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    Legislative Youth Advisory Council now accepting applications from high schoolers

    The Louisiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council is now accepting applications for membership from high school students who have an interest in representing the voices of other young people around the state. LYAC is an annually appointed body composed entirely of students that tackle issues affecting the youth of Louisiana.

    The purpose of LYAC is to facilitate the communication between youth and the legislature and to give students a unique opportunity to be involved in the workings of state government. The council studies and addresses a variety of issues of importance to young people such as education, mental health, civic engagement, the environment, and school safety.

    Members of the council are selected from a wide pool of statewide applicants who display a strong interest in civic involvement. The thirty-one member council includes three students representing each of the six congressional districts and the remaining members serve at large. Applicants must be between 14-19 years old and enrolled in a public or private high school, charter school, home school, or GED skills program during the 2020-2021 school year. 

    The deadline to apply is March 27, 2020. The application may be accessed at civiced.louisiana.gov and then by clicking on LYAC at the top of the page. All applicants are required to submit two recommendation letters in addition to the eight short essay questions and application form. For additional information, please contact Megan Bella at bellam@legis.la.gov or 225-342-2370.

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  • Baton Rouge Community College’s Weekend College offers two certificates for working adults

    This spring Baton Rouge Community College is set to offer Weekend College, a program that allows for a student to work toward one of two certificate programs – Business Technology or General Studies – by attending classes offered only on Friday evening and all day Saturdays. The program is designed to meet the scheduling needs of working adults.

    The Weekend College program offers the two certificates that can be completed by enrolling in and passing 15 credit hours of courses over two semesters. Classes will be held in the Cypress Building on the Mid City Campus, 201 Community College Drive, and meet on Friday evenings at 5:30 p.m., and all day Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. There is no special registration or additional fees to pursue either of the aforementioned certificates through Weekend College. All courses offered, including many of the general education pre-requisite required courses, are open to all BRCC students.

    To apply, please visit MyBRCC.edu. For more information about Weekend College, contact (225) 216-8228 or weekendcollege@mybrcc.edu.

    ABOUT WEEKEND COLLEGE CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

    The Certificate in General Studies provides a strong initial grounding in liberal education. Upon completion, students are prepared to successfully meet transfer requirements at most four – year universities and have obtained the knowledge and skills frequently identified by employers as desirable qualities in an employee. The certificate program may be taken by students who wish eventually to pursue an associate/baccalaureate degree, or by students who wish to expand their personal knowledge and do not intend to obtain a more advanced degree.

    The Certificate in Business Technology is designed to meet the entry-level employment needs of the Greater Baton Rouge metropolitan area business community. It provides a general education and the work skills needed for employment. This program of study is not designed for college transfer.

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    Drago’s set for February opening will feature nightly entertainment

    Tommy Cvitanovich, the owner of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, has been in the restaurant business almost as long as he’s been alive.

    “I’m 60 years old and I have a 50-year career in the restaurant business,” said Cvitanovich. “I’m basically a restaurant brat.”

    His first job was when he was 10 years old at the Metairie location. He remembers it well, peeling shrimp while standing on top of a case of #10 cans with an apron that went down to his ankles.

    “Before that, I grew up working with my dad at Drago’s on Harrison Avenue which was owned by my aunt and uncle.”

    And he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

    He’s getting ready to open his fifth restaurant at its newest location in Baton Rouge off of Interstate 10 and College Drive. The $7 million, 13,600 square feet facility is set to open in early February.

    It will have 180 employees and accommodate nearly 500 customers. The bar area alone will seat about 90 people. Cvitanovich said the bar area will feature live music almost nightly which is something new to his restaurants.

    “There’s literally 1,000 hotel rooms within a five-minute walk of the restaurant so people who stay in hotels generally look for good restaurants, but they also look for entertainment as well,” Cvitanovich said.

    The restaurant is named after his dad, Drago. His parents, Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, opened their first restaurant in Metairie in 1969. Since that time, the business has expanded to locations in New Orleans; Jackson, Mississippi; and Lafayette. The business generates about $30 million in sales and employs about 450 people (not counting the newest location.)

    He says his mom who is 80 years old still works every day at the Metairie location and signs his paycheck.

    “The key to our longevity is good quality food at a reasonable price served in a friendly atmosphere,” he said.  ‘The motto of this restaurant is that everything is about and for the customer and I don’t let anything get in the way of that.”

    The married father of four said he’s been looking for an opportunity to expand in Baton Rouge for a few years, but it never seemed to work out. He’s excited about coming to the Bayou City.

    “This isn’t a version of Dragos,” he said. “This is a Dragos restaurant. We’re very much looking forward to serving our charbroiled oysters to the good people of Baton Rouge.”

    The restaurant bills itself as the home of the original charbroiled oysters. The owner said they serve more than three million oysters a year. Customers can expect oysters as well as the full Drago’s seafood menu.

    The restaurant will be owned by him and his brother. It will feature three private dining rooms that can accommodate 40, 60 and 100 people or 200 people at a time. The private dining areas include a Governor’s room that will be decorated with pictures of all of Louisiana’s governors and have a separate private entrance for dignitaries and Mike’s Den named after LSU’s mascot Mike the Tiger.

    The former president of the New Orleans Restaurant Association isn’t moving to town as he still resides in Metairie, but you can expect to see him here often. In fact, he oversees the management of all of the restaurants so he travels quite frequently.

    “My car is less than a year old and I already have 33,000 miles on it,” he said. “I’m very hands-on.”

    That’s because working in the restaurant is not just a family business. It’s his passion. He served as the chairman of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and spent 11 years on the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors. He also spent seven years on the Canadian Restaurant Association Board of Directors as an exchange director.

    “I’m the type of person that I can’t wait to go to bed at night so I can hurry up and work and start over tomorrow. I love what I do.”

    It’s a love story that’s lasted some 50 years and is still going strong.

    Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
    4580 Constitution Avenue
    Baton Rouge
    Opening date early February
    No reservations

    By Michelle McCalope
    Contributing Writer

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    Meet Mariah Clayton, Miss Louisiana USA 2020

    Mariah Clayton, Miss Greater Baton Rouge, was crowned Miss Louisiana USA 2020 on Oct. 19. She will represent Louisiana at the Miss USA 2020 beauty contest this spring. “I love this state. I love our culture. I love our food. I’m just so happy that I am the person that gets to represent this beautiful state on this big, big stage,” she said.

    Clayton, who is 23, participated in three categories to win the state crown: activewear/swimsuit, evening gown, and interview. She is a psychology major at Southern University and a graduate of Zachary High School. She is the founder of Level-Up Volleyball, which offers summer camps and private lessons.

    “I really just want to inspire people, young girls in particular. I’m also a volleyball coach so I’ve always felt like I’ve had an impact on young girls’ lives. That’s all I want to do is be a teacher and be a leader and be an inspiration. So I just want to help girls embrace who they are and not be defined by society’s standards,” she told BRProud.

    She is the daughter of Aristead and Michelle Clayton and one of seven children. Her older sister, Shelby, is a cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints. During her time playing volleyball at Zachary High School, she received the Captain’s Award and as a defensive specialist at Southern, she received 2015 SWAC All-Academic Team honors.

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    Students shine light on Blacks in classical music

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

    ONLINE: Student Reporting Labs

    ONLINE: PBS Newshour Students Experience and Cope with Racist Stereotypes

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    In Memoriam: Former Mayor ProTemp Lorri Burgess, 56

    Lorri Ann Burgess, Chief Operating Officer of the Sickle Cell Association of South Louisiana, former Metro Councilwoman, and former Mayor Pro-Tempore and passed away peacefully on January 15, 2020, surrounded by her family, at the age of 56. A native of Baton Rouge, Lorri was born on January 25, 1963. She was the fourth child of Mildred Coats Burgess and the late Howard C. Burgess Sr.

    Lorri loved God and confessed Christ as her Savior at an early age. She was baptized by the late Rev. Jesse Davis at Israelite Baptist Church where she participated in the Cherubim Choir and other youth activities. Lorri’s affinity for service to others was evident very early in her life. During her high school years she became a member of the South Baton Rouge Youth Council and Students United for Racial Equality, thus thrusting her into a life of politics and public service. She was a 1981 graduate of McKinley High School where she participated in several organizations, as well as a member of the cheerleading squad. Lorri earned a bachelor’s degree in merchandising and completed a paralegal studies program at louisiana State University.

    she was very passionate and committed to the citizens of this great city, especially those in South Baton Rouge’s District 10. District 10 was her home and she invested her efforts into encouraging community development, revitalization, and the enrichment of its residents. Lorri served District 10 as Metro Councilwoman for 12 years, four of which she served in the historic role as the first African American female Mayor Pro-Tempore for the City of Baton Rouge, as well as a member of the Capital Improvements, Finance and Executive Committees. Lorri was committed to public service. This commitment was made evident through the impactful changes she fought for in her community and through her thirst to increase her ability to serve. She served as a Board Member for Louisiana Technology Park, Baton Rouge Center for World Affairs and the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission. During her tenure at the Port she served as the first African-American chairwoman for the authority. Lorri was also a faithful member of the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Community Advisory Board (LA CaTS CAB) from January 2018 through December 2019 where she had a significant impact initiating and spearheading the Research Ethics and Research Participant Rights Campaign for La CaTS CAB.

    In addition, she was a strong supporter of the YWCA Encore Plus Program, Sisters Supporting Sisters-Baton Rouge and HIV/AIDS Education. Some of Lorri’s notable initiatives were the Camp 10 Summer Computer Camp and the Summer Reading Program for elementary children in District 10. She also spearheaded the Sensational Seniors Exercise Program for senior citizens in District 10. In addition, she partnered with Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta Sororities to offer educational and enrichment programs in writing, language and visual arts for students in East Baton Rouge Parish.

    She spearheaded the building of the new Carver Branch Library and had the vision to have the Freeman Matthews Head Start Center on the same property to enhance the early learning experiences of the Head Start Center students. She took the bulk of her surplus office expense funds to purchase big screen television sets, video recorders and other learning tools for all new head start centers in her district. Lorri fought to build and keep the new Highland Road Fire Station accessible to her constituents and was instrumental in getting funding to improve roads and drainage in District 10. She sponsored cleanup campaigns, Christmas parades, health fairs and her signature block parties. The inaugural block party was co-hosted with Shaquille O’Neal. Lorri was the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge Palooza Queen.

    She traveled throughout the United States of America, Puerto Rico, Canada and Europe to learn from and collaborate with world leaders, and to expand resources that would allow her to serve her community more effectively. Lorri fought as a staunch advocate for those battling Sickle Cell Disease. Under her leadership as the Chief Operating Officer, the Sickle Cell Association of South Louisiana (SCASL) annually increased its number of participating clients and earned national recognition as the most improved sickle cell foundation in the United States. Lorri extended the reach of the foundation through her unique and innovative fund-raising initiatives such as the annual Ryan’s Run (honorary chair, former Superbowl Champion Ryan Clark) and the annual John Chavis/Eric Reid Golf Tournament.

    Lorri leaves to cherish her memory her mother, Mildred C. Burgess, of Baton Rouge, LA; one brother, Howard C. Burgess, Jr. (Iris) of Baton Rouge, LA; four sisters, Joy Burgess Dixon and Celestine Renee Burgess Ruffin, both of Johns Creek, GA; Karla D. Burgess and Marva H. Hastings, both of Baton Rouge, LA; four aunts, Lulla V. Coats, Wilmer C. Barrett (James), Olivet C. O’Connor, and Edna C. Coleman (Charles), all of Baton Rouge, LA; two nephews, Aaron Matthew Ruffin, Esq. of Alexandria, VA; Nicholas Christian-Gerard Ruffin of Johns Creek, GA; two nieces, Kaelah Renee Burgess of Baton Rouge, LA; and Teá Williams, of Johns Creek, GA; five Godchildren, Sgt. Roderic Sterling of Lakeworth Beach, FL.; Errol Monget, Jr. of Thibodeaux, LA; and Bria Guntz, Christian Williams, Elayna Morris, all of Baton Rouge, LA; Godparents, Johnny O’Connor, Sr. and Olivet O’Connor, both of Baton Rouge, LA; a brother-in-law, Demetrius Ruffin of Nashville, TN; two special doobies, Leonard R. Coats and Joseph P. Ashford, both of Baton Rouge, LA; a childhood friend, Judge John Michael Guidry; and a host of other relatives, friends and community supporters. Preceded in death by her father, Howard C. Burgess, Sr.; maternal grandparents, Wilbert L. Coats, Sr. and Celestine B. Coats; paternal grandparents, Clarence Burgess and Delphine Smith; three aunts, Georgia C. Dunbar, Gloria C. Harris, Olivia “Tiny” Holloway; two uncles, Wilbert Coats, Jr. and Dr. Louis James, Sr.; first cousins, Donald Dunbar, Sr. and Reginald Harris

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

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

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

    Krewe of Oshun rolls Feb. 8 in Scotlandville.

    Krewe of Oshun rolls Feb. 8 in Scotlandville.

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

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

    ONLINE: www.kreweofoshunbr.eventbrite.com

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

    EMAIL: kreweofoshun@nbrnow.org

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    Gumbo Run returns to Scotlandville, Feb. 1

    The Scotlandville Professional Academy Consortium and Presenting Sponsor Geaux Get Healthy, A Project of Healthy BR are proud to present the 2nd Annual Gumbo Run. Saturday, February 1, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon. The race will begin at Scotlandville Magnet High School located at 9870 Scotland Avenue.

    This event will also serve as the Geaux Get Health Zone Initiative for the Scotlandville/North Baton Rouge community as a part of Healthy BR’s continuing mission to improve the health and wellness for the city. It is the vision of the Mayor “…to build a healthier Baton Rouge for all.”

    Last year’s Gumbo Run was the first 5K in the North Baton Rouge and Scotlandville communities. Proceeds from this event will go toward supporting the school’s academies of finance, health science, and information technology. Support includes professional development for teachers, materials, and supplies for students and work-based learning initiatives inclusive of internships.

    For more than 60 years Scotlandville Magnet High School has been and continues to be, a pillar of education in North Baton Rouge. The mission of the Scotlandville PAC is to support Scotlandville’s NAF Academies through the development of relationships between business, education and local government.

    If you would like to register for the run, sign up via smhsgumborun.eventbrite.com or in person at the school. If you would like more information contact Paul M. Jackson at Scotlandville Magnet High School at (225) 775-3715 or via email at pjackson@ebrschools.org.

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    Fitness Stroll rescheduled for Feb. 15

    Bodystyle Personal Fitness in conjunction with Mayor Sharon Weston Broome is hosting a free, community-wide “Fitness Stroll” to help residents jumpstart a healthier lifestyle in the New Year.  The stroll will be held on Saturday Feb. 15, in the North Boulevard Town Square in downtown Baton Rouge.

    The stroll will include a one-mile walk and overall body workout led by Master Fitness Trainer Adrian Francois, owner of Bodystyle Personal Fitness who has more than 20 years in the industry, and Broome.

    It is free and open to the public, but you must register atwww.bodystyletraining.com.  Bring the whole family. All ages are welcome.

    “We’re excited to host this fun, fitness event for the whole family to enjoy and motivate everyone to lead a healthier lifestyle in 2020,” Francois said.

    “I’m looking forward to bringing our residents together to help make our community better by focusing on our health and wellness,” said Broome.

    The event is being co-sponsored by the Mayor’s office, HealthyBR, the Downtown Development District, and CareSouth Medical and Dental. Registration starts at 8 a.m. The stroll will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Afterwards there will be refreshments, health and wellness vendors, and music.

     

    ONLINE: www.bodystyletraining.com

     

     

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

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

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

    Two new state leaders were elected.

    Marja Broussard

    Marja Broussard

     

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

     

     

     

     

    Alvin Joseph

    Alvin Joseph

     

     

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

     

     

     

     

     

     

    NAACP 2020 officials

    Re-elected were:

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

    History of the Louisiana NAACP 

    ONLINE: http://lanaacp.org

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    AG Jeff Landry submits qualifying papers for Trump files for reelection in Louisiana

    Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry submitted the qualifying paperwork for President Trump’s reelection campaign. Last time President Trump appeared on the ballot in Louisiana, he received more than 1.1 million votes.

    “People across Louisiana are looking forward to their chance to support a President who has repeatedly delivered for us,” said Landry. “There will be no doubt in November, Louisiana is still Trump country.”

    Landry joined LAGOP Chairman Louis Gurvich, Republican National Committeeman Ross Little, Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain and LAGOP Executive Director Andrew Bautsch.

    The election on April 4 is a closed party primary which means voters must vote with their registered party. Independent and no-party voters can not vote during the April 4 primary. All Louisiana voters (regardless of registered party) will have the opportunity to vote in the November general election.

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    Registration opens for first Underground Railroad to Justice Summit

    Grassroots activists will gather on Feb. 7 for the Disrupting the Injustice Narrative: The Inaugural Underground Railroad to Justice Summit at Southern University Law Center for a daylong training open to the public.

    Activists will teach citizens, social workers, lawyers, and students how to navigate obstacles that they face as victims of Louisiana’s criminal justice system or advocates for justice-impacted individuals. The following panels will present:

    Becoming a Legislative or Policy Advocate
    Terry Landry Jr., SPLC
    Will Harrell, VOTE

    Watchdogs
    Becoming a Mental Health Watchdog
    Rev. Alexis Anderson, PREACH

    Becoming a Solitary Confinement Watchdog
    Katie Swartzmann, ACLU

    Becoming a Watchdog for Children of Justice-Impacted Parents
    Bree Anderson, DBI

    Social Workers as Watchdogs
    Ben Robertson, SUNO

    Becoming a Grand Jury Watchdog
    The Kennon Sisters

    Becoming a Felony Voting Rights Watchdog
    Checo Yancy, VOTE

    Becoming a Bail Reform Watchdog
    *Speaker Unconfirmed

    Getting the Ear of the Media
    Jeff Thomas, Think504
    Gary Chambers, The Rouge Collection

    Keynote Address by Calvin Duncan

    Using Art to Advocate
    Kristen Downing
    Kevin McQuarn
    Donney Rose

    Responding to Prosecutorial Misconduct
    Jee Parks, IPNO
    Harry Daniels
    William Snowden, Vera Institute for Justice New Orleans

    FREE continuing legal education credit will be offered for lawyers who attend the entire day and register by Jan. 15.

    FREE continuing education units will be offered for social workers who attend the entire day and register by Jan. 15.

    FREE lunch to those who register by Jan. 15.

    This event is jointly hosted by the Louis A. Berry Civil Rights and Justice Institute at SULC and the Center for African and African American Studies at SUNO.

    Register: http://www.sulc.edu/form/356

    ONLINE: SULC

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    100 Black Women invite youth to BR Grow Girls mentoring program

    The Metropolitan Baton Rouge Chapter of 100 Black Women Inc will kick off their second annual BR Grow Girls mentoring initiative on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Louisiana Leadership Institute. The program, which serviced more than 150 local girls last year, focuses on character development, leadership skills, STEM learning and more.

    Activities are scheduled each Saturday in February, noon to 2 p.m. Registration is open to girls of African-American descent in grades 4-12. Participants must reside in East Baton Rouge Parish. While the program is free, registration is required. Parents are also required to attend orientation. The deadline to register is Tuesday, Jan. 14.

    Register online at https://forms.gle/5ssdpGbfUhenWn9o9. For more information about the program or registration, contact br100growgirls@gmail.com.

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  • 7th Annual Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival slated for Feb. 22

    The 7th Annual Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival will be held Saturday, February 22 from 10am to 7pm at North Boulevard Town Square. The event features live music, a Vendor’s Village and Food Court. It’s family-friendly and free to the public. Lawn seating. No ice chests. The venue is located at 200 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA 70801.

    This year’s festival lineup, on the Galvez Crest Stage, features blues, soul, R&B, reggae, Latin and gypsy jazz, pop/rock, spoken word and comedy. Confirmed to date are Henry Turner, Jr. & Flavor, SmokeHouse Porter and Miss Mamie, The Listening Room All-Stars that include ‘Nspire, Wyanda Paul, Lee Tyme, Xavie Shorts, Larry “LZ” Dillon, and comedian Eddie “Cool” Deemer. Additional performers are Clarence “PieMan” Williams and Pastor Leon Hitchens. Touring acts include KK & the Reverend Blues Revival from Arkansas, King Baby from Houston, Young In A Million from Nashville, Jessi Campo from Miami, with Geovane Santos and Urban Gypsy headed in from New Orleans. Also expected is Emanuel Casablanca from New York, along with surprise guests. DJ is Teddy “Lloyd” Johnson of Teddy’s Juke Joint. (Please visit website for exact performance times.)

    Sponsors to date include Visit Baton Rouge, Mr. Outstanding, Cutting Edge, Downtown Development District, and Blue Runner. Vendor slots are still available through EW Media Group.

    This years’ event is presented by Henry Turner Jr’s Listening Room Museum Foundation a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

    The 7th Annual Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival will also hold a Pre-Party on Thursday, February 20 at Henry Turner, Jr.’s Listening Room located at 2733 North Street from 8pm to midnight. Tickets are $25.00 and come with a soul food buffet.

    For more information, including VIP packages, please log on to www.batonrougemardigrasfestival.com or call 225-802-9681.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    4-day MLK Fest enters its 6th year Jan. 17-21

     Creating great change and progress takes consistent planning and collaboration, not an easy task to undertake. Yet for the past five years, The Walls Project has managed the cooperation of more than 200 organizations to progress the work of the Reactivate program, with it’s largest cleanup effort happening at MLK Fest.  Entering its sixth year and concentrating on Plank Road for the next two years, MLK Fest 2020 plans to continue the work begun earlier this year with the Reactivate Quarterly Cleanups, cleaning and refreshing the Plank Road corridor.

    Partnering with the City of Baton Rouge and Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, MLK Fest 2020 is the city’s greatest opportunity for collective civic volunteerism. From Jan. 17 to Jan. 21, volunteers work together on projects by painting, removing trash, gardening, and general beautification along Plank Road, including side streets of Choctaw Drive and Chippewa Street.

    Untitled
    This 4-day long event allows residents from all over the parish to participate in cleaning and reinvigorating areas of the city once neglected. This historic volunteer effort is made possible by the support from Build Baton Rouge, ExxonMobil, Our Lady of the Lake, Capital Area United Way, Healthy Blue, Metromorphosis, BREC, PODS, PPG/Pittsburgh Paints and Lamar Outdoor Advertising Agency.

    Planning meetings for the event have been held monthly at Delmont Gardens Branch Library from 3 – 5 PM with two remaining opportunities for the community to engage in workshops on January 8th and January 15th.   Planning committees include Volunteer Outreach chaired by Pat McCallister-LeDuff (CADAV/Scotlandville CDB), Gardening and Blight Reduction chaired by Kelvin Cryer (Star Hill G.E.E.P) and Mitchell Provensal (Baton Roots Community Farm), Block Party and Resource Fair chaired by Geno McLaughlin (Build Baton Rouge) and Tracy Smith (Healthy Blue), and Murals and Building Facades lead by Kimberly Braud (The Walls Project).

    According to organizers, more than 5,000 volunteers participated, showing that this event poses an opportunity greater than logging in-service hours. Volunteers will work hand in hand with citizens from every part of the Baton Rouge community to strengthen relationships across the city as the Walls Project extends its blight remediation efforts to a year-round program on Plank Rd.

    For those wanting to become involved with this event, visitthewallsproject.org/mlk-fest for more information, volunteer registration, and donations.

    Submitted News

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    Delta Sigma Theta Sorority hosting World AIDS Day Walk/Run/Ride, other activities Dec. 1

    The Baton Rouge Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., along with theAIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Southern University Horace W. Moody Intramural Sports Complex is hosting a World AIDS Day one-mile walk, run and ride and other activities on Sunday, Dec. 1.

    The event will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Moody Intramural Sports Complex. Attendees must bring their own bicycles. The event will also feature a hip-hop, Zumba and kickboxing class, free AIDS/HIV testing, guest speakers and a community resource fair. There will also be food, entertainment and door prizes.

    “We’re excited to host this event along with our community partners to help in the fight against AIDS,” said President Chi Joseph Franklin.  “We want to end this disease in our community.”

    The event is FREE and open to the public. You can register on site.

    For more information,  email tobrsigma@gmail.com.

    Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities around the world.  Founded in 1913, the sisterhood includes more than 200,000 predominantly Black college-educated women. The Baton Rouge  Sigma Alumnae Chapter has more than 300 members in the Baton Rouge area.  For more information, email us at brsigma@gmail.com or go towww.brsigma.org.

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    Celebrating 25 years of curating history

    The River Road African American Museum celebrated the 25th year anniversary at The Estuary at the Water Campus on October 6, 2019. Two hundred and twenty-five guests came from as far away as Barbados and Florida to the event that included SHELL employees from Ascension Parish and actress Karen Livers from New Orleans.
    SHELL Employees at RRAAM 25th Gala
    Honors were presented to Joan Louis of MoHair Salon and others in the beauty and hair care industry from the Baton Rouge area. The Museum was proud to announce the new exhibit dedicated to America’s first self-made millionaire Madame C.J. Walker. The museum is located at 406 Charles Street in Donaldsonville.
    Community News Submitted by Mada McDonald
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    Survivors presented ‘A Soulful Matinee’ for breast cancer awareness

    The “Playbill”—A Soulful Matinee at the Manship Theatre Shaw Center for the Arts was held on Saturday, November 9, 2019. It was produced by the Louisiana Coalition of African American Breast Cancer Survivors. This annual event salutes breast cancer survivors and advocates. The theme for the Musical Matinee was “We Are Warriors”.

    The Louisiana Coalition of African American Breast Cancer Survivors has 16 chapters throughout the state of Louisiana. Those in attendance had a surprise, via a video presentation by Governor John Bel Edwards and Actress/Native of Baton Rouge, Lynn Smith Whitfield. Both spoke about their family members who are breast cancer survivors. They highly recommend and encouraged for regular health care appointments. Added to this year’s lineup was “The Barbershop”. It featured men gathered on a Saturday morning at the local barbershop giving and seeking advice on how to relate to the women in their lives impacted by breast cancer. A very moving section of the musical matinee was when those in active treatment are bundled. They are wrapped with pink blankets and prayers offered to show love and support in their time of treatment.

    LBC349

     

    A special thank you to all donors and volunteers that helped to make The Louisiana Coalition of African American Breast Cancer Soulful Musical Matinee a great and huge success. The Baton Rouge Magnet High School Key Club members assisted throughout the musical matinee greeting and escorting the attendees inside the theater. They were very helpful and resourceful. Anyone interested in helping to find a cure for breast cancer can make a contribution/donation to the Louisiana Coalition of African American Breast Survivors, 8742 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70807.

    Community News Submitted by Katrina Spottsville

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    Blacks ‘urgently’ needed to advocate in court for CASA’s abused, neglected children

    Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association urgently needs African American individuals to speak up for abused and neglected children to help them find forever families.

    CASA volunteers serve as voices for children in the foster care system to help them reach safe, permanent homes and ensure their needs are being met. In 2018, nearly 70% of the children served by Capital Area CASA were African American, yet only about a third of the organization’s volunteers were African American.

    These children need volunteers with whom they can identify. An African American CASA volunteer also provides a positive influence as a powerful advocate who has the ability to make a difference in a child’s life. You can help change a child’s story.

    No special background is required to become a CASA volunteer. The first step to getting involved is to attend one of the following 45-minute orientation sessions at the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave. Call (225) 379-8598, visit casabr.org or email volunteer@casabr.org for more information.

    • 9 a.m., Monday, November 25
    • 5 p.m., Wednesday, December 4
    • 10 a.m., Saturday, December 14
    • 11 a.m., Tuesday, December 17
    • 9 a.m., Monday, December 23
    • 4:30 p.m., Monday, December 30

    CASA is accepting people into its next volunteer training class, which begins January 14, 2020.

    The mission of Capital Area CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Association is to advocate for timely placement of abused and neglected children in permanent, safe, and stable homes. ℜ

    By Erin Fulbright
    Special to The Drum

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  • Changing the Pancreatic Cancer Narrative

    Elvin Howard Sr. Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Foundation (Elvin Howard, Sr. PCAF) was founded in the Fall of 2016  after several months of meetings by its founding members Bertha Howard, RN, MSN, Sgt. Elvin Howard Jr., Dr. Monteic A. Sizer and Veronica Howard Sizer, Esq.

    The foundation was formed in memory of Elvin Howard, Sr. a devoted husband, father, grandfather, family man and Christian.  Elvin, Sr. presented with the classic signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer:  lower back and stomach pains, rapid weight loss, late-onset diabetes and he was misdiagnosed and treated for several months for these individual issues.  It was not until it was discovered that he was jaundice, which indicates the late stages of the disease, that he was finally diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Our Foundation was created to help those like Elvin Howard, Sr. to recognize the early signs of pancreatic cancer and be proactive with their health care in order to discover the disease early, when there are more options for successful treatment.

    Elvin Howard, Sr. PCAF was formed to reduce pancreatic cancer deaths and family hardships by bringing awareness of pancreatic cancer by supporting research, pancreatic cancer survivors, their caregivers and families.  In order to carry out this awareness mission, the Foundation presents two symposiums each year, in the Spring and Fall, as well as participate in various local community events at churches and health fairs.  Awareness is especially important in communities of color, in that there is a 35% higher incident rate of pancreatic cancer among African Americans than whites.  The Foundation also host an annual fundraiser the second Friday of each November to raise awareness and money for the organization.

    In 2019, the Foundation supported legislation in Louisiana that will help make it possible for people battling metastatic cancer to gain access to the best pharmaceuticals and treatment options available as opposed to traditional step treatment options. This is a great victory for anyone fighting any form of cancer across Louisiana.

    Elvin Howard, Sr. PCAF officially partnered with Let’s Win! Pancreatic Cancer, a nation online pancreatic cancer awareness platform, in order to help get cutting edge research and clinical trial information to our various partners and constituency.  The Foundation is also a member of the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition (WPCC).  As key allies of the WPCC, we bring greater awareness of the plight of people of color.  Awareness and treatment options for African Americans and communities of color throughout the United States is critically important.  Dr. Sizer, our national representative, leads our work with Let’s Win! and recently provided great insight and valuable information to WPCC in  regard to their messaging and public awareness campaign.  Dr. Sizer is also leading discussions on how we might partner with the GENERATE Study, a study funded by StandUp2Cancer and the Lustgarden Foundation.  With our connection with these national and international organizations, Elvin Howard, Sr. PCAP hopes to better inform any who are interested on how to better understand and be effective with African Americans and communities of color when it comes to pancreatic cancer.  Elvin Howard, Sr. PCAF also provide resources to support research and the development of early detection tools to detect and defeat pancreatic cancer.

    We can change the pancreatic cancer narrative by helping people become more aware of the disease.  It is our vision that pancreatic cancer is not a death sentence!

    November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and November 21, 2019 is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day.  Join us on that day by wearing purple and spreading the word about pancreatic cancer.

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    ‘History of Southern University Law Center’ now in Target Baton Rouge store

    The Southern University Law Center has a rich and impressive tradition of educating students from diverse backgrounds.

    Founded in 1947, the Law Center has become a model for student body and faculty diversity. The school has been consistently ranked as The Princeton Review’s #1 school for most diverse faculty.

    Authors Rachel L. Emanuel, Ph.D., and Carla Ball detail the history and legacy of the Law Center along with a foreword by former chancellor and Judge Freddie Pitcher Jr. 

    The book is a part of Arcadia Publishing’s campus history series. It is available on Amazon and sold in Target at 6885 Siegen Ln, Baton Rouge through the holiday season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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    Saluting Our Sailors: Petty Officer 2nd Class Errol James

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

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

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

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

    Naval Station Mayport was commissioned in December of 1942.

    It houses multiple surface ships as well as aviation units.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Calling K-12 student artists for The Walls Project’s juried show

    “Education as a Civil Right,” New Schools for Baton Rouge’s Fall 2019 Convening, is proud to partner with The Walls Project in a call for artistic submissions from student-artists interested in participating in the event’s juried art show.

    Students are encouraged to reflect on their interpretation of the theme.

    WHO: K-12 student artists
    WHAT: Artwork expressing the theme of “Education as a Civil Right”
    WHEN: Now through Tuesday, October 29 and online.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Invisible Illness on full display through Picture of Health

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

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

    IMG_20190809_090409

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

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

    Leslie D Rose

    Leslie D Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Candace J Semien
    Jozef Syndicate ereporter
    @JozefSyndicate

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    Bradie James hosts inaugural internship with three scholars

    LSU alumnus Bradie James has collaborated with the LSU Office of Diversity to launch the Tiger Research Group internship program. This summer three students were given the opportunity to be the first James Interns: Justin Evans, a native of New Orleans; Todd Sterling Jr., a native of Baton Rouge; and John Wilson, a native of Lafayette.

    Interns were selected from the Presidents Millennial Scholars Program, or PMSP, and the Black Male Leadership Initiative, or BMLI, and were invited to participate in the summer internship program.
    Exposure to leadership, mentoring, and internships as a way to expand undergraduate co-curricular experiences is a central focus of both PMSP and BMLI. Participants in the programs believe that their co-curricular experiences are what differentiate them from other students upon graduation.

    “Internships play a critical role in helping to determine if the field of study a student is in, is really what he or she wants to do upon graduating,” said Sterling, a PMSP Scholar. “Taking part in the internship program allowed me the opportunity to use what I’ve learned from marketing and sales classes and apply it to real-world scenarios, and also to bring fresh ideas to Bradie’s team. Learning and working with an accomplished man like Bradie shows the kind of work ethic needed to develop and to have success in both life and business. I am very thankful for being able to take part in a trailblazing experience like the Tiger Research Group internship program, and looking forward to graduating this December and maybe working with Mr. James’ company in the future!”

    The four-week paid internship provided the students with real-world work experience that enabled them to practically apply what they are learning in their classes in a work setting. An additional benefit of participating in the program is that the students were personally mentored by James, who shared his entrepreneurial experience and his own understanding of navigating the obstacles and challenges that students sometimes face trying to transition from student to professional.

    “My experience with the internship program was amazing. It’s not often you get to engage in conversation with a man of his caliber, especially as an African American. I was able to gain insight on daily business operations and the purpose and plan behind everything Bradie and his team wanted to achieve. Through that, I was allowed to apply the knowledge I have acquired at LSU to help them achieve their goals. So as my senior year is coming to an end, I can say that after this internship I have gained more confidence and hope in myself to cultivate success whether as an employee or an employer,” said Wilson, a BMLI Fellow.

    The Office of Diversity hopes to develop more programs of this type and is eternally grateful to James for his vision, leadership, and support.

    “Mr. James has always given back to his alma mater and helping students in this fashion is a perfect partnership for LSU, Mr. James, and the national diversity advisory board,” said Vice Provost for Diversity Dereck Rovaris.

    The purpose of the LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative Fellows Program is to help improve retention, graduation, and participation rates for black male students through mentoring, leadership development, and academic support while connecting these students with faculty, staff, and the campus community.

    ONLINE: www.lsu.edu/diversity

    Photo: Bradie James with interns Justin Evans and John Wilson

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

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

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

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

    Cassandra Chaney

    Cassandra Chaney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Michelle McCalope
    The Drum Contributing Writer
    @thedrumnews

    Read more »
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    Southern University Ag Center Medicinal Marijuana Program to Host Job Fair

    The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s Southern Institute for Medicinal Plants will be hosting a job fair on Monday, October. 21. The Institute is hosting the fair for its medicinal marijuana program partner, Ilera Holistic Healthcare.

    Candidates will be interviewed on-site from 4pm to 7pm at the SU Ag Center’s M.A. Edmond Livestock Arena, located at 14600 Scenic Highway Baton Rouge, LA 70507.

    Positions available:
    6 Cultivation Technicians
    2 – Packing (hiring within 60-90 days out)
    2 – Trimmers (hiring within 60-90 days out)
    2 – Extracting (hiring within 60-90 days out)
    2 Sales and Education Outreach Reps
    1 Controller

    Applications will also be available for other upcoming positions.

    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge Metro Airport 14th Annual “Business Opportunities Workshop held Oct 16

    The Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR) Business Opportunities Workshop will be held tomorrow, October 16th, from 7:30 am to noon at the BTR Multiplex Facility, 4400 Airpark Blvd.

    This is a free event for all firms interested in pursuing work at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport.

    Attendees can network with local firms of all sizes and learn about opportunities at BTR. The workshop will also provide an overview of Small & Disadvantaged Business (S/DBE) Programs, and show how to navigate opportunities in Baton Rouge. Attendees will learn what it takes to become DBE certified and get information on upcoming projects at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport.

    Additional information can be found at www.flybtr.com or by calling BTR at 225-355-0333.

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Panel to explore art as a tool for building awareness around health issues, Oct. 13

    On Sunday, October 13, the result of a partnership between Baton Rouge Gallery and CreActiv, LLC, BRG’s Sundays@4 series will host a special panel discussion, Invisible Illness Awareness through the Arts, on CreActiv’s invisible illness awareness project, The Picture of Health, to explore art as a tool for building awareness around the taboo subject of health issues.

    Panelists will discuss the creation of the project, stigmas surrounding disclosing illnesses, what it is like to have an invisible illness, ways to elicit compassion for those among us who suffer every day, and more. The program will also feature a musical performance by Invisible Illness Warrior, Chris “The Madd Katt” Lee, that will depict the pain of sciatica through drum beats. The panel will be moderated by Donney Rose. A few pieces from the exhibit will be on display.

    Panelists include:
    Leslie D. Rose, photographer, The Picture of Health and CreActiv, LLC founder and COO
    April Baham, Project Manager, Louisiana Division of the Arts and Curator of The Picture of Health
    Rani Whitfield, MD, Family Practice Physician
    Tamiko Francis Garrison, Invisible Illness Warrior and Patient Advocate

    Danny Belanger, Director of Arts Education and Accessibility/ADA/504 Coordinator, Louisiana Division of the Arts

    The Picture of Health is an invisible illness awareness program inspired by CreActiv, LLCfounder and COO, Leslie D. Rose’s own struggles with invisible illness. It seeks to highlight individuals living with invisible physical, chronic, and mental illnesses. Through the art of photography, the project shows people living with these illnesses in the manner in which they present themselves daily, focusing on the perceived ‘normalcy’ of people housed in ill bodies. The exhibit kicked off its preview run on May 29 at The Healthcare Galley and held a three-month showing at Southern Grind Cofé this past summer. Pieces are still being added to the exhibit and a full showing is being scheduled for May 2020.

    Read more »
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    Irene Lewis elected Undergraduate President of national agriculture organization

     Southern University student Irene Lewis, a senior agricultural sciences major with a concentration in plant and soil sciences, has been elected the national undergraduate president of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization for the 2019-2020 year.

    MANRRS provides leadership training and networking to positively promote the agricultural sciences and related fields among minorities.

    Lewis, who has been a member of Southern University’s MANRRS Chapter since her freshman year, said she was extremely excited when she learned that she was elected to the post.

    “To be able to give back to MANRRS and represent my university at a higher level was exciting for me,” she said. “Participating in MANRRS has afforded me countless opportunities so it only felt right to continue to serve the organization to the best of my ability,” said Lewis when asked why she decided to run for the national position.

    To qualify, she had to submit an application and an application video before being selected to move forward with an interview. Lewis  was interviewed by the then-President-Elect, Karl Binns. After passing the interview, she was informed that her name would be placed on the ballot.

    As a national officer, Irene represents the agricultural students enrolled in dozens of universities across the nation. This is something she doesn’t take lightly.

    “MANRRS has an enormous student membership,” she said. “These students are young people across the country and are a force, working to develop agriculture, natural resources and related sciences.  It’s important that I use this position to continue to advocate for underrepresented students in agriculture, especially for students at 1890 Institutions and other (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). They are truly our next generation of academic and industry leaders,” said Lewis.

    She said her goal as the Undergraduate National President is to be a supporter of the organization’s fourteen student officers.

    “I don’t think people can truly understand the weight that these positions can hold until they are in one. Balancing your academics, pursuing doctoral degrees (for some of our team), and serving in a national office requires a high level of discipline, collaboration, and accountability,” said Lewis. “My ultimate goal is to help my team be the best they can be,” she said.

    Prior to being elected to her current national position, Irene served as the Region IV Undergraduate Vice President for the 2018-2019 year, representing chapters in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas.

    At Southern University’s local chapter, Irene has served as the Chapter’s Secretary during the 2017-2018 academic year and Historian during the 2018-2019 year.

    “This year I am in a student advisory role as I transition out of the university,” said Lewis whose national involvement in MANRRS evolved from her participation at Southern.

    “I don’t think I would be able to serve in the way that I have if it had not been for participating in MANRRS at my chapter,” said Irene. “I gained countless mentors and a huge support system on campus. From our advisor, Dr. Janana Snowden, to the friends I met through MANRRS at SU, I really have had a tribe in these past two years of national service. Dr. Snowden literally gave me a pep talk minutes before I gave my campaign speech last year, and I am extremely grateful for that.”

    MANRRS is a non-profit organization that promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences. It has more than 8,000 student and professional members within six regions and 55 collegiate chapters in 38 states and Puerto Rico.

    Lewis is a native of  Baton Rouge. She is the daughter of Eric and Maura Lewis and a 2016 graduate of Runnels High School.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

    Irene Lewis, a senior Agricultural Sciences major with a concentration in Plant and Soil Sciences at the Southern University, has been elected the national undergraduate president of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences organization. (Photo by D’Andre Lee, SU Ag Center.)

     

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    AUDITION NOTICE: New Venture Theatre seeks performers for ‘Black Nativity’

    Audition Location
    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, 2nd Floor
    427 Laurel Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
    Audition Date
    Saturday, October 19 2019 at 1:00 p.m.
    Rehearsal Dates
    Mondays – Thursdays, 6:00 – 9:30 PM
    Some Sunday’s, 3:00 – 6:00 PM
    Performance Dates
    Friday, December 13 at 9:30 a.m. (school performance)
    Friday, December 13 at 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, December 15 at 3:00 p.m.m.
    4 Performances at the LSU Shaver Theatre
    Audition Requirements
    Please prepare 90 seconds of a song that shows your range and vocal ability
    ALL SONGS WILL BE PERFORMED WITHOUT MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT.
    (Dance / Movement Audition Required)
    Bring or wear comfortable dance attire, as all auditions will be required to learn a short dance / movement combination.
    No monologues required for this production.
    Characters
    Role(s) for Black Actor(s)
    Seeking male and female dancers with strong ballet, modern, and jazz dance experience.
    Seeking male and female vocalist with strong gospel, and r&b style.
    Read more »
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    Mini STEM Camp comes to BRCC, Oct 5

    Baton Rouge Community College is partnering with the United States Naval Academy and Scholars Laboratory for a Mini STEM Camp to be held on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at BRCC’s Magnolia Building on the Mid City campus, 201 Community College Drive.

    College students and middle and high school students in East Baton Rouge Parish and West Baton Rouge Parish students are invited to register for the event at ScholarsLaboratory.com. There are 150 slots and registration is free. Lunch will be provided.

    The mission of the program is to address the urgent national need for more young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. USNA faculty and midshipmen along with Scholars Laboratory personnel will provide STEM and Social Emotional Learning to camp participants. The day will include eight USNA STEM modules: Engineering Design Challenge; Cipher Coding and Decoding Modules; Hanoi Tap Code; Morse Circuits; Ozobot Robot Control; Calculator Robots; Testing Archimedes Principle Testing Hull Integrity, SEL instruction along with a trade show.  Special invited guest for the trade show include the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical Company, Methods Technologies Solutions, Hancock Whitney Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU, among others.

    Read more »
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    Public encouraged to complete CATS Strategic Planning Survey

    The Capital Area Transit System (CATS) has partnered with ETC Institute to conduct the anonymous online survey that will assist them in understanding the community’s level of satisfaction with CATS, as well as provide them with improvement ideas. Baton Rouge residents are invited to complete the survey which will take approximately ten minutes to complete. The survey results will assist in planning the direction of future projects and priorities. ETC Institute is administering the survey and will compile the data received to present to CATS officials. All responses will be kept strictly confidential.
    ONLINE: http://www.brcatsstakeholderfeedback.com
    Read more »
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    CASA volunteers ready to lend their voices for abused children in foster care

    Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association welcomed a class of new volunteers at the conclusion of the 2019 September training session. The class was officially sworn in as CASA volunteers by Juvenile Court Judge Adam Haney on Sept. 12. Each volunteer will be appointed to advocate for the best interests of an abused child.

     The new advocates were sworn in at the CASA office during the 32-hour training course, which prepares CASA volunteers for their advocacy work. Volunteers have six months to complete the training. Once assigned to cases, the volunteers will work to help abused and neglected children reach safe homes with forever families.

    The training class includes: Patti Crump, Debbie Emery, Karen Godwin, Eboni Kaigler, Chiquita Kelly, Lindsey Litchfield, Helen Meyer, Brian Morin, Nicole Morin, Tommy Ray, Wendy Ray, Reba Roy, Mike Rush, Dona Sharkey, Wayne Sharkey, Michelle Sparks, Edward Stephen, Holly Tupper, Charles Vaughan, Dishili Young, and Nathan Zeller.

    Though CASA now has new advocates, the program still needs volunteers to continue serving every child in East Baton Rouge Parish who needs a voice. A boost in African American and male volunteers are still needed as CASA strives to have a diverse group of volunteers to match the diverse group of children in care. CASA is accepting people into its next training course, which will be held in January 2020.

    No special background is required to become a CASA volunteer. The first step to getting involved is to attend a 45-minute orientation at the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave. Upcoming sessions will be held October 5 at 10 a.m., October 10 at 5 p.m., October 16 at 3 p.m., and October 25 at 9 a.m. The full list of orientations through December can be found at www.casabr.org.

     

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    MOVEBR hosts Oct. 3 small business outreach informational workshop

    MOVEBR through its Small Business Outreach initiative is hosting the first in a series of informational workshops on Thursday, October 3, 2019. This workshop is open to appraisers, abstractors, real estate agents or others interested in the available opportunities to do business with MOVEBR related to the topic of right of way acquisitions.

    As the MOVEBR program implements transportation and infrastructure improvements across East Baton Rouge Parish, a wide variety of opportunities will occur for all businesses irrespective of size to participate in the process. These will be advertised through the normal procurement processes of the City-Parish.  Specific efforts related to training and capacity building will be offered to small businesses through the Small Business Outreach (SBO) initiative.

    “MOVEBR provides an opportunity to invest in our local economy by helping our small businesses flourish, which are the backbone of our community. Ultimately, we’re investing in people as well as concrete,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “The diversity and inclusion of a wide range of small businesses is key to ensuring these investments are cost-efficient and spread equally throughout our community.”

    The SBO effort will include targeted outreach for emerging and established businesses. Throughout the course of the MOVEBR program, several informational sessions will be offered for the various disciplines needed to support the MOVEBR program as the program evolves.  The first session will take place on Thursday, October 3 at the Delmont Gardens Branch Library, 3351 Lorraine Street, Baton Rouge, 5:30-7:00 pm. It will focus on Right of Way services. Small business owners interested in those services are encouraged to attend this session. Subsequent workshops will be held for other disciplines and trades including engineering and construction services.

    “The Small Business Outreach (SBO) Initiative will empower local, small, minority, women and veteran-owned companies by connecting them with opportunities to participate in the process,” said Raymond Jetson, MOVEBR’s SBO Workgroup Leader. ”It’s important that we help small businesses compete for these opportunities by providing timely communications, capacity-building strategies and technical assistance.”

    MOVEBR Small Business Definition

    For the purposes of outreach and engagement, a MOVEBR Small Business is defined as an entity that holds one of the following certifications and/or participates in one of the listed programs:

    The MOVEBR Small Business Outreach effort does not restrict or prohibit any otherwise designated small business or non-small business from pursuing opportunities with the City-Parish. The definition above is intended to identify the types of small businesses the effort is designed to reach, inform and support their inclusion in the MOVEBR Program.

    ONLINE: twww.movebr.brla.gov

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    Southern’s enrollment climbs above 7,000

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Phoenix Award goes to Calvin Mackie for STEM NOLA

    “Through collective impact, we are changing a generation,” said Calvin Mackie, Ph.D, Saturday, September 14th, upon receiving the CBCF Board Chair’s Award from Rep. Cedric L. Richmond a speech at the CBCF’s Phoenix Awards Dinner at the 2019 Annual Legislative Conference (ALC.

    “STEM access is a social justice issue through and through.” Mackie said. He is the founder of STEM NOLA.

    Winning this prestigious award is opening doors for our organization and we’re looking for corporate and philanthropic partners to share our accomplishments and their implications with communities across America.” The Phoenix Award is the highest honor presented by CBCF. This award recognizes individuals whose extraordinary achievements strengthen communities and improve the lives of individuals and families, nationally and globally.

    The connection of STEM education to justice has been understood long ago in the education community, it was only in 2016 that the National Science Foundation (NSF) published their “Next Generation STEM For All: Envisioning Advances Based on NSF Supported Research” recognizing the deep connection between STEM education and social justice. STEM NOLA is building an inclusive STEM ecosystem in the greater New Orleans regions to expose, inspire, engage and educate all communities. STEM NOLA has engaged over 40,000 K-12 students, 10,000 families, 700 college students and 500 professionals in STEM events.

    The idea here is garnering collective impact by encouraging broader access, early in life and embracing the under-represented. This would include girls (of all races) and differently-abled youth. Mackie and other education trailblazers are currently focused on developing learning innovations, steeped in cultural connection to enrich the lives of students.

    The 2019 Phoenix Awards Honorees are:

    • Dr. Calvin Mackie, entrepreneur, author and professor will receive the CBCF Board Chair’s Award from Rep. Cedric L. Richmond.
    • Dr. Wanda Austin, aeronautics and systems engineer will receive the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair’s Award from Rep. Karen Bass.
    • Congresswoman Barbara Lee will receive the ALC Honorary Co-Chair’s Award from Rep. G.K. Butterfield.
    • The Exonerated Five: Dr. Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Antron McCray, survivors of false convictions and social justice advocates will receive the ALC Honorary Co-Chair’s Award from Rep. Frederica Wilson.
    • Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist, will receive The Harold Washington Award from the CBC
    Read more »
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    Formerly incarcerated Louisianans to met Monday, cast first vote together

    After becoming eligible to register on March 1, local activist Checo Yancy along with others will vote for the first time Monday.

    On March 1, approximately 40,000 Louisiana citizens on probation and parole regained their right to vote under Act 636. The law was made possible by members of Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), who advocated for the passage of House Bill 265 at the State Capitol during the 2018 legislative session. The majority of these activists were people who are directly impacted by felony disenfranchisement. Thus, come March 1, when Act 636 goes into effect, they will be able to register to vote.

    Yancy, who directs Voters Organized to Educate (VOTE), registered the first day he could. “Now, I’ll be able to elect people who actually have my best interests in mind,” he says. He’ll also be taking advantage of the early voting period for Louisiana’s upcoming Oct. 12 primary election.

    “We have come from out of prison to do all this, and we are doing it,” said Yancy.

    For him and thousands of others, it has not been an easy race to the finish line of the ballot box. People who have a conviction have to go through extra steps in the registration process. This includes getting paperwork from their local probation and parole office, even if they have finished their probation or parole time five, 10, or 20 years ago. For those living in rural Louisiana, the nearest office is a half-day’s drive away. Due in large part to the employment barriers that formerly incarcerated people, many cannot afford to buy a car or hire transportation to obtain that paperwork.

    Find more info here.

     

    Read more »
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    Deltas, NAACP, Urban League host Sept 24 Candidates’ Forum

     On Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. at Baton Rouge Community College’s Magnolia Theatre, 201  Community College Drive, the Baton Rouge Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,  Inc., the Baton Rouge NAACP, and the Urban League, are hosting an East Baton Rouge Candidates’ Forum.

    All candidates are invited to attend. The candidates will have a few minutes to give remarks and there will be questions afterward. After the forum, candidates will have a chance to meet with the attendees. The public is invited to attend.

    “This is a very important election, so our Sorority and partners are committed to help inform and educate our residents on who the candidates are and where they stand on issues of concern to our community,” said Chi Joseph Franklin, president of Baton Rouge Sigma.  “We’re looking forward to a great discussion.”

    Read more »
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    Dr. Rani G. Whitfield announces run for EBR Coroner

    Dr. Rani G. Whitfield, a board-certified Family Medicine Physician, has officially announced his candidacy for Coroner of East Baton Rouge Parish.

    As coroner, Whitfield would conduct or oversee death investigations, orders of protective custody, Coroner Emergency Certificates, and sexual assault investigations throughout the parish.

    “My mission is not just documenting death, but preserving life,” said Dr. Whitfield whose campaign has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and the Louisiana Democrats. The election is Oct. 12, 2019.

    Whitfield is a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge. After graduating from University High Laboratory School, he went on to earn a bachelors of science degree from Southern University. He completed his medical school training at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, his residency in Dayton, Ohio, at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, and a Sports Medicine Fellowship at The Ohio State University. He has a certificate of added qualification in sports medicine.

    He is deputy coroner in East Feliciana and an active member of the American Academy of Family Practice, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society of Sports Medicine, Louisiana State Medical Association, and East Baton Rouge Parish Medical Society. He is also an ambassador/national spokesperson for the American Heart Association, a board member for the organization’s Southeastern Affiliates, and a member of the American Stroke Association’s Advisory Committee. He is a sought-after lecturer and educator, addressing health-related issues in front of local and national audiences.

    As “Tha Hip-Hop Doc,” Dr. Whitfield shares health messages to people across the globe. What started as a simple nickname from students has become a persona that allows him to connect with a generation that needs a deeper understanding of the health issues they face. “Young people respond when they feel that you are sincere and actually care about them,” he said. “To be easily accessible to young people makes a big difference.”

    Dr. Whitfield said he will continue to use his grass-roots and hands-on approach as Coroner for the people of East Baton Rouge Parish, actively engaging the public, conducting outreach to citizens, and working to address the many challenges facing citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish. He has served on the boards of educational and civic organizations including the Southern University Board of Supervisors and has received multiple awards. He served as a physician volunteer and medical director of the National Association of Free Clinics Communities are Responding Everywhere (C.A.R.E) which provides free health care to the underserved patients across the USA.

    Married to registered nurse Kiara and the father of two children, Dr. Whitfield is also a lifetime member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc and a bass player in the band U4ria.

    Read more »
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    Mayor Broome Announces Community Development Grant Awards

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

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

    This year, the following community organizations are receiving grants:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    John Warner Smith named Louisiana’s newest Poet Laureate

    Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities has selected John Warner Smith as Louisiana’s newest Poet Laureate.

    A native of Morgan City, Smith began writing poetry while simultaneously building a successful career as a public administrator and a banker. He now teaches English at Southern University and A&M College, in addition to regularly publishing new works of poetry. Since 2007, he has directed Education’s Next Horizon, a non-profit policy advocacy organization dedicated to improving public education in Louisiana.

    Smith is a fellow of the prestigious Cave Canem program and has four published collections of poetry: Muhammad’s Mountain (Lavender Ink, 2018), Spirits of the Gods (UL Press, 2017), Soul Be A Witness (MadHat Press, 2016), and A Mandala of Hands (Kelsay Books – Aldrich Press, 2015). His fifth collection, Our Shut Eyes, is forthcoming from MadHat Press.

    He will serve as poet laureate for two years. Smith is available for public readings, workshops, and lectures, at venues across Louisiana during his tenure. Contact Christopher Robert at (504) 620-2639 or robert@leh.org.

    ONLINE: http://www.johnwarnersmith.com

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    BR high schoolers get aviation experience, attend national conference

    The Baton Rouge Youth Aviation Experience took 20 area high school Juniors and Seniors to Los Angeles to participate in the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) Aviation Conference, August 23- 25.

    Baton Rouge Metro Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr. created the initiative, which is designed to educate students about career opportunities in the aviation industry. Dunn raised the money to pay for all 20 students to attend the conference, which included transportation, lodging and meals.

    The students participated in AMAC’s Project LIFT program, which was held at LAX Airports Flight Path Museum. The forum-style mentoring session is held for students interested in aviation and aviation-related businesses. Project LIFT exposes students to career opportunities in the aviation industry and the applicable education paths, and provides networking opportunities with professional mentors to further students’ academic development. In addition to an in-depth view of the aviation industry, the students made connections with industry leaders and were provided information about scholarship and internship opportunities.

    DSC06838_edit

    The participating students came from Capitol High School, Scotlandville Magnet High School, Lee Magnet High School, Madison Prep, Woodlawn High School, Mentorship Academy, Collegiate Baton Rouge, and McKinley High School. Chase Bank, Helix Schools, Baton Rouge Metro Airport, New Schools Baton Rouge, Airport Management Group, MetroMorphosis, Runner’s Courier Service, and Dunn Enterprises helped to sponsor the initiative.

    The Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) and the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) presented AMAC’s 35th Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference: Transforming the Future of Airports, bringing together nearly 1,000 businesses, aviation professionals, government officials and individuals from around the country to discuss a variety of subjects ranging from how to do business at airports to public policy issues impacting the entire aviation industry. This conference is the premier aviation industry event of the year – serving as a hub for education, advocacy and networking opportunities that promote diversity and inclusion in airports.

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    SU graduates 14 farmers from Ag Leadership Institute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

     

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    Bluebonnet Dental Care to Host Free Dentistry Day Saturday, August 24

    Residents in the Baton Rouge community and surrounding areas will have the opportunity to receive free dental services at Bluebonnet Dental Care on Saturday, August 24.

    Doctors and team at Bluebonnet Dental Care will be improving the oral health of the community as part of Free Dentistry Day, a day dedicated to providing free dental care to the growing number of Americans without dental insurance. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 108 million Americans are living without dental insurance.

    “We understand that many people in our community and across the nation haven’t been to the dentist for a long period of time. Some don’t understand the importance of dental health, but more often than not, they don’t have the financial means,” said Burkhalter. “This event is a great opportunity for us to share our time and resources with those less fortunate and give back to the community.”

    There is increasing evidence that links oral health to overall health and well-being. The signs and symptoms of more than 100 medical conditions, including diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and oral cancer may first be detected through traditional oral examinations.

    “Dental health is a vital part of a person’s overall health,” said Rome. “Through this event, we hope to educate patients on the importance of dental health and encourage them to adopt an ongoing oral care regimen.”

    During Free Dentistry Day, cleanings, fillings and extractions will be provided to patients on Saturday, August 24, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 4451 Bluebonnet Boulevard, Suite A in Baton Rouge. Patients will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please call 225-767-2273 or visit www.FreeDentistryDay.org.

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    Blind DJ inspires BR, Shreveport music scene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Submitted by Laurence Williams

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    State responds to cyber attack on school system

    Stephenson Technologies Corporation at LSU offers tips on how individuals can protect themselves from future cyber-attacks

    This week, several Louisiana school systems were victims of the most pervasive ransomware attacks in the state’s history. Digital thieves successfully injected malware in several parish networks, making north Louisiana one of several areas in the country that have also fallen victim to cyber-attacks.

    Ransomware is malicious software designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. It’s typically spread through phishing emails or by unknowingly visiting an infected website. Once infested, the thieves hold the user’s data hostage until a ransom is paid, usually in digital currency like BitCoin.

    “Ransomware is not new,” said Jeff Moulton, Stephenson National Center for Security Research executive director. “It’s growing in use at the state and local levels because the attackers know government agencies, especially at the lower levels, are likely to pay.”

    Moulton also said that hackers know that local government agencies including school districts often do not have the systems in place to protect against cyber-attacks. Hackers also may target these agencies because shutting down or interrupting services is unacceptable.

    Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and activated Louisiana’s Emergency Support Function 17, which is a cyber-incident response plan. LSU’s Moulton oversees the ESF-17 subcommittee.

    LSU’s applied research affiliate, the Stephenson Technologies Corporation, or STC, is working with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, or GOHSEP, the Office of Technology Services and the Louisiana National Guard Cyber Team on this criminal event. Three LSU STC information systems security engineers are on site in the affected parishes assisting with the recovery efforts.

    “Thanks to Gov. Edwards’ foresight into cybersecurity vulnerabilities, he created the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission to respond quickly and effectively to attacks like these,” Moulton said.

    He offers the following tips on how individuals and institutions can protect themselves from future cyber-attacks:

    • School districts throughout Louisiana must educate their workforce to stop, think and click before opening any email. If it doesn’t look right, don’t open it.
    • Implement a two-factor authentication system.
    • Have a manual back-up system.
    • Parents and guardians should give out as little personal information on their children as possible.
    • Parents and guardians should write a letter to the three credit agencies to lock and freeze their children’s credit so predators cannot access their children’s social security numbers.
    • Encrypt your data at rest.
    • Stop. Think. Click.

    ONLINE: https://www.sncsrt.lsu.edu

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    SU Child Development Center set to hold an Enrollment Fair

    The Southern University Child Development Laboratory will hold an Enrollment Fair for the 2019-2020 school year on Saturday, August 3 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at its facility located on E. Street on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    Parents interested in enrolling their children at the laboratory can do so during the enrollment fair by bringing the child’s birth certificate; social security and insurance cards; and updated immunization, physical (well-child exam), and dental records (if applicable).

    Applications will be available to be picked up from the Laboratory on July 29.

    The Laboratory, which will open August 12, is accepting children six weeks to 4 years old. It will operate from 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. with before and aftercare available from 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. for an additional fee.

    To obtain an application or for additional information, call 225-771-2081 or email suchdvlab@subr.edu.

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    Awards ceremony honors top football recruits, Aug 1

    Tiger Rag magazine’s inaugural High School Football Kickoff Awards ceremony on Aug. 1 will honor four top high school football recruits from the Greater Baton Rouge area. A reception begins at 6pm at the Embassy Suites by Hilton at 4914 Constitution Ave. with the ceremony starting at 7pm.

    Tickets are required, though the event is free. It includes dinner and photo opportunities with former LSU football players. Tickets are available through the Tiger Rag website until July 31.

    TJ Finley

    TJ Finley

    Joel Williams

    Joel Williams

    Jalen Lee

    Jalen Lee

    Jaquelin Roy

    Jaquelin Roy

     

    The ceremony will honor quarterback TJ Finley from Ponchatoula High School, defensive tackle Jalen Lee from Live Oak High School, defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy from University High School, and cornerback Joel Williams from Madison Prep High School.

    Former LSU and NFL quarterback Matt Flynn will serve as guest speaker. Flynn played for LSU from 2003-07, earning offensive MVP honors in the Tigers’ 2007 BCS National Championship win over Ohio State.

    The ceremony will also recognize David Brewerton of Zachary High School as High School Coach of the Year. Since taking over in 2014, Brewerton has led teams to three state titles.

    ONLINE:  tigerrag.com

     

    Photo credit: 247Sports

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    Southern University plants first seeds in medical marijuana venture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Public invited to provide input on Consolidated Plan draft, July 30

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Government Office of Community Development and Build Baton Rouge will hold a public hearing to start the public input and planning process for 2019- 2023 City of Baton Rouge, Parish of East Baton Rouge Consolidated Action Plan. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, July 30 from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The purpose of the meeting is to obtain input from local citizens and organizations regarding the initial draft of the 2019 – 2023 Consolidated Plan and 2019 Action Plan. All public input will be taken into consideration when revising and completing the final draft of the Consolidated/Action Plan.

    The Consolidated Plan serves as the five-year planning and application document for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) programs.

    A draft of the Plan is posted online: https://www.brla.gov/863/Plans-Reports

    Persons wishing to comment, but who are unable to attend, may do so in writing to the City of Baton Rouge, Parish of East Baton Rouge, Office of Community Development, 222 St. Louis St., Baton Rouge, LA 70802. Comments may also be submitted via E-mail at ocd.conplan@brla.gov or via fax at (225) 389-3939 ATTN: Anita Lockett.

    For more information about the public hearing, please call (225) 389-3039 ext. 151.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Broome echoed those sentiments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Jasmine D. Hunter
    Contributing Writer

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    Teens earn Emergency Medical Responder Certification

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation presented the 2019 graduating class of the College & Career Ready Emergency Medical Responder  Institute. The graduates, all Baton Rouge area high school students, obtained Emergency Medical Responder certification upon their successful completion of the 10-week EMR Institute.
    UREC’s 2019 College & Career Ready EMR Institute graduates are:
    • Adrianna Brown (Valedictorian)
    • Bridget Calhoun
    • Alexus Maiden
    • Leah Ruffin
    • Abria Scott
    • Aisha Smith
    UREC’s College & Career Ready EMR Institute prepares students attending high schools in Baton Rouge for careers in the medical field, while providing a pathway to industry-based certification. During the institute, scholars learned life-saving skills such as CPR, how to detect vital signs, trauma response and injury care management under the instruction of Bob Brankline with the East Baton Rouge Parish School’s Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC).
    Throughout the institute, scholars participated in lecture-based instruction at Southern University School of Nursing and hands-on, skills-based instruction at CTEC. Scholars also participated in work site visits with the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security (Red Stick Ready), Baton Rouge General Mid-City, ExxonMobil, Baton Rouge EMS & 911 Operations, Baton Rouge Fire Department, and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (Fran U).
     
    Adrianna Brown, class valedictorian, said the program taught her technical, leadership and effective communication skills. “I learned how to take blood pressure, splint legs and arms, and how to listen to and analyze people’s airways,” she said. “I would definitely recommend this program to others.”

    UREC held a graduation and pinning ceremony on June 12, 2019 at Southern University School of Nursing. Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair of the Southern University’s BSN Program, delivered the keynote address. Greggs encouraged graduates to exercise empathy, patience, continued education, self-care, humor, trust and teamwork as they embark upon future studies and careers in the healthcare field.

    Photo (L-R): Danielle Duncan, UREC, Youth Program Coordinator; Adrianna Brown; LeahRuffin; Alexus Maiden; Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair, Southern University School of Nursing BSN Program; Abria Scott; Bridget Calhoun; Aisha Smithand Kathryn Robinson, UREC, Youth Program Director.
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    Community honors historian, activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Our love for Sadie Roberts-Joseph will continue. We will demonstrate it in very tangible ways,” said Broome. For starts, the Mayor’s Youth Workforce Experience participants, led by The Walls Project and Build Baton Rouge, will paint a mural of the revered activist at 2065 Plank Road–the corner of Plank Road and Pawnee Street in North Baton Rouge. On Friday, July 20, LAMAR Corporation began erecting billboards around the city in memory of Roberts-Joseph.

     

     

     

     Lamar-Corporation-erects-this-bilboard-around-Baton-Rouge-in-memory-of-Sadie-Roberts-Joseph


    Lamar-Corporation-erects-this-bilboard-around-Baton-Rouge-in-memory-of-Sadie-Roberts-Joseph

    The community shares their memories and tributes:

    Gov. John bel Edwards: I am heartbroken and sickened by the disturbing death of Sadie Roberts-Joseph. @FirstLadyOfLA and I are praying for her family and the members of the Baton Rouge community who, like us, are struggling to understand this senseless act of violence. Many knew Sadie as the founder of Baton Rouge’s African-American History Museum and for her annual Juneteenth celebrations, but she was equally known for her kindness, vibrant spirit, and passion for promoting peace. Sadie was a storyteller, and I believe we have the responsibility of keeping those stories alive and working to, as she once said, “build a better state and a better nation.”

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome: In the midst of managing a major weather event in our parish, I was hit with some devastating news – the murder of a dear friend and a mother of the community- Sadie Roberts Joseph. I’ve deliberately waited to comment because of the level of love and respect I had for Sadie; and because it was such shocking news. She loved this city and its people. Her commitment to the cultural and educational fabric of our community is beyond description. The development of The Odell S. Williams African American Museum is a testament of her visionary and pioneering leadership. In the days to come, I look forward to offering a more comprehensive tribute.

    h8-Sadie-Roberts-Joseph-dead-trunk-baton-rouge-african-american-museum

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at the Odell S. Williams African American Museum

    State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle: My heart is empty… as I learned last night that Ms. Sadie Roberts Joseph was found murdered! This woman was amazing and loved her history. She never bothered anyone, just wanted to expand her African American Museum downtown, where she continually hosted the Juneteenth Celebration yearly. I loved working with her and am saddened by her death.

    Judge John Michael Guidry:  My friend Sadie Roberts-Joseph often had me as her Speaker for her Juneteenth Celebrations in South Baton Rouge or her Veterans Observance at Port Hudson. We bonded over 25 years ago when as a State Senator, I worked with the community group CADAV which she led in the Banks community. Her life was one of sacrificial service to others. She gave herself away so that God could use her. She reminded us of our history and has earned her place in the history of our community. Her death was tragic, but her life was a treasure. I choose to focus my thoughts not on how she died, but on how she lived. My condolences and prayers are with her family.

    State Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith: As I sit remembering my dear dear friend Sadie I know the tears I’ve shed do no more than help relieve my emotions. A lot of people knew or knew of Sadie but really didn’t know her. For those of us who did, who grew up in her time we knew a bit more.  Sadie’s death isn’t an opportunity for news sound bites without knowing her family or involving her family. I am disappointed. This is indeed a time for ALL who knew her and really want her legacy to be enshrined AND the perpetrators brought to justice to come together in unity. NO MAN IS AN ISLAND and we should be embracing her family and referring news outlets to them.  Some may not like this post but I respect her family and for as much time as she and I spent together dealing with the museum issues I could never politicize her death and there are others who feel as I do. I LOVED SADIE FOR WHO SHE WAS AND ADMIRED ALL SHE WAS TRYING TO DO FOR OUR COMMUNITY.  UNIFY FOR THE LOVE OF Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph!

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph from The Drum archives

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph from The Drum archives

    Donna Collins Lewis: My heart is aching. I have known Ms. Sadie for over 30 years. A wonderful, sweet and quiet soul. Soft-spoken with a passion for the community and African American History and Art. I pray for a quick resolution in bringing the person responsible to justice. I pray Gods strength and peace for her family and the many lives who are saddened by her death. May her legacy and work continue to live through the African American Museum and the many efforts she championed in the community. She leaves her footprint on the entire parish and far beyond.

    NAACP Baton Rouge Branch. We lost a Cultural Legend Yesterday!#RIP Sadie Roberts Joseph. From reviving Juneteenth, to the Culture preserved at Her Museum, she was a trendsetter and icon in this City.

    The King Center: ‪We mourn. Sadie Roberts-Joseph was the founder and curator of the Baton Rouge African-American Museum, which she started in 2001. She was a tireless advocate of peace.

    Baton Rouge Police Department: The Baton Rouge Police Department joins the community in mourning the loss of Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph. Ms. Sadie was a tireless advocate of peace in the community. We had opportunities to work with her on so many levels. From assisting with her bicycle give away at the African American Museum to working with the organization she started called CADAV. (Community Against Drugs and Violence) Ms. Sadie is a treasure to our community, she will be missed by BRPD and her loss will be felt in the community she served.

    California artist Nicholas Smith of Nikkolas Design shared this rendering of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    California artist Nicholas Smith of Nikkolas Design shared this rendering of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    Broderick Bagert: Shocked & saddened by the death of Ms. Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph. She founded the Now & Then Museum of African American History in Baton Rouge on a shoestring as part of her life-long project to teach Black history & civil rights. She was part of Together Baton Rouge from its earliest days. Ms. Sadie was a calm presence. And a fierce presence, in every fiber of her being. May she rest in peace. And may the rest of us live up to her legacy, STARTING by supporting her vision for the Then & Now Museum.

    Paula Johnson-Hutchinson: On this day, Ms. Sadie told me that writing books of our lives and culture ensures the sustainability of us and that we wouldn’t be forgotten. She also said that sharing knowledge and being true teachers of our children will provide a pathway that will long outlive us.

    LSU Office of Diversity: Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph founded the Baton Rouge African-American Museum which tells the stories of African-Americans in Louisiana throughout history from the cotton grown in the museum’s garden to artifacts like a 1953 bus from the year of the city’s public bus boycott protesting racial segregation. Ms. Roberts-Joseph gave away bicycles at the museum and started a community organization to fight drugs and violence. She was known as a quiet leader and tireless advocate of peace in the community. Our LSU family mourns her tragic loss.

    Res-Brother StanleyWe have come over a way that with tears has been watered. We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past, Till now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Judge Trudy White at the annual Kwanzaa celebration. Photo by David Modeste

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Judge Trudy White at the annual Kwanzaa celebration. Photo by David Modeste

    David Modeste: Much respect to Sister Sadie for her tireless efforts to uplift the community in every way she knew how. We especially appreciate her active contribution and participation in the Baton Rouge Kwanzaa Celebrations sponsored by Afrocentric Focus Group of Baton Rouge.

    Walter Geno McLaughlin: We’ve all posted about it and reacted to the news locally. And now we see the lens of national news outlets focused on the death of Miss Sadie. Fitting, yet unexpected. It’s strange how in death we seek to honor those who have done so much to uplift our community on a daily basis. But this video shows how she lived; with a smile on her face, a quiet force of nature, motivated by the need to narrate & curate our own stories. One of the last times I saw Miss Sadie, she was hopeful that with all the renewed energy towards investment in underserved neighborhoods, her little museum would not be forgotten and would receive the resources to make it sustainable. This woman did so much with so little. And like many others who do this work, probably never knew the full weight of her impact. It is why it’s important to clap for people while they are here, and give them the fuel to keep moving forward. I’m left to wonder who would do such a thing to someone we all loved, and at this tender age. There is speculation beyond the normal motives, and we must ask tough questions. But as we all prepared for the coming storm, I believe she was likely still helping people, not fully aware of the dangers, whatever they were. What I do know is that her funeral will be full of dashiki wearing brothers and sisters emulating the look she was synonymous for. Rest in Power Queen. We will take it from here.

    Niles B. Haymer: This morning I visited the African American Museum that was so loved by her and I could feel her spirit and presence throughout along with her love of displaying African American History in Baton Rouge. I got a chance to speak with Ms. Sadie this past February at a Black History Program sponsored by Councilwoman Erika Green where I promised Ms. Sadie that my kids would soon visit her museum for a photo op with her. My oldest son even wondered loudly why I’ve never taken him to the museum in front of Ms. Sadie. Of course I was embarrassed and gave him that look of “I’ll deal with you later.” Unbeknownst to my son, he was right, many families of all races should have supported this historic museum and still have time to do so. Sadly, that day never came for my kids, Ms. Sadie and that well-anticipated photo op. Violent crime in Baton Rouge is an unspeakable epidemic that’s stealing the soul of this City. I know that the candlelight vigil this evening will be well attended and I wanted to just take in her life’s work without disruption. Rep. C. Denise Marcelle has assisted the family in setting up the Sadie Roberts Joseph Memorial Fund at Hancock Whitney Bank. This is our chance to give to a worthy cause by keeping this museum open and well funded.#JusticeforSadie

    Councilwoman Erika Green: Today, I speak Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph’s name! Though her life was taken by a heartless person in this city yesterday, I am comforted in remembering the community and the African-American history she carried in her soul. She loved and told the story of our people.

    Sketch of Sadie Roberts Joseph by Antoine GHOST Mitchell. 225.933.7090. @the_art_alchemist  AntoineGHOST.  Facebook: PoeArtry Creative Movement, LLC

    Sketch of Sadie Roberts Joseph by Antoine GHOST Mitchell. 225.933.7090. @the_art_alchemist AntoineGHOST.
    Facebook: PoeArtry Creative Movement, LLC

    Shenena Armstrong Merchant: Aunty Sadie was a light to the Armstrong family, she taught me through her actions how to smile through it. So in spite of my tears, I’m smiling because her legacy lives on; bigger, stronger, and more loving.

    Jeremy L. Blunt: My heart mourns today at the loss of such a pillar of our community. I met Mrs. Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph as a teenager and can still remember our conversations where she encouraged me to keep striving for others. She told me that one day, I too would be one of those on her wall. We have to not just seek justice for her but seek betterment in our community by how we treat one another. Love is a universal language that does not discriminate. Remember what she lived for and carry that message on.

    Lloyd Benson II: Thank you, Queen, for always inspiring and encouraging us to learn, respect, and appreciate our heritage.

    Sadie Roberts Joseph. Photo by Jason Shi Roberts

    Sadie Roberts Joseph. Photo by Jason Shi Robert

    Tiffany Littlejohn: My Aunt Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph always wanted to be famous. Her story is breaking twitter, being shared by CNN, CBS, ABC, ESSENCE magazine, BET, Instagram, US News, New York Times, Perez Hilton, New York Daily News, and the list goes on and on… TAKE YOUR PLACE QUEEN, TAKE YOUR PLACE.

    LaNeir Roberts: Aunt Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph was beautiful, smart, truly a phenomenal woman, and loved the Lord. I will never forget our Christmas light adventure. Never saw the Christmas lights but we managed to find the railroad tracks (lol). When we asked to listen to the radio Aunt Sadie turns it to the politics station; and we expressed to her that we wanted to listen to rap music… she started banging on the steering wheel lol. Aunt Sadie was definitely a character but she was also an educator and loved by so many. I still can’t believe she’s gone. Please please please continue to pray for my family as we support each other through this difficult time. Rest in paradise Auntie, until we meet again.

    Quentin Anthony Anderson Sr.: So, it was great to see everyone at Ms. Sadie’s vigil last night. But many of y’all admitted that it was the first time you had ever stepped foot on the campus of that museum. That’s fine, a lot of people hadn’t and it speaks volumes to how big of an impact Ms. Sadie left on Baton Rouge that so many people were touched by her and hadn’t even see her in her purest element as a historian and curator. But that museum is our history, Black Baton Rouge. And it’s her legacy. If you were willing to come out in the heat and endure an entire church service and 4 closing prayers for Ms. Sadie yesterday, the least you can do is support the museum-going forward. Visit the museum. Take your kids. Volunteer (Ms. Sadie really wanted to maintain those column murals and the maps on the ground, hint hint). Donate monthly to keep the museum open. Sharon Weston Broome, designate the museum as a local historical landmark and protect it from greedy developers. We all have a part we can play as a community. As my friend Myra Richardson says, make this a movement, not a moment. Make this important to you beyond just today, beyond it trending on your favorite timeline. If you truly care about Ms. Sadie and her legacy, let’s protect and preserve it by supporting her crown jewel.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph speaks during the 2019 Juneteenth event.Photo by Yulani Semien

    Myra Richardson:Last summer, Byron Washington and Ms. Sadie asked me work with the museum because she said she needed some “youthful energy”. I’m eternally grateful for both of those relationships. However, one of the things that struck me was when she told me the Museum was an extension of her. Every piece collected in that museum passed through her delicate fingers, every tour was different as she would recount how she got a different artifact. I thought I was an intense person but spend a few days a week on a hot bus with that women and she’ll learn you a thing or two. She made me read endlessly but she talked to me more about how important oral history is and passing down stories. She was a walking book and just wanted to share the museum with the world. She dreamed of renovating the building and connecting it to the building behind it, even thought of renaming it once. The last piece of literature she had me read was about Oscar Dunn. In 1868, Dunn became the first elected Black lieutenant governor of a U.S. state. His sentiments were written during reconstruction hailing from the great State of Louisiana but Ms. Sadie wanted me to draw parallels that he was essentially asking for the same thing 151 years ago that we’re asking for today. She viewed knowledge of history as an equalizer, she wanted me and youth across Louisiana to have access to that museum purely because knowledge is more than power … it’s a labor of love. That museum is Ms.Sadie, that museum is more than a legacy … it’s a living breathing organism birthed from her dreams, travels, relationships and love for all of us. That museum is my chief priority and should be yours as well.

    Byron Washington: Many people will rightly so build memorials and vigils. I think the best way to Honor Sadie is to honor her legacy. Honor what she put her heart and soul in. Donate, find funding sources, and promote the museum. Make it so the doors will never close and we will never lose its memory. Learn your local history and embrace your local culture. It is unique and should be celebrated from the mountain tops.  So instead of buying a bunch of flowers, although you certainly are within you right and in many cases should let’s put that money into the facility. Let’s put our energy into the grants. Let’s put our focus into promotion.

    Stephanie Anthony She was a fellow worker in the vineyard, a kind, sweet lady I can’t wrap my mind around what our city has become capable of these days. What a great loss. Prayers for her family.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at mic

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at mic

    Johnny Anderson: The recent murder of my dear and sweet 75-year-old friend Sadie Roberts-Joseph has greatly disturbed me, personally, and Baton Rouge, collectively!! I have so many questions but, I know my friend, Baton Rouge Chief of Police Murphy Paul will do his all to find and appropriately charge the person or persons who committed such a horrific crime!! What is on the mind(s) of anybody to kill a 75-year-old Christian, mother, grandmother, humanitarian, community Activist, human and civil rights activist, African-American historian and protector of the culture, lover of arts, fighter for the people’s cause…! Not only kill her but, stuff her in the trunk of a car!!?  So many times, when I was in government, at the state or federal level, Sadie had no problem making her way there to my office and express her opinion on issues or to advocate for help for the least! I never knew her children, grandchildren or relatives because she never came asking for help for them, it was always about helping others! One of my more recent memories of her was she coming to my office to express concerns with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) where she had taken upstate property for her Museum expansion, painting African-American heroes on State post and was NOT moving it!  Then on another occasion to have me as her guest speaker at the Museum! I was so hot that day, looks like it was 90+ degrees but, she thought that my removing my jacket, on the OUTSIDE, where I was speaking, would lower the dignity of her activity/event…and I was crazy enough to listen to her and kept my coat though they got a shorter version of my speech!! She was always soft-spoken but, very forcefully about her position, that was not easily change! Sadie had a small voice but, strong convictions about her causes! She hardly shouted at anyone but, she never stop coming to the “gate” to help others! She often reminded me of the woman in the Bible that came night and day to “bother” the one in authority until she ultimately got what she wanted!! Sounds familiar LA DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson and Attorney Joshua G. Hollins?!  Sadie Roberts-Joseph was persistent! She knew how to ask you for financial support for the Annual Juneteenth Celebration without ever asking you for a penny,  which by the way, should now be appropriately entitled the “Sadie Roberts-Joseph Juneteenth Celebration!” I want her murderer(s) to be brought to justice!! Did they even know what this women embodied…who she was…what she meant…who she fought for…her commitment…her love…did they know?!!! Rest well my friend…you wrought well while here!!

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

    READ MORE:

    • Sadie Roberts-Joseph on Wikipedia:20190717_091734_resized https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadie_Roberts-Joseph
    • BRPROUD. Sadie Roberts-Joseph impacted the lives of several in her community https://www.brproud.com/news/local-news/sadie-roberts-joseph-impacted-the-lives-of-several-in-her-community/
    • CNN: Sadie Roberts-Joseph exuded a ‘quiet power’ as she enriched her community. https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/us/sadie-roberts-joseph-profile/index.html
    • Smithsonian Magazine: Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Slain Activist, Showed How Museums Can Raise Up Their Communities
    • ABC News: African American museum founder discovered dead in car trunk 
    • CNN: Baton Rouge police chief is ‘very confident’ they will make arrest
    • Washington Post: Activist who spotlighted African American history found dead in trunk of car, police say
    • ESSENCE: Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Founder Of Baton Rouge’s African American History Museum, Found Dead
    • NPR: Founder Of African American History Museum Discovered Dead In Car Trunk
    • VIBE: Suspect Arrested For Death Of Activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph
    • Big Easy Magazine: African American Museum Founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph Found Dead in Car Trunk
    • The Insider: A beloved Baton Rouge activist and founder of African American Museum discovered dead in the trunk of her car
    • Democracy Now: Historian and Civil Rights Activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph Found Killed https://www.democracynow.org/2019/7/16/headlines/historian_and_civil_rights_activist_sadie_roberts_joseph_found_killed
    • Teen Vogue: Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Activist and Museum Founder, Is Remembered by Friends and Family After She Was Found Killed. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/sadie-roberts-joseph-activist-museum-founder-remembered-by-friends-family-murdered
    • WTOC. Family of Sadie Roberts-Joseph mourns activist’s death. https://www.wtoc.com/2019/07/17/family-sadie-roberts-joseph-mourns-activists-death/
    • USA TODAY. Baton Rouge mourns after beloved activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph found dead in trunk of a car. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/07/15/baton-rouge-mourns-death-sadie-roberts-joseph-autopsy/1733992001/
    • THE ADVOCATE. Our Views: Sadie Roberts-Joseph’s grace should live on. https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/opinion/our_views/article_5a05cc9a-a805-11e9-8fb0-ff04c0cecf02.html?fbclid=IwAR05C0L86YY5Jc26WOyfWriCCnF3ivVQWKbLXyc5ozv5RFmsRiWjfyD53HU

    Share your memories and photos of Sadie Roberts-Joseph. Email news at thedrumnewspaper dot info, comment below.

    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge NAACP leaders challenge parish’s plan of governement

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

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

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

    ONLINE: http://www.naacpbr.org

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

    Read more »
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    ‘I became a FarmHer by default’

    A young pioneer in Internet radio, Nicolette “Missy” Gordon started MissyRadio.com in 2011, trending through an online business model that had only surfaced on the national scene.  The path made sense for a 20-something broadcast journalist who’d been “on the air” with Citadel Broadcasting’s WEMX-FM Max 94.1 for years. From there, she went on the graduate studies only to return to her alma mater as an area youth agent at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

    But it was a memory of a conversation she had with her grandfather, Robert Pope, that gives her a “mission” today.

    “When I told him I was going back to school, he asked me ‘Why are you doing that? I’ve given you everything you need,” she said.

    And he had.

    Grandpa Pope and his wife, Ora, left 128-acre farm in Greensburg, La., to a family of seven granddaughters with Nicolette being the one to pick up their legacy and return to farming.

    “I became a FarmHer by default,” she often jokes, “but in all actuality, it was destined to happen.” The third-generation farmer has pulled her talents and skills in youth development, small business management, community organizing, and nontraditional teaching to develop one of her largest personal projects: managing the family farm which includes livestock pasture and woodlands.

    “My family has been farming for centuries, I have a sharecropping document from my great-great grandpa,” she said.

    Her ultimate goal is to make sure that nobody in my community is hungry, and that our youth never forget what self-sustainability really looks like, she said. “As an assistant area agent, working with youth is 90 percent of my appointment. It’s been quite amazing to see the many youth that are still interested in agriculture.

    “I have noticed that urban farming is has taken on a life of its own, and it’s a wonderful thing. It’s one of the easiest ways that we can eradicate food deserts in inner cities such as Baton Rouge and New Orleans,” she said.

    However, she believes we’ve become too far removed from self-sustainability. “I can remember, as a child, we shelled our beans for dinner at Big Momma house…At eight years old, I knew how to plant, harvest, and shell speckled butter beans and crowder peas.”

    “My grandfather would always talk to me about preserving his legacy,” said Gordon. She began learning the business management side of farming and in 2018 she was selected to participate in the Southern University Ag Center’s Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute. She is a certified master gardener with a certificate in farm risk management. Missyradio

    Now, she is known in Ag circles as FarmHer Missy.

    What’s your mission/goal with your land? Basically, my mission is to pick-up where my grandfather left off but developing an Ag Enterprise.

    How much time are you currently spending in agriculture? I like to think every day is a teachable moment in agriculture. Agriculture is literally tied back to everything that we do, be it the workplace or at home. In the near future, we will open our farm for farm demo, and professional development opportunities.

    Who’s farming with you now? It’s definitely a family affair! My uncle, Robyn Pope, is a very important component of our farming operation because he knows every detail about our farm.

    Why are you farming when so many people are leaving agriculture and farming because of the labor and low wage? Farming is fulfilling, therapeutic, and it keeps me humbly connected to my roots. It is so important to never forget that farming was the only way of life for many of our families in rural America. So in essence, it can never be primarily about earning a wage for me.  This is the preservation of my families legacy for me, and there’s no amount of money that can ever top that… I love it! Many of the Baby Boomers will say, “Farming is hard work!” My reply is always, “Somebody gotta do it!”

    By Candace J Semien
    Jozef Syndicater reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

    ~~~~~~~~~~
    This feature, ‘Pensiri: A Talk with..,’ is a fascinating spotlight using narrative interviews and quick peeks into the interesting and unique lives of “average” human beings. From their spontaneous adventures, triumphs after tragedies, comical failures, and even the oddities of their personality, everybody has a story and every life has meaning. Enjoy the stories they share with Jozef Syndicate writers.

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    Ivory Toldson joins education commission

    Ivory Toldson, Ph.D., professor of counseling psychology at Howard University and president of Quality Education for Minorities – QEM Network, has been appointed to the Commission on the Value of Postsecondary Education. This Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-supported panel consists of 30 higher education leaders, business representatives, and foundation experts. They will study the value of earning college degrees and of earning post-high school certificates. The Baton Rouge native is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Negro Education, and executive editor of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Research, published by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc

    Read more »
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    SU Ag Center Uses Hydroponic Growing System to teach students, urban entrepreneurs

    Scientists at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center have partnered with Tera Vega to conduct research on a new Hydroponic Growing System. Hydroponics is a process of growing plants without soil in either sand, gravel or liquid.
    Through this research, the Center will train students and urban entrepreneurs on new technologies that will maximize crop production with limited space.
    Professor of Urban Forestry Yemane Ghebreiyessus, Ph.D., and senior research associate Milagro Berhane are working to perfect the system with aspirations of teaching potential urban entrepreneurs how to effectively grow crops in areas with limited space and generate personal and community wealth opportunities.
    For additional information about this research project, contact Milagro Berhane at milagro_berhane@suagcenter.com or Yemane Ghebreiyessus, Ph.D., at yemane_ghebreiyessus@suagcenter.com.
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    Mayor Broome releases a statement on Gov. Edwards veto

    In response to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of a Senate bill which would have allowed for the proposed City of St. George to continued collection of certain sales taxes, EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said:

    I’m pleased with the decision by the Governor to veto Senate Bill 229 due to the adverse effects on the entire Parish of East Baton Rouge. The amendments made on the Senate floor would have allowed the proposed City of St. George to simply walk away from debt and pension obligations for services that benefit all citizens.

    Despite an agreement in a Senate Committee with the bill’s authors, Senator Dan Claitor and Senator Bodi White, the agreement was altered on the Senate floor without consultation with my office or the City-Parish Employees’ Retirement System general counsel. Serious concerns about the effects of the floor amendments would have been communicated to both Senators.

    The bill would have forced EBRI and the proposed City of St. George into unnecessary and expensive litigation to interpret the floor amendment provisions that were added without any notice or consultation. The fact remains that this transition legislation is not needed because current law provides that the Governor shall appoint all officers of a newly incorporated municipality until the next general election.

    As demonstrated by our cooperation and negotiation during the legislative process, my office stands at the ready to negotiate a transition with the City of St. George should the voters approve of the new municipality on October 12. I commend the Governor for listening to the concerns of all of the citizens in East Baton Rouge Parish.

    Click here to read the governor’s veto letters.

    Read more »
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    Seed to Stomach: Grow Baton Rouge’s Food Cubes, other innovations tackle hunger

    For organizers and volunteers of Grow Baton Rouge, the fight against food deserts in North Baton Rouge is beyond the “last mile” of getting fruits and vegetables to the community.

    58019545_326126961404095_6792851757740326912_n

    Produce on the Fresh Cube

    “We are committed to resolving this major problem, not only through our gardens, urban farms, and mobile markets but through an upcoming wave of innovative efforts and initiatives that will definitely have a great positive impact of NBR and the city as a whole,”said Jasiri Basel, executive director of THE CEO MIND Foundation.

    Innovative has been the perfect word to describe the ongoing presence of THE CEO MIND Foundation and its Grow Baton Rouge throughout the city. Since 2017, the group has established 11 gardens and two urban farms, launched three “Fresh Cube” mobile market vehicles, and a bus called “The Desert Destroyer.”

    It also houses science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics initiatives and programs ranging from a mobile innovation lab called “The Transformer” and Grill & Connect to a high-tech Youth Empowerment Zone at the MLK Community Center on Gus Young Ave. They also host Girls EmPOWERed, Womanhood 101, and Manhood 101 forums.

    The Transformer

    The Transformer

    Through the Grow Baton Rouge initiative, the foundation expands its mission into agriculture by providing seeds, launching community gardens in neighborhoods around the city of Baton Rouge, and giving 300 residents the knowledge and tools to begin growing at home.

    According to Basel, Grow Baton Rouge has a model that encompasses the full supply chain and logistics that involves area farmers, businesses, ag specialists, and certified growers–for starters.

    The latest Fresh Cube designed by THE CEO MIND Foundation for Grow Baton Rouge

    The latest Fresh Cube designed by THE CEO MIND Foundation for Grow Baton Rouge

    “It’s critical for communities to be able to feed themselves through sustainable farming. It not only aids overall but it’s critical for health and wellness. North Baton Rouge contains many miles, areas, and neighborhoods with food deserts and swamps,” said Basel.

    “We believe that as long as a community has land to grow food, that no one deserves to or should go hungry,” he said.

    Grow Baton Rouge hosts Market Days weekly at different locations. Visit the website, www.growbatonrouge.com, for times and locations.

    ONLINE: http://growbatonrouge.com
    www.THECEOMINDFoundation.org
    By Candace J. Semien
    @JozefSyndicate

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    Bayou Soul Youth Literary Conference returns to BRCC, July 2

    Baton Rouge Community College will once again be home to The Bayou Soul Youth Literary Conference. The 6th annual conference will be held on Tuesday, July 2 in the Magnolia Theatre, 201 Community College Drive, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    toya2019

    Toya Wright

    c0aa7492cedce34a0a8f2099fcec06f4_400x400

    Lance Gross

    The conference will feature master class and empowerment breakout sessions, a preview of the forthcoming stage play, “Voices from the Bayou,” an oratorical contest, and celebrity authors and guest speakers, including Lance Gross (Star, Fox) and Toya Wright (T.I. & Tiny: Friends and Family Hustle, VH1), among others.

    The event is free and open to Louisiana high school students and BRCC students, although registration is required at bswliteraryconference.com.

    In the spirit of this year’s theme, Empowering Young Voices, students will have the opportunity to participate in a Maya Angelou-inspired oratorical contest presented by Angelou’s niece Sabunmi Woods and great-niece Samyra Woods. The daylong event will also feature a preview of the stage play, “Voices from the Bayou,” based on BRCC student narratives from the book of the same name, that explores racism, police brutality, and the historic flood. Actor Lamman Rucker (Greenleaf, OWN) will star in the production, written for the stage by Clarence Nero, assistant professor of English at BRCC, and directed by Andrew Vastine, managing director of Swine Palace Theatre at LSU. The preview will also feature monologues performed by LSU MFA students, as well as song and dance performances that highlight events that occurred in Baton Rouge in the summer of 2016.

    Schedule of Events

    10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Preview of the “Voices from the Bayou” play, starring actor Lamman Rucker

    1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. – Master Class/Empowerment Breakout Sessions (Participants choose one)

    • Acting, Drama, Entertainment – led by actor Lance Gross and publicist Love Logan
    • Poetry – led by BRCC professors Carrie Causey and Eric Elliott
    • Creative Writing – led by literary agent and editor Maxine Thompson and BRCC professor and author Clarence Nero
    • Culinary Arts – led by Lauren Von Dor Pool, chef for celebrities Common, Venus Williams and Serena Williams
    • Arts & Crafts – led by Sabunmi Woods and Smyra Woods
    • Visual Arts/Painting – led by Sharika Mahdi, Essence Magazine Emerging Artist 2015
    • Empowerment Seminar For Young Girls – led by dating expert, Monique Kelley (NBC’s Access Hollywood Live) and BRCC faculty members Carolyn Smith, Bea Gymiah and Shelisa Theus
    • Empowerment Seminar Young Men – led by Lamman Rucker, Hilton Webb, and Kent Nichols

    3 p.m. to 4 p.m. –

    • Dr. Maya Angelou Oratorical Essay Contest presented by Sabunmi Woods and Smyra Woods, nieces of Angelou

    The program is made possible through the support of the Office of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, RECAST, BRCC Foundation, and BRCC’s Student Government Association.

    ONLINE: bswliteraryconference.com

    Read more »
  • ,

    Harris becomes nation’s first, only chair in race, media, and cultural literacy

    Tina M. Harris will join LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication in the fall as the Manship-Maynard Chair in Race, Media and Cultural Literacy—the first position of its type in the nation. Harris will do research and teaching on advancing issues of diversity, access and social justice in media and society, and will build upon her extensive research base.

    “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Harris to our team. Her commitment to translating research from theory into practice is work that facilitates critical engagement with the issue of race. She is a distinguished scholar whose work here at the Manship School to advance conversations on race, media and cultural literacy will benefit our students and the broader community as we work to move forward the conversation on diversity and social justice in media, politics and in our communities,” said Martin Johnson, dean of the Manship School.

    Harris currently studies interracial communication and is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Georgia, which she joined in 1998. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in 1995 and her master’s degree from the University of Georgia in 1992.

    Harris is the co-author of the textbook, Interracial Communication: Theory Into Practice. Her other research interests include communication and pedagogy; diversity and media representations; race and ethnic disparities; and religious frameworks in health communication. She has published many articles and book chapters on race and communication, has served as reviewer for many top tier communication journals, and has fulfilled many service roles within the discipline, including the National Communication Association, the Southern States Communication Association and other communication organizations.

    Harris is the recipient of more than 30 recognitions and awards for her outstanding achievements, including The University of Georgia’s 2017 Engaged Scholar Award by the Office of Public Service and Outreach and the Distinguished Josiah T. Meigs Teaching Professor award—the highest teaching honor. She has also been recognized by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award for her research on pedagogy and race.

    “I spent time in Spain as a child when my father was stationed there as part of his career in the Navy, and I consider that the bedrock of who I am and my earliest influence that ignited a passion within me for ethnic and cultural diversity and international experiential education, so coming to the Manship School to serve as the Manship-Maynard Chair in Race, Media and Cultural Literacy is a full-circle moment for me,” Harris said. “Further, one of the brightest spots in my academic career is mentoring others and helping them realize their dreams. I look forward to working closely with students to help advance their understanding of diversity, access and social justice and to help prepare them for their future careers.”

    Harris is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and in her free time enjoys volunteering in her community, smooth jazz, cooking, reading, and international travel.

    DrumRoll

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  • ,,,

    Black Out Loud Conference to explore criminal justice reform, mental health awareness and financial empowerment, Aug. 2-4

    The second annual Black Out Loud Conference – a three-day event designed to highlight Black-centered narratives along the themes of mental health awareness, criminal justice reform and financial empowerment will be held Aug. 2-4 on the campus of Southern University and A&M College. Deriving its name from the February 2017 book from conference founder, Baton Rouge poet and Kennedy Center fellow, Donney Rose, Black Out Loud seeks to assist participants with resources to better push their narratives from outside the margins to center. The conference weekend will feature a special kick-off performance by GRAMMY-nominated singer and hip hop artist, Maimouna “Mumu Fresh” Youssef.  For complete conference information, visit www.blackoutloudbr.com53327448_2097110513669569_2987495043968794624_o-1

     “Some key conversations that persist in the African-American community are around financial empowerment, mental health, and criminal justice reform. There are more tie-ins and overlap around these subject areas than we often recognize” said conference founder Donney Rose. “Last year’s conference was primarily centered around themes I am intimately familiar with (the arts, media, and activism). This year I wanted to be able to really lean into topic areas that I have a personal curiosity about, but not expertise in. I thought it was important to reach out to local experts in these fields to give attendees of the conference a more nuance dive into conversations that impact us daily”

    The 2019 conference will kick off on Aug. 2 at Southern University’s Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union with performances, a video presentation on the power of voice/advocacy, and a networking cocktail hour. On Aug. 3, attendees will convene in the Union for workshops and panel discussions featuring subject matter experts in the finances and mental health awareness sharing best practices and dialogue around the value of financial equity and the importance of addressing the stigma surrounding mental health in the black community. The conference will end on Aug. 4 in the Union with a brunch highlighted by a “speed dating” style series of peer interviews with experts on criminal justice reform.

     Confirmed speakers and panelists include Stan Adkins, president of S & K Adkins, Inc. dba Subway Restaurant; Klassi Duncan,director of the Women’s Business Resource Center and the Contractor’s Resource Center at the Urban League of Louisiana; Terrica Matthews, CEO and senior credit consultant of Premier Property and Consulting Group, LLC; Shamyra Howard, licensed clinical social worker, founder of “On The Green Couch;” Viveca Johnson, owner of Forward Moving Counseling and Consulting Services, LLC; and Harry Turner, licensed clinical social worker.

     The mission of Black Out Loud is to center Black/African American narratives and visibility through cultural events/activities with the purpose of amplifying voices that exist outside the margins. The 2019 conference is an extension of Black Out Loud programming that has continued since the 2018 conference including a diverse array of events such as an open mic/mental health expo (Mind.Body.SOUL- September 2018), voting symposium (Voting While Black, October 2018) and financial equity symposium (The Color of Currency, February 2019). Black Out Loud Conference 2019 is presented by Black Out Loud Conference, LLC, Dr. Rani Whitfield, MetroMorphosis and Southern University and sponsored in part by CreActiv, LLC, The Bluest Ink, WTAA Engineers and Parker’s Pharmacy.

    ONLINE: Blackoutloudbr.com

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk focused on ‘saving a life’

    The 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk was held on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at at the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center on East Washington Street.

    The half-day event commenced with opening remarks from State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith. The welcome was given by Theta M. Williams, and Mada McDonald, Chair and Co-Chair.  The opening prayer was led by the Reverend Dale Flowers of New Sunlight Baptist Church.  Warm-up exercises were conducted by Theresa Townsend and the Sensational Seniors.  The Walk was led by Grand Marshal Helen Turner Rutledge and the Michael Foster Project.  Different arrangements of music were played, leading the crowd in Second Line renditions.

    first pic

    After the Walk, it was time to Talk.  The Program began with Greetings, offered by Jeffery Corbin, assistant director of the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center.  Delores Newman gave a soul-stirring prayer, and a beautiful song was sung by Candace Addison, soloist.  The Walkers were then welcomed by Jared Hymowitz, as a representative of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s Office, and also by Theta M. Williams and Mada McDonald, Chair and Co-Chair of the SBR Wellness Committee.

     

    Acknowledgments of the 2019 SBR Walk and Talk Committee were made.  Grand Marshall and Committee Honorary Chair was Helen Turner Rutledge. She conceived of the 2018 South Baton Rouge Breast Cancer Walk and Health Fair.  In her honor, she led the Walk riding in a fully decorated white Mercedes Benz. It was also her idea to host the 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk. All of the SBR Wellness Committee members were introduced.

    Jeffery Corbin introduced the Keynote Speaker and the Panelists taking part in the discussion about various health concerns.  The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Cordel Parris of Parris Cardiologist, CIS. The panel consisted of Dr. Rani “The Hip-Hop Doc” Whitfield, who served as the panel facilitator; Shirley Lolis, executive director of Metro Health Education; Dr. Burke Brooks, of the Ochsner Health Care System; and Randy Fontenot, speaking about Mental Health.  Following the panel discussion, the attendees participated in a Q and A session.nine

    Lunch was prepared and served by SBR Wellness Committee member Ann Brown Harris and her Supporting Angels. The meal was healthy and delicious.

    There were 18 vendors on-site from numerous and various groups and organizations giving out valuable information.  Booths and tents were set up to meet and greet all attendees.

    Outside, several mobile units were present: Cancer screenings – breast, prostate, and colorectal – were conducted by Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center/Prevention On-the-Go Program; Mobile Mammography was done by Woman’s Hospital; HIV testing was provided by Metro Health in their clinic within the Leo Butler Community Center.

    The East Baton Rouge Police Department provided on-site security.  The walk began at the Leo Butler Community Center and proceeded up East Washington Street to Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, up to Louise Street, passing McKinley Middle Magnet School, leading to Thomas Delpit Drive, left in front of the McKinley Alumni Center, and back down to East Washington Street, to the Leo Butler Community Center where the walk ended.

    In 2018, the focus of the South Baton Rouge event was Breast Cancer, which was an outstanding event.  In 2019, the goal was to introduce healthy initiatives, health awareness tips and techniques to the participants.  The primary concentrations of this year’s event were heart health, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS and mental health.

    On May 18, 2019, a testimony that touched many touched and saved one life after a female had her mammogram screening.  Immediately she was sent to one of the local hospitals for further testing, after having an abnormal screening result.  Talk about “saving a life”.

    Joseph London of “A Family Blessing” was the photographer for the event and captured all aspects of the Walk and Talk.

    The South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk Committee members are: Jacqueline Addison, Marian Addison, Jeffery D. Corbin, Jr., Jennifer Cortes, Linda Daniel, Jonathan Dearborn, Sandra Elbert, Ann Brown Harris, Jared Hymowitz, Cynthia Jones, Glinda Lang, Mada McDonald (Co-Chair), Dynnishea Miller, Helen Turner Rutledge, DeTrecia Singleton, Christine Sparrow, Rene Smith, Dr. Susan Thornton and Theta M. Williams (Chair).

    All of the attendees and participants received a gift bag full of assorted items.  Special thank you to all individuals, businesses, and organizations that provided the items for the bags in support of the event, and to the Baton Rouge Community for their support of the 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk.

    By Mada McDonald
    Community Writer

    Photographs by Joseph London
    A Family Blessing

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Kamala Harris earns first endorsements for Helena Moreno, Rep. Ted James

    Senator Kamala Harris has earned her first endorsements in Louisiana, a critical early primary state, from New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno and State Representative Ted James earlier this month. Louisiana’s 2020 Democratic primary will be on Saturday, March 7, just four days after Super Tuesday. Fifty delegates will be up for grabs.

    Moreno and James are pointing to Harris’ commitment to help working families through policies like the LIFT Act and her recently released equal pay plan as reasons for their early support. Moreno is the first Latina to serve as New Orleans City Council President. The two will serve as Harris’ campaign co-chairs for the state.

    New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno

    New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno

    “Kamala Harris is just the type of bold,  courageous leader our country needs and I couldn’t be prouder to endorse her for President,” said Moreno. “I’m inspired by Kamala’s commitment to building coalitions and connections that unite us around priorities that America needs to work for all people, not the just the wealthy and well-connected. I look forward to helping elect the first woman president who is champion for paying teachers their worth, closing the gender pay gap and uplifting working class families.”

    “There is no better leader to unite our country at this time of paralyzing divisiveness than Kamala Harris,” said James. “Kamala has spent the balance of her life fighting to ensure everyone has equal and adequate access to health care, fair wages and safe communities. Louisianans, and Americans across the country, can count on her to be their champion in the White House, and I’m proud to endorse her for President of the United States.”

    State Rep. Ted James

    State Rep. Ted James

    “I’m so proud to have the endorsement of Helena and Ted in this race,” said Harris. ‘They understand that when we lead with our values we move closer to a more perfect union. I look forward to working with them to build a better future for our children – that includes ensuring access to quality education, clean air and water and affordable healthcare. Louisiana will play a critical role in determining the nominee and I look forward to earning the support ofLousianan’s across the state.”

    These endorsements come ahead of Senator Harris’ southern campaign swing with stops in Alabama and South Carolina. Harris has been to Louisiana twice as a candidate and was last in New Orleans in April to speak to more than 10,000 members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. at their South Central regional conference.

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,,,

    After burning bridges, a singer struggles to get back on top

    New Venture Theatre continues its 12th season with a new musical written and directed by managing artistic director Greg Williams Jr., running July 26-28 at the LSU Shaver Theatre.

    SWEET GEORGIA BROWN tells the story of the diva herself, Georgia, who has thoroughly burned her bridges in the music industry. Rumor has it she physically assaulted Etta James, cursed out Dr. Martin Luther King, and maybe even stole the Tree of Hope from the Apollo Theatre. Determined to get back on top of the charts, Georgia takes a gig in a hole-in-the-wall club. In the process, she befriends a group of colorful characters who help her grow out of her wild ways and get back on top.

    Featuring a live on-stage band and chock-full of memorable blues songs of the ’60s and ’70s, like “I Put a Spell on You,” “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Down Home Blues,” SWEET GEORGIA BROWN is sure to move audiences with its songs and funny, heartwarming story.

    Featured cast members include: Khari Moise Smith (Cadillac), Roderick Tevan Jarreau (Herschel), Ingrid Roberson (Nippie), LaNea Wilkinson (Ruby), Krystal Gomez (Ida Mae), Latosha Knighten (LaWanna-The Juke Joint Jezebel), Shika Crayton (Sippie), Keyarron Harrold (Mojo), Angela Smith (Ollie), Hope Landor (Sugga), Erika Pattman (Georgia), Christian Jones (Pound Cake), and Christopher Johnson (Hatch.)

    FACT SHEET
    WHAT:
    SWEET GEORGIA BROWN
    WHERE:
    LSU Shaver Theatre
    Louisiana State University
    Music and Dramatic Arts Building, #105
    Baton Rouge, LA 70802
    SCHEDULE:
    Thursday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m.
    Friday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday, July 27 at 2:00 p.m.
    Saturday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m.
    TICKET PRICES:
    Regular Admission | $30
    Kids and Students With Valid ID | $25
    Groups of 10 or More | $15 must purchase prior to performance day
    BOX OFFICE:
    225-588-7576 or www.nvtarts.org
    PG-13 Show (Recommended for Ages 14+)
    Show contains adult content and language. 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.
    Call 225-588-7576 or visit www.nvtarts.org to purchase tickets or subscriptions.
    Read more »
  • ,,,

    ‘Not Charity Lord, but a Chance’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Condoleeza Semien along with YEA winners and VC

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.belugabliss.com

    READ MORE:

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

    Residents urged to prepare for 2019 hurricane season

    The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1, 2019 lasting through November 30, 2019. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a “near-normal” 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (MOHSEP) urge the residents of East Baton Rouge Parish to plan ahead for the potential threat of hurricanes. Throughout the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Mayor Broome advises East Baton Rouge Parish citizens to, “Be Red Stick Ready by having a plan that will keep you and your family safe from any severe weather that may affect our area, stay informed, build a disaster supply kit, and use the Buddy System™.”

    2019 Hurricane Preparedness Tips:

    • Make a Family Communication Plan at www.brla.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5697/Family-Emergency-Communication-Plan?bidId=
    • Restock your emergency supply kit with the necessary items.
    • Make sure your home is prepared.
    • Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs.
    • Secure and clear all gutters.
    • Fuel your vehicles, generators, and gas cans. Consider purchasing a portable generator.
    • Use the BuddySystem™ to check on your neighbors, friends and family.
    • Check your insurance coverage.
    • Visit www.redstickready.com for more preparedness tips.

    For more information contact MOHSEP at  (225) 389-2100, follow @RedStickReady on Facebook and Twitter, and download the Red Stick Ready mobile application – free on Apple and Android devices by searching “Red Stick Ready”.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU students commemorating Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’ through study abroad program

    With this year being coined as the “Year of Return” by Ghana president Nana Akufo-Addo, many African Americans are planning to travel to the West African country to commemorate the 400th year since transatlantic slave trade began. Joining in the number of celebrities and other tourists will be a group of Southern University students and faculty.

    “I cannot think of a better way for our students to pay homage to the defiant and indomitable spirit of the ancestors and the legacy of strength, endurance, and self-love that we are called to build upon,” said Cynthia Bryant. “They will be able to fully engage in what I believe will surely be a memorable and transformative pilgrimage to the Motherland.”

    The Southern delegation is participating in the African Diaspora Studies in New Orleans and Ghana program, along with participants from University of Oregon and Xavier University. This four-week program will explore the transformative journey of Africans living in America. Focusing on the broad spectrum of human experience related to the African diaspora, the program will examine the relationship between Louisiana, where the program begins, and West Africa, where it will conclude.

    For the first part of the program, participants will spend 11 days in New Orleans, which was the first port of entry for many Africans enslaved in America. The itinerary includes visits to historical and cultural sites, many of which are still in use today, and course lectures.

    The second part of the course will be spent in Ghana, where participants will be completely immersed in the country’s culture while living with residents and going on excursions. Course lectures will continue to expand on the emotional, cultural, and socio-economic impact of forced migration and displacement of Africans in America.

    The program starts July 7 and runs until Aug. 1. Though participation in this study is funded through a partial grant, students welcome contributions to defray costs, including airfare, lodging, and fees associated with the trip to Accura, Ghana.

    For more information about the trip and to give donate, visit http://bit.ly/sughanatrip.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Imagine if you had three wishes…New Venture brings Aladdin Jr. June 21-23

    DISNEY’S ALADDIN JR.
    Imagine if you had three wishes, three hopes, three dreams and they could come true!
    New Venture Theatre continues its 12th season Disney’s smash hit, “Aladdin Jr.”, running June 21 – 23 at the LSU Shaver Theatre.
    ALADDIN JR. tells the story of Aladdin and his three friends, Babkak, Omar, and Kassim, who are down on their luck until Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and the Genie who has the power to grant three wishes. Wanting to earn the respect of the princess, Jasmine, Aladdin embarks on an adventure that will test his will and his moral character.
    Featured cast members include: Zion Johnson (Genie), Gabriel Bostick (Aladdin), Kaylee Gomez (Jasmine), Christopher Johnson (Sultan), Justin Thompson (Jafar), Charis Gaston (Iago), Maniquwa Holmes (Kassim), Dre’lan Evans (Omar), Braedon Mbala (Babkak), Kolby J’Nae Griffin (Beggar), Alex Mayard (Manal), Delaysia Jarvis (Rajah), Alysse Davis (Isir), Naysia Mallard (Guard), Que Ketchens (Guard/Featured Dancer), Omarion Jones (Guard), Caleb Landry (Razoul), Laila Miles (Beggar), Le’Keldria Whitfield (Apple Vendor), Kassidy Hall (Fortune Teller), Kooper Smith (Abdullah Prince), Amiya Osborne (Beggar #3), Joe Gibson Jr. (Beggar), Charde Nelson (Featured Dancer), Aniyah Mallard (Featured Dancer), Reese Thomas (Featured Dancer), Mariyah Osborne (Featured Dancer), Vanessa Williams (Featured Dancer), Zaria Brown (Featured Dancer), Trinity Star Alexander (Featured Dancer), Paris Barnes (Featured Dancer), Collin Gayson (Featured Dancer), Kodie Danay Brown (Featured Dancer.)

     

    FACT SHEET
    WHAT:
    ALADDIN JR.
    WHERE:
    LSU Shaver Theatre
    Louisiana State University,
    Music and Dramatic Arts Building, #105
    Baton Rouge, LA 70802
    SCHEDULE:
    Friday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m.
    Saturday, June 22 at 2:00 p.m.
    Saturday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m.
    Sunday, June 23 at 3:00 p.m.
    TICKET PRICES:
    Regular Admission | $20
    Kids and Students With Valid ID | $15
    Groups of 10 or More | $15 must purchase prior to performance day
    BOX OFFICE:
    225-588-7576 or www.nvtarts.org
    G- Rated Show (Recommended for All Ages)
    Appropriate for all ages. Everyone entering the theatre, including babes in arms, must have a ticket.
    Call 225-588-7576 or visit www.nvtarts.org to purchase tickets or subscriptions.
    Read more »
  • ,,

    May 29 is Louisiana Black Chamber Day at the Capitol

    Make plans to join Louisiana Black business leaders from across the state for a day at the Louisiana State Capitol, Wed. May 29, 8:30am – 3pm to interact with legislators, explore the halls of the Capitol, and see how the legislative process works first-hand.

    Attendees will gain insight on the legislative process and can:

    • Engage with Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus members
    • Commemorate a special proclamation in support of Louisiana Black Chamber Day
    • Attend committee meetings and see the legislative process in action
    • Get updates and information from Louisiana Workforce Commission, Louisiana Economic Development, and other state agencies
    • Show pride for Black business within Louisiana

    ONLINE: https://brmbcc.org/

    Read more »
  • ,

    Will your child ride the bus next year?

    In order to create a more efficient bus routing system for the children who choose to ride, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System wants to know if parents DO NOT plan to use East Baton Rouge Parish Schools System’s transportation services for the 2019-2020 school year.

    Parents are encouraged to take survey if they plan to use alternative transportation for their students next year. If the student will use Transportation Services there is no need to complete the survey, school officials said. Free transportation is always available to eligible students in East Baton Rouge Parish Schools. You may opt back in at any time. Parents/guardians are responsible for notifying the school of attendance regarding any changes in home address, phone numbers or school transfers made during the school year. Note: This survey does not guarantee official approval of transportation services. Most importantly, if eligible, transportation services can be added at any time.

    Take Survey

    Read more »
  • ,

    State Representative Barbara Norton to hold equal pay rally

    State Representative Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport of House District 3, will hold an equal pay rally on Thursday in the Governor’s Press Room on the 4th floor of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, to bring awareness to the gender pay gap in Louisiana.  Currently, Louisiana women earn 69 cents for every dollar Louisiana men earn, meaning women have to work an additional three months to earn the same pay a man would earn in a single year.  This staggering difference in pay can affect a woman’s ability to provide for her family, and additionally would affect her retirement and social security benefits for a lifetime.

    “It is important for citizens to recognize and understand this issue, and to work together to bring about a much-needed change,” said Norton whose most recent equal pay bill, House Bill 289, stalled in the House Labor committee by a vote of 6-9. Although the equal pay bill has been introduced many times, it has only once made it to the full House for a vote.

    “I have carried equal pay legislation for nine years, and I am determined and committed to continue to fight for the rights of women,” said Norton.  “I continue to ask the question, why not, why not, why not pass this bill? To this very day, I have yet to receive an answer.  If women are just as qualified and have the same credentials to do the work, then why are they not receiving the same pay? ”

    Norton’s Equal Pay Rally will be held this Thursday, May 23, from 8:00 am to 9:00 am, in the Governor’s Press Room on the 4th floor of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.  Speakers will include Louisiana Pay Equity Lobbying Director Camille Moran, members of the Louisiana Legislature, and members of local equal pay for women groups.

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

     

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  • ,,,,

    Christian Davenport named Baton Rouge’s first Poet Laureate

    Christian Davenport has been named the first poet laureate by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

    Davenport, also known as Cubs the Poet, is a native of Baton Rouge and earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from Dillard University. He has traveled the world since, with the desire of bringing perspectives and inspiration back to his home city where he plans to release his first book of poetry under his publishing company, Poetry Still Matters. Davenport is a spontaneous poet, drawing his inspiration from the connections that he makes with other people in a diverse array of settings. His poetry has taken him from Baton Rouge to Preservation Hall in New Orleans to a Ted Talk in Rapid City, South Dakota, where he was a featured speaker.  Davenport relays that he sees each opportunity to connect with another person as a new poem. 32842186_921822594608903_4260217759285116928_o

    “Christian’s impressive body of work represents new styles in poetry which require collaboration and communication, attributes that will serve him well as the city’s Poet Laureate,” said Broome. “ I look forward to adding this great work to the cultural conversation across our city.”

    The Baton Rouge Poet Laureate Program, initiated by Broome and facilitated through the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, celebrates Baton Rouge’s rich culture and diversity through the work of a poet who will represent Baton Rouge by creating excitement about poetry through outreach, programs, teaching, and written work.

    During a celebration at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library on Tuesday, May 7, Christian was named the 2019 Poet Laureate. The evening included performances by the Poetry Out Loud Regional Winner, Lily Carter, Louisiana School for the Deaf Poet Jordan Howard, and Seth Finch, Baton Rouge High School jazz musician. State Poet Laureate, Dr. Jack Bedell was in attendance and spoke at the event. Dr. Joanne Gabbin, founder and director of The Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University, was the evening’s keynote speaker.

    The term of service of the Poet Laureate is one year and comes with a $5,000 stipend, which covers community engagement events by the Poet Laureate over the term. Funds raised for this position were contributed by private donors.

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    Dereck J. Rovaris Sr. named president of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education

    LSU Vice Provost for Diversity Dereck J. Rovaris Sr. has been named president of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education, or AABHE.

    AABHE is the premier organization to drive leadership development, access and vital issues concerning Blacks in higher education, AABHE also facilitates and provides opportunities for collaborating and networking among individuals, institutions, groups and agencies in higher education in the United States and Internationally.

    Rovaris earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas with a triple major in psychology; human development and family life; and crime and delinquency studies. He worked for three years as a financial aid counselor at Xavier University of Louisiana, where he earned an M.A. in guidance and counseling. He later earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Illinois.

    Rovaris returned to Xavier, serving as assistant dean of the graduate school, director of graduate school placement and as an assistant professor with the graduate school. He also directed two nationally recognized student enrichment programs, Xavier’s McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program and its SuperScholar/EXCEL program.

    In 2006, he completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University. In 2007, he completed a Council for Opportunities in Education professional development tour in England and The Netherlands. Later in 2008-09, he was in Chicago at DePaul University as a presidential fellow with the American Council on Education. In 2010, he became associate vice chancellor for academic and multicultural affairs at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, and in May 2014, he was named LSU vice provost for diversity.

    The LSU Office of Diversity is a division of the Office of Academic Affairs and provides support, referral and information to students, faculty and staff on issues and concerns related to diversity and inclusion. For more information, please visit www.lsu.edu/diversity.

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    Baton Rouge children need more Court Appointed Special Advocates

    Each year, a startling number of children enter the foster care system due to abuse and neglect. Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA volunteers, provide a voice for these children to help them reach safe, permanent homes.

    May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, a time to recognize the role each of us can play in the lives of children and youth living in foster care. CASA volunteers play a crucial role in many of these children’s lives by speaking up for their best interests during this challenging time. Volunteers are appointed by juvenile court judges to help a child reach their forever home.

    In 2018, over 5,000 reports of abuse and neglect were reported in the Baton Rouge region and over 300 children were being served in foster care each month on average, according to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCSF). Of the CASA children whose cases closed in 2018, 88 percent were living in permanent homes at the time of closure with the help of their CASA volunteer. CASA volunteers work with the court and DCSF to serve every child that needs a voice; however, children are continually coming into foster care, and more volunteers are needed.

    CASA volunteers do not provide legal representation, nor do they replace social workers, but they help provide information to the court, and resources to the children. They are an independent voice speaking solely for the best interests of the child. The CASA volunteer may be the only consistent adult in their lives during this time.

    CASA is now accepting applications for the next training course in East Baton Rouge Parish which begins on June 11. CASA is seeking caring adults – especially male and African American individuals – to become advocates for abused and neglect children in East Baton Rouge Parish.

    The training course prepares volunteers to be the best advocates with a three week, 32-hour curriculum which covers topics such as The Well-Being of the Child; Trauma, Resilience and Communication Skills; Mental Health; Poverty and Professional Communication; and Substance Abuse and Cultural Competence to name a few.

    No special background is required to become a CASA volunteer. The first step is to attend a 45-minute orientation session at the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave.

    Upcoming orientation dates:

    12 p.m., Monday, May 13

    10 a.m., Saturday, May 18

    4 p.m., Monday, May 20

    3 p.m., Wednesday, May 22

    5 p.m., Tuesday, May 28

    9 a.m., Thursday, May 30

     

    To learn more about CASA or to RSVP for an orientation visitwww.casabr.org/volunteer or call 225-379-8598.

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    Multiple sclerosis survivor named chief student marshal for spring commencement

    After being diagnosed with a sometimes debilitating illness, Chacity Simmons felt even more determined to continue her education and reach her goals. Because of her tenacity and hard work, Simmons is the chief student marshal for the 2019 Spring Commencement for Southern University Baton Rouge set for Friday, May 10 at 10 a.m. at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

    “This is an unbelievable honor,” said Simmons, who is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice. “As I go through life, I strive to do my best. I remain extremely humble and most grateful for Southern University’s recognition of one of my most important achievements. I extend my sincere gratitude for this honor.”

    Though she has consistently performed well academically, life has placed obstacles in her way that attempted to discourage her from continuing her education. In 2016, a semester before attending Southern, Simmons was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). As a result, she became temporarily disabled, unable to walk unless assisted by a cane.

    “After a month of treatment, I fully regained my physical strength and was able to care for myself,” Simmons said. “Throughout the struggle with my health, I felt that I should make the best out of my life and continue my education at Southern University. Despite my medical diagnosis, I chose to persevere no matter the circumstance.”

    It has not been easy to manage life with yet another hurdle. Simmons, who is a single mother and a paralegal at the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office, knew that she could not give up. Being a role model for her family and friends, including her son, was very important.

    “My son is a constant reminder of how I should fight through the pain and continue my education,” Simmons said. “My son helps keep me on my toes. He’ll remind me to take my medication whenever he notices that I’m swamped with homework. Some days are better than others, but overall I’ve adjusted to my life well.”

    Because of her challenging lifestyle, she chose the online criminal justice program because of the convenience of the self-paced learning environment. She mentioned that it was easy and accessible to browse course materials and respond to discussion posts through the app on her phone.

    As Simmons prepares to turn the tassel, she prepares for the next chapter in her life. Her future plans include attending law school at the Southern University Law Center and becoming an attorney.

    “In my current position, I have the ability to observe and assist attorneys and it definitely encourages me to pursue a career in law,” said Simmons, who is prepping to take the LSAT. “It’s quite an honor to learn from some the Southern University’s Law School alumni.”

    Before she departs the Bluff, she wants to pass along one piece of advice to students who are balancing a challenging diagnosis and wanting to pursue a college experience: Do not be discouraged.

    “Throughout life, we may experience situations that are unwanted or unexpected, but with hard work and determination, you shall overcome,” she said. “Remain focused on your goal no matter the circumstance. Adjusting to a new diagnosis may be difficult, but the ultimate reward for endurance is satisfying.”

    By Jasmine D. Hunter
    Special to The Drum

    Read more »
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    Invisible illnesses to be highlighted at ‘The Picture of Health’ exhibit, May 29

    A photography exhibit highlighting invisible illnesses will be unveiled on Wednesday, May 29 at The Healthcare Galley, 3488 Brentwood Drive, Suites 102 & 103, Baton Rouge. The Picture of Health exhibit is produced by Leslie D. Rose, a Baton Rouge based photographer and writer who suffers with fibromyalgia. The exhibit features more than one dozen Baton Rougeans representing illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, autism, psoriatic arthritis, high blood pressure, and more.

    Through the art of photography, The Picture of Health, shows people in the manner in which they present themselves daily. Using a mixture of head shots, full body shots, and shots of the individual’s hands holding up a sign detailing their illness, the exhibit focuses on the perceived normalcy of people housed in ill bodies. The mission is to highlight invisible illness, elicit compassion, and promote education on a variety of health issues. The Picture of Health  (4)_edit

    Inspired by her own diagnosis journey with invisible illness, Rose wanted to create something that would help non-ill people better understand what “sick” really looks like. In 2014, she was misdiagnosed with anxiety disorder. A diagnosis she believed as her husband had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After three years of trying to yoga and meditate the pain and fatigue away, she was hit with neuropathy so bad that she could not walk on her own for a full week. This began a yearlong second opinion process. During which, she began counseling sessions to cope with the unknown chronic pain and other associated symptoms, which was later revealed to be fibromyalgia. All of this has always been met with a huge lack of compassion, because rarely does she “look sick.”

    Being so closely touched by a variety of invisible illnesses and having been misdiagnosed, shining light on invisible illnesses of all kinds became a passion project for Rose. This is why she started an online support group for women of color suffering with chronic pain. But this wouldn’t be enough – she had to find a way to help other people understand invisible illnesses. At the top of September 2017, it was a simple Facebook post that asked people to comment with a selfie if they have invisible illnesses. Some 100 plus photos later, she knew the project in her head was much bigger than she could imagine, and so The Picture of Health was conceived.

    The one night only exhibit kickoff to be held on May 29 is sponsored by Rose’s activism-based arts organization, CreActiv, LLC, in partnership with Dr. Leone Elliott and The Healthcare Gallery. The exhibit is curated by April Baham. The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will feature brief remarks from invisible illness warriors and medical professionals.

    ABOUT CreActiv, LLC

    CreActiv, LLC is an activism-based arts organization with the mission of promoting and producing programming that heightens awareness, raises funds, and/or supports important issues through the use of the arts and partnerships. The organization currently houses two programs Louisiana Artists for Puerto Rico and The Picture of Health.  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram@Picofhealthbr.

    Read more »
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    Private, online therapy could be best choice when help is needed

    From her virtual private practice in Baton Rouge, Shameka Mitchell Williams helps people who are overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. Her focus is singular: help them recover from pernicious experiences and toxic relationships. “I hold space for people who are hurt and confused to talk about what that relationship or marriage is really like without any judgment about how they should feel,” she says.

    A graduate of Louisiana State University and Washington University in St. Louis, Williams is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Louisiana and Texas. She says she believes in the importance of helping her clients understand how their thinking shapes their experience and also how they are influenced by societal systems.

    Williams, who is the owner of The Chrysalis Center, LLC, is one of 300 licensed therapists in Louisiana who offers online video counseling according to the Psychology Today database. This Pensiri: A Talk with Shameka Mitchell Williams explores online video therapy, who can benefit from it, and why.

    As a therapist with more than a decade of experience in community-based programs, schools, psychiatric hospitals, and correctional facilities, you’ve seen mental health professionals expand their services from in-person counseling to teletherapy and now to  online video therapy. How should we be defining therapy and who can practice or treat people with therapeutic needs?
    SW: Therapy is a specialized, systematic, formal interaction between a mental health professional and a client (an individual, couple, family, or group) during which a therapeutic relationship is established to help resolve symptoms of mental disorder, psychosocial stress, relationship problems, and/or difficulties coping in the social environment. It is also to help the client achieve specified goals for well-being. The term “therapy” is used interchangeably with counseling. While many therapists provide both therapy and counseling, not every counselor is qualified to provide therapy. The term “counselor” is often applied to highly trained mental health, education, or legal professionals, but it is also used for volunteers with minimal training and for paid workers who provide guidance and structure in group settings (as in camp and dorm hall counselors).

    Shameka Williams

    Shameka Williams

    Is virtual or online therapy a growing service among practitioners? When did it begin?
    SW: Online therapy is definitely a growing service. It may have first begun taking shape as early as the 1960s, and it began growing as most people know it today in the early 2000s. Earlier names for it included teletherapy and telemental health care since clinicians started offering sessions by telephone before beginning to utilize email, chats, and video. Today, many clinicians offer a mix of in-person and online services, and some offer online services exclusively. There even exists an International Society for Mental Health Online, which formed in 1997.

    How can we tell if we need or could benefit from therapy? (in general)
    SW: If you are experiencing distressing changes in your normal mood or functioning that are present more days than not for a period of at least two weeks, you may want to consider consulting with a professional. It can be good to start with talking to a medical professional to rule out any physiological reasons for the changes.

    Should there be some type of diagnosis or referral to seek therapy?
    SW: You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental disorder to benefit from therapy. If you are simply feeling overwhelmed with what life is throwing at you, and your usual coping mechanisms are not working, you may benefit from having a therapist to help you identify and remove obstacles that are blocking the progress you’d like to make. An obstacle could be as simple as a negative thinking pattern that you do not recognize on your own.

    What are signs that a person may need therapy?
    SW: You could benefit from therapy if you find yourself.

      • Eating more or less than usual
      • Sleeping more or less than usual
      • Having unusual difficulty concentrating or focusing
      • Experiencing intrusive thoughts that are distressing
      • Worrying or feeling nervous more than usual
      • Withdrawing or isolating yourself from family and friends

    Are there any specific conditions or needs that someone would have that would make them a good candidate for online therapy over in-house therapy?
    SW: People who suffer from mental health disorders that make going out in public difficult, such as agoraphobia

      • People with limited physical mobility and those who do not drive or who have limited access to transportation
      • People who live far away from their nearest mental health professionals
      • Stay-at-home mothers with young children who would rather not arrange childcare and other caregivers who cannot be away for long periods of time
      • People who need/want a provider who is credentialed in a specialty, such as an intensive trauma-focused treatment, energy psychology, or perinatal/postpartum mental health
      • People who would not seek in-person treatment due to fear of being recognized at/near a therapist’s office
      • What are the pros of online therapy?
        SW: Convenience, Efficacy, and Privacy. Research has found online therapy to be just as effective as traditional in-person therapy for many issues including depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

        What are the cons?
        SW: Online therapy is not appropriate for clients who are a danger to themselves or others (i.e., suicidal or homicidal) or for those whose mental health is seriously impaired as with psychosis, delusions, or uncontrolled mania. Some elements of nonverbal communication will be missed when the ​client and therapist can only see each other from the​ ​ cropped view of a screen. Confidentiality could become an issue if the therapist is not using HIPAA-secure software, sites, or apps or if clients are not careful with securing their own electronic devices. Some insurance companies do not cover online therapy.

        Williams admonishes anyone considering online video therapy to do additional research to make sure their potential therapist is qualified and licensed to provide the service they are seeking.

        By Candace J. Semien
        Jozef Syndicate reporter
        @jozefsyndicate

        ONLINE: https://thechrysalisctr.com
        PsychologyToday.com
        BetterHelp.com
        talkspace.com
        breakthrough.com

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    Public invited to second Baton Rouge Zoo & Greenwood open house public meeting

    Round #2 of the Greenwood Community Park and Baton Rouge Zoo Master Planning Meetings.

    We heard you! Join us to see how our nationally renowned consultants took your ideas and created preliminary master plans for the Baton Rouge Zoo and Greenwood Community Park. You will choose which ideas you like best for the next phase of the park and learn how your Zoo will be completely transformed one phase at a time.

    Thursday, May 2, 2019

    6 – 8 pm
    Highland Road Community Park
    Recreation Center
    N. Amiss Rd., Baton Rouge, LA
    (From Highland Rd., turn north onto Amiss Rd., then east onto N. Amiss Rd. Destination will be on the right.)

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    They Beat the Odds

    Sometimes life just doesn’t seem to be fair.

    We start off as little children with big dreams of what we’re going to be when we grow up, all the things we’re going to own and all the places we’re going to go.

    At the time, a lot of our dreams are unreasonable but we’re too young to know it so just keep dreaming.

    Then we grow up more and somewhere along the line we realize our limitations and our dreams become more realistic.

    But then, especially if we’re aiming to be good people and do good things for others, hindrances and lessons from the school of hard knocks come along. We get the props knocked out from under us.

    Sometimes it’s circumstances beyond our control and sometimes it’s we ourselves getting in the way. Maybe bad decisions and wrong choices cause us to give up hope, give up trying.

    Recently I interviewed Ponchatoula’s successful businessman Larry Terry and was surprised to hear how young he was when he figured out what it would take to realize his dream.

    Usually when I ask high school students in sports what their plans are, I’m given a simple answer: “I’m going to play for the NFL.” Studying only enough to stay on the high school football team and I feel like crying. They don’t have a chance.

    But listen to the difference at what Larry Terry told me:

    “I knew as a little boy I wanted to play for the NBA and to accomplish that, there were certain things I had to do. So I set my goals.”

    (I couldn’t help but think at the age he was describing, I didn’t even know there wasan NBA!)

    He continued, “I knew I’d have to study and make good grades, stay out of trouble, and live with a basketball in my hands.”

    And that’s just what he did, making the honor roll all through school and college, breaking records in sports because he practiced any time he wasn’t studying, staying out of trouble by placing himself out of its reach.

    At the age of only 21 when he graduated from college, he was sought by the NBA and began his long-dreamed of career in professional basketball, first for big name teams in the United States then for another ten years on national teams of other countries around the world until he retired.

    . Terry is a  real success story.

    But what about others who’ve come along at different times, faced with different family situations, physical and emotional difficulties, racial prejudices, learning disabilities? Times when hindrances were more common than help.

    Well, the Ponchatoula Library, 380 North Fifth Street, is inviting you to come hear four panel members share their stories of how they overcame their seemingly impossible situations to finally realize their dreams.

    So, on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at 6:00 p.m., come take new heart and new encouragement and bring along your young people who feel like giving up.

    From 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., come listen to Eddie Ponds, Ella Badon, Sandra Bailey-Simmons and Kathryn Martin and learn how “They Beat the Odds!”

    By Kathryn Martin
    Contributing Writer

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    Youth Summer Employment program kicks off April 13 in Baton Rouge

    Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Broome will kick off the 2019 Mayor’s Youth Workforce Experience on Saturday, April 13 at 9 am. This new initiative evolved from the original Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program.

    Students may choose to attend the 9 am or 11 am session. Attendees will have the opportunity to pre-screen for worksites and get detailed information about employment opportunities from partners such as Excel, BREC, Raising Canes, and more.

    Broome has called together a collaborative of youth-serving agencies, led by Big Buddy and Employ BR, to serve a minimum of 500 local youth. The program serves both in-school and out-of-school youth ages 14 to 24 who reside in East Baton Rouge Parish. Teens and young adults are placed in various public sector, private sector, or non-profit jobs throughout the parish for eight consecutive weeks during the summer.

    The Mayor’s Youth Workforce Experience will offer participants a valuable educational and employment experience, exposing them to potential educational or career paths.

    Applications will open to the public on Monday, April 15 at www.brla.gov/mayorsyouthworkforce. Applicants will receive a notification of acceptance during the first week of May.

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    Urban Congress seeks to create better outcomes for Black males through annual convening, April 13

    The Urban Congress on African American Males – a strategic initiative of Baton Rouge nonprofit organization, MetroMorphosis, will host its fourth annual General Convening, Saturday April 13 at the McKinley Alumni Center, 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Drive, Baton Rouge. The theme of the convening, “The Village Renewed,” is attributed to the continued pursuit of partnership and collaboration in the work of transforming social systems that negatively impact African-American males in Baton Rouge.

    “The key to [the convening] remains the people in the room who are committed to creating a different narrative and experience for the Black males around us,” said Raymond Jetson,  chief executive catalyst at MetroMorphosis. “This day is about the village coming together and renewing itself. It is a time to strengthen existing partnerships and build new ones. It’s an opportunity to recognize people and organizations who are making a real difference.”

    For more information on the Urban Congress on African American Males and the General Convening, visit www.theurbancongress.com.

    WHEN:
    Saturday, April 13
    8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    WHERE:
    McKinley Alumni Center, 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Drive, Baton Rouge.

    WHO:
    Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards,

    East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome 
    Benjamin Evans, Co-Founder and National Fellowship Director of BMe Community – a national movement of people of all races and genders dedicated to building more caring and prosperous communities together.

     

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    Southern’s Victor Mbarika earns third lifetime achievement award for IT work in developing nations

    In recognition of his contributions to the growth of education in Nigeria and other African countries, Southern University professor Victor Marika was recently honored by  the Anglican Communion, Church of Nigeria, Nsukka Diocese, in Enugu State, for his work in information and communication technology.

    Mbarika is an endowed professor of information and communication technology at Southern University and A&M College. He also directs the International Centre for IT Research and Development at Southern which focuses on advancing IT research and training worldwide with emphasis on developing nations.

    Victor Mbarika

    Victor Mbarika

    During the 25th anniversary of the church, the Anglican Bishop of Nsukka Rt. Revd. Aloysius Eze Agbo said Mbarika–who is  Cameroonian–has “distinguished himself in the promotion of education system in the country, through empowering the youth in the area of ICT. He said such services to the country deserve commendation and reward.”

    “This is the third lifetime achievement to Prof. Victor Mbarika, in recognition of his outstanding entrepreneurial achievement, which has created job opportunities to numerous people in our society,” Agbo said. He previously received a lifetime achievement award from the African Society for Information and Communication Technology for his “contribution to ICT research and education” and another  from the Cameroon Association of Engineers and Computer Scientists for “outstanding contribution to computer science and telecommunications”.

    Mbarika is also the founder and president, Board of Trustees of the Information and Communication Technology University, that trained more than 20,000 students across the globe. He said he is delighted in the honor and promises to continue to assist Nigerians and others in the acquisition of quality education. “I am  delighted  in the honor given to me and promised to continue to assist Africans and others in the acquisition of quality education, adding that in due course, i would establish ICT university in Nigeria, as obtained in Cameroon, Uganda and other African countries,” said Mbarika.

    ONLINE: Southern University

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    Jinx Broussard wins national teacher of the year award

    LSU Manship School of Mass Communication’s Jinx Coleman Broussard, Ph.D. is the recipient of the 2018 Scripps Howard Foundation’s Teacher of the Year Award. The national competition recognizes excellence in teaching in several areas, including innovative teaching practices, influence on curriculum, mentoring of students and faculty scholarship as it relates to teaching, leadership in educational activities and on-going industry engagement inside and outside the classroom.

    Broussard is the Manship School’s Bart R. Swanson Endowed Memorial Professor and has been teaching public relations, strategic communications, media history, and mass media theory at the Manship School since she joined the School full time in 2006.

    Dubbed a pioneer in the classroom by her peers, Broussard is a strong supporter of community organizations through her service-learning curriculum. Her public relations campaigns students have successfully navigated regular course work while forming companies and selecting appropriate agency names and logos before conceiving of and implementing campaigns for dozens of local nonprofit organizations. For the past seven years, Broussard has partnered with Donate Life Louisiana to provide experiential learning opportunities to her students. Each year Broussard’s students develop strategic communication and public relations campaigns aimed at promoting organ, tissue and eye donation. Her work alongside students has led to increased donation awareness nationally for the Louisiana donor registry. Additionally, public relations campaigns produced by Broussard’s students for Donate Life Louisiana have won three national awards since 2014 – two first place awards and one second place award.

    Broussard has been honored with numerous awards, including The Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership (CCELL)’s 2018-2019 Service Learning Happy Award, the Public Relations Association of Louisiana’s (PRAL) First Circle Award for lifetime achievement in the field, the Clarence L. Barney African American Cultural Center Distinction in Diversity Award, the Baton Rouge Area of Black Journalists (BRAABJ) Pioneering Black Journalist Award, and the Legends Award from the LSU A. P. Tureaud Jr. Black Alumni Chapter, among others.

    “Jinx brings unmatched experience and enthusiasm to the classroom, and the Teacher of the Year Award highlights her fierce dedication to student learning and to seeing her students succeed. We are so proud of Jinx—but not surprised at all—that she won this prestigious award.” Martin Johnson, dean of the Manship School, said. “Over the years, Jinx has mentored countless students who have gone on to oversee communications for top national brands and non-profits. Many of the doctoral students she has mentored have gone on to professorships and have themselves shaped the lives of students as well.”

    Broussard’s research interests include the black press, representations of racial and ethnic minorities, media history, alternative media, crisis communication, public relations strategies and tactics, and the civil rights movement. These interests date back to her Ph.D. dissertation, “Lifting the Veil on Obscurity: Four Pioneering Black Women Journalists: 1890-1950” and subsequent books on these women. Broussard is also author of the national award-winning book titled African American Foreign Correspondents: A History. She also is co-author of a book about crisis communication that is scheduled to come out in May.

    As a public relations professional, Broussard was the director of university relations at Dillard University before becoming director of public information for the city of New Orleans and press secretary to Mayor Sidney J. Barthelemy in New Orleans for almost eight years.

    When notified of her selection, Broussard said her teaching involves drawing out of students the talents they do not know they possess, while guiding them to reach deep inside themselves to accomplish goals they thought were too advanced at the beginning of the semester but mastering them by the end of the semester.

    “I achieve this with my students by setting the highest expectations, by never handing them an answer, by challenging them and their solutions in ways the real world would, and by demonstrating by example that excellence involves being accountable and available, never cutting corners, and above all, that integrity is paramount to success not only in their academic and professional careers, but in their lives,” Broussard said.

    Broussard’s Teacher of the Year award will be presented at the beginning of the keynote session during the 2019 AEJMC Toronto Conference. The Scripps Howard School of Journalism will also hold a ceremony in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 18.

    Read more »
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    More juvenile human trafficking victims identified in Louisiana

    The number of reported juvenile trafficking victims rose by 20 percent in 2018, while the number of adult victims decreased by 17 percent, according to data submitted to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for its 2019 report on human trafficking.

    The annual report, now in its fifth year, compiles data from human trafficking service providers throughout the state for reporting to the Legislature under Act 564 of 2014. Of the 58 service providers identified by DCFS, 35 agencies (60%) provided information for the 2019 report – the highest response rate for any year to-date. Twenty-four agencies provided data for last year’s report.

    While the number of service providers who report trafficking data to DCFS has increased steadily over the past five years, the majority of sexual assault centers and refugee/migration service agencies do not participate. This limits the amount of information available on adult sexual abuse and labor trafficking.

    “We have to do everything we can to prevent and end the heinous crime of human trafficking,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “It’s the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the United States, with thousands of victims identified in Louisiana alone in recent years. One of the reasons we’re identifying more victims is our work with law enforcement and other agencies who come into contact with these victims. Increasing awareness, collaboration and information sharing are essential to ending this modern form of slavery.”

    Earlier this year, Gov. Edwards announced Louisiana had been awarded a $1.2 million federal grant to help fight human trafficking. The grant will fund a multi-year federal project known as the Louisiana Child Trafficking Collaborative, being implemented by the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet.

    “Trafficking is not just a problem happening somewhere else. It’s a problem right here in our own back yards,” said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters, who serves on the Governor’s Office’s Louisiana Human Trafficking Prevention Commission (Act 181 of 2017). “Victims are often from vulnerable populations – domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, homeless or runaway youth and even young children. The more we know and the more we work together as a state and a community, the better we can fight against it and protect those who are most at-risk.”

    Overall, 744 confirmed and high-risk (prospective) victims of human trafficking were identified in 2018 – an increase of 63 victims (9%) over 2017. The overwhelming majority were victims of sexual trafficking (710 victims or 95.4%) and female (678 victims or 91.1%).

    Victim Ages

    Juveniles accounted for 428 (57.5%) of the reported victims, a 20 percent increase over 2017, when service providers reported 356 juvenile victims. Some 223 adult victims were identified in 2018, compared to 269 in 2017. Age was unknown or unreported for 93 victims this past year, compared to 56 in 2017.

    Forty-two victims identified in 2018 were age 12 or younger, down from 72 victims reported in 2017.

    The reported ages for all victims ranged from 5 months to 65 years old.

    The increase in reported juvenile victims can be partly attributed to an increase in the number of agencies providing data. Additionally, there have been increased efforts in identifying juvenile victims.

    Trafficking Locations

    Orleans, Caddo and East Baton Rouge were the parishes most frequently identified as the trafficking locations for both adult and juvenile victims. However, the proportion of adults to juveniles varied by location.

    Orleans and Caddo parishes both saw significantly more juvenile victims reported than adults: 83 juveniles and 34 adults in Orleans; 92 juveniles and 16 adults in Caddo. Whereas, East Baton Rouge saw a more even distribution that tilted toward adults: 59 adults and 47 juveniles.

    Those three parishes were also the most common parishes of origin for victims, along with neighboring parishes Jefferson and Bossier. Overall, victims were from more than 30 parishes throughout the state.

    Some 54 victims were from outside Louisiana, and 10 were from other countries.

    Other Findings

    Other findings in the 2019 report:

    • 710 victims (95.4%) were sexual trafficking victims; 7 (0.9%) were labor trafficking victims; 18 (2.4%) were victims of both sexual and labor trafficking. There were also 9 victims for whom the type of trafficking was not identified.
    • 678 (91.1%) of the victims were female; 44 (6%) were male; 13 (1.7%) identify as transgender; and 9 (1%) did not have a gender identified.
    • 366 (49%) of the victims were African American; 233 (31%) were white; 8 (1%) were Asian; 25 (3%) were multiracial; 58 (8%) were reported as other; and 54 (7%) were unknown.
    • 333 (45%) were confirmed trafficking victims, and 285 (38%) were reported as high-risk or prospective victims. Another 126 victims (17%) did not have a victim status identified.

    The most frequently provided services by the agencies reporting data were mental health services, referral to community services, health services, forensic interviewing, housing and education services.

    View Reports

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    Missing & Forgotten: Bias and non-attention given to Black girls who ‘disappear’

    Have you heard of Andreen Nicole McDonald of Texas?

    She’s young, just 29 years old, pretty, married to a military husband and missing.

    Like thousands of other black females who’ve gone missing, there has been no national media coverage of her disappearance.

    Earlier this month, her husband, Andre McDonald, was arrested in connection to his wife’s disappearance. Andreeen is still missing, but presumed dead.

    Police say that Andre McDonald bought a shovel, an ax, two five-gallon drums of gasoline, work gloves, heavy duty trash bags and a “burn barrel,” after friends reported his wife missing.

    “He tried to destroy the receipt for those items to conceal the timing and whereabouts of his purchase,” said Deidra Robey, founder of Black and Missing But Not Forgotten, a nonprofit based in Baton Rouge, La.

    Deidra Robey, founder of Black and Missing But Not Forgotten

    Deidra Robey, founder of Black and Missing But Not Forgotten

    “After his arrest, the news coverage seemed to stop. It did not go beyond local news, and even though the FBI is involved in the case, the story was never picked up nationally. I can only imagine that this is because she’s just not the right color,” Robey said.

    When Victoria S. Wright was last seen, at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, the 13-year-old was clutching a silver fannie pack and standing on the porch of a family member’s home along Dale Drive in Portsmouth, Virginia.

    Wearing a black hoodie with white writing, light colored blue jeans, and light blue and white tennis shoes, Victoria suddenly vanished.

    Police suspect she may have run away. However, there’s a chance that the longer she’s missing Victoria, like McDonald and so many others, will join an ever-growing list of black girls who are gone and have been sadly forgotten by mainstream media, where coverage is too-often manipulated by the latest thong or see-through attire worn by a Kardashian, or the most recent tantrum thrown by President Donald Trump.

    As Trump cries that a border wall is needed to eliminate an imaginary crisis, organizations like the Black and Missing But Not Forgotten, the Black and Missing Foundation (BAM) in Landover Hills, Maryland, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in Alexandria, Va., struggle to shed light on the real emergency that is of the nation’s missing.

    More than 424,066 girls of all races have gone missing since the beginning of 2018, according to NCMEC.

    More than half of the total are women and girls of color, according to BAM, who, like NCMEC, rely on statistics from the FBI.

    missing-and-exploited-children-featured-web-678x381“The majority of these children most likely come from marginalized communities, and are primarily low-income people of color,” said Ronnie A. Dunn, an interim chief diversity & inclusion officer and associate professor of Urban Studies at Cleveland State University.

    “Given this nation’s racially stratified socioeconomic class hierarchy, as evidenced throughout institutions in America where poor children of color have worst outcomes on all quality of life indicators, their lives are devalued in relation to upper class white youth,” said Dunn, whose authored two books, Race Profiling: Causes & Consequences, and Boycotts, Busing, & Beyond: The History & Implications of School Desegregation in the Urban North.

    Dunn said, “And even within that, while this nation espouses the valuing of children in general, this does not appear to be the reality as evidenced by the failure to act in the face of the onslaught of mass school shootings from Sandy Hook to Stoneman Douglas where the majority of those killed were middle class white youth. Therefore, we see less media attention paid to missing children, particularly those of color.”

    The ignorance toward the black and missing isn’t a new trend.

    Black and Missing But Not Forgotten, BAM and NCMEC each maintain a database that dates back decades.

    For instance, Margaret R. Dash went missing from her home in Clearwater, Florida, on June 14, 1974. Today, she would be 83.

    Ethel Louise Atwell went missing from Staten Island, N.Y., on Oct. 24, 1978. If still alive, Atwell would be 86.

    Jeffrey Lynn Smith, who today would be 49, went missing on Dec. 4, 1985, from her Hot Springs, Arkansas, home and hasn’t been heard from since.

    Other Black women and girls missing since the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s according to BAM, include Cynthia Renae Rodgers of Forestville, Maryland; Beverly Gail Johnson-Sabo of Ventura, Calif.; Trina Ann Winston of South Bend, Indiana; Erica Heather Smith of Ashburn, Virginia; Debra Dianne Sellars of Burlington, NC.; Bianca Lilly Jones of Detroit, Michigan; Crystal Keyona Anderson of New Carrollton, Maryland; Sandra Jean Cunningham of New York City; Yamisha Thomas of Columbus, Ga.; Mitrice Richardson of Los Angeles; Priscilla Ann Rogers of Wilmington, NC; Rochelle Denise Battle of Baltimore; Leslie Marva Adams of Atlanta; Chantel Bryant of Virginia Beach; Nancie Carolyn Walker of Chicago; Verlisha Littlejohn of Gaffney, SC; Theresa Bunn of Chicago; and Barbara Dreher of Washington, D.C.

    “I’m a forensic psychiatrist and legal analyst on television, so I pay attention to media reports of crimes and missing children,” said Dr. Carole Lieberman.

    “The media doesn’t do enough reporting of all the missing children, especially Black children … this tells the viewer that it’s more important to find white children,” Lieberman said. “There aren’t even any – or many – pictures on milk cartons of missing children anymore because they decided it was too upsetting to children eating breakfast. We need to do more to find missing children and do more to stop the family problems such as abuse that causes them to be vulnerable to predators or leave home to begin with.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

    Read more »
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    SU Ag Center, SBA to host 15th Annual Procurement Conference

    Hundreds of current and potential small business owners will gather at the Felton G. Clark Activity Center on April 16 for the Southern University Ag Center’s 15th Annual ‘Connecting Businesses with Contracts’ Procurement Conference.
    The event, which will be held from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., will feature sessions on Marketing Your Business to the Federal Government; How to Get on a GSA Federal Supply Schedule; How to Get a Loan, Financing Options or Capital Access and International Trade/Export Financing; and Updated Tax Laws and Insurance Requirements. There will also be a procurement panel consisting of federal agencies and prime contractors who will discuss how you can do business with their respective agencies and companies.
    The conference provides a venue for potential and existing business owners, contractors, non-profits, small towns, and municipalities to learn about the resources that are available through federal, state and local government agencies and prime companies.
    Co-sponsors for the conference include the U. S. Small Business Administration, Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University, Louisiana Economic Development (LED), and the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).
    Online registration for the conference is available here.
    For additional information, contact Eual Hall at 225.771.4105, Krystle Washington at 225.771.3902, or e-mail jo.lawrence3@sba.gov.
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    One Blood Revival: The call to the Church at Large

    Organizers of the One Blood Revival coming to Baton Rouge’s Memorial Stadium April 12-13 is asking the public to imagine a community where 92% of the population is born-again. From its website, they challenge residents to “picture city jails that have been closed for lack of crime. Envision an economy where agricultural productivity has reached Biblical proportions. Imagine a city where thousands of Christians gather together for all-night prayer vigils that spark a movement; bringing a multi-billion dollar drug cartel to its knees.”

    The goal is for the city and surrounding areas to experience revival through unity in accordance with Act 2:1 which states, “…And they were all in ONE accord in ONE place.”

    Devin O'Neal, of Voices of Mercy Outreach Ministries

    Devin O’Neal, of Voices of Mercy Outreach Ministries

    “If we come together, I believe we can see the city change,” said Pastor Devin O’Neal, of Voices of Mercy Outreach Ministries, who is organizing the faith-based initiative. He said, “The church is the only one that has the power to even have a moral effect” on the city’s disturbing number of shootings and killings, extreme poverty, historic flooding, racial divide, and the high rates of incarceration, illiteracy, cancer, and HIV.

    For Pastor Wuan Miller, “The One Blood Revival is a call to the church at large to put down racial barriers and come together to worship the Lord as one UNIFIED body of Christ, both young and old.”

    Miller is youth pastor at Living Faith Christian Center in Baton Rouge and one of 33 speakers planned for the two-day event.  “The One Blood Revival is also a call to the church to pray for the healing of our land as one UNIFIED body of believers… It’s a call to step out of the church walls into the center of the community together and seek God and proclaim His name out in the open air for all the world to hear,” Miller wrote on Facebook.

    Wuan Millerl, youth pastor, Living Faith Christian Center

    Wuan Miller, youth pastor, Living Faith Christian Center

    The public is invited to register at www.OneBloodBR.com

    “We’re looking for all churches to be a part of this,” O’Neal said. “It’s going to encompass every tribe, every nation, every domination under the banner of Jesus Christ for the healing of the city and our nation.”

    For more information, call O’Neal at (225) 937-1234.

     

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    Women in State Law Enforcement leave indelible footprints

    There are countless Louisianans who have contributed significantly to our state and nation’s history.  They are the trailblazers and pioneers who have left an indelible imprint that continues to inspire.

    Among the most well-trained law enforcement officers in the country, Black female Louisiana State Troopers are proudly and courageously paving the way for others to follow. They are saluted for their service and for inspiring all women to never give up on their dreams.

    According to the most recent data, there are 1063 Louisiana State Police troopers, out of which 45 are women and of that number, eight current female troopers are African-American.  Women were allowed to join the force in 1974.  Trooper Joyce Stephanie Isaac Thibodeaux, now deceased, started her career with the Lafayette City Police Department and in 1976 she became the first Black woman to join the Louisiana State Police Dept. She retired after 21 years of service.

    “I was fortunate to work with her,” said Lt. Charron Thomas who joined in 1992. “She faced a lot of struggles being the first one, and she gave me a lot of advice that helped me.”

    After a career in the Army National Guard, Lt. Thomas knew she wanted to become a trooper. And 27 years later, she is still going strong.  “Being in a male-dominated workforce is a challenge for all women, which is why we have to support each other, but it is a rewarding career.”

    “I consider myself fortunate to be able to stand on the shoulders of the previous Black female trailblazers such as Lt. Thomas and the late Trooper Thibodeaux,” said Senior Trooper Zuleika Joseph. “I hope that I set a good example for our youth and that some little girl who sees me may one day want to be a trooper or maybe even the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police.”

    Read more at Women in State Law Enforcement leave indelible footprints.

    Read more »
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    Girard Melancon picked to lead BRCC’s workforce solutions

    Girard Melancon, Ph.D., as vice chancellor for workforce solutions at Baton Rouge Community College. He has work with sector-based workforce training programs for more than 15 years and has invested more than $60 million foundation and taxpayer dollars into progressive workforce development initiatives. He is president of the National Council for Workforce Education. He earned a doctorate in education administration with higher education concentration in community and technical college finance and non-traditional students from the University of New Orleans.

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    Kennedy Center Fellow audits 400 years of American Blackness in verse

    With support from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Baton Rouge-based writer, poet, and community activist, Donney Rose is exploring the debt owed to African American humanity in the United States with the creation of The American Audit – a poetry and mapping project assessing the nation’s standing with its black citizens 400 years after the first slaves settled in Jamestown. Placing a special emphasis on his own Louisiana/Deep South roots, Rose plans to culminate the project in a four-part multimedia performance piece/epic poem centered around the assessment of laws, culture, economics and family structure as it pertains to 400 years of black American existence using an audit report as extended metaphor, according to a blog post by The Kennedy Center. A 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist fellow, Rose is a native of Baton Rouge and a well-known performance poet whose career spans 20 years on the regional and national spoken word circuit.

    “Human life, dignity and liberation are invaluable concepts,” Rose said. “Yet 400 years ago, there were people who put a dollar amount and expected a monetary return on account of free labor. We cannot reconcile with those sins until we are able to honestly admit that a segment of our population are still reeling from the effects of not having their humanity fully actualized until just over 50 years ago. The plan for The American Audit is to examine the emotional currency, toll, labor extolled unto a group of people who came here as products and have fought to be fully human.’”

    Click here to read the Kennedy Center’s blog post on The American Audit. Watch The American Audit trailer here

     

    Read more »
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    Women of Cancer Alley to show March 8 with RootsCampLA

     

    On Friday, March 8th, RootsCampLA is participating in the traveling premiere of the film “The Women of Cancer Alley.”  We’ll be showing it in partnership with the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and 350 New Orleans.  

    Women from around the Cancer Alley area became new filmmakers this year, each crafting two-minute stories of their experience living next to petrochemical plants.  Using footage from their own lives, these new filmmakers are ready to take their stories on the road as leaders and strategists for the Louisiana environmental movement.  The screening includes a pane discussion with the women who shared their life stories in the film.

    This film viewing is open to the general public at no cost.

    Time and Location: Friday, March 8th from 6-8:00pm at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge located at 8470 Goodwood Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806

    tickets are availble x for the entire RootsCampLA weekend

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