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    Letter to the Editor: Mr. President and the art of the deal

    The U.S, President claims to be such a great deal maker. He even has an autobiography titled The Art of the Deal. Does anyone other American citizen wonder why any time Trump meets with a foreign dictator, there are no note takers, and consequently, no official record? Is there any concern by any other American citizen that Trump has secret calls with Putin, and the only way we find out about these secret calls in the United States is through Russian media?

    Is there any concern by any other American citizen that man who said that he would declare China a currency manipulator in November of 2015, is now so concerned about Chinese jobs being lost that he is willing to ease restrictions on the notorious Chinese phone company, ZTE? By the way, ZTE is considered by United States intelligence to be a security risk, so much so that the company is not allowed to sell goods on United States military bases. Why are all of his deals with foreign dictators done in secrecy?

    From the information that is subsequently released after one of these secret meetings or phone calls where there is no note taker, it seems that Trump’s greatest art is genuflection. That is why he left the summit in Singapore with nothing but empty commitments. North Korea left with a promise to halt joint military exercises, and according to North Korea run media, an ease in sanctions. That is why after a secret phone call with Putin, Trump wants Russia back in the G-7, although Russia was ejected for their annexation of Crimea. That is why Trump is concerned with the loss of Chinese jobs and wants to ease restrictions on ZTE in spite of the security concerns of United States intelligence.

    There was a time in America when we demanded candor from our elected officials. Under Trump, a mendacious liar, that has changed. Trump insults our nation’s traditional allies such Justin Trudeau of Canada, Emmanuel Macron of France, and Angela Merkel of Germany. He genuflects to foreign strong men like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Xi Jinping. Trump’s next book should be entitled “The Art of the Kneel”.

    By Darryl Robertson
    Baton Rouge

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    Local campers visit Baton Rouge City Hall, Mayor Broome

    2018 Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. participants visiting Baton Rouge City Hall and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.  Standing on bottom row from left to right: Kayleigh Tran and Heaven Adams; Second row left to right:  McKenzie Milton and Madison Lathers; Third row left to right:  Aarionna Barg, Tyra Porter, and Haven Franklin (Teen Volunteer);  Fourth row left to right:  Brooke Butler, Nyrielle Davis, and Adelay Smith.

    2018 Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. participants visiting Baton Rouge City Hall and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome. Standing on bottom row from left to right: Kayleigh Tran and Heaven Adams; Second row left to right: McKenzie Milton and Madison Lathers; Third row left to right: Aarionna Barg, Tyra Porter, and Haven Franklin (Teen Volunteer); Fourth row left to right: Brooke Butler, Nyrielle Davis, and Adelay Smith.

    Several local campers spend a summertime of learning and fun by participating in a local program called, Camp U.N.I.T.E.D. over the past few weeks. Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. (Uplifted, Nurtured, and Inspired Together Each Day), they had the opportunity to participate in daily workshops that focused on leadership development, healthy nutrition and body image, time management skills, communication skills, internet safety, and community/public service.  The girls’ primary focus was on the three paths to empowerment as they start their journey into middle school.  Their unique journeys began with discovering their individual personal power or the power within.  Then, they moved to the power of team or the power of reaching across to work with others.  The final path was the power of community/public service or the power of reaching out.  The highlights of their camp were a 90 minute SKYPE session with girls their age in Migosi, Kenya, Africa and a field trip to City Hall to meet with Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, and Councilman Chandler Loupe.  Each girl received a certificate of commendation signed by Mayor Broome and was also given the opportunity to visit the new Metro-Council chambers where they were allowed to participate in a mock Metro-Council meeting.  These girls have experienced a unique summer filled with awesome opportunities.

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    New business comes to the Village of Tangipahoa

    Village of Tangipahoa Mayor Trashica Robinson along with the board of aldermen and special guests gathered July 17 to break ground on a Big Boss Travel Plaza and Bella Rose Estates, a combination convenience store and restaurant to be located off Highway 440.

    “We’ve worked hard for the past two years to bring new business to the Village of Tangipahoa,” said Robin son.

    “It’s been more than 20 years since a new business came to the Village. New business means more sales tax,” said Robinson. “In the process (the businesses)create some local jobs.”

    She said, “This is a good location, travelers can leave the interstate get a quick breakfast, gas up, and continue to work.”

    “When this project is completed it will bring economic benefit to the town, she said. ℜ

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  • Nominate Baton Rouge area volunteer activists by August 10

     

    Nominations are now open for the 47th annual Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activist awards. Nominations can be completed online at www.emergela.org/events and are due by August 10. Nominations should include details of individual’s volunteer activities, which organizations they have volunteered for, and how their service has impacted the community.

    Hosted by The Emerge Center, the awards luncheon honors those who give of their time and talents to organizations across our community, above and beyond typical volunteer requirements. These individuals possess a sense of service and community that impacts the Greater Baton Rouge area in a positive and meaningful way.   This year’s event will honor a special Emerging Activist. This award will recognize a young individual who has independently made considerable contributions to the Baton Rouge community. The Emerging Activist may be an advocate for a cause, have recently created a new community initiative, or participates in substantial volunteer activities. Individuals must be 18 years of age or younger to be considered as an honoree.

    The 2018 event will be held on Friday, November 16, at the Renaissance Hotel located at 7000 Bluebonnet Boulevard in Baton Rouge.

    The Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activists luncheon benefits The Emerge Center for Communication, Behavior, and Development – a 59 year old non-profit organization that empowers children with autism and individuals with communication challenges to achieve independence through innovative and family-centered therapies.

    For more information on nominations or the event, please contact Brandi Monjure at bmonjure@emergela.org or 225-343-4232 ext. 1897.

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    Local businesswoman to be featured in Avon campaign

    Baton Rouge-local and Avon Representative Starsky Clark will be starring in iconic beauty brand Avon’s upcoming campaign. From top-sellers to accomplished leaders, Avon’s Campaign 19 will feature all real-life Avon Representatives as models in their newest catalog, launching August 21.  A former Marine, Clark works as a full-time pharmacist.

    Starsky’s tips for success:

    1.  Be passionate about your business by using the products yourself, and share your authentic, personal anecdotes with others to build personal relationships and special connections with your customers.
    2. Always give samples – customers love to touch and feel before purchasing, and it makes them feel special to be able to try new products before they buy. 
    3. Invest your earnings back into your business by supporting, motivating, and mentoring your team! 

     

     

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    NAACP honors Stewart with Cobb Award

    On July 16, Louisiana Center for Health Equity President Alma C. Stewart received the NAACP Dr. William Montague Cobb Award “For her outstanding efforts to advance health policy, health advocacy, and social justice in the State of Louisiana.” The award was presented at the NAACP Annual Convention in San Antonio. This award is given annually in recognition of the legacy of Dr. William Montague Cobb, who served as the President of the NAACP from 1976 to 1983, to honor individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact in the field of health.

    Stewart has served as the state health committee chair for the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP since 2014. She also organized the statewide, multi-year Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone Louisiana in 2013. The goal of this campaign was to advocate for statewide policy change and build grassroots momentum to implement Medicaid expansion by 2016.

    In an effort to address Louisiana’s high rate of uninsured adults, keeping the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and HCEL partner organizations engaged, over the course of three years Stewart organized public testimony at legislative hearings, rallies, press conferences and prayer vigils under the mantra of “Dying for Coverage” as part of a movement to bring attention to this issue on a state and national level. HCEL was successful in shaping public opinion about Medicaid expansion which polls favorably in Louisiana despite cascading contributions from well-financed conservative out-of-state organizations that have opposed it. She coordinated the hosting and production of a gubernatorial candidate forum on healthcare that was televised and livestreamed across the state in 2015. Alma has personally penned numerous articles and delivered countless speeches and presentations.

    On January 12, 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards signed an executive order expanding Medicaid in Louisiana on his first day in office making Louisiana the first state in the Deep South to expand Medicaid. Not only was this a win for Stewart and her organization, the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and others, but also for the hundreds of thousands of people who gained health insurance when this law went into effect on July 1, 2016. “Many of the more than 470,180 Louisiana citizens who now have health insurance coverage, in rural and urban areas, under the Medicaid expansion are doing so for the first time, and are receiving preventive care, early diagnosis and treatment for cancer, diabetes, mental health conditions, and addictions. Early diagnosis and access to care both help reduce costs to the state and the healthcare system,” said Stewart.

    The infusion of federal dollars for Medicaid expansion created and supported 19,200 jobs that have brought in state and local tax receipts of $103 million and $74.6 million, respectively, according to a March 2018 report by the Louisiana State University’s Public Administration Institute. Medicaid expansion saved the state $199 million in fiscal year 2017, according to a 2017 report from the Louisiana Department of Health. The reasons include the state spending match is lower under Medicaid expansion than it was before, both for most Medicaid populations and for supplemental payments to hospitals. The decrease in the uninsured population has also reduced “disproportionate share payments” to hospitals for people without coverage who receive treatment.

    “Medicaid expansion has benefitted Louisiana in several ways and there is growing evidence to support the fact that it is working. Moreover, it is saving lives. That’s why the NAACP Dr. William Montague Cobb Award means so much to me,” said Stewart.

    About Louisiana Center for Health Equity

    Louisiana Center for Health Equity which is a statewide 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization, dedicated to the mission of addressing health and healthcare disparities, and fostering health equity in Louisiana. Founded in January 2010, the organization has partnered with over forty other Louisiana organizations on a state, local and national level to eliminate health disparities caused by poverty, lack of access to quality health care, and unhealthy environmental conditions.

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    Plenty of Time!

    New Venture Theatre continues its 11th season with the impactful play, Plenty of Time! In 1968, a spoiled, southern debutante and a Black Panther fall in love, though forbidden by class and principle. Corey and Christina meet in Oak Bluffs-a black section of Martha’s Vineyard. Christina is 17 years old and from an upper-class family. Corey is 22 and a member of the Black Panther Party. Despite their obvious differences, they are sexually attracted and share a passionate night together. The next morning, however, they begin to talk and their conflicting worlds unfold. Once a year for the next 43 years they return to the small private beach house to meet, and bring with them their personal growth and experiences. Their time-elapsed relationship reveals how each is affected by the changing world around them.
    WHERE:
    LSU Studio Theatre
    Louisiana State University
    105 Music and Dramatic Building
    Baton Rouge, LA 70803

    CAST:
    COREY: Obatiye Dent
    CHRISTINE:  Taylor Randall
    PERFORMANCES:
    Friday, August 24 at 7:30 pm
    Saturday, August 25 at 7:30 pm
    Sunday, August 26 at 3:00 pm
    BOX OFFICE:
    225-588-7576 or NVTARTS.ORG

     

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    Inaugural Black Out Loud Conference releases full schedule

     Black Out Loud Conference, LLC in conjunction with the Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge has released the full schedule of events for the inaugural Black Out Loud Conference, to be held in Baton Rouge, Aug. 10-12. Led by local poet, activist and teaching artist Donney Rose, the three-day event is designed to celebrate Black visibility in the realm of the arts, media and activism. Online conference registration has ended, but patrons may pay for weekend or single day packages during any conference day. Details are available at BlackOutLoudBR.com.

    The conference will kick off on Aug. 10 at the Healthcare Gallery & Wellness Spa, 3488 Brentwood Drive, Suites 102 & 103, with performances by comedian Howard Hall, a video presentation on the power of voice/advocacy, and a networking cocktail hour. On Aug. 11, attendees will convene at the McKinley Alumni Center, 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Drive, for workshops and panel discussions featuring subject matter experts in the fields of arts, media and activism sharing best practices on controlling their narratives and ensuring theirs struggle are not dismissed. The keynote address will be given by Van Lathan of TMZ. The conference will end on Aug. 12 at the McKinley Alumni Center with a brunch featuring a moderated talk on media and activism by Maxine Crump of Dialogue on Race.

    Other confirmed speakers and panelists include Michael “Quess” Moore – co-founder of Take Em Down NOLA; Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton – Poet-Laureate of Houston; Rodneyna Hart – Exhibitions Manager, Louisiana Arts & Science Museum/Curator and Art Manager, The Healthcare Gallery; Janene Tate – director of communications, Southern University and A&M College System; Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa – 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam champion; Abraham Felix – award-winning independent film director; and Ada Goodly – movement lawyer/creator of the INPOWER “Know Your Rights Initiative”. A full list of speakers, panelist, and performers can be found at BlackOutLoudBR.com.

    The Black Out Loud Conference is sponsored by The Healthcare Gallery & Wellness Spa; Love Alive Church; DivaStating PR; Class Act Entertainment Group; The Bluest Ink, LLC; Solid Ground Innovations, LLC; RENEE MARIE; EKD Ministries; WTAA Engineers; Design Baton Rouge; East Baton Rouge Parish Library Central Library; Southern University and A&M College; beBatonRouge; The Rouge Collection; DEVAink; Parker’s Pharmacy; Maturity Productions; Councilwoman Erika L. Green; and Louisiana Healthcare Services.

     

    SCHEDULE 

     

    Friday, August 10 (Healthcare Gallery and Wellness Spa)

    7 p.m.  Doors open to conference kick off
    7:30 p.m.  Welcome/Greeting

    7:35 p.m.  Howard Hall comedy set #1

    7:50 p.m.  Video presentation (related to the power of voice/advocacy)

    8 p.m.  Howard Hall comedy set #2

    8:15 p.m.  Mixer w/DJ Automatik

    9:30 p.m. Closing remarks/announcements

     

    Saturday, August 11 (McKinley Alumni Center)

    10 a.m.  Doors open for conference
    10:15 a.m.  Welcome/Overview of Day

    10:20 a.m.  Transition to break out workshops/Children’s Zone

    10:30 a.m. Workshop session #1 (Arts workshop, Activism workshop)

    11:10 a.m.  Transition

    11:15 a.m.  Workshop session #2 (Arts workshop, Media workshop, Activism workshop)

    Noon  Welcome from Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome

    12:10 p.m.  Lunch/Marketplace/Networking

    1:10 p.m.  Performances (Toi Sibley, KP Soul, Truth Universal)

    2 p.m.  Arts, Media & Activism Panel discussion

    3 p.m.  Keynote Address by Van Lathan

    3:45 p.m. Closing remarks/announcements

     

    Sunday, August 12 (McKinley Alumni Center)

    11 a.m.  Doors open for brunch

    11:10 a.m. Welcome

    11:15 a.m.  Brunch served/Written Reflections

    Noon  Media Talk With Maxine Crump

    12:45 p.m. Closing remarks/dismissal

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    Baton Rouge native participates in world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise

    PEARL HARBOR – A 2017 Scotlandville Magnet High School graduate and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

    Seaman Apprentice Crystal Paul is a culinary specialist aboard USS Dewey, currently operating out of San Diego, California.

    A Navy culinary specialist is responsible for cooking for the entire crew.

    Paul said she applies the lessons she learned from Baton Rouge to her work in the Navy.

    “I learned how to deal with different people and not to overreact to everything which helps me in the Navy every day,” said Paul.

    As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

    The theme of RIMPAC 2018 is Capable, Adaptive, Partners. The participating nations and forces exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

    “I’m looking forward to meeting new people during this exercise,” said Paul.

    This is the first time Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC. Additional firsts include New Zealand serving as sea combat commander and Chile serving as combined force maritime component commander. This is the first time a non-founding RIMPAC nation (Chile) will hold a component commander leadership position.

    Twenty-six nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise. This year’s exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

    As a member of the U.S. Navy, Paul and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

    “I never saw myself as a risk taker, but being here showed me that I am,” said Paul.

    Additional information about RIMPAC is available at http://www.cpf.navy.mil

    By Electa Berassa
    Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
    Navy Office of Community Outreach
    Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Theodore Quintana

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    Facing the nation: Making inclusion a priority in Baton Rouge aviation

    Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and its commission chairman Cleve Dunn Jr. are facing two national nominations for being catalysts for diversity inclusion. This first-time praise comes from the Airport Minority Advisory Council, the only national, non-profit trade association dedicated to promoting the inclusion of minorities and women in contracting opportunities within aviation and aerospace industries. Dunn has been nominated for the AMAC Advocate of the Year Award and the AMAC Inclusive Leader Award. As a result, the airport earned the nominations as well. The advocate award recognizes an outstanding spokesperson, educator, innovator, advocate,  and strategic partner with AMAC for diversity inclusion. The leadership award honors an organization for demonstrating diversity inclusion within its corporate structure of procurement and employment.

    Earlier this week, Dunn discussed the nominations and the airport’s work with minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

    THE DRUMSince this is the first time you and the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport have been nominated, what does this nomination say for the BR Airport?

    DUNN: It simply says that the leadership has changed and the culture at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport is changing and becoming more inclusive.

    THE DRUM: What were the specific actions/programs you initiated or completed that encourages minority opportunities at the Baton Rouge airport?

    DUNN: During my time on the Baton Rouge Metro Airport board of commissioners there has been no new program rollout to encourage minority opportunities. What I chose to do as a commissioner for the past 5 years and now the chairman of the board is to aggressively advocate for inclusion and diversity in every thing that we do at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR). That includes assuring that minorities receive jobs and career advancement opportunities at the airport, making sure minority owned and disadvantaged businesses are in our pipeline for contracting opportunities, and making sure that we are exposing children from our community to the aviation industry. As a result, our administration is more culturally diverse than it was five years ago, BTR is much more visible in the community and BTR is supporting more North Baton Rouge businesses, organizations and non profits than ever before.

    Sean

    Sean Joffrion

    Sean Joffrion, director of fine arts at the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, said, “Because of Mr. Dunn’s passion for showcasing Baton Rouge and what it has to offer, he advocated for one of Baton Rouge’s premier schools, McKinley Middle Magnet, to have a wall space in Baton Rouge Metro Airport. This space allowed our diverse multi cultural population the opportunity to showcase art work which depicted the students interpretation of Louisiana and its culture. It also gave travelers the opportunity to get a first hand look of what our school and school district could offer to prospective students/parents. This amazing partnership between the school, district, and airport allowed McKinley the opportunity to recruit students to our program. Cleve is an amazing guy who knows the importance of having relationships between our community and business.”

    THE DRUM: What had been barriers for diversity inclusion at the airport when you arrived as a commissioner? How are you leading or assisting the commission and the airport leadership in removing those barriers?

    DUNN: In my opinion leadership sets the tone and creates the culture for any business or organization. The leadership team has to be passionate about an issue or project and get buy in from the rest of the staff and/or team members in order for that initiative to be implemented successfully.  Our barrier at BTR was that our leadership was not passionate enough about inclusion and diversity as we needed to be to bring about a culture of inclusion at BTR. That is why I lead the charge in advocating for a national search for us a new aviation director. I felt it was very important for us to evaluate the best and brightest aviation professionals around the country; who could develop the land surrounding the airport, grow our air service by adding airlines and destinations and work with our board of commissioners to create a culture of inclusion at the airport. The airport’s aviation director search committee, made up of three metro council members and myself as one of four airport board commissioners concluded our work on July 9. After vetting the group of 39 candidates, conducting video interviews, reviewing their resumes and  several in person interviews; we narrowed the group down to three candidates that the committee chose to recommend to the metro council. The metro council is scheduled to choose a director from the group of three finalists in the weeks to come.

    Baton Rouge Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    Baton Rouge Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    THE DRUM: You are now in your second term on the commission and first term as chair, how do you plan to continue building business capacity for the airport? Plans for supplier diversity?

    DUNN: Supplier diversity has been and will continue to be a top priority for me. One of the first things I proposed as chairman is a board retreat where the commission and the staff could meet and develop the annual mission and goals for the airport. During my previous five years on the commission we had not been given the opportunity to have this level of input prior to budget review. Our first retreat will happen in the next 30 days or so; it is during this retreat where we will create and assign action items to board members and staff that will help us to build business capacity and increase our supplier diversity numbers.

    THE DRUM: Do you or other commissioners help develop aviation or aerospace career interests among local students? K-12, technical school, or college students? If not are there plans to do so?

    DUNN: Yes, I do help to develop aviation career interests among local students. I often times bring young people to the airport, give them a tour of the airport and let them sit in on our commission meetings. I also work with Big Buddy and local colleges to give students internships at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport.

    Lauren Smith Marrioneaux

    Lauren Smith Marrioneaux

    The program operations director for Big Buddy’s LevelUp program, Lauren Smith Marrioneaux  said, “After finding out that Cleve served on the Baton Rouge Metro Airport Board, I contacted him about the airport becoming a host site for the Big Buddy Level UP! Summer Internship Program. He committed to making it happen and he did just that! He made it happen and helped increase the employability of the youth in our program. Because of Cleve’s help and support the Level UP! Summer Internship Program and the Baton Rouge Metro Airport has exposed several teenagers in the Baton Rouge area to the aviation industry. After this experience some of our students later gained employment in the aviation industry.”

    THE DRUM: What is the status of the airport  as a growth opportunity for businesses and North Baton Rouge?

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    DUNN: I’m a native of North Baton Rouge, and I’m very passionate about the areas growth and development, as well as the people of North Baton Rouge being benefactors of that growth and development by improving their quality of life through jobs and contracting opportunities. We have some 4,000 jobs at the airport and hundreds of contracting opportunities there as well. I will make sure that people living in and around North Baton Rouge are aware of the job and income opportunities and do what we can to help them get those opportunities.

    As director of programs and events for the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Black Chamber, Troy R. Lee, said, “it was imperative that I secured sponsorship for our Inaugural Minority Business Conference and Expo. I called Mr. Dunn and explained the need to have a successful expo and without hesitation he made sure we had sponsorship from the Baton Rouge Metro Airport. Without his timely assistance our expo would not have been the success that it was. BR Metro Black Chamber members and myself are eternally grateful for Mr. Dunn’s kindness and belief in the fact that it does take a village to make things happen especially in underserved communities.”

    THE DRUM: Who are you acknowledging as you receive this nomination?

    DUNN: I am honored to receive the Catalyst award nomination from such a prestigious organization like AMAC. I want to thank the AMAC Catalyst award nominating committee for valuing and recognizing the work that many of us do around the country to promote minority-owned businesses, increase contracting opportunities and professional advancement for minorities in the aviation industry. I do not accept this award nomination alone. I also accept it on the behalf of all the current and former Baton Rouge Metro Airport board of commissioners who have advocated for minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses while serving on our commission. Finally, I’d like to thank the Baton Rouge Metro Airport administration and numerous staff members who have been committed to inclusion and increasing the participation of minority owned and disadvantaged business enterprises.

    Winners of the AMAC awards will be announced during the 34th Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference in Seattle, Washington, Aug 21-25.

    ONLINE: http://amac-org.com
    ONLINE: www.flybtr.com

    By Zenobia Reed
    The Drum contributing writer

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Airport commission chair nominated for two Catalyst awards

    Chairman Cleve Dunn has been nominated for two Catalyst awards by the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC). The AMAC Catalyst awards honor persons who have made outstanding contributions to furthering the goals of AMAC. 

    Dunn’s nominations include:
    AMAC Advocate of the Year Award:This award recognizes an individual within the industry who has been an outstanding spokesperson, educator, innovator, advocate, and strategic partner with AMAC for diversity inclusion in the field of aviation, aerospace (Aeronautical influences such as pilots, airlines, aerospace, educators in the field), or corporate leaders that contribute and encourage minority opportunities and growth in these areas.   

    AMAC Inclusive Leader Award: This award honors an organization that has demonstrated diversity inclusion within its corporate structure of procurement and employment. Nominees are viewed within the industry as a leader for supplier diversity, best practices and fostering business capacity with its diverse partners. Nominees should demonstrate support of AMAC’s goals and mission. 

    “I am honored to receive the Catalyst Award nominations from such a prestigious organization as AMAC. I want to thank the AMAC Catalyst Award nominating committee for valuing and recognizing the work that many of us do around the country to promote minority-owned businesses, and increase contracting opportunities and professional advancement for minorities in the aviation and aerospace industries,” said Dunn. “I do not accept these award nominations alone. I also accept them on the behalf of all the current and former Baton Rouge Metro Airport Board of Commissioners that have advocated for minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses while serving on our commission. Finally, I’d like to thank the Baton Rouge Metro Airport Administration and numerous staff members who have been committed to inclusion and increasing the participation of minority-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises.” 

    Award winners will be announced at the 2018 AMAC Airport Diversity Conference in Seattle the third week of August.

    Read more »
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    First Louisiana charter school for children with autism opens August 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    COMMUNITY EVENTS: Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair, August 4

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair is scheduled for Saturday, August 4, 8am – 1pm at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church located at 8742 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    There will be a Faith Walk to begin the event at 8am.

    The Health Fair will promote preventive health care services, to bring about awareness to the services that are available and to assist people in making improved health decisions for their family. The fair will also provide healthful information and practices to the Scotlandville Community.

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair will include on site examinations, educational information, blood pressure checks; cancer awareness; cardiovascular-heart healthy tips; immunizations, mental health counseling; diabetes tests and consultation; cholesterol-glucose screening; foot examinations (podiatry); hearing screenings; nutrition consultations; oral health; prescription medication management; vision; and tobacco use dangers. There will be drawings for gift cards and door prizes.

    The Baton Rouge Community is invited to attend.

    Submitted by Mada McDonald

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    Trading Black Histories: Louisiana, California middle schoolers meet by chance while competing in national research contest

    SILVER SPRINGS, MD—In life, there are many times when things happen and very few words can convey what’s occurred. That’s exactly what happened when two studentsfrom opposite ends of the United States happened to cross paths while competing in the 2018 National History Day contest held at the University of Maryland, College Park.

    The young researchers had an interesting experience that will likely be etched in their memory for the rest of their lives when Condoleezza Semien, of Louisiana, and Thiana Aklikokou, of California,  met.

    Both women share a fervent love for Black history and research which led to them winning National History Day contests at their school, district, and state levels in order to advance to the semi-finals in Maryland.

    More than 3,000 students from across the nation and countries like Guam, Korea, and China advanced to the final competition, which was held June 10-14 to culminate a year-long academic program focused on historical research, interpretation and creative expression for 6th to 12th grade students. Of those students was Semien, a seventh grader, and Aklikokou, an eighth grader.

    In April, Semien placed first in the state NHD junior presentation division with the oral presentation, “But You Claim that I’m Violent: A Lesson on Influence and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense of 1966.”

    “I wanted to relay the truth about the Black Panther Party and how their actions turned into programs and policies for our nation,” Semien told national judges. “We’re not taught these things in school. When a group came to Baton Rouge to protest the Alton Sterling shooting, I wanted to know why they were trying to connect themselves to the Panthers when their messages where drastically different.”

    Founded in California during the racially-charged 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense galvanized as a response to police brutality in California. While the Black Panther Party maintained a focus on armed self-defense, the organization did not uphold resorting to violence to resolve issues, Semien explained.

    “Historical texts do not record this truth,” Semien said before explaining that the Black Panther Party’s relentless efforts ultimately impacted federal food and health policies.

    “They developed more than 30 social programs over the span of 10 years and are actually responsible for many of the federal food, head start, and sickle cell anemia programs still being utilized today,” she said.

    The Black Panthers thrived, expanding to more than 63 U.S. chapters that provided free clothing, grocery, and breakfast programs, community protection patrol to combat violence and police brutality, free health clinics, political education classes, ambulatory services, and screening people for sickle cell disease, free libraries that primarily housed works by Black authors, legal assistance and early education programs.

    “But you claim that they’re violent!” Semien said ending her presentation during the semi-finals. One judge responded, “You really did a great job dispelling myths surrounding the Black Panthers!”

    The 12-year-old was later told she’d earned National Honorable Mention and placed second in her class of competitors—just shy of reaching the final rounds, said Adam Foreman, NHD state representative and student programs specialist at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

    On the same day, Aklikokou, 14, presented a historical paper on the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott–Semien’s hometown.

    While touring the United States Capitol as guests of Congressman Garret Graves, Aklikokou and Semien met.

    “My grandmother remembered seeing (Thiana) on television talking about her research, and she introduced us to each other. She was excited, telling Thiana about my research and telling me about Thiana’s,” Semien said.

    There, the girls shared their amazement that so few people knew the history that they had researched about each other’s states. In 2015, Semien danced in the Manship Theatre’s production of “The Fading Line: A Commemoration of the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott.”

    “I wasn’t surprised that people in California didn’t know, but I came to Baton Rouge and people still had no clue what I was talking about; it was a little surprising,” said Aklikokou.

    Most history books only detail the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott which has often been regarded as the first large-scale United States demonstration against segregation. However, it actually wasn’t the first of its kind.

    In 1953, Blacks in Baton Rouge and the Reverend T. J. Jemison organized the first large-scale boycott of a southern city’s segregated bus system. Two and a half years later, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. conferred with Jemison about tactics used in Baton Rouge, and King applied those lessons when planning the bus boycott that ultimately defeated segregation.

    “I found it interesting that nobody talked about it at all. It was always the Montgomery (bus) boycott. But no one ever talked about what Baton Rouge did which was set it up for Montgomery,” she said.

    Earlier this month, Aklikokou traveled through Louisiana and Mississippi for more in-depth research on her topic of choice just before heading to Maryland.

    Aklikokou and Semien’s chance encounter in the nation’s capitol proves that spontaneous moments in life are often much sweeter than the ones strategically planned.

    By Meaghan Ellis
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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  • Southern University Baton Rouge maintains accreditation

    During its June meeting, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges removed a warning sanction from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge. The University satisfied all issues raised by the accreditation agency during its last review in June 2017.

    “This is great news for not only the institution and students, but for our alumni and other supporters,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president-chancellor. “Our team of dedicated faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that we demonstrated compliance with the principles of accreditation so that we are able to continue fulfilling our mission of providing a high-quality educational experience.”

    The SACSCOC peer reviewers evaluated the university’s Fifth-Year Interim Report in 2016, and identified four areas for improvement: faculty adequacy, institutional effectiveness, student complaints, and student achievement. To address these areas, University leaders developed strategic solutions that has ultimately laid a solid foundation for continuous improvement. The University anticipates its accreditation to be reaffirmed for the next 10 years.

    “We are delighted that we have met this challenge,” said James H. Ammons, Ph.D., executive vice president/executive vice chancellor. “Our team has worked really hard and we will continue to make making progress in demonstrating compliance in all areas.”

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    Southern University alumni ‘come home’ for biennial conference, July 19-22

    The Southern University Alumni Federation will host its biennial conference July 19-22 in Baton Rouge. The Federation, which includes thousands of members across the nation and aboard, is hosting several events that celebrate tradition, innovation and achievement.

    “This year’s conference is packed with substantive and timely speakers and panel discussions related to Southern University and the surrounding community,” said Preston Castille, Federation president. “We will focus greatly on the University’s new Imagine 20,000 initiative to grow student enrollment, improve our infrastructure, and expand Southern’s footprint in Baton Rouge. We also look forward to showcasing some of the capital city’s fantastic attractions.”

    Activities include campus tours, professional development workshops, the inaugural “40 Under 40” awards ceremony, and the “Circle of Achievement” gala featuring national media personality Roland Martin. Among speakers and facilitators for the three-day conference are Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana Board of Regents commissioner.

    ONLINE: www.sualumni.org

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    Harris, first Black to walk in space, visits Baton Rouge

    On June 26, Dr. Bernard Harris, CEO of the National Math + Science Initiative (NMSI), visited Baton Rouge to kick off NMSI’s Laying the Foundation Teacher training at Woodlawn High School.  With ongoing support from ExxonMobil, the popular training program was recently expanded to an additional 400 teachers across the state, doubling the number of teachers from last year.  In addition to his role at NMSI, Dr. Harris is the founder of The Harris Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports math and science education programs for America’s youth.  Harris worked at NASA for 10 years, where he conducted research in musculoskeletal physiology and disuse osteoporosis.  During his career at NASA, Harris became the first Black person to walk in space.  A veteran astronaut for more than 18 years, he has logged more than 438 hours and traveled more than 7.2 million miles in space.

    Dr. Bernard Harris talks with Summer STEM Lab campers .

    Dr. Bernard Harris talks with Summer STEM Lab campers .

    Dr. Bernard Harris autographs a space mural in North Baton Rouge at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop.

    Dr. Bernard Harris autographs a space mural in North Baton Rouge at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop.

    While in town, Dr. Harris joined ExxonMobil for a tour of the local community.  He interacted with North Baton Rouge students at Summer STEM Lab, a BREC summer camp designed to curb effects of summer learning loss and to increase interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics topics and careers.  Campers were inspired by Harris to realize their potential through problem solving skills learned in STEM courses.

    Dr. Bernard Harris New Orleans artist, Lionel Milton, at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop stand in front of a space-themed mural in North Baton Rouge.

    Dr. Bernard Harris New Orleans artist, Lionel Milton, at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop stand in front of a space-themed mural in North Baton Rouge.

    Following the camp visit, he autographed a space-themed wall mural painted by New Orleans artist, Lionel Milton, at Kuttin’ Kornerz Barbershop.  He wrapped up his tour of Baton Rouge at Knock Knock Children’s Museum where he participated in space related pop-up activities with museum guests.

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    Southern University System Board approves student fee increases across campuses

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors has approved an increase in student fees. The average increase of 4.95 percent affects Southern University Baton Rouge, Southern University New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport and the Southern University Law Center.

    “The Southern University System’s core mission is to provide an accessible, affordable and dynamic educational experience to all students,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president on July 5. “While we recently celebrated the Legislature’s passage of a standstill budget — not to be confused with full funding —  for higher education, this budget does not take into account mandated costs and the formula put forth by the state Board of Regents. Without an increase, which is our last resort, the System’s ability to advance its scope and mission would be severely compromised.”

    Belton cited the more than $40 million decline in state funding the Southern University System has experienced over the past 10 years. The per-semester fee increases for full-time students result from House Bill 113 (Act 293) of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session. Each campus will allocate not less than 5 percent of the revenues realized from these fees to need-based financial assistance to students of eligible to receive a Pell Grant. Fees at the flagship Baton Rouge campus will increase by $217 for undergraduate students and $250 for graduate students; at New Orleans $169 for undergraduate students and $209 for graduate students; at Shreveport $100; and $393 at the Law Center. 

    The additional funds generated from this increase will be used to assist with situations such as offsetting the cost of unfunded mandates, operational costs and the 2018-2019 budget reduction resulting from formula implementation. The System encourages those in need of financial assistance to examine and apply for scholarships and grants through the Southern University System Foundation.

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    Jordan joins Urban Congress on African American Males

    The Urban Congress on African American Males welcomes James “Jay” Jordan who is currently interning with the organization. He is a second-year student pursuing his doctorate in LSU’s Sociology Department. His research interests include: African-American self-government, food security education, and community supported agriculture. Before moving to Baton Rouge, James led an organic gardening program at an elementary school in San Francisco. After falling in love with this work, he moved to Baton Rouge to create child-centered gardening programs and to study the benefits that they offer to people living in food deserts. Given his passion for teaching young children lessons associated with their health and happiness, James will be supporting Urban Congress Goal #3: Expand the number of African American boys entering kindergarten who are ready to learn and who are able to advance annually at or above their grade level. Jordan said he’s very grateful to have the opportunity to work with the Urban Congress because it enables him to join forces with people who are committed to empowering the marginalized citizens of Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
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    Businesses can access new Vendor Self Service Portal for Baton Rouge procurement opportunities

    East Baton Rouge Mayor’s office has launch of the Vendor Self Service portal, a new website that streamlines the processes used by vendors to register and do business with the City-Parish. 

    Vendors can access the VSS portal at http://brla.gov/vss. Those who have not done business with City-Parish previously can register as a new vendor. Existing City-Parish vendors will be mailed the information needed for them to create an account in VSS. After registering for an account in VSS, vendors will have the ability to electronically update their contact information, upload tax forms, set communication preferences, and select the goods and/or services they provide. In addition, vendors will now be able to access a variety of purchase order and payment activities that will allow the vendor to find out if a purchase order has been issued, an invoice has been received, or a check has been written. All of this can be done through the VSS portal without having to contact City-Parish via phone or email.

    “We have heard from numerous businesses about the obstacles they face when searching bids and competing for City-Parish contracts. Based on feedback from these companies, we began listing upcoming procurement opportunities on the City-Parish website,” said Broome. “Our next step is this launch which makes the process more streamlined and efficient for vendors who do business, or wish to do business, with the City-Parish. This new functionality is a result of the City-Parish’s deployment of a modern enterprise resource planning system which replaced a 20-year-old financial and procurement system.”

    For more information on becoming a vendor with the City-Parish, visit http://brla.gov/vendors.  To access the City-Parish’s listing of upcoming procurement opportunities, visit http://city.brla.gov/dept/purchase/purfops.asp.

    Read more »
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    Son shares father’s legacy of Cook’s Theatre

    The North Baton Rouge Blue Ribbon Commission hosted “Meet and Greet with Dr. James Cook Jr., son of Cook’s Theatre founder, the late James Cook Sr.​, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Scotlandville, June 10.
    Dr. Cook, a cardiologist in Medford, Oregon, discussed the history of his family, local community, and the theatre business. According to Councilwoman Chauna Banks, the event “brought back great memories of Cook’s Theatre and the legendary entrepreneurial spirit that was alive and well in the Scotlandville community.”
    Submitted by Rachel Emmanuel Ph.D.
    Feature photograph is of Myrtly Ricard, Lyle Mouton, Natalie Ricard, and Dr. James Cook
    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge flights head nonstop to Austin, Orlando for $99

    Travelers from the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport gain nonstop options to favorite destinations in Texas and Florida starting this fall thanks to a new agreement with Via Airlines.

    The airline has announced it will launch new nonstop service between Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR) and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) in Central Florida and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) in Central Texas on September 13th. The new nonstop flights will operate three times each week to/from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and two times each week to/from Orlando Sanford International Airport with 50-seat Embraer ERJ- 145 jets.
    The BTR – Austin-Bergstrom flights will operate on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays with 1:38 p.m. departures. The BTR – Orlando Sanford International flights will operate on Mondays and Thursdays and depart at 1:48 p.m.

    “Baton Rouge is an amazing city and we’re excited about the opportunity to serve both its business and leisure travelers alike with nonstop jet service to/from both Orlando Sanford International Airport in Central Florida and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Central Texas as we bring the convenience of nonstop flights to these markets as part of our 2018 expansion,” said Matthew Macri, Via Airlines’ Vice President of Operations. “Via Airlines takes pride in being the airline of the hospitality industry. Our jet service to Orlando and Austin will move travelers to and from Baton Rouge far faster and more economical than existing options or traveling by car. When flying with us you are truly our guest, not just a passenger,” said Macri.

    “We are elated that Via Airlines has chosen to partner with Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) as their newest destination for nonstop service,” said Mike Edwards, Interim Director of Aviation at Baton Rouge Metro Airport. “The addition of Via Airlines is yet another positive growth factor for BTR, and is an exciting response to local demand for additional air service options.” “Austin and Orlando are major destinations for both business and leisure travel, and the Greater Baton Rouge community will greatly benefit from these new non-stop routes.”

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said, “Thank you Via Airlines for having the confidence in Baton Rouge to add two new nonstop destinations in Austin and Orlando. Area residents will enjoy visiting the many attractions they have to offer, but the nonstop flights will also be a significant time saver for business travelers whether they are flying from Baton Rouge or into Baton Rouge.”

    “This is a big win for Baton Rouge, and we look forward to a long relationship between our area and Via Airlines,” said Cleve Dunn Jr Airport Commission Chairman.”Attracting low cost carriers has been the mission of our board and staff so that we may give our business and leisure travelers more options to choose from…We are excited to have Via Airlines call Baton Rouge Metro Airport home. It is our hope that this announcement is one of many more to come. This historic announcement will provide direct flights to Austin, Texas for the first time ever and reestablish direct flights to Orlando, Florida for the first time in over 5 years. By securing these new markets with a low cost carrier like Via Airlines, it will help us to increase our enplanements, increase our connectivity and decrease our leakage. The Via Airlines proposed rates of (less than $100) per one-way flight will help us to be more competitive with the New Orleans International Airport in these markets.”

    Jim Caldwell, BTR Marketing & Air Service Development Manager, noted the importance of community support for the new service. “Via Airlines is an established, quality airline that is giving us a great opportunity for new service that is not easy for smaller airports to secure in today’s airline environment. We encourage travelers to support the flights for both vacation and business travel to ensure their success, which can potentially lead to more flights.”

    Limited, introductory discounted fares are available by visiting flyviaair.com or calling 800-565-5042. Via Airlines also participates in the GDS (Global Distribution Systems), allowing bookings through local travel agencies, online travel agencies (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.), and corporate reservations booking tools.

    Baton Rouge (BTR) to/from Orlando Sanford (SFB):
    Days of Operation: Mondays and Thursdays
    Time of Operation: Depart BTR @ 1:48 pm Arrive SFB @ 4:30 pm
    Depart SFB @ 11:45 am Arrive BTR @ 12:45 pm
    Baton Rouge (BTR) to/from Austin (AUS):
    Days of Operation: Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays
    Time of Operation: Depart BTR @ 1:38 pm Arrive AUS @ 3:08 pm
    Depart AUS @ 11:45 am Arrive BTR @ 1:03 pm

    Read more »
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    Who to Watch: Dawn C. Collins

    Dawn C. Collins is an East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member and community advocate. The Lee High School graduate and Baton Rouge native, is a governor’s appointee to the East Baton Rouge Parish Board of Elections Supervisors. She began her professional career at Louisiana Department of Health where she was responsible for program-related data management. A grassroots organizer, Collins, who is 42, gives data-driven strategic consultation to campaigns and handles government affairs and training programs for non-profit organizations.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017:    Was elected to public service on the East Baton Rouge School Board, District 4, on March 6,2016.

    What to expect in 2018 from you: I will be fighting for teacher and support staff pay raises in order to retain and attract the best educators for our children. Several community-wide events are on the horizon that will not only galvanize support for schools but help develop a sense of togetherness on this side of North Baton Rouge.  We have tremendous community assets, and we should celebrate them.

    Personal resolution:  Seize the Day.

    Life/business motto: Integrity. PERIOD.

    Business resolution: Uplift community.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Getting re-elected to School Board so that I can keep fighting for progress in our schools.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Breathe

    Role Models: My humble mother, Yolanda Castle Chanet; State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith; and political guru, Ben Jeffers

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward?  A very bad experience when my children were in elementary school compelled me to be an education advocate.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? “Best of Me” by Anthony Hamilton and “Really Love” by De’Angelo

    What are you reading? “The Originals” by Adam Grant

    What’s entertaining you? “Queen Sugar” – The depth of each character is amazing, plus I absolutely love Violet and Hollywood›s relationship. Also, Netflix’s “Black Mirror” – It’s so on point in so many ways.

    Website: DawnChanetCollins.com

    Social media: facebook.com/littleorganizerthatcould

    @DDCollins76 on both Twitter and Instagram ℜ

    Read more »
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    Historic independent police monitor bill heads to Governor’s desk

    The Louisiana House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that recognizes the potential value for local law enforcement agencies of an independent police monitor.

    House Concurrent Resolution 98, sponsored by State Representative Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, received final passage and heads to Gov. John bel Edwards’ desk for signature.

    The legislation provides responsibilities of an independent police monitor, recognizes the potential value for local law enforcement agencies of an independent police monitor, and encourages parish and municipal governing authorities to consider the advantages of such a position for its respective sheriff’s office or police department.

    Hunter presented the resolution on the house floor stating, “effective policing requires effective community support; policing is not done in a vacuum; if civilians are to be as safe as possible, they must work collaboratively with law enforcement officers and agencies, but if citizens come to perceive law enforcement officers to be as much of a threat to their safety as are criminals, the health of the community deteriorates rapidly.”

    Additionally, the resolution states, though citizens and local elected officials desire to hold sheriff’s deputies and municipal police officers to very high standards of integrity and service, many aspects of a law enforcement agency are unique to the law enforcement field. Special expertise is required to evaluate and improve internal practices, procedures, and culture. General management experts and local officials may not be in the best position to determine whether a particular department is fulfilling its duties in a way that meets such high standards; and an independent police monitor can fill that gap by combining law enforcement expertise with an outside-the-department perspective. Thereby playing a role that neither a member of the department nor a traditional government executive or inspector general can play.

    COMPLETE HCR 98

    This bill provides advisement and benefit of developing local police monitoring agencies to build trust and collaboration between law enforcement agencies and citizens. Cultivating agencies that strive for superior community service in every facet of life, including hiring and promotion, training, discipline, interagency cooperation and community outreach.

    By On Notice 4 Justice

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    Judge Piper Griffin named Louisiana Judicial Council Chairperson

    Louisiana boasts the largest number of Black  judges per capita and the Louisiana Judicial Council/National Bar Association prides itself on being the voice of its membership.  The Council recently installed as the organization’s 10th chairperson was Judge Piper D. Griffin during its 20th annual meeting in Baton Rouge last month.

    Griffin has served as the organization’s secretary for many years and most recently as its Chair Elect. Judge Griffin currently serves on the Orleans Parish Civil District Court since her election in 2001. She also serves as Chair of the 4th and 5th Circuit Judges Association, Secretary of the Louisiana Judicial Council Foundation/NBA, Treasurer of the Louisiana District Judges Association, President of the St. Katharine Drexel Prep Board of Directors (formerly Xavier Prep) and President of the Crescent City Chapter of the Links, Inc.

    Other judges installed to new board included Judge June B. Darensburg as chair-elect, Judge Regina B. Woods as treasurer, Judge Rachael Johnson as secretary, Judge Angelique Reed and Judge Adrian Adams as district representatives, and Judge Madeline Jasmine, past chair.

    With a theme of “Advancing Judicial Competence,” organizers said the meeting saw meaningful continuing legal education and dialogue amongst the bench and bar. The Conference began with a community service activity and frank conversation with civil rights activist and attorney, 99-year-old Johnny Jones. A reception honoring retired Baton Family Court Judge Luke A. LaVergne took place at the home of former Congressman and State Senator Cleo and Debra Fields. The meeting was chaired by Judge Wilson Fields of the 19th Judicial District Court. Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson swore in the newly elected officers.

    Read more »
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    Southern University wins in NIS national oral and poster competitions

    Southern University and A&M College was well represented by 30 undergraduate and 5 graduate students who participated in the 75th Joint Annual Meeting of the National Institute of Science and Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honors Society, in Washington, DC.   This scientific conference, hosted by the University of the District of Columbia, aimed to provide young scientists the opportunity to disseminate their research findings and to network with students and peers of like minds.   This Diamond Anniversary Year represents the 75th one for the joint annual meetings of Beta Kappa Chi (BKX) and the National Institute of Science (NIS). Southern University students won several awards at the conference.

    Oral Presentations

    Irene Lewis   1st Place Agricultural Sciences undergraduate

    Kirstin Brooks 2nd Place Psychology undergraduate

    Gagandeep Kaur 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Poster Presentations

    Prathusha Bagam 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Demario Vallier 2nd Place Poster Biology graduate

    Students and faculty were elected to national offices as well.  Deadra James Mackie was elected as national executive secretary for the 18th year, student officer, Joenique Woods, was unanimously chosen as the Southcentral Regional Vice President for Beta Kappa Chi and secretary for the National Institute of Science.  Honors student, Ikea McKay, was elected president of the National Institute of Science and Darrell Harry was chosen as student secretary for Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society and Treasure for the National Institute of Sciences.  As expected, the Jaguar nation made an indelible mark on the conference.

    Beta Kappa Chi Honor Society was founded in Lincoln, Pennsylvania in 1921, and chartered in 1923.  BKX is a member of the certifying body, the National Association of College Honor Societies (www.achsnatl.org).

    Travel to this endeavor would not have been possible were it not for the financial support of the Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes Honors College and the Timbuktu Academy, both led by Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D., the Southern University Foundation, through the Office of Robert Easley, the College of Sciences and Engineering dean Patrick Carriere,Ph.D., and the Department of Biological Sciences.  Collective contributions from these units allowed the students to have scholarly and professional experiences. The students’ advisors were Eric Pugh, Deidra Atkins-Ball, Phyllis Okwan, and Deadra James Mackie. Bagayoko said “the Jaguar Nation is very proud of them for their intellectual and leadership accomplishments.”

     

    Pictured: (first row) Deadra J. Mackie, Dr. Deidra Atkins-Ball, Paige Mitchell, Wes Washington, Joenique Woods, Ashley Lewis, Irene Lewis, Eric Pugh, Chloe Washington, Tiara Johnson, Dr. Phyllis Okwan and Brandon Parker; (Second row) Terani Dillahunty, Kirstin Brooks, Kelvin Wells, Jacara Glover, Jonathan Sumbler, Ikea McKay Naila McCraney, Darrell Harry, Demario Vallier and Edgar Perez

     

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  • ,,

    Interview with Donney Rose on Black Out Loud

    The Black Out Loud Conference, to be held in Baton Rouge Aug. 10-12, is a three-day event designed to celebrate Black visibility in the realm of the arts, media and activism and to assist participants with tools and resources to better push their narratives from outside the margins to center. Spearheaded by poet, teaching artist, and activist, Donney Rose – Black Out Loud draws its name from Rose’s Feb. 2017 book of the same name that celebrated Black American culture.

    Q: What inspired the concept of the Black Out Loud Conference?
    A: Last year I was writing a bunch of Facebook posts in celebration of Black culture during Black History Month (Feb. 2017). Those posts shaped into a book of prose at the request and support of my online community. Because the posts were in tribute to celebrating the often ignored/misrepresented identities within Black American culture, I began to think about what would a whole gathering of people looked like if it was centered around the idea of spotlighting the stories of marginalized people.

    Q: Why is this conference important for Baton Rouge?
    A: Baton Rouge is my hometown and the place that fostered all of my perspective around race/race relations, for better or worse. It is a city that is home to many progressive, liberation-minded individuals, but also steeped in cultural norms of bigotry, racism and exclusion. It is not enough for a select few ‘exceptional’ Black people to have their voices amplified, but for a larger swath of the Black population to feel emboldened to tell and live their truths, void of those truths being misinterpreted or co-opted for someone else’s benefit. Because Baton Rouge is home to two large universities and a city that has an influx of revolving residents, many of whom are young people of color, it is important for those people to be able to see this city be a place that is not just tolerant of them, but one that validates their existence and their stories.

    Q: Who are some of the key people involved in Black Out Loud?
    A: We have a core team of people planning the conference who bring various levels of expertise to the table in the realms of funding development, public relations, talent management and volunteerism. The main conference day, Aug. 11, will feature a keynote address by Van Lathan of TMZ, who had one of the biggest moments in Black America in 2018 when he argued with Kanye West about his views on slavery. In addition, we are bringing in workshop facilitators and panelists who are experts in the fields of art, media and activism to talk about and share best practices with participants about controlling their narrative/making sure their struggle is not dismissed.

    Q: What is the role of non-Black people who seek to be involved in the conference?

    A: You do not have to be an African American, but you should be aware that the center piece of this conference is the Black narrative. Meaning that if a non-Black participant is engaging with Black Out Loud, their plan should be to learn and engage, but not to seek to center themselves. We have had non-Black people sign up to volunteer and the idea with volunteerism from non-Black people (specifically white volunteers) is one in which their volunteerism is truly from a place of supportive service and not from a place of taking up visibility or centering themselves.

    Q: Where can people go to find more information?
    A: The central information hub is the Black Out Loud Conference 2018 Facebook page. We also have a Twitter and Instagram account (@blackoutloudbr). Questions can be sent to blackoutloudbr@gmail.com. A website is forthcoming, but all information including registration, volunteerism, sponsorship etc. can be accessed from the FB page

    Donney Rose is a poet, teaching artist, and community activist from Baton Rouge. He is the marketing director for the arts-based non-profit, Forward Arts, Inc., where he also works as a teaching artist facilitating creative writing workshops in various Greater Baton Rouge Area schools. Donney holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge. He is the co-host of Drawl, a Southern spoken word podcast. In April 2018, Donney became a 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. 

When not facilitating workshops, Donney hones his own craft of writing and performing poetry. He is the author of The Crying Buck, an acclaimed chapbook of poetry that delves into Black masculinity and vulnerability through a critical lens, and Black Out Loud, a collection of prose-style poetic interpretations of Black History Month 2017. His work as a performance poet/writer has been featured in a variety of publications, including Atlanta Black Star, Blavity, Button Poetry, All Def Digital, Slam Find, [225], Drunk In A Midnight Choir, and Nicholls State University’s Gris-Gris literary journal. Donney also contributed two scholarly articles to the St. James Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Culture, 1st Edition (St. James Press, February 2018) 

While Donney has always used his voice to entertain, uplift, and inspire — a true community activist emerged in the summer of 2016. Baton Rouge had become the familiar scene that so many American cities have experienced, with the shooting death of a black man by a Baton Rouge Police officer. Donney not only acted immediately, but he has remained a pivotal community voice through the turmoil, sharing his thoughts to bring light to to his city on local, national, and international platforms, including BBC, HuffPost, The New York Times, PBS’ Democracy Now, and The Advocate. In the week’s following the widely publicized incident, protests and militarized policing took over Baton Rouge, followed by the killings of several Baton Rouge law enforcement officers, and finally by a thousand-year flood encompassing much of Louisiana. Donney gave his voice to these causes, most notably contributing to the Fight the Flood album, a project by various artists to benefit the Capital Area United Way’s flood relief projects. And while all of this was occurring, Donney was experiencing a very personal loss with the passing of a beloved and promising student, for whom he has worked to honor through dedicated community work.  

He is a member of the 2017 Greater Baton Rouge Business Report Forty under 40 class, the recipient of the Ink Festival’s inaugural Making a Mark award (2017, Tupelo, Miss.), and New Venture Theatre’s 2016 Humanitarian of the Year award. Donney lives in his hometown of Baton Rouge with his wife and fellow writer, Leslie, and their twin cats, Jalen and Derrick. 

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    IWE Festival returns to Baton Rouge with May 26th Kickoff 

    Councilwoman Erika L. Green, in partnership with Southern University and A&M College and beBATONROUGE, will host the 2nd Annual IWE Festival which will be held on Saturday, June 9, 2018 from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM on the bluff of Southern University and A&M College.

    The festival is a community-wide intergenerational cultural initiative–called IWE FESTIVAL. IWE (Yoruba for book) FESTIVAL presents opportunity to enjoy a vibrant array of literary works through creativity, art, and culture.

    The free-to-the-public, family friendly festival will feature national, regional and local talent including:
    Derrick Barnes, author of “CROWN: An Ode to The Fresh Cut” and the chapter book series “Ruby and the Booker Boys” & Winner of the 2018 Jack Keats Award
    Sanderia Faye , author of “Mourner’s Bench” winner of the Hurston/Wright LegacyAward in debut fiction
    Music by Shaun Ward Xperience and Sweet Southern Heat
    Sole Lab – Event Disc Jockey

    IWE Festival aims to engage the entire region in positive literary expressions, cultural celebrations and engaging conversation related to key issues of courage, heroism, race integration and cultural equality—all issues that are of key concern to our leaders and community stakeholders today.

    “My vision was to bring people together around a theme that inspires and intrigues
    people of all ages, genders and interest. Literacy does everything from educate to entertain
    and that is what IWE FESTIVAL is about, “ says founder, Councilwoman Erika L. Green -
    District 5. IWE Festival is an initiative of Green’s foundation Imagination Leads. Imagination Leads mission is to promote culturally diverse experiences in literacy and the arts; and to provide leadership development programs for young Black Women.

    Leading up to IWE FESTIVAL, Green and partners will host a variety of activities including 2 pop-up book giveaways : May 20th at Interdenominational Faith Assembly and June 3rd at Oasis Christian Center. The signature kick-off event “RENDEZVOUS”, hosted by partner beBATONROUGE, will be held on Saturday, May 26th at the EBR Library Main Library -Plaza 7711 Goodwood Blvd. from 6pm-8pm. We welcome interested sponsors, authors, artists and culture influencers to attend the Kick Off Event commence the countdown to the inaugural festival event.

    ONLINE: www.iwefestival.com

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    PERSPECTIVE: Local laws should reflect local values; Baton Rouge needs civil rights commission

    As the capital and second largest city in Louisiana, Baton Rouge has great cultural, historical and economic significance. But is it a city of true opportunity? A lack of protections from discrimination would  indicate that Baton Rouge is not. This is because our municipal code does not currently declare civil rights for any of its citizens. More than 230 U.S. cities have some form of non-discrimination laws.

    Many of these cities established commissions before the passage of the Civil Rights Act to protect their citizens that were not granted protections at the state and federal level. Many of these cities (such as Shreveport, Birmingham, and Jackson) have created  Civil Rights Commission which is a governing body that accepts complaints based upon discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations for protected classes.  

    The structure and activities of a Civil Rights Commission in each city varies based on the language of the city’s municipal code and the needs of citizens, but generally they have acted as mediators between its citizenry and businesses. As time went on, these cities later amended their laws to include more groups of people to protect.  But it’s important to note that state and federal protections are lacking coverage for certain classes.

    The citizens of Baton Rouge have always longed for corporations to see our city as a viable option for setting up offices.  Amazon was previously scouting cities to place its new HQ2 corporate offices.  Without something in place such as an ordinance and commission, Baton Rouge was quickly removed from any list of prospects. Charlotte, North Carolina, lost major attractions like the NCAA’s Final Four games to Louisiana’s own New Orleans because of lack of inclusive laws. Large corporations want to make sure that the customers and clients they bring to a city are welcomed wherever they go. In addition, each year, The Human Rights Campaign evaluates 509 cities including Baton Rouge.  The Human Rights Campaign is a well recognized, credible non-profit organization that advocates for civil rights across the nation. As of 2017, The Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index scored Baton Rouge 36 out of 100 points, which puts the city after New Orleans, Shreveport and Alexandria. If Baton Rouge were to adopt a civil rights ordinance and establish a commission it’s estimated the HRC score would almost double.

    In 2017, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued an executive order to expand efforts to increase the enterprise participation of small businesses in city-parish contracts, including those owned by minorities, women and veterans. This effort was part of her goal to make Baton Rouge “a progressive, inclusive and just community.” A civil rights ordinance and having a civil rights commission is would be a step forward for Baton Rouge.  Since there is a lack of protections within the city-parish, cases of discrimination are currently deferred to state and federal policies that are not suited to the people of Baton Rouge.  Our local laws should reflect our local values and send the message to potential employers and employees that we are a welcoming city with a infamous Louisiana spirit.  

    By Christine Assaf
    Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge

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    Payday lenders fail to win Louisiana’s representatives approval for expansion

    The House Commerce Committee on Wednesday, May 9, rejected a push by the national payday lending industry to expand its Louisiana operations and make the debt trap deeper and longer for vulnerable borrowers. Witnesses testified to the harms payday lending already inflicts on Louisiana families, as well as the availability of much cheaper and less harmful alternatives.

    6 Carmen Green JS journalist“We applaud the nine committee members who voted against Senate Bill 365 for standing with the people of Louisiana and against predatory lenders who trap hardworking people in debt they can’t afford,” said Carmen Green, state policy fellow of the Louisiana Budget Project. “Payday lending is not the short-term cushion that their lobbyists make it out to be; it is set up to milk people for the cash they need to keep their families going.”

    The bill was opposed by a broad array of organizations including the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, the credit union industry and even local payday lenders. Fourteen groups signed an open letter to Louisiana legislators urging their opposition to the bill, including the Louisiana NAACP, faith groups, and advocates for low-income families.

    “Payday lenders will try to tell you our communities need these loans. We don’t. We need safe, responsible resources for people who are struggling to make it, not debt traps disguised as short-term relief, but that actually confiscate big chunks of their customers’ wages over weeks, months and even years,” said Byron Sharper, President of the Baton Rouge chapter of the Louisiana NAACP. “Payday lenders are known to target communities of color in particular, so the NAACP has long opposed this predatory business model.”

    Read more »
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    COMMENTARY: Push for new constitution is suspicious

    A small group of apparently well-funded interest groups are pushing for a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution for the state of Louisiana. Lobbyists have been hired to promote the idea and rumors are circulating that big money will be spent on advertising and electing delegates to the convention. That’s enough to raise suspicions but there are more reasons to be concerned about a convention; primarily that the proponents, whether in the legislature or out, won’t say what the new constitution should contain. How better to sell an idea? Simply make it a vote for a blank slate and claim it’s the panacea for solving state budget problems without explaining how.

    The complaints about the current constitution made by the proponents of HB 500 (the legislative instrument needed to convene a convention) include that it is too long (because of amendments voted on by the people) and that it “locks up” too much state spending. Of course much of the spending that is locked up has nothing to do with the constitution. Mandated federal spending, contractual obligations, consent decrees, election costs and the like add up to billions. Moreover, the constitutionally dedicated fund that contains the real money is the K-12 education fund (the “MFP”) and most of the others are simply trust funds not dependent on yearly appropriations (Coastal Restoration, Rainy Day, various tobacco litigation funds) or have a dedicated funding source (D.O.T.D. funded by the gas tax) or are simply too small to matter. I haven’t heard any of my constituents screaming about the overfunding of public education or that our infrastructure is in great shape and thus we need to take money away from the Transportation Trust Fund. The proponents of HB 500 haven’t said such things either because if that’s what they’re after, it wouldn’t pass the legislature. So what do they want? Our homestead exemption? Our education funding? the prohibition against donations of public property? To eliminate the 2/3 vote required to raise taxes? Some suspect an effort to shift the tax burden to the middle class and simultaneously preserve tax breaks for special interests. We need some answers as to what these proponents of a new constitution actually want. Until we get some truthful answers the public should demand a no vote on HB 500.

    Sincerely,

    Jay Morris
    State Representative / District 14
    Monroe, La

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Kedric Taylor announced as interim director of Southern University ‘Human Jukebox’ Band

    Southern University President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton today announced Kedric Taylor, associate director of bands, as interim director of bands. Lawrence Jackson, a former director of bands, will serve as a consultant to the band department and University administration on matters regarding band operations.

    Taylor, a Southern alumnus, participated in the Southern University Marching Band (“Human Jukebox”) for four years while he was a student. He has worked with the band department since 2014.

    A native of Mobile, Alabama, Taylor previously served as head director of the Baker High School band and as a teacher in Jackson, Louisiana. In his role as associate director of bands at Southern, Taylor has been responsible for music arrangement, band rehearsals, as well as directing the saxophone and wind ensembles.

    Taylor also has served as an adjudicator for numerous “battle of the bands” competitions and as a guest clinician for districts in the southern region. In addition, he is director of bands for the Louisiana Leadership Institute, which consists of high school students from around the state.

    Taylor, who is an instructor in the College of Arts, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies at Southern, holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern and a master’s degree from North Central University. He has also studied at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago.

    Southern’s administration is currently in the process of launching a formal search for a permanent director of bands.

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  • ,,

    Mayor Broome launches Buy Baton Rouge program

    In celebration of Small Business Week, Mayor Broome kicked off Buy Baton Rouge, a new program aimed at encouraging purchases of goods and services from local businesses throughout the city and parish. Buy Baton Rouge is in partnership with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and two local apps, sLocal and SellSwipe, that both focus on bolstering local businesses.

    “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy – they play a critical role in the vitality of our community and aid in uplifting the areas surrounding them,” said Mayor Broome. “We want to encourage residents to buy local whenever possible, and utilize these two home-grown apps to find great deals and discover local products.”

    sLocal is an educational initiative that builds community by supporting education, promoting local businesses, and generating consumer savings. sLocal has created a dynamic mobile platform for local businesses to creatively market their products and services and currently has over 175 participating Baton Rouge businesses.

    “sLocal is thankful for the tremendous support from Mayor Broome and shares her deep commitment to education and local business,” said J.P. Kelly, co-founder of sLocal. “As an incentive, the sLocal Team is offering two months of free membership, and a monthly subscription rate of $25/month for EBR-based businesses after that. Over the next month, we will double the amount that will be given back to the schools in our community.”

    sLocal’s promotional code is “MayorBroomeSBI” which stands for Mayor Broome Small Business Initiative.

    Buy Baton Rouge is also partnering with SellSwipe, a hyperlocal social network centered around product discovery from local businesses. Their goal is to personalize the entire shopper’s journey through advanced analytics, connecting consumers to businesses within their community, while also connecting consumers with each other.

    “By using our innovative technologies to embed ourselves within the community, SellSwipe will allow the next generation to form real relationships with local businesses – businesses who provide goods & services that locals might otherwise look elsewhere for,” said David Facey, Founder of SellSwipe. “Our mission is to contribute to a healthy local commerce ecosystem, and make the term “shop local” fun, engaging, and effective.”

    “Small businesses are major drivers of entrepreneurialism, account for nearly all net job growth, and make up the majority of all businesses, both here in Baton Rouge and nationally,” said Ric Kearny, chairman of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber board of directors. “BRAC is proud to partner with the city on the Buy Baton Rouge program, and encourages both small businesses and the local community to engage with it.”

    sLocal is available on the App Store or Google Play and SellSwipe is available on Google Play. Businesses that want to join SellSwipe’s social network can email contact@sellswipe.com to set up their profile and start uploading items they have for sale. Shoppers will be able to go to www.SellSwipe.com to register for access to the beta iOS application at the beginning of June.

    Read more »
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    14 groups and BR NAACP petition legislators to stop bill that expands predatory lending

    Legislation backed by the national payday lending industry that would expand their operations in the state narrowly passed the Louisiana Senate by a vote of 20-17 on Tuesday, May 1. Predatory payday already lending drains more than $240 million each year from Louisiana workers by saddling vulnerable borrowers with high-interest loans that they often cannot afford. But instead of working to address this problem, the Senate has voted to make it worse.

    Senate Bill 365 would expand predatory lending in Louisiana by allowing payday and car title lenders to issue “installment loans” with annual interest rates of up to 167 percent. The bill is being pushed by national predatory loan corporations as a way to evade new federal consumer protection regulations. Similar bills have already been rejected in several other states (Florida being the lone exception).

    “We see too many people taken down the path of financial ruin by payday lenders in Louisiana already,” said Carmen Green, State Policy Fellow of the Louisiana Budget Project.”This bill should not even be on the table. We ask our lawmakers to stand with the hardworking people of our state and not the payday lending industry.”

    Fourteen groups signed an open letter to Louisiana legislators urging their opposition to the bill, including the Louisiana NAACP, faith groups, and advocates for low-income families.

    “Payday lenders will try to tell you our communities need these loans. We don’t. We need safe, responsible resources for people who are struggling to make it, not debt traps disguised as short-term relief, but actually confiscate big chunks of their customers’ wages over weeks, months and even years,” said Bryon Sharper, President of the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Louisiana NAACP. “SB 365 adds a new triple-digit interest cash-stripping mechanism to what we’ve already got in this state. It is absurd and will hit low-income people hard. Payday lenders are known to target communities of color in particular, so the NAACP has long opposed this predatory business model.”

    The Louisiana Legislature should be looking to expand consumer protection rather greenlight an expansion of the predatory lending industry.

    For more information about Senate Bill 365, click here.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Perkins has been appointed as library’s PR director

    Kayla D. Perkins has been appointed as the new East Baton Rouge Public Library Public Relations Director. Perkins has been employed by the Library for five years. She will be responsible for coordinating marketing and promotion of all library programs, services and resources and direct responsibility for ads, news releases, media appearances and The Source, the library’s monthly newsletter. Perkins is a native of Baton Rouge, LA and a graduate of Southern University.

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    Alumni host annual crawfish boil, music festival, May 5

    The Southern University Alumni Federation Home Chapter is hosting its 6th Annual Crawfish Boil and Music Festival on Saturday, May 5 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at BREC’s Greenwood Community Park in Baker.

    Guests will enjoy boiled crawfish or fried catfish, a live performance by Stephanie McDee, games for the kids, vendors, a Stroll-off, a Cook-off and the Southern University Human Jukebox band.  The park also features a hiking trail and splash pad.

    “I’m so excited to give our alumni, friends, and supporters another great opportunity to come together, eat some great food and support our great university,” said Home Chapter President Cortny Jarrell.

    Proceeds will help fund scholarships and alumni recruitment. Early bird tickets are $25 per person until May 2. After May 2, tickets are $35 per person.

    To purchase tickets, go to www.suhomechapter.com or call (225) 443-2167.

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    South Baton Rouge Breast Cancer Walk and Health Fair start at 7am, May 19

    The Wall of Fame Committee, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, Susan G. Komen® Baton Rouge, State Rep. Patricia Smith, Sen. Yvonne Colomb, and other community groups and civic-minded individuals are hosting a community-wide breast cancer walk and health fair on Saturday, May 19, 2018, 7am—1pm at the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center, 950 East Washington Street.

    Woman’s Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center will have mobile units on site for health screenings; and other valuable information and services will be available, as well as free t-shirts, conference bags and other exciting giveaways. Please help us to encourage strong participation in this important community event!

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    Kina Kimble appointed commissioner of 19th judicial court

    Judges of the 19th Judicial District Court recently appointed Kina Kimble as one of two court commissioners after the resignation of Quintillis Lawrence. Commissioners are quasi-judges who make recommendations to judges. As a commissioner, Kimble can set bail for newly arrested prisoners, and also sign search warrants, arrest warrants, subpoenas, and seizure orders for foreclosures. She can also take indictment returns from grand juries. Kimble is a 2005 Southern University Law Center graduate who had been an assistant public defender since 2013. She was an adjunct professor of criminal and juvenile law in the Southern Law Center Clinical Educational Department from 2010 to 2015. As a commissioner, Kimble handles numerous prisoner lawsuits filed annually against the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections, applications for post-conviction relief, and uncontested applications to expunge certain criminal records. The court’s other commissioner is Nicole Robinson

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  • ,,

    Not sure what’s on the April 28th ballot for East Baton Rouge Parish school tax renewal

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 1 of 3 – 0.51% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)
    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in funding repairs and renovations, enhancing technology and construction of new classrooms and schools in the public school system in East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of fifty-one hundredths of one percent (0.51%) (the “Tax”) (an estimated $43,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District, (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.46% and July 1, 2020 for 0.05%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 2 of 3 – 0.08% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in improving the educational environment in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System by improving discipline, providing alternative education and reducing truancy in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of eight hundredths of one percent (0.08%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $6,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.07% and July 1, 2020 for 0.01%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 3 of 3 – 0.41% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in increasing compensation of teachers and other school system employees in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of forty-one hundredths of one percent (0.41%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $35,300,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective date of April 1, 2019, with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Capitol High School EBR Tax Opposition

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  • ,

    SU, BRCC sign articulation agreement for STEM students

    Officials from Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University and A&M College signed a Memorandum of Understanding signifying the agreement between the schools to facilitate the articulation of coursework and to provide a seamless transfer of BRCC Associate of Science students into the SUBR College of Sciences and Engineering to earn a Bachelor of Science.

    The agreement, which is effective immediately, was signed by Dr. Ray Belton, President/Chancellor SU System; Dr. Larissa Littleton-Steib, Chancellor BRCC; Dr. James Ammons, Executive Vice President/Executive Vice Chancellor, SUBR; Dr. Toni Manogin, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, BRCC; Dr. Patrick Carriere, Dean of College of Sciences and Engineering, SUBR; and Ms. Laura Younger. Dean of STEM Division, BRCC.

    “We are excited to build upon our current partnership with Southern University to continuously enrich our students’ transfer and workforce opportunities,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib. “This agreement will not only allow a seamless transfer for our students pursuing bachelor degrees in STEM-related fields, but it will also encourage future students to consider the endless opportunities available to them by starting their college careers at Baton Rouge Community College. We are grateful to the Southern University System for this partnership.”

    “This agreement between two of the leading institutions of higher learning in the state is another step in expanding our offerings in STEM,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge. “This new program will allow a greater number of students to seamlessly matriculate and obtain their bachelor’s degrees right here in Baton Rouge. We look forward to their success and another great partnership with BRCC.”

    Under the agreement, BRCC students who receive the Associate of Science degree in Computer Science or General Science following the prescribed coursework and declaration of intent to pursue the Bachelor of Science in the College of Sciences and Engineering at SUBR, will be admitted to SUBR as a junior upon successful completion of the BRCC AS degree with an overall GPA of 2.0 on all work attempted. 

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    Angela Rye to speak at Southern University Spring Commencement

    Political commentator and social activist Angela Rye will be the speaker for Southern University’s spring commencement. The ceremony will be held in the F.G. Clark Activity Center on May 11 at 10 a.m.

    A prominent strategist, Rye can be seen regularly on several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC and TV One. She has also been featured in publications such as Marie Claire, Ebony and the Washington Post. Her dialogue from political campaigns to legislation and administration policies that have long-term implications nationally and internationally.

    Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Rye says she learned the importance of advocacy through her family’s political and community activism. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law.

    Rye is principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. Her past appointments include serving as the executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress. In this role, Rye was tasked with developing the overall legislative and political strategy for the Caucus. Prior to working for the CBC, she served as senior adviser and counsel to the House Committee on Homeland Security under the leadership of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson. Upon moving to Washington, Rye co-founded IMPACT, a nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement.

    Rye serves on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (CBCPAC), the Seattle University School of Law Alumni, Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network, Inclusv, and Wilberforce University. She is a member of The Links Inc., National Bar Association, American Bar Association, and the Washington Government Relations Group.

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  • Community responds to AG’s decision, firing of Salamoni in Sterling case

    Community responds to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s decision and the Baton Rouge Police Department’s firing of Blane Salamoni in Alton Sterling case.

    Senator Regina Barrow
    Louisiana Legislature

    I’m disappointed with the decision from Attorney General Landry regarding Alton Sterling’s death. I’m upset that he took this long to do what I believe was already determined months ago. And, while I support law enforcement, I believe we must be a community of accountability. I hope we can have the kind of law enforcement we can all be proud of. I remain committed to seeing our communities become the best they can be for all of us. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome
    East Baton Rouge Parish

    Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul concluded his administrative investigation and has made a decision in the Alton Sterling case. I have placed my trust in Chief Paul and fully support his decision. I am grateful for his leadership and his swift, decisive, and fair action on this matter. Although the investigations into this case have concluded, the dialogue does not end today. I pledge to continue to lead and facilitate respectful conversations between the community and law enforcement in an effort to build trust and understanding on both sides. The backdrop of this Holy Weekend serves as an opportunity for our community to move toward collective healing. While support and prayers for the Sterling family are encouraged, we know that these alone will not heal their family or our community. It is vital that lessons are learned from this tragedy and that we apply our knowledge to prevent future incidents and implement policies that make this community safer and more unified.

    Rev. Lee T. Wesley

    Rev. Lee Wesley

    Rev. Lee Wesley

    Together Baton Rouge 

    Baton Rouge Police Department Chief Murphy J. Paul did two things that showed leadership and wisdom.  He said “unreasonable fear within an officer is dangerous.” Those words are echoing across the country right now. Second, he challenged us to work toward police reform and higher pay for officers as two things that need to go together, not competing visions. That’s exactly the right vision we need to work towards as a community. We thank our Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Chief Paul for their leadership.

    State Representative Randal L. Gaines

    Randal Gaines

    Randal Gaines

    Chairman, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus 

    We, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus members, would like to express our disappointment in the apparent lack of justice that was demonstrated by the recent decision in the Alton Sterling police shooting. This lack of judicial action is consistent with an unfortunate pattern of “failure to prosecute” in cases that raise the question of excessive use of deadly force against Black male victims.

    It is vitally important that our law enforcement authorities continue to strengthen standards, enhance training, and enforce departmental policies that enable our police departments to recruit and retain high quality law enforcement officers, as well as maintain reasonable policies that present a threat to the safety and personal well-being of our citizens.

    It is also critically, important that we instill public confidence in our justice system by ensuring that any individual whose deliberate unlaw actions result in injury or loss of life of another are prosecuted under applicable provisions of law.

    Donovan Hudson
    Attorney

    A meaningful, powerful response is needed. One that will resonate powerfully to galvanize us all to the realization that such actions, (the killing of Mr. Sterling as well as the institutional responses) by those cloaked in authority, are intolerable and perpetuate institutional injustice in our criminal justice systems, as well as those systems (social and economic) that serve as underlying reasons for these tragedies. I suggest such actions MUST be much more than the brief eruption of street marches and protests, but must start with personal commitments by those opposed to this type of matter and response, to stop going along with unjust systems for the sake of expedient comfort. The apparently small wrongs that are not met with opposition form the base for explosive and more dramatic wrongs, but the ultimate corrosive results are the same in both instances: the destructive de-valuation of lives.

    Ernest Johnson JD
    Former President, Louisiana NAACP  State Conference

    Firing is not Enough. We demand a Grand Jury! We demand AG Landry convene a grand jury and Open the Grand Jury to the public/press!

    This can still happen legally!

    What We Need!

    1. Our Elected Officials to apply consistent pressure for this case to be heard by a Grand Jury.

    2. Consistent Community Members congregating on his steps until he agrees to let the case be heard by a Grand Jury.

    3. Jam their phone lines and email boxes until he agrees to let this be heard by a Grand Jury.

    4. This state needs all 24 Black Caucus votes to pass a state budget. We need our elected officials to not vote on Approving this budget without the AG sending this case to a Grand Jury.

    After watching the video showing the murder of Alton Sterling, we all should be willing to fight HARDER!  AG Landry can still reconsider and have this matter heard by a Grand Jury, and this should be our ask!  Some may think this is extreme, but I watched a video surrounded by extreme circumstances. AG Landry has clearly abused his power, and we need our elected officials to take on this fight!

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Assistant Director, ACLU of Louisiana

    On March 27, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that his office would not bring criminal charges against the two police officers who shot and killed Alton Sterling as he lay pinned by them to the ground in front of a convenience store in Baton Rouge.

    Attorney General Landry’s decision is two contradictory things: It is shocking, and it is unsurprising. The decision sends a clear message about policing in America today, and highlights the continuing crisis of accountability when it comes to unlawful use of excessive and deadly force by police.

    The failure to hold police accountable for the killings of Black men and boys is standard practice at both the local and federal level. Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the nation’s so-called “top cop,” and his Department of Justice concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring federal civil rights charges against the officers involved in Sterling’s death. And, while the Baton Rouge Police Chief said disciplinary hearings would be held for the officers this week, the officers who killed Sterling, and whose killing of Sterling was caught on video, both remain employed by the Baton Rouge Police Department.

    Sterling was one of 233 Black people shot and killed by the police in 2016. And while the national media spotlight on police violence has faded, the death toll has remained steady. The Washington Post Police Shooting Database records show 2,934 people shot and killed by police between 2015 and 2017. That’s nearly 1000 deaths per year. Earlier this month, police officers in Sacramento fired 20 rounds at Stephon Clark, who was unarmed and standing in his own backyard. He died of the wounds inflicted on him by law enforcement. As did Danny Ray Thomas, another unarmed Black man, a man in mental distress, who was killed by police in Harris County, Texas, just days ago.

    Sterling’s death is a glaring reminder that police officers too often use aggressive tactics and excessive force, informed by implicit bias rather than community protection. Upon first arriving at the scene, one of the officers reportedly put a gun to Sterling’s head and said “I’ll kill you, bitch.” The AG’s report describes the officer as giving Sterling a “stern” warning: “Don’t fucking move or I’ll shoot you in your fucking head.”

    A death threat is not an acceptable warning. And, coming from police and directed at Black and brown people, it is too often a promise. The ACLU of Louisiana and partner organizations are working to reform police practices to combat these killings.

    Some reforms are already under way. In November 2016, the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police, and the City of Baton Rouge committed to use only the level of force objectively reasonable to bring an incident under control, and use deescalation techniques when dealing with protesters. Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, who took office in January 2017, has successfully pushed for implicit bias training, a stronger use-of-force policy, and expanded the use of body cameras to the entire police force.

    That the officers who killed Sterling have not been charged is by no means the end of this fight. There are questions that must be answered about Sterling’s death, and we demand that all body camera and surveillance footage of the incident be released. We demand accountability, equal justice, and an end to racialized policing.

    Alton Sterling didn’t have to die on the pavement that night. The Baton Rouge police officers chose aggression. They chose to shoot Sterling six times. We must address and dismantle the conditions that led the officers to use deadly force when it was not needed or legal. We must end the epidemic of police violence once and for all—and bring accountability to this broken system.

    > Read: No charges filed against officers in Alton Sterling shooting; Family files civil lawsuit
    > Read:COMMENTARY: Dr. King, Alton Sterling, and the Difficult Days Ahead

    Read more »
  • ‘You’ and elected officials did the hard work to keep Zoo

    North Baton Rouge Now Blue Ribbon Commission is pleased with the decision of the BREC commissioners to keep and invest in the Baton Rouge zoo at its current location. This has been a long and arduous fight, however, the voice of the elected leadership and, most of all, the people have finally be heard. Collectively we were able to come together and stand for what we believe in and for what’s best for our community!

    With excitement, I watched the community speak up and share concern and the desire to revitalize this community jewel.

    Charles Perrouloux spoke up on the need to help bring ALL communities together. Kristy Donnellan pointed out her and so many other’s concern of the economic impact to the north Baton Rouge community, especially our children. Stephany Anthony (photographed) and Sarah Sanders boldly told the commissioners how concerned the parish is about the lack of animals and the overall well being of the animals at the zoo.

    They are a few examples of the many reason why this decision was the BEST decision. Most importantly, is the fact that without these and so many other very active, engaged voices speaking loudly and frequently, we could have had a different outcome. We didn’t, and the zoo remains in North Baton Rouge because of a collective community voice.

    It was also an honor to see the commitment and support from our elected officials! It is important to be as vigilant with acknowledgements as we are with calling out our officials for poor decisions or lack of involvement.

    Some of the most notable officials stood in support of what was best for their constituents and this entire parish! Councilwoman Chauna Banks (Dist. 2) valiantly lead the charge with her display of exceptional leadership and fortitude on this initiative! She was the galvanizing force that attracted the support and action of many of her colleagues, community partners, and members.

    Baton Rouge Mayor-President Broome, Baker Mayor Darnell Waites, Central Mayor Junior Shelton, and Zachary Mayor David Amrhein demonstrated their support and resolve to keep the zoo at Greenwood. They also committed to be a part of the investment strategy that will revitalize this asset. State Representative Barbara Carpenter and Senator Regina Barrow are boldly creating legislature to support the zoo now and into the future.
    Baton Rouge Metrocouncil leaders Lamont Cole (Dist. 7), Erika Green (Dist. 5), and Donna Collins-Lewis (Dist. 6) committed to put their efforts and resources to gather additional support to the revitalization of the zoo.

    BUT, WE ARE NOT DONE! This victory, though sweet and extremely important is only the beginning. We must remain engaged and see this through! We encourage the community to continue to be vocal and active in the process. It was our collective voice that initiated and carried the momentum of this initiative, and it will take our voice and deliberate action to see this through. You’ve made this happen now continue to support it! Here’s how.

    IMMEDIATE NEXT STEPS:
    Support the zoo by making it a part of your immediate recreational plans. Encourage your church groups, social organizations, schools, and families to plan trips and events at the Baton Rouge Zoo and Greenwood Park. You can host birthday parties, family reunions, summer camp field trips, and lunch dates within the zoo and in the theatre. This is the easiest and most collective method to illustrate your interest, support, and investment of the zoo.

    COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
    Attend and engage in public meetings. Bring with you your ideas, feedback, and contributions/commitments.

    ACCOUNTABILITY
    It’s time for a changing of the guard. BREC’s administration has not been a good steward of our existing assets or public trust. We should start fresh with management in order to improve the success of this initiative. In addition to this, oversight is necessary to ensure that moving forward all activities are transparent, clear, and equitable.

    CORPORATE SUPPORT
    We can each use our circles of influences to encourage corporate events and sponsorships (including revitalization efforts).

    We will all remain excited, proactive, and vocal in continuing this work to revitalize our zoo to its fullest potential.

    By Sateria Tate
    NBRNOW Blue Ribbon Commission

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    COMMENTARY: Dr. King, Alton Sterling, and the Difficult Days Ahead

    Fifty years ago today Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was there on behalf of Memphis sanitation workers marching for higher wages and better working conditions. Their cause was central to King’s Poor People’s Campaign, the final phase of his movement for civil and human rights.  The King of 1968 had evolved considerably from the early years of the movement.  In a May 1967 report to the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King wrote:

    We have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights, an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We have been in a reform movement…But after Selma and the voting rights bill, we moved into a new era, which must be the era of revolution. We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.

    King’s assassination cut short his pursuit of this more radical vision.  In many ways it also marked the beginning of a new chapter in America’s sordid problem of the color line.

    chi-mlk26loot-20080228Amid the riots that followed King’s assassination, President Johnson signed the long delayed Fair Housing Act of 1968.  The Act promised to interrupt the processes of Black ghettoization and white suburban flight that were well underway by the end of the 1960s.  After decades of weak enforcement, however, cities today remain racially segregated. Moreover, the nation’s legacy of racist housing policy has led to an ever-widening racial wealth gap that has emerged as a defining feature of the much larger issue of growing economic inequality.  As an affordable housing crisis grips most American cities, the public is increasingly in tune with concerns over gentrification and the need for equitable redevelopment.  Said differently, there is a growing recognition that we must aggressively pursue the hard work of correcting for the failed urban policies that have long had as their chief objective the exclusion and marginalization of Black communities.

    As the urban redevelopment consensus grows, so too does our appreciation of the depths of the problem.  The determination to ensure Black social and economic subordination shaped twentieth century urban policy.  Consequently policing and incarceration emerged as the dominant policy responses to the government-mandated racial segregation that destabilized Black communities in the first place.  Decades of redlining, wage theft, dilapidated infrastructure, and the many other deliberate assaults on Black humanity were casually forgotten.  Black “culture” was deemed solely responsible for the condition of poor Black neighborhoods and marked them for the most draconian, inhumane, and extra judicial treatment.  The resulting tide of mass incarceration further destabilized those neighborhoods while taking a devastating toll on Black families and individual lives.

    These nationalized trends manifested themselves in a variety of locally-specific ways.  In Baton Rouge the record-setting 47-year fight over school integration effectively reshaped one city into two. It gave birth to “North Baton Rouge,” a local shorthand for the geography of Black poverty and social exclusion.  For those who have internalized the logic of racial stratification, having a geographically adjacent zone of racialized mass disinvestment was a small price to pay for the satisfaction of punishing the Black communities they were convinced deserved such contempt.

    Alton_Sterling_just_before_being_shotRacial tensions exploded in the summer of 2016 when cell phone video captured the killing of Alton Sterling while two Baton Rouge police officers pinned him against the pavement.  Last week the Baton Rouge Police Department finally released the body camera video from the fateful encounter. The video shows Officer Blane Salamoni –abandoning any semblance of police protocol or basic human decency– rush a confused Sterling, hurl expletives in an enraged tirade, threaten Sterling’s life before needlessly taking it, then cursing his dying corpse while callously rifling through his pockets for an alibi. It’s shocking and horrific. The tragedy follows a seemingly unending succession of similar tragedies around the nation and a growing consensus that decisive action is necessary.  In spite of all of this, neither the Department of Justice nor the Louisiana Attorney General could find probable cause to impanel a grand jury for a possible criminal indictment.

    The chorus of bigotry and hatred from those who populate the online comments sections of the city’s papers or those who have voiced their unyielding support of Salamoni – even in the face of the new video – is drowned out only by the silence of many, many more.  Part of the trauma many of us experience watching the Sterling videos and others like them is tied to the indifference of those who refuse to accept that something pathological, intentional and historically driven is at play.  It’s likely only a matter of time before we receive the next hashtag about a Black body racked with bullets after making some armed, trained officer fear for his life.

    This is America 50 years after King’s assassination.  The relative progress made in civil rights since April 4, 1968 is rife with tragic contradiction and complexity.  King likely did not dream that after climbing to the “mountaintop” our first words would not be “free at last” but rather “Black lives matter.”

    In his last speech King prophesied that we had some difficult days ahead.  That is as true in 2018 as it was in 1968.

    By Christopher Tyson
    Guest Columnist
    Christopher TysonChristopher J. Tyson is the Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Associate Professor of Law at LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, where he teaches property and local government law. He is also the son of former U.S. Chief District Court Judge Ralph Tyson. Follow him at @chrisjtyson.

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  • ,

    An open letter to the citizens of Baton Rouge

    During the early morning hours of July 5, 2016, we were placed on a journey to determine how we would understand and respond to the tragic death of Mr. Alton Sterling. There have been moments along the way where we have been confronted by the truth of this journey and reminded it’s not just going to go away. The decision by state and local authorities to look to the United States Department of Justice, the announcement of findings by the DOJ, the passing of the issue to the State Attorney General, the announcement of his decision, the press conference by Police Chief Murphy Paul to share his decision, and then the release of the video footage from that senseless and horrible moment, have all served to remind us that we must all decide how we understand and respond to what happened in the parking lot of a convenience store in North Baton Rouge.

    I believe that any understanding and response must begin with Mr. Sterling’s family. They have endured loss and pain beyond imagination. And they have had to do so under the glaring lights of news cameras and public scrutiny. This family deserves our respect and compassion. We cannot just “co-opt” their loved one to suit our agenda, whatever it is. Alton Sterling is not a hashtag or a character in a horrific video. He was a member of our community with family and friends who cared about him greatly. Any effort to process all of this that does not begin with this reality if fatally flawed in my opinion.

    We must then be willing to be honest with each other about the perceptions and experiences of Black men in Baton Rouge wrapped up in the most difficult 90 seconds I have ever seen. In the last moments of Mr. Sterling’s life we are brought face to face with some harsh realities about our city. There are some people in Baton Rouge who must create ways to make money to live and provide for their families. Opportunity is not readily accessible for all. Those who are sworn to protect and serve are not always professional and respectful of every citizen. Black men are thought to be angry and violent and as a result must be treated differently. For 20 months I have said healing requires the acknowledgement of a wound. As a community we must speak the truth about these perceptions and experiences or all of this pain and strife will be for nothing. Until we do, any effort to understand and respond will be doomed to failure.

    My final belief is that we must move beyond responding to moments and begin to build movements. Moments last through the news cycle or until the next moment happens. Movements challenge what we think and demand that we do something. Movements bring about change, moments don’t. Political science professor Ron Walters, Ph.D, is quoted as saying the difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice. This is certainly true in our situation. The only way Baton Rouge will learn, grow and change is if there are enough people who are willing to sacrifice and work to make it happen. We can all do something and we don’t all have to do the same thing. Find a place where you can connect with people who are serious about making this city better and get busy doing so. Don’t be distracted by the negative voices screaming for attention. That’s all they know and all they will ever speak. But we are better than their hatred and small minds.

    Most of my life has been lived in Baton Rouge. I have seen and experienced the good, the bad and the ugly in these years. It is my sincere desire to be a part of leaving a better Baton Rouge to the next generation. A Baton Rouge where Black men are seen as assets and vital members of our community. A Baton Rouge where we are all productive, connected, healthy and safe. A Baton Rouge where my neighborhood and zip code don’t determine my access to opportunity and resources. This is the movement I am determined to be a part of building. In April of 2016, I, along with a number of partners, convened the Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge for the first time. We did so because we could no longer ignore the realities associated with being a Black male in the community we love. Since that time we have continued to build a movement that matters. A movement that makes a difference. Today, I am more committed to the work of the Urban Congress than ever. And you are welcome to join us in this work. But if not the Congress, find something that allows you to get busy doing something that changes Baton Rouge for the better. My prayer is that these painful moments will motivate people us beyond the place of emotions and to a place of ongoing action. This city needs it.

    Sincerely,

    Raymond A. Jetson
    Chief Executive Catalyst
    MetroMorphosis

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  • ,

    Temple honored by Boys and Girls Club

    Candace Temple was honored by the Boys and Girls Club at its Great Futures Gala that was held on March 3, 2018. Temple serves as a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control, East Baton Rouge Parish Complete Streets Advisory Committee, GBRA Realtors Government Relations Committee and Forum 35. She is also serves as co-chair of Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s Transition Team’s Housing and Land Use Subcommittee and a volunteer for the Bethany Church Kids Ministry. Temple is a full-time real estate agent with EXIT Realty Group. She is the mother of two daughters.

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  • ,,,

    ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival takes over Baton Rouge April 18-21; April 27-28

    Following its huge 2017 victory at the 20th Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival (BNV), Baton Rouge based arts nonprofit Forward Arts, Inc. is gearing up to select its 2018 All Star Team, by way of its 12th annual ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival, April 18-21; 27-28, downtown Baton Rouge. This year’s theme, “Defining Brilliance”, gives a nod to Baton Rouge’s youth poets who are setting a standard for what literary excellence is in their generation. All events, outside of opening ceremonies, are open to the public. A full schedule is available at Forwardarts.org.
    ALL CITY serves as both a community event, as well as an opportunity for area youth, ages 13-19, to experience performance poetry on a large scale, including a chance for six lucky young poets to represent Baton Rouge at the 21st Annual BNV to be held this year in Houston. The festival also includes workshops, panel discussions and specialty open mic events. At Grand Slam Finals, to be held April 28 at the Manship Theatre, the top ranked team of poets of the competition will be named ALL CITY champions and the six top ranked poets will become the 2018 Forward Arts All Star Team and represent the city at this year’s BNV this July. The 2017 Forward Arts All Star Team won BNV to become the top ranked youth poetry slam team in the world and the first team from the south to win the two decades old competition.
     Web ALL TEEN Poetry Slam
    More than just a competition, ALL CITY has been a springboard for many youth in Baton Rouge to take a career in the literary arts into serious consideration. Five of the festival’s former participants were accepted into the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave spoken word cohort – the only program of its kind in the nation. Of the students who already graduated, more than half have pursued careers as educators in the field of English. The festival also adequately prepares youth participants for larger competitions like Brave New Voices.
    “ALL CITY allowed me to perform my poetry in front of a huge audience,” said 2017 BNV champion and Forward Arts youth, Imani Sundiata. “Having ALL CITY also gave me a deadline to work towards and help with my time management, because if I wanted to get on the BNV team, I would have to work hard and push myself to finish poems and practice performing them. That training and opportunity gave me the stage experience I needed to feel confident in my poems and writing ability. Altogether, ALL CITY gave me the tools to make me a better performer.”
    A poetry slam is an Olympic-style spoken word poetry competition in which poets perform original writing within a three minute time limit. Originality, physicality and vulnerability are some the hallmarks of successful slam poems. The youth of Forward Arts are under the tutelage of internationally-acclaimed slam poets – executive director Chancelier ‘xero’ Skidmore, Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, 2013; program director Desireé Dallagiacomo, a multi-time international poetry slam finalist and viral video sensation; and Donney Rose, a 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. The staff of Forward Arts collectively has more than 15 years of experience as teaching artists and administrators of youth spoken word poetry.
     Anyone interested in volunteering at the festival may contact volunteer coordinator, Roe Lewis, at Roneshialewis@mybrcc.edu.
    The ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival began in 2007 and is the only festival of its kind in the region. It has hosted hundreds of youth poets in the Baton Rouge and surrounding areas.FA_SlamFlyer-Back_2018-edited
     Forward Arts, Inc. fosters personal and social transformation by providing arts instruction, literary education, and youth development in Southeastern Louisiana.
    Festival Schedule
    Wednesday, April 18thCYPHER NIGHT (competing participants only)

    5:30-8:30PM
    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, 427 Laurel St.
    Thursday, April 19th & Friday, April 20th
    PRELIMINARY BOUTS #1-6
    5:30-9:30PM
    Mid City Ballroom, 136 S. Acadian Thruway
    Saturday, April 21st
    POETRY + LIVE MUSIC Concert
    7:00-10:00PM
    Mid City Ballroom, 136 S. Acadian Thruway

    Friday, April 27th

    ReVision
    7-10PM
    The Parlor, 705 St. Joseph St.
    Saturday, April 28th
    GRAND SLAM FINALS hosted by Ebony Stewart
    6-9pm
    Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.
    *Tickets available at manshiptheatre.org*

     

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  • ,

    Discover world of space with Renee Horton

    Outer space and astronaut travel enthusiasts of all ages are welcome to join the celebration of the One Book One Community selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly during a FREE talk by led by Renee Horton, Ph.D., at the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., at 2pm, Sat., April 7.

     Horton is a space launch system lead metallic/weld engineer at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and the author of children’s book Dr. H Explores the Universe. Her presentation will cover an in-depth discussion on space and astronaut travel, as well as details about the projects and initiatives of NASA from the unique perspective of a Black woman working in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics-centered career field. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.

    There are various other events, programs, movie nights, book talks, crafts and more related to the book and OBOC that will be scheduled throughout the community all spring long. All the events are FREE.

    ONLINE: www.reneehortonphd.com and www.ReadOneBook.org

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  • ,,,

    COMMUNITY EVENT: Celebrate National Minority Health Month

    Submitted news

    UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana will celebrate National Minority Health Month in April 2018. This year’s theme released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health  is “Partnering for Health Equity.” Join us for a time of Community Awareness and free events.

    According to OMH director Dr. Mathew Lin, “Partnerships at the national, state, tribal, and local levels are vital to the work of reducing health disparities.”  UnitedHealthcare will host a series of events that will partner with local government, private, and public community stakeholders.

    The Kick-Off event will be a Lunch and Learn held at the Exxon Mobil YMCA, 7717 Howell Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA. From 12:00 noon until 2:00 pm. This event will feature a key-note speaker, Robert L. Newton, Jr., PhD, Director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Laboratory Director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Laboratory and allow community partners in health equity to share available services that can benefit the community.

    UnitedHealthcare has a host of partners including EBRP District 2 Metropolitan Councilwoman Chauna Banks, the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Southeast Community Health Systems, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and the Exxon Mobil YMCA, Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center Pediatric Residency Program, Southern University School of Nursing and Allied Health, Southern University AgCenter, and Smiles on the Go to name a few.

    These community partners and more will host a series of events throughout the month of April.

     

    Diabetes & Hypertension Awareness Fair – Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Southeast Community Health Systems, 6351 Main St. Zachary, LA at 4:00 pm -6:00pm

    Health Equity Community Summit and Panel Discussion – Thursday, April 19, 2018

    Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road, Baton Rouge, LA. Doors opening at 4:00 pm for vendor fair and panel discussion at 6:00 pm.

    Preparing Healthy Meals with Community Grocery Stores – Saturday, April 21, 2018

    Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, 12200 Plank Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70811 at 10:00 am until 2:00 pm

     

    Each event is free, opened to the public, and will provide, food, presentations, valuable health information, and more. Come out and learn what an important role partnerships play in health equity for our community!

    For more information, please contact Deborah Jones with United Healthcare Community Plan at 225-413-2198 or email deborah_w_jones@uhc.com.

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  • ,,

    No charges filed against officers in Alton Sterling shooting; Family files civil lawsuit

    Baton Rouge Police Chief plans to release footage, complete officers’ hearing by Friday

    Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Tuesday following a 10-month investigation that his office will not pursue criminal charges against the officers involved in the Alton Sterling shooting.

    Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man, was shot six times by a white Baton Rouge Police officer on July 5, 2016, in front of a Triple S convenience store. The officers, Howie Lake II and Blaine Salamoni were responding to a call about a man with a gun who was assaulting someone. Sterling had been selling CDs in front of the store with permission from the owner.

    Officials said Salamoni shot Sterling while his partner Howard Lake looked on.

    “After careful thought and review of the evidence, the Louisiana Department of Justice will not proceed with prosecution of Officers Lake or Salamoni,” Landry said. “This decision was not taken lightly.”

    Landry said his office thoroughly investigated the case, even re-interviewing witnesses in the case.  He said the evidence just didn’t warrant pursuing criminal charges.

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    “We must analyze the evidence and draw a conclusion, but we’re always mindful of the family,” Landry said. “I know the Sterling family is hurting.”

    The Attorney General’s office received the case in May 2017. This after the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana determined during its own investigation that there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges or civil rights violations.

    Family members, community leaders, and the Sterling family’s attorneys say they weren’t surprised by the latest findings.

    “We didn’t get any justice,’ said Quinyetta McMilon, the mother of Alton Sterling’s son, Cameron.  “The system failed us. We’re all out of tears. We all knew what it was going to be. We may not get justice down on this earth, but when God comes…As a family, we just got to stay strong.”

    “It was total B.S.,” said community activist Gary Chambers.

    “To put Blane Salamoni back on the street, you’re putting a murderer back on the street,” said Sterling’s Aunt Sandra Sterling who has had two strokes since the incident.  “Shame on you Blane Salamoni. You took an oath to protect and serve not protect and kill.”

    Sterling’s attorneys are filing a civil suit and have called for the firing of both officers who have remained on paid leave since the incident. Together, the officers have been paid more than $130,000 in salary while on leave.

    Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt, who has suffered two strokes speaks to reporters. Photo by Michele McCalope

    Sandra Sterling, Alton’s aunt, who has suffered two strokes speaks to reporters. Photo by Michele McCalope

    “We’re putting the City of Baton Rouge, the Mayor and the Metro Council on notice,” said attorney Michael Adams.  “We’re disappointed, but this fight is not over. We have filed a civil suit and justice will be served. The officers will have to talk to us and explain their actions. Baton Rouge will have to hear the truth about what happened. We plan to put it all out there in the light of day.”

    Meanwhile, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said a disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for the officers this week so police can determine if any policies or procedures were violated.

    The officers will have a chance to tell their side of the story to the chief and his three deputies. The hearing will not be open to the public.

    “We’re asking the community for a little more patience and to keep our community in your prayers so we can begin the healing process,” Paul said.

    Once the hearing is completed, Paul said the department will announce what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against the officers. Paul also said all videos, audio, and 911 calls regarding the incident will be released at that time.

    Broome, who has already said publicly that she wants the officers fired, said she still feels that way.

    “Our focus for our community, city and parish is to have justice and equity not just for some, but for everyone,” Broome said.

    By Michele McCalope
    The Drum contributing reporter

    Read more:

    Gov. Edwards, ACLU, 100 Black Men, community leaders release statements on Alton Sterling decision

    Attorney General to give update on Alton Sterling case

    ‘I am that next legacy’

    Department of Justice statement on the Alton Sterling investigation

    ‘Voices from the Bayou’ pulls powerful, emotional writing from BRCC students

    Dialogue necessary to move beyond fear

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU Land-Grant Campus to host ‘One Health Symposium’

    The Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus will host a symposium themed, ‘One Health Symposium: Promoting Sustainable Communities.’ The event will be held April 12-13 at the Southern University Law Center.

    The ‘One Health’ concept is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment.

    This symposium, which is free and open to the public, will bring the various disciplines of the One Health community – medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, social sciences, nutrition, food science, engineering, agricultural and environmental sciences – together to improve the health of people, animals and the planet.

    Participants will have an opportunity to come together and share strategies as well as learn about the latest educational tools and resources which could facilitate the improvement of their health, the health of their animals – both pets and livestock – and the overall health of the environment.

    Sessions during the symposium will include:

    • Bacterial Diseases and Zoonosis
    • Community and Economic Development
    • Designing Health Communities
    • Developing a healthy and vibrant food system in Louisiana
    • Diversity in the Health Care Field
    • Economics and Health Disparities
    • Environmental Health
    • Exercise, weight loss and well-being. Is weight loss imperative to obtain wellness?
    • Health Equity: “Health Care for all”
    • Healthy Child Development
    • Human Animal Bond
    • Human Disease Prevention and Intervention
    • Louisiana Opioid Epidemic
    • Mental Health Issues
    • Pet Equity
    • The Effects of Nutrition Policy on Population Health
    • The Science of Human “Sense of Taste and Health Diet”
    • True Care Health and Wellness “Healing with Herbs”

    This is the ideal event for new and beginning farmers, agricultural business owners, community leaders, non-profit and community based organizations, pet owners, students, faculty, staff and anyone eager to learn!

    The symposium is also designed to increase the marketability of the students in the SU College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences, while exposing them to individuals in their respective professions.

    Students will participate in FASpitch (elevator pitch), oral, and poster competitions. The students will also be able to participate in student ‘HUDDLEs’ where they will meet with agency representatives, academicians, and practitioners one-on-one to share their experiences and learn about job and scholarship opportunities.

    A highlight of this symposium will be a ribbon cutting for the SU Land-Grant Campus’ three institutes – the Southern Institute for One Health One Medicine, the Southern Institute for Medicinal Plants, and the Southern Institute for Food Science, Nutrition and Wellness.

    ONLINE: www.suagcenter.com/symposium.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU law student asks, ‘Can Alexa Testify Against You?’

    We live in an age when increasing numbers of people rely on devices to turn off their lights, make a phone call, or set the morning alarm. This may explain why since its launch in 2015, Alexa—or what Amazon calls a “virtual assistant” —has become a virtual extension of the lives of its estimated eight-million-plus owners.

    This codependency however comes with its own set of risks, according to a research paper published in the Southern University Law Review. (Read the paper here.)

    The paper “Alexa, Pick An Amendment”: A Comparison of Fourth and First Amendment Protections of Echo Device Data,” asks whether Alexa owners are protected under the First and Fourth Amendments when their privacy rights are infringed upon. The paper was written by by Tara Melancon, a third-year law student at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge.

    Tara Melancon

    Tara Melancon

    Melancon writes that American society has been preoccupied with privacy rights since at least the late 19th century, when The Right to Privacy, a law review article from 1890, broached the perennially relevant subject of the need for “privacy laws to keep up with technological progress.”

    The issue has become increasingly relevant.

    The reason, as Melancon explains, is not only because Alexa might be used to collect evidence against owners entangled in the criminal justice system; but because recent technological advances, notably our smart phones—which track our every move and purchase—have made us vulnerable and possible targets for investigation.

    Read more at The Crime Report by Julia Pagnamenta.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Nurses focus on ‘community medicine’ to restore healthcare desert

    There is a new healthcare provider in north Baton Rouge. That news alone should spark hope in many residents from Zachary, through Baker and Scotlandville, and on to Mid-City. But most residents do not know that the Champion Medical Center on Howell Blvd. now houses the Louisiana Healthcare Services and its three providers. Open every day, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the new clinic provides medical care for the entire family, a Medicaid application center, family planning services, as well as onsite lab services.

    Most importantly, Louisiana Healthcare Services provides these services in the middle of a healthcare desert in East Baton Rouge Parish. “We are a drop of water in this desert,” said registered nurse Nicole Thomas.  She and Leah Cullins, FNP, own Louisiana Healthcare Services which opened at 7855 Howell Blvd. in June 2017.

    exterior_460w-300x300

    Thomas said when she and Cullins began planning the clinic, they looked for an area with the greatest need. “The first thing both of us said was north Baton Rouge,” Thomas said. “Knowing that there were a lot of things that were going to fight against us. Lack of resources are in this area, and not just health resources but food resources; resources period are just scarce,” she said knew that those would be a battle for us, we decided to push through them.”

    In 2013, Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital was closed then later demolished in 2015 and replaced with the LSU Health Baton Rouge North Clinic with 15 treatment chairs. An ER was opened in 2017 as an 8,800-square foot addition built adjacent to the existing clinic. The facility includes an infusion clinic and services for primary care and oncology. It sits on Airline Hwy, 3 miles away from Louisiana Health Services. The Jewel Newman Community Center still houses the Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative Health Center at 2013 Central Road—nearly 5 miles north. And the Margaret Dumas Mental Health Center is open a mile away on 3843 Harding Blvd for mental health and substance abuse treatment. None of these facilities are designed for patients to regularly see the same health care provider in order to manage their health. Similarly, there are no other doctor offices or primary care facilities within the five surrounding zip codes.

    “There have been so many barriers to care for so long in the community,” said Thomas who grew up in the same community. As a student at Glen Oaks Medical Magnet High School, she was introduced to healthcare through the school’s medical training classes. She graduated from Southern University School of Nursing and worked as a nurse at what she called “the best hospital ever,” Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital, then to home health, and managed care with United Healthcare. It opened her eyes to the business of healthcare although she still had a “yearning for the clinical aspect.”

    IMG-4407

    She said she began asking herself what more she could do to have an impact. “What legacy am I going to leave behind?” she asked. “For me coming back to open a clinic here was purposeful. I realized that every single step of my journey that I went through, every job, every up, and every down was to get me to prepare me to be here,” said Thomas.

    “Here” for both she and Cullins is in north Baton Rouge providing what they called “community medicine.”

    DSC_8414

    “This (at LHS) is where you come to establish a relationship with your doctor,” said Collins. “This is where you come for the personalized care.” As a child, Cullins watched this community medicine being practiced by Black doctors in South Baton Rouge. “I saw how these doctors cared for patients. Taking whatever they could afford to pay at the time. Sometimes it was some type of commodity or produce; most times patients paid in cash.”

    Thomas said she saw the same community medicine being practiced while she was a high schooler completing clinical rotations with nurses at Earl K. Long Hospital emergency room. “This nurse gave it literally her all. Seeing how she was able to truly provide care for the patient and make an impact,” she said. “You change the entire course of their lives.”

    As a result, Louisiana Healthcare Services allows patients to pay a minimal fee of $65 for visits without insurance and providers make house calls to care for established patients.

    “This is the type of care people deserve,” Cullins said. As a nurse practitioner, she is the primary care physician for hundreds of patients.

    Along with family care, the clinic offers wellness screenings, immunizations, HIV and chronic disease management, illness treatment, and family planning services. The extended hours of 8am to 8pm allow LHS to accept walk-ins. There are three providers—one bilingual—and an onsite lab. Medicaid application assistance are available. Cullins said they partner with specialists across the city who provide obstetrics, cardiac, dermatology, and pharmaceutical services for LHS patients. In the near future, LHS will house specialists “so that our patients won’t have to travel out of their communities — miles from their homes—to be cared for,” Cullins said.

    “We’ve hit many brick walls,” said Thomas. “We are writing our own blueprint as we go. We are doing what matters in order to impact this community the most.”

    For instance, in January, a team from LHS joined volunteers with LaMOM at the Baton Rouge Free Health Clinic and provided dental, medical, and vision care to more than 1,400 residents over three days. “This service was so needed, and with all the providers and medical staff there, we couldn’t assist everyone. There were so many,” said Thomas.

    IMG-4228

    “People stood out in the freezing cold as early as 4am, lined up waiting for the doors to open,” said Cullins. Many of them had not been seen by doctors for years. Cullins remembered siting with one patient who need to received dental care but their blood pressure was too high. “They were hypertensive and had no medicine and no doctor,” she said. After sitting with them and explaining the severity of their health and its impact on their teeth, Cullins said she was surprised when the patient said, “You’re the first doctor to sit next to me and touch my hand.” After some time, Cullins said, they were able to lower the patient’s blood pressure so that the dentist could repair her teeth.

    IMG-4577“We’ve got to start seeing doctors who care about us,” said Cullins. One of their goals is to build on their partnerships with providers and specialists who will care for patients on site. “We (LHS) are needed,” she said.

    The surmounting HIV and AIDS cases in Baton Rouge is also a major concern for Collins and Thomas. The city is number one in the nation for new HIV cases. In 2015, more than 3,700 residents reported having the disease and the number is growing quickly. “We can prevent this and we can help our patients live longer with the disease,” said Cullins who specializes in HIV/AIDS management.

    “This is a vulnerable community, from hypertension, diabetes, HIV, and other conditions” said Thomas. “Their care starts with a primary care physician not in urgent care or the emergency room.”

    “We both know how it feels to be disadvantaged and being told no for services…This is a legacy we’re building here,” Cullins said.

     

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Photos by Hodge Media Group

    Read more »
  • ,

    COMMENTARY: Preparing Parents for the ACT

    Standardized tests give many students the heebie jeebies, especially tests that are known by three letters and determines many factors about life after high school.  I’m talking about the ACT and the SAT. As a an academic and college coach, I either have to help students reduce their anxiety about these tests or light a fire beneath them.  My true preference is to have students in the middle of these extremes. Students should have a healthy respect for these tests. They should not feel that their intellectual identity is reflected in the scores they make.  However, they should not take it lightly either.

    While it has been nearly 17 years since I have had to prepared for the ACT, the test has changed very little.  My test preparation was trial and error over the course of my high school career. My family did not have the resources to take a full course by the top test preparation companies. And, neither one of them attended college so these tests were foreign to them, which means they could offer minimal help.  So, I purchased a $25 test prep book and went at it on my own for about two hours during the week and five hours on the weekend. I religiously did this from my sophomore year to my senior year. My score was enough to give me a competitive edge for scholarships and awards.

    Throughout the years, I realized that my study methods, nor the result, were a common practice or experience. I really wanted  to empower students to conquer the ACT regardless of the hand life has dealt. I began to offer workshops and personal coaching services. While the students benefited the most from the information, parents were comforted knowing that they were able to provide support for their child.  Here are the top 6 tips that I always provide families embarking on their journey of test preparation.

    1. Start early. A majority of the ACT is based on skills learned in 7th – 10th grade.  Most students wait until junior or senior year to take the test. By then, they have forgotten most of the concepts, especially in math.  Arrange for your child to take the test in their spring of their 9th grade year.

    2. Take the ACT often to decrease anxiety. Taking the ACT is like any other performance activity.  The more students practice in real conditions the more comfortable they will be when it counts. Also taking the ACT frequently can help students recognize patterns of questions that will help them streamline their study strategy. Taking the test one or two times raises the stakes for students and causes pressure, which in turns breeds fear and anxiety.  Start with taking the test once a year during 9th and 10th grade years. Increase attempts to two times in the fall and spring during their junior year. Seniors should take the test as many times as possible until the desired score is reached. Taking practice tests at home under similar testing conditions is also useful.

    3. Dedicate special study time. Slow, consistent and steady wins this standardize test race.  Starting ACT prep as early as the 9th grade prevents cramming which leads to anxiety. Help your student set aside quiet time that is dedicated to practice.  Schedule a few, intense, short study sessions (30 – 50 minutes) per week during the academic year. Increase the frequency during the summer to prevent summer melt.

    4. Divide and conquer.  The ACT is perceived to test students on everything they have learned. This is a myth that paralyzes students with stress.  There are a set number of skills and concepts that the ACT focuses on. You can find a complete list of topics on act.org and in most preparation books.  Devise a strategy to attack the content and create a schedule to cycle through content. Use scores on official and practice tests to determine weaker areas.  The ACT administration can provide students with their actually answers along with the answer key for an additional fee. Paying the additional fee may be worth the cost, as students can gain valuable wisdom and insight into own their testing habits. I often find students getting wrong answers because of 2nd guessing, simple mathematical mistakes, or misunderstanding the question and not because they could not answer the problem.

    5. Invest in affordable resources. There are many free and low-cost resources available to aid students in their preparations.  A test prep book is an essential resource. However, they are not all the same. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure the book has a diagnostic test, at least two additional practice tests, and skill building sections where students can refresh on concepts. Another type of prep book is a workbook that walks students through specific content in-depth.  Workbooks allow students to become their own tutor and interact with the material. There are some preparation books that are just a series of practice tests. These types of book offer very little help on individual concepts, however they offer great information on how to eliminate the wrong answer and attack common questions. Lastly, there are also books that just provide tips and strategies.  Besides books, you can also find flash cards, mobile apps, and email subscriptions. ACT.org has free and paid practice material. Sites like Kahn Academy and YouTube have free videos that help students work through particular problems and concepts.

    1. Talk positive.  Words, positive or negative, can impact a student’s mindset and mindset has the greatest impact on performance.  I often hear parents say, “She’s not good with tests.” “He’s never been good in math.” I see the result when students are in front me in a workshop.  Students give less than 100% effort while saying, “I don’t remember this or “I could never get this.” When students think they are already defeated, they won’t commit the time or effort into improving. This is known as a fixed mindset.  Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their talents, traits or performance can never improve. Those with a growth mindset Parents can help shift students’ mindset from fixed to growth by calling attention to their hard work, quality time dedication and their persistence. Parents should recognize small improvements no matter if it is getting one practice problem correct or improving their score on the official test. Focusing less on skills or ability and more on effort and strategy can help your student improve their performance on the ACT as well as get them in the college mind frame.

    While I am a part-time college coach, I am also a full-time higher education administrator who works to improve the number of students who complete college.  Understanding the full picture from admissions to graduation, I know that grades and scores are shallow predictors of success especially for minority students.  There are plenty of smart students who are college drop-outs. Those who persist to the end are the ones who take advantage of resources, practice self-management, confidently face challenges, acknowledges their weaknesses and appreciates learning. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that I give these same tips to parents during freshman orientation on how to help their child succeed in college.  How a student prepares for the ACT can give more insight into college performance than the score by itself. Helping them to connect quality effort and discipline to high performance can be as valuable of a win as achieving the score alone.

    By Erin Wheeler, Ph.D.
    Erin Wheeler, Ph.D., is the founder of BePreppy.com, a college counseling site dedicated to providing quality low-cost, college planning assistance to all. She can be reached at erin@bepreppy.com.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Patin also discussed the importance of this 75th anniversary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Summit scheduled to engage communities around improving health, addressing gaps

    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is hosting a statewide conference, the 2018 Health Summit: Engaging Communities for a Healthier Louisiana, March 20 at the C.B. Pennington Jr Building Conference Center, 6400 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge.

    LCHE and the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana in collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Health-Office of Public Health, and our summit partners, will serve as the hosts. This signature conference is designed to share knowledge among a broad audience with a goal of developing a framework for the mobilization of communities to address social and economic gaps that impact the health of Louisiana residents.

    This year’s summit will build upon the work done in the 2016 and 2017 Health Summit’s to continue our collective efforts toward improving health in Louisiana. Check out the preliminary agenda here:

    The distinguished speaker lineup includes:

    • The Honorable John Bel Edwards, Governor of the State of Louisiana
    • Senator Regina Barrow, Chair, Select Committee on Women & Children, Louisiana State Senate
    • Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Office of the Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge
    • Dr. Parham Jaberi, Assistant Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health
    • Patti Rose, Ed.D, Rose Consulting and Faculty Member, Florida Atlantic University’s Graduate School of Business, Author, Health Disparities, Diversity, and Inclusion, Context, Controversies and Solutions, First Edition
    • Dr. Corey Hebert, CEO, Community Health TV, Assistant Professor LSU, Assistant Professor, Tulane University, Chief Medical Officer, Dillard University
    • Judy Lubin, PhD, MPH, Center for Urban and Racial Equity
    • Jennifer Mathis, JD, MA, Deputy Legal Director & Director of Policy & Legal Advocacy, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
    • Michael McKnight, B.S., Vice President of Policy & Innovation, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
    • Alexander Lu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, Francis Marion University
    • Ritney Castine, Principal and Chief Strategist, Imagine Greater
    • J. T. Lane, M.P.H., Senior Director, Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services, LLC
    • Sarah M. Gillen, M.P.H. Chief Operating Officer, Louisiana Public Health Institute

    Keynote:

    Patti Rose Ed

    Patti Rose Ed

    Patti Rose, E.D., is director and founder of Rose Consulting and previously served as president and CEO of Plainfield Health Center in Plainfield, New Jersey and as vice president of Behavioral Health Services at The Jessie Trice Center for Community Health, one of the largest community health centers in the nation, in Miami, Florida. She is the author of several books, including, Cultural Competency for Health Administration and Public Health, Cultural Competency for the Health Professions, and  Health Disparities, Diversity and Inclusion: Controversies Contexts and Solutions by Jones and Bartlett Learning. She also has published articles including a piece in the Harvard Journal of Minority Public Health, which focused on teenage pregnancy in the Black community. Dr. Rose’s passion is to travel the globe to understand the world and to share her knowledge of various cultures, history, health education and health promotion, health disparities, globalism and diversity through her writing, teaching and speaking engagements. Her current research is focused on health disparities, particularly in the United States, from a social justice vantage point, utilizing a cultural lens, and through comparative analysis, from a national and global perspective.

    ONLINE: 2018 Health Summit

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Louisiana creatives flourish in light of Black Panther

    As the sun rises on the blockbuster Black Panther movie, it illuminates the work of Louisiana Black creatives including an English professor who writes and lectures on Afrofuturism, a comic creator who uses historic air legends to pen a new future, and an artist who embraces the imagery and passion of Afrofantasy in developing the culture for his labor of love.

    A recent Baton Rouge expo brought the three together. Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda was a launch party for the release of Marvel’s Black Panther. The micro-con had a Black Panther theme highlighting a range of comic styles and fandom groups. It featured discussion panels, a comics and arts marketplace, cosplay, workshops, film screenings, games, and competitions.

    The Black creative forces in attendance were quick to explain that Black Panther isn’t revealing the birth of impactful Black roles in the sci-fi, comic book world, but it is shining light on the efforts that have been at play for decades, if not centuries. LSU professor Isiah Lavender III is a latter-day scribe who melds race, science fiction and historic fact vs. fiction. He’s a New Yorker who attended Southern University, completed his master’s work at LSU, and returned to teach at LSU after earning a Ph.D.

    Isiah_Lavender

    Isiah Lavender III

    imageloader

    Lavender is the author of Race in American Science Fiction and Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction. Lavender studies American literature and popular culture with an emphasis on Black American literature. “I study race and ethnicity in speculative fiction, particularly Black writers in the science fiction genre,” he said. “I think the more important question is why study race in science fiction at all?”

    Consuming his theme, Afrofuturism, is no easy task. He explains that Afrofuturism involves the past, present and future of race in sci-fi. “Science fictional Blackness comes into being, dating back to the enlightenment era that remains as a part of the world into this contemporary age,” Lavender said. “I mean science fictional in a sense that these flights of fancy have used science to create a fiction of race as it is applied to Black people, indeed, all people of color.”

    “Now Afrofuturism has emerged to understand the science-fictional existence that Blacks have always experienced living in the new world, an unreality driven by economic demands, would-be science, and skin color.”

    Lavender uses a plethora of beautiful words that signify that he really “liked” Black Panther and is thrilled that this movie, with such a strong Black influence is seeing great success at the Box Office. “We want to see complex images of race and racism and we want to discuss the implications,” he said. “We want to see Black creators do their own thing.”

    Me

    Marcus Williams, comic artist

    Enter children’s book author Greg Burnham ready to do his own thing with Tuskegee Heirs. Burnham is a graduate of Bossier High School and Grambling State University. He and his co-creator Marcus Williams, comic artist and illustrator, have developed a fictional world based on the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, Black World War II pilots.

    Tuskegee Heirs is a futuristic sci-fi that takes place about 80 years from the present in a time when man-piloting is illegal. All air flight is remote or with the use of drones. “These five teen pilots are learning how to fly in the old P-51s that the Tuskegee Airmen flew,” Burnham explained.

    Tuskeegee_Heirs1

    Zachary Robinson enjoys meeting BlackCreatives of the Tuskegee Heirs during Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda at the Main Library in Baton Rouge.

    The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, that later became the U.S. Air Force. They received their training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama and flew more than 15,000 individual sorties in Europe and North Africa during World War II. Their performance earned them more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses and helped encourage the integration of the American military.

    The celebration of Black Panther was also the celebration of #BlackCreatives and the Tuskegee Heirs  creators showed no evidence of competition. In fact, Tuskegee Heirs hosted an exclusive Black Panther movie premier event for fans in Atlanta.

    Tuskegee Heirs stands with Black Panther in many ways including the use of strong female characters: Ayanna, a unit leader; Genesis, the mission briefer; and Jena, the mechanic. Tuskegee Heirs is a six-book series that the creators hope to push toward animation.

    Flying solo and not far behind is Baton Rouge visual artist Antoine “GHOST” Mitchell who has nurtured a stunningly beautiful collection and is moving toward a comic book release.

    Mitchell’s labor of love, Sankofa’s Eymbrace, is scheduled to be finished at the end of this year. He describes his concept as “Afrofantasy.” He employs fantasy settings, but the characters are Black people. “I’m taking elements of different African spiritualities and ways of life and building something imaginative from that much like what JRR Tolkien did with the Lord of the Rings, taking a lot of Norse mythology,” Mitchell said.

    Mitchell_comic_art

    Sankofa’s Eymbrace by Antoine “GHOST” Mitchell

    If differs from Afrofuturism, but his admiration and excitement for Afrofuturism is through the roof. Mitchell explained that Afrofuturism, as what is seen with Black Panther and Wakanda, does not mean the setting is in the future, but that it employs futuristic technology emerged in the current time setting. It is “a marriage of sci-fi and Black culture.”

    Mitchell’s art is vibrant, stunning and Afrocentric. He has not summarized his storyline, but the words released in conception reflect his background in poetry as well as art:

    In the beginning was the beat.
    The beat became the Dual Rhythm.
    The Dual Rhythm became Sankofa, the two Swans of Balance.

    They would become the A’she, or Magical Spiritual Energy,
    Wielded by the chosen Sankofa Children
    Who would stand against the reoccurring force of DysOrder
    .

    Mitchell sees a refreshing wind blowing as more embrace the hashtag #BlackCreatives. “They are anyone who is Black and creative working in creative industries like movies, comics, cosplays, jewelry making, artists, and more,” he said.

    Mitchell, growing up in a small rural town in East Feliciana Parish, sparked an imagination that helped him embrace worlds like Wakanda and realms now open for travel through Afrofuturism and Afrofantasy. “I’ve been doing this since I was 11 and always wanted to do comic books,” he said. “I had this idea of wanting to do super hero-type comic books, but after I got more into fantasy, I wanted to create something that tells an epic story and uses a lot of elements that I’ve mentioned.”

    Story and photos by Frances Y. Spencer
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    BONUS: Blerd-ish podcast–https://www.mixcloud.com/blerdish1/mid-city-micro-con-special/–promoting the Mid City Micro-Con! Guests include Samantha Belmont, organizer; TaLynn Kel, Cosplay Judge and Body Image in Comics & Cosplay Panelist; and Chenese Lewis, Body Image in Comics & Cosplay Panelist!

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    Grocery Delivery begins in Baton Rouge

    Baton Rouge area residents can get groceries delivered from a variety of stores, right to their door.  Instacart, the nation’s largest on-demand grocery delivery service, is launching in the Baton Rouge area starting March 8, through popular local stores including Rouses Markets, Albertsons, Costco, CVS, and Petco. 

    The delivery area will cover over 188,000 households and is bringing income earning opportunities to the area with plans to bring on more than 100 new shoppers. Areas of service include: Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Denham Springs, Zeeland Place, Port Vincent, Dennis Mills, Geismar, Dutch Town, Brittany, Duplessis, Prairieville, Hobart, St. Amant, Acy, St. Gabriel, Walker, Inniswold, Westminster, Acadian Place, Merrydale, Monticello, Park Forest, Old Jefferson, Shenandoah, and West River Oaks. The service is also launching in New Orleans.

    ONLINE: www.instacart.com

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    Honoring Baton Rouge’s centenarian: Ann Isadore Wilson Gray

    Baton Rouge leaders, family, and friends celebrated the life of centenarian Ann Isadore Wilson Gray who was born January 21, 1918, in Covington, La., to Alexander and Viola Wilson. Affectionately known as “Mother Gray,” she has six children, 12 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. She attended Reddish Street Primary School and finished up at Our Lady of the Lake Nursing School. She loves to read books and will do so for hours. (Photo by Kat Turner-Thalleen)

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    11-day Arts Fest features creative writing workshops, spoken word performances, art demos, showcases, live music

    Baton Rouge Community College will present its 10th Annual Arts Fest, March 12-23, throughout three of its locations – Mid City Campus, 201 Community College Drive; Acadian Site, 3250 N. Acadian Thruway E.; and Frazier Site, 555 Julia Street. The festival includes art demos, lectures, discussions, creative writing workshops, spoken word performances, student showcases, and live music.

    Sponsored by BRCC’s Division of Liberal Arts and the Student Government Association, this year’s festival will celebrate community, throughout a variety of morning, afternoon, and evening events and programming, presented by local and student artists, as well as nationally and internationally renowned visiting artists. All events, unless otherwise noted, are free and open to the public.

    The festival will kick off at BRCC Mid City on Monday, March 12 with a breakfast for BRCC students. Festival highlights include a variety of art and printmaking demonstrations by professional visiting artists and BRCC professors to be held at Frazier and Acadian; a series of creative writing workshops and spoken word performances by renowned writers including local talents, as well as internationally acclaimed visiting artists, Hanif Abdurraqib and Ebony Stewart; and the Mid City Jazz Festival, which is in its third year.
    Below is a schedule of events. A detailed schedule is available below.

    Monday, March 12

    Kick-Off Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Bienvenue Student Center, Mid City

    The BRCC Art Club will run ceramics and printmaking demonstrations, and music will be provided by BRCC’s own Dr. Charles Brooks

    Silk Screening Workshop/Textile Printing Demo with BRCC Instructor Jerome Rankins, noon to 2:30 p.m., Old Print Shop, Room 131, Acadian

    Students and guests will be able to screen print their own canvas bag and koozie can holder.

    Jerome Rankins, BRCC adjunct graphics instructor and former Istrouma High graphic arts teacher for 15 years will do a demonstration on textile printing. He will be talking about screens, screen preparation; materials needed and proper clean up to preserve your screen.

    Chronicling Community with anthropologist Malcolm Shuman, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Room 127, Louisiana, Mid City. Local writer and anthropologist Malcolm Shuman will this discussion of the material culture of three communities—prehistoric, African American, and European—at one site, over time. What can we understand about these communities from analyzing the artifacts they’ve left behind? What was the role of art in each community?

    Malcolm Shuman has been practicing archaeology for more than 40 years, and publishing fiction even longer. After serving in the US Army, he earned a doctorate in anthropology from Tulane University in 1974, and has traveled much of the world, carrying out archaeological and anthropological work in the U.S., France and Mexico. MysteriousPress.com has recently re-released fifteen of his novels published in the 1980s and 1990s, including the books in his three mystery series–the Micah Dunn mysteries, set in New Orleans (St. Martin’s Press), the Pete Brady mysteries, set in one of those small north Louisiana towns where murders never (and of course, always) happen (St. Martin’s Press), and the Alan Graham mysteries, featuring a Baton Rouge archaeologist who solves mysteries past and present (Avon Books).

    Tuesday, March 13

    “Voices of a People’s History of the United States” performed by students from East St. John High School (Reserve, La.), 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Voices of a People’s History of the United States brings to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people who built the movements that made the United States what it is today, ending slavery and Jim Crow, protesting war and the genocide of Native Americans, creating unions and the eight hour work day, advancing women’s rights and gay liberation, and struggling to right wrongs of the day.

    Performances of Voices are put on around the country; in schools and in places like Lincoln Center. It is a series of dramatic readings of letters, speeches, and diaries by groups of oppressed, marginalized, or forgotten figures in American history. Based on the work of historian Howard Zinn, Voices challenges a white cisgender, heteronormative, patriarchal narrative of history. Students and special guests will perform these readings as monologues, with narration before each.

    Narrative Creative Writing Workshop with Julie Wedding, Noon to 1:15 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Magnolia, Mid City. An Arts Fest favorite, Julie Wedding, returns this year with her popular narrative poem workshop.

    Creative Writing Workshop with former Baton Rouge Youth Poet Laureate, Brittany Marshall, 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Mid City. In this workshop, attendees will be asked to share aloud their thoughts on/experiences with community. They will collectively discuss aspect of their identities, interests, or hobbies in attempts to find ways to connect with each other and form a collective identity. The text “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks will also be explored.

    Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Brittany Marshall was Baton Rouge’s Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate (2016). She is now enrolled as a senior at Louisiana State University where she is studying English Secondary Education and Spanish. She has represented LSU at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (2017), and is the author of musings of a black girl (May 2017, Penmanship Books).

    ReVision Colorism Healing Creative Writing Workshop with Sarah Webb of Colorism Healing, 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., Academic Learning Center, Mid City. Colorism is the bias and discrimination against people of the same race based on their skin tone and other features like hair texture. Participants in the ReVision workshop will explore the topic of colorism from a multicultural perspective by engaging in a sequence of creative writing activities designed for writers at all experience levels.

    Sarah L. Webb is a Ph.D. candidate in English who studies intersections of race, gender, literacy, and technology. In 2013, Sarah founded the website Colorism Healing through which she hosts annual writing contests, publishes books, and provides information and resources related to colorism. She has been a professional writer, teacher, and mentor since 2007, working in a range of industries such as universities, non-profits, small businesses, K-12 public education, magazines, and TV news. Her writing has been published in numerous places online, such as For Harriet and Blavity, and in print books and magazines such as Teaching Tolerance and Dig. ColorismHealing.org

    Wednesday, March 14

    Etymology Creative Writing Workshop with Taylor Scott of Forward Arts, Inc., 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City

    In this 60 minute writing workshop, participants will create a poem from a saying or phrase that they hear so often – whether it stems from pop culture or a particular family member. Ultimately, each participant will take a phrase and create new meaning, turning the phrase on itself in such a way it is unrecognizable from its intended usage.

    Taylor Scott is a writer, performance artist, and director from Baton Rouge who works as a teaching artist through Forward Arts. She is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave program – the only collegiate hip hop and spoken word community of its kind in the country. She has graced many stages including the Little Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway, Contacting the World Theatre in Manchester, England, and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. She directed the Bellhops, a Madison-based blues and hip hop theatre ensemble. In 2014, the Bellhops premiered Honey In My Tea, a 45-minute production that centers the narratives of black women, at the Overture Center for the Arts. The following year, the Bellhops released a 6-track EP, Hero of My Own Tale, which is available on Bandcamp. Scott is now pursuing a master’s degree in English at Louisiana State University, where she has an individualized, interdisciplinary course plan that includes black diasporic literary and performance studies.

    Joy & The Elegy Creative Writing Workshop with Hanif Abdurraqib (5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The workshop will center on the elegy, and look to find ways to extract joy out of a form that is usually reserved for grief. We’ll look at different elegies before using the blueprint of the form to write elegies for living things, for things we find the potential to be hopeful in.

    Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much was released in 2016 and was nominated for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in fall 2017 by Two Dollar Radio.

    Spoken Word Showcase featuring Brittany Marshall, Taylor Scott, and Hanif Abdurraqib; Hosted by Donney Rose, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Magnolia Theatre, Mid City

    A showcase of spoken word poetry by some of today’s most gifted and accomplished writers. Readers/Performers include Brittany Marshall – Baton Rouge’s inaugural youth poet laureate (2016); Taylor Scott – alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave program, the only collegiate hip hop and spoken word community of its kind in the country; and Hanif Abdurraqib – renowned and internationally acclaimed poet, essayist, and cultural critic. The show is hosted by teaching artist and area poetry legend, Donney Rose.

    Thursday, March 15 (Frazier Day)

    Instant Zine Print Workshop with Hope Amico of Gutwrench Press, 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Print Shop, Frazier. At its simplest, this tiny folded book can be made with one sheet of paper, a pair of scissors and a pen. Once we master the basic form, the possibilities are endless. We will start by using a Vandercook Proofing Press to number the pages of your future zine. Then we will use drawing, collages, and other materials (all provided) to create one-of-a-kind books that can be photocopied and shared (or traded in true zine fashion). What is a zine? Short for fanzine, these photocopied booklets were once small magazines devoted to a certain subject. In the past years, book artists and zinesters have exploded the realm of possibility creating everything from books of basic instruction to complicated art books.

    Hope Amico founded Gutwrench Press in 2008. Gutwrench Press is dedicated to better correspondence through letterpress printed postcards, unique hand-bound books and zines exploring our connections to our hometowns. We re-purpose materials whenever possible and encourage you to write back through the Keep Writing Postcard Project. Hope has a BFA from Louisiana State University, focusing on printmaking and book arts. She has worked with letterpress printers in Louisiana and the Bay Area, is currently a member of the New Orleans based letterpress shop, Baskerville. In 2016 she returned to New Orleans where she now resides. In her other life, she teaches yoga to all sorts of people.

    Friday, March 16

    Student Art Showcase, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Winners announced at Noon, Magnolia Gallery, Mid City. Join us as we celebrate the student artists at BRCC, whose work will be featured in the Magnolia Gallery. The top placing artists and artworks will be announced at noon.

    Monster Mugs with Caroline Smith, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Ceramics Studio, Frazier. Ceramics Demo + Talk — come make your own MONSTER MUG!

    “STEAM Day” Event: “The History, Artistry, and Science of Brewing” by German-born brewmaster, Henry Orlik, 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Henryk Orlik is a German born Brewmaster. In his more than 40 years in the industry, Henryk has brewed in Germany, and all over North America. Although currently at Legal Draft in Arlington, Texas, Henryk has strong ties to Louisiana, having worked at Heiner Brau in Covington, Abita, and was also contracted to brew specialty beer for Chef Josh Besh and Zea’s. On Friday, March 16th, BRCC’s Art Fest in conjunction with the STEM department is proud to have Henrk Orlik speak on “The History, Artistry, and Science of Brewing”. This talk will examine the German roots of brewing as well as the current trend of the emerging microbrewing industry, explaining both the science behind brewing as well as the artistry.

    Monday, March 19

    Intro to SUMINAGASHI - Designing with a Dip with Petrouchka Moise of Mooi Labs, 3 p.m., Frazier. Have you ever wondered how do they get cool psychedelic swirl pattern on fabrics, nails, or paper surfaces? Have you seen the latest dip designs on Facebook or Pinterest and wanted to try it out for yourself? Now it’s the time for you to learn to swirl with your favorite colors. Come and unwind and as we teach you how to make colorful creations on silk with the use of dyes, and resists. No prior painting or art skills required. Suminagashi, Japanese for “floating ink”, is what we call is also known as “Marbling”. This is a technique used to create these surface designs that resemble the patterns found in water. It’s been used for many years to create book covers and endpapers, and now we are seeing in high-end nail salons, fashion brands, and home décor.

    Petrouchka Moise is the founder and artist/teacher of Mooi Lab. Mooi Lab is a creative pop-up concept for individuals and their friends to try out their inspirations and passions. Through Mooi Labs, Petrouchka promotes the importance of art, culture, and education across Louisiana and the Caribbean. Petrouchka is a creative driven by the “aha” moment. She is a first-generation Haitian-American from Brooklyn, New York, who’s been living in Baton Rouge for almost 20 years and is loving every minute of it. It’s all about the discovering what makes life more authentic, colorful, and priceless. Petrouchka believes in the power of art. After a severe car accident in 2012, she lost her ability to see colors, to connect with the world around her or even have the confidence to pick up a brush. As she learns to regain her life back, Petrouchka’s artwork has been the source of her healing. “My art helps me daily in learning how to cope with PTSD, communicate my thoughts to others, and find joy in redefining myself”. Silk painting has created a new chapter for Petrouchka. “The silk takes me on a journey of color and collaboration”. Through silk, she is currently working on a collection of art to share with others her process of being a survivor of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

    Tuesday, March 20

    Careers in the Arts Panel – Local Artists for Panel TBA (10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Recital Hall, Governors, Mid City. Members of the local artistic community share their experiences in making their way in their respective fields. There will be a moderated talk followed by a Q-n-A, time permitting.

    Speech and Theatre Showcase (noon to 1 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. BRCC’s stellar speech students share their work in a special performance.

    “Models of Diversity” Fashion Show spearheaded by Jada Titus, BRCC Liberal Arts student and fashion designer, and BRCC Art Professor and fashion designer Cynthia Giachetti 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Magnolia Gallery, Mid City. BRCC’s Inaugural Arts Fest Fashion Show. The theme is Models of Diversity and is spearheaded by Jada Titus, BRCC Liberal Arts student and fashion designer, and BRCC Art Professor and fashion designer Cynthia Giachetti. There will be fanciful fashion, music, and refreshments.

    Spoken Word Performance by 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, Ebony Stewart, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The performance will consist of a collection of poems centered on the theme of ‘community’. Ebony Stewart strives to speak her truth from a black woman in America’s point of view, undo systematic thinking, and inspire marginalized voices. Following the performance, Ebony Stewart will facilitate a Q&A period.

    Ebony Stewart is an international touring performance artist and slam poet. She is the 2017 Woman of the World Poetry Slam Champion (hosted by Poetry Slam, Inc., Dallas, Texas), and the only three-time adult woman slam champion in Austin, Texas. Ebony Stewart is the story of the black girl winning.

    Wednesday, March 21

    Voices from the Bayou, one year later discussion,  3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. The student authors of the book, Voices from the Bayou will share their experiences during their book tour since the book’s publication last year.

    “Merchandising Museums: The Unanticipated Consequence of the American System of Cultural Patronage?” by LSU professor, Kevin Mulch, Ph.D., 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Dumas Conference Room, Magnolia, Mid City. Mulcahy is the Sheldon Beychok Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Louisiana State University, where he has taught since 1980. Mulcahy is the author of numerous articles and books. On Wednesday, March 21st, Mulcahy will present his article “Merchandising Museums: The Unanticipated Consequence of the American System of Cultural Patronage?” at BRCC. This article is from his book Transforming Nostalgia into Novelty-The Merge of Museums and Creative Industry. In the talk Mulcahy will examine “Merchandising Museums”, the current trend of museums to cater to the wants and wishes of wealthy donors and corporate sponsors, and the negative effects this can have.

    Ceramics Demonstration with Osa Atoe, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Frazier. Functional Pottery and Ceramics Demonstration.

     

    Thursday, March 22 (Frazier Day part II – Self Portrait Cycle)

    Self-Portrait Photography Workshop with Heather Weathers, 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Design Room, Frazier. Self-Portrait Photography Workshop utilizing performance art methods. A camera phone is required.

    Self-Portrait Video Workshop with Bernadette Vielbig, 1:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Design Room, Frazier. Self-Portrait Video Workshop utilizing performance art methods. A video phone/smart phone is required.

     

    Friday, March 23

    Mid City Jazz Festival III, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (competition); 7 p.m. (concert), Magnolia Theatre, Mid City. The Mid City Jazz Festival is an annual event that fosters Jazz education and performance for middle school and high school students. They interact with each other and nationally recognized Jazz Artists in a friendly and competitive environment. The adjudicators will give constructive feedback to all participants to enhance their performance and interpretation of Jazz as an art form. This years’ judges will be local artist and international touring tubist, Michael Foster, Willis Delony Virginia Martin Howard Professor of Keyboard Studies & Professor of Jazz Studies at LSU, Yamaha recording and performance artist  Rex Richardson. That night, after the competition, the judges, and the festival founder, Charles Brooks, will give a free concert which is open to all participants, their families and the general public. For more information on the Mid City Jazz Festival go to thecharlesbrooks.com/MidCityJazzFestival.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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    PERSPECTIVE: Metro council considers marijuana policy changes to stop criminalization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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    Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Fest selects official poster design painted by Christopher Turner

    The 2018 Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival poster, depicting New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian, are being sold. This year’s collectible poster was designed by none other than artist Christopher Turner

    “The New Orleans Indians performance at the 2017 Jazz Fest was a highlight for everyone who attended,” said Henry Turner, producer/director of the Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival. “I’m happy to celebrate our culture and the new tradition of the festival poster” said  Turner. This tremendous tribute to one of New Orleans’ great treasures.”  

    Turner’s poster titled “Big Chief: A painting of a New Orleans Indian” is the first in what festival producers promise will be a series of musician-designed posters to come.

    Unsigned posters are $40. Artist-signed prints are $100. Order at www.batonrougemardigrasfestival.com/,  Meet and Greet held  at Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room Thursday, February, 8. from 8pm to midnight meet poster artist Posters will also be for sale on the grounds of the Baton Rouge Mardi Festival, February 10

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    We’re over the moon about ‘Hidden Figures’; Celebrate the One Book One Community selection

    It’s that time again – time to begin the 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a FREE, fun, family friendly LAUNCH PARTY at the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in honor of this year’s selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. The title was first announced at the annual Louisiana Book Festival downtown in October 2017.

    There’ll be FREE food, music, games, prizes, stargazing and even a Moon Walk (cake walk)! Our special guests include Tamiara Wade, Ph.D. former Learning Expert at the NASA Stennis Space Center, and Alyssa Carson, a 16-year-old aspiring astronaut who attended Space Camp seven times, Space Academy three times, Robotics Academy once, and is the youngest to graduate from the Advanced Space Academy! Learn more about Carson at www.nasablueberry.com. Partners Forum 35 also will be on hand to welcome the NASA STEM Team!

    There are various other events, programs, movie nights, book talks, crafts and more related to the book and OBOC that will be scheduled throughout the community all spring long. All the events are FREE. A schedule and related information, as well as an InfoGuide, is posted at www.ReadOneBook.org, and it will be updated with additional events periodically.

    Here are some upcoming related events:

    · Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda | FREE!
    10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, February 10, Main Library at Goodwood

    · LASM Discovery Dome Presents Magic Tree House: Space Mission & We Are Stars
    Presentations run March 5 – 28; For a full schedule, pick up a copy of the Library’s monthly newsletter The Source, or visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com.

    · Book Talk with Author of The Radium Girls Kate Moore
    7 p.m. Saturday, March 24, Main Library at Goodwood

    · Hidden Figures Movie Night on the BIG Screen
    7 p.m. Friday, April 6, Main Library at Goodwood

    · The World Behind Hidden Figures with Dr. Renee Horton
    2 p.m. Saturday, April 7, Main Library at Goodwood

    · History of Flight with Jim Slade & Katharine Wright
    2 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Main Library at Goodwood

    Read more »
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    East Baton Rouge Parish Library celebrates Black History Month

    February is Black History Month! To celebrate, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is inviting the whole family to join in the fun with a variety of FREE programs and events to commemorate the rich culture and traditions of African-Americans and their impact on United States history.

    Other events include movie screenings, trivia games, exhibits and more for all ages. For a complete schedule, visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com. Here are some of the Black History Month programs and events planned at your Library:

    Featured Events

    Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda
    Come to the FREE Mid City Micro-Con to gear up for the release of Marvel’s Black Panther film at the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, February 10! For more information, visit the InfoGuide at www.ebrpl.com, or call Samantha Belmont at (225) 231-3710.

    One Book One Community LAUNCH PARTY Celebrating Hidden Figures
    It’s that time again – time to begin the 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a FREE, fun, family friendly LAUNCH PARTY at the Main Library at Goodwood at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in honor of this year’s selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Enjoy FREE food, music, games, prizes, stargazing, a Moon Walk (cake walk) and so much more! For more information, visit www.ReadOneBook.org.

    Resources for African-American Genealogy

    Adults are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 7, for a class focused on resources designed to help in researching African-American ancestors. Due to the history of slavery, prejudice and discrimination against African-Americans in our country, African-Americans were routinely excluded from many records that could have documented details of their daily lives. In this class, attendees will learn several search techniques and how to navigate special records collections including African American Heritage, Ancestry.com and more that will assist in genealogical research. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 231-3751.

    Adults

    Three-Part Black History Month Film Series
    Adults are invited to celebrate Black History Month at the Carver Branch at 5 p.m. Thursday, February 8, 3:30 p.m. Friday, February 16, and 11 a.m. Saturday, February 24! We’ll watch three different films that highlight the stories of African-Americans throughout history.

    Make African Doll Crafts!
    Experienced crafter JoAnn Fryling will be back at the Library again this year to give a fun craft tutorial. Adults are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, February 15, to learn how to create a beautiful African doll craft. All supplies will be provided. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 354-7550.

    Black History Month Trivia for Adults

    Come to the Carver Branch at 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 28, for a little friendly competition with other adults on black history. Spend the beginning of February brushing up on your history and then come prepared to impress!

    Teens

    Self-Portrait Remix

    Hey teens! Join us at the Library for the Self-Portrait Remix program! Bring your friends with you to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 5, to be inspired by prominent African-American portrait and figurative artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Mickalen Thomas and Ernie Barnes, and create a collage portrait of your own. You even can use your art as a swagged-out Instagram or Facebook photo!

    Black History Month Trivia for Teens
    Join other teens at the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 12, to celebrate Black History Month with the Black Heritage Trivia board game! Test your knowledge on history, cultural experiences and major contributions made by African Americans from the year 1619 until present day. Winners will receive a prize!

    Traditional African Textiles

    Teens can come to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 26, to honor Black History Month through the appreciation of fabric and fashion. Explore printmaking and patterning through traditional African textiles to make a beautiful hand-stamped scarf or bandana inspired by traditional African fabrics such as Kente cloth, Mud cloth and Ankara cloth.

    Children

    Peanut History Story/Craft
    Kids ages 8-11 are invited to the Carver Branch at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 20, to hear a reading of George Washington Carver by Julia Garstecki. Afterwards, each child will create a peanut man craft! Registration is required. To register, call the Children’s Room at (225) 389-7460.

    Fairwood Awesome Bookworms Book Club
    Kids ages 7-11 can come to the Fairwood Awesome Bookworms (FAB) Book Club meeting at the Fairwood Branch at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 27! We’ll be reading Daniel Hale Williams: Surgeon Who Opened Hearts and Minds, a biography of the pioneering African-American doctor who in 1893 was one of the first in the world to successfully perform open heart surgery. Afterwards, you’ll learn a little about your own heart when you take your pulse both resting and after light exercise. Registration is required. To register, call the Children’s Room at (225) 924-9386.

    For more information about any of these Black History Month events, call the Library location directly. To learn more about the Library or any of its other free programs, events or resources, visit us online at www.ebrpl.com.

    Read more »
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    Thank You from the Odell S. Williams Museum

    I am so  proud of the city. Thank you, Baton Rouge, for answering the call for a Day of Peace in Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    It brightened my day to know that by Wednesday morning, there had been no homicides in the City of Baton Rouge,and for that with pride, we are grateful.

    A Special “Thank You” to all the caring citizens for coming together planting, cleaning, painting and nailing up empty buildings.  Hundreds of volunteers, artists and concerned citizens came together to help create a Better Baton Rouge and a real “Scenic Highway”in Scotlandville.

    I firmly believe that “Little By Little, Day by Day, Working Together, We Can make a Difference.”  We will take this little minute and use the sixty seconds in it to become stronger and better as we work towards justice, peace, and love.

    HARAMBEE! Let’s Pull Together. WE ARE BRPROUD

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph
    Odell S. Williams Now And Then African-American Museum
    Baton Rouge
    Sadie Roberts-Joseph is the founder of the museum. Photo by Daniel Atkinson.

    Read more »
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    Know Your Liver educational session planned for Feb 24

    Rarely are we informed about the importance of a healthy liver, or the ramifications of an unhealthy one. The L. K. Davis Liver Disease Awareness Association was created with this in mind, setting out to address liver health issues in our families and communities. Consisting of physicians, nurses, practitioners, health coaches, counselors, liver disease patients, caregivers, and many other interested parties, our goal is to help educate the public about the necessity of a healthy liver, and support those affected by liver disease, from early diagnosis through end-stage. Our services are free, and all donations are tax-deductible.

    Our first educational session of KNOW YOUR LIVER will be held on February 24, at the Carver Branch of the EBRP Library, at 11am. Our educational sessions will be held monthly, as will our support group meetings for liver patients and their caregivers.

    L. K. Davis Liver Disease Awareness Association is a non-profit organization, which collaborates with local health-care providers, drug/alcohol treatment programs, veteran’s services, schools, and others, in the common interest of liver disease awareness.

    For more information about this topic, email liver.disease.awareness@gmail.com.

    Read more »
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    Metro council to hear public on marijuana penalties, considers fencing downtown area overpass

    Baton Rouge metro council meetings are off to a running start in January. With one meeting out of the way and one upcoming on the 24th, now is the time to get informed and involved in local government.

    At the January 10th meeting, Councilman Matt Watson (District 11) removed his proposal to create a tax for the increase of Police Salaries. By deleting the proposal from the agenda ahead of public comments and a vote, the tax issue can be raised again at another time. Had it gone to a vote and failed, rules state that it cannot be brought forward for another calendar year. He cited a current lack of support as his reason for the removal.

    New BR police chief Murphy Paul made an appearance at the meeting to ask for a budget increase for the Targeted Violent Criminal Program. These funds, which come entirely from a federal grant, would be used to purchase an automated dispatch system.

    Council members deferred a number of items to future meetings. Changes to the city pay plan are on hold for sixty days after a heated debate on how changes will impact newer employees. The decision on whether or not to re-appoint Cleve Dunn Jr. to the Airport District Board was deferred again and is currently set for the next meeting on January 24th. The 24th meeting will also readdress the placement of fences under the overpass at North St. This discussion was deferred out of concern for the homeless population that resides there. The Mayor’s office is working with organizations and stakeholders to create a program to address concerns.

    Issues introduced at the meeting on the 10th will be up for public comment and voting on the 24th. A draft introduced by council members Chandler Loupe (District 3) and Lamont Cole (District 7) will change the enforcement of marijuana possession. The penalty for possession of under 14 grams would be punishable by a $300 fine and no more than 15 days in jail under the changes.

    An item intended to reduce crime in hotels and motels introduced by council members Watson, Erika Green (District 5), and Barbara Freiberg (District 12) could have negative repercussions for hotel owners. Under the changes hotel and motel guests will have to present a valid government issued ID before being allowed to stay in a room. The changes also increase the fines levied if a hotel or motel keeps an incomplete record of previous guests. Under current law, hotels must retain guest records for the previous three years of operation.

    The proposed changes also create a permit system for hotels/motels. These business would have to register with the Department of Development in order to operate. The required permit could be suspended or revoked if the hotel or motel had too many police dispatches for drug or prostitution related crimes over a given time period. Hotels and motels without an up to date permit would not be able to stay open for business.

    By Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge
    psnbatonrouge@gmail.com
    @PSNBatonRouge.

    Read more »
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    Gov. Edwards declares State of Emergency, Crisis Action Team activated Wednesday due to freezing weather

    Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an Emergency Declaration Wednesday, Jan. 17, due to the freezing precipitation and low temperatures throughout Louisiana. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Dept. of Transportation and Development and other state agencies have been activated in response to this emergency.

    “The weather conditions are extremely dangerous, and while it may be tempting to venture outside, it is critical that everyone stay off the frozen highways and streets and heed all state and local warnings in order to be safe,” said Edwards. “Parts of all major interstates in Louisiana have closed because of the icy conditions and unfortunately, one life has already been claimed by this extreme weather. Our state Crisis Action Team and DOTD have been working around the clock responding to emergencies, salting roadways and providing resources to those who need assistance. Until the freezing temperatures lift, I urge everyone to take the necessary precautions, remember to check on people, pets and pipes, and stay warm and remain patient.”

    DTsog0tX4AEnRF0.jpg-large

    The winter weather has caused major road closures throughout the state. DOTD began salting and pre-treating roads in northern districts on Monday evening and Tuesday morning in the southern districts and continues those operations. Continue monitoring www.511La.org for updates on roadways and other important information.

    “The disruption and danger of extreme weather conditions like we are experiencing cannot be underestimated” said Dr. Shawn Wilson, DOTD Secretary. “In addition to major closings of interstates across Louisiana, we have seen hundreds of vehicle accidents, including 18 wheeler accidents and even a death. Drivers should heed our call to stay put until the all clear is issued.”

    DOTD facts:

    • 1,204 employees have been deployed for 24 hour operations.
    • 134,600 hits to www.511La.org (which typically gets 2,500 hit per day).
    • 1.5 Million pounds of salt have been used on roadways statewide.
    • 25 Dump trucks.
    • 236 trucks with spreaders/sprayers.
    • 5 airports have been closed.

    GOHSEP activated its Crisis Action Team on Tuesday. The State Fire Marshall’s Office reminds everyone to use caution when operating space heaters or any other heating source in their homes. When using any type of heating source, whether it is a space heater or fireplace, homeowners should incorporate a “three-foot rule,” where there should be a space of at least three feet between a heating source and any combustibles such as furniture and décor. Ovens or open flame sources, such as candles, should never be used to heat homes.

    Click here to read the Emergency Declaration.

    Read more »
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    Rene honored with Above and Beyond Award

    A long-time Southern University Baton Rouge employee and former assistant mass communications professor was presented the December 2017 Above and Beyond Award.

    Robert Rene’, Ph.D, also has served as interim director and associate director of the Office of Recruitment and Admissions. Rene’ worked in television news before serving at Southern University.

    In his current role, Rene’ meets with students, parents, principals, counselors, and alumni to guide students’ academic futures. He recently participated in the fall 2017 California Community College Transfer to HBCUs Caravan that took place October 31 -November 8. The caravan began in Northern California Sacramento area and concluded nine days later in the Southern California — Long Beach area.

    “Dr. Robert Rene’ was such an asset to this year’s caravan. He brought such a wisdom and calm to the caravan. I am personally appreciative of his flexibility and support during the entire trip,” said Helen P. Young, project director, California Community Colleges Transfer Guarantee Agreement to Historically Black Colleges & Universities.

    “I humbly accept this award for the service I enjoy doing,” said Rene’.

    The Above and Beyond Award was established to help inspire and motivate SU employees to reach their maximum performance. One award is presented at the SU Board of Supervisors meetings each month.

    Recipients of the award are nominated by their peers. Nominations are forwarded to the Board of Supervisors chair and vice chair for selection.

    Read more »
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    Who to Watch 2018: McClanahan, Banks, Emery, Gilmore, and Harris in Baton Rouge

     

    Twelve Louisiana residents have been selected by The Drum’s publisher and staff as people to watch in 2018. In this issue, we introduce five: NAACP State President Michael McClanahan, councilwoman Chauna Banks, novelist Lynn Emery, anti-domestic violence activist Twahna Harris, and policy advisor James Gilmore Jr. Ph.D.

    Read their individual stories:

    Chauna Banks office

    Chauna Banks

    Michael McClanahan

    Michael McClanahan 

    WHO TO WATCH James Gilmore headshot

    James Gilmore, Ph.D.

    Who To Watch Twahna Harris headshot

    Twahna Harris

    Lynn's Promo Photo016[6]

    Lynn Emery

    Read more »
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    Who to Watch: Lynn Emery

    Author Lynn Emery’s romantic suspense novels and mystery fiction have won and been nominated for several literary awards, including Best Mul- ticultural Mainstream Novel by Romantic Times Magazine. Set in the swamps and bayou, Emery’s thrillers—a total of 22 to date—mix mystery and supernatural suspense with strong female leads and a huge dose of everything Louisiana.

    Her 1996 romantic suspense novel, After All, inspired a BET made-for-television movie with Holly Robinson Peete and DB Woodside starring as lead characters. In this novel, sparks fly between an ambitious Baton Rouge newswoman and the man she loves. Intrigue and scandal threaten to turn all of their hopes to dust unless they are able to trust each other to save their future and their love.

    Emery also won three Emma Awards for Kiss Lonely Goodbye as part of the Romance Slam Jam conference. She has sold 14 novels to four major publishers over the span of her literary career. Emery has been a contributing consultant to Today’s Black Woman magazine for three articles about contemporary relationships between Black men and women. She works full-time as a licensed social worker with a special interest in mental health is- sues as they affect women. With that, meet Lynn Emery.

    What should we expect from you in 2018: I plan to release two novels in 2018. Third Sight Into Darkness will be released January 26. I plan to write the fourth book in my Joliet Sisters psychic detectives series, Dead Ahead, for release later in 2018. I have planned to sign at New York Comic Con in 2018.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017: I have written five novels during this period: Smooth Operator, Hunting Spirits, Pretty Dangerous, Into the Mist, and Dead Wrong. I designed and created a website for my publishing company, Lazy River Publishing. In October 2017, I exhibited at New York Comic Con and was a co-participant on one panel on how artists, writers, and creators can find and build their audiences.

    Personal resolution: My goal is to balance self-care with being of service to others.

    Life/business motto: Make excellence a habit.

    Business resolution: My goal is to increase knowledge of my brand and my novels.

    What is your #1 priority right now? To reach more readers who enjoy the kind of fiction I create.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Several versions of the old saying, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

    Role models: Literary roles models include Agatha Christie, Ernest Gaines, J. California Cooper, and Maya Angelou.

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward? My decision to write novels started when I was eleven years old. I read an Agatha Christie novel with a shocking twist at the end that blew my mind. Right then I decided to write my kind of mystery featuring smart women solving mysteries. I started my first novel, but didn’t finish it. I had a lot to learn! Fast forward twenty years, and I joined a writers group to stop just talking about writing novels and to finally do it. I attended a writers conference, met an editor, and sold my first book.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Classic R&B and smooth jazz

    What are you reading? Mostly mystery fiction and sci-fi. Last favorite novels I read are The Seed Bearing Prince by Davaun Sanders, Lion’s Blood by Steven Barnes, and Fledgling by Octavia Butler

    What’s entertaining you? Streaming original series on television The Punisher, Broadchurch, Midsomer Murders, and Bosch, to name a few. I recently watched “What Happened to Monday,” a movie on Netflix, and loved it.

    Email: lynnemery@cox.net

    Social media: www.facebook.com/lynn. emery.author

    Twitter: LynnEmeryWriter Online: www.lynnemery.com

    Twelve Louisiana residents have been selected by The Drum’s publisher and staff as people to watch in 2018. In this issue, we introduce five: NAACP State President Michael McClanahan, councilwoman Chauna Banks, novelist Lynn Emery, anti-domestic violence activist Twahna Harris, and policy advisor James Gilmore Jr. Ph.D.

    Read more »
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    Scenes from MLK Festival of Services in Scotlandville

    A four-day event where The Walls Project and 100+ businesses and organizations reactivated two miles of historic Scenic Hwy in Scotlandville. Read more

     

    Photos by CondiB
    Read more »
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    Who to Watch: James Gilmore Jr., Ph.D

    On any given day, James Gilmore Jr, Ph.D., can be found actively push- ing a political issue, managing an athlete, marketing spa services, or fishing. Within his company, Bayard Management Group, he manages government relations, workforce development, and strategic planning for clients in healthcare, education, and private business. As a policy advisor, Gilmore has worked with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Gov. John Bel Edwards, and former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, leading the Children’s Cabinet and Louisiana Housing Finance Agency. He is also a founding member of the Mentorship Digital Media Academy and the Mentorship Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Academy.

    Gilmore is a member of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District where he works with a
    team tasked with bringing economic developments to the under-resourced area.

    Today, he maneuvers throughout the parish working with senior citizens in his role as chief administrative officer of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.

    What is your #1 priority right now? To ensure that Senior Citizens across East Baton Rogue Parish are provided the best quality of life and services via the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017: Director of Training for Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Director of the Children’s Cabinet Office of Governor John Bel Edwards, Chief Administrative Officer Office of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

    What to expect in 2018: I will monitor the performance of the recent $7.8 million annual millage passed in the 2016 election for the purposes of supporting senior citizens in East Baton Rouge Parish; strengthen police and community relations in East Baton Rouge Parish; host a Minority-Owned Business Expo in East Baton Rouge Parish; host an East Baton Rouge Parish Senior Expo; ensure that minorities have a more equitable share of City of Baton Rouge contract opportunities.

    Personal resolution: To live my best life daily

    Life/business motto: Stay organized and purposeful for high productivity.

    Business resolution: To ensure the success of my sports agency, spa, and work- force develop- ment training firm by hiring competent and reliable staff.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Everyone does not think like me, respect differences, and be capable of using discernment in personal and professional decision-making.

    Role models: President Barack Obama and Honorable Louis Farrakhan.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Ledesi, Smokie Norful, Big Krit, Chris Brown, Jeezy

    What are you reading? The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz

    Social media: James Gilmore (Facebook); Bayard_Sports (Instagram)

    Online: www.bayardmanagement. com and www.bayardsports.com 

    Twelve Louisiana residents have been selected by The Drum’s publisher and staff as people to watch in 2018. In this issue, we introduce five: NAACP State President Michael McClanahan, councilwoman Chauna Banks, novelist Lynn Emery, anti-domestic violence activist Twahna Harris, and policy advisor James Gilmore Jr. Ph.D.

    Read more »
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    WhoToWatch 2018: Michael McClanahan

    One of the first things Michael McClanahan will let you know about him is that he’s from a “little town called Zwolle in Northwest Louisiana.” Quickly after that, you’ll realize his love of people, the state of Louisiana, and justice. A perfect combination for the new leader of the Louisiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

    McClanahan, 53, 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 the treatment of alcohol and drugs. 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.

    As the former head of the Baton Rouge NAACP, McClanahan has been vocal in pushing the attorney generals office for answers in the investigation of the Alton Sterling shooting, demanding changes in city police policies, requesting equitable business contracts for minority companies seeking to work city government, and standing with laborers for better pay. For this, he is a person to watch in 2018.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017: In Sept. 2017, I was elected as President of the La State Conference of the NAACP. I serve as a chairman of the deacon board, chair of the men’s ministry and governing board member Church of Life Fellowship BC. I sit as a board member of Black Wall Street Louisiana.

    What to expect in 2018 from you: 2018 will be an exciting year. From the State NAACP perspective, we will increase voter participation in all elections, increase NAACP memberships and active branches, increase diversity in city and state contracts, issue a report card for elected officials and changing the plan of government in Baton Rouge. Finally, get the resolution for the murder of Alton Sterling.

    Personal resolution: I am personally going to work on my time spent praying and meditating with the Lord and reading his word.

    Life/business motto: For an honest day’s work, you should expect an honest day’s pay.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Become more efficient in the delivery of goods and services. My number one priority now is my mother’s health.

    Best advice you have ever received: Plan your work and work your plan

    Role Models: my mother Dorothy Clay and my stepdad Tommy Clay

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward? I would always try to be a behind the scenes type of guy and the Lord would find a way to put me in the forefront. And he told me “I prepared you for a time such as this.”

    What’s entertaining you? Listening to Christmas music, watching football and basketball

    What are you reading? Love reading any news

    Website/Email: mwmcclanahan @ yahoo.com

    Twelve Louisiana residents have been selected by The Drum’s publisher and staff as people to watch in 2018. In this issue, we introduce five: NAACP State President Michael McClanahan, councilwoman Chauna Banks, novelist Lynn Emery, anti-domestic violence activist Twahna Harris, and policy advisor James Gilmore Jr. Ph.D.

    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge NAACP will host annual King Celebration, Jan 15

    The Baton Rouge NAACP will host its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Jan. 15, 2018 at  Mt. Zion First Baptist Church, 356 East Blvd. , at  8 a.m. The guest speaker will be Judge John Michel Guidry. A reception will be held afterwards in the church  fellowship hall featuring food and various vendors. The event is free and open to the public. Due to the weather, the march to City Hall after the program has been cancelled.  

     

    Read more »
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    White Hills Elementary fourth graders thank ‘Wonder’ donor

    Within two weeks of White Hills Elementary 4th grade teachers Lacy Aucoin (pictured at left) and Carlita Joseph-Gordon (right) requesting book donations on Facebook, Rachel Dickerson and Maranda Smith Williams mailed 26 copies of Wonder by R. J. Palacio to the students. Gordon, who is using the book to address core reading standards, said the books will help students jumpstart or continue building personal libraries. Other books on the teacher’s wish list are: Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Summer Saves Summer by Adara Gaston, and Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.

    Read more »
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    Good Job workshop to teach how to get the job you really want

    Workshop will teach how to set goals and reach them this year 

    It’s a New Year and you’re still doing the same old thing. But it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

    The “Good Job workshop: How to get the job you really want in 2018” will teach you how to set your goals and reach them this year.  The workshop will be held Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. to noon at the EpiCenter, business and event center, 6220 Florida Blvd. Suite B, in Baton Rouge. The cost is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. (Register online)

    As part of the workshop, participants will learn effective goal-setting techniques, how to develop a plan and work it and valuable tips and strategies for pursuing their passions and following their dreams.

    The seminar is sponsored by Michelle McCalope, president of On Assignment Media, and the EpiCenter, a business and event center. The former award-winning journalist, author, and entrepreneur has 30 years of experience in the media and business industry.

    The seminar is based on McCalope’s motivational books, Good Job: A Guide to Pursuing Your Passions and Following Your Dreams  and That Good Job: Strategies for Pursuing Your Passions and Following Your Dreams. She shares the lessons she’s learned along the way to help inspire others to follow their dreams and not just settle for a job that pays the bills.

    Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. Refreshments will be served. For more information, email onassignmentmedia@gmail.com

    ONLINE:  www.goodjobworkshop18.eventbrite.com

    Read more »
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    City sees community pharmacies expand

    Following the closure of Community Pharmacy 1 Baton Rouge’s first Black-owned closed-door pharmacy, the city began to see an increase of pharmacies opening around the city and particularly in North Baton Rouge.

    Community Pharmacy focused on providing prescription drugs through health care providers like nursing homes and mental health facilities rather than directly to individual consumers. It wasn’t until 2008 that Baton Rouge customers would have other options for purchase medicine instead of at big-box pharmacies like Rite Aide and Walgreen’s. That year, Kimberly Murphy Paul, a registered pharmacist, opened Noah’s Pharmacy in Brusly, La. This has led the way to a type of surge in Black pharmacies opening in the city.

    According to state records, Belford Johnson and Duston Stacia, PharMD, became owners of Affordable Pharmacy in 2009. In 2015, Johnson and Jabari Alexander open a second location on Gardere Lane, Brent Landry opened Brent’s Pharmacy in Mid-City Baton Rouge. In February 2017, Eric Peters, PharMD, opened Lagniappe Pharmacy on Drusilla Lane while operating two locations in Gonzales since 2014.

    Each pharmacy has unique service or distinction. Noah’s Pharmacy has a digital app. Brent’s Pharmacy is a Health Mart franchise. Affordable Pharmacy, which offers free delivery, has earned AIDS Drug Assistance Programs credentials. All locations of Lagniappe Pharmacy has online prescription refills.

    The area will see its sixth Black-owned pharmacy, Parker’s Pharmacy, open in the Broadmoor Shopping Center on Florida Blvd this month. Owner Orlando J. Palmer Jr., Pharm, and brother Kyle will operate the new location which Orlando calls their “first”.

    Orlando Palmer is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy with a doctor of pharmacy.

    How would you describe what you do? As owner and Pharmacist in Charge, I am responsible for the day to day business aspects of the pharmacy. From filling patient prescriptions, counseling patients on their medication, training, coaching and managing employees.

    How did you get started? I’ve always known that one day I would start my own community pharmacy. My brother and I have been planning our vision for Parker’s Pharmacy for over two years. We both left Baton Rouge after high school to pursue college and professional goals. After 10 plus years away, we collectively decided that Baton Rouge was where we needed to be to continue our vision.Orlando Parker Pharmacy

    Where did your interest in pharmacy start? I always had an interest in healthcare growing up. I was going to be a pediatrician, anesthesiologist or pharmacist. The first two years of Pre-Med/Pre-Pharmacy college curriculum was the same. I decided to become a pharmacist and the rest is history.
    My pharmacy career consisted of retail pharmacy experience (Walgreen’s and CVS Pharmacy) and nuclear pharmacy experience (PETNET Solutions, a Siemens Company). Managing a nuclear manufacturer was very rewarding. Every single day, we assisted in the diagnosis and management of various cancer and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

    Why did you choose Baton Rouge? Baton Rouge is home, born and raised. My brother and I collectively made the decision to move back to Baton Rouge to grow our family and business.

    Why the Broadmoor area? The Broadmoor area needs a community pharmacy. It met all of our target site selection criteria. We have other Parker’s Pharmacy locations planned for the Baton Rouge area.

    What is most challenging aspect of your business? Poor service in business has been a documented issue. This include the retail/community pharmacy industry. It will be a challenge to decondition patients, to choose a better pharmacy experience, from the only thing they may currently know.

    What’s most rewarding? Improving patient health outcomes of family, friends and the community where I was born and raised.

    What are two things you wished everyone understood about pharmacy and medicine? Pharmacy, specifically prescription medications, is only one main component to improving and managing your health. Healthier food choices, diet, physical exercise, smoking cessation are also key components. The world of medicine will constantly evolve and Parker’s Pharmacy will be there for their patients to help guide them through those times.Parker family

    What do you think is the most important aspect of pharmacy? This is a tough question. I have gone back and forward with education and adherence as the most important aspects of pharmacy. Ultimately, I conclude education. Educating your patients on their new or current medication regimen and course of therapy. This includes directions, side effects, drug-drug interactions, drug-food interactions, any additional supplements needed, nutritional education, etc. The more time you take to educate your patients will ultimately improve adherence to medication. It’s a direct correlation to improved patient health outcomes.

    What are your goals or future plans? My goal is to provide an exceptional pharmacy experience to all patients. This includes customer service, education and awareness and improving the overall health of my community. We have plans for multiple Parker’s Pharmacy locations around the Baton Rouge metro area.

    Who works with you in the pharmacy? My brother Kyle Palmer is co-owner of Parker’s Pharmacy. His role is Director of Community Outreach Services. We also employ a team of pharmacist and pharmacy technicians.

    Should you (a pharmacist) be asked clinical questions? How do you handle clinical questions when asked? Every single day a pharmacist answers clinical questions. The intense college curriculum, clinical rotation requirements, national and state board exams and work experience allows pharmacist to continue to be one of the most trusted professionals. If a pharmacist is unable to pull up information from memory, there are ample clinical resources readily available.

    What unique business relationships or partnerships do you have in Baton Rouge? As we launched our business venture, we have partnered and aligned our services with many great organizations. These organizations are top notch when it comes to execution and results. Off the top of my head they include:
    1. The BYAN Group led by Courtney Scott for strategic planning and marketing
    2. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber for business development
    3. The Maxine Firm led by Ellen McKnight for nutritional support and logistics
    4. The CEO Foundation led by Jasiri Basel for community outreach
    5. Louisiana Healthcare Services led by Dr. Leah Cullins and Nicole Thomas for clinic services

    Why are you here? I love this question. This venture is way bigger than the impact of a neighborhood pharmacy on a community. My brother and I are here to build and strengthen our hometown community of Baton Rouge. We are here to provide HOPE to the community where we were born and raised, specifically 70805.

    ONLINE: parkersrx.com

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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    Southern University, LSBDC proclaim ‘Innovate now!’ with workshop series

    When innovation meets entrepreneurship, great things happen. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University and the Southern University Innovation Center are bringing to the capital region a series of trainings through an event called, “Innovate Now! When Innovation Meets Entrepreneurship” that will begin on January 16, 2018 at the Southern University Innovation Center located at 616 Harding Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA.

    Innovate Now! will build awareness and provide information to the small business community to inspire and inform aspiring and existing entrepreneurs about resources to help them succeed. This dynamic series addresses three major areas of focus: Innovation in Business, Product Innovation, and Innovation Globally.

    “Entrepreneurs want to be intellectually challenged, and want to make a difference in society while still obtaining financial gain,” said Ada Womack, LSBDC at Southern University interim director.

    Innovation is simply a new way of doing something, Womack said, and added that Innovation is defined as incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.

    Entrepreneurship is “one who takes a risk to start a small business.” Womack said the well- known Innovation Equation model is Innovation = Creativity + Risk-Taking.

    “Southern University offers Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship assistance all on one campus,” Womack said.

    Southern University has taken large steps towards developing its entrepreneurship and economic activity especially since the grand opening of its Innovation Center in September.

    Southern University Executive Director for Strategic Engagement Deanna Williams Smith said “we are equally as excited about the upcoming Innovate Now Campaign which allows the local business community to take advantage of the numerous resources offered in one stop.”

    “The SU Innovation Center provides attractive and affordable lease office space to small upcoming businesses as well as outreach programs for our students who are guided by an entrepreneurial spirit,” Smith said. “Through our partnership with the LSBDC, our business tenants have a unique opportunity to form critical partnerships, business training resources, and access to student and faculty engagement. It’s a great time to start the New Year with ideas and passion through innovation.”

    The Innovate Now! schedule:

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – Innovation in Business: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Shakita Billups, Entrepreneur
    Anyone can be innovative. Innovation means coming up with new ways of doing things. During this session you will learn about bringing innovation into your business that can help you save time and money, and give you the competitive advantage to grow and adapt your business in the marketplace. Innovation can increase the likelihood of your business succeeding. Businesses that innovate create more efficient work processes and have better productivity and performance.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – Product Innovation: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker – Carlos Thomas
    What is product innovation? This session will provide an introduction to product innovation and the steps in creating your product or service that is new or significantly improved regarding characteristics or intended uses. These components are inclusive of significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, incorporated software, user friendliness or other functional characteristics. Product innovations may include both new products and new uses for existing products.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – Innovation Globally: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Mike Smith, CEO-OPEX
    My business is going global! Many businesses are aware that there are hidden opportunities in global innovation. Global operations is a treasure trove of ideas and capabilities for innovation. It can be challenging going global with your ideas or exploit the capabilities in global innovation projects. Some of the challenges of global projects are familiar: figuring out the right role for top executives, for example, or finding a good balance between formal and informal project management processes. In this session you will learn about the challenges and benefits of taking your business global.

    ONLINE: www.lsbdc.org.

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    Middle school engineers, teacher tackle water robotics

    When the buzzer sounds, the students in Ingrid Cruz’s eighth-grade marine robotics class hop into action. Their mission? Compete against other teams to guide a remote-controlled underwater vehicle along the bottom of a pool to recover critical equipment—using only the robot’s camera to see.

    Cruz’s students attend the Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy, a science, technology, engineering, art and math-focused middle school. Its curriculum offers courses such as game design, computer applications and multimedia production. The goal is to get students interested in science and math topics past middle school, planting the seed of encouragement to pursue these subjects further in high school and college.

    Though some of the robots developed by Scotlandville’s students have started earning them ribbons, it took a little trial and error for the course to gain its footing. “The first day of our marine robotics competition three years ago was the first time our robot had ever been in the water,” Mrs. Cruz said. “As soon as it got wet, everything fell apart.”

    Part of the issue was a lack of access to a pool where they could test their robot prior to competing. When leaders at the ExxonMobil YMCA learned the school needed access to water, they put in a plan to let them use the facility’s pool. ExxonMobil also provided grants so the students could take swimming lessons and water safety courses. “So now we get to test our robot in an actual pool, in the deep end, and we’re having more success because of that,” Cruz said.
    But it takes more than a pool to develop underwater robots. It’s crucial for the students to strategize and work as a team, skills they learn throughout the school year leading up to the competition.

    “The students absolutely must demonstrate teamwork,” Cruz said. “Building the robot is not easy, and when one student has an idea and somebody has a different idea, they have to learn to work together and test everyone’s ideas to see which one works best.” Cruz said it took her students about three months to build their last robot.

    The applications of the technology they test at the YMCA pool go well beyond marine applications. Just to name a few, fields like archeology, aviation, oil and gas, and even space exploration all use remotely operated robots.7 SPEMA Robot

    “The missions have relevance to real life,” Cruz said. “During one, the kids had to maneuver the robot inside a shipwreck and identify some of the packages inside the ship. In another, they had to open a power source and replace a battery inside, so they had to install a gripper on the robot.”

    It may be a few years before Scotlandville students start careers in robotics or engineering, but that hasn’t kept them from being exposed to some of the biggest names in remotely operated vehicles. After a 2016 competition, for instance, representatives from one local company were so impressed by the students’ enthusiasm, they asked one of Scotlandville’s teams to show their technology to some of their managers.

    “We’re making the robotics courses relevant to the kids, letting them know that this is a viable pursuit,” Cruz said. “Developing these underwater robots is a first step that could inspire our next generation of engineers and innovators.

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    4th Annual MLK Festival of Service lasts Jan. 12 – 15

    The upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day presents a great opportunity for anyone to make a direct impact on Baton Rouge from a grassroots level. Together with Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome and the City of Baton Rouge, Southern University and CADAV, Inc., The Walls Project is hosting the 4th annual MLK Festival of Service from Friday, Jan. 12 to Monday, Jan. 15. In partnership with 100+ organizations, The Walls Project will reactive a two-mile stretch of historic Scenic Highway from Airline Highway to Swan Avenue.

    Throughout the weekend-long celebration, volunteers are able to participate in working together on projects that include painting, trash cleanup, gardening, and general beautification of Scenic Highway. 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. By strengthening local relationships across the city, we create a more connected community.

    Pat McCallister-LeDuff, director of Community Against Drugs and Violence (CADAV), a longtime Scotlandville resident and business owner said this about the event, “Through the power of collaboration we will drive this charitable plan to create a significant change in our community together for a ‘Better Scotlandville.’”

    More than 50 professional artists from across Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Florida will create murals on local businesses over the two mile stretch of highway.

    The event will also encompass landscape improvements, such as groves of bald cypress trees planted by BR Green, community garden sites to promote healthy living by SoulFresh Organics, Keep Baton Rouge Beautiful, and G.E.E.P.

    To celebrate the weekend of service, a community block party held on Monday, January 15, from 10am – 4pm, hosted by Build the Fire, BRidge Agency, Small World Int’l, Baton Rouge Music Studios, and BREC. The block party and resource fair  will allow volunteers to enjoy free music, connect to resources provided by local nonprofits, shop at an artists’ market and partake in the international food fair.

    Additionally, an open air town hall will be facilitated by The Drum Newspaper featuring Governor John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, and Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome, Senator Regina Barrow, and Councilwomen Chauna Banks and Tara Wicker.

    For those wanting to become involved with this event, visit www.thewallsproject.org/mlk-festival-of-service for more information, volunteer registration and donations.

     

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    Nearly 400 attended training centered on mentoring males

    On Saturday, January 6, nearly 400 community members attended the Urban Congress’ MentoringBR Community Training to learn practical ways to mentor African American male youth.

    The event, held at the EBR Council on Aging’s Event Center, was led by Brian Sales, a representative of the national mentoring partnership, MENTOR. The ultimate goal was to teach community members about the real and potential challenges Black males face daily and give them practical ways they can guide and inspire them.

    “What we want to do is to strengthen their awareness of how they engage with Black boys in our community,” said Raymond Jetson, president and CEO of MetroMorphosis.

    Among the attendees was a diverse assembly of community members, organizations active in mentoring, and faith-based groups.

    MentoringBR and the Urban Congress will connect those who are not part of a specific organization to opportunities to apply the skills they’ve learned on Saturday.

    Community members who missed the first training opportunity are encouraged to register for and attend the second and final training on Saturday January 20. Registration is open at mentoringbr.org. 

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    Edwards makes board appointments to Children’s Trust Fund, polygraph, others

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

    Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board
    The Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board provides funds for non-profit and public agencies throughout the state for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

    Alicia C. Kober, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Kober is a pediatrician at Ochsner. As required by statute, she will serve as the representative of the Louisiana State Medical Society.

    Shailindra M. “Lynn” Farris (photographed), of Baker, was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board. Farris is a licensed clinical social worker and a Title IV-E Director at Southern University Baton Rouge. As required by statute, she will serve as the representative of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

     

    Sabine River Authority
    The Sabine River Authority’s mission is to provide for economic utilization and preservation of the waters of the Sabine River and its tributaries by promoting economic development, irrigation, navigation, improved water supply, drainage, public recreation, and hydroelectric power for the citizens of Louisiana.

    Dayna F. Yeldell, of Zwolle, was appointed to the Sabine River Authority. Yeldell is a real estate broker and the owner of First Choice Real Estate Services, LLC. She will serve as a resident of Sabine Parish.

    Byron D. Gibbs, of Hackberry, was reappointed to the Sabine River Authority. Gibbs is a retired teacher, coach, and administrator with the Cameron Parish School Board and a veteran of the United States Air Force. He will serve as a resident of Cameron Parish.

     

    Louisiana State Polygraph Board
    The Louisiana State Polygraph Board issues polygraph examiners licenses and monitors the continuing education of polygraph examiners in the state of Louisiana.

    Don A. Zuelke, of Baton Rouge, was reappointed to the Louisiana State Polygraph Board. Zuelke is a licensed polygraphist and the owner of Don A. Zuekle & Associates.

     

    Fluoridation Advisory Board
    The Fluoridation Advisory Board assists public water systems with obtaining funding to implement water fluoridation, assists the director of the state Oral Health Program with the educating of the general public, and advises the state Fluoridation Program.

    Alicia C. Kober, M.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Fluoridation Advisory Board. Kober is a pediatrician at Ochsner. As required by statute, she will serve as the representative of the Louisiana State Medical Society.

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    BUSINESS EVENT: Monthly Pitch Competition Networking Mixer

    Best 30 second PITCH wins $250 in FREE marketing & advertising

    Our Purpose
    Build business and personal relationships through recurring networking events.

    Our Vision
    Be the most sought-after networking group in Lousiana.

    Our Mission
    Make each event better than the last by asking for feedback and help.

    Our Goal
    Have each attendee bring at least one of their most trusted and respected professional contacts as a new guest every time they come back to an event.

    We host Networking Events monthly on a Thursday from 6-8PM. We regularly have 1 complimentary drink for each preregistered guest and use the events to promote charitable causes.

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    Masquerade Ball, Silent Auction planned Feb. 10

    The Jewel J. Newman Community Center Annual Masquerade Ball and Silent Auction is planned for Saturday, February 10, 8pm until 12 midnight.  The optional black tie/cocktail attire affair is set to be a great time for everyone, said Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks.
    “Come celebrate a night of masked mystery, fun, games, prizes, and dancing. Masks purchased at the door (limited quantity available). Appetizers, beverages, and desserts provided by Victory Catering included in the cost of your ticket.”
    All donations go to Jewel J. Newman Community Center efforts to continue to provide outreach, activities, and funding for needed community center improvements.   Individual tickets ($40) and table of 8 tickets ($300) can be purchased by contacting the Jewel J. Newman Community Center at (225) 775-3935 or 77-JEWEL or email jjncc@brgov.com.
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    Law enforcement looking for drunk drivers during holiday weekend

    Law enforcement agencies across Louisiana are working overtime to put drunk drivers in jail as the long New Year’s weekend approaches, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
    Through the end of 2017, law enforcement agencies on the state and local levels are partnering with the LHSC in a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement mobilization to get drunk drivers off the road and to spread the word about the dangers of impaired driving.
    During the long New Year’s Eve holiday weekend in 2016, 76 people were injured and 5 people died in crashes involving alcohol on Louisiana roads, according to data from the Highway Safety Research Group at LSU. In all, there were 56 crashes across the state during the New Year’s Eve holiday that involved an impaired driver in 2016.
    The LHSC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offer these tips for New Year’s Eve:
    • It is never okay to drive drunk. If you plan to drink, also plan to designate a sober driver or use public transportation to get home safely.
    • Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
    • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement agency.
    • Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
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  • Community trains to mentor 1,000 males

    MentoringBR is a network of entities dedicated to strengthening the quality of mentoring provided to Black males in Baton Rouge. Organizers said the ultimate goal is to significantly increase the number of active mentors by training 1,000 community members during National Mentoring Month on Jan 6 and 20.

    ONLINE: mentoringbr.org

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    Mission to help Baton Rouge kids move more

    Three quarters of children in the United States are not meeting physical activity recommendations, according to a recent report authored by concerned health experts from around the country and by scientists from Baton Rouge at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center. The report, compiled by the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance, indicates that nearly 63 percent of children are exceeding screen time guidelines, meaning that a majority of kids are sitting more and moving less. These habits put our country’s children at risk for obesity, diabetes and related chronic disease as they get older.

     Here in Louisiana, one out of every two children is considered overweight or obese*. That statistic is unacceptable to Amanda Stain, Ph.D., an assistant professor of research in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Lab at Pennington Biomedical, who is working to find creative ways to improve children’s health.

    “We know that if we can help children develop healthy habits such as moving more when they are younger, they are more likely to continue those habits past adolescence into adulthood,” said Staiano.

    According to Staiano, the first step to helping kids move more is understanding why they aren’t already moving enough. That’s why she is leading the TIGER Kids research study, which is researching ways to increase kids’ physical activity and decrease sedentary behavior to improve their overall health.

    During the course of the study, Staiano and her team are using state-of-the-art technology like activity trackers and global positioning systems (GPS) to follow kids’ physical activity patterns for seven days to learn more about what prevents them from being active and what motivates them to move more. Kids in the study will also use a mobile phone app to share more information with researchers about who they are with and what they are doing—for example, spending time at the park with friends—when they are most physically active.web tigerkids_poster 9.75x9.75

    “This is a great way for me to teach my daughter about healthy habits,” said Brandy Davis, whose daughter, Ariamarie, is participating in the TIGER Kids study. “Both my son and I have been a part of research studies at Pennington Biomedical before, and we have really gotten some great health information from participating in those studies. My daughter was so excited to be a part of the TIGER Kids study because she is fascinated by the activity trackers and all the great information she’ll get about her own activity levels.”

    Staiano said the TIGER Kids study is still looking for children between the ages of 10 and 16 to participate in the study. In addition to great health information they can share with their doctor, participants who complete the study will also receive compensation for their time.

     

    TIGER Kids Study with Pennington Biomedical

    Study Purpose

    The TIGER Kids research study will evaluate ways to: increase kids’ physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior (help kids move more and sit less), encourage healthy eating, and assess other factors that may influence school performance, body image, stress and mood.

    TIGER Kids participants will also receive valuable health information at no cost. Each participant is eligible to receive a copy of:

    • their lab work; including blood sugar and cholesterol tests;
    • a printout of their DXA scan, which includes total body fat, total muscle mass, total lean mass and bone density readings; and
    • a copy of body measurement data including height, weight, waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure and heart rate.

    Study Qualifications

    To qualify, participants in this study should:

    • Be between 10 and 16 years old
    • Not be on a restrictive diet

    Compensation

    Total compensation for the completion of this study is $100.

    Study Contact

    Parents, are you ready to see if your child qualifies for the TIGER Kids study? Visit http://www.pbrc.edu/TIGERKids to screen online or call 225-763-3000.

     

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    John Gray to marshal Mid City Gras parade

    Acclaimed jazz musician and music teacher John Gray has been chosen as grand marshal of the inaugural Mid City Gras parade, which rolls Feb. 4, at 1pm, from North Blvd to Baton Rouge Community College.

    The McKinley High School and Southern University graduate is a full-time teacher at The Dunham School. He also performs professionally with The JGrayJazz Trio, The Michael Foster Project, The Soul Jukeboxx, The Uptown Jazz Orchestra and The Treme Brass Band.

    Gray has been named one of The Drum’s People to Watch, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s Teacher of the Year, and a Top 40 Under 40 Black Entrepreneur.

    He is also a recipient of Dunham’s Master Teacher Award and The LINK’s Role Model of the Year award, one of Louisiana Life Magazine’s Louisianans of the Year, and an Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge Arts Ambassador.

    To apply for Mid City Gras, see the Parade Application Tab at www.midcitygras.org or  email hello@midcitygras.org.

    ONLINE: midcitygras.org

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    28th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration, Dec. 30, focus on Nia principles

    The Afrocentric Focus/Maat Study Group of Baton Rouge invites the public to the 28th annual Kwanzaa Celebration at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30. Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community and culture observed for seven days beginning Dec. 26. This year’s Kwanzaa Celebration is being held on the fifth day of Kwanzaa, which focuses on the fifth principle of Nia.

    Representing purpose the principle Nia, guides the community to “make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”

    The event will be held at Southern University in T.T. Allain Hall’s Global Conference Room (room 313) with James L. Conyers, Ph.D., as the featured speaker. Vendors will be available with African heritage clothing, jewelry, art and books.

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    State task force established to review sexual harassment, discrimination policies in agencies

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

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

    The duties of the task force members include the following:

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

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

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

    ONLINE: executive order.

     

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    Judge Faith Jenkins to be SU fall commencement speaker

    Southern University Baton Rouge has invited Faith Jenkins to be its fall commencement speaker. Jenkins is the host of Judge Faith – a nationally televised court TV show now entering its fourth season.
    Originally from Shreveport, Jenkins  graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Louisiana Tech University (where she was also the first Black woman to win the title of Miss Louisiana Tech University) and a J.D. from Southern University Law Center where she ranked #1 in her law class. She went on to become Miss Louisiana in the year 2000 and represent the state in the Miss America pageant where was first runner up to Miss America.
    Jenkins started her legal career in New York in the litigation group at Sidley Austin. After five years as a commercial litigator, she became a prosecutor at the Manhattan District attorney’s office. As a prosecutor, Jenkins  handled hundreds of criminal cases and was the lead attorney in numerous jury trials. Her work included indicting and prosecuting a multitude of violent crimes such as gang assaults, robberies, burglaries, kidnapping, drug sales, and firearms cases.
    Jenkins  is also known for her legal and social commentary on television. Prior to signing as a legal analyst exclusively with MSNBC, she appeared regularly on CNN, Fox News, and HLN to analyze the nation’s most high profile cases and legal issues.
    During the George Zimmerman trial in Florida, Jenkins analyzed the trial daily on all three major news networks. She appeared nightly – from jury selection to verdict — on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation to discuss witness testimony and opine on the trial’s overall progress each day.
    Southern University will be conferring degrees for more 500 graduates commencing bachelor’s, graduate, and doctoral programs. Jalen Wagner, senior biology major, will be the chief student marshal for the commencement. The program is set for Friday, December 15, at 10am in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
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    Baton Rouge sailor reflects on year of recruiting in America’s Navy

    First Class Jalisa Green, a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, shows that not shying away from hard work and responsibility does not go unnoticed.
    Green, a Louisiana native, longed to travel and see the world beyond her hometown of Baton Rouge.  She believed joining the Navy would give her that opportunity.
    After enlisting in 2009, she was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, serving on USS Cowpens with follow-on assignments on USS Spruance  and USS William P. Lawrence.
    “Working on a ship was challenging; it meant long hours, a lot of sweat, dirt, and wrench-cranking, but I loved it,” said Green, a gas turbine system technician (mechanical).
    Although her passion is to travel as much as possible, early in her career she knew one day she would transition to shore duty as a recruiter.
    “I had a great recruiter, who has been a positive influence from day one in my decision to become a recruiter, and continues to support me throughout my career,” said Green.
    Recruiters are representatives of America’s Navy and act as ambassadors in their communities.  To become one requires previous experience in the Navy or other branch of the military, an outgoing personality, creativity, initiative, and strong organizational and time-management skills, among other skills.
    For some Sailors, transitioning from the fleet to recruiting can be challenging.  Many find it difficult adapting to office work after spending time in more operational rates on a ship.
    “For me the biggest difference was all the paperwork,” said Green.  “But the long hours and dedication you have to put in are the same.  Ship life had already groomed me for that.”
    Green has proven her strength and ability to adapt within the recruiting world.  As a second class petty officer, she was given the position of leading petty officer (LPO) for her division, a role that is traditionally given to a first class petty officer.
    “Becoming a LPO was a tough experience.  I had to make sacrifices in my personal life for my career,” admits Green.  “It was hard, at first, to find that balance and to remember to take care of myself and make time for other goals, like college.”
    Green says she finds strength through her many mentors in the recruiting community as well as through her family.
    “I reach out often to my chief, division leading chief petty officer, and my first class petty officers,” said Green.  “They all encourage me to never back down and to always strive for more from myself and my recruiters.”
    Green’s grit and strong work ethic made her a standout Sailor within the recruiting community and lead to her meritorious advancement to first class petty officer through the Meritorious Advancement Program  on June 30.
    Earning meritorious advancement was a huge milestone for Green, who says she was completely surprised by her selection.
    “I honestly did not think it was an achievable goal for me,” she explained.  “It is hard to be competitive within your rate as a recruiter, so I did not think it would happen.”
    Successful recruiters can apply for reclassification under the Navy’s Career Recruiting Force (CRF) program.  Green has chosen not to convert to CRF, instead hoping to one day return to the fleet.
    “As much as I have enjoyed recruiting, shore duty has reminded me of why I joined the Navy in the first place, which was to travel and do something different,” Green said.  “I have not traveled enough,” she said.
    Green said making first class has not been a big change for her.
    “Serving as the LPO for my division as a second class made me already think like a first class, so this advancement is only the beginning and makes me want to work harder to achieve my goals,” said Green.
    Those goals, Green said, are to eventually finish college and make chief petty officer or become a commissioned officer.
    “I am thankful for this opportunity, but personally it is not enough; I need to keep pushing,” she said.  “I also need to humble myself and remember all the recruiters and chiefs who have gone before me and to those whom have given me guidance to get me where I am today.  I wouldn’t be here without their help.”
    By Giselle Christmas
    Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class
    Navy Recruiting District San Antonio Public Affairs
    PHOTO CAPTION:
    171020-N-ND850-679:  CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Oct. 20, 2017) Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 1st Class Jalisa Green of Baton Rouge, La., is a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting Station Corpus Christi, Navy Recruiting District San Antonio.  After enlisting in 2009, Green served aboard the USS Cowpens (CG-63), USS Spruance (DDG-111), and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) before becoming a Navy recruiter.  (U.S. Navy Photo by Burrell Parmer, Navy Recruiting District San Antonio Public Affairs/Released)

     

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    Our Glass wins Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge

    Four Southern University Baton Rouge students collected a $10,000 grand prize after placing first in the Bayou Classic Biztech Challenge.

    Their business pitch, Our Glass, caters to herbal tea consumers and is a 3-D printable, portable bottle that is insulated and allows consumers to brew tea on the go.

    Adorned in a white t-shirt with baby blue writing that spelled Our Glass, senior mechanical engineering and supply chain major from Mer Rouge Nathan Morrison, presented the problem of not being able to brew tea quickly without a heating element nearby.

    After coming up with the idea, Morrison sought out those who he knew could help bring his vision to life. SUBR students, Polite Stewar. Jr., Rashad Pierre and Ashley Lewis were the three additional powerhouses behind Our Glass.

    “We have to get patented, trademarked and figure out who gets what,” Morrison stated in regards to the volume of investment offers that the quartet have recently begun to receive after their victory.

    The students received a $10,000 check in which they will split four ways. They were also gifted $10,000 in legal fees during the Nov. 25, 2017, event.

    Read complete story at The Southern Digest.

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