drive, in Baton Rouge.

    For the next several months, Barrow said she plans to travel throughout District 15 and expand her campaign as she reaches out across the district to “share her platform with citizens searching for effective, result driven and inspirational servant leadership for Louisiana Senate District 15 in Baton Rouge.”

    She said the ability to successfully lead others and influence change is the most important components to effective leadership.

    Since 2005, she has represented District 29, serving on the Ways and Means Committee; Health and Welfare Committee; Municipal, Parochial, Cultural Affairs Committee; and the Joint Capital Outlay Committee. She is the Immediate Past Chairwoman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.

    She serves as the state director for Women in Government, Women in Legislature Lobby, and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

    Barrow is the wife of 31 years to James Barrow, Sr. and together they have two adult children: Shanrika Barrow-Fobb and James Barrow, Jr.

    @jozefsyndicate

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